Thursday, July 6, 2017

Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jul 6

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Spotlight Stories Headlines

Making acid chloride precursors using shuttle catalysis

Scientists get first direct look at how electrons 'dance' with vibrating atoms

Electron orbitals may hold key to unifying concept of high-temperature superconductivity

Possible link found between eczema flare-ups and strain of bacteria

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy induces breast cancer metastasis through a TMEM-mediated mechanism

New superglue allows for bonding stretchable hydrogels

A cosmic barbecue: Researchers spot 60 new 'hot Jupiter' candidates

Milky Way could be home to 100 billion 'failed stars'

First look at gravitational dance that drives stellar formation

Re-making planets after star-death

Systematic research investigates effects of money on thinking, behavior

Climate change could make Sahel wet: study

California projected to get wetter through this century

'Weedy' fish species to take over our future oceans

Researchers publish new findings on influence of high-fat diet on colorectal cancer

Astronomy & Space news

A cosmic barbecue: Researchers spot 60 new 'hot Jupiter' candidates

Yale researchers have identified 60 potential new "hot Jupiters"—highly irradiated worlds that glow like coals on a barbecue grill and are found orbiting only 1% of Sun-like stars.

Milky Way could be home to 100 billion 'failed stars'

Our galaxy could have 100 billion brown dwarfs or more, according to work by an international team of astronomers, led by Koraljka Muzic from the University of Lisbon and Aleks Scholz from the University of St Andrews. On Thursday 6 July Scholz will present their survey of dense star clusters, where brown dwarfs are abundant, at the National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Hull.

First look at gravitational dance that drives stellar formation

Swirling motions in clouds of cold, dense gas have given, for the first time, an active insight into how gravity creates the compact cores from which stars form in the interstellar medium. The results will be presented today, Thursday 6 July, by Gwen Williams at the National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Hull.

Re-making planets after star-death

Astronomers Dr Jane Greaves, of the University of Cardiff, and Dr Wayne Holland, of the UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh, may have found an answer to the 25-year-old mystery of how planets form in the aftermath of a supernova explosion. The two researchers will present their work on Thursday 6 July at the National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Hull, and in a paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Scientist conducts first comparison study of central pit impact craters throughout solar system

As part of the first comparison study of central pit impact craters throughout the solar system, professor Nadine Barlow of NAU's Department of Physics and Astronomy recently published findings revealing insights into the environmental conditions governing the formation of these craters.

Adventures in acoustic cosmology

A project that explores whether there is a musical equivalent to the curvature of spacetime will be presented on Thursday 6 July by Gavin Starks at the National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Hull.

Odd planetary system around fast-spinning star doesn't quite fit existing models of planet formation

Astronomers have discovered a rare, warm, massive Jupiter-like planet orbiting a star that is rotating extremely quickly. The discovery raises puzzling questions about planet formation – neither the planet's comparatively small mass nor its large distance from its host star are expected according to current models. The observations that led to the discovery were made using the SPHERE instrument at ESO's very large telescope. The article describing the results has been accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Spacecraft unveiled for first Europe mission to Mercury

European and Japanese scientists Thursday proudly unveiled the BepiColombo spacecraft ahead of its seven-year journey to Mercury, to explore one of the Solar System's most enigmatic planets.

Mars surface 'more uninhabitable' than thought: study

Hopes of finding life on Mars, at least on the surface, were dealt a blow Thursday by a study revealing that salt minerals present on the Red Planet kill bacteria.

Hubble pushed beyond limits to spot clumps of new stars in distant galaxy

When it comes to the distant universe, even the keen vision of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope can only go so far. Teasing out finer details requires clever thinking and a little help from a cosmic alignment with a gravitational lens.

After two delays, SpaceX launches broadband satellite for IntelSat

SpaceX on Wednesday deployed a broadband communications satellite for IntelSat, after twice ditching launch plans in the final seconds before liftoff earlier this week.

Evidence discovered for two distinct giant planet populations

In a paper published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, a team of researchers from the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço (IA3) discovered observational evidence for the existence of two distinct populations of giant planets.

New mysteries surround New Horizons' next flyby target

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft doesn't zoom past its next science target until New Year's Day 2019, but the Kuiper Belt object, known as 2014 MU69, is already revealing surprises.

Technology news

Without HOV policies, urban traffic gets much, much worse, study says

Cities plagued with terrible traffic problems may be overlooking a simple, low-cost solution: High-occupancy vehicle (HOV) policies that encourage carpooling can reduce traffic drastically, according to a new study co-authored by MIT economists.

France to end sales of petrol, diesel vehicles by 2040

France will end sales of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 as part of an ambitious plan to meet its targets under the Paris climate accord, new Ecology Minister Nicolas Hulot announced Thursday.

A computer that reads body language

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute have enabled a computer to understand the body poses and movements of multiple people from video in real time—including, for the first time, the pose of each individual's fingers.

Smarter control for border patrol

As the United States expands surveillance technologies on, above and below its 1,900-mile-long border with Mexico, operating them effectively grows more challenging.

Germany shuts down darknet child porn site, makes arrests

German authorities say they have shut down an online child porn site that had more than 87,000 members and arrested the man suspected of running it.

The misappropriation of the identities of famous people on Twitter

Professor Ana Mancera Rueda from the Department of Spanish Language, Linguistics and Literary Theory at the University of Seville has carried out research on false profiles, or 'fakes', of famous people on the social network Twitter and the use of language on these profiles. The study addresses whether the misappropriation of the identities of famous people is normal practice on Twitter, in what cases it is permitted, what effects the parody can have on the image of the celebrity and the social role of someone who is well known, and to what extent the messages published by fake accounts can be seen as examples of bad manners or even verbal violence.

A new way to practice passing in soccer

In soccer, the ability to anticipate the arrival of teammates' passes, receive the ball, and quickly and accurately redirect it is essential to executing a game plan. But it can be difficult for individual players to develop and measure these skills without multiple players to simulate game scenarios while training.

The impact of solar lighting in rural Kenya

While climate change has led many high-income countries to increase their efforts to improve energy efficiency and to invest in renewable energies, households in low-income countries still face another energy challenge: more than 1 billion people lack access to electricity. Could solar lights offer a solution?

Is artificial intelligence a job killer?

There's no shortage of dire warnings about the dangers of artificial intelligence these days.

Tailgating blamed for rear-end crashes, queue-jumping blamed for tailgating

Tailgating is the leading cause of rear-end crashes with one-in-two drivers failing to keep a safe following distance, a new QUT report has revealed.

Nokia maker partners with Zeiss on smartphone optics

HMD Global, the company that's licensed to produce Nokia phones and tablets, says it is partnering with Germany-based Zeiss to produce high quality optics on its new Nokia smartphones.

Pizza bytes! Pakistan enchanted by first robot waitresses

Pakistan's first robot waitresses are serving up smiles for customers at an upscale pizza restaurant in the ancient city of Multan, better known for its centuries-old Sufi shrines, mango orchards and handicrafts.

Tesla, for now, loses spot as most valuable carmaker in US

After three months as the nation's most valuable automaker, a bad week in an otherwise stellar year has knocked Tesla from the top perch.

Uber takes break in Finland ahead of new legislation

Ride-hailing service Uber is taking a yearlong break in Finland because legislation that's expected to open the transportation market for new businesses does not come into force until July 2018.

From Mozard to Botzard: when machines write our music

Machines are already taking our jobs, will they soon be writing our music too?

'Some' job cuts confirmed by Microsoft

Microsoft said Thursday it was cutting an unspecified number of jobs amid reports the US tech giant was reorganizing its global sales operations.

Qatar Airways joins Gulf carriers off US laptop ban list

Qatar Airways joined two other major long-haul Gulf carriers on Thursday in getting off a U.S. ban on laptops and large electronics in airplane cabins, despite facing logistical challenges amid the country's diplomatic dispute with several Arab nations.

QVC parent buying HSN as shopping shifts online

QVC's parent company is taking control of the Home Shopping Network for about $2.6 billion in stock to create what they say will be the third-largest e-commerce company in the United States.

Infosys plans 2,000 new tech Jobs in North Carolina by 2021

India-based Infosys, an information technology outsourcing firm, announced Thursday it will hire 2,000 workers over the next four years for a technology hub in North Carolina, the second of four planned hubs in the U.S.

Medicine & Health news

Possible link found between eczema flare-ups and strain of bacteria

(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. has found what appears to be a link between eczema flare-ups and a certain strain of bacteria. In their paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the group outlines their study of the connection between the skin ailment and bacteria and what they found.

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy induces breast cancer metastasis through a TMEM-mediated mechanism

(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers working at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the U.S. has found evidence that suggests administering chemotherapy to breast cancer patients prior to surgery can put them at increased risk for metastasis. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes how they followed the treatment of 20 cancer patients and tested them for structures in the blood that indicate a higher risk for cancer spreading and what they found.

Systematic research investigates effects of money on thinking, behavior

Numerous studies have shown that being prompted to think about money can predispose people to engage in self-sufficient thinking and behavior—but some findings suggest that demographic characteristics may moderate this type of effect. In a new research article, scientists present results from three experiments that systematically explore these money-priming effects, finding inconsistent evidence for the effect of money primes on various measures of self-sufficient thinking and behavior.

Researchers publish new findings on influence of high-fat diet on colorectal cancer

Poor diet is associated with 80% of colorectal cancer cases, but the exact pathways by which diet leads to cancer are not known.

Study: Preschoolers learn from math games—to a point

What is the best way to help poor schoolchildren succeed at math? A study co-authored by researchers at MIT, Harvard University, and New York University now sheds light on the ways preschool activities may—or may not—help children develop cognitive skills.

Exposing newborn mice to general anesthetic disrupts brain development

The U.S. Food and Drug administration (FDA) has recently issued a safety advisory warning that exposure to anesthetic and sedative drugs during the period of time between the third trimester of prenatal development and the first three years of life may have lasting adverse effects on cognitive function. New research publishing July 6 in the open access journal PLOS Biology by Eunchai Kang, David Mintz and colleagues now shows that early postnatal mice exposed to isoflurane - a standard and widely used inhaled general anesthetic agent - leads to chronic, abnormal activation of the mTOR pathway, a signaling system critical for normal brain development.

Lymph node metastases may not always be the source of cancer's spread to other organs

A study led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators has found that the traditional model for the spread of carcinoma, the deadliest form of cancer—from the primary tumor, to nearby lymph nodes, to other organs—may not apply in all cases. In their report in the July 7 issue of Science, the researchers describe finding that, for the majority of colorectal cancer patients in the study, "distant" metastases originated directly from the primary tumor, independent of any lymph node metastases.

Immune system cell clones created before birth may last for decades

Key immune system cells produced before birth may survive well into adulthood, according to new research published in PLOS Computational Biology.

Scientists uncover the structure of tau filaments from Alzheimer's disease

Researchers at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) have, for the first time, revealed the atomic structures of one of the two types of the abnormal filaments which lead to Alzheimer's disease. Understanding the structures of these filaments will be key in developing drugs to prevent their formation. 

Brain stimulation may help children with learning difficulties

Applying a brain stimulation method, which was previously suggested to enhance mathematical learning in healthy adults, may improve the performance of children with mathematical learning difficulties, according to an exploratory study by researchers from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

Cracks in the armor of therapy-resistant cancer cells

A new study shows that cancer cells across multiple lineages can adopt the same therapy-resistant cell state, enabling broad resistance to targeted therapies. However, the resulting cell circuitry also results in a vulnerability that can be exploited to induce a form of cell death called ferroptosis.

Professors lead call for ethical framework for new 'mind control' technologies

As interventions for mental illnesses and neurological disorders are becoming increasingly powerful, an interdisciplinary group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, American University and Duke University are calling for new safeguards to guide treatments and protect patients.

Gene mutation can cause brain malformation in children

Researchers from Cardiff University and Université Libre de Bruxelles have identified how the function of a key gene significantly impacts nerve stem cell growth, and how it can lead to abnormal brain development in unborn babies if the system goes awry.

Hormonal changes during early development limit lifespan in mice

Changes in growth hormone levels during the early stages of development can have a long-lasting effect on lifespan, especially in males, according to new findings from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Antibodies halt placental transmission of CMV-like virus in monkeys

Long before the Zika virus became a global fear, cytomegalovirus, or CMV, was commonly infecting developing fetuses and causing many of the same brain and developmental impairments.

New study identifies gene that could play key role in depression

Globally, depression affects more than 300 million people annually. Nearly 800,000 die from suicide every year—it is the second-leading cause of death among people between the ages of 15 to 29. Beyond that, depression destroys quality for life for tens of millions of patients and their families. Although environmental factors play a role in many cases of depression, genetics are also crucially important.

Diabetes increasing at alarming rates in sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is in the midst of a rapidly expanding diabetes epidemic that could have devastating health and economic consequences for the region unless quick and decisive action is taken to turn the tide, according to a major new report from a Lancet commission co-led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Sugar intake during pregnancy is associated with allergy and allergic asthma in children

High maternal sugar intake during pregnancy may increase the risk of allergy and allergic asthma in the offspring, according to an early study led by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) involving almost 9,000 mother-child pairs.

More than half of China cancer deaths attributable to potentially modifiable risk factors

A new report finds more than half of all cancer deaths in men in 2013 in China and more than a third of those in women were attributable to a group of potentially modifiable risk factors: smoking, alcohol, nutrition, weight, physical activity, and infections. The study appears in Annals of Oncology, and concludes that effective public health interventions to eliminate or reduce exposure from these risk factors can have considerable impact on reducing the cancer burden in China.

New DNA-based strategy shows promise against a range of influenza viruses

A novel, synthetic, DNA-based strategy to provide protection against a broad array of influenza viruses has been developed in preclinical models by scientists at The Wistar Institute, MedImmune (the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca) and Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. These study results highlighting this promising strategy are published in npj Vaccines.

Finding what's right with children who grow up in high-stress environments

A new research article proposes that more attention be given to what's right with children who grow up in high-stress environments so their unique strengths and abilities can be used to more effectively tailor education, jobs and interventions to fit them.

New genetic syndrome identified; may offer some answers for puzzled parents

Researchers have identified a rare genetic syndrome characterized by intellectual disability, seizures, an abnormal gait and distinctive facial features. The scientists pinpointed variants in the WDR26 gene as causes for this distinctive, yet unnamed condition. Their early research provides initial information for counseling patients and families coping with uncertainties for children with the rare, poorly recognized condition.

Scientists find new method to fight malaria

Scientists have discovered a new way to slow down malaria infections, providing a possible new target for antimalarial drugs. The team are already working with pharmaceutical companies to use this knowledge to develop new antimalarials - an important step in the battle against drug resistant malaria.

Snakebites cost Sri Lanka more than $10 million

Snakebites are a major public health problem in many rural communities around the world, often requiring medical care and affecting victims' ability to work. Every year, snakebites cost the Sri Lankan government more than 10 million USD, and lead to economic loss of nearly 4 million USD for individuals, according to a new study in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Three Gorges Dam alters downstream schistosomiasis rates

The Three Gorges Dam is a massive hydroelectric dam that spans the Yangtze River in central China and became fully operational in 2010. Ecological changes caused by the dam have altered the distribution of snails—including those that carry the Schistosoma parasites—researchers now report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

A newly identified complex of Tau and RNA suggests a path to aggregation

The hallmark of many neurodegenerative diseases is the formation of protein aggregates, yet how and why these aggregates form remains a mystery. In a study publishing 6 July in the open access journal PLOS Biology by the laboratories of Songi Han and Kenneth S. Kosik at the University of California Santa Barbara, the authors identify a novel property of tau, the aggregation-prone protein associated with Alzheimer's disease, which may reveal a new step in the formation of pathological tau aggregates.

Biopsy tests may lead to inappropriate discards of donated kidneys

Researchers have found that discarding donated kidneys on the basis of biopsy findings may be inappropriate. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), may help address the organ shortage by keeping valuable organs from being thrown away.

Being on a zero-hours contract is bad for your health

Young adults who are employed on zero-hours contracts are less likely to be in good health, and are at higher risk of poor mental health than workers with stable jobs.

Motivation through punishment

The goal of punishment usually is to stop undesirable behaviour. But in fact, punishment may also have a facilitative to motivating effect, as researchers at the Institute of Psychology of the University of Würzburg have found.

Experimental technique analyses the functioning of human sperm before insemination

Research presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) annual conference describes for the first time the use of an experimental technique to analyse the functioning of human sperm in contact with the cytoplasmic content of eggs in vitro. By doing so, it was possible to verify before fertilisation occurred whether the sperm cell fulfilled its functions before being inseminated into an egg.

Potential new treatments and tools for understanding depression

ANSTO Human Health researchers have co-led an international team investigating new treatments for depression. This research, recently published in the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, by a large team co led by Dr Benjamin Fraser and Dr Paul Callaghan at ANSTO, and Prof Lynette Daws of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), evaluated antidepressant-like properties of novel compounds in preclinical behavioural and pharmacological studies.

Pain reliever linked to kidney injury in endurance runners

The common practice of taking ibuprofen for pain relief while competing in ultramarathons causes a large increase in acute kidney injury, a Stanford study says.

How providing access to surgery drives global prosperity

Earlier this year, three days after giving birth to her fourth child by cesarean section, Salome Karwah had sudden convulsions. When she was admitted to a hospital in Liberia, the staff panicked, as she was a famous Ebola survivor. Karwah, a nurse assistant, died the next day, likely from a easily treatable complication from this surgery.

Drug restores cells and memories in Alzheimer's mouse models

A new drug can restore memories and connections between brain cells in mice with a model of Alzheimer's disease, a new Yale-led study suggests.

New method helps fighting future pandemics

By developing a new technique for labeling the gene segments of influenza viruses, researchers now know more about how influenza viruses enter the cell and establish cell co-infections – a major contributing factor to potential pandemic development.

Daily movement programme has positive impact on children's learning

Following a daily movement programme can improve children's physical development levels and has the potential to boost their chances in the classroom, researchers from Loughborough University have found.

Memocate offers new tools to care for memory-disorder patients

A startup based on University of Helsinki research offers solutions for the interaction problems that arise from memory disorders.

A protein that may have the potential to fight off frailty as we age

A unique peptide could have potent anti-aging properties, and researchers want to know how the effects might vary with age, according to a doctoral student at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

Should we limit spending on lifesaving drugs?

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" is a familiar quote from the opening of Charles Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities," but the phrase is also applicable to the specialty drug market in the United States today.

'Screen time' is about more than setting limits

In today's media-rich world (or media-saturated, depending on your view), one rarely has to look far to find parents concerned about the ways that kids engage with technology. Recently, managing "screen time" seems to be on everyone's mind – particularly during these summer months when kids find themselves with more time on their hands.

Has effective medical therapy made the benefit of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators uncertain?

Medication, including beta-blockers, may be so effective in reducing the risk of sudden death in heart failure that the overall benefit of implantable cardioverter-defibrillators (ICDs) may be uncertain

Neck cooling improves elite sporting performance by tricking brains of athletes, research reveals

With Wimbledon underway again for another year, University of Hertfordshire research has revealed that cooling the neck of top sportspeople can improve performance, by lowering thermal sensation and tricking their brains into perceiving less fatigue.

Immune system killer cells increase risk of diabetes

More than half of the German population is obese. One effect of obesity is to chronically activate the immune system, placing it under continuous stress. Researchers in Jens Brüning's team at the Max-Planck-Institute for Metabolism Research and at the University Hospital Cologne have discovered a subpopulation of immune cells in obese mice and humans that are involved in the development of diabetes. If this immune cell subpopulation could be specifically depleted in humans, the risk for diabetes development in overweight people might be reduced.

How cats and cows protect farm children from asthma

It is a known fact that microbes on farms protect children from asthma and allergies. But even non-microbial molecules can have a protective effect: Immunologists from the University of Zurich have shown that a sialic acid found in farm animals is effective against inflammation of lung tissue. This study opens up a wide variety of perspectives for the prevention of allergies.

New tool could lead to earlier diagnosis, better treatment of Parkinson's disease

Parkinson's disease is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder in humans, after Alzheimer's disease. It is typically characterized by changes in motor control such as tremors and shaking, but can also include non-motor symptoms, from the cognitive to the behavioral. An estimated seven to 10 million people worldwide are living with Parkinson's disease, with medication costing approximately $2,500 a year, and therapeutic surgery costing up to $100,000 dollars, per patient.

False-positive mammogram results linked to spike in anxiety prescriptions

Women who experience a false-positive mammogram result are more likely to begin medication for anxiety or depression than women who received an immediate negative result, according to a study led by Penn State researcher Joel Segel. The finding highlights the importance of swift and accurate follow-up testing to rule out a breast cancer diagnosis.

For rodents, seeing is believing

It's never easy to orientate oneself in a new place – that applies to rats as well. Researchers from the Ruhr University Bochum have examined how the brains of rats cope with the challenge. They wanted to find out whether rats rely most on what they see or on their directional sense when navigating through space. The results of the study of neurophysiologist Prof. Dr. Denise Manahan-Vaughan, computational neuroscientist Prof. Dr. Laurenz Wiskott and their co-workers were recently published in Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience.

Don't let lower back injuries take you down for the count

Nearly one in three competitive athletes experiences low back pain. According to a literature review in the July 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, lower (lumbar) back pain is a commonly reported symptom among the general population; however, low back pain among elite athletes who play varsity or professional sports requires additional important considerations.

Reducing stress, optimizing coping strategies may diminish need for opioids following ankle surgery

Helping patients to better manage stress and improve coping strategies related to pain may minimize the need for opioids following ankle fracture surgery, according to new research appearing in the July 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Late teen years are key period for bone growth

The late adolescent years are an important period for gaining bone mineral, even after a teenager attains his or her adult height. Scientists analyzing a racially diverse, multicenter sample from a large, federally funded national study say their findings reinforce the importance of diet and physical activities during the late teen years, as a foundation for lifelong health.

Early-life pain may lead to obesity risk, especially in females, study finds

Inflammatory pain at birth changes how the hippocampus, a part of the brain associated with memory and eating behavior, works later in life, and this pain also causes adult rats to eat more frequently and in larger amounts, according to a study by Georgia State University and the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center.

Steroids may do more harm than good in some cases of severe asthma

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences and UPMC have uncovered the molecular mechanism underlying corticosteroid resistance in severe asthma. The new findings have important clinical implications, suggesting that corticosteroids, the main treatment for asthma, may worsen the disease in this group of patients.

Psychological effect against pushing and shoving

Why do barriers ensure that there is less pushing and shoving at the entrance to a concert venue? Researchers from Bochum and Jülich have solved this puzzle in an experiment.

Anti-gravity treadmills get patients running again after knee surgery

Patients recovering from knee operations are being helped back to sport and exercise through expert rehabilitation at the University of Kent.

Learning with music can change brain structure, study shows

Using musical cues to learn a physical task significantly develops an important part of the brain, according to a new study.

Your hands may reveal the struggle to maintain self-control

It takes just a few seconds to choose a cookie over an apple and wreck your diet for the day.

Less myocardial infarctions during summer vacation—more on Mondays and winter holidays

Time periods by calendar related to perceived stress are associated with the incidence rate of myocardial infarction (MI), says a new nationwide registry study of 156 000 people of the Swedish population, in the database SWEDEHEART. Compared to control days, the daily incidence rate of MI was higher during the winter holidays, and on Mondays, whereas rates were lower during weekends and during the summer vacation in July. These periods coincide well with perceived high and low stress in society, respectively.

Researchers identify the genomic cause for Carey-Fineman-Ziter syndrome

An international team of researchers has identified genomic mutations for Carey-Fineman-Ziter (CFZS) syndrome, a very rare congenital myopathy (inherited muscle disorder) characterized by facial weakness, a small or retracted chin, a cleft palate and curvature of the spine (scoliosis), among other symptoms. The researchers determined that CFZS is caused by mutations in the gene MYMK that encodes for the protein myomaker. This protein is necessary for the fusion of muscle cells (myoblasts) into muscle fibers (myotubes) during the development of an embryo and the regeneration of muscle cells after injury. The study was published July 6, 2017, in Nature Communications.

Common insurance plans leave care at America's top cancer hospitals out of reach

Cancer patients in the United States may be unable to access care at the nation's top hospitals due to narrow insurance plan coverage - leaving patients to choose between lower premiums or access to higher-quality cancer care. A new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania shows common, so-called "narrow network" insurance plans - lower-premium plans with reduced access to certain providers - are more likely to exclude doctors associated with National Cancer Institute (NCI)-Designated Cancer Centers. Researchers published their findings today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and call for greater access for patients and more transparency from insurers.

Are we still jealous? Infidelity in the age of social media

When men and women find social media messages indicating that their partner has been cheating on them, they show the same type of jealousy behaviour as finding offline evidence that their partner has been unfaithful. This is according to Michael Dunn and Gemma Billett of Cardiff Metropolitan University in the UK, who investigated how jealousy manifests between the sexes when people find compromising messages on their partner's social media accounts. The findings are published in Springer's journal Evolutionary Psychological Science.

Controlled temperature change inside ear can prevent migraines

The application of gentle cooling and warming currents inside the ear canal can provide relief for migraine sufferers, new research at the University of Kent has helped show.

Narcotics diversion results in outbreak of serratia marcescens bacteria

An illegal diversion of opioids by a hospital nurse tampering with syringes was responsible for a cluster outbreak of Serratia marcescens, a gram-negative bacteria, according to research published online today in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. Five patients admitted to five different hospital wards within University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin developed identical bacteria strains. Upon investigation, hospital epidemiologists linked the cases with the tampered syringes, the nurse was immediately terminated, and no further S. marcescens cases were identified.

Controlling memory by triggering specific brain waves during sleep

Have you ever tried to recall something just before going to sleep and then wake up with the memory fresh in your mind? While we absorb so much information during the day consciously or unconsciously, it is during shut eye that a lot of facts are dispatched to be filed away or fall into oblivion. A good quality sleep is the best way to feel mentally refreshed and memorize new information, but how is the brain working while we sleep? Could we improve such process to remember more, or maybe even use it to forget unwanted memories?

Terminal cancer patients can be unwilling to face prognosis

In a recent study, published in The Oncologist, just under 10% of patients diagnosed with terminal cancer did not know their prognosis and had no interest in finding out. This unwillingness to face a poor prognosis can lead to unnecessary treatments and prevent patients from making appropriate end of life (EOL) plans, causing their remaining time to be more stressful and traumatic that it need be.

Laughter may be a serious evolutionary tool

(HealthDay)—Sharing a laugh can make you feel closer to someone else, and that quick-forming social bond may have been a big evolutionary boon to human survival, a small study suggests.

Blood shortage prompts call for donations

(HealthDay)—The American Red Cross needs your blood, and it needs it now.

IgE allergy testing improves atopic dermatitis outcomes

(HealthDay)—Identification of allergens by immunoglobulin E (IgE) testing improves outcomes in atopic dermatitis, according to a study published online June 20 in the International Journal of Dermatology.

Advanced practice provider can safely perform cardioversion

(HealthDay)—An advanced practice provider (APP) can safely perform electrical cardioversion (CV) for atrial fibrillation, according to a study published online June 28 in JACC: Clinical Electrophysiology.

AMA: doctors should make sure their online info is accurate

(HealthDay)—In a technologically advanced society, physicians need to take advantage of the internet to reach patients and exercise caution in their online presence, according to a report published by the American Medical Association.

Vitamin D may improve sunburn, according to new clinical trial

High doses of vitamin D taken one hour after sunburn significantly reduce skin redness, swelling, and inflammation, according to double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial out of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. The trial results were recently published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

Falls lead to declines in seniors

More than half of elderly patients (age 65 and older) who visited an emergency department because of injuries sustained in a fall suffered adverse events—including additional falls, hospitalization and death—within 6 months. The results of a study examining how risk factors predict recurrent falls and adverse events were published online yesterday in Annals of Emergency Medicine ("Revisit, Subsequent Hospitalization, Recurrent Fall and Death within 6 Months after a Fall among Elderly Emergency Department Patients").

Researchers study link between Pokemon GO and a healthier lifestyle

Today marks the one year anniversary of Pokémon GO's worldwide release that sent crowds hiking through parks, meandering into streets and walking for miles in search of Pokémon, those cute little digital characters that appear in real locations on your smartphone.

Mothers often distracted during breast and bottle feeding

As innovation expands the accessibility of technology, the potential for distraction increases as well. A new study published in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior assesses the level and type of distractions that affect mothers during infant feeding and discusses the potential impact on mothers and babies. Researchers found that distractions occurred in close to half of feedings, with ~60% of distractions attributable to technological devices.

Oregon approves measure requiring insurers to cover abortion

Insurance companies in Oregon would be required to cover abortions and other reproductive services at no cost to the patient regardless of income, citizenship status or gender identity under a measure approved Wednesday by lawmakers.

Giving blood to artificial organs

Jelena Rnjak-Kovacina, and her team at the University of New South Wales and Tufts University in the USA, are using silk to grow blood vessels.

Disease burden of congenital toxoplasmosis in Denmark quantified

Congenital toxoplasmosis – an infection passed on from mother to fetus – has a high disease burden per case. However, only a relatively small number of cases occur each year in Denmark. This is the main finding of a study from the National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, in cooperation with Statens Serum Institut – the national institute of public health – which has estimated the disease burden in Denmark for the first time. The study can contribute to prioritizing initiatives aimed at reducing the health consequences of toxoplasmosis.

Opinion: Marijuana age limit should be low, not high

Lowering the legal age for marijuana use will help to improve prevention, safety and education for young people.

Malaysian doctors offer free care, and teddies, to the needy

In a dark alleyway in the heart of Malaysia's capital Kuala Lumpur, a team of doctors treat needy patients for free, offering medical care, food and even teddy bears.

Yemen famine risk rising as cholera diverts resources: UN

Aid groups have pulled resources from the fight against malnutrition to battle cholera in Yemen, raising the risk of famine as they struggle to find funds, a UN official said Thursday.

Hospital discharge program improves patient experience leaving the hospital

A standardized, in-hospital discharge planning program, known as Project ReEngineered Dishcharge (RED), improves patient experience as they leave the hospital, according to researchers at Boston Medical Center. The study, published online in the Journal of Patient Experience found patients who received the RED intervention felt more comfortable caring for themselves at home than patients who went through a standard discharge.

Getting over guilt

(HealthDay)—Do you sometimes feel weighed down by guilt?

'Conversation Cards' a useful tool in pediatric weight management

Increasing numbers of children and adolescents struggle with obesity, a challenging and complex health issue. Likewise, health care providers can find it challenging to effectively counsel families on weight management. To this end, Conversation Cards were developed to help families think about and prioritize key challenges regarding pediatric weight management. They also create points of reference for providers, which could help to create treatment plans for families based on their priorities. Using Conversation Cards, researchers from the University of Alberta conducted a study that reviewed the way families use the cards and how their card selections aligned with family characteristics.

Tumor gene testing urged to tell if drug targets your cancer

Colon cancer. Uterine cancer. Pancreatic cancer. Whatever the tumor, the more gene mutations lurking inside, the better chance your immune system has to fight back.

Improving outcomes and reducing costs in the treatment of 'high-needs patients'

Nearly half of the nation's spending on health care is driven by 5 percent of patients, and improving health outcomes and curbing spending in health care will require identifying who these high-needs patients are and providing coordinated services through successful care models that link medical, behavioral, and community resources, says a new National Academy of Medicine special publication. The needs of this population extend beyond care for their physical ailments to social and behavioral services that are often central to their overall well-being. As a result, addressing clinical needs alone will not improve their health outcomes or reduce health care costs. The publication—which summarizes presentations, discussions, and scientific literature from a three-part workshop series—examines the key characteristics of high-needs patients; the use of a patient categorization scheme, or a taxonomy, as a tool to inform and target care; promising care models and attributes to better serve high-needs patients; and areas of opportunity to support the spread and scale of evidence-based programs.

Novel PET tracer detects small blood clots

Blood clots in veins and arteries can lead to heart attack, stroke, and pulmonary embolism, which are major causes of mortality. In the featured article of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine's (JNM) July 2017 issue, German researchers show that targeting GPIIb/IIIa receptors, the key receptor involved in platelet clumping, with a fluorine-18 (18F) labeled ligand is a promising approach for diagnostic imaging. Current imaging modalities rely on structural characteristics, such as vascular flow impairment, and do not address the critical molecular components.

Traumatic brain injury in veterans—differences from civilians may affect long-term care

Veterans with traumatic brain injury (TBI) differ from civilians with TBI in some key ways—with potentially important implications for long-term care and support of injured service members and their families. New research from the Veterans Administration TBI Model System is assembled in the July/August special issue of the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation (JHTR).

Biology news

'Weedy' fish species to take over our future oceans

University of Adelaide researchers have for the first time demonstrated that the ocean acidification expected in the future will reduce fish diversity significantly, with small 'weedy' species dominating marine environments.

Long-term sexual intimidation may be widespread in primate societies

After observing the mating habits of chacma baboons living in the wild over a four-year period, researchers have found that males of the species often use long-term sexual intimidation to control their mates. The findings reported in Current Biology on July 6 suggest that this mating strategy has a long history in primates, including humans, and may be widespread across social mammals—especially when males of a species are typically larger than females.

Wild wheat genome sequencing provides 'time tunnel' capable of boosting future food production and safety

A global team of researchers has published the first-ever Wild Emmer wheat genome sequence in Science magazine. Wild Emmer wheat is the original form of nearly all the domesticated wheat in the world, including durum (pasta) and bread wheat. Wild emmer is too low-yielding to be of use to farmers today, but it contains many attractive characteristics that are being used by plant breeders to improve wheat.

Defensive bacterial symbionts of fruit flies attack ribosomes of parasitic wasps

Bacteria of the Spiroplasma genus produce toxic, ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs) that appear to protect their symbiotic host flies against parasitic wasps, according to new research published in PLOS Pathogens.

When butterfly male sex-bias flaps its wings

In butterflies, sex is determined by chromosome differences between males and females. But unlike in humans with the familiar X and Y, in butterflies, it is the females that determine the sex of offspring.

Deep water corals glow in the dark to survive

Corals in shallow waters glow because of fluorescent proteins that act as sunblock, protecting the endangered species from the sun's intense rays.

A new molecular scissors act like a GPS to improve genome editing

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), led by the Spanish researcher Guillermo Montoya, have discovered how Cpf1, a new molecular scissors, unzips and cleaves DNA. This member of the CRISPR-Cas family displays high accuracy, and is capable of acting like a GPS in order to identify its destination within the intricate map of the genome. The high precision of Cpf1 will improve the use of this type of technology in repairing genetic damage and in other medical and biotechnological applications.

How plants grow like human brains

Plants and brains are more alike than you might think: Salk scientists discovered that the mathematical rules governing how plants grow are similar to how brain cells sprout connections. The new work, published in Current Biology on July 6, 2017, and based on data from 3D laser scanning of plants, suggests there may be universal rules of logic governing branching growth across many biological systems.

Changes in conservation planning can benefit vulnerable mammals

Right now, a prairie dog in Colorado is busy increasing soil carbon retention, increasing water infiltration, and clipping vegetation that will help maintain local grasslands and provide nutritious forage for large herbivores like cattle and bison. And, somewhere in Mexico, a pollinating bat is ensuring agave plants make good tequila.

How wheat lost the evolutionary battle against its deadly fungal nemesis

A University of Kentucky plant pathologist is part of an international team of researchers who have uncovered an important link to a disease which left unchecked could prove devastating to wheat. UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment faculty member Mark Farman co-authored an article being published today in Science.

Second pack of gray wolves spotted in Northern California

A female gray wolf, her mate and at least three pups are the second pack of wolves spotted in Northern California since the species went extinct there in 1924, state wildlife officials said Wednesday.

Long-term study links tree seeds, rodent population fluctuations

Using data from a 33-year population study, University of Maine researchers have found evidence that various tree species can affect rodent populations in different ways.

Climate change threatens domestic bee species

There are around 550 different bee species in Germany. Most of them are solitary bees. They don't live in large beehives like the honeybee, but each female bee often builds multiple nests and feeds her offspring alone. Solitary bees use their short lifespan of a few weeks exclusively to reproduce and to provide food for their brood to develop into adult bees. Bees depend on the availability of pollen which they can frequently collect on specific plant species only.

How I showed that snails use their shells to trap and kill parasites

Farmers and gardeners spend much of the year in a constant battle to stop slugs and snails eating their vegetables. But these animals have been locked in their own co-evolutionary arms race for millions of years – a fight against parasites, specifically nematode worms. Now my latest research has shown that snails evolved to use their shells in this battle as a way to encapsulate and kill the parasites as part of their immune system.

Birds' migration genes are conditioned by geography

The genetic make-up of a willow warbler determines where it will migrate when winter comes. Studies of willow warblers in Sweden, Finland and the Baltic States show that "migration genes" differ - depending on where the birds breed in the summer. The willow warblers that breed in southern Sweden migrate to West Africa, while those in northern Sweden, Finland and the Baltic States fly to southern or eastern Africa.

DNA study of southern humpback finds calving ground loyalty drives population differences

Scientists conducting the first circum-global assessment of mitochondrial DNA variation in the Southern Hemisphere's humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) have found that whales faithfully returning to calving grounds year after year play a major role in how populations form, according to WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), the American Museum of Natural History, and a number of other contributing organizations.

Spain hit by deadly bacteria threatening olive trees

A deadly bacteria that infected thousands of olive trees in Italy has been detected for the first time in mainland Spain, the world's top producer of olive oil, a regional government official said Thursday.

Scientists begin to unravel how the protein tau transitions from a soluble liquid state to solid fibrous tangles

While much about Alzheimer's disease remains a mystery, scientists do know that part of the disease's progression involves a normal protein called tau, aggregating to form ropelike inclusions within brain cells that eventually strangle the neurons. Yet how this protein transitions from its soluble liquid state to solid fibers has remained unknown—until now.

One fin in the grave: Necrobiome poses a health threat to fish

Sewage-contaminated water is even more harmful for wildlife than previously thought. "Decaying fish can act as a sink for the spread of harmful bacteria to scavenging fish and birds. Fish caught in areas downstream of effluent outlets may also pose a health risk to anglers", says Dr Paul Craig whose research team from the University of Waterloo, Canada is the first to examine the effects of the bacterial necrobiome on fish exposed to wastewater.

Check it out: a baby pygmy hippo

Talk about a cute critter: a hippo small enough to fit in a pet cage.

Thailand leads the pack for Asia's abused tourist elephants

Twice as many elephants work in Thailand's tourism industry as the rest of Asia combined, with the vast majority kept in "severely inadequate conditions", a new report revealed Thursday.

Hong Kong seizes 7.2 tonnes of ivory

More than seven tonnes of ivory worth over US$9 million was seized in Hong Kong, officials said Thursday, the largest bust of its kind in the city in three decades.

Which native animals should Australians eat?

This story contains imagery of butchered animals. All shown samples were collected as road-kill and used for research with the relevant permissions.

New book reveals how nature is fighting back

A University of York academic has written a new book that challenges us to look positively at the impact of humans on the natural world.

Jellyfish invasion stirs debate over Egypt's Suez Canal

Swarms of jellyfish have descended on Egypt's northern coast, keeping vacationers out of the water and stirring debate over a recent expansion of the Suez Canal.

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