Thursday, July 26, 2018

Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jul 26

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for July 26, 2018:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

New materials undergo solid-liquid phase transitions at room temperature

Ant study sheds light on the evolution of workers and queens

Highly magnified gravitationally lensed red quasar detected by astronomers

'Amazing Dragon' unearthed in China pushes back date of earliest sauropods in Asia

Researchers boost performance quality of perovskites

First successful test of Einstein's general relativity near supermassive black hole (Update)

BMI system lets users control robotic arm while their hands are busy doing something else

Yellowstone super-volcano has a different history than previously thought

Superflexible aerogels are highly efficient absorbents, thermal insulators, and pressure sensors

Unusual rare earth compound opens doorway to new class of functional materials

Team develops ground-breaking flexible X-ray detector

Soundwave-surfing droplets leave no traces

Healing mesenchymal cells morph and destroy muscles in models of spinal cord injury, ALS, spinal muscular atrophy

Changes to small RNA in sperm may help fertilization

Night-time lighting changes how species interact

Astronomy & Space news

Highly magnified gravitationally lensed red quasar detected by astronomers

Astronomers have discovered a highly magnified, gravitationally lensed quasi-stellar object (QSO). The newly found quasar, designated W2M J104222.11+164115.3, is dust-reddened, and exhibits a significant flux anomaly. The finding is reported in a paper published July 14 on the arXiv pre-print server.

First successful test of Einstein's general relativity near supermassive black hole (Update)

Observations made with ESO's Very Large Telescope have for the first time revealed the effects predicted by Einstein's general relativity on the motion of a star passing through the extreme gravitational field near the supermassive black hole in the centre of the Milky Way. This long-sought result represents the climax of a 26-year-long observation campaign using ESO's telescopes in Chile.

Space experts worry US won't make it to Mars by 2030s

The United States has vowed to send the first humans to Mars by the 2030s, but space experts and lawmakers on Wednesday expressed concern that poor planning and lack of funds will delay those plans.

New family photos of Mars and Saturn from Hubble

In summer 2018 the planets Mars and Saturn are, one after the other, in opposition to Earth. During this event the planets are relatively close to Earth, allowing astronomers to observe them in greater detail. Hubble took advantage of this preferred configuration and imaged both planets to continue its long-standing observation of the outer planets in the Solar System.

Enduring 'radio rebound' powered by jets from gamma-ray burst

In the blink of an eye, a massive star more than 2 billion light-years away lost a million-year-long fight against gravity and collapsed, triggering a supernova and forming a black hole at its center.

Galaxy outskirts likely hunting grounds for dying massive stars and black holes

Findings from a Rochester Institute of Technology study provide further evidence that the outskirts of spiral galaxies host massive black holes. These overlooked regions are new places to observe gravitational waves created when the massive bodies collide, the authors report.

Researchers discover thin gap on stellar family portrait

A thin gap has been discovered on the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram (HRD), the most fundamental of all maps in stellar astronomy, a finding that provides new information about the interior structures of low mass stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, according to a study led by astronomers at Georgia State University.

What looks like Ceres on Earth?

With its dark, heavily cratered surface interrupted by tantalizing bright spots, Ceres may not remind you of our home planet Earth at first glance. The dwarf planet, which orbits the Sun in the vast asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, is also far smaller than Earth (in both mass and diameter). With its frigid temperature and lack of atmosphere, we're pretty sure Ceres can't support life as we know it.

Image: Fenix prototype—a tiny, pen-sized satellite booster

Sometimes the key to innovation is staying simple. Italian tech company D-Orbit applied this principle to their winning product submitted to last year's Space Exploration Masters.

BepiColombo to target mid-October launch

Europe's first mission to Mercury will target the early morning of 19 October for launch, Arianespace and ESA announced today.

How to grow crops on Mars if we are to live on the red planet

Preparations are already underway for missions that will land humans on Mars in a decade or so. But what would people eat if these missions eventually lead to the permanent colonisation of the red planet?

Video: Galileo's road to space

Galileo satellites 23–26 were launched into orbit on Wednesday 25 July 2018 atop Ariane 5 Flight VA244 from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. This marked Europe's 99th Ariane 5 launch.

A huge liquid water lake beneath the southern pole of Mars

We now know that there is permanent liquid water on Mars, according to a paper published today in the journal Science.

Technology news

BMI system lets users control robotic arm while their hands are busy doing something else

A pair of researchers at Advanced Telecommunications Research Institute International in Japan has developed a brain-machine interface (BMI) to manipulate a robotic arm while the subject's hands engage in a different activity. In their paper published in the journal Science Robotics, Christian Penaloza and Shuichi Nishio describe their system and how well it worked when tested with volunteers.

Europe may thrive on renewable energy despite unpredictable weather

Researchers in Ireland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom have shown how long-term weather patterns affect wind and solar renewable energy technologies across Europe. Using 30 years of meteorological data, the scientists have examined and further modelled the impact of renewable energy on the electricity sector out to the year 2030. The work suggests that despite the unpredictable nature of wind and solar energy, the European power system can comfortably generate at least 35% of its electricity using these renewables alone without major impacts on prices or system stability. The paper appears July 26 in the journal Joule.

Researchers discover 'severe' bluetooth communication breach

Researchers in the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology Computer Science Department and the Hiroshi Fujiwara Cyber Security Research Center at the Technion have successfully deciphered Bluetooth communication, which was previously considered a safe communication channel against breaches. This was done as part of Lior Neumann's master's thesis, supervised by Prof. Eli Biham, head of the Hiroshi Fujiwara Cyber Security Research Center.

Photosynthesis and engines evolved in remarkably similar ways

A plant: natural, grown, leafy. An internal combustion engine: artificial, machined, metallic.

Qualcomm ends tie-up with Dutch-based NXP amid US-China friction (Update)

US computer chip giant Qualcomm abandoned a $43 billion merger with Dutch rival NXP on Thursday, as the deal became an apparent casualty to trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Software recreates complex movements for medical, rehabilitation, and basic research

An open-source movement simulator that has already helped solve problems in medicine, paleontology, and animal locomotion has been expanded and improved, according to a new publication in the open-access journal PLOS Computational Biology. The software, called OpenSim, has been developed by a team at Stanford University, led by first authors Ajay Seth, Jennifer Hicks, and Thomas Uchida, with contributions from users around the world. The new paper reviews the software's wide range of applications and describes the improvements that can increase its utility even further.

3-D sketching with air scaffolding

People often use their hands when describing an object, while pens are great tools for describing objects in detail. Taking this idea, a KAIST team introduced a new 3-D sketching workflow, combining the strengths of hand and pen input. This technique will ease the way for ideation in three dimensions, leading to efficient product design in terms of time and cost.

Is Facebook going to reinvent TV with Facebook Watch? Well, it's trying

Facebook is aiming for your TV-viewing time, not just the hours you spend mindlessly scrolling through baby pictures and news links.

Apple apologizes and issues bug fix for 'way slower than it should be' MacBook Pros

Apple apologized Tuesday and issued a bug fix for thermal throttling performance issues on the latest MacBook Pro laptops that the company released just a couple of weeks ago. The issue had been raised by a YouTuber, Dave Lee, who complained that the 15-inch model with a Core i9 processor ran hot and was "way slower than it should be" during performance tests he ran rendering 4K video on Adobe Premiere.

Amazon looks to floating warehouses in the sky for drone deliveries

Amazon is looking to push its supply chain into the heavens as it goes full steam ahead on drone deliveries.

Grubhub to buy LevelUp mobile ordering and payment company for $390 million

Grubhub is set to pay $390 million for mobile ordering and payment company LevelUp in an effort to reach more diners, the company announced Wednesday.

Who cares? New technology helps answer a big question about big data for educators

Purdue University researchers have developed a new way to track the effectiveness of online learning programs, speeches and businesses, and determine if anyone really cares enough to download the material.

We asked catfish why they trick people online—it's not about money

If you have engaged with internet culture at all in recent years, you have probably come across the term "catfish", first coined in the 2010 documentary of the same name.

Facebook hammered as user growth cools

Facebook shares took a hit Wednesday after the world's biggest social network reported weaker-than-expected user growth in the first full quarter since being rocked by a series of scandals on data privacy.

Comcast tops profit forecasts; cable TV subscriptions fall

Comcast is reporting a stronger-than-expected second-quarter profit even as it struggles to keep cable TV subscribers.

Spotify reaches 83 million paying subscribers

Top streaming platform Spotify said Thursday that it has reached 83 million paying subscribers, marking steady growth even as the company still struggled to make a profit.

SK Hynix posts record quarterly profits

The world's second-largest memory chipmaker SK Hynix posted record profits in the second quarter, the South Korean company said Thursday, citing strong global demand.

That's cold: Japan tech blasts snoozing workers with AC

Japanese office workers hoping to nod off on the job may need to sleep with one eye open thanks to a new system that can detect snoozers and blast them with cold air.

Japan, home of the high-tech loo, hopes basic toilet can save lives

Japan may be famous for high-tech toilets, but one local firm is hoping a much more basic model can help solve deadly sanitation problems in developing countries.

Tesla, others help Puerto Ricans go solar amid power turmoil

Ten months after Hurricane Maria, Adjuntas still loses power any time a heavy rain or wind pounds the rickety power lines feeding this town high in the central mountains of Puerto Rico.

Google unveils new virtual reality experience at SIGGRAPH 2018

Google has unveiled a new virtual reality (VR) immersive experience based on a novel system that captures and renders high-quality, realistic images from the real world using light fields. Created by a team of leading researchers at Google, Welcome to Light Fields is the tech giant's splash into the nascent arena of light fields VR experiences, an exciting corner of VR video technology gaining traction for its promise to deliver extremely high-quality imagery and experiences in the virtual world.

Facebook's reality check sends stock reeling

It has turned into a brutal reality check for Facebook.

NASA-developed coating investigated for protecting Smithsonian specimens

A technology that has shielded some of NASA's highest-profile space observatories from potentially harmful molecular contamination is now being evaluated as a possible solution for protecting the Smithsonian Institution's cultural artifacts and natural-science specimens.

Facebook faces a day of reckoning, at least on Wall Street

There's a scratch in Facebook's Teflon coating.

Tech titans jostle as Pentagon calls for cloud contract bids

US defense officials unveiled Thursday a much-anticipated final request for tech firms to bid on a massive contract to provide the Pentagon with a comprehensive cloud computing service.

Cadaver irises can be spotted in Warsaw-based research effort

A Warsaw, Poland-based team has explored cadaver iris detection, in order to tell a dead iris from a live one. Their paper "Presentation Attack Detection for Cadaver Iris" is on arXiv.

Amazon quarterly profit jumps 12-fold to $2.5 bn

Amazon on Thursday reported profits in the past quarter jumped 12-fold to $2.5 billion as the online giant saw gains across its range of businesses.

Russian hackers tricked people into giving their passwords

Russian hackers who penetrated hundreds of U.S. utilities, manufacturing plants and other facilities last year gained access by using the most conventional of phishing tools, tricking staffers into entering passwords, officials say.

Company to experiment with drones in federal pilot

With the prospect of Amazon and UPS drones dropping packages at your door and farmers surveying their fields from above, federal aviation officials are looking to experiment with looser airspace regulations.

Qualcomm says it has developed antenna technologies to power super fast 5G smartphones

Qualcomm said recently it has developed breakthrough antenna technology that will help power uber-fast speeds in next-generation 5G smartphones.

Navigating a city without getting lost

How often do you get lost in a city even when using GPS? Has a taxi hailed using a mobile app been unable to find your correct location? The reason is because GPS has an average error of 10 to 30 meters, and other indoor navigation techniques using WiFi and Gateway have positioning errors, too.

Austrians to power steel industry entirely on clean hydrogen

Scientists are investigating alternative methods to produce the energy that is required for us to carry on living our lives, but in a way that doesn't burden the environment. Now, one group of scientists is getting ready to deliver on such efforts with the world's biggest pilot plant for the production of green hydrogen.

Airbus profits halved but hopes to meet delivery target

European air giant Airbus said Thursday its half-year profits plunged, as the company is hit by delays in the delivery of its A320neo engines, but confirmed its objective to provide 800 aircraft this year despite "risks".

Australian media giants Fairfax and Nine to merge

Publisher Fairfax Media and Nine Entertainment on Thursday announced plans to merge, creating an integrated Australian media giant across television, online video streaming, print, and digital.

Barcelona taxis strike for 2nd day, tourists face delays

Tourists arriving in Barcelona are facing long lines and jam-packed buses and subways as the city's taxis went on strike for a second day.

Europe's energy giants reap benefits of oil price surge

Anglo-Dutch energy giant Royal Dutch Shell, French peer Total and Spain's Repsol on Thursday logged surging second-quarter net profits on the back of soaring oil prices.

Nokia profit hit as clients wary of spending on new networks

Nokia says its second-quarter earnings slumped as clients were not willing yet to increase spending on the faster but more expensive new generation of mobile networks and are seeking price cuts.

Sky profits jump amid Comcast-Fox takeover battle

Sky's annual net profits have jumped 17 percent, the pan-European television broadcaster said Thursday as US media giants Comcast and 21st Century Fox battle for control of the group.

India to probe whether Cambridge Analytica used Indian data

India will investigate whether personal data from Indian voters and Facebook users were compromised by political consultant Cambridge Analytica, a government minister said Thursday.

Daimler earnings hit by trade tensions, emissions rules

German automaker Daimler AG said Thursday that its net profit fell 27 percent in the second quarter as the company confronted multiple challenges including trade tensions, weak pricing for its luxury cars, and recalls and product delays related to diesel emissions.

Why restricting social media is not a solution to dangerous behaviours in India

Earlier this month, in the Indian state of Rajasthan, bystanders took selfies while three men lay dying after a road accident. The week before, two men were beaten to death by a mob in the state of Assam after false rumours of their involvement in a kidnapping were spread on WhatsApp. And a study recently found that India is the world leader when it comes to selfie-related accidents.

Fighting offensive language on social media with unsupervised text style transfer

Online social media has become one of the most important ways to communicate and exchange ideas. Unfortunately, the discourse is often crippled by abusive language that can have damaging effects on social media users. For instance, a recent survey by discovered that, among the information employers can find online about job candidates, aggressive or offensive language is the most professionally damaging social media activity. Online social media networks normally deal with the offensive language problem by simply filtering out a post when it is flagged as offensive.

Insurers turn to technology to woo drivers

Americans love technology, and we expect companies to deliver delightful digital experiences.

Unions hail mobilisation in unprecedented Ryanair strike

Unions representing Ryanair cabin crews said Thursday their strike in four European countries had been successful, defying the no-frills airline which has threatened job cuts.

Medicine & Health news

Healing mesenchymal cells morph and destroy muscles in models of spinal cord injury, ALS, spinal muscular atrophy

When a muscle is acutely injured—whether through accidental strain or intentional weight lifting—special repair cells called fibro-adipogenic progenitors (FAPs) rush to the rescue. These cells coordinate the activity of the immune system and muscle stem cells to replace and repair the torn tissue.

Can scientists leverage mysterious mossy cells for brain disease treatments?

A small population of brain cells deep in a memory-making region of the brain controls the production of new neurons and may have a role in common brain disorders, according to a study from scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Fat production and burning are synchronized in livers of mice with obesity

Mice fed a fattening diet develop new liver circadian rhythms that impact the way fat is accumulated and simultaneously burned, according to a new study published in Cell by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The team found that as liver fat production increases, surprisingly, so does the body's ability to burn fat. These opposing physiological processes reach their peak activity each day around 5 p.m., illustrating an unexpected connection between overeating, circadian rhythms, and fat accumulation in the liver.

Gut bacteria byproduct protects against Salmonella, study finds

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified a molecule that serves as natural protection against one of the most common intestinal pathogens.

Rewriting our understanding of gastric tumors

The immune system can be an important ally in the fight against cancer. A study from McGill scientists published today in Science suggests that the reverse may also be true—that abnormal inflammation triggered by the immune system may underlie the development of stomach tumours in patients with a hereditary cancer syndrome known as Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome (PJS). The findings are likely to prompt a re-thinking of how gastric tumours form in patients with this syndrome and in others with gastrointestinal cancers. They should also open the door to potential new treatments based on targeting inflammation rather than tumour cells.

Osteoporosis, fracture risk predicted with genetic screen

A new genetic screen may predict a person's future risk of osteoporosis and bone fracture, according to a study by a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Mouse memory cells are about experience, not place

When it comes to memory, it's more than just "location, location, location." New research suggests that the brain doesn't store all memories in place cells, the main type of neuron in the hippocampus, a structure crucial for navigation and memory. Instead, memories seem to be powered by a subset of hippocampal cells that have little to do with location and more with context or episodes, as reported in the July 27 issue of Science.

Ability to identify genuine laughter transcends culture, study finds

People across cultures and continents are largely able to tell the difference between a fake laugh and a real one, according to a new study by UCLA communication researcher Greg Bryant.

Could psoriasis patients eat their way to fewer symptoms?

(HealthDay)—A study of more than 3,500 French psoriasis patients found that the healthier their diet, the less severe their symptoms.

Immunity protein at birth reduces likelihood of childhood malaria

Newborn babies who were born with high levels of an immune-related protein in their blood cells were less likely to develop malaria throughout their early childhood, new research led by Curtin University has found.

New system can identify drugs to target 'undruggable' enzymes critical in many diseases

A new drug discovery system allows scientists to specifically target members of an important family of enzymes, called phosphatases, which were previously considered mostly "undruggable".

Light device is effective ulcer treatment

University of Manchester and Salford Royal NHS Trust scientists have developed a lamp which could treat chronic ulcers with light.

Engaging patients in health care redesign improves outcomes

Engaging patients in the redesign of health care services can lead to reduced hospital admissions and more efficient and effective health care, a study led by a St. Michael's Hospital researcher suggests.

Why men say they've had more lifetime sexual partners than women

The disparity between the number of sexual partners reported by men and women can largely be explained by a tendency among men to report extreme numbers of partners, and to estimate rather than count their lifetime total, a new study in The Journal of Sex Research finds.

Researchers identify new arthritis severity gene

A new gene associated with disease severity in models of rheumatoid arthritis has been identified by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. The discovery could provide a new pathway for treatment and a way to measure the prognosis of patients diagnosed with the autoimmune condition.

Tickborne diseases are likely to increase, say NIAID officials

The incidence of tickborne infections in the United States has risen significantly within the past decade. It is imperative, therefore, that public health officials and scientists build a robust understanding of pathogenesis, design improved diagnostics, and develop preventive vaccines, according to a new commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine from leading scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Aging overweight scuba divers at risk of underwater heart attack

Older, overweight scuba divers are being urged to shed pounds to avoid an underwater heart attack. That's the advice from a large study out today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a publication of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

New diagnostic blood test helps rule out need for CT scans in some patients with possible traumatic brain injuries

Research conducted at the Wayne State University School of Medicine has helped confirm the effectiveness of a blood biomarker that can indicate if patients with a head injury can avoid a costly CT scan because the blood test results indicate no traumatic brain injury (TBI).

New study finds that aging can make it more difficult to swallow

As adults age, they all experience a natural loss of muscle mass and function. A new study finds that as the loss of muscle and function in the throat occurs it becomes more difficult for efficient constriction to occur while swallowing—which leads to an increased chance of food and liquids being left over in the throat.

Solution to medical mystery may help some children avoid bone marrow transplantation

Researchers have helped solve a decades-old mystery about which mutations are responsible for an inherited bone marrow disorder. The answer may allow some children to avoid the risk and expense of bone marrow transplantation, a common treatment for leukemia and bone marrow disorders.

Public views of gene editing for babies depend on how it would be used

A majority of Americans support the idea of using gene editing with the goal of delivering direct health benefits for babies. At the same time, a majority also considers the use of gene editing to boost a baby's intelligence as something that takes technology "too far," according to a new study released today by Pew Research Center.

End-of-life conversations with nonclinical worker bring patient satisfaction, lower costs

Patients with advanced cancer who spoke with a trained nonclinical worker about personal goals for care were more likely to talk with doctors about their preferences, report higher satisfaction with their care and incur lower health costs in their final month of life, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers report.

Mosquito screening useful in monitoring lymphatic filariasis re-emergence

To ensure elimination of the Wuchereria bancrofti, a parasitic roundworm that causes lymphatic filariasis, public health workers must follow up mass drug administration with careful monitoring for recurrence. To that end, a study published this week in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases analyzes the effectiveness of mosquito screening as a tool to gauge parasite presence.

Bile acids from the gut could help to treat cocaine abuse

Bile acids that aid fat digestion are also found to reduce the rewarding properties of cocaine use, according to a study publishing on July 26 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by India Reddy, Nicholas Smith, and Robb Flynn of Vanderbilt University, Aurelio Galli of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and colleagues. The results point to potential new strategies for treatment of cocaine abuse.

Electricity sparks neuronal diversity during brain development

The cerebral cortex is a highly developed brain region responsible for intellectual functions such as conscious perception, anticipation of events and language. These functions are mediated by specific sets of neuronal circuits. To understand how these circuits emerge during development, researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, in collaboration with an American team, investigated what enables neuronal stem cells to generate successive subtypes of neurons as the embryo grows. By measuring the electrical activity of these progenitors, they found that akin to charging a battery, membrane voltage values increase as the embryo develops and new neurons are being created. To test the role of this electrical charge, neuroscientists experimentally manipulated progenitor voltage values, which allowed them to select which type of neuron was developing. These results, published in Cell, reveal an unexpected role for bioelectric cell properties in the generation of neuronal diversity.

Faulty cytoskeleton impairs immune cells

In order to move, a body needs a strong scaffold. This is not only true on a macroscopic level, where animals rely on skeletons to support their muscles. It is also true on a cellular level: The cytoskeleton, composed of actin filaments, is crucial for every active movement of a cell. By rearranging these filaments, cells can stretch and wander in every direction, squeeze into the smallest gaps or wrap themselves around an object. Those processes are particularly important for the cells of the immune system, which are the most motile cells of the human body in order to fight against infectious agents. Defects of the cytoskeleton can thus have detrimental effects on the immune response and thereby on the ability of the organism to control infections.

Traffic jams in the brain

Traffic jams can also occur in the brain, and they can be damaging. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have been able to prove that disrupted transportation routes in nerve cells are a significant cause of Parkinson's disease.

Food deserts don't benefit from more supermarkets in Chicago, study finds

A new study from researchers at the University of Chicago shows that despite an increase of supermarkets across Chicago, low-income neighborhoods have not reaped the benefits.

Warning label may have misled tobacco consumers for over 30 years

In 1986, the U.S. government passed legislation requiring a series of warnings for smokeless tobacco products, one of which advised "This product is not a safe alternative to cigarettes."

Next-generation ALS drug silences inherited form of the disease in animal models

NIH-funded researchers delayed signs of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in rodents by injecting them with a second-generation drug designed to silence the gene, superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1). The results, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, suggest the newer version of the drug may be effective at treating an inherited form of the disease caused by mutations in SOD1. Currently, the drug is being tested in an ALS clinical trial (NCT02623699).

Parents: Think twice before you pressure your picky eater

Seriously, does anyone really like peas? More importantly, should parents pressure kids to eat them anyway, and does it hurt or help the child?

Ocular oncologist on the importance of regular eye exams

As an an ocular oncologist treating cancers of the eye, Renelle Lim, MD, sometimes fields questions about how to keep eyes safe from the sun. Doing so is important, but eye cancer is not the same as skin cancer, and any link between sunlight and eye melanoma has not been proven, says Dr. Lim, who is the only full-time ocular (eye) oncologist in Connecticut affiliated with a major academic center.

New compound targets drug-resistant HIV mutants

Antiretroviral therapies have worked wonders suppressing HIV replication and its progression to AIDS, but their effectiveness is deteriorating due to the constant development of drug resistance in the virus. Now Yale researchers have shown their newly developed compounds maintain anti-HIV activity against drug-resistant mutants better than FDA-approved medications.

Why are long-acting forms of contraception like IUDs becoming more popular?

On a campus crowded by scientists and physicians, Elizabeth Watkins, Ph.D., is a bit of an anomaly as a historian.

First ever study of serious case reviews of sudden unexpected infant deaths conducted

For the first time in England a study has been conducted of official investigations of unexpected infant deaths.

MRI resolution enhanced at cellular level

Neuroscience researchers have long used Magnetic Resonance Imaging to study the basic structure of the brain in health and disease, but MRI scanners can't typically provide insights at the cellular level. In an MRI image, each voxel—the 3-D equivalent of a pixel—represents tens of thousands of brain cells.

Alzheimer's drug trial offers new hope, but uncertainty, too

(HealthDay)—There have been many setbacks on the long road to finding a treatment that might slow or stop Alzheimer's disease, but a new trial offers a glimmer of hope.

FDA approves magnetic system for guiding lymph node biopsies

(HealthDay)—A magnetic system for guiding lymph node biopsies in patients with breast cancer undergoing mastectomy has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

One-third of hepatitis C prescriptions receive absolute denial from insurers

(HealthDay)—Insurers are increasingly denying prescriptions of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) drugs for hepatitis C virus treatment, according to a study published online June 7 in Open Forum Infectious Diseases.

Regulations restrict providers' ability to offer info on abortions

(HealthDay)—Proposed regulations restrict providers' ability to deliver unbiased patient care for individuals wanting to know about or undergo abortion, according to a perspective piece published online July 18 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

First IVF baby Louise Brown turns 40

(HealthDay)—It's been 40 years since the birth of the first baby conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF), and there have been more than eight million born since.

Pfizer says not part of failed Dutch pregnancy trial

Pfizer Thursday insisted its anti-impotency Viagra drug was not used in a Dutch study seeking to help pregnant women whose babies were not growing properly, halted after 11 infants died.

Science-based diet tips that really work

(HealthDay)—There's no shortage of good diet advice, but the following tips have scientific research to support them.

Yes, fingernail cancer is a thing—just ask this beauty queen

(HealthDay)—Karolina Jasko was a high school senior when a nail salon worker pointed out the black vertical line on her right thumbnail.

Even if you don't get enough shut-eye, most fixes are easy

The serious consequences of sleep deprivation perennially capture society's attention. And, as kids head back to school, sleep and a lack of it are of particular concern.

Small changes can go far in preventing childhood obesity

In the United States, the percentage of children and adolescents with obesity has more than tripled since 1970. Today, approximately one in five school-aged children (ages 6 to 19) is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—and that figure doesn't include children who are considered merely overweight and not obese.

Dogs' sensitive noses may be the key to early detection of lung cancer

We know that dogs have an excellent sense of smell. They are already helping rescue teams locate people in disaster areas and work with customs officers to identify contraband. Some have been trained to sniff out landmines.

Riding an e-bike promotes fitness and health after four weeks

The role of the e-bike in promoting health and fitness is comparable to that of a conventional bicycle. This was reported by researchers of the University of Basel in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. In particular, overweight and untrained individuals can benefit from riding an e-bike.

New hope for rare disorder

Hereditary angioedema is a chronic disorder that can sometimes be life-threatening. Now, a new drug therapy has been successfully tested in an international study headed by the University Hospital Frankfurt.

Prolonged oxygen exposure causes long-term memory deficits for preterm infants

Research findings in an article recently published in Nature Scientific Reports by University of Alabama at Birmingham neonatologists indicate that oxygen exposure in newborn mice pups impairs the signaling pathways required for long-term learning and memory formation.

CAR-T therapy works for some blood cancers, but can we make it work for brain tumours?

A powerful new anti-cancer therapy, called CAR-T, has shown great promise in treating blood cancers. Last year, the Food and Drug Administration approved the treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, and the results have been very promising, with remission rates of up to 83% for the very worst case patients, whose disease had returned following conventional treatments.

Specialized approach to open heart surgery saves lives

Patients who undergo coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG)—the most common heart surgery performed—may live longer and experience fewer complications when under the care of a highly focused surgical team that uses simplified and standardized approaches, according to research published today in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

UK doctors given green light to prescribe cannabis

British doctors will be able to prescribe medicinal cannabis, the government announced Thursday following a review—but insisted it was not a first step towards legalising recreational use.

Traumatic brain injury: Discovery of two molecules could lead to new drug treatments

After 10 years of research, a Rutgers-led team of scientists has identified two molecules that protect nerve cells after a traumatic brain injury and could lead to new drug treatments.

Researchers discover why sepsis from a staph infection causes organ failure

For patients diagnosed with a Staphylococcus aureus infection, often referred to as a staph or MRSA infection, every minute counts. The bacteria create havoc in the body. The immune system goes into overdrive. The heightened immune response can lead to sepsis, which kills 30 to 50 per cent of the people who develop it. In Canada, sepsis is the 12th leading cause of death.

Lynchings of the past affect health today

Counties with higher rates of lynching between 1877 and 1950 showed higher mortality rates between 2010 and 2014. A new study by researchers from the University of South Carolina in the US, led by Janice Probst and Saundra Glover, looks into the relationship between past occurrence of lynching—unpunished, racially motivated murder—and recent death rates. The research, published in Springer's Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, shows that when socio-economic and educational factors are taken into account, the death rate for the overall population of a county was higher between 2010 and 2014 if lynching events had taken place there in the past.

Researchers develop model on how brain reward response may impact anorexia nervosa

Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have found that the brain's response to taste stimuli is linked to high anxiety and a drive for thinness that could play a role in driving anorexia nervosa.

EU door opens for generic version of AIDS medicine Truvada

Patient associations on Thursday lauded an EU decision to allow the sale of generic versions of Truvada, an anti-retroviral medicine used by those diagnosed HIV-positive, the virus causing AIDS.

Previously undiagnosed neurological disorder linked to gene IRF2BPL

An international team of scientists, including researchers from Baylor College of Medicine, has discovered mutations of gene IRF2BPL that are associated with a previously undiagnosed neurological disorder in seven unrelated individuals. The researchers propose that these disease-causing mutations lead to a loss of function of the protein and that the gene IRF2BPL is required for proper neuronal function and maintenance. The study appears in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Just 10 minutes of social interaction a day improves wellbeing in dementia care

An e-learning programme that trains care home staff to engage in meaningful social interaction with people who have dementia improves wellbeing and has sustained benefits.

New Ebola virus found in Sierra Leone

A new Ebola virus has been found in bats in Sierra Leone, two years after the end of an outbreak that killed over 11,000 across West Africa, the government said on Thursday.

Putting an end to deadly antibiotic resistance caused by over-prescription

Newly published study shows that strategies to curb inappropriate antibiotic prescribing which lead to deadly antibiotic resistant superbugs that kill an estimated 23,000 people each year are not only successful but also cost effective. This LA BioMed collaboration led by the USC Schaeffer Center for Health Policy is a boon for this public health crisis. In the study, Behavioral Economics Interventions to Improve Outpatient Antibiotic Prescribing for Acute Respiratory Infections (ARIs): a Cost-Effectiveness Analysis, LA BioMed researchers recommend a number of cost-effective behavioral strategies to curb unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions.

Poll: Latinos see health care communication barriers

Nearly 6 in 10 Hispanic adults have had a difficult time communicating with a health care provider because of a language or cultural barrier, and when they do they often turn to outside sources for help, according to a new study conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

OpenScope: the first shared observatory for neuroscience

The Allen Institute for Brain Science today announced the launch of OpenScope, a project that will give researchers around the world access to the Institute's "observatory of the mind" to study the activity of hundreds to thousands of nerve cells in the visual cortex of the mouse. OpenScope was modeled after shared astronomy observatories that have been the seat of major findings about the physical universe.

Adherence to healthy diets associated with lower cancer risk

A diet that encourages both healthy eating and physical activity and discourages alcohol consumption was associated with a reduced overall cancer risk, as well as lower breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer risks.

Relationship between amount and frequency of sugars intake by children

At the 96th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), held in conjunction with the IADR Pan European Regional (PER) Congress, Paula Moynihan, Newcastle University, England, gave an oral presentation titled "Relationship Between Amount and Frequency of Sugars Intake by Children." The IADR/PER General Session & Exhibition is in London, England at the ExCeL London Convention Center from July 25-28, 2018.

MicroRNA panel can identify malignancy in indeterminate thyroid nodules

A panel of 19 microRNAs identified using next-generation sequencing could categorize indeterminate thyroid nodule samples into malignant and benign.

Saliva extracellular RNA: new horizon in dental, oral and craniofacial research

At the 96th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), held in conjunction with the IADR Pan European Regional (PER) Congress, David Wong, University of California, Los Angeles, USA along with Roger Alexander, Pacific Northwest Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, USA, hosted the symposium "Saliva Extracellular RNA: New Horizon in Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Research" on Wednesday, July 25. The IADR/PER General Session & Exhibition is in London, England at the ExCeL London Convention Center from July 25-28, 2018.

Activating a liquid with plasma gives it anti-cancer properties

Lab-based results showing that cold plasma can stop the growth of cancer cells have sparked hope that it could one day be used to treat the disease in humans – but scientists first need to understand why it has the effect it does.

US sexual minorities less likely to be in work or insured than straight peers

Sexual minorities in the US are less likely to be in work or to have health insurance than their straight peers, reveal the results of a large survey, published in the online journal BMJ Open.

U.S. House votes to kill sales tax on medical devices

The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to kill a sales tax on medical devices that the medical-technology industry have battled for nearly a decade.

Benefits of early antiretroviral therapy in HIV-infected children

Without treatment, an HIV-infected child is at greater risk of disease progression to AIDS than an adult. Initiation of early treatment in infants shows an undeniable clinical benefit by reducing the risk of death in early childhood. It may also be accompanied by a significant reduction of the viral reservoir (the amount of total viral DNA present in the immune cells of patients), which could promote the accumulation of conditions required for remission. It is therefore essential to better understand the interactions between the virus and the immune systems of children, and more accurately evaluate the short and long-term virological and immunological benefits of initiation of early therapy in children. These are the objectives of an ANRS CLEAC study.

New report brings Sri Lankan women living with a disability out of the shadows

Researchers from the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University, together with the Sri Lankan Law & Society Trust, have officially launched an innovative report documenting the stories of hardship and resilience of Sri Lankan women with disabilities living in war affected areas.

China launches nationwide vaccine sector inspection after scandal

China's drug regulator said it has launched a nationwide inspection of vaccine production as authorities step up the response to a fraud case that has re-ignited public fears over the safety of the country's medicines.

Improving the prescribing practice of newly-qualified doctors

It is known that prescribing errors in hospitals are common and that junior doctors may make more mistakes than senior doctors as they write the most prescriptions in hospital settings.

Sex workers sing, dance for legalisation of oldest profession

Sex workers took centre stage at the International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam Thursday, using music and dance to press home a serious message: "We are people too, and we have rights".

Mind-body therapies can help teens with anxiety

Mind-body therapies—biofeedback, mindfulness, yoga, and hypnosis - provide a promising approach to the very common problem of anxiety in adolescents, according to a review in the March issue of The Nurse Practitioner.

Naturalistic driving study investigates self-regulation behavior in early Alzheimer's disease

Driving is a complex task that involves perceptual, motor and cognitive abilities. These abilities may be affected in early Alzheimer Disease (AD) patients. Nevertheless, they continue to drive for more years than people with other dementia syndromes perhaps because of a deficit in self-awareness that prevents them from perceiving their driving difficulties and adapting accordingly. The purpose of the present pilot study was to closely examine the self-regulation behavior of older individuals with AD using a naturalistic driving approach.

Reducing opioid prescriptions for one operation can also spill over to other procedures

To curb the use of opioids after major elective operations and prevent these pain relievers from falling into the wrong hands, surgeons at the University of Michigan developed prescribing recommendations based on published medical evidence for one operation, gall bladder removal, and then discovered a spillover effect that led them to prescribe roughly 10,000 fewer pills for other major operations, according to study results appearing as an "article in press" on the website of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons ahead of print.

For spinal fusion surgery patients, taking opioids before surgery is major risk factor for long-term opioid use

Patients taking opioids for at least three months before spinal fusion surgery in the lower spine are much more likely to continue taking opioids one year after surgery , reports a study in Spine .

Role of oral microbiota in the severity of chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis

At the 96th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), held in conjunction with the IADR Pan European Regional (PER) Congress, Kai Soo Tan, National University of Singapore, gave a oral presentation titled "Role of Oral Microbiota in the Severity of Chemotherapy-Induced Oral Mucositis." The IADR/PER General Session & Exhibition is in London, England at the ExCeL London Convention Center from July 25-28, 2018.

Non-invasive, ultrasound-based approach for pocket depth measurements

At the 96th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), held in conjunction with the IADR Pan European Regional (PER) Congress, Jesse Jokerst, University of California, San Diego, USA gave an oral presentation titled "Non-Invasive, Ultrasound-based Approach for Pocket Depth Measurements." The IADR/PER General Session & Exhibition is in London, England at the ExCeL London Convention Center from July 25-28, 2018.

Stent retriever thrombectomy effective for longer window after stroke

A new study shows promising real-world outcomes for patients receiving a stent retriever thrombectomy six hours after they experience an acute ischemic stroke (AIS). The study was presented today at the Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery's (SNIS) 15th Annual Meeting.

Biology news

Ant study sheds light on the evolution of workers and queens

Worker ants, despite their diligence, seldom encounter opportunities for social mobility. In many species, individuals adhere to strict caste roles: queens lay eggs and workers take care of almost everything else, including offspring.

Changes to small RNA in sperm may help fertilization

Two papers by UMass Medical School Professor Oliver J. Rando, MD, Ph.D., shed new light on the processes of fertilization and epigenetic inheritance in mammals. Together, the research provides important insight into how epigenetics—the study of inheritable traits that are carried outside the genome—work from father to offspring. The studies appear in the journal Developmental Cell and provide new information about the epigenetic contribution of males to their offspring.

Night-time lighting changes how species interact

Night-time lighting from streetlights and other sources has complex and unexpected effects on communities of plants and animals, new research shows.Previous studies have shown that artificial lighting affects a wide variety of individual species, including many moths and bats.

Evolution of efflux pumps could yield important insights in fighting antibiotic resistance

Different types of efflux pump proteins—which are the key focus of Gram-negative bacteria antibiotic resistance—might have evolved independently instead of, as previously thought, all from a common ancestor, according to a new study led by a University of Kansas computational biologist.

Fertilizer destroys plant microbiome's ability to protect against disease

A new study of the role microbial communities play on the leaves of plants suggests that fertilizing crops may make them more susceptible to disease.

How do jumping genes cause disease, drive evolution?

Almost half of our DNA sequences are made up of jumping genes—also known as transposons. They jump around the genome in developing sperm and egg cells and are important to evolution. But their mobilization can also cause new mutations that lead to diseases, such as hemophilia and cancer. Remarkably little is known about when and where their movements occur in developing reproductive cells, the key process that ensures their propagation in future generations, but can lead to genetic disorders for the hosts.

First mapping of global marine wilderness shows just how little remains

Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on July 26 have completed the first systematic analysis of marine wilderness around the world. And what they found is not encouraging; only a small fraction—about 13 percent—of the world's ocean can still be classified as wilderness.

Lectins help social amoeba establish their own microbiome

People are not the only living organisms that carry a microbiome, that is, good bacteria living on and in the body. The social amoeba, a soil-dwelling organism, also carries its own microbiome, and researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have discovered that sugar-binding proteins called lectins are essential for amoebas and bacteria living together. The study appears in the journal Science.

Plants have reserve defense system against different kinds of attacks, study finds

A plant's defense systems are cooperative—when one system fails, another one can take over, at least in part. Researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology 's (NTNU) Department of Biology have been collaborating with colleagues from Imperial College London and The Sainsbury Laboratory to discover more about how plants defend themselves. Their results have been published in Science Signaling.

Mysteries of Okinawan habu venom decoded

It is more likely to see a habu snake in a bottle of Okinawan rice liquor than to see one slithering by the wayside. Even so, habus are very common in the Ryukyu islands, of which Okinawa is a part. Okinawa is home to three species of habu; the Okinawan habu (Protobothrops flavoviridis), endemic to the Ryukyu islands, is highly venomous.

Study reveals complex math calculations worms perform in search for food

Animals often rely on their sense of smell to locate food. It's a law of nature: the first one to reach a food source has a better chance of surviving than those who do not. But how exactly does their brain translate scent and then navigate towards it?

Adult fish 'predict' availability of food for their young

In seasonal environments, timing is everything: Ecosystem dynamics are controlled by how well predators can match their prey in space and time. A recently published study, led by University of Hawai'i at Mānoa oceanographer Anna Neuheimer, revealed that fish parents "predict" a beneficial environment for their offspring with populations "adjusting" spawning time so that the young can meet their prey. Survival at this early stage affects population size and shapes how many fish will be available to fisheries in later years.

Zebrafish interactions offer help in studying social behavior disorders

July 26, 2018—University of Oregon scientists have identified brain cells vital to how zebrafish socialize. When the neurons are disabled, their orientation to one another breaks down in ways similar to socialization problems seen in humans with autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.

Study finds animals can use muscle as an internal water source

Water is vital for life. But as our climate changes, the availability of water is also changing, leaving animals with limited or unreliable supplies of this critical resource.

New screening approach reveals importance of microRNAs in papillomavirus life cycle

The discovery of microRNAs encoded by papillomaviruses supports the important role of these small molecules in persistent infection, according to a study published July 26 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens. Study author Rachel Chirayil of the University of Texas at Austin and colleagues made this discovery using a new approach that enables microRNA identification for the enormous range of pathogens that have genomic data but cannot be cultured in a laboratory setting.

The critically endangered giant sea bass is making an encouraging but fragile comeback off Southern California

As the sun rose over this harbor town on Santa Catalina Island, four scuba divers with cameras and notepads finned toward canopies of undulating kelp.

Are North Carolina's red wolves a real species? The answer could doom them

Changes to the Endangered Species Act proposed by the Trump administration could end federal protection of the three dozen remaining red wolves in North Carolina, wildlife advocates say.

Scientists find new methods to control bacterial factories for biotech aims

The lab of Cheryl Kerfeld has announced a breakthrough in manipulating miniature factories, found in bacteria, that hold much promise in the biotech field.

Evidence that feral cats are preying on the critically endangered Leadbeater's possum

New evidence has raised concerns about the possibility of feral cats preying upon the critically endangered Leadbeater's possum, with a cat detected on cameras at two nest boxes used by the possums.

Bolivian water frog in lovelorn race against clock

Romeo the water frog, a social media star whose desperate need to mate has not been met, is now staring down extinction as stoically as an amphibian can.

Exploring Galapagos snakes on volcanoes

Finding snakes in the Galapagos islands is a gargantuan undertaking, one that has lead Massey University's Dr. Luis Ortiz-Catedral to the summit of an active volcano.

Removing malaria-carrying mosquitoes unlikely to affect ecosystems, says report

By combining studies on one species of malaria-carrying mosquito, researchers found that no other animals rely solely on them for food.

Chimpanzee 'nests' shed light on the origins of humanity

Home is where the heart is, they say. But a chimpanzee's home may be where we can find the origins of the entire human species.

Swift parrot protection agreements are being broken

A new research paper from The Australian National University (ANU) has found agreements to protect the critically endangered Swift parrot in Tasmania have been broken leaving the species at high risk of extinction.

Citizen science helps detect sharks earlier

When Darren Porter obtained his commercial weir license eight years ago and set up shop in Bramber, Nova Scotia, he never thought he'd be at the centre of an international shark-tracking effort.

Researchers develop tool to reduce slavery in seafood supply chains

A new screening tool developed at the University of British Columbia is giving seafood companies the ability to pinpoint the highest risks of forced labour in their supply chain.

Sea turtle deaths spike in Florida waters with red tide

Researchers are reporting a spiking number of sea turtle deaths in Florida waters plagued by a red tide algae bloom.

Court: Ban seafood caught with nets that harm tiny porpoises

A judge has ordered the U.S. government to ban imports of seafood caught by Mexican fisheries that use a net blamed for killing off the vaquita, the world's smallest and most-endangered porpoise.

Thousands of purple birds swarm Outer Banks bridge. NC lowers speed limit to protect them

Thousands of visitors cross the William B. Umstead Memorial Bridge—known locally as Old Manns Harbor Bridge—on their way to Roanoke Island and the Outer Banks every year.

Endangered pygmy elephant shot dead on Borneo

A pygmy elephant was shot dead on Borneo island after it destroyed villagers' crops, a Malaysian wildlife official said Thursday, the latest of the endangered creatures to be killed.

Finally, a breathtaking photo of beluga whale snot

The above photo captures a beluga calf exhaling thousands of tiny droplets of respiratory vapour, which are valuable to science. The droplets—snot, essentially—help researchers like U of M's Justine Hudson measure stress in whale and dolphin populations all over the world in a non-invasive way, enabling us to accurately measure stress and determine the cause.

10th endangered rhino dies in Kenya after botched transfer

A tenth critically endangered black rhino has died in Kenya after being moved to a new wildlife park and the sole survivor has been attacked by lions, wildlife authorities said Thursday in what some conservationists have called a national disaster.

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