Friday, June 9, 2017

Science X Newsletter Friday, Jun 9

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for June 9, 2017:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Solving systems of linear equations with quantum mechanics

New form of carbon that's hard as a rock, yet elastic, like rubber

Today in 1922, Illinois professor showed how movies could talk

Researchers find biomarker in deciduous teeth for establishing the age of weaning

Observing electrons surfing waves of light on graphene

Flaws in a tumor's genetic mending kit drive treatment response to immunotherapy

Viral infections decrease muscle health, cause other collateral damage

Chemicals used to combat Zika, agricultural pests impact motor skills in infants

Scientists develop computer-guided strategy to accelerate materials discovery

The largest virtual universe ever simulated

Possible explanation for neurotoxicity of BIA 10-2474 used in disastrous clinical trial

Group suggests adding tag to resurrected extinct animal names

Algorithm eliminates blurred images caused by shaky footage

Intelligent crowd reviewing of scientific papers tested

Researchers design rare-earth extractants with the help of new software

Astronomy & Space news

The largest virtual universe ever simulated

Researchers from the University of Zurich have simulated the formation of our entire universe with a large supercomputer. A gigantic catalogue of about 25 billion virtual galaxies has been generated from 2 trillion digital particles. This catalogue is being used to calibrate the experiments on board the Euclid satellite, that will be launched in 2020 with the objective of investigating the nature of dark matter and dark energy.

Hubble applauds waltzing dwarfs

This seemingly unspectacular series of dots with varying distances between them actually shows the slow waltz of two brown dwarfs. The image is a stack of 12 images made over the course of three years with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Using high-precision astrometry, an Italian-led team of astronomers tracked the two components of the system as they moved both across the sky and around each other.

A very rare discovery: Failed star orbits a dead star every 71 minutes

An international team of astronomers using data from the rejuvenated Kepler space telescope have discovered a rare gem: A binary system consisting of a failed star, also known as a brown dwarf, and the remnant of a dead star known as a white dwarf. And one of the properties that makes this binary so remarkable is that the orbital period of the two objects is only 71.2 minutes. This means that the speeds of the stars as they orbit each other are about 100 km/sec (a speed that would allow you to travel across the Atlantic in less than a minute). Using five different ground-based telescopes across three continents, the team was able to deduce that this binary system consists of a failed star with a mass of about 6.7% that of the Sun (equivalent to 67 Jupiter masses) and a white dwarf that has a mass of about 40% of the sun's mass. They have also determined that the white dwarf will begin cannibalizing the brown dwarf in less than 250 million years making this binary the shortest-period pre-cataclysmic variable ever to have been discovered.

Video: The future of the Orion constellation

Stars are not motionless in the sky: their positions change continuously as they move through our Galaxy, the Milky Way. These motions, too slow to be appreciated with the naked eye over a human lifetime, can be captured by high-precision observations like those performed by ESA's billion-star surveyor, Gaia.

NASA mission tests ketogenic diet undersea, simulating life on Mars

University of South Florida associate professor Dominic D'Agostino, PhD, is one of four crew members selected for the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 22 expedition. He is the only member not affiliated with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) or European Space Agency (ESA).   

Technology news

Today in 1922, Illinois professor showed how movies could talk

Today in 1922, an Illinois professor showed how movies could talk.

Algorithm eliminates blurred images caused by shaky footage

Duke University computer engineers have designed algorithms capable of sharpening video blurred by a shaky camera. Newly integrated into Adobe's After Effects video editing software, the solution is bringing relief to tripod-less videographers everywhere.

New computing system takes its cues from human brain

Some problems are so challenging to solve that even the most advanced computers need weeks, not seconds, to process them.

Concept could sustainably meet human resource needs of 'full Earth'

A new concept proposes to provide food, energy and water resources for the world's growing population by combining systems that simultaneously use different parts of sunlight's spectrum to produce crops, generate electricity, collect heat and purify water.

Facebook patent explores smartphone camera emotion detection to deliver relevant content

(Tech Xplore)—Think about it, that so-important entity in your life, Facebook, getting to know your emotional state and delivering content suited to how you feel.

You can't hold a bitcoin, but the web currency's value has skyrocketed. Why?

Unlike gold or dollar bills, the digital currency known as bitcoin does not physically exist. There is no there there.

How Samsung's VR exec persuades customers to 'strap a phone to their face'

Nick DiCarlo began working at Samsung in 2007, when flip phones and swivel phones were all the rage. He helped Samsung develop and market its high-end Galaxy smartphones and tablets.

Review: Moto G5 Plus: An inexpensive Android phone with all the right features

If there's one thing I admire about Android phones, it's the variety of models available at all price points.

Solar power price slump casts shadow on India's green future

Solar power prices in India have hit rock bottom, but it is not all good news for the electricity-starved country as the phenomenon has hit investor confidence and threatens the country's effort to push its green credentials.

SoftBank buys robotics leader Boston Dynamics from Alphabet

Japanese internet, solar and technology company SoftBank Group Corp. is buying robotics pioneer Boston Dynamics from Alphabet Inc., Google's parent.

Apple CEO Tim Cook to address 2017 graduates at MIT

Apple CEO Tim Cook is delivering the commencement address at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

New Google project digitizes world's top fashion archives

Anyone who has waited on a long, snaking line to get into a fashion exhibit at a top museum knows just how popular they've become - and more broadly, how fashion is increasingly seen as a form of artistic and cultural expression.

New system learns how to grasp objects

Researchers at Bielefeld University have developed a grasp system with robot hands that autonomously familiarizes itself with novel objects. The new system works without previously knowing the characteristics of objects, such as pieces of fruit or tools. The study could contribute to future service robots that are able to independently adapt to working in new households.

Competing businesses cooperate to take empty trucks off our roads

Linking up empty trucks and competing businesses through trusted networks could mean less road traffic and pollution.

A day in the life of a smart-city commuter — and why it's not so far from reality

The alarm on your smart phone went off 10 minutes earlier than usual this morning. Parts of the city are closed off in preparation for a popular end of summer event, so congestion is expected to be worse than usual. You'll need to catch an earlier bus to make it to work on time.

China cracks down on online peddlers of celebrity gossip

Online peddlers of celebrity gossip have fallen foul of China's new cybersecurity law, with officials ordering internet companies to stop "catering to the public's vulgar taste".

A brief history of computer games in the classroom

Play has always been central to growing up, – whether it's in the street or on a playing field – or in the structured formality of teachers' quizzes.

Every drill bit counts

Currently, factories work on a principle of "one size fits all" when it comes to replacing or regrinding tools such as drill bits, milling machines or planes after a specified period of time – whether they need it or not. Not only does this unnecessarily increase the time spent on maintenance, it is expensive, too. In the "Cute Machining" project, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Microelectronic Circuits and Systems IMS in Duisburg are working on the issue by creating individual tool "service records" and employing a new communication technology that uses RFID tags. The aim is to optimize productivity, quality, throughput time and inventory in the manufacturing operations of the Industrie 4.0 era.

Miniaturizing America's tallest dam

Engineers at Utah State University's Utah Water Research Laboratory have constructed a 1:50 scale model of the Oroville Dam spillway.

Sirius XM buys stake in music streaming site Pandora

Pandora is raising cash to help it take on Spotify and other streaming music services.

Apple CEO to MIT grads: Tech without values is worthless

Science is worthless if it isn't motivated by basic human values and the desire to help people, Apple CEO Tim Cook told graduates of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Friday, urging them to use their powers for good.

Electric vehicle rally sets off in Switzerland (Update)

Drivers in scores of electric vehicles, some in superhero or other quirky get-ups, embarked Friday on a weeklong trek around Switzerland as part of a grassroots movement to fight global warming.

How to harness the power of the wind

There might be a better way to use wind power, according to a recent paper in IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica (JAS), a joint publication of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and the Chinese Association of Automation.

Honda to roll out all-new Accord with no V6 option

Honda said Friday that its Accord midsize car will be offered only with four-cylinder or gas-electric hybrid engines when an all-new version comes out later this year.

Medicine & Health news

Flaws in a tumor's genetic mending kit drive treatment response to immunotherapy

In an expanded, three-year clinical trial of 86 patients with colorectal and 11 other kinds of cancer that have so-called 'mismatch repair' genetic defects, scientists at Johns Hopkins Medicine and its Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy have found that half of the patients respond to an immunotherapy drug called pembrolizumab (Keytruda). In a report on the findings, which led the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve expanded use of pembrolizumab for patients, the researchers also say they found evidence that the immune responses closely aligned with mutations found in their cancers. The report is published online in the June 8 issue of the journal Science.

Viral infections decrease muscle health, cause other collateral damage

Researchers at UC Berkeley have found unexpected effects of viral infections, a discovery that may explain why viruses can make people feel so lousy.

Chemicals used to combat Zika, agricultural pests impact motor skills in infants

A chemical currently being used to ward off mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus and a commonly used insecticide that was threatened with a ban in the United States have been associated with reduced motor function in Chinese infants, a University of Michigan study found.

Possible explanation for neurotoxicity of BIA 10-2474 used in disastrous clinical trial

(Medical Xpress)—A large team of researchers from the Netherlands, Italy and the U.S. has found a possible explanation for the injury and death to patients in a clinical trial held last year in France. In their paper published in the journal Science, the team describes how they studied the impact of the drug on other enzymes and what they found by doing so.

New research on how the brain makes preference-based decisions

Researchers have found a direct window into the brain systems involved in making every day decisions based on preference.

Distinct wiring mode found in chandelier cells

A basic tenet of neural development is that young neurons make far more connections than they will actually use, with very little specificity. They selectively maintain only the ones that they end up needing. Once many of these connections are made, the brain employs a use-it or lose-it strategy; if the organism's subsequent experiences stimulate the synapse, it will strengthen and survive. If not, the synapse will weaken and eventually disappear.

Your smile gives you away

Smile and the whole world smiles with you? Well, not necessarily.

Study shows texting as good as medication at improving type 2 diabetes management

Low-income Hispanics with Type 2 diabetes who received health-related text messages every day for six months saw improvements in their blood sugar levels that equaled those resulting from some glucose-lowering medications, researchers with the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute reported today.

Pet dogs could help older owners be more active

Owning a dog may help older adults to meet physical activity levels recommended by the World Health Organisation, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Public Health. Health professionals could encourage dog ownership or shared care of a dog to motivate older adults to be more physically active, researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University and WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, UK suggest.

Heroin's use rising, costing society more than $51 billion

Heroin use in the United States was estimated to cost society more than $51 billion in 2015, according to new research at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Study examines link between obesity, food container chemical subsitutes

A new study from the University of Iowa shows that a pair of common chemicals that manufacturers use to make plastic food containers, water bottles, and other consumer products do not contribute to obesity to the extent of the chemical it's replacing.

Infants born preterm may lack key lung cells later in life

Mice born into an oxygen-rich environment respond worse to the flu once fully grown due to an absence of certain lung cells, a discovery that provides a potential explanation for preterm infants' added susceptibility to influenza and other lung diseases later in their lives, according to new research from the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC).

New findings aim to improve global medical device standard on auditory alarms

The global medical device standard IEC 60601-1-8, first published in 2006, specifies safety and performance requirements for auditory alarms in medical electrical equipment and systems used in hospitals and other health-care facilities around the world. Despite widespread use of these alarm sets, research has shown that clinicians have difficulty learning and distinguishing between them even after repeated exposure, which can lead to time-critical delays or errors in patient care.

Retina may be sensitive gauge of blast-wave pressure injury

Modern military conflict has dramatically increased the number of military personnel and civilians exposed to blast wave pressure. Although traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a well-recognized consequence of extreme blast waves, it is less appreciated that over 80% of combat veterans with TBI also develop visual problems. A new study in The American Journal of Pathology reports that blast exposure that does not cause detectable changes in the brain can result in long-term retinal injury. Researchers identified early indicators of retinal injury and inflammation that may help detect individuals at risk of visual impairment who would then benefit from more timely treatment.

Competitive football players have superior vision, study suggests

The visual abilities of competitive football players are substantially better than those of healthy non-athletes, according to the first-ever comprehensive assessment of visual function in English Premier League players, published in Science and Medicine in Football.

Syria sees first polio cases in three years: WHO

Three new cases of polio have been recorded in Syria in the first outbreak of the virus in the country since 2014, the World Health Organization and a partner initiative said.

Health care under attack in Syria civil war: study

Health care workers, clinics and hospitals were attacked more than 400 times last year in Syria's civil war, according to data gathered with the mobile phone application WhatsApp, a medical journal reported Friday.

FISH beneficial for diagnosing cholangiocarcinoma

(HealthDay)—Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) is associated with increased sensitivity compared with brush cytology for diagnosing cholangiocarcinoma in indeterminate biliary strictures, according to a study published online May 19 in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Omalizumab protects against early, late allergic responses

(HealthDay)—For patients with a significant response to allergen challenge, omalizumab induces protective effects against early (EAR) and late allergic reactions (LAR), according to a study published online June 5 in Allergy.

U.S. leads in income-based health care inequalities

(HealthDay)—The United States has larger income-related differences in perceptions of health and health care than other middle- and high-income countries, according to a report published in the June issue of Health Affairs.

Promising results found for treatment of melanoma in the brain

Researchers at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center are helping to make strides in the treatment of metastatic melanoma that has spread to the brain.

Carotid artery analysis reveals human biological age

Biological age, as opposed to chronological age, is a concept used to describe the state of an organism. An average healthy individual's biological generally corresponds to their chronological age. But with age, these two indicators are likely to become mismatched due to environmental factors, bad habits, manifestations of hereditary diseases, and other causes. So far, there is no established method of predicting biological age. Medical and scientific researchers are looking for a marker that could accurately and consistently reflect biological age.

Tackling infectious disease – one protein at a time

Garry Buchko and his colleagues are at the front line battling some of the most fearsome enemies that humanity has ever known: Tuberculosis. Pneumonia. Ebola. Plague. Botulism.

Researchers find new co-regulator of the androgen receptor in prostate cancer

An international study led by University of Adelaide researchers has identified a new gene of interest linked to prostate cancer – and it's a gene with a split personality: it appears to play a major role in promoting cancer growth, but it could also prevent tumours from spreading.

Tourette syndrome—finally, something to shout about

Tourette syndrome is a mysterious medical curiosity that has puzzled doctors for more than a century. People who have it suffer from tics and other behavioral problems, such as obsessive compulsive traits and attention deficit disorder.

New models of kidney cancer may drive immunotherapy research

University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center scientists have developed preclinical laboratory models of the two most common types of kidney cancer, an advancement that may aid in the evaluation of novel immunotherapy combinations and targets.

Race and gender affect response to weight stigma

A new study by researchers at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at UConn has found that although people of all races and genders are stigmatized for being overweight, there are differences in how particular groups – Asian, black, and Hispanic, and white men and women – respond to that stigma. The study is published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Research finds flu is a major killer in New Zealand with Maori, Pasifika and low-income earners most vulnerable

New research from the University of Otago, Wellington, shows that influenza kills about 500 New Zealanders each year, and the risk of premature death is much higher for Māori, Pasifika, men and those living in relative poverty.

More fruits and vegetables can improve health

Recent estimates show about 10 percent or fewer U.S. adults and children get the recommended 4.5 cups of total fruits and vegetables per day. The American Heart Association, the world's leading voluntary organization dedicated to building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, continues its efforts to change attitudes and behaviors about nutrition during its first-ever Healthy for Good Movement campaign supporting National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month in June.

Research in autism-friendly technology needs to improve to make a real difference for people

People on the autism spectrum can face challenges in dealing with a world they perceive differently to other people, no matter the severity of their condition.

How yoga makes us happy, according to science

Can we really unlock our personal power by adopting "powerful" body postures? Unfortunately, the findings that link these so-called "power poses" beloved of certain politicians with a real sense of power and control are difficult to replicate. We may not yet understand the mechanism through which body postures influence our psychological states, but our recent study suggests that we may draw insights from the rapidly expanding research on the psychological benefits of yoga.

Our study found after-hours GPs actually do reduce visits to emergency rooms

A task force reviewing more than 5,700 items covered by the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) released a preliminary report this week on urgent after-hours GP services funded through the MBS.

Do different sugars have different health effects?

Our recent article published in the Medical Journal of Australia found that Australian and European soft drinks contained higher concentrations of glucose, and less fructose, than soft drinks in the United States. The total glucose concentration of Australian soft drinks was on average 22% higher than in US formulations.

Busting the myth that roll-your-own tobacco has fewer additives

My last column, reported on the huge growth of Australians using roll-your-own tobacco in the past few years. Because of a tobacco tax anomaly, which will end in September this year, many smokers have migrated to roll-your-own as a less expensive alternative to factory made cigarettes.

Most ADHD medicine used by December-born children

Children born at the end of the year are more likely to receive ADHD medication or an ADHD diagnosis than children born early in the year. This is according to a new study from the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.

India must be more transparent about disease threats

The first laboratory confirmed case of Zika in India was detected in a hospital in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on November 9, 2016. A further two cases were subsequently confirmed – one in January 2017 and another in February. None of these cases were reported to the World Health Organisation (WHO) until May 15.

Drug combination benefits patients with tophaceous gout

The drug lesinurad in combination with febuxostat was better at lowering blood levels of urate than febuxostat alone in a phase III clinical trial of 324 patients with tophaceous gout. Over 12 months, significantly more patients in the combination group achieved target levels of urate than patients in the febuxostat group.

NIH-led workshop addresses opioid misuse during pregnancy

Research is essential to determining how best to screen pregnant women for opioid use disorder, to treat pregnant women who have the disorder, and to care for infants as they experience withdrawal symptoms, according to experts convened for a National Institutes of Health workshop in April 2016. A summary of the workshop, co-sponsored by NIH's Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), appears in the online issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Cash for weight loss

A new study, published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, has shown that selling rewards programmes to participants entering a weight loss programme is a low cost strategy to increase both the magnitude and duration of weight loss. A team from the Duke-NUS Medical School (Duke-NUS) and Singapore General Hospital (SGH) led the research, which has implications for insurance companies and employers looking for low cost strategies to improve population health.

Removal of aging cells could extend human life

A recent study, led by an international team of researchers confirms that targeted removal of senescent cells (SnCs), accumulated in many vertebrate tissues as we age, contribute significantly in delaying the onset of age-related pathologies.

FDA asks maker of opioid painkiller opana ER to pull drug from market

(HealthDay)—Sales of reformulated Opana ER, a prescription opioid painkiller, should be halted in the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Boys more likely to hide a concussion than girls

(HealthDay)—When it comes to reporting a sports-related concussion, high school boys are less likely to speak up than high school girls, new research reveals.

The facts on flax

(HealthDay)—Though tiny in size, flax packs a big nutritional punch.

1 in 7 Americans has kidney disease: CDC

(HealthDay)—Thirty million American adults have chronic kidney disease—but many don't know it.

C-section scars can be psychological too: 'What did I do wrong?'

Emily Keber-Goldrick remembers the moment she was told she needed a C-section.

Male farmers at highest risk of contracting 'monkey malaria' in Malaysia

Adult male farmers in Malaysia are more than twice as likely to contract Plasmodium knowlesi malaria - an infection usually found only in monkeys - than other people in their communities, according to a new study published in The Lancet Planetary Health.

Engineers robotic device helping stroke survivors recover

A recent study, affiliated with UNIST has introduced a new robotic tool for assessments of muscle overactivity and movement dysfunction in stroke survivors. Their robotic-assisted rehabilitation therapy, combined with standard rehabilitation, is expected to improve the mobility of patients surviving a stroke.

New blood test uses nanotechnology to predict aggressive prostate cancer accurately

A new diagnostic developed by Alberta scientists will allow men to bypass painful biopsies to test for aggressive prostate cancer. The test incorporates a unique nanotechnology platform to make the diagnostic using only a single drop of blood, and is significantly more accurate than current screening methods.

Radiation therapy vital to treating brain tumors, but it exacts a toll

Radiation therapy (RT) using high-energy particles, like x-rays or electron beams, is a common and critical component in successfully treating patients with brain tumors, but it is also associated with significant adverse effects, such as neuronal loss in adjacent healthy tissues.

Study finds risk for binge drinking differs by race, income and changes with age

A new study led by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis assistant professor of psychology Tamika Zapolski has found differing risks for binge drinking based on race, income and age.

New study design holds promise for drug safety research

As the pace of drug approvals accelerates and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) faces potential budget cuts, a new research design from Perelman School of Medicine scientists offers a new way to successfully assess safety of newly approved drugs, as well as drugs that have been on the market for a long time and have had a marked rise in their use. The study, published in the July issue of the journal Epidemiology, offers benefits over typically used randomized clinical trials, as such studies are often too small to identify rare side effects or may be performed in a group of patients who do not take other types of medications or have other conditions that could skew the drug's effect in a broader group following approval. Also first-in-class drugs may not have an applicable comparator drug, and traditional follow-up studies may give inaccurate results if those who take a new drug are different from those who took the comparator drug.

New cancer drug tested in mice may benefit certain leukemia patients

Almost 6,000 new cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, are expected to be diagnosed this year in the United States. The blood cancer can affect both children and adults. Scientists have found up to 30 percent of adult ALL patients have what's called a Philadelphia chromosome, where two segments of chromosomes have aberrantly fused together. (The fusion chromosome is much less common in children.) Adult ALL patients exposed to standard treatments often see high relapse rates, and treatment-related deaths remain high. But researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah have discovered new science, published this week in the journal Leukemia, that could provide better therapeutic options for patients.

Even your bones can get fat, mouse study suggests

(HealthDay)—Exercise doesn't just trim your tummy. It may also improve bone thickness, boost bone quality, and whittle away the fat found inside bones, new animal research suggests.

Young CA survivors more often have cost-related nonadherence

(HealthDay)—Survivors of adolescent and young adult cancer are more likely to report cost-related medication nonadherence, according to a study published online May 23 in Cancer.

Sitagliptin stimulates distal tubular natriuresis in T2DM

(HealthDay)—For patients with type 2 diabetes, the dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP-4) inhibitor sitagliptin stimulates distal tubular natriuresis, according to a study published online May 26 in Diabetes Care.

Equal wound complications for staples, suture in obese women

(HealthDay)—The rate of surgical site wound complications is similar for obese women undergoing midline vertical incision with skin closure via staples or subcuticular suture, according to a study published in the July issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Type of hospital doesn't impact thrombolysis outcomes in stroke

(HealthDay)—For older adults with acute stroke, treatment with intravenous thrombolysis (IVT) is associated with similar outcomes, irrespective of hospital characteristics, according to a study published online June 2 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Clemson graduate uncovers link between toxicants and lipid metabolism

While working for an environmental nonprofit organization in India, Namrata Sengupta investigated how poor waste management and sanitation practices can impact the environment and public health. Her work sparked an interest in environmental toxicology and led her to Clemson University in 2011 as a doctoral student in the field.

Distance that U.S. patients travel for care illustrates growing inaccessibility of abortion

Abortion fund recipients who have to travel out of state for an abortion travel roughly 10 times farther for their procedures than patients able to get care in their homes states.

Being overweight linked to longer life in older diabetics

Among older patients with diabetes, those who are overweight or obese may have a lower risk of dying prematurely than their normal weight counterparts. The finding comes from a recent analysis of published studies.

Prednisone may improve effectiveness of AAV-based gene therapy by reducing immune response

A new study of gene transfer using adeno-associated virus (AAV)-based gene delivery into skeletal muscle of rhesus macaques showed that oral prednisone reduced immune responses to AAV that can weaken expression of the therapeutic transgene over time. Animals given prednisone before the gene therapy had a 60% decrease in immune cell infiltrates, mainly comprised of cytotoxic T cells, according to the study published in Human Gene Therapy, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Human Gene Therapy website until July 9, 2017.

Mars recalls some UK products over salmonella fears

The chocolate maker Mars said Friday it was recalling batches of seven of its products in Britain and Ireland over concerns they may contain the harmful salmonella bacteria.

Medical marijuana dispensaries, patients wait through delays

Medical marijuana dispensaries are beginning to open in Hawaii, but they're not allowed to sell their products.

Biology news

Group suggests adding tag to resurrected extinct animal names

(—A group of scientists from several institutions in Germany has suggested that extinct animals that are resurrected through scientific means be given a tag on their name to indicate their origins. In a Policy Forum piece in the journal Science, the group suggests adding the tag "recr" to scientific names given to resurrected creatures to make sure they are not confused with the original.

Space-traveling flatworms help scientists enhance understanding of regenerative health

Flatworms that spent five weeks aboard the International Space Station are helping researchers led by Tufts University scientists to study how an absence of normal gravity and geomagnetic fields can have anatomical, behavioral, and bacteriological consequences, according to a paper to be published June 13 in Regeneration. The research has implications for human and animal space travelers and for regenerative and bioengineering science.

Pneumonia bacteria's 'evolutionary hotspot' helps it to evade the immune system

The diverse 'coats' which protect a deadly microbe from our immune cells are generated by a 'hotspot' of rapidly evolving genes, a study has found.

Parasitic nematodes that cause greatest agricultural damage abandoned sex

The nematode worms that cause the world's most devastating crop losses have given up on sexual reproduction and instead rely on their large, duplicated genomes to thrive in new environments. A group led by Etienne G. J. Danchin of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) report these findings in a new study published June 8, 2017 in PLOS Genetics.

Study reveals how a hormone increases sucrose accumulation in sugarcane

Chemical ripeners, also known as growth regulators, are widely used in Brazil's sugarcane industry to increase early sucrose content relative to total mass and to inhibit plant growth in order to prolong harvesting and milling, thereby increasing yields and profitability for plantation owners.

Floodplain farm fields benefit juvenile salmon

A new study offers a beacon of hope for a cease-fire in the Golden State's persistent water wars.

Soft shelled turtles, food in China, likely spread cholera

The pathogen, Vibrio cholerae can colonize the surfaces, as well as the intestines of soft shelled turtles. This finding is strong evidence that soft shelled turtles in China, where they are grown for human consumption, are spreading cholera. The research is published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology, a journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

Wolf evolution and 'settled science'

Are the red and eastern wolves separate species, or hybrids with coyotes? And what has that got to do with climate change? Actually a lot, in illustrating what scientific inquiry is and what it isn't.

Want to help animals? Don't forget the chickens

Summertime is "kitten season" – unspayed female cats go into heat and give birth to more adorable kittens than animal shelters can give away.

Protective mother bear cuts off Dracula's castle

While Dracula's legend usually fails to scare tourists away from the blood-sucking vampire's 15th century castle, a large, furry and protective mother bear has had more success.

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