Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Feb 20

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 20, 2018:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Lyman-alpha emission detected around quasar J1605-0112

Astronomers reveal secrets of most distant supernova ever detected

Researchers develop stretchable, touch-sensitive electronics

Continental interiors may not be as tectonically stable as geologists think

Second successful human-animal hybrid: sheep embryo with human cells

Alexa, how do word senses evolve?

Using a laser to wirelessly charge a smartphone safely across a room

Scientists deliver high-resolution glimpse of enzyme structure

Fake news 'vaccine': Online game may 'inoculate' by simulating propaganda tactics

Vampire bat's blood-only diet 'a big evolutionary win'

Add-on clip turns smartphone into fully operational microscope

15 new genes identified that shape human faces

Why polymer solar cells deserve their place in the sun

Low-fat or low-carb? It's a draw, study finds

How political parties influence our beliefs, and what we can do about it

Astronomy & Space news

Lyman-alpha emission detected around quasar J1605-0112

Using the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument astronomers have discovered an extended and broad Lyman-alpha emission in the form of a nebula around the quasar J1605-0112. The finding is reported February 9 in a paper published on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Astronomers reveal secrets of most distant supernova ever detected

An international team of astronomers, including Professor Bob Nichol from the University of Portsmouth, has confirmed the discovery of the most distant supernova ever detected – a huge cosmic explosion that took place 10.5 billion years ago, or three-quarters the age of the Universe itself.

'Ultramassive' black holes discovered in far-off galaxies

Thanks to data collected by NASA's Chandra X-ray telescope on galaxies up to 3.5 billion light years away from Earth, an international team of astrophysicists has detected what are likely to be the most massive black holes ever discovered in the universe. The team's calculations showed that these ultramassive black holes are growing faster than the stars in their respective galaxies.

James Webb Space Telescope to reveal secrets of the Red Planet

The planet Mars has fascinated scientists for over a century. Today, it is a frigid desert world with a carbon dioxide atmosphere 100 times thinner than Earth's. But evidence suggests that in the early history of our solar system, Mars had an ocean's worth of water. NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will study Mars to learn more about the planet's transition from wet to dry, and what that means about its past and present habitability.

Ensuring fresh air for all

A start-up company from an ESA business incubator is offering affordable air-quality monitors for homes, schools and businesses using technology it developed for the International Space Station.

Pulsating aurora mysteries uncovered with help from NASA's THEMIS mission

Sometimes on a dark night near the poles, the sky pulses a diffuse glow of green, purple and red. Unlike the long, shimmering veils of typical auroral displays, these pulsating auroras are much dimmer and less common. While scientists have long known auroras to be associated with solar activity, the precise mechanism of pulsating auroras was unknown. Now, new research, using data from NASA's Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms—or THEMIS—mission and Japan's Exploration of energization and Radiation in Geospace—shortened to ERG, or also known as Arase—satellite, has finally captured the missing link thought responsible for these auroras. The answer lies in chirping waves that rhythmically pulse the particles that create the auroras.

Technology news

Researchers develop stretchable, touch-sensitive electronics

Of the many ways that humans make sense of our world – with our eyes, ears, nose and mouth – none is perhaps less appreciated than our tactile and versatile hands. Thanks to our sensitive fingertips, we can feel the heat before we touch the flame, or sense the softness of a newborn's cheek.

Alexa, how do word senses evolve?

Evidence suggests that the interface between humans and technology will only become more central to modern life.

Fake news 'vaccine': Online game may 'inoculate' by simulating propaganda tactics

A new online game puts players in the shoes of an aspiring propagandist to give the public a taste of the techniques and motivations behind the spread of disinformation—potentially "inoculating" them against the influence of so-called fake news in the process.

Why polymer solar cells deserve their place in the sun

Unlike traditional silicon solar cells, organic polymer solar cells (PSCs) may never cover the hillsides of a megawatt solar farm. But, these lightweight, flexible cells show potential to provide solar power to remote microwatt sensors, wearable technology and the Wi-Fi-connected appliances constituting the "internet of things."

New robotic system could lend a hand with warehouse sorting and other picking or clearing tasks

Unpacking groceries is a straightforward albeit tedious task: You reach into a bag, feel around for an item, and pull it out. A quick glance will tell you what the item is and where it should be stored.

Augmented reality takes 3-D printing to next level

Cornell researchers are taking 3-D printing and 3-D modeling to a new level by using augmented reality (AR) to allow designers to design in physical space while a robotic arm rapidly prints the work.

Researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected

Studying data from Twitter, University of Illinois researchers found that less people tweet per capita from larger cities than in smaller ones, indicating an unexpected trend that has implications in understanding urban pace of life.

Aspark's EV does 0 to 60 in under 2 seconds

Taking center stage in EV news is the Aspark Owl, an electric supercar that does 0-60 in under 2 seconds (just know that the record was set on racing slicks).

German court could open way to bans on diesel cars

One of Germany's top courts will decide Thursday whether some diesel vehicles can be banned from parts of cities like Stuttgart and Duesseldorf to reduce air pollution, a possible landmark judgement for the "car nation".

Sony jumps into Japan taxi market with AI app plans

Electronics giant Sony announced a plan Tuesday to provide an AI-based ride-hailing system to Japanese cab companies, while another taxi firm said they were in talks with Uber on a tie-up.

Venezuela's digital coin makes debut

Venezuela on Tuesday was set to become the first country to launch its own version of bitcoin, a move it hopes will provide a much-needed boost to its credit-stricken economy.

No, you can't tap your hand to get on the train - where biohacktivists stand under the law

A brave step forward for cyborg rights? A media stunt? Or just indifference to contract law? Those are the questions raised by news that biohacker Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow plans to take Transport for NSW (TfNSW) to court after it cancelled his digital travel card.

How artificial intelligence will transform how we gesture

"Over the last decade, machine learning, which is part of artificial intelligence (AI), has given us self-driving cars, practical speech recognition, effective web search, and a vastly improved understanding of the human genome." (Lee Bell, Wired, 2016)

Qualcomm raises bid for NXP to about $43.22B

Qualcomm is raising its takeover bid for NXP Semiconductors by nearly 16 percent to about $43.22 billion, citing in part NXP's strong results since the companies first announced their merger in October 2016.

Now there's a game you can play to 'vaccinate' yourself against fake news

The term "fake news" is everywhere these days. After gaining steam during the 2016 US election, it's become a catch-all phrase used by people from across the political spectrum. Yet "fake" stories – or stories that have been entirely made up – have been around since the dawn of man. And on top of that, stories don't have to be completely fake to be misleading. Terms such as "propaganda", "disinformation", "misinformation" and "post-truth" are used by many people, as though they mean the same thing.

Study shows autonomous vehicles can help improve traffic flow

Improvements in traffic flow and fuel consumption are boosted when even a few autonomous vehicles are immersed in bulk traffic, according to research by a Rutgers University-Camden scholar, Benedetto Piccoli, and a team of researchers who recently presented their findings to policymakers in Washington, D.C.

Phase-transition cubic Gallium Nitride doubles ultraviolet emission efficiency

Novel photonics materials are becoming pivotal for energy conversion, communications, and sensing, largely because there is a global desire to enhance energy efficiency, and reduce electricity consumption. As Dr. Can Bayram, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, notes, "Who doesn't want to consume less electricity for the same quality of lighting?"

Whirlpool recalls 310,000 kettles over safety fears

US appliance giant Whirlpool announced Tuesday it was recalling 310,000 kettles worldwide that are potentially dangerous because of faulty handles.

Civil engineers devise a cost-saving solution for cities

Why fix a road today if it's slated to be ripped up for new sewers next summer?

EU nations should seize chance to boost renewable energy: study

EU member states should take advantage of falling costs for renewable energy to invest more in the sector and make it account for a third of total energy output by 2030, an new report said Tuesday.

Artificial Intelligence to fight the spread of infectious diseases

Public outreach campaigns can prevent the spread of devastating yet treatable diseases such as tuberculosis (TB), malaria and gonorrhea. But ensuring these campaigns effectively reach undiagnosed patients, who may unknowingly spread the disease to others, is a major challenge for cash-strapped public health agencies. Now, a team of USC Viterbi School of Engineering researchers has created an algorithm that can help policymakers reduce the overall spread of disease. The algorithm is also optimized to make the most of limited resources, such as advertising budgets.

Technology to improve the resilience of bridges

Bridges change shape, which is why they are usually built with expansion joints. At TU Wien, a technology has been developed that makes it possible to forego these joints, thus saving time and money.

Walmart takes bruises from Amazon battle in fourth quarter

Walmart is taking some bruises from its battle with online leader Amazon.

What Americans are asking Google about guns

The devastating deaths of 17 Florida high school at the hands of a troubled teen armed with an AR-15-style rifle have brought the ever-simmering debate over gun control to a boil not seen since Sandy Hook.

Medicine & Health news

15 new genes identified that shape human faces

Researchers from KU Leuven (Belgium) and the universities of Pittsburgh, Stanford, and Penn State have identified 15 genes that determine facial features. The findings were published in Nature Genetics.

Low-fat or low-carb? It's a draw, study finds

New evidence from a study at the Stanford University School of Medicine might dismay those who have chosen sides in the low-fat versus low-carb diet debate.

New algorithm can pinpoint mutations favored by natural selection in large sections of the human genome

A team of scientists has developed an algorithm that can accurately pinpoint, in large regions of the human genome, mutations favored by natural selection. The finding provides deeper insight into how evolution works, and ultimately could lead to better treatments for genetic disorders. For example, adaptation to chronic hypoxia at high altitude can suggest targets for cardiovascular and other ischemic diseases.

Data detectives shift suspicions in Alzheimer's to inside villain

The mass pursuit of a conspicuous suspect in Alzheimer's disease may have encumbered research success for decades. Now, a new data analysis that has untangled evidence amassed in years of Alzheimer's studies encourages researchers to refocus their investigations.

Brain immune system is key to recovery from motor neuron degeneration

The selective demise of motor neurons is the hallmark of Lou Gehrig's disease, also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Yet neurologists have suspected there are other types of brain cells involved in the progression of this disorder—perhaps protection from it, which could light the way to treatment methods for the incurable disease. To get to the bottom of this question, researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania engineered mice in which the damage caused by a mutant human TDP-43 protein could be reversed by one type of brain immune cell. TDP-43 is a protein that misfolds and accumulates in the motor areas of the brains of ALS patients.

Researchers discover novel mechanism linking changes in mitochondria to cancer cell death

To stop the spread of cancer, cancer cells must die. Unfortunately, many types of cancer cells seem to use innate mechanisms that block cancer cell death, therefore allowing the cancer to metastasize. While seeking to further understand cancer cell death, researchers at the University of Notre Dame discovered that the activation of a specific enzyme may help suppress the spread of tumors.

New software helps detect adaptive genetic mutations

Researchers from Brown University have developed a new method for sifting through genomic data in search of genetic variants that have helped populations adapt to their environments. The technique, dubbed SWIF(r), could be helpful in piecing together the evolutionary history of people around the world, and in shedding light on the evolutionary roots of certain diseases and medical conditions.

Preventive treatment for peanut allergies succeeds in study

The first treatment to help prevent serious allergic reactions to peanuts may be on the way. A company said Tuesday that its daily capsules of peanut powder helped children build tolerance in a major study.

Clues to obesity's roots found in brain's quality control process

Deep in the middle of our heads lies a tiny nub of nerve cells that play a key role in how hungry we feel, how much we eat, and how much weight we gain.

Therapeutic antibodies protected nerve–muscle connections in a mouse model of Lou Gehrig's disease

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, causes lethal respiratory paralysis within several years of diagnosis. There are no effective treatments to slow or halt this devastating disease. Mouse models of ALS reproduce the hallmarks of the disease, including a loss of nerve-muscle connections, called neuromuscular synapses, and a subsequent loss of nerve cells that connect to muscle, called motor neurons.

Spare parts from small parts: Novel scaffolds to grow muscle

Australian biomedical engineers have successfully produced a 3D material that mimics nature to transform cells into muscle.

'Icebreaker' protein opens genome for T cell development, researchers find

Almost all cells in the human body have identical DNA sequences, yet there are 200-plus cell types with different sizes, shapes, and chemical compositions. Determining what parts of the genome are read to make protein and which are silenced is orchestrated by proteins called transcription factors. These regulate the availability of distinct stretches of DNA to be expressed as opposed to others that remain buried in tightly coiled structures called chromatin.

Just a few minutes of light intensity exercise linked to lower death risk in older men

Clocking up just a few minutes at a time of any level of physical activity, including of light intensity, is linked to a lower risk of death in older men, suggests research published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Blacks with atrial fibrillation have significantly higher risk of stroke than whites

Blacks have a higher incidence of stroke and stroke-associated disability than whites. However, few studies have evaluated racial differences in stroke before a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation (AF). A new report published in HeartRhythm examined stroke risk in the short term prior to a diagnosis of AF. Investigators determined that, although blacks have a lower risk of developing AF, blacks with AF have a significantly higher risk of stroke during this period compared with whites with AF.

Parenting behavior in adoptive families

Mothers who struggle with depression are more likely to parent harshly and in over-reactive ways, and their children are at risk for a variety of negative outcomes—including more frequent behavior problems. A new longitudinal study of adoptive families looked at whether symptoms of depression in adoptive fathers is also related to over-reactive parenting and behavior problems in children; the study also examined how social support networks affect parenting. It found that fathers' symptoms of depression were related to harsh, over-reactive parenting, but not to children's subsequent behavior problems. For both mothers and fathers, when their partner was satisfied with his or her social support outside the marriage, symptoms of depression were no longer associated with harsh, over-reactive parenting.

MRI technique differentiates benign breast lesions from malignancies

An MRI breast imaging technique that requires no contrast agent, combined with sophisticated data analysis, could reduce the number of unnecessary breast biopsies, according to a new study appearing online in the journal Radiology.

Younger and older siblings contribute positively to each other's developing empathy

Older siblings play an important role in the lives of their younger siblings. Like parents, older brothers and sisters act as role models and teachers, helping their younger siblings learn about the world. This positive influence is thought to extend to younger siblings' capacity to feel care and sympathy for those in need: Children whose older siblings are kind, warm, and supportive are more empathic than children whose siblings lack these characteristics. A new longitudinal study looked at whether younger siblings also contribute to their older sisters' and brothers' empathy in early childhood, when empathic tendencies begin to develop. The research found that beyond the influence of parents, both older and younger siblings positively influence each other's empathic concern over time.

African Americans with atrial fibrillation at significantly higher risk for stroke compared to Caucasians

African Americans with atrial fibrillation (AF) - a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to a host of dangerous complications - have a significantly higher risk of stroke than Caucasians with the condition, according to new research published today in Heart Rhythm by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The new findings build on previous studies examining the impact of race on the risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF), which is linked to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other complications. It's well reported that African Americans have a lower risk of developing AF as compared to Caucasians, but until now, there was little data on the additional risks that come with AF for each race.

Past encounters with the flu shape vaccine response

New research on why the influenza vaccine was only modestly effective in recent years shows that immune history with the flu influences a person's response to the vaccine.

Identifying frailty in older patients can predict adverse outcomes after surgery

Identifying frailty in surgical patients, especially those without apparent disability, will help predict risk of adverse events and repeat hospitalizations, according to research in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Self-esteem key to treating mental health

Improving how mental health patients perceive themselves could be critical in treating them, according to a study from the University of Waterloo.

Stuck in an opioids crisis, officials turn to acupuncture

Marine veteran Jeff Harris was among the first to sign up when the Providence VA hospital started offering acupuncture for chronic pain.

When it comes to our brains, there's no such thing as normal

There's nothing wrong with being a little weird. Because we think of psychological disorders on a continuum, we may worry when our own ways of thinking and behaving don't match up with our idealized notion of health. But some variability can be healthy and even adaptive, say researchers in a review published February 20th in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, even though it can also complicate attempts to identify standardized markers of pathology.

Can your cardiac device be hacked?

Medical devices, including cardiovascular implantable electronic devices could be at risk for hacking. In a paper publishing online today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Cardiology's Electrophysiology Council examines the potential risk to patients and outlines how to improve cybersecurity in these devices.

Following the 2014 Ebola outbreak, signs of recovery for Liberian healthcare system

The effects of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in 2014-2015 were felt not only directly, in the 28,616 cases of EVD and 11,310 deaths, but also indirectly, through the disruption in the provision of healthcare in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia—the countries most severely impacted by the outbreak. In a research article published this week in PLOS Medicine, Bradley H. Wagenaar, of the Department of Global Health, University of Washington, and colleagues quantify the health system output losses in Liberia during and in the immediate aftermath of the EVD outbreak, and the recovery of the health systems in the two years following.

Study weighs risks and benefits of phase I trials in pediatric cancer

On average, 1 in 10 children who enroll in pediatric phase I cancer trials are improved after the trial, and 1 in 50 die from drug-related complications, according to a new systematic review and meta-analysis published this week in PLOS Medicine by Jonathan Kimmelman from McGill University, Canada, and colleagues.

Children who grew up in disadvantaged households will age in poorer health, even if their socio-economic status improves

Although socio-economic status is known to influence health, strong evidence of the association between economic vulnerability in childhood and the health of older adults was still missing. Researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) examined data from more than 24,000 people aged 50 to 96 living in 14 European countries. Socio-economically disadvantaged individuals in childhood were found to be at greater risk of low muscle strength at an older age—a good indicator of their overall health status. Moreover, this risk is not offset by an improvement in their socio-economic status as adults, which proves that the first years of life are, indeed, critical. This would mean that inequalities in childhood are biologically embodied to literally "get into the skin". Why? The scientists suggest that a physiological deregulation caused by chronic stress in childhood might change the body's ability to maintain good health along time. These findings can be read in Age and Ageing.

Ethicists explore civil lawsuits as a tool to push for regulation of unproven, direct-to-consumer stem cell therapies

In the realm of direct-to-consumer marketing for unproven therapies, a staggeringly large number of stem cell interventions have emerged in the United States. A new report from Baylor College of Medicine and Mayo Clinic demonstrates that individual and class action lawsuits from individuals injured by stem cell treatments can be an effective new tool in fighting to crack down on these unproven therapies. The study appears in npj Regenerative Medicine.

Redoing heart valve replacements using a minimally invasive approach

There are some instances in life where you wish you could have a redo, but surgery isn't one of them. However, if a redo is necessary, knowing that there is a minimally invasive option can be comforting. Dr. Joseph Lamelas, professor and associate chief of cardiac surgery in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine, discusses a minimally invasive approach to redoing valve replacements.

Resistant starch looms as a key in battle against stunting

The addition of a prebiotic called resistant starch to the diets of infants in low-income countries is showing the potential to reduce stunting and malnutrition.

Majority of children in care feel it has improved their lives—but younger children need more support

The largest study of its kind, published today [19 February], has revealed 83 per cent of looked after children and young people feel being in care has improved their lives.

Survey finds misperceptions about organ transplant hinder donation decisions

A survey developed by physicians and researchers at Emory University about organ donation and transplantation found that misperceptions about the lifesaving process are the most common deterrents for donating organs. The survey responses and findings were recently published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Research aims to fine-tune sepsis diagnosis

Work designed to improve diagnosis of one of the leading causes of death in children is under way in Brisbane, led by a University of Queensland researcher.

Study shows letting kids taste alcohol is a risky behavior

Parents who allow their young children to occasionally sip and taste alcohol may be contributing to an increased risk for alcohol use and related problems when those kids reach late adolescence, according to a new study by a University at Buffalo psychologist.

Highly mutated protein in skin cancer plays central role in skin cell renewal

Approximately once a month, our skin completely renews itself. If this highly coordinated process goes awry, it can lead to a variety of skin diseases, ranging from skin cancer to psoriasis. Cells lining such organs as skin and the gut, lungs, and many other organs (collectively called epithelial tissue) rely on a delicate balance of self-renewal, proliferation, and differentiation. However, disruption of this equilibrium may drive cancer and other disorders.

Spinal fusion surgery for lower back pain is costly, unsupported by evidence

Back pain affects one in four Australians. It's so common, nearly all of us (about 85%) will have at least one episode at some stage of our lives. It's one of the most common reasons to visit a GP and the main health condition forcing older Australians to retire prematurely from the workforce.

The importance of gender in cardiovascular health

The role of gender has been largely neglected despite playing a critical role in cardiovascular health, University of Melbourne academics have highlighted in Circulation.

'Step therapy' approach to lowering health-care costs raises concerns, writes law professor

To keep rising health-care costs in check, many health insurers have adopted a strategy known as "step therapy," a policy requiring patients to try cheaper drugs first—and find them to be ineffective—before approving pricier medication.

Preventing, controlling hypertension could reduce China's high stroke rate

While in the United States heart disease is the leading cause of death, in China it is stroke. People have speculated for years about why the Chinese are predisposed to stroke to a greater extent than heart disease. Some have believed that there is a genetic predisposition, and others have thought that environmental factors might be responsible.

Heart attack symptoms often misinterpreted in younger women

Young women who report heart attack symptoms are more likely to have them dismissed by their providers as not heart related, a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH) finds.

Nonstatin drug use increases by 124% in U.S., related expenditures triple

Between 2002 and 2013 in the United States, nonstatin drug use increased by 124%, resulting in a 364% increase in nonstatin-associated expenditures, Yale researchers found. This study was published on Jan. 22, 2018 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Sleep problems in menopause linked to hot flashes, depression, and may not last

Sleep disruptions are one of the most commonly reported complaints among menopausal women. A new study of middle-aged women found that sleep problems vary across the stages of menopause, yet are consistently correlated with hot flashes and depression.

UNICEF says Pakistan is riskiest country for newborns

The U.N. children's agency in a report released Tuesday singled out Pakistan as the riskiest country for newborns, saying that out of every 1,000 children born in Pakistan, 46 die at birth.

One in four ER staff abused by patients

The first-ever review of the experience of hospital A&E staff reveals that they have resigned themselves to patient violence and aggression.

Genetic targets for autism spectrum disorder identified

Autism is a spectrum of closely related symptoms involving behavioral, social and cognitive deficits. Early detection of autism in children is key to producing the best outcomes; however, searching for the genetic causes of autism is complicated by various symptoms found within the spectrum. Now, a multi-disciplinary team of researchers at the University of Missouri created a new computational method that has connected several target genes to autism. Recent discoveries could lead to screening tools for young children and could help doctors determine correct interventions when diagnosing autism.

It's poverty, not individual choice, that is driving extraordinary obesity levels

The "obesity epidemic" deserves much more serious attention than it is getting. It is, after all, thought to be killing nearly 3m people a year worldwide. It is putting huge pressure on health services, yet the public policy response in developed countries such as the US and UK is pitiful, largely confined to finger-wagging at children's sugary treats.

Hospital charges for outpatient cancer care highly variable, Medicare billing records show

An analysis of recent Medicare billing records for more than 3,000 hospitals across the United States shows that charges for outpatient oncology services such as chemo infusion or radiation treatment vary widely and exceed what Medicare will pay by twofold to sixfold.

Three strategies to promote empathy in children

Johnny is five years old. He watches his friend Mark being teased by other kids, and then he sees Mark start to cry. As a parent, or caregiver, what do you hope Johnny will do?

Genetic test identifies 'high risk' lymphatic cancer patients

Around 1,500 people in Denmark are diagnosed with lymphatic cancer each year. A small sub-group (70 to 80 people) develop a rare and aggressive type of lymphatic cancer, known as mantle cell lymphoma (MCL).

Survivors of blood or marrow transplantation are likely to experience cognitive impairment

Allogeneic blood or marrow transplantation recipients are at a significantly higher risk of cognitive impairment in the years post-transplantation, according to a study published in Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Every experience that the brain perceives is unique

Neuronal activity in the prefrontal cortex represents every experience as "novel." The neurons adapt their activity accordingly, even if the new experience is very similar to a previous one. That is the main finding of a study conducted by researchers from MedUni Vienna's Division of Cognitive Neurobiology and recently published in the leading journal Nature Communications.

This disease kills half the people it infects. So why isn't more being done?

Every morning, Prasart Songsorn used to wake before dawn to head out to the fields before the tropical sun and oppressive humidity made it impossible to work. Prasart, who spent all his 56 years on his family's small rice farm in north-eastern Thailand, worked barefoot in the warm mud. Boots amplified the heat and humidity, and he didn't want to buy something that would only add to his misery.

Architecture of cellular control center mTORC2 elucidated

The protein complex mTORC2 controls cellular lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. Researchers from the Biozentrum of the University of Basel and the ETH Zurich have now succeeded in deciphering the 3-D structure of this important protein complex. The results have recently been published in eLife.

Diabetes did not increase early retirement

A Finnish study examined diabetes and work loss due to early retirement during the work careers of approximately 13,000 people.

Moderate and severe exacerbations accelerate physical activity decline in COPD patients

A study led by researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre supported by the "la Caixa" Banking Foundation, has shown that both moderate and severe exacerbations in COPD patients are associated with a decline in their physical activity level. These results have been recently published in the European Respiratory Journal.

Number of obese years not—just obesity—a distinct risk factor for heart damage

In an analysis of clinical data collected on more than 9,000 people, Johns Hopkins researchers have shown that the number of years spent overweight or obese appear to "add up" to a distinct risk factor that makes those with a longer history of heaviness more likely to test positive for a chemical marker of so-called "silent" heart damage than those with a shorter history.

Scientists tackle the aberrant epigenetic programming underlying childhood cancers

Several childhood cancer cell types show features of immature neural cells, and there is evidence suggesting that these tumors may arise from neural crest stem cells that underwent abnormal changes during embryonic development. One such cancer is Ewing sarcoma. Although combinatorial treatment protocols encompassing chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy have improved outcomes, many patients still suffer from a poor prognosis.

Typhoid outbreak—genetic cause of extensive drug resistance found

The genetic cause behind a strain of typhoid's resistance to five classes of antibiotics has been uncovered by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and their collaborators at Public Health England and Aga Khan University, Pakistan. There is currently a major outbreak of typhoid fever in Pakistan, and there was a case in the UK following air travel, which has been isolated and treated. This study shows the typhoid strain causing the outbreak acquired an additional piece of DNA to become resistant to multiple antibiotics, including a third-generation antibiotic.

Alcohol probably makes it harder to stop sexual violence—so why aren't colleges talking about it?

Several years ago, one of us (Dominic) was consulting with university administration on their sexual violence prevention program.

Martial arts can improve your attention span and alertness long term – new study

Martial arts require a good level of physical strength, but those who take up training need to develop an incredible amount of mental acuity, too.

Physical exercise reduces risk of developing diabetes: study

Exercising more reduces the risk of diabetes and could see seven million fewer diabetic patients across mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to new research.

How to maintain that weight loss

(HealthDay)—If you've been on a diet more than once, you know that it can be harder to maintain weight than to lose weight in the first place.

Flu shot during pregnancy poses no harm to baby

(HealthDay)—There's some good news for expecting moms who are trying to weather a brutal flu season—a new study shows that getting the flu vaccine during pregnancy causes no harm to newborns.

Tobacco kills, no matter how it's smoked: study

(HealthDay)—Smokers who think cigars or pipes are somehow safer than cigarettes may want to think again, new research indicates.

Very long-chain lipids could help prevent dry eye disease

With computers, smartphones and contact lenses now essential to modern life, many—one out of every 10 Japanese people—suffer dry eye disease.

Infection site affects how a virus spreads through the body

A person is more likely to get infected by HIV through anal intercourse than vaginal, but no one knows quite why. A new study by scientists at the Gladstone Institutes shows that infection sites could affect the immune system's response to a virus and the way the virus spreads through the body.

Jymmin: How a combination of exercise and music helps us feel less pain

Pain is essential for survival. However, it could also slow the progress of rehabilitation, or in its chronic form could become a distinct disorder. How strongly we feel it, among other factors, depends on our individual pain threshold. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig discovered that a new fitness method they developed increases our pain threshold and makes us less sensitive towards physical discomfort: Jymmin interacts with everyday gym equipment to produce music while exercising.

A drug long used to treat gout may help adult heart failure patients

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine have shown that probenecid, a drug long used to treat gout, may be able to improve heart function in adult patients who experience heart failure.

Postnatal depression has life-long impact on mother-child relations

Postnatal depression (PND) can impact the quality of relationships between mother and child into adult life, and have a negative influence on the quality of relationships between grandmothers and grandchildren, new research at the University of Kent has discovered.

Improving low-income residents' utilization of farmers markets

A pair of studies conducted at LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health found reasons and possible solutions to improve low-income residents' access to fresh, local produce at farmers markets. The first study, published in the Journal of Public Health Research, found a lack of awareness of the existence of farmers markets, and of discounts and benefits available to low-income residents among those who did know about farmers markets.

Women once considered low risk for heart disease show evidence of previous heart attack scars

Women who complain about chest pain often are reassured by their doctors that there is no reason to worry because their angiograms show that the women don't have blockages in the major heart arteries, a primary cause of heart attacks in men.

Ertugliflozin tied to improved glycemic control in T2DM

(HealthDay)—For adults with inadequately controlled type 2 diabetes, ertugliflozin treatment is associated with improved glycemic control over 52 weeks, according to a study published online Feb. 8 in Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism.

Ulipristal achieves amenorrhea for symptomatic leiomyomas

(HealthDay)—For women with symptomatic uterine leiomyomas, ulipristal is well tolerated and superior to placebo for the rate of and time to amenorrhea, according to a study published online Feb. 5 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

AAD: Fathers may not perceive harms of teen indoor tanning

(HealthDay)—Specific populations, including fathers, more often perceive low harms of adolescent indoor tanning, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology, held from Feb. 16 to 20 in San Diego.

Burnout found prevalent among doctors in single health system

(HealthDay)—Burnout is prevalent among physicians, affecting over one-third of physicians in a single health system, and is associated with health care delivery, according to a research letter published online Feb. 19 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Drinking alcohol key to living past 90, study says

Cheers to life—seriously.

Why get a filling when you could print a new smile?

Twinges. Painful teeth. About one in 10 people suffer from dental sensitivity caused by worn enamel. But rather than providing short-term solutions like special toothpastes or fillings, new techniques could print whole new layers of enamel onto teeth – or even stimulate the body to grow new ones.

Brain aging may begin earlier than expected

Physicists have devised a new method of investigating brain function, opening a new frontier in the diagnoses of neurodegenerative and ageing related diseases.

Stroke drug demonstrates safety in clinical trial

A preliminary Phase 2 clinical trial has demonstrated that patients with acute ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, can safely tolerate high doses of 3K3A-APC, a promising anti-stroke drug invented at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). The trial results, announced by pharmaceutical company ZZ Biotech, also show that 3K3A-APC substantially reduced hemorrhage volume and hemorrhage incidence in patients.

More awareness, research needed on abuse risk of non-opioid painkiller

Amid the opioid epidemic, abuse of a different prescription painkiller has widely gone unnoticed.

Researchers use data to look 'upstream' to see what makes patients sick

Researchers at IUPUI and the Regenstrief Institute have successfully used data to predict primary care patients' needs for social service referrals, a finding that may potentially help shift the focus of health care from caring for ill people to preventing patients from getting sick.

Deconstructing lupus—could some of its makeup be part of its cure?

Chandra Mohan, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Endowed Professor of biomedical engineering, has received a $600,000 Target Identification in Lupus grant from the Lupus Research Alliance to address fundamental questions in lupus research, remove barriers to new treatments and possibly find a cure for lupus and its complications.

MRI stroke data set released by USC research team

A USC-led team has now compiled, archived and shared one of the largest open-source data sets of brain scans from stroke patients via a study published Feb. 20 in Scientific Data, a Nature journal.

Social media as good a barometer of public health attitudes as traditional phone polling

A record number of Americans are able to access the internet from their home or their smartphone, and nearly 70 percent of U.S. adults have a social media account, according to the Pew Research Center.

Housing problems found to be common at safety-net community health centers

A new study finds that more than 40 percent of patients treated at U.S. community health centers have a history of housing problems. The report from investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill), appears in the Feb. 20 issue of JAMA.

Brain liquefaction after stroke is toxic to surviving brain: study

Scientists have known for years that the brain liquefies after a stroke. If cut off from blood and oxygen for a long enough period, a portion of the brain will die, slowly morphing from a hard, rubbery substance into liquid goop.

Latest palliative care findings on caregiver depression, LGBT partners, moral distress

Caregivers of patients surviving a prolonged critical illness experience high and persistent rates of depression.

Resolvin D-1 limits kidney damage after heart attacks

A heart attack triggers an acute inflammatory response at the damaged portion of the heart's left ventricle. If this acute inflammation lingers, it can lead to stretching of the ventricle and heart failure. The inflammation can claim another victim—the kidneys.

Video: Fighting haemophilia—Interview with the HemAcure project coordinator

The bleeding disease haemophilia A is caused by a genetic deficiency in clotting factor VIII (FVIII). The H2020 funded HemAcure research project is developing a novel cell based therapy to treat severe forms of this disease.

Dealing with difficult colleagues—when the problem is the doctor

In the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics a topic that is seldom discussed in medical journals is analyzed. Current health care requires effective collaboration among providers. Poor communication may lead to poor patient outcomes. Although emphasis has been placed on interprofessional communication (particularly between physicians and nurses) in the health system, little has been written about problems in communication within the medical profession.

When the medical work-up does not disclose abnormalities yet the patient is sick

In the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics a study by Henningsen and colleagues addresses the wide population of medical patients who do not present with laboratory or radiologic abnormalities but are sick is presented.

Why setting up 24-hour clinics in South Africa's busiest city is a good idea

The City of Johannesburg is planning to provide 24-hour clinics in an attempt to increase access to health care. In 2017, the City of Joburg started extending its clinic hours at 13 of its 81 clinics, which close at 6pm instead of 4pm. But a resolution passed by the council means that the service will be extended at clinics elsewhere . Health and medicine editor Candice Bailey spoke to Professor Laetitia Rispel about the pros and the cons of setting up a 24-hour clinic service.

A trip to the mountains despite a heart condition?

A team of experts, led by Gianfranco Parati, cardiologist of the University of Milano-Bicocca and Head of the Department of Cardiology of the Istituto Auxologico in Milan, has sought to provide answers and recommendations for those potentially at risk. Gianfranco and esteemed colleagues have evaluated numerous studies related to the expected effects of high altitude exposure (exceeding 2,500 m above sea-level) on those individuals suffering from prevalent cardiovascular diseases. As a result of this detailed research, clinical recommendations for high altitude exposure in individuals with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions have been recently published in the renowned European Heart Journal. Also contributing to this study was Hermann Brugger, Head of the Eurac Research Institute of Mountain Emergency Medicine, who welcomes this rigorous scientific approach to informing clinical recommendations for the mountain environment.

Sexual orientation discordance puts adolescents at greater risk for nonfatal suicidal behaviors

Suicide is a major national concern in the US. In 2016, it was the second leading cause of death in adolescents aged 12-18 years, with over 1,900 individuals in this age group dying by suicide. Researchers have now identified sexual orientation discordance - sexual contact that is inconsistent with the individual's sexual orientation - as a potential risk factor for adolescent suicidal ideation and/or attempts. They found that discordant students were 70 percent more likely to have had suicidal ideas or to have made suicide attempts compared with concordant students, reports the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Medicine alone does not completely suppress testosterone levels among transgender women

The majority of transgender women who follow the usual approach prescribed in the United States are unable to reliably lower their testosterone levels into the typical female physiologic range with medicine alone.

Guidelines for fluoride intake—are they appropriate?

The appropriate use of fluoride has transformed oral health over the past 70 years, in part due to the guidelines created for fluoride intake. Recently, researchers are questioning these longstanding guidelines which served as advisory recommendations for decades. This issue of Advances in Dental Research, an e-Supplement to the Journal of Dental Research (JDR), presents the proceedings of a symposium at the 95th General Session of IADR in San Francisco, USA and includes reviews that critically examine the current guidelines for fluoride intake.

Improving family-based communication key to enhancing sexual health outcomes of gay, bisexual, and queer adolescents

Studies have shown that talking with teens about sex-related topics is a positive parenting practice that facilitates important sexual health outcomes with heterosexual adolescents. But for LGBTQ youth, the topic of sexuality and sexual health is often ineffectively addressed at home.

Safety-net hospital reports it achieved better esophagectomy outcomes than national cohort

Safety-net hospitals—often found in inner cities with a high share of uninsured and Medicaid patients—are often thought to be hospitals of last resort. However, a recent study at a safety net hospital in northeast Florida has found that it could perform a highly complex operation with fewer complications and shorter hospital stays than the national average, according to a study published online as an "article in press" on the Journal of the American College of Surgeons website ahead of print publication.

Purdue targeted drug combination could expedite bone fracture healing, be used as injection

Purdue researchers are developing and commercializing a targeted drug combination that once injected into a patient could speed up and improve bone fracture healing, and significantly cut recovery costs.

Biology news

Second successful human-animal hybrid: sheep embryo with human cells

Carrying forward the results of a team that created a pig/human hybrid last year, a team led by researchers at Stanford University has created a sheep/human hybrid. The team has not published a paper on their efforts as yet, but recently gave a presentation outlining their work at this year's American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Texas.

Vampire bat's blood-only diet 'a big evolutionary win'

At first glance, the cost-benefit ratio of a blood-only diet suggests that vampire bats—the only mammals to feed exclusively on the viscous, ruby-red elixir—flew down an evolutionary blind alley.

Cracking the genetic code for complex traits in cattle

A massive global study involving 58,000 cattle has pinpointed the genes that influence the complex genetic trait of height in cattle, opening the door for researchers to use the same approach to map high-value traits including those important for beef and milk production.

Grey squirrels beat reds in 'battle of wits'

Problem-solving powers may help to explain why grey squirrels have taken over from native red squirrels in the UK, new research says.

Can you eat cells? Computer model predicts which organisms are capable of phagocytosis

A team of American Museum of Natural History researchers has created a computational model capable of predicting whether or not organisms have the ability to "eat" other cells through a process known as phagocytosis. The model may be a useful tool for large-scale microbe surveys and provides valuable insight into the evolution of complex life on Earth, challenging ideas put forward in recent studies. The model and researchers' findings are featured in a paper published today in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Scientists find new antimalarial drug targets

Researchers have discovered crucial new processes that allow malaria parasites to escape red blood cells and infect other cells, offering potential new treatment targets. The team are already working with pharmaceutical companies to use this knowledge to develop new antimalarial drugs - a critical step in the battle against drug-resistant malaria.

As climate changes, so could the genes of the Eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly

The reality of climate change poses a significant threat to global biodiversity. As temperatures rise, the survival of individual species will ultimately depend on their ability to adapt to changes in habitat and their interactions with other species.

'Demographic compensation' may not save plants facing changing climate

An in-depth look at how plants respond to climate change shows mixed results for the phenomenon of "demographic compensation" as a way for plants to avoid severe population declines.

New method rapidly transforms the soft umbrella-shaped jellyfish body into a crunchy treat

Our brains weave together inputs from sight, taste and smell to determine whether food is safe and enjoyable to eat. Though it is often overlooked, texture also has a powerful effect on how we perceive and enjoy food. Mathias P. Clausen, a postdoctoral fellow at University of Southern Denmark in Odense, Denmark, became intrigued by jellyfish when he bit into the marine delicacy and experienced an unexpected crunch.

Designing microbial communities to help plants battle nutritional stress

Plants and microbes engage in a diverse array of symbiotic relationships, but identifying the specific microbes or groups of microbes that contribute to plant health is extremely difficult. In work published on February 20th in the open access journal PLOS Biology, researchers devised a general experimental scheme to identify and predict which small groups of bacterial species can help plants respond to phosphate starvation, a form of nutritional stress.

How the insulin receptor works

As we are approaching the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin, a wide array of its signaling pathways has been defined. However, the initial step in insulin action, i.e. the engagement with its cell-surface receptor and the resulting conformational change, which propagates across the plasma membrane to the intracellular module, remains poorly understood. Addressing this problem, researchers from the Paul Langerhans Institute Dresden of the Helmholtz Zentrum M√ľnchen at the University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus of TU Dresden together with colleagues from Rockefeller University New York succeeded for the first time in the visualization of the insulin receptor activation. The results of this collaborative work have now been published in the Journal of Cell Biology.

Remote technologies help biologists predict disease outbreaks, vaccinate kids in Africa

Each autumn in the Sahel, a vast band of grasslands just south of the Sahara desert, seasonal farmers and their families move from their farms when the long dry season begins. Many travel long distances to large towns and cities where they squeeze into already crowded districts, finding spaces in extended family compounds or temporary sites on the city's edges.

Study shows gully wildlife refuges have high bushfire risk

The first evidence showing important landscape differences in the flammability of plant leaves, as fuels available for bushfires, indicates that gully plant communities are likely to be at increased risk under climate change and increasing bushfire frequency and intensity.

Now you see us: how casting an eerie glow on fish can help count and conserve them

News stories about fish often focus either on large fish like sharks, or on tasty seafood. So it might come as a surprise that more than half of the fish on coral reefs are tiny and well camouflaged.

Study of mollusk epidemic could help save endangered sea snail

Abalone, large single-shelled mollusks, are an unusual sight these days off the coast of Washington, California, and Oregon. Of seven species of abalone on the west coast, two are endangered and three are considered species of concern. And one of the two species that is not considered threatened, the red abalone, saw a population crash last year that led fisheries managers to close the recreational fishery for 2018 in California.

Cluedo in the cell: Enzyme location controls enzyme activity

Most proteins in the cell are not produced "ready to go". Instead, they are first synthesized with chains of amino acids that block their activity until they are removed by enzymes called "proprotein convertases" (PCs). This family of enzymes plays significant but very different roles in various cancers, and regulating the activity of PCs could help develop cancer treatments. But PCs overlap in terms of activity, meaning that two or more of these enzymes can process the same protein. This overlap makes it very difficult to distinguish and map out the functional profile of each PC.

Gut reactions to improve probiotics

When bacteria enter the body, they have a great deal to overcome to colonize the colon. First, they must survive harsh environments with very few salts without bursting (unlike human blood cells within water). Then, they navigate through saliva enzymes and stomach acid, bypass our immune systems within the small intestine, switch from being exposed to oxygen to having none at all, and hang on so that they're not flushed away by the gut's constant outward flow.

Invasive bloody red shrimp discovered in Lake Superior

An invasive species with a jarring name has turned up in Lake Superior: the bloody red shrimp.

Beluga whales dive deeper, longer to find food in Arctic

Reductions in sea ice in the Arctic have a clear impact on animals such as polar bears that rely on frozen surfaces for feeding, mating and migrating. But sea ice loss is changing Arctic habitat and affecting other species in more indirect ways, new research finds.

Raising ocean literacy levels could protect marine environment

Hundreds of kilometres away from any sea, ocean or sandy beach, students from countries such as the Czech Republic have been discovering their connection with the marine world.

Germany seeks to fine scientists over monkey experiments

German prosecutors said Tuesday they have asked judges to fine three scientists at the prestigious Max Planck Institutes for animal cruelty over experiments on monkeys' brains.

Putting primates on screen is fuelling the illegal pet trade

Why would animal rights organisation PETA praise a film in which a group of apes are brutally attacked by humans? The answer is that War for the Planet of the Apes, the most recent movie in the franchise, used no real primates in its filming.

Australian eggs under review

Eggs sold in Australia come with different labels and with different promises of chicken welfare. But what's real, what's hype and what can you do about it?

Study exposes misperception of poaching on the GBR and its remedy

New research has revealed the tiny minority of fishers who poach on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) think the illegal practice is justified, because they believe "everyone else is doing it."

Aerial surveys highlight beisa oryx hotspot

Aerial surveys in northern Kenya have confirmed the existence of a large population of beisa oryx, otherwise known as the East African oryx. The surveys, which took place in 2016 and 2017, covered the south-eastern parts of the area occupied by conservancies within the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) – a community-led NGO whose mission is to develop resilient community conservancies that transform people's lives and conserve natural resources.

Coldilocks, the oldest captive polar bear in the US, dies

The oldest captive polar bear in the U.S. has died.


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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

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