Friday, April 21, 2017

Science X Newsletter Friday, Apr 21

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 21, 2017:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Physicists demonstrate new way to violate local causality

Researchers produce all RNA nucleobases in simulated primordial Earth conditions

Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

A better way to predict the environmental impacts of agricultural production

Bricklaying robot can make ergonomic, economic impact on construction sites

Tarantula wolf spiders use their lateral eyes to calculate distance

NASA image captures Earth between the rings of Saturn

New laser technique improves neutron yield

Scientists discover gene that blocks spread of colon cancer

New types of blood cells discovered

As orbit becomes more crowded, risk from space debris grows

A new study details why it's prudent to invest in carbon-free electricity now

Optical micro-oscillator could lead to next-generation timing, navigation and sensing applications

Detecting life in the ultra-dry Atacama Desert

Disease-associated genes routinely missed in some genetic studies

Astronomy & Space news

NASA image captures Earth between the rings of Saturn

A new image from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows planet Earth as a point of light between the icy rings of Saturn.

As orbit becomes more crowded, risk from space debris grows

Decades' worth of man-made junk is cluttering up Earth's orbit, posing a threat to spaceflight and the satellites we rely on for weather reports, air travel and global communications.

Detecting life in the ultra-dry Atacama Desert

Few places are as hostile to life as Chile's Atacama Desert. It's the driest non-polar desert on Earth, and only the hardiest microbes survive there. Its rocky landscape has lain undisturbed for eons, exposed to extreme temperatures and radiation from the sun.

Swarm explores a new feature of the northern lights

Thanks to social media and the power of citizen scientists chasing the northern lights, a new feature was discovered recently. Nobody knew what this strange ribbon of purple light was, so … it was called Steve.

Hubble's cosmic bubbles

This entrancing image shows a few of the tenuous threads that comprise Sh2-308, a faint and wispy shell of gas located 5,200 light-years away in the constellation of Canis Major (The Great Dog).

Last adventure ahead for NASA's Cassini spacecraft at Saturn

NASA's Cassini spacecraft faces one last perilous adventure around Saturn.

Simulated galaxies provide fresh evidence of dark matter

Further evidence of the existence of dark matter – the mysterious substance that is believed to hold the Universe together – has been produced by Cosmologists at Durham University.

New look at 2004's martian hole-in-one site

A new observation from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captures the landing platform that the rover Opportunity left behind in Eagle Crater more than 13 years and 27 miles (or 44 kilometers) ago.

Estonian CubeSat to test new technologies for future moon-orbiting satellite

Estonia plans to launch a CubeSat into space in early 2019 aiming to test advanced technologies, including a plasma brake for deorbiting satellites and electric sail propulsion. The mission, named ESTCube-2, will serve as a prototype of Estonia's future moon-orbiting spacecraft.

What does the abundance of water in the solar system mean for life?

There was much excitement when NASA recently revealed new details about the oceans that lurk beneath the surface of Saturn's tiny moon Enceladus and Jupiter's Europa.

Image: Testing astronauts' lung health

The stellar views from the International Space Station are not the only things to take an astronaut's breath away: devices like this are measuring astronauts' breath to determine the health of their lungs. ESA astronaut Tim Peake took part in the Airway Monitoring experiment during his Principia mission in 2016.

Studying interstellar dust from a balloon

In just a few days, the Pilot astrophysics experiment will be launched under a stratospheric balloon from Alice Springs in central Australia. Its aim is to observe the polarized emission of dust particles found in the interstellar medium of our galaxy and nearby galaxies.  With a mass approaching one metric ton, Pilot uses the largest balloons ever launched by CNES, the French national space agency. The experiment was developed by the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology (CNRS/CNES/Paul Sabatier University), the Institute of Space Astrophysics (CNRS/Paris-Sud University), and the Institute of Research into the Fundamental Laws of the Universe (CEA-Irfu). The first Pilot flight was launched from Canada in September 2015; the forthcoming flight will thus be its first flight in the southern hemisphere sky, which contains more features of interest for Pilot than the northern hemisphere.

Technology news

Bricklaying robot can make ergonomic, economic impact on construction sites

(Tech Xplore)—New York-based Construction Robotics is just what its title suggests. The company is applying robotics to construction sites where technology can assist, rather than replace, human workers.

A new study details why it's prudent to invest in carbon-free electricity now

With a single executive order issued at the end of March, the Trump administration launched a robust effort to roll back Obama-era climate policies designed to reduce U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Chief among those policies is the Clean Power Plan, which targets coal and natural gas-fired electric power plants that account for about 40 percent of the nation's CO2 emissions. Private and public-sector investors may see the executive order as a green light to double down on relatively cheap fossil fuels and reduce holdings in more costly, climate-friendly, non-carbon generation technologies such as wind, solar and nuclear. But they may want to think twice before making such transactions.

Sensor-filled glove could help doctors take guesswork out of physical exams

Everyone experiences stiff muscles from time to time, whether after a rigorous workout, in cold weather, or after falling asleep in an unusual position. People with cerebral palsy, stroke and multiple sclerosis, however, live with stiff muscles every single day, making everyday tasks such as extending an arm extremely difficult and painful for them. And since there isn't a foolproof way to objectively rate muscle stiffness, these patients often receive doses of medication that are too low or too high.

Samsung's Galaxy S8 hits stores, aims to move on from recall crisis

Samsung's new Galaxy S8 went on sale over the counter in South Korea Friday as the world's biggest smartphone maker seeks to move on from a disastrous handset recall and corruption scandal that has hammered its once-stellar reputation.

Drift analysis says MH370 likely crashed north of search

Analysis of a genuine Boeing 777 wing flap has reaffirmed experts' opinion that a missing Malaysian airliner most likely crashed north of an abandoned search area in the Indian Ocean, officials said Friday.

Researchers look to unleash creativity with custom cyber manufacturing

Before the Industrial Revolution, custom products were handmade by highly skilled individuals. Basic products that most people have in their homes today were very expensive and considered luxuries because of the time and skill that it took to make just one. What the Industrial Revolution brought about was the ability to mass-produce identical items. The result? Millions of units of a single product could be manufactured in short amount of time, increasing availability and reducing the cost for consumers.

Why drivers own light trucks over cars

A new national survey from the University of Michigan explores why consumers choose to drive SUVs, pick-ups, vans and minivans over cars, even though these so-called "light trucks" generally demonstrate lower fuel economy than passenger cars.

Ultraviolet light sensor for wearable devices

Mass production technology for silicon based ultraviolet (UV) light sensors, suitable for smartphones and wearable devices in the Internet of Things (IoT) era, has been jointly developed by a research team at Tohoku University and SII Semiconductor Corporation, a semiconductor manufacturer at Seiko Instruments Group.

GM plans to launch 10 electric cars in China by 2020

General Motors Co. plans to launch 10 electric and gasoline-electric hybrid vehicles in China by 2020, an executive said Friday, as automakers speed up the rollout of alternative vehicles under pressure from Beijing to promote the industry.

Pioneering computer scientist Harry Huskey dies at 101

One of the last surviving members of the team that created the pioneering ENIAC computer in the 1940s has died. Harry Huskey was 101.

Survey: Snapchat and Instagram are most popular social media platforms among American teens

A new nationally representative survey of American teenagers age 13-17 finds that teens have shifted their favored social media platforms and are now most likely to use Instagram and Snapchat. The study by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research also found that while almost all teens—91 percent—use the regular text messaging tool on their mobile phones, 40 percent of teens also use messaging applications like Kik, WhatsApp, or Line on a smartphone.

Russian accused of running spam ring is indicted in US

A Russian man described by U.S. authorities as one of the world's most notorious criminal spammers has been indicted by a federal grand jury, officials announced Friday.

Match for mutts? New website helps people adopt the best dog

People looking for the perfect family pet tend to choose a dog based on appearance or breed—but that's barking up the wrong tree.

5G enables precision road weather services and provides robot cars with the ability to hear

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland is coordinating the 5G-Safe project, which aims to reduce traffic accidents. This involves the development of new vehicular network solutions and the local road weather and safety services they enable in support of drivers, road operators and autonomous vehicle management systems. The new services will require no action from motorists while driving—data will be gathered and warnings will be sent to users automatically.

Saarland University professor receives top research award for improved image compression

According to the statistics portal , the amount of digital data created worldwide in 2015 was about 8.5 billion terabytes. By 2020, the volume of data created annually will have increased almost five-fold to the gigantic figure of 40 billion terabytes (equivalent to 40,000 exabytes or 40 zettabytes). A large portion of this digital information arises from online video services and from images of ever higher resolution.

Medicine & Health news

Scientists discover gene that blocks spread of colon cancer

Researchers from RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland) and the University of Nice, France, have discovered the function of a gene called KCNQ1 that is directly related to the survival of colon cancer patients. The gene produces pore-forming proteins in cell membranes, known as ion channels. The finding is an important breakthrough towards the development of more effective therapies for colon cancer and new diagnostics that will provide a more accurate prognosis for colon cancer patients. The research is published this week in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

New types of blood cells discovered

Scientists have identified new classes of cells in the human immune system.

Disease-associated genes routinely missed in some genetic studies

Whole-exome DNA sequencing—a technology that saves time and money by sequencing only protein-coding regions and not the entire genome—may routinely miss detecting some genetic variations associated with disease, according to Penn State researchers who have developed new ways to identify such omissions.

Context and distraction skew what we predict and remember

Context can alter something as basic as our ability to estimate the weights of simple objects. As we learn to manipulate those objects, context can even tease out the interplay of two memory systems.

How gut bacteria change cancer drug activity

The activity of cancer drugs changes depending on the types of microbes living in the gut, according to a UCL-led study into how nematode worms and their microbes process drugs and nutrients.

Using CRISPR to reverse retinitis pigmentosa and restore visual function

Using the gene-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Shiley Eye Institute at UC San Diego Health, with colleagues in China, have reprogrammed mutated rod photoreceptors to become functioning cone photoreceptors, reversing cellular degeneration and restoring visual function in two mouse models of retinitis pigmentosa.

Research shows fish oil component helps damaged brain and retina cells survive

A team of researchers led by Nicolas Bazan, MD, PhD, Boyd Professor and Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has shown for the first time that NDP1, a signaling molecule made from DHA, can trigger the production of a protective protein against toxic free radicals and injury in the brain and retina. The research, conducted in an experimental model of ischemic stroke and human retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells, is available in Advance Publication Online in Nature's Cell Death and Differentiation.

When liver immune cells turn bad

A high-fat diet and obesity turn "hero" virus-fighting liver immune cells "rogue", leading to insulin resistance, a condition that often results in type 2 diabetes, according to research published today in Science Immunology.

Do benefits outweigh risk of mind-altering drug use by healthy individuals?

Psychoactive substances are becoming increasingly available to individuals for treating mental health disorders and enhancing cognition, as well as for purposes of creativity, inner exploration, and enjoyment. A new review published in the British Journal of Pharmacology looks at how these products may provide benefits, as well as how their ease of accessibility is raising a variety of concerns.

500kg Egyptian sheds half her weight after India surgery

The "world's heaviest woman" has shed half her weight—around a quarter of a tonne—in the two months she's been in India for treatment, doctors said.

Argentina woman gives birth in coma... meets son months later

In late 2016, a 34-year-old policewoman in Argentina—in a coma after a car accident—gave birth. Four months later, Amelia Bannan has regained consciousness and has finally met her son.

Nivolumab produces durable responses and long-term survival in severe liver cancer patients

Results from the CheckMate 040 study presented today found that nivolumab, an immuno-oncology drug which acts by modulating the immune system, produces durable responses with long-term survival rates, regardless of whether or not patients were infected with Hepatitis B or C. Interim results from the study, presented at The International Liver Congress 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, showed that the overall objective response rate (ORR) by blinded independent central review (BICR) was 14.5% and ORR by investigator assessment was 19.3% in sorafenib-experienced patients in the dose expansion phase of CheckMate 040. Responses by BICR were ongoing in 71.4% (15/21) of patients, and the 12-month overall survival rate in this cohort was 59.9%. The safety profile of nivolumab was manageable and consistent with that reported in other tumour types.

Clostridium difficile infections linked to higher death rates if infection recurs

Repeated infection with the bacterium Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), which causes stomach upsets and diarrhoea, is linked to higher death rates, as well as having a significant impact on health services in terms of cost and hospital beds occupied.

Diet high in animal protein is associated with NAFLD in overweight people

A large epidemiological study presented today found that a diet high in animal protein was associated with a higher risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition in which fat builds up in the liver. These findings from The Rotterdam Study, presented at The International Liver Congress 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, also showed that fructose consumption per se might not be as harmful as previously assumed.

FDA further restricts pain medication use in kids

U.S. regulators are strengthening warnings about the dangers of two types of powerful painkillers due to risks of slowed breathing and death.

Results of glioblastoma clinical trial show safety and clinical benefit of CAR T cell therapy

Glioblastoma is the most common brain tumor in humans and also one of the most difficult cancers to treat; patients with this type of cancer only survive about one year from time of diagnosis. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Cancer Center, and the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor, Texas Children's Hospital and Houston Methodist are investigating a new treatment option using modified T cells with anti-tumor properties with the goal of improving outcomes for patients with glioblastoma.

Cases of hepatitis B and C hit 325 million: WHO

An estimated 325 million people are living with hepatitis B or C and few are aware of their condition, with death tolls from the viruses rising, the UN said Friday.

Public, including gun owners, oppose allowing guns in most venues

As lawmakers across the country debate and enact legislation allowing people to carry guns in more public places, University of Michigan research shows that even those who own guns favor placing restrictions on the places firearms are allowed.

What exactly does 'healthy' mean when it comes to food?

Anyone who's ever walked into a grocery store has seen the various health claims on food items calling certain products "healthy." But what exactly does "healthy" mean—and can you rely on it?

Why are we dragging our feet when more automation in health care will save lives?

As a neonatologist, I worry about patients with pulmonary hypertension. This unforgiving disease, sometimes seen after premature birth, can end with sudden death from constricting blood vessels in the lungs. One minute a baby in the neonatal ICU may be sleeping comfortably; moments later, doctors and nurses are giving chest compressions and rescue medications.

What makes a vegetarian? It's not what's on the plate

They say you are what you eat. But that may not be true for vegetarians.

More prime-time ads could kick drunken driving to the curb

Drunken driving has taken a back seat in recent years to other public health concerns, such as texting while behind the wheel and other kinds of impaired driving, according to Cornell researchers.

Research shows black licorice has little-known negative health effects

Black licorice. You either love it – or you hate it. But one Western researcher is offering a reason to pass the next time you think about reaching for that black licorice jelly bean, twist or whip – your health.

First-time marijuana use in college at highest level in three decades

Levels of first-time marijuana use in college have increased sharply in the past three years to the highest levels recorded in the past three decades. In 2015, about one in five college students became a first-time marijuana user.

Researchers are starting to uncover its scientific basis of hypnosis

Some argue that hypnosis is just a trick. Others, however, see it as bordering on the paranormal – mysteriously transforming people into mindless robots. Now our recent review of a number of research studies on the topic reveals it is actually neither. Hypnosis may just be an aspect of normal human behaviour.

New findings from research into multiple concussions in hockey players

The relationship between head injuries suffered during contact sport and Alzheimer's disease is now being called into question thanks to research by the Sahlgrenska Academy, which has revealed that hockey players with multiple concussions probably have other injuries in their brains.

Rethinking the exercise paradigm for breast cancer survivors

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Health Professions are rethinking the exercise paradigm for breast cancer survivors.

Addressing stigma, coping behaviors and mechanisms in persons living with HIV could lead to better health outcomes

Investigators from the University of Alabama at Birmingham have developed a new conceptual framework highlighting how unique dimensions of individual-level HIV-related stigma might affect the health of those living with HIV. According to the paper's authors, little is known about the mechanisms through which stigma leads to worse health behaviors or outcomes.

Immigrants suffer higher rates of psychosis

Psychosis, sometimes called schizophrenia, is a psychological state characterised by symptoms such as paranoia and hallucinations. In England, one person in every 100 will be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder at some point in their lives. Disturbingly, evidence gathered from Western nations suggests that immigrants experience psychosis at rates two to five times higher than non-immigrants.

Why Mexican immigrants are healthier than their US-born peers

Supporters of Donald Trump's wall might have us believe that Mexicans who enter the US illegally carry disease and take advantage of America's healthcare system. But several large public health surveys suggest that most Mexican immigrants are healthier than the average American citizen. So what can Americans learn about health from their Mexican neighbours?

The link between protein aggregation and aging

Not only does our way of life determine how long we live but so too does our genetic material. Of particular importance here is a genetic program that is controlled by the insulin receptor. A team of researchers from the Universities of Cologne and Bonn has now discovered how protein aggregation affects this genetic program and thus triggers aging. The results have now been published in the journal Cell.

Novel molecular pathway in aggressive breast cancer offers potential therapeutic targets

University of Tsukuba-led researchers identified a novel molecular mechanism involved in progression and metastasis in the most aggressive form of breast cancer. The gene MAFK is known to be induced by the TGF-β signaling pathway, which is involved in breast cancer development. The team reported that MAFK protein, in turn, induced cancerous behaviors in cells by switching on the breast cancer-associated gene GPNMB. MAFK thus represents a link between TGF-β signaling and GPNMB-induced breast cancer.

Scientists name 'Connshing syndrome' as a new cause of high blood pressure

Research led by scientists at the University of Birmingham has revealed a new cause of high blood pressure which could lead to major changes in managing the disease.

New research suggests speech comprehension improves with a slight auditory delay in some individuals

A new paper has shed light on sensory timing in the brain by showing that there is a lag between us hearing a person's voice and seeing their lips move, and these delays vary depending on what task we're doing.

UAB performs Alabama's first transplant where cadaver liver is 'kept alive' outside body

Physicians in the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Surgery have transplanted Alabama's first patient with a cadaver liver that was recovered from the donor and "kept alive" and preserved at body temperature instead of the standard cold solution—a technique that enables the patient to receive a liver that surgeons can watch produce bile before it is transplanted.

When is it safe to drive with type 1 diabetes?

(HealthDay)—Having type 1 diabetes can raise your chances of crashing while driving, but new research offers a checklist that helps determine whether it is safe for you to get behind the wheel.

First-void morning urine not necessary for CIN2+ detection

(HealthDay)—There is no advantage in testing morning first-void urine over later samples for cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2+ (CIN2+) detection using human papillomavirus (HPV) testing, according to a study published online April 9 in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

New bone-in technique tests therapies for breast cancer metastasis

A new laboratory technique developed by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and other institutions can rapidly test the effectiveness of treatments for life-threatening breast cancer metastases in bone. The study appears in Nature Communications.

Displaying lab test costs in health records doesn't deter doctors from ordering them

Patients are stuck for a blood draw almost every day they are admitted to a hospital. Lab tests are one of the most common orders placed by doctors, but research indicates that nearly one-third of these tests are not needed. Hospitals nationwide are seeking ways to use price transparency - displaying the price of lab tests at the time when doctors are placing the order - to nudge doctors to consider whether the benefits are worth the cost. But, results of a new study show that simply displaying the Medicare allowable fees did not have an overall impact on how clinicians ordered these tests. The results, from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, are published today in JAMA Internal Medicine and presented at the Society of General Internal Medicine annual meeting in Washington, DC.

Opioid addiction increases likelihood of death tenfold in general healthcare settings

People who are addicted to opioids and receiving their medical care in a general health care setting were more than 10 times as likely to die during a four-year period than people without substance abuse problems, UCLA researchers have found.

Patients with hyperpigmentation more likely to use sunscreen, few use other sun-protection measures

Researchers at Boston Medical Center (BMC) and Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found patients with hyperpigmentation, a medical disorder that leads to darkening or increase in the natural color of the skin, are more likely to use sunscreen but do not use other protection measures.

Friendships play a vital role in helping people get through substantial challenges in life, according to a new study

Friendships play a vital role in helping people get through substantial challenges in life, according to a new study.

Report recommends ways to improve response to toxic inhalation disasters

Better medical responses to the accidental or intentional release of inhaled toxic chemicals are being developed, but the field faces considerable challenges, according to a new report by an international panel of experts.

Promising mouse model for a devastating genetic deficiency

Researchers from the RIKEN Global Research Cluster in Japan have developed a potential mouse model for the genetic disorder known as an NGLY1 deficiency. Published in the journal PLOS Genetics, the study describes how a complete knockout of the Ngly1 gene in mice leads to death just before birth, which can be partially rescued by a second knockout of another gene called Engase. When related genes in the mice used for making the knockouts are variable, the doubled-deletion mice survive and have symptoms that are analogous to humans with NGLY1-deficiency, indicating that these mice could be useful for testing potential therapies.

Study identifies a distinct type of common gastrointestinal bleeding

A unique bleeding syndrome associated with cirrhosis and portal hypertension has been identified by researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), Wake Forest University Medical Center, and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in an article published online on April 21, 2017 by the Journal of Investigative Medicine. The syndrome is characterized by typical presentation with acute bleeding (hematemesis, melena, or hematochezia) and also the presence of chronic gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, documented as iron deficiency anemia. The investigators have coined a term for the syndrome: acute on chronic bleeding.

Systematic review confirms longstanding caffeine intake recommendations

A rigorous, new scientific Systematic Review paper on caffeine safety confirms the results of the widely-cited Health Canadai literature review (2003), which concluded that adverse health effects were not associated with caffeine intake levels at ≤400 mg/day for adults (which is the equivalent of about 4 cups of coffee/day, and 90% of Americans typically consume less than this amountii, ≤300 mg/day for pregnant women and ≤2.5 mg/kg-day for children and adolescents. These findings were published in Food and Chemical Toxicology and will be presented tomorrow to the scientific community in a symposium, "Conducting a Systematic Review for a Global Audience: Challenges in Merging Nutrition & Toxicological Evidence for a Safety Assessment of Caffeine," during the Experimental Biology conference in Chicago.

New global report highlights burden and neglect of kidney disease worldwide

Despite one in 10 people worldwide having chronic kidney disease, a new global report - The Global Kidney Health Atlas - presented at this week's World Congress of Nephrology in Mexico City (21-25 April) and compiled by the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and kidney health experts worldwide and published in JAMA- highlights the huge gaps in kidney disease care and prevention in both developed and developing countries, with many countries not prioritising kidney health.

Study of bacteria's DNA fingerprint suggests it could be spreading via food distribution

Foods should be investigated as a potential source of spread of Clostridium difficile, according to research presented at the 27th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID).

Data analysis finds lower risk of infection with LASIK than with contacts over time

Which causes fewer eye infections - contact lens wear or LASIK surgery? While traditionally contacts were thought to be safer than a surgical procedure, an analysis by ophthalmologists from the Hamilton Eye Institute at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center indicates otherwise.

Raw milk advocates push to expand legalized sales

Raw milk advocates' efforts to expand availability across the U.S. have not slowed despite health officials' assertions that it's dangerous to drink milk that hasn't been heated to kill bacteria.

Investigational dose of oral interferon-free treatment can cure hepatitis C in children

A study presented today that evaluated an investigational dosage of once-daily ledipasvir 45 mg/sofosbuvir 200 mg (LDV/SOF) in children aged six to 11 years infected with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV), found that 99% of children (n=89/90) had undetectable levels of HCV-RNA 12 weeks after treatment. The study, presented at The International Liver Congress 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, also showed that the fixed-dose combination of LDV/SOF was well-tolerated, and no patients experienced a serious adverse event considered related to the study drug.

Study demonstrates the efficacy of an investigational treatment in hepatitis C subgroup

Study results presented today demonstrate that the oral, once-daily treatment regimen of glecaprevir/pibrentasvir (G/P) resulted in 95% sustained virologic response rates at 12 weeks post treatment (SVR12) in patients with Hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 3. In the ENDURANCE-3 study, presented at The International Liver Congress 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, patients infected with HCV genotype 3 without cirrhosis and who had no previous treatment history were treated with the new regimen for eight or 12 weeks, which was well tolerated. G/P had a similar safety profile to the commonly used combination of sofosbuvir and daclatasvir for 12 weeks, to which G/P was actively compared in the study.

Fecal microbiota transplants improve cognitive impairment caused by severe liver disease

A study presented today found that faecal transplantation of bacteria from one healthy donor into patients that suffer from hepatic encephalopathy (decline in brain function due to severe liver disease), is safe and improves cognitive function compared with standard of care treatment for the condition. Presented at The International Liver Congress 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, the study results also demonstrated that the number of hospitalisations following faecal transplantation plus antibiotics was two, compared to the standard of care arm (lactulose and rifaximin), which was 11 (IQR 83 days). Specifically, there was a significant reduction in hospitalisations due to recurrent hepatic encephalopathy (six in the standard of care and none in the faecal transplant arm).

Blood donor screening for hepatitis E reveals incidence is higher than previously reported

Results from a study presented today found that the incidence of HEV RNA in asymptomatic blood donors from Germany is higher than previously reported. The study, presented at The International Liver Congress 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, showed that 0.11% of donations tested were HEV RNA positive (15 out of 13,441 donors) and that one of the asymptomatic HEV RNA positive donors had previously donated HEV RNA positive blood products, which were then transfused into nine immunocompromised patients. Screening for HEV RNA at blood donation centres has been debated in recent years but is not compulsory as yet.

Treatment of HCV allows for sustained removal from the liver transplant waiting list

A new European study presented today demonstrated that patients with chronic Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and severe liver damage, taken off the liver transplant list as a result of successful direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy, had a favourable outcome over a year later. The study, presented at The International Liver Congress 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, showed that 38 of 142 patients (26.7%) could be removed from the waiting list due to clinical improvement. Of the 38 patients taken off of the transplant list, one (2.6%) died as a result of rapidly progressing HCC while two other patients (5.2%) had to be relisted or considered for relisting.

Progress on depression slow in China as stigmas persist

Kerry Yang speaks openly to foreigners about the bouts of depression that have haunted her for a decade—her emotional meltdowns in college, the bruises she inflicted upon her body as a coping mechanism, her initial unsuccessful attempts at treatment.

Developing therapeutic peptides from scorpion venom

Canadian health and wellness company PreveCeutical Medical Inc. (PMI) has signed a research and option agreement with UniQuest, The University of Queensland's main commercialisation company, to develop stabilised natural and synthetic peptides from scorpion venom for immune-boosting applications.

Dueling BRCA databases—what about the patient?

The news release Monday morning grabbed my attention:

Combatting neglected tropical diseases—much progress, but millions of neglected patients lack access to care

This week scientists, policy makers, and other global health actors will meet in Geneva for a Summit on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)—a group of diseases that overwhelmingly affect the poorest of the poor in low- and middle-income countries but that have long been significantly underfunded and under-researched. The Summit's objective: to assess progress and plans five years after WHO launched both a Roadmap aimed at combatting NTDs and a public-private partnership (the "London Declaration") to help implement the Roadmap by mobilizing funding, plus drug donations from pharmaceutical corporations.

AATS consensus statement helps manage treatment of coronary anomalies

The issues surrounding congenital coronary anomalies and their effect on sudden death are complex. Researchers are still trying to fully understand anomalous aortic origin of a coronary artery (AAOCA) and its relationship to adverse health outcomes in humans, especially children. Using the most up-to-date literature, as well as the input of leading experts in the field, the American Association for Thoracic Surgery (AATS) has released practical guidelines for the identification and treatment of AAOCA, including an overview of the latest data surrounding population-based risk.

Biology news

Tarantula wolf spiders use their lateral eyes to calculate distance

A necessary part of any animal's sense of direction is a positioning system to detect the relationship between where it is and where it wants to go; this is known as odometry. Tarantula wolf spiders have four sets of eyes, and a study from the Autonomous University of Madrid shows that they use their posterior lateral eyes and anterior lateral eyes to establish the distance they have traveled.

How Venus flytraps trigger digestion

The Venus flytrap digests its prey using enzymes produced by special glands. For the first time, a research team has measured and meticulously analysed the glands' activity.

Sunflower seeds traced as source of toxic mold, potent liver carcinogen

Michigan State University researchers have shown that sunflower seeds are frequently contaminated with a toxin produced by molds and pose an increased health risk in many low-income countries worldwide.

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

A study from Indiana University has found evidence that extremely small changes in how atoms move in bacterial proteins can play a big role in how these microorganisms function and evolve.

'Atlas for the end of the world' offers a path to protecting biodiversity

It's been 47 years since Philadelphians filled Fairmount Park for the first Earth Day here, led by a group of University of Pennsylvania students. This year, amidst the day's celebrations and other collective observances comes word that, if humankind is to truly coexist with biodiversity, we have to re-structure our landscapes on a vast scale.

Reindeer at risk from Arctic hot spell

Winter temperatures in Norway's Lapland could rise dramatically this century, with potentially devastating consequences for the region's reindeer and the indigenous Sami people who make their living herding them.

Buckwheat consumption can increase agroecosystem diversity and boost food security

What will it take to make our agroecosystems more diverse and secure? Take buckwheat, for example – an ancient grain-like plant with considerable potential. It's not related to cereals, yet produces storable seeds and can taste anything from deliciously tart to bitter.

Discovery of parental factors that lead to asymmetric division of the zygote

An international group of plant biologists discovered for the first time on how factors arising from the mother and father in flowering plants cooperate to develop the shape of their child. Until now, it has been unknown whether paternal factors cooperate or conflict with each other to bring about zygote asymmetry. The outcome of this discovery is expected to shed light on the exact mechanism of plant body shape formation and possibly lead to the generation of new hybrid plants.

Scientists have worked out how dung beetles use the Milky Way to hold their course

Insects navigate in much the same way that ancient humans did: using the sky. Their primary cue is the position of the sun, but insects can also detect properties of skylight (the blue light scattered by the upper atmosphere) that give them indirect information about the sun's position. Skylight cues include gradients in brightness and colour across the sky and the way light is polarised by the atmosphere. Together, these sky "compass cues" allow many insect species to hold a stable course.

Sharkspotter—a world first in shark detection

A world-first system developed by UTS is being used by Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver to identify sharks, raise alarms and provide greater protection for swimmers and surfers.

Towards a liveable future

Humans have influenced nature since as early as the Ice Age, and over the past century man's impact has become even greater with our many new technologies and a growing world population. Leiden researchers study this impact and how we can keep it within reasonable limits so that nature can be preserved. We cannot do without nature: we need it for our food and for raw materials, as well as for relaxation.

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