Thursday, April 13, 2017

Science X Newsletter Thursday, Apr 13

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for April 13, 2017:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Device pulls water from dry air, powered only by the sun

25 is 'golden age' for the ability to make random choices

Biased bots: Human prejudices sneak into artificial intelligence systems

Scientists discover evidence for a habitable region within Saturn's moon Enceladus

Could New York neighborhood noise be good for poor residents?

Computer game helps scientists understand animal camouflage

Sloth-inspired robot hanging over crops delivers realtime view for farmers

Shedding light on the absorption of light by titanium dioxide

Hydrogen fuel cell cars creep up—slowly—on electrics

New infrared-emitting device could allow energy harvesting from waste heat

New material could save time and money in medical imaging and environmental remediation

Green IT: New switching process in non-volatile spintronics devices

Study discovers fundamental unit of cell size in bacteria

With magnetic map, young eels catch a 'free ride' to Europe

A battery prototype powered by atmospheric nitrogen

Astronomy & Space news

Scientists discover evidence for a habitable region within Saturn's moon Enceladus

Scientists from Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) have discovered hydrogen gas in the plume of material erupting from Saturn's moon Enceladus. Analysis of data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft indicates that the hydrogen is best explained by chemical reactions between the moon's rocky core and warm water from its subsurface ocean. The SwRI-led team's discovery suggests that Enceladus' ocean floor could include features analogous to hydrothermal vents on Earth, which are known to support life on the seafloor.

France, Japan aim to land probe on Mars moon

France and Japan want to recover pieces of a Martian Moon and bring them back to Earth, the head of France's National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) said Thursday.

NASA missions provide new insights into 'ocean worlds' in our solar system

Two veteran NASA missions are providing new details about icy, ocean-bearing moons of Jupiter and Saturn, further heightening the scientific interest of these and other "ocean worlds" in our solar system and beyond. The findings are presented in papers published Thursday by researchers with NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn and Hubble Space Telescope.

Infrared instrument for world's largest solar telescope catches its first rays

The Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST), currently under construction on Haleakala, Maui, is expected to start observing the Sun in 2020. When it does, it will rely on two complex infrared instruments being built by the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy (IfA). Their goal is to measure the Sun's weak magnetic field.

W. M. Keck Observatory achieves first light with new instrument

W. M. Keck Observatory overnight captured the very first successful science data from its newest, cutting-edge instrument, the Keck Cosmic Web Imager (KCWI).

Life on Earth is used to gravity—so what happens to our cells and tissues in space?

There's one force whose effects are so deeply entrenched in our everyday lives that we probably don't think much about it at all: gravity. Gravity is the force that causes attraction between masses. It's why when you drop a pen, it falls to the ground. But because gravitational force is proportional to the mass of the object, only large objects like planets create tangible attractions. This is why the study of gravity traditionally focused on massive objects like planets.

Record-setting astronaut thrilled with bonus time in space

The world's most experienced spacewoman said Thursday she's thrilled to get an extra three months off the planet.

Image: Laser testing in ESA's technical centre in the Netherlands

The Opto-Electronics Laboratory investigates devices that generate, detect and manipulate light, such as high-performance lasers, photon detectors and fibre optics.

Technology news

Biased bots: Human prejudices sneak into artificial intelligence systems

In debates over the future of artificial intelligence, many experts think of the new systems as coldly logical and objectively rational. But in a new study, researchers have demonstrated how machines can be reflections of us, their creators, in potentially problematic ways. Common machine learning programs, when trained with ordinary human language available online, can acquire cultural biases embedded in the patterns of wording, the researchers found. These biases range from the morally neutral, like a preference for flowers over insects, to the objectionable views of race and gender.

Sloth-inspired robot hanging over crops delivers realtime view for farmers

(Tech Xplore)—Crop monitoring and assessing is a vital component of agriculture. Questions over automating the tasks turn to possible solutions such as flying robots (not very energy wise) and ground monitors (running into other obstacles in the process). Georgia Tech researchers have something else in mind.

Hydrogen fuel cell cars creep up—slowly—on electrics

Hydrogen fuel cell cars could one day challenge electric cars in the race for pollution-free roads—but only if more stations are built to fuel them.

A battery prototype powered by atmospheric nitrogen

As the most abundant gas in Earth's atmosphere, nitrogen has been an attractive option as a source of renewable energy. But nitrogen gas—which consists of two nitrogen atoms held together by a strong, triple covalent bond—doesn't break apart under normal conditions, presenting a challenge to scientists who want to transfer the chemical energy of the bond into electricity.

Better than nature: artificial biofilm increases energy production in microbial fuel cells

Microbial fuel cells exploit the metabolism of bacteria in order to generate electricity. A new type of biofilm developed in Bayreuth could soon make this relatively young technology considerably more effective, more stable, and easier to use. A research team at the University of Bayreuth has succeeded in producing a material that is far better suited for energy production in fuel cells than natural biofilms. The scientists described the advantages of their new findings in the journal Macromolecular Bioscience.

Aspiring tech prodigy tries to re-route self-driving cars

Austin Russell, now 22, was barely old enough to drive when he set out to create a safer navigation system for robot-controlled cars. His ambitions are about to be tested.

Tesla's Musk announces plans for semi-truck launch

Tesla founder Elon Musk said Thursday the electric car startup is set to launch its first semi-truck in September, moving for the first time into that segment.

Policymakers 'flying blind' into the future of work

Will a robot take away my job? Many people ask that question, yet policymakers don't have the kind of information they need to answer it intelligently, say the authors of a new study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM).

Auto show: SUVs of all sizes; Sonata aims for a comeback

From high-performance muscle cars to hot-selling SUVs to cars hitting the U.S. market for the first time, the 2017 New York International Auto Show features a diverse lineup of new vehicles. The show officially opens to the public on Friday.

Steam train hits 100mph in UK in 50-year first

A steam train clocked 100 miles (161 kilometres) per hour on Britain's mainline railway network for the first time in almost 50 years on Wednesday.

Facebook looking at behavior to weed out fake accounts

Facebook said it has started weeding out bogus accounts by watching for suspicious behavior such as repetitive posts or torrents of messages.

Phones and social media turn consumers into whistleblowers

Look out, Corporate America. Customers armed with smartphones and video cameras are watching when you screw up.

New machine learning models can detect hate speech and violence from texts

The words we use and our writing styles can reveal information about our preferences, thoughts, emotions and behaviours. Using this information, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland has developed machine learning models that can detect antisocial behaviours, such as hate speech and indications of violence, from texts.

Driverless cars should learn lessons from crashes

Sean Welsh, University of Canterbury

How the blockchain will transform housing markets

An emerging technology, blockchain, could transform the way we buy and sell real estate by doing away with the hidden costs and inefficiencies of our housing markets.

How social media data can improve people's lives—if used responsibly

In January 2015, heavy rains triggered unprecedented floods in Malawi. Over the next five weeks, the floods displaced more than 230,000 people and damaged over 64,000 hectares of land.

An advertisement for Kuka robotics: can these machines really replace us?

Robots raise all kinds of concerns. They could steal our jobs, as some experts think. And if artificial intelligence grows, it might even be tempted to enslave us, or to annihilate the whole of humanity.

Czech court to rule on Russian hacker extradition in prison

Czech authorities say an extradition hearing in the case of a Russian man who faces charges in the United States of hacking and stealing information from computers at LinkedIn, Dropbox and other U.S. companies will take place next month in a prison.

It's still a bad idea to text while driving even with a head-up display

Drivers commonly perform secondary tasks while behind the wheel to navigate or communicate with others, which has led to a significant increase in the number of injuries and fatalities attributed to distracted driving. Advances in wearable technology, particularly devices such as Google Glass, which feature voice control and head-up display (HUD) functionalities, raise questions about how these devices might impact driver attention when used in vehicles. New human factors/ergonomics research examines how these interface characteristics can have a deleterious effect on safety.

Top chipmaker TSMC says forex fluctuation hits Q1 earnings

Microchip giant Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing blamed currency fluctuations as it posted a slump in first quarter earnings Thursday, warning that growth was unlikely to pick up before the second half of the year.

Large fries? Extra sauce? Why McDonald's wants to track all your dining habits

You know a lot about McDonald's, but McDonald's doesn't know much about you. At least not yet.

Review: YouTube TV could use some more time in production

You've probably used YouTube to watch short clips from Hollywood films, instructional videos or goofy home-made movies. Now you can use it to watch something else: live and recorded cable programming.

We're not saying it's wrong, but you sleep with your smartphone

Admit it, you're really into your smartphone.

Auto show: High-priced, high-power super cars; a Tesla rival

Thursday at the New York International Auto Show was a day for automakers that sell to the wealthiest of car buyers to show their high-powered stuff. Prices for these cars range from hundreds of thousands of dollars to the millions. A potential competitor for Lucid also showed off its electric car for the first time at an auto show.

$19.8 billion airwaves auction may mean better cell service

Consumers could see more competition and better mobile service after the end of a big U.S. government auction transferring airwave rights from TV broadcasters to companies interested in wireless networks.

US companies performed 18% of R&D outside the United States in 2013

U.S. companies spent $73 billion on research and development (R&D) performed outside the United States in 2013, according to a new report by the National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

University of Michigan unveils 1,500-pound Rubik's Cube

University of Michigan mechanical engineering students have made one of the most popular puzzle games much larger. And tougher to solve.

Journalists at two New York digital news sites opt to unionize

Journalists at two recently combined digital news organizations in New York have agreed to unionize.

Indoor temperatures in buildings of the future will automatically adjust to user needs

The HumanTool project being led by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland involves the testing of new indoor temperature control concepts for adjusting spaces to individual needs. Energy is saved when unused rooms can be left unheated or uncooled. The final result of the project will be a completely new product.

Low-haze structures for transparent flexible electrodes by electrospinning processes

For flexible electrodes, INM - Leibniz Institute for New Materials is working with the process of electrospinning, a technique that produces ultra-fine fibers that are up to 100 times thinner than a human hair. These fibers are collected on glass or on foils in an unstructured, wide mesh net. When conductive materials are spun, flexible conductive transparent electrodes could be produced. These FTCEs have transparencies comparable to indium tin oxide with low haze less than two percent.

Team develops novel semiconductor nanofiber with superb charge conductivity

The Department of Mechanical Engineering of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has developed a novel technology of embedding highly conductive nanostructure into semi-conductor nanofiber. The novel composite so produced has superb charge conductivity, and can therefore be widely applied, especially in environmental arena.

Russia blocks app used to organize protests

Russia has banned the use on its territory of a smartphone app widely used like a walkie-talkie to organize demonstrations and other gatherings.

Medicine & Health news

Could New York neighborhood noise be good for poor residents?

Loud workplace noise has been found by many studies to cause harm, but a recent analysis links the sounds of all-night car horn blasts and shouting by bar revelers in New York City's noisiest neighborhoods to unexplained improvements in body weight and blood pressure for the urban poor living there.

Suppressing single protein greatly extends life span of mice with form of ALS

A study led by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine has revealed a possible new therapeutic approach for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease.

In people who intentionally let their minds wander, two main brain cell networks broadly overlap

Our thoughts are not always tethered to events in the moment. Although mind wandering is often considered a lapse in attention, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig and the University of York in England have shown that when we engage internal thoughts in a deliberate manner, this is reflected by more effective processing in brain systems involved in cognitive control. This could explain why some people benefit from letting their thoughts run free and other do not.

Human cognitive map scales according to surroundings

A new study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences refines our understanding of a human skill—the ability to instantaneously assess a new environment and get oriented thanks to visual cues.

Study links brain structure, anxiety and negative bias in healthy adults

Healthy college students who have a relatively small inferior frontal cortex - a brain region behind the temples that helps regulate thoughts and emotions - are more likely than others to suffer from anxiety, a new study finds. They also tend to view neutral or even positive events in a negative light, researchers report.

Visualizing future doesn't increase delayed gratification, study shows

Some people are more impulsive than others.

Toddlers playing with touchscreens sleep less: study

The more toddlers play with touchscreen devices the less they sleep, according to a study released Thursday that suggests the findings could be cause for concern.

Proof that magnesium could prevent fractures

Magnesium could hold the key to preventing one of the most preventable causes of disability in middle-aged to elderly people, according to new research led by academics at the Universities of Bristol and Eastern Finland.

Post-SARS, infection rates in China have steadied, but fast-growing and common infections now need attention

Following the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, China stepped up its prevention and control methods for all infectious diseases, and rates of infection have levelled off since 2009. However, better measures are needed to tackle the most common diseases - including hand, foot and mouth disease, hepatitis B, and tuberculosis - and those that are rapidly increasing, such as hydatid disease, hepatitis C, syphilis, and HIV.

Diabetes continues its relentless rise

(HealthDay)—Two new studies on diabetes deliver good and bad news, but the overall message is that the blood sugar disease remains a formidable public health burden.

Could a clinical trial help your child?

(HealthDay)—If a doctor suggests your child enroll in a clinical trial, you'll undoubtedly have questions.

FDA warns against bogus autism 'cures'

(HealthDay)—Don't fall for products claiming to cure autism, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns.

Specific factors influence first-line biologic Rx for psoriasis

(HealthDay)—The presence of psoriatic arthritis, patient weight, registration country, employment status, and disease severity are the main factors influencing first-line biologic treatment selection for patients with psoriasis, according to a study published online April 7 in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Canada unveils legislation to legalize cannabis

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government unveiled legislation Thursday to fully legalize marijuana, making Canada only the second country to do so, after Uruguay.

'Bad' air may impact 'good' cholesterol increasing heart disease risk

Traffic-related air pollution may increase cardiovascular disease risk by lowering levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), commonly known as "good" cholesterol, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology.

Can unemployment increase stroke risk?

Unemployment appears to increase the risk of having a stroke in middle-age Japanese men and women, and may have similar implications in the U.S, according to new research published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke.

Gonorrhea manipulates an anti-infection mechanism in the female reproductive tract

The bacterium that causes gonorrhea infects the female reproductive tract by breaking connections between cells in the tract's protective lining, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

Drinking iced tea may boost cholera risk in endemic countries

After more than a decade of declining cholera incidence, Vietnam faced an increase in cases of the diarrheal disease during 2007-2010. Risk factors for contracting cholera in Ben Tre province of Vietnam include drinking iced tea or unboiled water and having a water source near a toilet, researchers report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Kidney disease is a major cause of cardiovascular deaths

A new analysis indicates that by 2013, cardiovascular deaths attributed to reduced kidney function outnumbered kidney failure deaths throughout the world. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), provide insights on the true impact of kidney disease on societies and underscore the importance of screening for kidney disease.

Low-fat dairy linked to lower tendency towards depression

People who consume low-fat milk and yogurt, rather than whole-fat dairy products, are less likely to have depression, according to researchers in Japan and China.

Autonomous sensor could aid in early detection of urinary tract infection

Urinary tract infections could one day be diagnosed faster than ever before with an autonomous sensor technology being developed at Purdue University.

Overuse injuries more common in kids who specialize in individual sport

Young athletes who specialize in an individual sport – such as gymnastics, tennis and dance – were at higher risk for overuse injuries (i.e. gradual onset of pain and symptoms), compared to those who focus on a single team sport, according to a study published in The Physician and Sportsmedicine. Acute injuries (i.e. from a single traumatic event) were more common in young athletes whose single sport was a team sport, especially football, cheerleading and soccer.

Oestrogen receptor causes weight loss in male mice

Muscles consume a large part of the body's energy. Hence when fat metabolism in muscle cells is impaired, the organism gains weight. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Heart and Lung Research in Bad Nauheim have discovered that a regulatory circuit for an oestrogen receptor in muscle cells only controls fat metabolism in male mice. The receptor is regulated by an RNA molecule known as miR-22. If this molecule is lacking, more receptor molecules are formed and the animals lose weight as a result, however this only happens in males.

Better prediction for effectiveness of paroxetine

A third of patients with depression do not respond to the first antidepressant medication prescribed. Currently, the only approach available is one of trial and error. In this study, Max Planck scientists have identified a biosignature able to distinguish patients who will and will not respond to treatment with the antidepressant paroxetine. This study is an important step forward in personalised medicine.

Psychology professor seeks the roots of shyness

What makes a baby grow into a shy child? Vanessa LoBue, assistant professor of psychology at RU-N, is embarking on a longitudinal study involving hundreds of babies and a battery of tasks, tests and measurements that promise to shed light on this complex question.

Expert discusses the antibiotic resistance threat

Monica Farley is principal investigator for the Georgia Emerging Infections Program. She is an Emory professor of medicine in infectious disease, a physician at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, and a faculty researcher at the Emory Antibiotic Resistance Center. Here, she discusses the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

Don't believe everything you hear about pesticides on fruits and vegetables

Spring is just around the corner, and with it comes another growing season. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help lower calorie intake; reduce risks for heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes; and protect against certain cancers.

Researcher finds co-sleeping is more common than some parents admit

Parents know that co-sleeping is considered a no-no, but many still allow their children to crawl into bed with them at night.

People are more effective than cartoons when advertising drugs, study says

Advertising tactics, like using celebrities or coupons to promote a product, can influence consumers' purchasing habits. But when the product is a prescription drug, an ad's effectiveness can have significant health implications.

Investigating quality of life after breast reconstruction

After a mastectomy, women who underwent autologous breast reconstruction—where the breast is rebuilt using tissue taken from the patient's own body—reported greater psychosocial and sexual well-being than those who chose implant-based reconstruction, according to a recent Northwestern Medicine study.

Mothers who vape during pregnancy put babies at asthma risk

A UTS-led study of the effects of smoking electronic cigarettes during pregnancy has been hailed by the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) in its stand against legalising nicotine in e-cigarettes.

Fighting parents might be more harmful to child development than divorce, study suggests

The damage caused to a child's development during a family breakdown is done before the parents separate, a study suggests.

Increased exercise leads to stronger bones in just weeks, study shows

Bones adapt to increasing volumes of exercise, becoming larger and stronger in a very short period of time, a study led by Nottingham Trent University sports scientists suggests.

What is 'success' in drug rehab? Programs need more than just anecdotes to prove they work

This week's Australian Story was a compelling narrative of redemption. After a long history of problem drug use and related crime, Peter Lyndon-James's life was turned around and he went on to establish a private rehabilitation service in Perth, Shalom House.

Researchers identify best way to diagnose head injuries and minimise CT scans

Head injuries in children are some of the most frequent presentations to emergency departments. More than 3000 children are admitted to the Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) with head injuries every year. Some children require a CT scan to rule out a serious brain injury. This process is obvious for serious head injuries, but it's more challenging to determine whether CT scans are necessary for children with milder injuries.

Ground-breaking app offering personalised rehabilitation programs for patients following stroke

Stroke is one of the world's leading causes of disability so a first-of-its-kind app that supports clinicians to develop best practice rehabilitation strategies for patients with arm impairments following stroke is good news for millions of people.

Four reasons why we shouldn't forget about Zika

A group of researchers investigating yellow fever, in 1947, discovered a new virus in a sick monkey – the Zika virus. The researchers probably never imagined that nearly 70 years later this virus would rapidly spread across several continents, forcing the World Health Organisation to declare the Zika epidemic a "public health emergency of international concern".

How to eat chocolate without piling on the pounds this Easter

Easter is once again upon us and for many people it is a time when a little more chocolate than usual is consumed. Chocolate gives many of us pleasure mainly because it has physiological effects that make it moreish – if not downright addictive.

Immune system can spot tell-tale change in identity of cancer antigens

A new study has identified novel mechanisms whereby T cells may be able to distinguish an emerging class of targets specifically increased on cancer cells. 

Specialized blood vessels enhance tumor-fighting immunotherapy

Scientists from VIB and KU Leuven, together with colleagues from the University of California and the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research have demonstrated that, anti-angiogenic therapy can improve immune boosting treatments. The successful combination of these two therapies results in the growth of specialized vessels that deliver cancer-fighting immune cells to the tumor, potentially leading to more effective treatments and longer survival periods. The results of the study are published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Science Translational Medicine.

Unclear whether mindful eating can help you lose weight, says review

It is unclear whether mindful eating can help with weight loss, according to a new City, University of London review.

Lab on a chip designed to minimize preterm births

In the United States alone, a half million babies are born preterm; worldwide, the number is an estimated 15 million. Complications associated with preterm birth are the no. 1 cause of death for children under 5, and those who live often face a range of health problems.

How training patients for surgery shortens hospital stays and saves money

Just as an athlete might work to build up stamina before a race, a person entering the hospital also can benefit from prepping the mind and body. Even minor adjustments to diet and mental health could help some individuals go home sooner—and, in turn, save hospitals and insurance companies money.

Study examines cognitive and psychosocial function of retired professional hockey players

Researchers at Baycrest Health Sciences' Rotman Research Institute have reported the most comprehensive neuropsychological study of retired professional ice hockey players to date. They found that the alumni involved in the study, most of whom played in the NHL, were free from significant brain impairment on objective testing. Yet the players reported a high level of emotional, behavioural and cognitive challenges on questionnaires rating subjective complaints.

Mindfulness just as effective as CBT for a broad range of psychiatric symptoms

Mindfulness group therapy has an equally positive effect as individual CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) for the treatment of a wide range of psychiatric symptoms in patients with depression, anxiety and stress-related disorders. Researchers made the finding in a new study from the Center for Primary Healthcare Research (CPF) in Malmö, which is a collaboration between Lund University in Sweden and Region Skåne.

microRNA may reduce stroke risk

The molecule microRNA-210 stabilises deposits in the carotid artery and can prevent them from tearing. Thus, it may prevent dangerous blood clots from forming. This is what scientists headed by Prof. Lars Mägdefessel, Professor of Vascular Biology at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and head of a junior scientist group in the German Centre for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK) have discovered. Their results open up new treatment approaches to reduce stroke risk in patients with carotid arteries at risk of rupturing.

Common drugs, uncommon risks? Higher rate of serious problems after short-term steroid use

Millions of times a year, Americans get prescriptions for a week's worth of steroid pills, hoping to ease a backache or quell a nagging cough or allergy symptoms. But a new study suggests that they and their doctors might want to pay a bit more attention to the potential side effects of this medication.

Think you can handle your alcohol? Study may urge some drinkers to think again

Heavy drinkers develop behavioral tolerance to alcohol over time on some fine motor tasks, but not on more complex tasks, according to a study led by a Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System researcher. While heavy drinkers showed less impairment than light drinkers on a rote fine motor test over time, they did not perform better on a test involving more short-term memory, motor speed, and more complex cognitive processing.

First large-scale survey of Chagas disease in US confirms that the 'silent killer' is a major public health challenge

A study of almost 5,000 Latin American-born residents of Los Angeles County found that 1.24% tested positive for Chagas disease, a parasitic infection that can cause life-threatening heart damage if not treated early. Chagas disease is one of the leading causes of heart failure in Latin America.

Brain tissue from a petri dish

The most complex organ in humans is the brain. Due to its complexity and, of course, for ethical reasons, it is extremely difficult to do scientific experiments on it - ones that could help us to understand neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's, for example.

Don't let ticks get under your skin

(HealthDay)—Just like people, ticks get more active as the weather gets warmer. So be sure to take steps to protect yourself against picking up an eight-legged hitchhiker when you're outdoors.

Cancer occurrence among African-born blacks differs substantially from US-born blacks

The cancer profile of African-born blacks differs from that of United States-born blacks and varies by region of birth, according to a new study. The study, appearing in Cancer, suggests differences in environmental, cultural, social, and genetic factors, and points to an opportunity to study the risk factors associated with the cancer burden in African-born blacks to help create targeted interventions.

Are tumor cells glutamine addicts?

Most cancers require large amounts of glutamine for rapid growth and there are numerous studies indicating that they cannot survive without it, a phenomenon termed "glutamine addiction". This has fueled the idea that preventing tumors from glutamine uptake could be a potential therapeutic strategy. A study by researchers from Berlin and Würzburg, Germany, now concludes that while glutamine deprivation will halt the proliferation of certain tumor cells, most of them will not be killed, raising questions of whether such a therapeutic intervention will lead to remission in cancers. The study is published today in The EMBO Journal.

Study identifies a genetic link to susceptibility and resistance to inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), characterized by chronic relapsing inflammation of the gut, is a common problem in the industrialized world. However, how IBD develops remains unknown. There is currently no cure and treatment options are costly and limited to alleviating symptoms. A new study in The American Journal of Pathology reveals that the Cd14 gene is a protective factor in experimental inflammatory bowel disease by enhancing the intestinal barrier function.

Study examines impact of common risk factors on outcomes for home and birth center births

Women with some characteristics commonly thought to increase pregnancy risks—being over age 35; being overweight; and in some cases, having a vaginal birth after a cesarean section—tend to have good outcomes when they give birth at home or in a birth center, a new assessment has found.

Crooked bite may indicate early life stress

Research has repeatedly confirmed that the first 1,000 days after conception strongly influence a person's life expectancy and susceptibility to chronic diseases. The primary marker used to identify early life stress is low birth weight, which can, for instance, indicate poor nutrition of the mother during pregnancy.

A tool to improve the way physicians and patients talk about GI issues

Although GI disorders are among the most common medical conditions, many patients don't consider their symptoms serious enough to consult a physician and are left suffering in silence.

Researchers examine the relationship between drug injection risk behaviors and immune activation

The use of heroin and other illicit drugs has been shown to trigger a response from the body's immune system. Consequently, high levels of immune activation (inflammation)—that is associated with the progression of chronic disease and disability—are frequently found among people who inject drugs (PWID).

The uncalculated costs of global health insecurity

In the last decade, the United States has played a leading funder role in the preparedness and responses to global infectious outbreaks and the delivery of basic healthcare in developing countries. The proposed aid cuts in the U.S. 2018 budget arguably represent at the very least, a serious setback in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and would diminish the capacity to prevent and coordinate interventions to address human health security issues, like Ebola. The reduction of funding to national disease surveillance systems, training and infrastructure in the developing world means lowering the guard to deliver rapid, coordinated and consistent assistance to tackle borderless infectious diseases.

Indigenous women need more help to stop smoking

Indigenous women across four high income countries are not getting the help they need to stop smoking when pregnant.

Research testing topical antibiotic for acne

As Easter looms, University of Melbourne researchers have good news on two fronts: eating chocolate does not cause pimples; and they're calling for participants for a trial of a new treatment for moderate or severe acne.

New assessment of preschool mental health trialled

Murdoch University hosted Australia's first training for an innovative method of assessing the mental health of preschool aged children.

Diarrhoea kills more than 500 in Somalia since January: UN

Cholera and acute diarrhoea have killed more than 500 people and left tens of thousands of others sick in drought-hit parts of Somalia since January, the United Nations said Thursday.

Somalia's cholera outbreak at more than 25,000 cases: WHO

The World Health Organization says a cholera outbreak in Somalia has grown to more than 25,000 cases this year alone and is expected to double by the end of June.

Regulator of chromosome structure crucial to healthy brain function and nerve development

In the nucleus of eukaryotic cells, DNA is packaged with histone proteins into complexes known as chromatin, which are further compacted into chromosomes during cell division. Abnormalities in the structure of chromosomes are known to cause changes in gene expression during development of nerve cell networks.

Forty years, one procedure, millions of lives saved

While heart disease remains the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S., according the Centers for Disease Control, advances in medicine over the past 40 years have led to a substantial reduction in cardiovascular-related deaths.

Technique improves breast reduction outcomes

Research led by Frank Lau, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical Surgery at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has found that long-term breast reduction outcomes can be improved by using techniques that minimally disrupt the lower breast suspensory ligaments. The paper, The Sternum-Nipple Distance is Double the Nipple-Inframammary Fold Distance in Macromastia, is published Ahead-of-Print online in the Annals of Plastic Surgery.

Married LGBT older adults are healthier, happier than singles, study finds

Same-sex marriage has been the law of the land for nearly two years—and in some states for even longer—but researchers can already detect positive health outcomes among couples who have tied the knot, a University of Washington study finds.

Canadian 'giant' of HIV research drowns

Canadian scientist Mark Wainberg—described as a "giant" of HIV science and who had recently been working on finding a cure for the condition—has died at the age of 71, UNAIDS said on Thursday.

FSU Autism Institute launches web-based family ecosystem to jump-start early intervention

Waiting for children to develop on their own is one reason so many toddlers with autism go undiagnosed. A delay in treatment can result in the loss of precious months or years when interventions are able to dramatically affect outcomes.

Worldwide survey finds 16 percent rate of acute neurological conditions in critically ill children

Sixteen percent of children in pediatric intensive care units (ICUs) have acute neurological conditions with brain damage due to cardiac arrest, traumatic brain injury, or other causes, reports an international survey study in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.

Fewer repeat hospital admissions after 'vertical integration' of healthcare

"Vertical integration" of healthcare—closer coordination of care between primary care and hospitals—leads to a lower rate of hospital readmissions, suggests an experience from Portugal reported in the May issue of Medical Care.

Biology news

25 is 'golden age' for the ability to make random choices

People's ability to make random choices or mimic a random process, such as coming up with hypothetical results for a series of coin flips, peaks around age 25, according to a study published in PLOS Computational Biology.

Computer game helps scientists understand animal camouflage

Online computer games played by more than 30,000 people have helped scientists understand animal camouflage and colour vision.

Study discovers fundamental unit of cell size in bacteria

Biologists have long known that bacteria grow faster and bigger when the quality of nutrients becomes better, a principle in microbial physiology known as the "growth law," which describes the relationship between the average cell size of bacteria and how fast they grow.

With magnetic map, young eels catch a 'free ride' to Europe

Each year, young European eels make their way from breeding grounds in the Sargasso Sea to coastal and freshwater habitats from North Africa to Scandinavia, where they live for several years before returning to the Sargasso Sea to spawn and then die, beginning the cycle again. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology on April 13 have new insight into how the young eels make such a remarkable journey.

How nature engineered the original rotary motor

The bacterial flagellum is one of nature's smallest motors, rotating at up to 60,000 revolutions per minute. To function properly and propel the bacterium, the flagellum requires all of its components to fit together to exacting measurements. In a study published today in Science, University of Utah researchers report the eludication of a mechanism that regulates the length of the flagellum's 25 nanometer driveshaft-like rod and answers a long-standing question about how cells are held together.

Bacterial supermachine reveals streamlined protein assembly line

There are many processes that take place in cells that are essential for life. Two of these, transcription and translation, allow the genetic information stored in DNA to be deciphered into the proteins that form all living things, from bacteria to humans to plants.

Unveiling how nucleosome repositioning occurs to shed light on genetic diseases

A research group led by Hitoshi Kurumizaka, a professor of structural biology at Waseda University, unveiled the crystal structure of an overlapping dinucleosome, a newly discovered chromatin structural unit. This may explain how nucleosome repositioning occurs and provide valuable information for developing drugs to treat genetic diseases.

Hunting accounts for 83 and 58 percent declines in tropical mammal and bird populations

Hunting is a major threat to wildlife particularly in tropical regions, but a systematic, large-scale estimate of hunting-induced declines of animal numbers has been lacking. A study published in Science on April 14 fills this gap. An international team of ecologists and environmental scientists found that bird and mammal populations were reduced within 7 and 40 km of hunters' access points, such as roads and settlements.

Committee responds to critique of gene engineering report

Providing blanket approval or condemnation of all genetically engineered (GE) crops oversimplifies a complex issue and ignores the continued need for scrutiny, risk assessment and debate among various stakeholders – including scientists, farmers and the general public.

Team finds way to view genes inside living cells

For Mazhar Adli, the little glowing dots dancing about on the computer screen are nothing less than the fulfillment of a dream. Those fluorescent dots, moving in real time, are set to illuminate our understanding of the human genome, cancer and other genetic diseases in a way never before possible.

Scientists discover master switch to turn on silent biosynthetic gene clusters

Bacteria have supplied some of today's most indispensable anti-cancer and anti-bacterial drugs. Yet these compounds comprise only a fraction of their possible offerings. Now, researchers have found a way to unleash their full potential as natural product dispensers.

Scientists unveil CRISPR-based diagnostic platform

A team of scientists from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Institute for Medical Engineering & Science at MIT, and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University has adapted a CRISPR protein that targets RNA (rather than DNA) as a rapid, inexpensive, highly sensitive diagnostic tool with the potential for a transformative effect on research and global public health.

Unraveling mysteries of mouthparts of butterflies

Imagine that the way flies and butterflies drink nectar and other fluids can be imitated for use in medicine, potentially to deliver life-saving drugs to the body—and also how this method can save their own lives in times of drought.

Endangered sawfish no match for Aussie croc

The sharpened teeth on the saw-like snout of the critically endangered Australian sawfish is proving little defence against its deadliest underwater predators, the crocodile and shark.

Millions of rotting fish—turtles and crays can save us from carpageddon

The Australian government plans to target invasive European carp with a herpes virus, leaving hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carp rotting in the river systems that supply our drinking water and irrigate the fruit and vegetables we eat.

Study discovers abscisic acid role in plant branching

An old chemical in plants is now being recognized with a new duty – inhibiting branch growth to react to weather or end use – thanks to a recent Texas A&M AgriLife Research study.

Free-floating eDNA identifies presence and abundance of ocean life

Ocean life is largely hidden from view. Monitoring what lives where is costly – typically requiring big boats, big nets, skilled personnel and plenty of time. An emerging technology using what's called environmental DNA gets around some of those limitations, providing a quick, affordable way to figure out what's present beneath the water's surface.

3-D printing spiders

Spiders build webs, shelters and egg sacs from fine tough silk fibers. To apply these fibers, they must be properly attached to substrates or other threads and must cope with loading in highly-variable directions.

Defects in epithelial tissue organisation – A question of life or death

Researchers from the Mechanobiology Institute, Singapore (MBI) at the National University of Singapore have discovered the primary mechanism driving the extrusion of dying cells from epithelial monolayers. This work was published in Nature on 13 April 2017.

Citizen scientists help identify shorebird extinction threat

An international team of citizen scientists and researchers has identified a major contributor to the dramatic decline of migratory shorebird populations in Australia.

Sandy the dingo wins world's most interesting genome competition

A wild-born, pure Australian desert dingo called Sandy Maliki has taken out first place in the World's Most Interesting Genome competition.The UNSW-led proposal to have Sandy's DNA decoded was one of five finalists for the Pacific Biosciences SMRT Grant, which provides cutting-edge sequencing of the complete genome of a particularly fascinating plant or animal.

Deciphering plant immunity against parasites

Nematodes are a huge threat to agriculture since they parasitize important crops such as wheat, soybean, and banana; but plants can defend themselves. Researchers at Bonn University, together with collaborators from the Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich, identified a protein that allows plants to recognize a chemical signal from the worm and initiate immune responses against the invaders. This discovery will help to develop crop plants that feature enhanced protection against this type of parasites. The work is published in the current issue of PLoS Pathogens.

Scientists tag humpback whales in southeast Pacific: Study reveals vital information for species protection

Whales from both poles migrate long distances to breed in tropical waters. Smithsonian scientist Hector M. Guzman and Fernando Félix at the Salinas Whale Museum in Ecuador, tagged 47 humpbacks with satellite transmitters to understand how the humpbacks' Southeastern Pacific population moves within breeding areas.

An important step towards new malaria medicine

An international research team, led by Sergey Kapishnikov from the X-ray and Neutron Science section at the Niels Bohr Institute, has developed new techniques in analyzing malaria infected red blood cells, an important step towards finding more effective medicine. This amoeba is the biggest killer in the world – earth's most dangerous animal.

Urban wild boars prefer natural food resources

Different than expected, wild boars do not come to Berlin in order to use garbage or other anthropogenic food resources. In fact, also in the city they predominantly consume natural resources. This is the surprising result of a study conducted by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), financially supported by National Geographic and the "Stiftung Naturschutz Berlin". The researchers analysed the stomachs of 247 wild boars from Berlin and the surrounding countryside. The results have been published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.

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