Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Science X Newsletter Tuesday, May 2

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for May 2, 2017:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Toward a better understanding of structure-metabolism relationships in human aldehyde oxidase (Update)

CAST project passes an important milestone in search for axion

Astronomer ponders the idea of looking for long extinct intelligent alien life

Origin of Milky Way's hypothetical dark matter signal may not be so dark

Scientists find giant wave rolling through the Perseus galaxy cluster

Antarctic Peninsula ice more stable than thought

Researchers create a roadmap of bipolar disorder and how it affects the brain

Excess transcription factor Heat Shock Factor 1 can delay embryonic neural migration

Flexible, organic and biodegradable: Researchers develop new wave of electronics

How dandelion seeds act as a perfect pipette in the lab

Cassini finds 'The Big Empty' close to Saturn

Deforestation endangering the majority of the world's species, says new global research

Combination approach may boost social interactions in autism

Discovery creates a new paradigm for creating materials from crystals

Researchers open new routes to treat asthma attacks

Astronomy & Space news

Astronomer ponders the idea of looking for long extinct intelligent alien life

(Phys.org)—Jason Wright, an astronomy professor at Penn State, has uploaded a paper to the arXiv preprint sever that addresses the issue of whether we have looked hard enough for extinct alien life—particularly intelligent forms of extraterrestrial life. In his paper, he questions whether enough effort is being put into looking for evidence of space-faring alien life forms (technosignatures) that are now extinct but who might have left behind evidence of their existence here in our own solar system—everything here is much closer, he notes, than the next-nearest star system.

Origin of Milky Way's hypothetical dark matter signal may not be so dark

A mysterious gamma-ray glow at the center of the Milky Way is most likely caused by pulsars – the incredibly dense, rapidly spinning cores of collapsed ancient stars that were up to 30 times more massive than the sun. That's the conclusion of a new analysis by an international team of astrophysicists, including researchers from the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The findings cast doubt on previous interpretations of the signal as a potential sign of dark matter – a form of matter that accounts for 85 percent of all matter in the universe but that so far has evaded detection.

Scientists find giant wave rolling through the Perseus galaxy cluster

Combining data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory with radio observations and computer simulations, an international team of scientists has discovered a vast wave of hot gas in the nearby Perseus galaxy cluster. Spanning some 200,000 light-years, the wave is about twice the size of our own Milky Way galaxy.

Cassini finds 'The Big Empty' close to Saturn

As NASA's Cassini spacecraft prepares to shoot the narrow gap between Saturn and its rings for the second time in its Grand Finale, Cassini engineers are delighted, while ring scientists are puzzled, that the region appears to be relatively dust-free. This assessment is based on data Cassini collected during its first dive through the region on April 26.

Astronomers confirm nearby star a good model of our early solar system

NASA's SOFIA aircraft, a 747 loaded with a 2.5-meter telescope in the back and stripped of most creature comforts in the front, took a big U-turn over the Pacific west of Mexico.

New lease of life for Ukraine's war-torn mountain observatory

Perched spectacularly 2,000 metres up on a snowcapped peak in Ukraine's Carpathian Mountains, the Bilyi Slon observatory has stood empty and battered by the elements for some seven decades.

Monitoring astronauts' lung health

Astronauts in space are valuable sources of scientific data. Researchers collect blood and urine samples to understand what effects living in weightlessness has on their bodies. For one experiment, investigators are interested in their breath.

NASA's Webb Telescope completes Goddard testing, heading to Texas for more

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has successfully passed the center of curvature test, an important optical measurement of Webb's fully assembled primary mirror prior to cryogenic testing, and the last test held at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, before the spacecraft is shipped to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston for more testing.

Image: Hubble captures a sea of spiral galaxies

While one instrument of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope observed a pair of spiral galaxies for its 27th anniversary last month, another simultaneously observed a nearby patch of the sky to obtain this wide-field view.

Putting students closer to explosive solar events

NJIT has a long-established reputation as a leader in researching phenomena originating on the star closest to Earth—the Sun. NJIT's optical telescope at Big Bear Solar Observatory and radio telescope array at Owens Valley, both in California, have greatly expanded our understanding of solar events that periodically impact our home planet, events such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that can disrupt terrestrial communications and power infrastructure in addition to other effects.

Technology news

Flexible, organic and biodegradable: Researchers develop new wave of electronics

As electronics become increasingly pervasive in our lives – from smart phones to wearable sensors – so too does the ever rising amount of electronic waste they create. A United Nations Environment Program report found that almost 50 million tons of electronic waste were thrown out in 2017—more than 20 percent higher than waste in 2015.

Researchers find more efficient way to make oil from dead trees

The mountain pine beetle has destroyed more than 40 million acres of forest in the western United States. That amounts to an area the size of Washington state that is strewn with conifers left for dead.

'Open port' backdoors are widespread smartphone security hole

A sweeping study of an internet communication mechanism common in mobile devices has revealed that so-called 'open ports' are much more vulnerable to security breaches than previously thought.

Microsoft out to regain ground in schools with Surface Laptop

Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled a Surface laptop and streamlined operating software in a move aimed at regaining ground in classrooms, where Google Chromebooks have taken hold.

MIT Rocket Team shows rocket motor printed from plastic

(Tech Xplore)—MIT Rocket Team on April 21 successfully fired a rocket motor printed from plastic. They had project support from Markforged for their 3-D printed rocket motor. They put out a video to show it in action.

1000 km range thanks to a new battery concept

You cannot get far today with electric cars. One reason is that the batteries require a lot of space. Fraunhofer scientists are stacking large cells on top of one another. This provides vehicles with more power. Initial tests in the laboratory have been positive. In the medium term, the project partners are striving to achieve a range of 1000 kilometers for electric vehicles.

Bending sheet glass using lasers and gravity

A new Fraunhofer technique makes it possible to bend sheet glass into complex or unconventional shapes with the help of laser beams. This opens up a whole new range of potential products for architects and designers. The researchers are taking advantage of a particular attribute glass has of becoming viscous and therefore malleable when exposed to high temperatures. Precise calculations and gravity do the rest.

Heat-resistant ultrasonic transducers

Technical systems must be regularly checked for defects, such as cracks. Up to now, piezo sensors measuring pressure, force or voltage have been used to reliably detect such faults – but only to around 200 degrees Celsius. Now, special high-temperature piezo sensors can continuously monitor components that are as hot as 900 degrees Celsius. Fraunhofer researchers will present their development at the SENSOR+TEST measurement fair in Nürnberg, May 30 to June 1, 2017.

Fast and accurate infrared 3-D scanner

Infrared 3-D scanners have been used in video games for quite some time. Whereas in video games the scanners are, for example, only able to identify if a player throws his arms up in the air while playing virtual volleyball, the new 3-D scanner of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Optics and Precision Engineering IOF is able to be much more precise. With a resolution of one million pixels and real-time data processing, numerous applications are possible with this new device.

High-sensitivity microwave amplifier detects very weak signals

In the coming years, the European Space Agency (ESA) will be launching a series of new weather satellites that will be able to measure important meteorological data, such as precipitation, water vapor or temperature, better than ever before. The heart of these measuring devices consists of extremely sensitive microwave amplifiers that were developed at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF. These can perceive even very weak signals from the environment, which are important for more accurate weather predictions.

Capacitor withstands temperatures of up to 300 degrees Celsius

Heat, dust and moisture damage electronic components. Protecting against dust and moisture is fairly straightforward, but heat remains a problem because it is created within the component itself. Anywhere electricity flows, heat is generated as well. There is not always enough space in the electronic component to draw away the waste heat with cooling fins or ventilators. Devices that operate in a hot environment pose an even bigger problem. For example, a drill bit in the oil industry rotates at high speeds thousands of meters below the surface, generating temperatures of up to 250 degrees – not to mention the enormous mechanical load on the electronic components.

Inkjet-printed batteries bring us closer to smart objects

The race is on to develop everyday objects that have network connectivity and can send and receive data: the so-called 'Internet of Things'. But this requires flexible, lightweight and thin rechargeable power sources. Currently available batteries are packaged into fixed shapes and sizes, making them unsuitable for many future needs.

The terrestrial and aerial components of a European spatial and urban mapping project

Developing a good, high-resolution 3-D map is a long, tedious and expensive process: a vehicle scans the surrounding environment from ground level up to the top of roofs or trees, while an aerial perspective is added using a drone. But a new approach, in which the terrestrial vehicle and drone are operated in tandem, has now been developed as part of a European project called mapKITE. EPFL researchers are involved in the consortium, which is funded by the H2020 program, and have designed some of the key components of this breakthrough technology. These include technical features – such as the target – that allow the drone to 'latch' virtually onto the vehicle.

Why we choose terrible passwords, and how to fix them

The first Thursday in May is World Password Day, but don't buy a cake or send cards. Computer chip maker Intel created the event as an annual reminder that, for most of us, our password habits are nothing to celebrate. Instead, they – and computer professionals like me – hope we will use this day to say our final goodbyes to "qwerty" and "123456," which are still the most popular passwords.

Is electricity use in the developing world about to skyrocket?

Cities in the developing world may soon see dramatic spikes in electricity consumption for heating and cooling, according to a new study led by researchers from the Earth Institute's Quadracci Sustainable Engineering Lab.

How 3-D food printers could improve mealtimes for people with swallowing disorders

It's hard to imagine food prepared in a printer can be tasty and look good. But a presentation at a 3-D food printing conference today shows how printed foods could improve the lives of people with swallowing disorders. These people are only able to eat foods textured in a particular way, which often don't look very nice on the plate.

Solar cells with nanostripes

Solar cells based on perovskites reach high efficiencies: They convert more than 20 percent of the incident light directly into usable power. On their search for underlying physical mechanisms, researchers of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have now detected strips of nanostructures with alternating directions of polarization in the perovskite layers. These structures might serve as transport paths for charge carriers. This is reported in the Energy & Environmental Science journal.

Neuralink wants to wire your brain to the internet – what could possibly go wrong?

Neuralink – which is "developing ultra high bandwidth brain-machine interfaces to connect humans and computers" – is probably a bad idea. If you understand the science behind it, and that's what you wanted to hear, you can stop reading.

Healthy housing for refugees in extreme climates

Refugees living in extreme climates ranging from 45 degrees to -10 degrees, such as those in Jordan, could benefit from improved living conditions as a result of an international collaborative research project led by the University of Bath.

India-based IT company Infosys plans Indiana tech center

India-based outsourcing and information technology company Infosys announced Tuesday that it will establish a central Indiana tech center as part of a broader expansion in the United States that is projected to create 10,000 jobs in the coming years.

Apple growing cash stash spurs talk of huge acquisition

As Apple's stash of cash grows, so does the possibility that the company will use some of the money for a huge acquisition that would expand its empire beyond iPhones and other gadgets.

Facebook CEO dinner hosts say he's not running for president

An Ohio family that hosted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for dinner says he made it clear he wasn't planning to run for president in 2020.

USA Today owner Gannett warns workers of possible breach

Gannett, the publisher of USA Today and other newspapers, has warned about 18,000 current and former employees that hackers may have had access to their personal information after breaking into the emails of members of its human resources department.

Novel designs for interference microscopy objectives earn Rudolf Kingslake Medal

Two researchers from Zygo Corporation are recipients of the Rudolf Kingslake Medal and Prize for 2016. The award is presented annually to the most noteworthy original paper published in the journal Optical Engineering by SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics.

Medicine & Health news

Researchers create a roadmap of bipolar disorder and how it affects the brain

A new study has found brain abnormalities in people with bipolar disorder.

Excess transcription factor Heat Shock Factor 1 can delay embryonic neural migration

Transcription factor Heat Shock Factor 1 (Hsf1), which the developing brain releases to shield the vital organ from the ravages of environmental stress, actually can contribute to impairing the embryonic brain when too much Hsf1 is produced, research led by Children's National Health System scientists indicates. While the finding was made in a preclinical model, it raises questions about neural risks for human infants if their mothers drink alcohol in the first or second trimester of pregnancy.

Combination approach may boost social interactions in autism

The hormone oxytocin, the so-called hug hormone or cuddle chemical, has more nicknames than proven medical uses. However, oxytocin may benefit children with autism spectrum disorders if receptors for opioids—brain chemicals activated by drugs such as heroin that tend to disconnect people socially—are also blocked, Yale researchers report the week of May 1 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers open new routes to treat asthma attacks

Research into the mechanism behind asthma attacks has discovered potential new ways to treat - and possibly prevent - this life-threatening condition.

Study shows people reading about organ donor recipients more receptive to donating than when reading about donors

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers affiliated with Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel and Decision Research and the University of Oregon in the U.S. has found evidence that suggests people are more open to donating organs after reading about donor recipients than after reading about donors. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes their study, which involved querying volunteers after reading material about organ donation.

Discovering the deadly diversity of malaria

A new genetic fingerprinting technique has for the first time shown the huge genetic diversity of the malaria parasite, one of nature's most persistent and successful human pathogens.

Study opens new line of attack on spinal muscular atrophy

Though spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) in its most severe form remains incurable and fatal in early childhood, researchers are sustaining a multipronged counterattack for patients and their families. The first treatment for the disease gained U.S. market approval in December. Now a new discovery led by Brown University scientists deepens the basic understanding of how the genetic mutation that causes SMA appears to undermine the communication between motor neurons and the muscles they control.

Language shapes how the brain perceives time

Language has such a powerful effect, it can influence the way in which we experience time, according to a new study.

At last, a clue to where cancer metastases are born

Even in remission, cancer looms. Former cancer patients and their doctors are always on alert for metastatic tumors. Now scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have discovered why some cancers may reoccur after years in remission.

Discovery in mice could lead to new class of medications to fight mid-life obesity

NIH discovery in mice could lead to new class of medications to fight mid-life obesity

'Exercise-in-a-pill' boosts athletic endurance by 70 percent

Every week, there seems to be another story about the health benefits of running. That's great—but what if you can't run? For the elderly, obese or otherwise mobility-limited, the rewards of aerobic exercise have long been out of reach.

Parkinson's in a dish: Researchers reproduce brain oscillations

Abnormal oscillations in neurons that control movement, which likely cause the tremors that characterize Parkinson's disease, have long been reported in patients with the disease. Now, University at Buffalo researchers working with stem cells report that they have reproduced these oscillations in a petri dish, paving the way for much faster ways to screen for new treatments or even a cure for Parkinson's disease.

Study finds linkage between social network structure and brain activity

When someone talks about using "your network" to find a job or answer a question, most people understand that to mean the interconnected web of your friends, family, and acquaintances. But we all have another key network that shapes our life in powerful ways: our brains.

Dietary gluten is not linked to heart risk in non-celiacs

A study of more than 100,000 men and women revealed that dietary gluten is not associated with heart disease risk in people without celiac disease. The findings also suggest that limiting whole grains as part of a low-gluten diet may increase the risk of heart disease in people who do not have celiac disease.

Pathways leading to beta cell division identified, may aid diabetes treatment

Pancreatic beta cells help maintain normal blood glucose levels by producing the hormone insulin—the master regulator of energy (glucose). Impairment and the loss of beta cells interrupts insulin production, leading to type 1 and 2 diabetes. Using single-cell RNA sequencing, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have, for the first time, mapped out pathways that regulate beta cell growth that could be exploited to trick them to regenerate.

Pinpointing where seizures are coming from, by looking between the seizures

A computational approach developed at Boston Children's Hospital, described in the journal Neurosurgery, published online May 2, 2017, could enable more patients with epilepsy to benefit from surgery when medications do not help. The approach streamlines the seizure monitoring process required for surgical planning, making surgery a more feasible and less risky option for patients.

Weight loss can slow down knee joint degeneration

Overweight and obese people who lost a substantial amount of weight over a 48-month period showed significantly lower degeneration of their knee cartilage, according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology.

Science Says: Why are opioids so addictive?

Pleasure. Craving. Withdrawal.

Overcoming Opioids: When pills are a hospital's last resort

A car crash shattered Stuart Anders' thigh, leaving pieces of bone sticking through his skin. Yet Anders begged emergency room doctors not to give him powerful opioid painkillers—he'd been addicted once before and panicked at the thought of relapsing.

Better quality relationships associated with reduced dementia risk

Positive social support from adult children is associated with reduced risk of developing dementia, according to a new research published today.

Artificial intelligence to boost chances of IVF success

Artificial intelligence technology is being used by an Aussie startup to help select the healthiest embryos for use in IVF treatments.

Scientists develop novel chemical 'dye' to improve liver cancer imaging

Scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a novel nanodiamond-based contrast agent—a chemical "dye" used to enhance the visibility of internal body structures in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—that improves visualisation of liver cancer tumours. Better and more sensitive imaging contributes towards detecting liver cancer and is crucial for planning for treatment.

Quality of care for peripheral artery disease is low

Less than half of individuals with peripheral artery disease, which is a narrowing of arteries to the limbs, stomach and head, are treated with appropriate medications and lifestyle counseling. These findings highlight the need to improve the quality of care for this high-risk group of individuals.

Immune cells play crucial role in brain cancer development

Brain tumors recruit immune cells derived from bone marrow to transform what began as benign masses into deadly malignancies, according to two studies from Weill Cornell Medicine scientists. The findings suggest that inhibiting this cell-recruitment process can suppress tumor growth and may offer a way to predict which patients are at greatest risk for developing brain cancer.

First patient receives experimental immunotherapy for cancer

A Hamilton patient is the first trial participant to receive a novel experimental immunotherapy treatment for lung cancer.

The history of anaesthesia

We expect to feel no pain during surgery or at least to have no memory of the procedure. But it wasn't always so.

Researchers use math to develop personalized chemo treatments

A team of Florida State University researchers is using mathematical modeling to find the best and most effective chemotherapy treatments for cancer patients.

Magee and CMU Partner to develop novel app to combat preterm birth

Maternal-fetal medicine specialists at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC collaborated with decision scientists at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to develop and test a personalized smartphone application designed to combat preterm birth by engaging a typically hard-to-reach population of pregnant women. The findings, reported in the Journal of Medical Internet Research mHealth and uHealth, indicate that the app was successful in providing accessible and personalized obstetrical care, designed specifically to target preterm birth risk.

Young adult smokers—a hidden demographic

In their many efforts since the 1990s to prevent Canadians from taking up smoking, governments have had a big blind spot: young adults. That's the finding of new research published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health by Thierry Gagné, a doctoral student at Université de Montréal's School of Public Health. Over the last two decades, use of tobacco by high-school students has dropped dramatically but smoking by young people aged 18 to 25 has stayed relatively unchanged, with many young adults taking up the habit in college or on their first job. It's now time to address this problem of delayed onset of smoking by extending prevention campaigns from teens to young adults, Gagné argues in his paper, written with University of British Columbia sociology professor Gerry Veenstra. Katherine Frohlich, of UdeM's Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, is supervising Gagné's thesis.

Infant CPR kits save lives through training and confidence

Self-instructional CPR kits are a proven method to provide parents with the knowledge and skills needed to resuscitate an infant in case of an emergency. The University of Alabama at Birmingham Women and Infants Center hands out more than 1,500 infant CPR kits each year to help save the lives of infants who are born prematurely, with congenital heart disease or are admitted for respiratory distress and/or neonatal abstinence syndrome. These infants are at higher risk of respiratory and cardiac arrest in their first year of life with bystander cardiopulmonary resuscitation serving as a major predictor of resuscitation outcome.

Lower more than you lift—benefits for experienced resistance-trainers

Two recently published studies show that greater benefits occur when lowering (i.e. eccentric) a greater load than is lifted (i.e. concentric) during resistance-training. Individuals that trained with accentuated eccentric loads gained more strength and they showed greater increases in blood hormone concentration compared to those who used the same load for both lowering and lifting phases (i.e. traditional resistance-training).

Under pressure: Understanding how portal hypertension occurs following liver injury

Investigators at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) have identified a critical regulatory mechanism for the production of nitric oxide (NO). Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) is the enzyme responsible for the production of NO and its activity is tightly controlled in liver endothelial cells via a series of complex molecular mechanisms; however, in liver injury, eNOS activity, and subsequently NO production, is dysregulated. These data were published in the April 2017 issue of The American Journal of Pathology.

Parenting-based therapies are best for children with disruptive behaviors

Therapy that involves the parents in the treatment of children with disruptive behavior disorders shows the best results compared to more than 20 other therapeutic approaches, according to a new study published today in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, a journal of the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Disruptive behavior disorders (DBDs) are characterized by a range of challenging symptoms that put a child frequently at odds with peers, family members, and authority figures.

Fluid flow in the brain unravelled for the first time

The puzzle of how the brain regulates blood flow to prevent it from being flooded and then starved every time the heart beats has been solved with the help of engineering.

Novel compound blocks replication of Zika and other viruses

The cells of vertebrates have evolved pathways that act like an internal defense, inhibiting viral infections by preventing replication of the pathogens. Drugs that activate those existing systems suggest a promising novel approach to treating dangerous infections by Zika and other viruses, say researchers from the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), in Portland.

Smoking decreases MAIT cells, implicated in the pathology of autoimmune diseases

New research published in the May 2017 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology provides another reason why smoking tobacco is harmful. In the report, researchers from Denmark show that smokers have reduced levels of mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells, a cell type involved in autoimmune diseases. Not only does this information shed more light on the effects of smoking, but it also reveals possible strategies to mitigate these effects.

Fashion mannequins communicate 'dangerously thin' body ideals

New research from the University of Liverpool shows that the body size of mannequins used to advertise female fashion in the UK are too thin and may be promoting unrealistic body ideals.

Revealed: The biochemical pathways of kidney disease

According to PKD International, 12.5 million people are affected by polycystic kidney disease. There is no known cure. But that may one day change, thanks in part to new research by a Concordia biology researcher.

Types and distribution of payments from industry to physicians

In 2015, nearly half of physicians were reported to have received a total of $2.4 billion in industry-related payments, primarily involving general payments (including consulting fees and food and beverage), with a higher likelihood and value of payments to physicians in surgical than primary care specialties and to male than female physicians, according to a study published by JAMA in a theme issue on conflict of interest.

Greater life expectancy in patients with recommended mitral valve operations from high-volume surgeons

Surgeons who perform more than 25 mitral valve operations a year are more likely to perform repairs that are durable, and their patients are more likely to be alive a year after the operation, than when operations are performed by lower-volume surgeons, an Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai study has found.

Prescribing patterns change following direct marketing restrictions

A study of how policies restricting pharmaceutical promotion to physicians affect medication prescribing found that physicians in academic medical centers (AMCs) prescribed fewer of the promoted drugs, and more non-promoted drugs in the same drug classes, following policy changes to restrict marketing activities at those medical centers. The analysis encompassed 16.1 million prescriptions; while the decline observed was modest in terms of percentage, proportionally small changes can represent thousands of prescriptions.

First extensive immune profile of sarcomas shows some likely susceptible to immunotherapy

Sarcomas—cancers of the connective tissues like muscles, joints, fat and bone—come in dozens of subtypes. Clinical trial results have been mixed when treating these diverse tumors with immunotherapy, a targeted therapeutic strategy that has success in other cancers.

Stereotactic radiation highly effective for kidney cancer

Kidney cancer patients may soon have more treatment choices that provide a higher quality of life, thanks to research completed by physician scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center. Their recent study showed that treating metastatic kidney cancer with an advanced and focused form of radiation called stereotactic ablative radiation therapy achieves more than 90 percent control of local tumors, and offers the possibility of safely delaying systemic therapy.

Stool microbes predict advanced liver disease

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)—a condition that can lead to liver cirrhosis and cancer—isn't typically detected until it's well advanced. Even then, diagnosis requires an invasive liver biopsy. To detect NAFLD earlier and more easily, researchers in the NAFLD Research Center at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, Human Longevity, Inc. and the J. Craig Venter Institute report that the unique microbial makeup of a patient's stool sample—or gut microbiome—can be used to predict advanced NAFLD with 88 to 94 percent accuracy.

More die as mysterious illness spreads to Liberia capital

More people have died following the outbreak of a mysterious illness that began in southeastern Liberia but has spread to the capital, with 12 unexplained deaths so far, health authorities told AFP Tuesday.

Simple blood tests lead to improved hypertension treatment in African countries

Using two simple blood tests, Western University researchers were able to drastically improve treatment for resistant hypertension across three sites in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.

Genetic finding may allow doctors to predict newborn health during pregnancy

UCLA scientists have discovered specific genetic changes in the placentas of women who gave birth to growth-restricted infants. These changes appear to sabotage the ability of the placenta to grow blood vessels and adequately nourish the fetus, interfering with the infant's growth in the womb.

Controlling the HIV epidemic: A progress report on efforts in sub-Saharan Africa

In a Research Article published in PLOS Medicine, Richard Hayes of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK and colleagues report early findings from PopART—a clinical trial evaluating an intervention to achieve universal HIV testing and treatment—in Zambia. The authors estimate that, after 1 y of the intervention, the proportion of people with HIV who knew their infection status had increased from 52% to 78% (men) and from 56% to 87% (women); and that the overall proportion of people with HIV receiving antiretroviral treatment (ART) had increased from 44% to 61%.

New study makes strides towards generating lung tissue

Using Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), researchers have for the first time profiled the complete genetic programs of early lung progenitors identifying genes that control lung formation and have created mini-lung organoids (artificially grown cells that resemble those of an organ) that can be used to model human lungs.

Period tracking apps failing users in basic ways, study finds

A new study finds that smartphone apps to track menstrual cycles often disappoint users with a lack of accuracy, assumptions about sexual identity or partners, and an emphasis on pink and flowery form over function and customization.

Reserach supports new criteria for evaluating urologic cancer in women

Experts in women's health are recommending physicians follow new guidelines to determine when women warrant further evaluation and testing for urologic cancers when there is microscopic blood in their urine.

Uruguayans sign up for state cannabis in world first

Pot smokers in Uruguay on Tuesday became the first in the world to sign up to buy state-vetted cannabis for recreational use, as pharmacies aim to start selling it in July.

Von Willebrand factor multimers predict regurgitation in TAVR

(HealthDay)—Assessment of defects in high-molecular-weight (HMW) multimers of von Willebrand factor or point-of-care assessment of hemostasis can monitor aortic regurgitation during transcatheter aortic-valve replacement (TAVR), according to a study published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Hearing tests may miss common form of hearing loss

(HealthDay)—Commonly used hearing tests often fail to detect a prevalent form of inner ear damage, according to an experimental study published online recently in Frontiers in Neuroscience.

Intense interval training cuts hypoglycemia awareness in T1DM

(HealthDay)—For patients with type 1 diabetes and normal awareness of hypoglycemia (NAH), high-intensity interval training (HIIT) is associated with reduced awareness of subsequent hypoglycemia, according to a study published online April 18 in Diabetes.

People could be genetically predisposed to social media use

It's easy to think in terms of linking genetics to behavior in simple ways. Are you calm or do you have a temper? Are you creative or analytical? Are you sociable or shy? But can heritable traits actually influence a person to frequently use social media? A recent study by a researcher at the Kent State University found that genetics outweighed environment in social media use using twin study survey data.

Cannabis quandary: Can pregnant women safely consume marijuana?

On many mornings, with a few puffs of pot - and one cannabis-laced chocolate-covered blueberry in the afternoon - Richelle has been able to stop the severe nausea that has accompanied her third pregnancy.

National group wants cancer warning labels on acid reflux drugs

As a kid Charles Rutherford drank milk to soothe the burning sensation after eating peanut butter. As an adult he complained to doctors for years about chest pains only to be told it was due to stress.

How viruses beat a superbug—and saved a man after 9 months of near-certain death

In the end, it was viruses, not an antibiotic, that saved Tom Patterson's life after a superbug infection he suffered in Egypt left him hallucinating, comatose and near death for months.

Researchers gain insights to redirect leading HIV cure strategy

Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has provided the first evidence that viruses and hosts share highly similar regulatory sequences in their promoters—the initiation sequences of human genes that code for functional proteins.

Life expectancy for black Americans is four years below whites

African-Americans have made gains in life expectancy but major disparities remain in the United States, where blacks can expect to live about four years fewer than whites, US researchers said Tuesday.

New roadmap provides blueprint to tackle burden of asthma

A new roadmap has been published identifying key priority areas that need to be addressed to tackle the burden of asthma.

Men need more frequent lung cancer screening than women

Men need more frequent lung cancer screening than women, according to research presented at the European Lung Cancer Conference (ELCC).1

Tips for finding opioid alternatives for surgical pain

Headed for surgery? Specialists say talking to your doctors ahead of time may turn up ways to control post-operative pain while minimizing use of those problematic painkillers called opioids. Among the advice:

Deadly secret: The illegal abortions killing Myanmar's women

Thiri's heart started pounding and her whole body shook after she swallowed the final dose of pills that would end her unwanted pregnancy in a Yangon hotel.

Research aims to drag asthma management into the 21st century

A new study by University of Manchester researchers, published today - World Asthma Day - has probed the features that both patients and healthcare professionals want from an asthma management app.

The challenges of combating malaria in populations isolated by geography or violence

For this year's World Malaria Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has focused on prevention and reaching at-risk populations. Investment in prevention was crucial to eliminating malaria from Europe and North America in the 1900's, and to sharply reducing the number of cases and deaths in Africa and Asia over the past 15 years—and is still badly needed in a world that still sees over 200 million cases of malaria each year.

Canada gets a failing grade on access to obesity treatments for adults

The Canadian Obesity Network (CON) recently conducted an investigation into Canadians' access to publicly and privately funded medical care for obesity. The results of the research have been published as a "Report Card on Access to Obesity Treatment for Adults in Canada 2017" and reveal a number of shortcomings when it comes to patient access to adequate obesity management options.

Pulling the plug on the first gene therapy drug

2017 is supposed to be the year that FDA finally approves a gene therapy. But last week, the company behind the first approved gene therapy in Europe, uniQure.com, announced that it won't "pursue the renewal of marketing authorization" that expires October 25.

NY triplets born with same skull malformation get surgery

A set of New York triplets has made medical history by being the first born with a rare skull malformation, and to be the first to receive corrective surgery.

New study challenges formaldehyde cancer findings

A newly published reanalysis of raw data from a study widely used by chemical assessment agencies to set hazard assessments for formaldehyde shows no link between formaldehyde exposure and leukemia. The peer-reviewed paper was just published on-line in the Journal of Critical Reviews in Toxicology.

Top health officials to simulate disease outbreak response

Top health officials from the 20 leading and emerging economies are planning to simulate their response to a possible global disease outbreak.

Bromances flourish thanks to changing anti-gay sentiments

A decline in homophobia is allowing young men to embrace the benefits of a non-sexual bromance with close male friends. According to Stefan Robinson of the University of Winchester in the UK, young men nowadays are socially encouraged to enjoy deep, emotional and physically intimate friendships. The so-called "bromance" allows them to achieve the kind of closeness that is deeper than in other times, adds Robinson, lead author of an article in Springer's journal Sex Roles.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is safe: study

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a highly effective treatment for severe depression and other mental disorders, but the procedure is feared by many. A recent study headed by researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark documents that this fear is unfounded.

Experts call for registry of egg donors

A commentary and accompanying editorial published in the May issue of Reproductive BioMedicine Onlinecalls for a registry of egg donors to monitor long-term health after egg donation.

Thousands send cards as dying Dutch girl's last wish

A Dutch teenage girl dying of terminal brain cancer has grabbed the hearts of tens of thousands of well-wishers in The Netherlands, who have sent her "get well soon" cards as a last request.

US Republicans struggle to rally around new health bill

Republican leaders in the US Congress were on the brink of another humiliating health care defeat Tuesday, as they struggled to wrangle enough votes to pass Donald Trump's latest bid to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Study uncovers an additional strategy for targeting treatment-resistant prostate cancer

Prostate cancer cells depend on signaling through the androgen receptor (AR) to grow and survive. Many anti-cancer therapies that target ARs are initially successful in patients, including a class of drugs known as CYP17A1 inhibitors, which interfere with AR signaling by blocking the synthesis of androgen. However, over time, adaptations to AR expression and function lead to treatment resistance and disease relapse.

PET/CT helps predict therapy effectiveness in pediatric brain tumors

Brain cancers are difficult to treat, and it can be hard to predict whether a therapy will be effective. When the patient is a child, it's even more important to predict the potential effectiveness of a drug before beginning treatment. In this first ever molecular drug-imaging study in children, researchers in The Netherlands used whole-body positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) scans to determine whether bevacizumab (Avastin) treatment of diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) in children is likely to be effective. The study is featured in the May 2017 issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

Biology news

Sugar-craving crushed—in flies, at least

Yale scientists have discovered ways to blunt the craving for sugar—in fruit flies, at least.

Bioinspired agent kills drug-resistant bacteria

Researchers in Ireland have developed a bioinspired antimicrobial treatment that can rapidly kill drug-resistant bacteria. The treatment consists of iodo-thiocyanate complexes, which are inspired by enzymes and reactive molecules produced by our immune system.

For a green alga, spotted salamanders are stressful hosts

New research shows how two drastically different organisms—a green alga and the spotted salamander—get along as cellular roommates. Scientists at the American Museum of Natural History and Gettysburg College found that this symbiosis, the only known example that includes a vertebrate species, puts stress on algal cells, changing the way they make energy, but does not seem to negatively impact salamander cells. The work is published today in the journal eLife.

The courting cephalopods of the East China Sea

William Shakespeare wrote with a quill, Helen Keller liked her typewriter, and the oval squid prefers to use its body, when it comes to expressing love. But unlike these famous authors, the romanticisms of Sepioteuthis lessoniana were unknown. Until now.

Got a sweet tooth? Blame your liver

A hormone called FGF21 that is secreted by the liver after eating sweets may determine who has a sweet tooth and who doesn't, according to a study in Cell Metabolism published May 2. Researchers at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research at the University of Copenhagen found that people with particular variants of the FGF21 gene were about 20% more likely to be top-ranking consumers of sweets and candy, such as ice cream, chocolate, and gumdrops than their counterparts in the study.

Study reveals first recording of cuttlefish fighting over a mate in the wild

On a research dive in 2011 off the Aegean Sea coast of the fishing village Çe?mealt?, Turkey, a lucky pair of graduate students bore accidental witness to a phenomenon scientists have otherwise only ever seen in the lab: the theater and violence of male cuttlefish competing for a mate.

Holy chickens: Did Medieval religious rules drive domestic chicken evolution?

Chickens were domesticated from Asian jungle fowl around 6000 years ago. Since domestication they have acquired a number of traits that are valuable to humans, including those concerning appearance, reduced aggression and faster egg-laying, although it is not known when and why these traits evolved.

Cancer-causing virus masters cell's replication, immortality

Viruses are notorious for taking over their host's operations and using them to their own advantage. But few human viruses make themselves quite as cozy as the Epstein-Barr virus, which can be found in an estimated nine out of ten humans without causing any ill effects.

The ecological 'pawprint' of domestic dogs is much greater than previously realised

Humans and their canine companions share many close bonds. Wolves (Canis lupus) were the first animal domesticated by people, some time between 15,000 and 50,000 years ago.

Propagation research on rare trees expands species recovery potential

Many rare tropical tree species are restricted to a small, endemic range with very few remaining reproductive individuals. These species suffer from many threats. Conservation agencies often attempt to rebuild the population within the known endemic range of these endangered trees.

Long lost monitor lizard 're-discovered' on Papua New Guinean island

Scientists have recently found and re-described a monitor lizard species from the island of New Ireland in northern Papua New Guinea. It is the only large-growing animal endemic to the island that has survived until modern times. The lizard, Varanus douarrha, was already discovered in the early 19th century, but the type specimen never reached the museum where it was destined as it appears to have been lost in a shipwreck.

Deep learning helps scientists keep track of cell's inner parts

Donnelly Centre researchers have developed a deep learning algorithm that can track proteins, to help reveal what makes cells healthy and what goes wrong in disease.

Bacteria take a deadly risk to survive

Bacteria need mutations—changes in their DNA code—to survive under difficult circumstances. When necessary, they can even mutate at different speeds. This is shown in a recent study by the Centre of Microbial and Plant Genetics at KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Belgium. The findings open up various new avenues for research, ranging from more efficient biofuel production methods to a better treatment for bacterial infections and cancer.

Feeding strategies in competing hummingbird species observed in a small area in Brazil

Being the vertebrates with the highest metabolic rate thanks to their rapid wing flaps, the hummingbirds have evolved various types of feeding behaviour. While the nectar-feeders tend to go for food high in energy, strong competition affects greatly their preferences and behaviour towards either dominance, subordination, a strategy known as trapline and a fourth one named hide-and-wait, conclude the Brazilian scientists Lucas L. Lanna, Cristiano S. de Azevedo, Ricardo M. Claudino, Reisla Oliveira and Yasmine Antonini of Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto. Their conclusions following six months of observations in an Atlantic Forest remnant in southeastern Brazil are published in the open access journal Zoologia.

Scientists say agriculture is good for honey bees

While recent media reports have condemned a commonly used agricultural pesticide as detrimental to honey bee health, scientists with the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture have found that the overall health of honey bee hives actually improves in the presence of agricultural production.

Black rhinos to come back home to Rwanda

Around 20 of Africa's endangered Eastern black rhinos are returning in an "extraordinary homecoming" to Rwanda after the species disappeared there 10 years ago, the African Parks organisation said Tuesday.

Walrus, caribou face extinction risk in Canadian Arctic

Both Atlantic walrus and eastern migratory caribou are at risk of extinction in Canada's Arctic, a panel of experts has warned.

Scientists scrutinize first aid for man o' war stings

In recent decades, trusted first aid resources have recommended stings from man o' war (Physalia species) be treated differently from other jellies. But when researchers at the University of Hawai'i - Mānoa (UHM) dug into the scientific literature, they found scant evidence to support such individualized first aid. Adding to a recent push for evidence-based sting treatments, members of the Pacific Cnidaria Research Laboratory (PCRL) at UHM teamed up with colleagues in Ireland to investigate which commonly recommended first aid actions (such as rinsing with seawater) are the most effective for Physalia stings. Their results, published this week in the journal Toxins, defy the recent abandonment of historic advice, and suggest that man o' war stings are no different than other jellyfish stings; the best first aid is to rinse with vinegar to remove any residual stingers or bits of tentacle left on the skin and then immerse in 45°C (113°F) hot water or apply a hot pack for 45 minutes.

Rare albino orangutan rescued on Borneo island

A rare albino orangutan has been rescued on the Indonesian part of Borneo island where villagers were keeping the white-haired, blue-eyed creature in a cage, a protection group said Tuesday.

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