Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Aug 29

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Spotlight Stories Headlines

Baidu researchers develop a new auto-tuning framework for autonomous vehicles

Light programmable guidance of direct current fields in Laplacian metadevices

Astronomers reveal new details about 'monster' star-forming galaxies

Ancient livestock dung heaps are now African wildlife hotspots

Mammal forerunner that reproduced like a reptile sheds light on brain evolution

Rhythmic oscillations detected in the blazar Markarian 501

Scientists take big step toward finding non-addictive painkiller

Air pollution haze can put a dent in solar power

Ancient extinct cave bear DNA found in modern bears

Researchers achieve first ever acceleration of electrons in a proton-driven plasma wave

Disentangling the relationships between cultural traits and other variables

Bioengineers unveil surprising sensory and self-healing abilities of seashore creatures

The more pesticides bees eat, the more they like them

Goats prefer happy people

Getting to the roots of our ancient cousin's diet

Astronomy & Space news

Astronomers reveal new details about 'monster' star-forming galaxies

An international team of astronomers from Japan, Mexico and the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying a "monster galaxy" 12.4 billion light years away today report that their instruments have achieved a 10 times higher angular resolution than ever before, revealing galaxy structural details previously completely unknown. They also were able to analyze dynamic properties that could not be probed before. Details appear in Nature. 

Rhythmic oscillations detected in the blazar Markarian 501

Astronomers have detected transient rhythmic oscillations in the gamma-ray emission from the blazar Markarian 501. The discovery, reported in a paper published August 18 on the arXiv pre-print server could be helpful in improving our understanding of energetic processes taking place in the universe.

Stars vs. dust in the Carina Nebula

The Carina Nebula, one of the largest and brightest nebulae in the night sky, has been beautifully imaged by ESO's VISTA telescope at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. By observing in infrared light, VISTA has peered through the hot gas and dark dust enshrouding the nebula to show us myriad stars, both newborn and in their death throes.

New Horizons makes first detection of Kuiper Belt flyby target

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has made its first detection of its next flyby target, the Kuiper Belt object nicknamed Ultima Thule, more than four months ahead of its New Year's 2019 close encounter.

How a NASA scientist looks in the depths of the Great Red Spot to find water on Jupiter

For centuries, scientists have worked to understand the makeup of Jupiter. It's no wonder: this mysterious planet is the biggest one in our solar system by far, and chemically, the closest relative to the Sun. Understanding Jupiter is a key to learning more about how our solar system formed, and even about how other solar systems develop.

NASA's InSight has a thermometer for Mars

Ambitious climbers, forget Mt. Everest. Dream about Mars.

New era of astronomy uncovers clues about the cosmos

Astronomers have had a blockbuster year.

Star Gosling took flying lessons for new astronaut film

Hollywood star Ryan Gosling said Wednesday that he tried to learn to fly to play astronaut Neil Armstrong in an emotional new biopic about the strong but silent space hero.

Technology news

Baidu researchers develop a new auto-tuning framework for autonomous vehicles

Researchers at Chinese multinational tech company Baidu have recently developed a data-driven auto-tuning framework for self-driving vehicles based on the Apollo autonomous driving platform. The framework, presented in a paper pre-published on arXiv, consists of a new reinforcement learning algorithm and an offline training strategy, as well as an automatic method of collecting and labelling data.

Air pollution haze can put a dent in solar power

Ian Marius Peters, now an MIT research scientist, was working on solar energy research in Singapore in 2013 when he encountered an extraordinary cloud of pollution. The city was suddenly engulfed in a foul-smelling cloud of haze so thick that from one side of a street you couldn't see the buildings on the other side, and the air had the acrid smell of burning. The event, triggered by forest fires in Indonesia and concentrated by unusual wind patterns, lasted two weeks, quickly causing stores to run out of face masks as citizens snapped them up to aid their breathing.

Robot teachers invade Chinese kindergartens

The Chinese kindergarten children giggled as they worked to solve puzzles assigned by their new teaching assistant: a roundish, short educator with a screen for a face.

Facebook rolls out video service worldwide

Facebook said Wednesday it is rolling out globally its Watch video service, which has already been available in the United States for more than a year.

Public reports will show Firefox user activity, behavior

If there is one blue-ribbon word that Mozilla team members love, it is "open." And this month marks the new Firefox Public Data Report, which unboxes Firefox user activity and behavior—complementing its older relation of the Firefox Hardware Report. The latter launched some time back as a public resource to share what hardware was being actively used in the wild.

When cars fly? Japan wants airborne vehicles to take off

It might sound like pie in the sky, but Japan's government is banking on a future with flying cars, launching an initiative Wednesday with the private sector to develop futuristic vehicles.

How unsecured, obsolete medical record systems and medical devices put patient lives at risk

A team of physicians and computer scientists at the University of California has shown that it is easy to modify medical test results remotely by attacking the connection between hospital laboratory devices and medical record systems.

Instagram adds verified accounts to 'stop bad actors'

Instagram on Tuesday set out to thwart duplicity with an option to authenticate high-profile accounts at the Facebook-owned image or video sharing social network.

Russia's Kalashnikov branches out from rifles to robots and e-cars

A recent pledge by Kalashnikov to compete with Elon Musk's Tesla with a Russian retro "electric supercar" drew chuckles, but the legendary gun producer has long been trying to branch out into products from drones to yachts.

Cheap fares, costly fuel send India's airlines into a tailspin

Bargain-basement fares, high oil prices and a tumbling rupee are causing turbulence in India's hyper-competitive aviation market, virtually wiping out airlines' profits and leaving them scrambling to cut costs to survive.

AI to seep further into everyday life at Berlin's IFA: analysts

Electronics manufacturers are betting on artificial intelligence weaving itself ever more tightly into our relationships with their products on show at this year's IFA, the sector's annual Berlin trade fair, analysts predict.

UN urges Facebook to 'proactively' fight hate speech

The UN human rights chief urged Facebook Wednesday to more proactively address hate speech but warned against excessive regulation, after US President Donald Trump accused tech giants' platforms of bias against him.

Study identifies distinct groups interested in types of electric vehicles

Drivers considering plug-in hybrid vehicles with a gasoline backup are most interested in economic benefits while those gravitating toward battery-electric vehicles have stronger environmental concerns, according to a study led by a University of Kansas transportation policy scholar.

How mindfulness can help prevent hacks, and four more cybersecurity tips

You probably have a phishing email in your inbox right now.

Detecting 'deepfake' videos in the blink of an eye

A new form of misinformation is poised to spread through online communities as the 2018 midterm election campaigns heat up. Called "deepfakes" after the pseudonymous online account that popularized the technique – which may have chosen its name because the process uses a technical method called "deep learning" – these fake videos look very realistic.

Mystery of the cargo ships that sink when their cargo suddenly liquefies

Think of a dangerous cargo and toxic waste or explosives might come to mind. But granular cargoes such as crushed ore and mineral sands are responsible for the loss of numerous ships every year. On average, ten "solid bulk cargo" carriers have been lost at sea each year for the last decade.

The first low-cost sensor that can accurately measure skin friction drag

Researchers at Surrey have developed the first low-cost sensor which can accurately measure skin friction drag, using off-the-shelf components.

Russian carmaker seeks niche in luxury market

A new state-owned Russian carmaker launched Wednesday a Soviet-influenced luxury vehicle it hopes will lure the domestic super rich away from brands such as Rolls-Royce.

Memory chip maker Micron announces $3B expansion in Manassas

One of the world's largest semiconductor companies is making a $3 billion investment in northern Virginia to expand its manufacturing facility and add 1,100 jobs.

Microsoft launches monthly Xbox subscription fee to buy new game consoles

Microsoft is launching a two-year Xbox subscription plan that lets gamers pay for a console and two online streaming services with one monthly fee, rather than buying hardware upfront.

Welcome to Codeverse, where kids learn to build games and hack light fixtures

Eight-year-old Cillian Rhodes was hosting a dance party.

Amazon Go opens second cashier-less convenience store

The bright orange wrapping is coming off the new Amazon Go store in downtown Seattle, the first expansion of the cashier-less convenience store that outside Amazon's corporate campus

Philly refiner plans $120M plant to convert food scraps to fuel for trucks and buses

Too much fatty, gassy food in your diet?

Tesla's next big thing: Could it be with Apple?

If Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk thought putting an end to his plan to take the electric-car maker private would calm down all the attention Tesla had received about its future, he should think again.

Study uses AI technology to begin to predict locations of aftershocks

In the weeks and months following a major earthquake, the surrounding area is often wracked by powerful aftershocks that can leave an already damaged community reeling and significantly hamper recovery efforts.

Texan says he's selling 3D-printed gun plans after ruling

The owner of a Texas company that makes untraceable 3D-printed guns said Tuesday that he has begun selling the blueprints through his website to anyone who wants to make one, after a federal court order barred him from posting the plans online. 

007 carmaker Aston Martin gears up for London stock market float

Aston Martin on Wednesday said it plans to float one quarter of the British company on the London stock market, as demand rises worldwide for the luxury brand's cars favoured by fictional spy James Bond.

China probes suspected customer data leak at Accor partner

Shanghai police said they were investigating a suspected data leak at NASDAQ-listed Chinese hotelier Huazhu Group, the local partner of France-based AccorHotels.

New Texas supercomputer to push the frontiers of science

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced today that it has awarded $60 million to the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin for the acquisition and deployment of a new supercomputer that will be the fastest at any U.S. university and among the most powerful in the world.

Ryanair's Laudamotion to double fleet next year

Ryanair's Laudamotion will double its Airbus fleet to 18 aircraft in the summer next year, the Austrian budget airline announced Wednesday.

Researchers enable real-time forensic analysis with new cybersecurity tool

As technology continues to evolve, cybersecurity threats do as well. To better safeguard digital information, a team of researchers at the US Department of Energy's (DOE's) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has developed Akatosh, a security analysis tool that works in conjunction with standard software to detect significant irregularities in computer networks.

Medicine & Health news

Scientists take big step toward finding non-addictive painkiller

With the support of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, scientists at Wake Forest School of Medicine have been working to find a safe, non-addictive pain killer to help fight the current opioid crisis in this country.

Ketamine's antidepressive effects tied to opioid system in brain, scientists say

Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered that ketamine works as an antidepressant at least in part by activating the brain's opioid system.

New way to break cancer's vicious cycle

University of Toronto researchers have uncovered why some cancers grow faster than others. The team led by Liliana Attisano, Professor in U of T's Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research, has identified a protein called NUAK2, which is produced by cancer cells to boost their proliferation and whose presence in tumours is associated with poor disease prognosis. Writing in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers show that blocking NUAK2 slows down cancer cell growth raising hopes that a drug could be developed to treat patients.

Cannabis extract helps reset brain function in psychosis

Research from King's College London has found that a single dose of the cannabis extract cannabidiol can help reduce brain function abnormalities seen in people with psychosis. Results from a new MRC-funded trial, published in JAMA Psychiatry, provide the first evidence of how cannabidiol acts in the brain to reduce psychotic symptoms.

Electronic device implanted in the brain could stop seizures

Researchers have successfully demonstrated how an electronic device implanted directly into the brain can detect, stop and even prevent epileptic seizures.

Researchers find first indicators of prognosis for the most aggressive breast cancer

Triple negative breast cancer is the rarest, but also the most aggressive and hard to treat form of the disease. Researchers have so far been unable to identify markers that can classify patients by prognosis or probability of responding to different treatments. A group from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) now reports a successful classification of triple breast cancer patients, which, for the first time, distinguishes those who can be cured from those who might suffer a relapse. It also identifies new pharmacological targets, and indicates that in patients with these targets, combined treatments with existing drugs could be effective. Their study is published in Nature Communications.

Gang population opens up to researchers for hepatitis study

Studying the liver health of a high-risk, hard-to-reach gang population certainly came with challenges and a few surprises, a University of Otago academic says.

A recipe for regenerating nerve fibers across complete spinal cord injury

Neuroscientists at UCLA, Harvard University and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology have identified a three-pronged treatment that triggers axons—the tiny fibers that link our nerve cells and enable them to communicate—to regrow after complete spinal cord injury in rodents. Not only did the axons grow through scars, they could also transmit signals across the damaged tissue.

Researchers discover network of cells that appears to play crucial role in experience

Researchers at the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Norway have discovered a network of brain cells that expresses our sense of time within experiences and memories.

Study shows new technology can predict fatal heart attacks

Researchers at the University of Oxford, working with colleagues in Erlangen, Germany and at the Cleveland Clinic, USA, have developed a new technology based on analysis of computed tomography (CT) coronary angiograms that can flag patients at risk of deadly heart attacks years before they occur.

More than just a DNA repair deficiency syndrome

Cockayne syndrome is a rare hereditary disease that can lead to dwarfism, neurological impairment, premature aging and a shortened life span. Skin symptoms include a striking sensitivity to UV rays and a dramatic loss of subcutaneous fat. Eighty percent of cases are caused by a mutation in the CSB gene. There is no curative treatment. The CSB protein is well known for its role in DNA repair, and Cockayne syndrome is therefore usually described as a DNA repair deficiency syndrome. This view, however, does not explain the diverse clinical phenotypes of the patients, and hence, the CSB protein most likely serves important biological functions beyond DNA repair.

Father's diet could affect the long-term health of his offspring

New research has shown that a lack of protein in a father's diet affects sperm quality which can have a direct impact on the long-term health of their offspring.

What's that smell? Scientists find a new way to understand odors

Every smell, from a rose to a smoky fire to a pungent fish, is composed of a mixture of odorant molecules that bind to protein receptors inside your nose. But scientists have struggled to understand exactly what makes each combination of odorant molecules smell the way it does or predict from its structure whether a molecule is pleasant, noxious or has no smell at all.

Exposure to arsenic, lead, copper and cadmium linked to increased risk of heart disease

Exposure to arsenic, lead, copper and cadmium is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease, finds a comprehensive analysis of the evidence published by The BMJ today.

Gum disease treatment may improve symptoms in cirrhosis patients

Routine oral care to treat gum disease (periodontitis) may play a role in reducing inflammation and toxins in the blood (endotoxemia) and improving cognitive function in people with liver cirrhosis. The study is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology—Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology.

Chemotherapy may lead to early menopause in young women with lung cancer

A new study suggests chemotherapy may cause acute amenorrhea leading to early menopause in women with lung cancer. The study is the first to comment on amenorrhea rates in women younger than 50, concluding that women with lung cancer who desire future fertility should be educated about risks and options before starting treatment. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Single-step nasal spray naloxone easiest to deliver according to new research

Single-step nasal spray naloxone is the easiest to deliver, according to new research led by faculty at Binghamton University, State University at New York.

Discovery could lead to higher immunotherapy response rates for bladder cancer patients

Mount Sinai researchers have discovered that a particular type of cell present in bladder cancer may be the reason why so many patients do not respond to the groundbreaking class of drugs known as PD-1 and PD-L1 immune checkpoint inhibitors, which enable the immune system to attack tumors.

Rapid heart imaging technique may cut costs, boost care in developing world

A newly developed rapid imaging protocol quickly and cheaply diagnosed heart ailments in patients in Peru, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Researchers identify new potential biotherapy for Alzheimer's disease

Researchers at the University of Florida have discovered that a modified version of an important immune cell protein could be used to treat Alzheimer's disease. The study, which will be published August 29 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, reveals that soluble versions of a protein called TLR5 can reduce the buildup of amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer's disease model mice and prevent the toxic peptide that forms these plaques from killing neurons.

Breast cancer surgery in frail elderly women linked to poor results

An analysis of more than a decade of U.S. nursing home data has shown that breast cancer surgery is associated with high rates of mortality and hospital readmission, along with loss of functional independence, for frail nursing home residents.

Switching to hunter-gatherer lifestyle may increase diversity in children's gut microbes

An international team of researchers has shown that immersing city dwellers in the traditional lifestyle and diet of a rainforest village for two weeks increases the diversity of the visiting children's—but not the adults'—gut microbiota. In a small pilot study published this week in mSphere, an open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, the team shows that the immersion visit did little to shift the adults' skin, oral, nasal and fecal microbiota.

UK regulator says ad for birth control app were misleading

Britain's advertising regulator says a birth control app's Facebook advertisement contained misleading claims that breached the country's advertising code.

Spinal muscular atrophy drug may be effective if started later than previously shown

A drug shown to be effective in the treatment of babies with the rare muscle-wasting disease spinal muscular atrophy may be effective for muscle control even when treatment is started in children seven months and older, according to a study published in the August 29, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Previous studies focused on children younger than seven months old.

Hospital rating tools should allow patients to customize rankings

Publicly available hospital ratings and rankings should be modified to allow quality measures to be prioritized according to the needs and preferences of individual patients, according to a new RAND Corporation analysis.

Study finds multiple sclerosis drug slows brain shrinkage

Results from a clinical trial of more than 250 participants with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) revealed that ibudilast was better than a placebo in slowing down brain shrinkage. The study also showed that the main side effects of ibudilast were gastrointestinal and headaches. The study was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health, and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Effects of deep brain stimulation in patients with Parkinson's disease

Researchers at Universitätsmedizin Berlin have studied motor and cognitive effects of deep brain stimulation in patients with Parkinson's disease. Their results show that the adverse cognitive effects of deep brain stimulation are linked to a different neural pathway than that responsible for the treatment's desired motor effects. This finding will help optimize treatments for patients with Parkinson's disease. Results from this research have been published in Brain.

Investigating treatment resistance in cancer

Melanoma and liver cancer are becoming more widespread in Europe and the U.S. While both diseases progress very differently, they are among the types of cancer most likely to be fatal in the Western world. Three groups of researchers from the Institute of Biochemistry at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) led by Prof. Dr. Anja Bosserhoff, Dr. Peter Dietrich and Prof. Dr. Claus Hellerbrand have jointly discovered a mechanism to steer the growth of the cancer cells in both types of cancer, a discovery that is highly significant for future treatment strategies.

I have painful periods, could it be endometriosis?

Nine in ten young women experience the cramping or stabbing of period pain just before their monthly bleed or as it starts.

Paramedic techniques used during cardiac arrest similarly effective, study shows

The two most widely used techniques used by paramedics to support a patient's breathing during cardiac arrest are similarly effective, a major new clinical trial has revealed.

Stem cells show promise as drug delivery tool for childhood brain cancer

The latest in a series of laboratory breakthroughs could lead to a more effective way to treat the most common brain cancer in children. Scientists from the University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, and the UNC School of Medicine reported results from early studies that demonstrate how cancer-hunting stem cells, developed from skin cells, can track down and deliver a drug to destroy medulloblastoma cells hiding after surgery.

Responding to cholera before it strikes

Research by University of Maryland microbiologist Rita Colwell is enabling a new British-led international aid effort to predict and stop potential epidemics of the disease cholera before they happen.

How hot yoga can make an athlete's heart more efficient

When the Canadian Olympic women's field hockey team was preparing for the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro, a team of researchers from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University had an idea. They wanted to determine if heat stress could enhance the athletes' performance by increasing the volume of plasma in their blood. In order to find out, they asked the athletes to undertake six days of hot yoga immediately before a six-day training camp.

Scientists take aim at illicit supply chain networks of fake medications

For many people in developing countries, the struggle for access to health care comes with a risk. Those patients can fall victim to falsified medications that fail to treat their conditions, with the potential to cause harm and, in some cases, death.

SMS reminders significantly increase addiction treatment session attendance, study finds

SMS reminders sent to patients booked in to addiction treatment sessions significantly increase attendance rates, University of Queensland research has found.

Eye disease can cause blindness, and it's on the rise

A new study into recent cases of ocular syphilis warns increasing numbers of people are at risk of permanent damage to their vision.

Childhood report reveals one in four 14-year-old girls self-harm

Nearly a quarter of girls aged 14 (22 percent) said they had self-harmed in the last year according to a new report by the University of York and The Children's Society.

Restless legs syndrome brain stimulation study supports motor cortex 'excitability' as a cause

Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say new experiments using magnetic pulse brain stimulation on people with moderate to severe restless legs syndrome (RLS) have added to evidence that the condition is due to excitability and hyperarousal in the part of the brain's motor cortex responsible for leg movement.

Random fraction of specialized immune cells leads the charge in battling invaders

Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are a rare type of immune cells that secrete large quantities of type 1 interferon (I-IFN), a key driver of immunity to infectious invaders and cancer. However, the mechanisms that control the I-IFN secretion are still poorly understood. Researchers from Eindhoven University of Technology and Radboud University Nijmegen have developed a groundbreaking, high-throughput lab device to speed up the research. Remarkably, they discovered that only a very small fraction of single pDCs produce I-IFN and is responsible for the onset of immunity. The results are published in Nature Communications this week.

Project explores how cannabis may affect men and women differently

Jessica usually smokes cannabis five days a week, mostly at the end of the day, often while reading. "Why do some people drink alcohol?" she said. "It's a way to come down after a hectic day. I treat it more like a beer with dinner."

Mental health issues and changes to energy levels top concerns among cancer patients

Cancer Research UK has released new YouGov data today which highlights the stark realities of cancer. The survey asked 1,015 UK adults that had ever been diagnosed with cancer at some point about the changes their body went through while undergoing treatment and how they coped with them.

Rural America suffering severe shortage of mental health professionals

Rural America has a severe shortage of qualified mental health professionals because agencies and governmental units are unable to pay competitive wages commonly offered in larger communities, says a new report from Ball State University presented at the Annual Society for Public Health Education Conference in April.

Religious participation may help women cope with miscarriage

Participating in organized religion may help women cope with miscarriages, says a new study from Ball State University.

Bodily sensations give rise to conscious feelings

Humans constantly experience an ever-changing stream of subjective feelings that is only interrupted during sleep and deep unconsciousness. Finnish researches show how the subjective feelings map into five major categories: positive emotions, negative emotions, cognitive functions, somatic states, and illnesses. All these feelings were imbued with strong bodily sensations.

Dectin-1-mediated pain is critical for the resolution of fungal inflammation

Candida albicans infection (candidiasis) can cause skin, genital, or oral pain. Many studies have attempted to understand the source of pain in candidiasis; none have provided a clear explanation, until now.

Diagnostic device can prevent strokes and heart attacks

A team of engineers and biochemists at ANU has invented and trialled a bio-optics diagnostic device that can reveal the formation of blood clots and help doctors to identify patients at imminent risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

Study shines light on cancer survival and a key gene mutation

University of Toronto researchers have shone light on a well-known but mysterious gene that plays a key role in the growth of cancer.

Bone health influenced by fetal life and early care

Physical exercise is known to make bones stronger but according to a new study, maternal health and its impact on the pace of a girl's development can also shape her adult bone strength—with implications for fracture risk later in life.

Tight-knit teammates may conform to each other's behavior

Good relationships between teammates are essential to a team's success, but athletes who feel more closely connected to their teammates may also be more likely to be swayed by their fellow players' behavior.

On the horizon: An acne vaccine

A new study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology reports important steps that have been taken towards the development of an acne vaccine. The investigators demonstrated for the first time that antibodies to a toxin secreted from bacteria in acne vulgaris can reduce inflammation in human acne lesions.

Male and female tennis players decline at same rate

The physical abilities of male and female tennis stars decline at the same rate as they age, new research shows.

Failing immune system 'brakes' help explain type 1 diabetes in mice

Immune reactions are usually a good thing—the body's way of eliminating harmful bacteria and other pathogens. But people also rely on molecular "brakes," or checkpoints, to keep immune systems from attacking their own cells and organs and causing so-called autoimmune disease. Now, working with mice, Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered that in the rodent form of type 1 diabetes, specific immune cells fail to respond to one of these checkpoint molecules, letting the immune system go into overdrive and attack insulin-producing cells.

Undescended testes in boyhood linked to testicular cancer and infertility in adulthood

Led by the University of Sydney researchers and published today in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, this is the first population-based cohort study to assess both adult fertility and cancer risk after surgical correction (orchidopexy) for undescended testes in early childhood. The procedure moves an undescended testicle into the scrotum and permanently fixes it there.

How to approach packing your child's school lunch bag

It's less likely a healthy lunch will be tossed in favour of vending machine chips if the kids—big and small—get to plan alongside their parents, says a University of Alberta nutrition expert.

Memory loss isn't just an old person's problem – here's how young people can stay mentally fit

When I give talks, I am often approached by people who are worried about their memory. Maybe they are studying for an exam and don't feel that they learn as well as their peers. Maybe they keep forgetting to close the window when they leave the house. Or maybe they struggle to remember an event that happened a few weeks ago but which everyone else can describe in vivid detail.

For the parents of gender-nonconforming kids, a new approach to care

Ari had a difficult time talking about his gender.

Breakthrough for difficult-to-treat breast cancer

Chemists at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) have discovered the use of a metal compound that inhibits the enzyme closely associated with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC), one of the most difficult forms of breast cancer to treat. The metal compound is found to inhibit the TNBC tumours with less toxicity in mice, thus their work has further unmasked the role of the enzyme, lysine-specific demythylase 5A (KDM5A), in TNBC. The reported compound shows tremendous potential for the development of drugs for TNBC therapy. The results of this study were published in the leading chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Medicine shortages are already a reality but a no-deal Brexit could make it worse

The uncertainty around Brexit and what impact it will have on the UK and the NHS seems to have the nation trapped in a state of limbo. Nobody appears to know if there will be a deal or what it will look like if the UK gets one. But how will Brexit affect the supply of medicines into the country? And is Britain stockpiling drugs, as some reports have suggested?

Key to lifelong good mental health – learn resilience in childhood

Poor mental health among young people is on the rise in the UK, while access to support and treatment remains patchy. There is now a pressing need to build resilience in young people to minimise their risk of poor mental health later on, as our latest report argues.

How brown adipose tissue reacts to a carbohydrate-rich meal

Brown fat consumes energy, which is the reason that it could be important for preventing obesity and diabetes. Working together with an international team, researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) were able to demonstrate that food also increases the thermogenesis of brown fat, and not just cold, as previously assumed.

Why synthetic marijuana is so risky

The Green, a gathering place in New Haven, Connecticut, near Yale University looked like a mass casualty zone, with 70 serious drug overdoses over a period spanning Aug. 15-16, 2018.

Teaching your kids online safety

(HealthDay)—Limiting online access used to be the main parenting strategy to protect kids from internet hazards like cyberbullying and sexual predators. But research suggests that teaching them how to avoid these risks in the first place is a smarter and safer approach.

Medical practices should address negative online reviews

(HealthDay)—Medical practice staff can effectively handle negative online reviews by staying calm and positive, looking for solutions, apologizing, and thanking the reviewers, according to an article published in Physicians Practice.

FDA warning letters target illegal online sales of opioids

(HealthDay)—Four more online networks that operate 21 websites illegally selling potentially dangerous, unapproved, and misbranded versions of opioid pain medications have been told to immediately stop their sales, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says. The order was made in warning letters sent to the networks.

Researcher links diplomats' mystery illness to radiofrequency/microwave radiation

Writing in advance of the September 15 issue of Neural Computation, Beatrice Golomb, MD, Ph.D., professor of medicine at University of California San Diego School of Medicine, says publicly reported symptoms and experiences of a "mystery illness" afflicting American and Canadian diplomats in Cuba and China strongly match known effects of pulsed radiofrequency/microwave electromagnetic (RF/MW) radiation.

NYC's tobacco-free pharmacy law substantially reduces retailer density, yet impact unequal

New York City's tobacco-free free pharmacy law substantially reduces tobacco retailer density overall, but the policy's impact is not evenly distributed across neighborhoods, according to a new study at Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health. On average, retailer density will decrease by nearly 7 percent, with several "Neighborhood Tabulation Areas" experiencing reductions greater than 15 percent after the policy takes full effect in 2019. Though NYC supplemented this approach by setting a cap on the total number of tobacco retailer licenses in each Community District, the impact of this companion law will occur gradually through attrition and may take years to manifest. The findings are published online in the journal Tobacco Control.

Study of rare cancer yields therapeutic clues to combat drug resistance

Stephen Elledge, Ph.D., and his team did not set out to find therapies that could render tumors less resistant to therapy or make existing drugs more potent against a rare form of cancer. But these are precisely the clinical insights that their most recent study has yielded.

Quality of life after spinal cord injury—What functional abilities have the greatest impact?

Independence in mobility is the single most important factor affecting quality of life in patients with traumatic spinal cord injury (TSCI), reports a study in the American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, the official journal of the Association of Academic Physiatrists.

Depressed children six times more likely to have skill deficits, study finds

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America reports that as many as 2 to 3 percent of children ages 6-12 might have major depressive disorder. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that children who show mild to severe symptoms of depression in second and third grades are six times more likely to have skill deficits, such as difficulties with social skills or academics, than children without symptoms. Parents and teachers also had difficulties recognizing depression in children.

Teen dating violence is down, but boys still report more violence than girls

When it comes to teen dating violence, boys are more likely to report being the victim of violence—being hit, slapped, or pushed—than girls. That's the surprising finding of new research from the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University.

Even a small amount of medical debt can trigger headaches

It doesn't take a huge unpaid medical bill to make a collection agency come calling ... and calling.

Obamacare enrollee numbers aren't falling: report

(HealthDay)—Health insurance coverage rates have held steady in the United States, despite continued commotion over the future of the Affordable Care Act, a new government report shows.

Soldiers' suicide attempts often come without prior mental health diagnosis

(HealthDay)—Many U.S. Army soldiers who attempt suicide have no prior diagnosis of a mental health issue, new research shows, and such histories may not be a good predictor of a soldier's suicide risk.

It takes more than a bribe to get some people to exercise

Getting people to exercise isn't as easy as dangling money in front of them like a carrot in front of a hungry horse. It turns out it's better to show them the money, and then threaten to take it away.

Marketplace premiums increase more with monopolist insurers

(HealthDay)—Affordable Care Act Marketplace premiums increase more in areas with monopolist insurers, according to a study published in the August issue of Health Affairs.

High-quality diet linked to lower mortality in cancer survivors

(HealthDay)—For cancer survivors, a high-quality diet is associated with a reduced risk of overall and cancer-specific mortality, according to a study recently published in JNCI: Cancer Spectrum.

CDC: greater awareness of valley fever needed nationally

(HealthDay)—Greater nationwide awareness of the fungal infection Valley fever (coccidioidomycosis) is needed, according to a report published in the August issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Emerging Infectious Diseases.

Positive link for BMI and blood pressure in chinese population

(HealthDay)—In a Chinese adult population (ages 35 to 80 years), there is a positive association between body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure (BP), according to a study published online Aug. 17 in JAMA Network Open.

State public health workforce grew from 2013 to 2017

(HealthDay)—The state health department epidemiology workforce increased 22 percent from 2013 to 2017, according to research published in the Aug. 24 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Chronic vaping exerts biological effects on lungs

(HealthDay)—Chronic vaping exerts biological effects on the lung, some of which may be mediated by the propylene glycol/vegetable glycerin (PG/VG) base, according to a study published in the July 1 issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

PT better after hip surgery than opioids in younger adults

(HealthDay)—Physical therapy management is associated with better outcomes for young patients undergoing arthroscopic hip surgery, compared to primary or exclusive opioid treatment, according to a study recently published in Physical Therapy.

Energy-hog hospitals: When they start thinking green, they see green

Hospitals are energy hogs.

Five signs of depression in teens

It's no secret that teenagers can be moody, but research shows that ongoing moodiness often is far more serious. Dr. Janna Gewirtz O'Brien, a Mayo Clinic pediatrician, says teen depression is much more common than most people realize.

Unlocking the secrets of cell division in cancer

Scientists at Hollings Cancer Center at the Medical University of South Carolina have found that some cells can divide without a molecule that was previously thought necessary. Their results, published online in the July 2018 issue of Genes and Development, explain how liver cells can regenerate after injury and may help us understand how cancer arises and how cancer cells evolve to have additional mutations, which accelerates growth and spread.

New test uncovers metabolic vulnerabilities in kidney cancer

In order to halt the growth of cancer cells, you have to know what feeds them. Researchers at the nationally recognized Kidney Cancer Program at UT Southwestern's Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center have developed a novel approach using glucose that may open up new opportunities for therapeutic intervention.

Speeding progress in migraine requires unraveling sex differences

To decrease the substantial health and economic burden of migraine on individuals and society, researchers need to examine and address how the disease differs between women and men, according to a report from the Society for Women's Health Research published in the August issue of the Journal of Women's Health.

A breath of fresh air for chronic lung disease sufferers in low-income countries

Effective prevention, diagnosis and treatment of chronic lung diseases in disadvantaged areas? An international team of scientists shows us how to do it.

Biology news

Ancient extinct cave bear DNA found in modern bears

An international team of researchers has found evidence of extinct cave bear DNA in modern bears. In their paper published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution, the group describes their genetic analysis of modern brown and polar bears and how they compared with extinct cave bears.

The more pesticides bees eat, the more they like them

Bumblebees acquire a taste for pesticide-laced food as they become more exposed to it, a behaviour showing possible symptoms of addiction.

Goats prefer happy people

Goats can differentiate between human facial expressions and prefer to interact with happy people, according to a new study led by scientists at Queen Mary University of London.

Tackling the great paradox of biodiversity with game theory

One of the main puzzles of ecology research has been to explain how hundreds, often thousands, of species coexist in environments with a very limited number of resources. Scientists in Lisbon, Portugal, have a promising answer to this conundrum, which could resolve a longstanding paradox and have important implications for preserving biodiversity, one of the more pressing challenges of our time.

Protect key habitats, not just wilderness, to preserve species

Some scientists have suggested we need to protect half of Earth's surface to preserve most of its species. A new Duke University-led study, however, cautions that it is the quality, not merely the quantity, of what we protect that matters.

Chinese team uses base editing to repair genetic disease in human embryo

A team of researchers in China has used a form of the CRISPR gene editing technique to repair a genetic defect in a viable human embryo. In their paper published in the journal Molecular Therapy, the group describes their work and how well it worked.

The incredible marathon of New Zealand Tawaki penguins

Each year in December, penguins with long blonde eyebrows swim away from the shores of New Zealand for a two-month marathon swim halfway to Antarctica and back.

Metabolic engineering of E. coli for the secretory production of free haem

Researchers of KAIST have defined a novel strategy for the secretory production of free haem using engineered Escherichia coli (E. coli) strains. They utilized the C5 pathway, the optimized downstream pathways, and the haem exporter to construct a recombinant micro-organism producing extracellular haem using fed-batch fermentation. This is the first report to extracellularly produce haem using engineered E. coli.

Parasites discovered in fossil fly pupae

Parasitic wasps existed as early as several million years ago. Within a project coordinated by Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), researchers of various disciplines have, for the first time, definitively discovered fossil parasites inside their hosts. The scientists studied fly pupae from old collections using ultrafast X-ray imaging. They found 55 cases of parasitation and described four extinct wasp species that were unknown until now. Their findings are reported in Nature Communications.

Global fisheries could still become more profitable despite global warming

Global commercial fish stocks could provide more food and profits in the future, despite warming seas, if adaptive management practices are implemented. Even so, yields for nearly half of the species analyzed are projected to fall below today's levels.

Breakthrough could see bacteria used as cell factories to produce biofuels

A new technique for manipulating small cell structures for use in a range of biotechnical applications including the production of biofuels and vaccines has been developed by a team of scientists led by the University of Kent.

Wild dolphins learn tricks from each other

Dolphins learn tricks from each other in the wild, new research shows.

Colour vision makes birds of prey successful hunters

In many cases it is the colour of the prey that helps predatory birds to detect, pursue and capture them. In a new study, biologists at Lund University in Sweden show that the Harris's hawk has the best colour vision of all animals investigated to date – and in certain situations, even better than humans. The findings may help to protect threatened birds of prey against hazards such as wind turbines and power lines.

Not so fast: From shrews to elephants, animal reflexes surprisingly slow

While speediness is a priority for any animal trying to escape a predator or avoid a fall, a new study by Simon Fraser University researchers suggests that even the fastest reflexes among all animals are remarkably slow.

Soy natural: Genetic resistance against aphids

A tiny pest can cause huge losses to soybean farmers.

A controversial comeback for a highly prized tuna

On a drizzling summer afternoon in South Portland, marine biologist Walt Golet is helping attach a quarter-ton Atlantic bluefin tuna to a heavy crane so it can be weighed as part of New England's premier tournament for the giant fish. And this year's derby is different than many in the past—there are far more tuna.

How does agriculture affect vulnerable insect-eating birds?

Aerial insectivores—birds that hunt for insect prey on the wing—are declining across North America as agricultural intensification leads to diminishing insect abundance and diversity in many areas. A new study from The Condor: Ornithological Applications looks at how Tree Swallows' diets are affected by agriculture and finds that while birds living in cropland can still find their preferred prey, they may be working harder to get it.

A better way to count boreal birds

Knowing approximately how many individuals of a certain species are out there is important for bird conservation efforts, but raw data from bird surveys tends to underestimate bird abundance. The researchers behind a new paper from The Condor: Ornithological Applications tested a new statistical method to adjust for this and confirmed several mathematical tweaks that can produce better population estimates for species of conservation concern.

New phase proposed in the relationship between figs and wasps

In an article published at journal Acta Oecologica, Brazilian biologist Luciano Palmieri Rocha has proposed a new phase of the development cycle of fig trees (Ficus carica) and their specific pollinators, fig wasps from the species Blastophaga psenes—one of the most studied examples of the evolution of mutualism.

Multiple facets of biodiversity reduce variability of grassland biomass production

A new study shows that in addition to species richness, plant evolutionary history plays a critical role in regulating year-to-year variation of biomass production in grasslands. In the face of climate change, understanding the causes of variability in key ecosystem services such as biomass production is essential. A team of researchers led by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), University of Göttingen, and Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F) has published the results in Nature Ecology and Evolution. They show that multiple factors, including biodiversity and climate, jointly reduce annual variation in grassland productivity.

An ocean apart, carnivorous pitcher plants create similar communities

After a six-hour ride over increasingly treacherous roads, it took a full day's hike up almost 3,000 feet for Leonora Bittleston to reach Nepenthes Camp in the Maliau Basin, an elevated conservation area in Malaysian Borneo with a rich, isolated rainforest ecosystem.

The climate risk of insect pests

ETH and Agroscope researchers are modelling where insect pests will strike next. This helps agriculture to stay ahead of potential invaders and plan protective measures.

How the forest copes with the summer heat

Between April and August this year, Switzerland and central Europe have experienced the driest summer season since 1864. The forest especially seems to suffer from this dry spell: As early as August, trees began to turn brown this year. A current study by the University of Basel indicates now that native forest trees can cope much better with the drought than previously expected. It is, however, too early to give the all-clear as a consistently warmer and dryer climate might still put our native forests at risk.

Pond water reveals tropical frogs

Globally, there are almost 7,000 species of frogs, the majority of which occur in the tropics. In order to systematically survey their distribution and detect population trends, experts until recently had to stake out the amphibians – a time-consuming and costly task. Senckenberg scientists now show that there may be a simpler way.

Could chardonnay and pinot gris benefit from sauv treatment?

New Zealand's Sauvignon blanc is famous the world over for its special tropical aromas but now Kiwi scientists believe they are on the verge of a breakthrough in recreating those special qualities in other wines including Chardonnay and Pinot gris.

Rapid change – a tale of two species

When thinking about the impact of environmental change on species, certain animals in far-off places tend to come to mind: the 'charismatic megafauna' – such as polar bears, orangutans, and penguins, for example – that are at risk due to factors such as habitat destruction or over-hunting by humans. And yet some species actually flourish in times of change.

Access to 3-D printing is changing the work in research labs

A small, black box developed in a McMaster University lab could change the way scientists search for new antibiotics.

Clearing a xenotransplantation hurdle—detecting infectious agents in pigs

A shortage of organs for transplantation—including kidneys and hearts—means that many patients die while still on waiting lists. So, research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and other sites has turned to pig organs as an alternative.

Researchers recommend new herbicide registration for weed control in watermelon crops

Research featured in the latest edition of the journal Weed Technology recommends that the herbicide bicyclopyrone, now used in corn, be registered for weed management in watermelon crops as well.

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