Thursday, August 10, 2017

Science X Newsletter Thursday, Aug 10

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for August 10, 2017:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

First data transmission through terahertz multiplexer reported

Jupiter-mass planet orbiting giant star discovered

Chinese team sends quantum keys to ground stations and teleports ground to satellite signals

New kinds of brain cells revealed

How the brain recognizes familiar faces

Mapping the brain, neuron by neuron

Analysis highlights failings in US's advanced nuclear program

DNA sequencing tools lack robust protections against cybersecurity risks

Efforts to reduce pollution from agriculture paying off slowly

Ultrasound-triggered liposomes for on-demand, local anesthesia

Australia vitamin 'breakthrough' to cut miscarriages, birth defects

Consistent backswing crucial in helping sportspeople produce optimum results

For bacteria that cheat, food is at the forefront

Marine noise pollution stresses and confuses fish

Phone app, 3-D printed lens belong to teenager's system to screen for an eye disease

Astronomy & Space news

Jupiter-mass planet orbiting giant star discovered

(—An international team of astronomers has discovered a Jupiter-mass alien world circling a giant star known as HD 208897. The newly detected exoplanet was found as a result of high-precision radial velocity measurements. The discovery was detailed in a paper published Aug. 6 on the arXiv preprint server.

Moon to spoil meteor show: astronomers

A bright Moon will outshine the annual Perseids meteor shower, which will peak Saturday with only a fifth the usual number of shooting stars visible to Earthlings, astronomers say.

Why massive galaxies don't dance in crowds

Scientists have discovered why heavyweight galaxies living in a dense crowd of galaxies tend to spin more slowly than their lighter neighbours.

Cassini to begin final five orbits around Saturn

NASA's Cassini spacecraft will enter new territory in its final mission phase, the Grand Finale, as it prepares to embark on a set of ultra-close passes through Saturn's upper atmosphere with its final five orbits around the planet.

Asteroid to shave past Earth on Oct 12: ESA (Update)

A house-sized asteroid will shave past our planet on October 12, far inside the Moon's orbit but without posing any threat, astronomers said Thursday.

Day to night and back again: Earth's ionosphere during the total solar eclipse

On Aug. 21, 2017, the Moon will slide in front of the Sun and for a brief moment, day will melt into a dusky night. Moving across the country, the Moon's shadow will block the Sun's light, and weather permitting, those within the path of totality will be treated to a view of the Sun's outer atmosphere, called the corona.

Galactic winds push researchers to probe galaxies at unprecedented scale

When astronomers peer into the universe, what they see often exceeds the limits of human understanding. Such is the case with low-mass galaxies—galaxies a fraction of the size of our own Milky Way.

Megamovie app makes photographing total eclipse a snap

The Eclipse Megamovie project has released an app that makes it easy for citizen scientists with smart phones to photograph the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse and upload the images to the project, a collaboration between the University of California, Berkeley, and Google to provide a lasting photo archive for scientists studying the sun's corona.

Watch martian clouds scoot, thanks to NASA's Curiosity

Wispy, early-season clouds resembling Earth's ice-crystal cirrus clouds move across the Martian sky in some new image sequences from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover.

New observations of Crab Nebula and pulsar reveal polarised emissions

New observations of polarised X-rays from the Crab Nebula and Pulsar, published today in Scientific Reports, may help explain sudden flares in the Crab's X-ray intensity, as well as provide new data for modeling – and understanding – the nebula.

Preserving the stress of volcanic uprise on Mars

An ancient mountain range on Mars preserves a complex volcanic and tectonic past imprinted with signs of water and ice interactions.

Science Says: Solar specs needed for safe viewing of eclipse

With the total solar eclipse right around the cosmic corner, eye doctors are going into nagging overdrive.

NASA selects proposals to study galaxies, stars, planets

NASA has selected six astrophysics Explorers Program proposals for concept studies. The proposed missions would study gamma-ray and X-ray emissions from clusters of galaxies and neutron star systems, as well as infrared emissions from galaxies in the early universe and atmospheres of exoplanets, which are planets outside of our solar system.

Image: Solar evaporation ponds near Moab, Utah

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of solar evaporation ponds outside the city of Moab, Utah. There are 23 colorful ponds spread across 400 acres. They are part of a large operation to mine potassium chloride—more commonly referred to as muriate of potash (MOP)—from ore buried underground. MOP is in high demand as fertilizer because there are no easy substitutes for potassium, an essential nutrient for plant growth.

Image: Liquid propellant tanks for NASA's powerful Space Launch System rocket

NASA's powerful Space Launch System rocket is a few steps closer to launching the Orion spacecraft now that its liquid propellant tanks are ready for testing.

NASA Explores potential of altered realities for space engineering and science

Virtual and augmented reality are transforming the multi-billion-dollar gaming industry. A team of NASA technologists now is investigating how this immersive technology could profit agency engineers and scientists, particularly in the design and construction of spacecraft and the interpretation of scientific data.

Technology news

DNA sequencing tools lack robust protections against cybersecurity risks

Rapid improvement in DNA sequencing has sparked a proliferation of medical and genetic tests that promise to reveal everything from one's ancestry to fitness levels to microorganisms that live in your gut.

Phone app, 3-D printed lens belong to teenager's system to screen for an eye disease

(Tech Xplore)—A teenage student has presented a system that is designed to diagnose an eye disease. Kavya Kopparapu, together with her 15-year-old brother, Neeyanth, and her high school classmate Justin Zhang, have come up with an artificial intelligence system to recognize signs of diabetic retinopathy, in photos of eyes, and to deliver a preliminary diagnosis.

USB connections make snooping easy

USB connections, the most common interface used globally to connect external devices to computers, are vulnerable to information leakage, making them even less secure than has been thought, Australian research shows.

Computer 'anthropologists' study global fashion

Each day billions of photographs are uploaded to photo-sharing services and social media platforms, and Cornell computer science researchers are figuring out ways to analyze this visual treasure trove through deep-learning methods.

IV and cellular fluids power flexible batteries

Researchers in China have engineered bendable batteries that can run on body-inspired liquids such as normal IV saline solution and cell-culture medium. In their work, published August 10 in the journal Chem, the authors designed alternatives to lithium-ion batteries by focusing on the mechanical-stress demands of wearable electronics such as smartwatches and the safety requirements of implantable electronics.

AI, crowdsourcing combine to close 'analogy gap'

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem devised a method enabling computers to mine databases of patents, inventions and research papers, identifying ideas that can be repurposed to solve new problems or create new products.

End of an era as typewriting tests phased out in India

The unmistakable chatter of typewriters outside courthouses and government offices will soon fall silent in India's financial capital Mumbai as stenography colleges on Friday hold their final manual exams.

VR cricket game uses motion capture technology for full immersive experience

With the cricket season in full swing, cricket fans can try out their batting skills at home with a virtual reality game developed by Stickee Studios in collaboration with researchers at the University of Bath.

Consumers Reports pulls Microsoft laptop recommendation

Consumer Reports is pulling its recommendation of four Microsoft laptops after one of its surveys found that users were complaining about problems with the devices.

MalwareTech's arrest sheds light on the complex culture of the hacking world

The arrest of a British cybersecurity researcher on charges of disseminating malware and conspiring to commit computer fraud and abuse provides a window into the complexities of hacking culture.

Beyond Trump—why power companies should be investing now in carbon-free electricity

When utility executives make decisions about building new power plants, a lot rides on their choices. Depending on their size and type, new generating facilities cost hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars. They typically will run for 40 or more years – 10 U.S. presidential terms. Much can change during that time.

Find out how much privacy you compromise with every click

Does clicking on a link or liking a product have an impact on your privacy and your personal information? An EPFL researcher has come up with a way to browse the internet without revealing too much about yourself and without having to forgo the convenience of online product recommendations.

Calculating the value of technology start-ups

Researchers at Oxford University have developed a novel way of determining the value of new technologies in the information and communications sector, filling a significant gap in existing methods and potentially creating a decision-making tool for investors.

Facebook rolls out video shows, in new challenge

Facebook is rolling out a new video service offering professionally produced shows in a challenge to rivals such as YouTube, and potentially to streaming providers like Netflix.

Experimental defense unit funds new tech but faces skeptics

An Obama-era effort enlisting startup companies to come up with solutions to the military's toughest technological challenges is funding experimental drones, new cybersecurity technology and advanced communications systems for soldiers.

Snapchat's not-growing pains are a boom for Instagram

Facebook once failed to buy Snapchat; ever since, it's tried to copy it, mostly without success.

Cyberattack leaves millions without mobile phone service in Venezuela

A massive cyberattack that took down government websites in Venezuela earlier this week also has left seven million mobile phone users without service, the government said Thursday.

New study on popular messaging apps shows encrypting is easy but authenticating is hard

Researchers at Brigham Young University have learned that most users of popular messaging apps Facebook Messenger, What'sApp and Viber are leaving themselves exposed to fraud or other hacking because they don't know about or aren't using important security options.

Uber investor lawsuit accuses Kalanick of rigging board

A major Uber investor on Thursday sued founder Travis Kalanick, accusing the recently departed chief executive of covering misdeeds while rigging the board in order to return to power at the company.

Free-speech debate swirls as officials block on social media

An emerging debate about whether elected officials violate people's free speech rights by blocking them on social media is spreading across the U.S. as groups sue or warn politicians to stop the practice.

A wheeled robot to monitor grape growth

Just like great wine needs time, great grapes require continuous attention and reliable assessment tools. Noting the absence of a convincing alternative to manual sampling and analysis, an EU consortium has developed VineRobot, an 'Unmanned ground vehicle' (UGV) equipped with non-invasive sensor technology.

Want to fix America's infrastructure? Build in the places that need help the most

Political debates over U.S. infrastructure spending are painfully incomplete. The discussion focuses almost exclusively on how much money should be spent, ignoring important questions about what projects are most needed and where those projects should be placed.

How California's climate policies created an economic boon

According to the first comprehensive study of the economic effects of climate programs in California's Inland Empire, Riverside and San Bernardino counties experienced a net benefit of $9.1 billion in direct economic activity and 41,000 jobs from 2010 through 2016.

Ohio Supercomputer Center helps researchers map invisible universe

The Ohio Supercomputer Center played a critical role in helping researchers reach a milestone mapping the growth of the universe from its infancy to present day.

Medicine & Health news

New kinds of brain cells revealed

Under a microscope, it can be hard to tell the difference between any two neurons, the brain cells that store and process information. So scientists have turned to molecular methods to try to identify groups of neurons with different functions.

How the brain recognizes familiar faces

There's nothing quite like the rush of recognition that comes from seeing a familiar face. But scientists have been hard-pressed to explain how we identify well-known faces—or how that process differs from the way we perceive unfamiliar ones.

Mapping the brain, neuron by neuron

A Johns Hopkins University mathematician and computer scientist joined an international team of neuroscientists to create a complete map of the learning and memory center of the fruit fly larva brain, an early step toward mapping how all animal brains work.

Ultrasound-triggered liposomes for on-demand, local anesthesia

Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have found a new way to non-invasively relieve pain at local sites in the body; such systems could one day improve pain management by replacing addictive opioids and short-lasting local anesthetics.

Australia vitamin 'breakthrough' to cut miscarriages, birth defects

Taking a common vitamin supplement could significantly reduce the number of miscarriages and birth defects worldwide, Australian scientists said Thursday, in what they described as a major breakthrough in pregnancy research.

Consistent backswing crucial in helping sportspeople produce optimum results

Golfers wanting to shoot below par or tennis players looking to smash their way past opponents should focus on their backswing in order to perfect new techniques quickly, research suggests.

New drug to benefit cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy

Researchers at The University of Western Australia have developed an innovative approach to prevent one of the most serious side-effects of chemotherapy, known as myelosuppression.

Tumour blood supply stopped in its tracks by modified natural compound

Researchers have discovered how the modified natural compound dextran-catechin disrupts formation of blood vessels that fuel growth in the childhood cancer neuroblastoma.

Checkpoint inhibitors fire up different types of T cells to attack tumors

Cancer immunotherapies that block two different checkpoints on T cells launch immune attacks on cancer by expanding distinct types of T cell that infiltrate tumors, researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report in the journal Cell.

Link between biological clock and aging revealed: Study shows low-calorie diet may help keep body young

Scientists studying how aging affects the biological clock's control of metabolism have discovered that a low-calorie diet helps keep these energy-regulating processes humming and the body younger.

Researchers explore what happens when people hear voices that others don't

People who hear voices—both with and without a diagnosed psychotic illness—are more sensitive than other subjects to a 125-year-old experiment designed to induce hallucinations. And the subjects' ability to learn that these hallucinations were not real may help pinpoint those in need of psychiatric treatment, suggests a new Yale-led study published Aug. 11 in the journal Science.

How dietary fiber helps the intestines maintain health

UC Davis Health researchers have discovered how by-products of the digestion of dietary fiber by gut microbes act as the right fuel to help intestinal cells maintain gut health.

Novel stem cell-derived model created of inflammatory neurological disorder

An international team of scientists, led by University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers, has created a human stem cell-based model of a rare, but devastating, inherited neurological autoimmune condition called Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome (AGS). In doing so, the team was able to identify unusual and surprising underlying genetic mechanisms that drive AGS and test strategies to inhibit the condition using existing drugs.

Attitudes on human genome editing vary, but all agree conversation is necessary

In early August 2017, an international team of scientists announced they had successfully edited the DNA of human embryos. As people process the political, moral and regulatory issues of the technology—which nudges us closer to nonfiction than science fiction—researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Temple University show the time is now to involve the American public in discussions about human genome editing.

Certain occupations linked to an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis

New research indicates that certain occupations may put workers at an elevated risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. The findings, which appear in Arthritis Care & Research, suggest that work-related factors, such as noxious airborne agents, may contribute to the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis.

Parents of premature babies as happy as other parents by adulthood

Parents of very premature or very low birth weight babies have the same life satisfaction as parents of full-term babies, when their children reach adulthood- according to new research by the University of Warwick.

Doctors at heart of US opioid crisis

When 55-year-old Sheila Bartels left her doctor's office in Oklahoma, she had a prescription for 510 painkillers.

Yemen's civil war turns country into cholera breeding ground

Collapsing on sidewalks and constantly vomiting, some of the Yemeni villagers barely make it to the tiny health center where doctors spread cardboard sheets in the backyard and use trees to hang bags of IV fluids for patients.

Dutch arrest 2 suspects in investigation into tainted eggs

Dutch investigators on Thursday detained two men suspected of being involved in the illegal use of pesticide at poultry farms that sparked a food safety scare in several European countries.

Luxembourg hit by tainted eggs scare

Luxembourg became the latest European country hit by a scare over tainted eggs, with a major supermarket chain pulling them from the shelves and other firms affected, authorities said Thursday.

The effects of increased inflammatory markers during pregnancy

Researchers from Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, in collaboration with colleagues from the U.S,. have shown that increased levels of inflammatory markers during pregnancy can lead to changes in fetal brain development which, in turn, may increase the child's risk of developing psychiatric disorders. The incidence of impaired impulse control—the cardinal symptom of these disorders—appears to be particularly affected by this increase in maternal inflammation. Results from this study have been published in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

Expert discusses repercussions of helicopter parenting

It's no secret that most parents only want what is best for their children, but what happens when parents become too involved in their lives? One Baylor College of Medicine expert explains the repercussions helicopter parenting can have on children.

700,000 insecticide-tainted eggs imported to UK: govt

Around 700,000 eggs implicated in a Dutch insecticide scandal have been distributed in Britain in processed food, authorities said Thursday, while playing down the risk to public health.

Mechanism behind sudden cardiac deaths in sports uncovered

Researchers have worked out the mechanism behind sudden cardiac deaths that follow a hard blow to the chest.

Receptor dynamics provide new potential for pharmaceutical developments

The dynamics among certain so-called G protein-coupled receptors, of vital importance for the function of cells in the body, are different than previously believed. This has been reported by researchers from Karolinska Institutet in the journal Nature Communications. As these types of receptors are the target for many different medicines, the new finding opens the doors to completely new opportunities within pharmacology and pharmaceutical development.

Hormone from fat tissue can give protection against polycystic ovary syndrome

Obesity and reduced insulin sensitivity are common in polycystic ovary syndrome, PCOS. New research based on animal studies, and to be published in the journal PNAS, reveals that the hormone adiponectin can protect against these changes.

Method offers better conditions for studying insulin-producing cells

Researchers have established a unique method enabling them to study the function of insulin-producing cells under conditions that are similar to those in humans. This can pave the way to development of new medicines for the treatment of diabetes.

Gene editing embryos may lead to 'pursuit of a conception of perfection'

Last week, scientists published a study that overcame a massive hurdle in the quest to eradicate dangerous genetic diseases. By employing the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing method on human embryos, researchers for the first time successfully fixed a mutation known to cause an often fatal heart condition.

A note of caution amidst a 'revolution' in hepatitis C treatment

As new treatments for hepatitis C reshape the landscape, new data from UNSW underscore the need to address issues including discrimination, stigma and engaging marginalised communities.

Stress may switch on bone 'mets'

Stress stimulates the formation of blood vessels in bone and may help breast cancer cells to invade this organ.

Surgical residents adapt to flexible shift hours

Surgical residents across the country have grown accustomed to less restrictive shift lengths, according to new findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The research explored implications from a Northwestern Medicine study also published in NEJM, which found in 2016 that flexible duty hour requirements were safe for patients and improved resident education.

Two genes help older brain gain new cells

Two genes act as molecular midwives to the birth of neurons in adult mammals and when inactivated in mice cause symptoms of Fragile X Syndrome, a major cause of mental retardation, a new Yale University study has shown.

Study reveals costs of maternal health

New research from The Australian National University (ANU) has for the first time identified and quantified the factors pushing up maternal health costs in the New South Wales public hospital system, paving the way for better health policy.

Kids with weight issues at high risk of emotional and behavioural problems

A new, in-depth study of New Zealand children and teenagers seeking help with weight issues has found their emotional health and wellbeing is, on average, markedly worse than that of children without weight issues.

Discovery of the monocytes that secrete a pro-inflammatory protein

Different populations of white blood cells secrete different levels of IL-1β, a pro-inflammatory protein that normally helps the body fight off infection and injury, but may also trigger autoimmune disease and inflammatory diseases. An investigation by A*STAR researchers and collaborators shows that a regulatory protein called Hsp27 is responsible for some of these differences in subsets of monocytes.

Researchers trace the Asian origins of Zika's global spread

Genomic detectives have traced the most recent outbreak of Zika—a mosquito-borne virus that became a pandemic linked to neurological defects—back to a strain in South-east Asia.

Study finds monocytes replenish the bone marrow's supply of infection-fighting monocytes

Infection-fighting immune cells known as monocytes consist of two distinct subpopulations in the bone marrow, an A*STAR investigation has found. One of these acts as a reservoir for the other in order to maintain a stable pool of monocytes circulating through the bloodstream, a discovery that could inform future drug development.

Failed treatment for chikungunya highlights the need for extreme caution when manipulating the immune system

A*STAR researchers found that a treatment they developed for chikungunya, a disease causing painful joint inflammation, was successful when administered closely preceding an infection, but made things much worse if subjects—in this case, mice—were already in the grip of the virus.

The real reason middle-aged men in Lycra dominate cycling (it's not a mid-life crisis)

The British cycling boom of the last decade has brought a new creature onto the UK's roads. They can be spotted in both town and country but they're most commonly seen on a weekend, travelling in groups and easily recognisable from their bright colours.

Statistical component model to identify associations between chemicals and toxicological effects

The joint Aalto University, Karolinska Institute and Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM) study included over 1,300 known pharmaceutical molecules, on which there is a wealth of measurement data available.

Reward or punishment—finding the best match for your child's personality

One of the more frustrating assumptions in the mix of modern parenting advice is the "tabula rasa" idea that all kids are born as identical clean slates.

Is the food industry conspiring to make you fat?

The scent of baked goods wafts towards you as the supermarket doors glide open. Your stomach rumbles and your mouth waters at the sight and smell of so much food.

How safe are heartburn medications and who should use them?

Many people suffer regularly from heartburn - a burning feeling in the chest caused by stomach acid travelling up the food pipe (oesophagus) after eating. This causes inflammation and irritation of the lower oesophagus, and also ulcers. The most commonly prescribed medications to treat what is known as gastro-oesphageal reflux disease, are "proton pump inhibitors".

Small molecule inhibitor prevents or impedes tooth cavities in a preclinical model

University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have created a small molecule that prevents or impedes tooth cavities in a preclinical model. The inhibitor blocks the function of a key virulence enzyme in an oral bacterium, a molecular sabotage that is akin to throwing a monkey wrench into machinery to jam the gears.

A proposal to generate insecticides that could save millions of lives

Researchers at Duke University have proposed a new mechanism for stimulating insecticide development to prevent the spread of deadly tropical diseases. The system is based on their similar proposal that has been spurring drug development for those same diseases since 2007.

The Keto diet—is eating more fat the key to weight loss?

Models, athletes and celebrities swear by the ketogenic "keto" diet to help shed those unwanted pounds. The keto diet encourages eating more cheese, butter and bacon; it's a low-carb, high-fat diet akin to the Atkins Diet created in 1972 by cardiologist Robert C. Atkins. The latest fad diet has amassed a following of devoted supporters, including Tim Tebow, LeBron James and Kim Kardashian, but does it really work?

Scots' sugar rush driving 'obesity epidemic', figures suggest

Scots' daily consumption of 110 tonnes of sugar from cut-price food and drink is fuelling obesity, a University of Stirling academic has warned.

How 'clean eating' can damage children's health

Clean eating seems ideal for parents who want to establish their children's healthy habits early on. It's no surprise really: "clean eating" is the perfect buzz term for parents who are faced with supermarket shelves full of baby and toddler food which is high in sugar content and low in nutritional value.

Is sex work still the most dangerous profession? The data suggests so

Romina Kalachi, a 32-year-old woman, was stabbed to death in her own home on May 29, 2017. She was killed in her flat in Kilburn, London and is the latest known sex worker to be murdered in the UK.

Junior doctors have a tough job, but preparing for mishaps can help

Thousands of newly qualified junior doctors headed into UK NHS hospitals in their droves earlier this month, to begin their in-house training.

Big Tobacco goes after the young in developing markets

A number of revelations have surfaced recently about the activities of Big Tobacco companies in markets across the developing world. One investigation by Reuters revealed how Philip Morris International has been targeting young people in India through colourful adverts and promotions at clubs and parties in large cities like Delhi. In Uganda, British American Tobacco has won a legal battle to limit the expansion of health warnings on packets and point-of-sale displays.

Why these sperm are the key to the future of fertility – and contraception

Despite the huge global demand for both fertility treatment and contraception, there are surprisingly few options to boost male fertility, or for male contraception. To have more options, we really need a better understanding of how human sperm work. Unfortunately, they are incredibly difficult to study in the lab.

New insight into how immune cells are formed

In contrast to what has been previously believed, development of blood stem cells into mast cells, a type of specialised immune cell, does not depend on stem cell factor. This has been demonstrated in a new collaborative study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University, and published in the scientific journal Blood. The results could pave the way for new treatments for certain types of blood diseases.

How the microbiome could tackle antibiotic resistant infections in the lungs

Understanding how microbes contribute to respiratory health and immunity could help tackle drug resistant infections in the lungs, say scientists.

Supporting women's autonomy in prenatal testing

Noninvasive fetal genetic sequencing done early in pregnancy is poised to become a routine part of prenatal care. While it could offer patients substantial benefits, there is a risk that it will be integrated into care "without the robust, evidence-based informed consent process necessary for respecting women's autonomy," states an article in the August 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Test results after stem cell transplant for multiple myeloma can confuse patients and doctors about

It's a cancer of the plasma cells, which normally make an array of antibodies that protect us from infection.

Healthy diet could decrease gestational diabetes risk for South Asian women

South Asian women in Ontario are at high risk for gestational diabetes, but a change in diet and pre-pregnancy weight could make a significant difference, according to a new study from McMaster University.

Chickenpox virus fatal in newly discovered immunodeficiency

A mutation in one of the sensors that the immune system uses to detect viruses can, in rare cases, turn infections with the chickenpox virus into a life-threatening matter. For two out of every 10,000 people, it can lead to inflammation of the brain, and for twenty out of 10,000, to severe pneumonia, which can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women. The cause of these rare but serious diseases has thus far been unknown, and it has not been possible to predict who was in the danger zone.

Hibernating control cells or why inflammations become chronic

Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common autoimmune disease of the joints. It causes a chronic inflammatory response, with the body's own immune cells attacking the joint, including the cartilage and bone. This process does not cease spontaneously. An international research team headed by the rheumatologist Dr Andreas Ramming at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) has now managed to identify an immune system cell type that can be used in a targeted attempt to control the inflammatory response in arthritis patients. The results obtained by the research team at Department of Medicine 3 - Rheumatology and Immunology of Universitätsklinikum Erlangen - have been published in Nature Medicine.

Belief in neuromyths is extremely common

Researchers have surveyed educators, the public and people who have completed neuroscience courses, to assess their belief in neuromyths. Neuromyths are common misconceptions about brain research, many of which relate to learning and education. They found that belief in neuromyths is extremely common and that training in education and neuroscience helped to reduce these beliefs, but did not eliminate them.

Researchers link genes and motor skills development

Genes for many may be widely associated with determining certain traits and characteristics. Now a study co-led by John H. Martin of The CUNY School of Medicine at The City College of New York is demonstrating that they could also influence neural motor skills. This could lead to new insights in the treatment of motor skills impairments such as Cerebral Palsy.

Taboo words' impact mediated by context, listeners' likelihood of being offended

Taboo words provoke certain responses in readers' heart rates and brains, diminishing their attention and memory, research has shown.

Two arrested as Europe egg scandal spreads

Dutch investigators arrested two suspects Thursday over Europe's widening tainted egg scandal, as Denmark announced that 20 contaminated tonnes had been sold there.

Scientists develop new methods for analyzing gene function

Scientists at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC) have developed new methods to produce and analyze genetic mosaics.

Aedes aegypti mosquitos introduced to California multiple times

Aedes aegypti mosquitos can carry the pathogens that cause dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika fever, and yellow fever, among other diseases. In 2013, scientists first reported that A. aegypti had been found in California. Now, researchers writing this week in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases have studied those bugs and found that the California mosquitos came from at least two distinct introductions and populations.

In terms of health, having any job is not necessarily better than not having a job

A new paper published in the International Journal of Epidemiology finds that people employed in low paying or highly stressful jobs may not actually enjoy better health than those who remain unemployed.

Out-of-pocket costs exceed what many insured cancer patients expect to pay

A third of insured people with cancer end up paying more out-of-pocket than they expected, despite having health coverage, researchers at the Duke Cancer Institute have found.

New technique searches 'dark genome' for disease mutations

When doctors can't find a diagnosis for patient's disease, they turn to genetic detectives. Equipped with genomic sequencing technologies available for less than 10 years, these sleuths now routinely search through a patient's DNA looking for mutations responsible for mysterious diseases.

Immune cells promote or prevent cytomegalovirus activity in mice depending on location

Immune system cells called regulatory T cells appear to promote cytomegalovirus (CMV) latency in the spleen of mice, but suppress it in the salivary gland. Maha Almanan of the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Research Foundation, and colleagues present this surprising finding in a new study in PLOS Pathogens.

Drug trial shows promise for deadly neurological disorder

Results of a small clinical trial show promise for treating a rare neurodegenerative condition that typically kills those afflicted before they reach age 20. The disease, called Niemann-Pick type C (NPC), causes cholesterol to build up in neurons, leading to a gradual loss of brain function. In the drug trial, researchers have shown that treatment with a type of sugar molecule called cyclodextrin slows progression of the disease.

Unstable housing to cost health care system estimated $111 billion over 10 years, study finds

Unstable housing among families with children will cost the United States an estimated $111 billion in health and education expenditures over the next ten years, according to new research published by Children's HealthWatch based at Boston Medical Center.

Opioid users 50 percent more likely to get treatment under Obamacare

Once the Affordable Care Act was fully implemented in 2014, people who struggled with misusing opioids were 50 percent more likely to get treatment and twice as likely to have that treatment paid for by insurance than before, according to a new Drexel University study.

For drivers, hands-free can still be a handful

(HealthDay)—With many states having laws about not using handheld cellphones while driving, it's no wonder that 75 percent of drivers think that hands-free technology is safe to use.

Analysis of EBV DNA in plasma samples IDs nasopharyngeal CA

(HealthDay)—Analysis of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA in plasma samples can identify early asymptomatic nasopharyngeal carcinoma, according to a study published in the Aug. 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Live attenuated flu vaccine not effective for children in 2015-16

(HealthDay)—During the 2015 to 2016 season, influenza vaccines reduced the risk of influenza illness, but the live attenuated vaccine was ineffective among children 2 to 17 years of age, according to a study published in the Aug. 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers call for new consistent, robust standards for the development of meta-analyses

In light of a huge increase in recent years in the number of meta-analyses published annually about prevention and treatment of heart disease as well as in other fields, the American Heart Association (AHA) published a scientific statement to provide recommendations for physicians and researchers who wish to do meta-analyses, journal editors who publish them, and health care professionals who wish to use them to make decisions about patient care.

Using alternative medicine only for cancer linked to lower survival rate

Patients who choose to receive alternative therapy as treatment for curable cancers instead of conventional cancer treatment have a higher risk of death, according to researchers from the Cancer Outcomes, Public Policy and Effectiveness Research (COPPER) Center at Yale School of Medicine and Yale Cancer Center. The findings were reported online by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Toward a better definition for acute kidney injury in newborns

Each year, thousands of infants in the United States end up in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) with acute kidney injury (AKI), a condition in which the kidneys falter in performing the critical role of filtering waste products and excess fluid from the blood to produce urine. Being able to identify neonates during the early stages of AKI is critical to doctors and clinician-scientists who treat and study this condition, explains Patricio Ray, M.D., a nephrologist at Children's National Health System.

Feeling bad about feeling bad can make you feel worse

Pressure to feel upbeat can make you feel downbeat, while embracing your darker moods can actually make you feel better in the long run, according to new UC Berkeley research.

New measure of insulin-making cells could gauge diabetes progression, treatment

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a new measurement for the volume and activity of beta cells, the source of the sugar-regulating hormone insulin.

Number of Americans with epilepsy at record level

(HealthDay)—More Americans than ever are living with epilepsy, federal health officials reported Thursday.

Only about one-third of Americans use condoms: CDC

(HealthDay)—Condoms can help prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), but only about a third of Americans use them, a new federal report shows.

Artificial sweeteners trick the brain: study

(HealthDay)—New research may help explain the reported link between the use of artificial sweeteners and diabetes, scientists say.

Swallowing exercises rehabilitate chronic dysphagia

(HealthDay)—A novel rehabilitative swallowing exercise program aids long-term head and neck cancer survivors with chronic dysphagia, according to a study published online Aug. 2 in Head & Neck.

Disruption of NAD synthesis tied to congenital malformations

(HealthDay)—For humans and mice, disruption of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) synthesis causes deficiency of NAD, resulting in congenital mutations, according to a study published in the Aug. 10 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Being bullied may dramatically affect sleep

New research from McLean Hospital neuroscientists shows in an animal model that being bullied can have long-term, dramatic effects on sleep and other circadian rhythm-related functions, symptoms that are characteristic of clinical depression and other stress-induced mental illnesses. The researchers, however, also found that it may be possible to mitigate these effects with the use of an experimental class of drugs that can block stress.

20 tonnes of contaminated eggs sold in Denmark: food authority

Twenty tonnes of fipronil-contaminated eggs have been sold in Denmark, the country's Veterinary and Food Administration said on Thursday.

Cancer research: 3-D models accommodate better precision in drug discovery

The field of cancer research is moving rapidly toward three-dimensional (3D) laboratory cultures because 3D models can speed drug discovery and better predict the efficacy of using certain drug therapies. Just 1% of drugs investigated ever make it through the gamut of testing and approval to market. Technology that accommodates better precision in drug discovery and treatment is now being pursued with intensity.

Test uses nanotechnology to quickly diagnose Zika virus

Washington University in St. Louis researchers have developed a test that quickly detects the presence of Zika virus in blood.

Mental health programs in schools—Growing body of evidence supports effectiveness

School-based mental health programs can reach large numbers of children, with increasing evidence of effectiveness in improving mental health and related outcomes, according to a research review in the September/October issue of the Harvard Review of Psychiatry.

ERs can improve population health in rural areas

Emergency physicians in Michigan propose a new health care delivery model for rural populations that depends on a partnership between emergency medicine and primary care and seeks to reverse the trend of failing health in underserved parts of the country. Their proposal was published online yesterday in Annals of Emergency Medicine ("An Emergency Medicine-Primary Care Partnership to Improve Rural Population Health: Expanding the Role of Emergency Medicine").

Innovations enhance genetic analysis of individual cells

Single cell genomics technology has given scientists the ability to individually read the genetic blueprints of cells, the most fundamental units of life. Now, the center that pioneered the technology, Bigelow Laboratory's Single Cell Genomics Center, has developed several key enhancements to the technology and published them in Nature Communications.

Does widespread pain stem from the brain? MRI study investigates

Pain is the most common reason people seek medical care, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Study shows universal vaccination has wiped out hepatitis B and associated liver cancer in Alaska's young people

Updated research presented at this year's World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Viral Hepatitis in Anchorage, Alaska, USA (8-9 August) shows that the universal hepatitis B vaccination programme introduced for all newborn Alaskan children in the 1980s has wiped out hepatitis B infection and liver cancer cases associated with the infection. The study is by Dr Brian McMahon, Director of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) Hepatitis Program, Anchorage, AK, USA and colleagues at ANTHC including Dr Rosalyn Singleton.

Rotavirus vaccines continue to reduce diarrhea hospitalizations, medical costs in US kids

Following the introduction of routine childhood vaccination against rotavirus, a common cause of diarrheal illness, more than 380,000 children avoided hospitalization for diarrhea from 2008 to 2013 in the U.S., thus saving an estimated $1.2 billion in direct medical costs. The estimates, from a new study published in the Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, provide additional evidence for the substantial impact of routine rotavirus vaccination. They also suggest even greater benefits from immunization if other avoided costs were to be considered.

Hepatitis A vaccination for Alaskan children has wiped out the virus

A comprehensive hepatitis A vaccination program established in Alaska in the 1990s, which became a requirement for school entry in 2001, has virtually wiped out the virus in the native peoples of Alaska, where it had been endemic.

Study: Trump actions trigger health premium hikes for 2018

The Trump administration's own actions are triggering double-digit premium increases on individual health insurance policies purchased by many consumers, a nonpartisan study has found.

More heatwaves recorded annually in Spain and other countries

Spain has been hit by several record-breaking heatwaves this summer. In fact, Spain is among the regions where more heatwaves are recorded every year, and their effects indicate a rise in the risk of mortality of between 10 percent and 20 percent during these extremely hot periods. This is one of the conclusions gleaned from an international study in which the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) participated. The study analysed heatwaves occurring between 1972 and 2012 in 400 cities and across 18 countries, and their effects on people's health, including mortality. The results are published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Mortality of elder abuse in Malaysia

In Malaysia, research into elder abuse and neglect (EAN) has indicated a link between abuse and premature death, with pattern differences between males and females. Financial abuse is found to be more common than other subtypes (physical, psychological, sexual and neglect), and comprises the group with the largest percentage of mortality.

Reducing dependency on opioid painkillers in rural and regional Australia

Between 2008 and 2011, the rate of people treated for dependency on morphine in rural and regional Australia was roughly double that of their major city counterparts.

Subset of immune cells linked to allergic rhinitis symptoms

Have you ever suffered from asthma or know someone who does? It is excruciating to watch them suffer. An asthma attack makes something as simple as breathing, extremely difficult. I have seen this first hand with my mum, brother and sister, who are all asthmatic. Asthma is just one of the allergic diseases that grip our lives—rhinitis and eczema, that affect the nasal passages and skin, respectively, are also very common in Singapore. "How common?" you may ask?

A new genetic progression measure for Huntington's disease offers hope

Partly supported through the EU NEUROMICS project, researchers have identified a novel measure of disease progression for Huntington's disease that could help slow down the disease and better target future therapies.

Study attacks racial disparities in cancer with exercise

Alice Yan knows that beating breast cancer takes more than good medical care: It takes a community of like-minded women determined to live a healthier lifestyle.

Obese heart surgery patients require significantly more ICU resources

After heart surgery, obese patients tend to require additional intensive care unit (ICU) services and longer recovery times when compared to non-obese patients. This results in more expensive, more labor-intensive care, according to a study published online today in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Pennsylvania hospital neurosurgeon performs first endoscopic minimally invasive spinal surgery in PA

Spine disc related low back and leg pain is a major challenge and is the second most common reason that patients visit the doctor in the United States—outnumbered only be respiratory infections—and is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Compression of the spinal nerves is one of the most common diagnoses and is frequently reversible with surgery.

Routine hospital tool found to predict poor outcomes after liver transplantation

A routinely used hospital tool can predict which liver transplant recipients are more likely to do poorly after surgery, according to a study led by Cedars-Sinai. The findings could help doctors identify which patients should receive physical therapy or other targeted interventions to improve their recovery.

The cost of malnutrition: Study shows nutrition program could save hospitals up to $3,800 per patient

Making sure people stay nourished in the hospital has shown to help patients recover, and real-world evidence confirms its cost benefits too. The research, published in American Health & Drug Benefits journal and supported by Abbott, found that when Advocate Health Care implemented a nutrition care program at four of its Chicago area hospitals, it showed more than $4.8 million in cost savings due to shorter hospital stays and lower readmission rates.3

Researchers identify prognostic indicators of survival following pancreatic tumor removal

A new study of patients who underwent curative surgical removal of a pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma showed that two of the nine preoperative factors analyzed were strongly predictive of poor prognosis regardless of the tumor stage. Preoperative assessment of these prognostic biomarkers might help in planning treatment strategies to improve patient outcomes, according to an article published in Journal of Pancreatic Cancer.

Yemen national blood bank faces threat of closure

Yemen's national blood bank faces a complete shutdown within a week after a medical aid charity ended its two-year support, the facility's director said on Thursday, warning that the closure could exacerbate the existing humanitarian crisis in the war-torn country.

Atrial fibrillation risk rises with decreasing kidney function

A new study indicates that individuals with kidney disease have a higher risk of developing atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN), suggest that individuals with poor kidney function may benefit from preventive interventions to maintain a normal heart rhythm.

Lung cancer clinical trial elig criteria and requirements increased in number and complexity

Eligibility criteria continue to increase in number and complexity for lung cancer clinical trials.

The right shoes can help prevent falls

(HealthDay)—Falls are the leading cause of death among people 65 and older, government surveys show. More than 2.8 million adults were treated in the emergency room and 27,000 people died from falls in 2014, the most recent year for which statistics are available.

New guidelines aim treat brain tumors more effectively

A University of Portsmouth academic has helped to develop European guidelines to treat brain tumours more effectively.

One tonne of contaminated egg product found in Romania: officials

One tonne of egg yolk liquid contaminated with the insecticide fipronil has been found in Romania, the first discovery in eastern Europe since the tainted egg scandal erupted, the veterinary health authority said Thursday.

Health officials tie norovirus outbreak to doughnut shop

County health officials say more than 200 cases of norovirus have been linked to a doughnut shop in northwest Ohio.

Slovakia finds tainted Dutch eggs imported from Germany

Slovak authorities said Thursday they had discovered a batch of insecticide-tainted eggs imported from The Netherlands via Germany as the scandal spread to Romania and Denmark.

Biology news

For bacteria that cheat, food is at the forefront

If you've got plenty of burgers and beers on hand and your own stomach is full, an uninvited guest at your neighborhood barbecue won't put much strain on you.

Marine noise pollution stresses and confuses fish

Researchers at Newcastle University (UK) found that European sea bass experienced higher stress levels when exposed to the types of piling and drilling sounds made during the construction of offshore structures.

Chimpanzees learn rock-paper-scissors

Chimpanzees of all ages and all sexes can learn the simple circular relationship between the three different hand signals used in the well-known game rock-paper-scissors. Even though it might take them longer, they are indeed able to learn the game as well as a young child. Jie Gao of Kyoto University in Japan and Peking University in China is lead author of a study in the journal Primates, which is the official journal of the Japan Monkey Centre, and is published by Springer. The research compares the ability of chimpanzees and children to learn the rock-paper-scissors game.

New version of DNA editing system corrects underlying defects in RNA-based diseases

Until recently, the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technique could only be used to manipulate DNA. In a 2016 study, University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers repurposed the technique to track RNA in live cells in a method called RNA-targeting Cas9 (RCas9). In a new study, published August 10 in Cell, the team takes RCas9 a step further: they use the technique to correct molecular mistakes that lead to microsatellite repeat expansion diseases, which include myotonic dystrophy types 1 and 2, the most common form of hereditary ALS, and Huntington's disease.

How urban seasnakes lost their stripes

Researchers studying turtle-headed seasnakes living on coral reefs in the Indo-Pacific noticed something unusual about the snakes' color patterns: seasnakes living in more pristine parts of the reef were decorated with black-and-white bands or blotches. Those in places with more human activity—near the city or military activity—were black.

Circular RNA linked to brain function

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the current issue of Science, Nikolaus Rajewsky and his team at the Berlin Institute of Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB) of the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC), as well as other collaborators within the MDC and Charité, present data that—for the first time—link a circular RNA to brain function.

Origins of DNA folding suggested in archaea

In the cells of palm trees, humans, and some single-celled microorganisms, DNA gets bent the same way. Now, by studying the 3-D structure of proteins bound to DNA in microbes called Archaea, University of Colorado Boulder and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers have turned up surprising similarities to DNA packing in more complicated organisms.

Researchers use CRISPR to manipulate social behavior in ants

The gene-editing technology called CRISPR has revolutionized the way that the function of genes is studied. So far, CRISPR has been widely used to precisely modify single-celled organisms and, more importantly, specific types of cells within more complex organisms. Now, two independent teams of investigators are reporting that CRISPR has been used to manipulate ant eggs—leading to germline changes that occur in every cell of the adult animals throughout the entire ant colony. The papers appear August 10 in Cell.

Trump administration urged to avoid salmon protection rules

A group that represents farmers is calling the costs of saving imperiled salmon in the largest river system in the Pacific Northwest unsustainable and is turning to the Trump administration to sidestep endangered species laws.

New hope for endangered eels, Japanese summer delicacy

The Japanese summer delicacy of roasted eel, braised with a tangy sauce and sprinkled with prickly mountain pepper, is in question as the creatures with their mysterious migrations become increasingly endangered.

Artificial coastal defences could be used to enhance marine biodiversity, study shows

Future coastal defences, harbours and ports could enhance biodiversity within the marine environment through the use of cement substitutes. But the materials used need to be selected carefully in order that native and non-native species are not adversely affected, a study by the University of Plymouth suggests.

New study tracks nonnative plant species in timing of grassland green-up

Gradual changes to when grassland plants turn green in the spring and fade in the fall, widely attributed to climate change, may arise due to different factors than previously thought, according to new research from an Iowa State University scientist.

Plants love microbes – and so do farmers

The Sunshine Coast's plant diversity has helped University of Queensland researchers confirm that nurture has the upper hand – at least when it comes to plant microbes.

A role for algae to combat future food scarcity

Borrowing from Al Gore, it may be an "inconvenient truth" but the world is facing two massive global challenges – food and energy security.

Seeing without eyes – the unexpected world of nonvisual photoreception

We humans are uncommonly visual creatures. And those of us endowed with normal sight are used to thinking of our eyes as vital to how we experience the world.

A new chloroplast role for making biofuels

Michigan State University researchers are experimenting with harvesting seed oil to make biofuels that could someday power our jets and cars.

Yoda bat officially recognised as new species

An unusual breed of fruit bat—previously nicknamed 'Yoda' due to its resemblance to the Star Wars Jedi Master—has now officially been registered as a new species and renamed the happy (Hamamas) tube-nosed fruit bat.

Cellular transport routes

Unlike many other organisms, plants can't simply run away from environmental conditions that change for the worse. Nonetheless, plants have the ability to react to environmental effects. These reactions are initially subtle, occurring within their individual cells, where plants move proteins. This process, known as protein transport, is the foundation for a complex biological response mechanism.

The only way is up: Trees help reptiles thrive

James Cook University researchers in Queensland say if graziers leave trees in place on their land all types of reptiles will benefit.

San Salvador pupfish acquired genetic variation from island fish to eat new foods

Pupfish living in salty lakes on San Salvador Island were able to diversify into multiple species with different eating habits, in part, by interbreeding with pupfish from other islands in the Caribbean, report Emilie Richards and Christopher Martin, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, August 10, 2017 in PLOS Genetics.

Gene editing used to eliminate viruses in live pigs

eGenesis, a biotechnology company focused on transforming xenotransplantation into a lifesaving medical procedure, announced the publication of a study in the journal Science by eGenesis scientists and their collaborators demonstrating the inactivation of PERV to prevent cross-species viral transmission and a breakthrough in producing the first PERV-free pigs, an important milestone for xenotransplantation.

Sea urchins—from pest to plate

It is one of the most valued seafood products and destroys kelp forests worth millions of NOK. Can sea urchin harvest be profitable? This is the subject of a project led by the Norwegian Institute of Water Research (NIVA). The project is part of a research program at The Fram Centre in Tromsø.

Investigating the death of a great white shark

On a cold morning in Mossel Bay, South Africa, researchers, interns and members of the public gathered for a unique experience. They came to witness the dissection of a 3.2 meter great white shark.

Groups move to ban cyanide traps that kill predator animals

Predator-killing cyanide traps such as one that sickened a boy in Idaho and killed his dog should be banned, environmental groups told the federal government Thursday.

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