Thursday, December 20, 2018

Science X Newsletter Thursday, Dec 20

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Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new framework for vision-based aggressive driving

Amoeba finds approximate solutions to NP-hard problem in linear time

A lung-inspired design turns water into fuel

Chemists create new quasicrystal material from nanoparticle building blocks

Thermal energy storage: Material absorbs heat as it melts and releases it as it solidifies

Researchers find adding silicone oil enhances contracting force of self-zipping origami robots

Beyond the black hole singularity

Researchers make world's smallest tic-tac-toe game board with DNA

Warming warning over turtle feminization

Satellite study proves global quantum communication will be possible

The joy of giving lasts longer than the joy of getting

Chemical synthesis breakthrough holds promise for future antibiotics

Astronauts land from ISS stint marred by air leak, rocket failure

Nebraska virologists discover safer potential Zika vaccine

Parkinson's disease protein buys time for cell repair

Astronomy & Space news

Astronauts land from ISS stint marred by air leak, rocket failure

Three astronauts landed back on Earth on Thursday after a troubled stint on the ISS marred by an air leak and the failure of a rocket set to bring new crew members.

Sapphires and rubies in the sky

Researchers at the Universities of Zurich and Cambridge have discovered a new, exotic class of planets outside our solar system. These so-called super-Earths were formed at high temperatures close to their host star and contain high quantities of calcium, aluminium and their oxides—including sapphire and ruby.

InSight places first instrument on Mars

NASA's InSight lander has deployed its first instrument onto the surface of Mars, completing a major mission milestone. New images from the lander show the seismometer on the ground, its copper-colored covering faintly illuminated in the Martian dusk. It looks as if all is calm and all is bright for InSight, heading into the end of the year.

ALMA gives passing comet its close-up

As comet 46P/Wirtanen neared Earth on December 2, astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) took a remarkably close look the innermost regions of the comet's coma, the gaseous envelope around its nucleus.

Faint glow within galaxy clusters illuminates dark matter

A new look at Hubble images of galaxies could be a step toward illuminating the elusive nature of dark matter, the unobservable material that makes up the majority of the universe, according to a study published online today in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

NASA telescopes take a close look at the brightest comet of 2018

As the brilliant comet 46P/Wirtanen streaked across the sky, NASA telescopes caught it on camera from multiple angles.

Life on Mars: Will humans trash the planet like we have Earth?

Mountains of garbage, plastics that take thousands of years to disintegrate, oil spills in pristine environments from drilling into the soil or underneath the ocean: When we go to Mars, is it inevitable we'll repeat the same mistakes on Earth?

Self-driving rovers tested in Mars-like Morocco

Robots invaded the Sahara Desert for Europe's largest rover field test, taking place in a Mars-like part of Morocco. For two weeks three rovers and more than 40 engineers tested automated navigation systems at up to five different sites.

Cosmic ray telescope launches from Antarctica

The eye of the tiger is flying high above Antarctica once again.

Mile-wide, potentially hazardous asteroid 2003 SD220 to swoosh by Earth on Saturday

A potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA), designated 2003 SD220 (or 163899), is expected to fly by the Earth on Saturday, December 22, at around 1:04 UTC. The space rock, estimated to be about a mile wide (1.6 kilometers), will pass by our planet at a distance of approximately 7.34 lunar distances (LD), what corresponds to 1.75 million miles (2.81 million kilometers).

Comet hunters successfully observe Wirtanen with newly modernized instrument

Astronomers are being treated to an exciting view of Comet 46P/Wirtanen at W. M. Keck Observatory, with sharper-than-ever data images of this icy and rocky space visitor.

Experiment sends engineered plants to ISS

If humanity is going to push the boundaries of space exploration, we're going to need plants to come along for the ride. Not just spinach or potatoes, though—plants can do so much more than just feed us.

ESA's solar-powered giant one year on

ESA's 35-metre antenna in Australia has now been powered by the sun for over a year, cutting costs and reducing carbon emissions by 330 tonnes—equivalent to 1.9 million km driven by car.

Technology news

A new framework for vision-based aggressive driving

Researchers at the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines (IRIM) of the Georgia Institute of Technology have recently proposed a new framework for aggressive driving using only a monocular camera, IMU sensors and wheel speed sensors. Their approach, presented in a paper pre-published on arXiv, combines deep learning-based road detection, particle filters and model predictive control (MPC).

Researchers find adding silicone oil enhances contracting force of self-zipping origami robots

A trio of researchers at the University of Bristol has found that adding a drop of silicone oil to oppositely charged ribbons significantly enhanced their ability to perform as self-zipping origami robots. In their paper published in the journal Science Robotics, Majid Taghavi, Tim Helps and Jonathan Rossiter describe their experiments with the oil and ribbon and what they found.

Alta Devices scores new efficiency record for single junction solar cell

Two news items about Sunnyvale, California-based Alta Devices drew attention recently.

Growing bio-inspired shapes with hundreds of tiny robots

Hundreds of small robots can work in a team to create biology-inspired shapes without an underlying master plan, purely based on local communication and movement. To achieve this, researchers from EMBL, CRG and Bristol Robotics Laboratory introduced the biological principles of self-organisation to swarm robotics. The results have been published in Science Robotics.

RFID tag arrays track body movements, shape changes

Carnegie Mellon University researchers have found ways to track body movements and detect shape changes using arrays of RFID tags. RFID-embedded clothing thus could be used to control avatars in video games—much like in the movie "Ready Player One." Or embedded clothing could to tell you when you should sit up straight—much like your mother.

Micropores let oxygen and nutrients inside biofabricated tissues

Micropores in fabricated tissues such as bone and cartilage allow nutrient and oxygen diffusion into the core, and this novel approach may eventually allow lab-grown tissue to contain blood vessels, according to a team of Penn State researchers.

Translating the 'language of behavior' with artificially intelligent motion capture

You might have seen Hollywood stars in "motion capture" suits, acting in full-body costumes peppered with sensors that let a computer transform them into a Hulk or a dragon or an enchanted beast.

Network orchestration: Researcher uses music to manage networks

Orchestrating traffic is a crucial component of operating a data network. Modern networks may interconnect thousands of servers, storage units or switches that in turn run tasks like device booting and configuration, anomaly and intrusion detection, monitoring and diagnostics. These tasks must be managed to keep the network operating smoothly.

Building a sustainable future, one brick at a time

This is due to balanced 'electrochemical' reduction and oxidation processes occurring inside the brick at the two faces. As long as electrodes at these faces are at different temperatures, the electrochemical reactions occur and electricity is generated. The compounds inside are not consumed, do not run out and can never be overcharged. As long as there is a temperature difference there can be electricity. For example, if a house or shelter's outside wall is sunny and hot, but the interior shaded and cool, electricity can be produced by the wall.

Holiday chaos as drones shut London's Gatwick Airport

Drones spotted over the runway forced the shutdown of London's Gatwick Airport on Thursday during one of the busiest times of the year, stranding or delaying tens of thousands of Christmas-season travelers and setting off a hunt for the operator of the intruding aircraft.

Shares in SoftBank mobile unit rebound after earlier plunge

Shares in the mobile unit of Japanese technology giant SoftBank rebounded after steep early declines on a rollercoaster second trading day Thursday, after a bruising debut saw stocks close 14.5 percent lower.

Pinterest planning 2019 stock market debut: report

Popular online bulletin board Pinterest is getting ready for a stock market debut early next year at a valuation of $12 billion or more, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

100 years ago, airmail took flight

On December 25, 1918 a daring French industrialist launched the world's first ever airmail service, flying between the southwestern French city of Toulouse and Barcelona in northeastern Spain.

At Jesus's birthplace, an app is born to ease crowds

Bethlehem is buzzing, with more tourists expected this Christmas than have visited the Biblical city in years, causing the kind of problem that modern technology was almost born to deal with.

S. Korea cab drivers protest Uber-like ride share app

Tens of thousands of taxi drivers in South Korea went on a nationwide strike Thursday, snarling up traffic in Seoul, in the latest protest at a planned Uber-like ride-sharing service.

Then one foggy Christmas Eve, reindeer got connected

Rudolph and friends no longer need to rely on the famous reindeer's red nose to avoid getting lost. Now they have wireless technology.

France fines Uber 400,000 euros over huge data breach

France's data protection agency said Thursday that it had fined the US ride-hailing group Uber 400,000 euros ($460,000) over a 2016 data breach that exposed the personal data of some 57 million clients and drivers worldwide.

AT&T turns on its mobile 5G network on Dec. 21, starting with 12 cities and mobile hotspot

The mobile 5G race is officially at the starting block.

Improving crop yields while conserving resources

When it comes to the health of the planet, agriculture and food production play an enormous role. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, roughly 37 percent of land worldwide is used for agriculture and food production, and 11 percent of the Earth's land surface is used specifically for crop production. Finding ways to make agriculture more sustainable and efficient is crucial not only for the environment, but also for global food supply.

TSA airport security screening will get a lot more accurate just in time for some holiday travelers

Airport security is getting an upgrade. Soon, instead of stepping into cylindrical body scanners and staying perfectly still with hands overhead, travelers will be able to pass through an open-sided scanner that works much more quickly, NBC News reported Monday.

Why AI robot toys could be good for kids

A new generation of robot toys with personalities powered by artificial intelligence could give kids more than just a holiday plaything, according to a University of Alberta researcher.

Apple risks iPhone ban in Germany after court case loss

A German court on Thursday ruled in favour of US chipmaker Qualcomm in a patent dispute case against Apple, which could lead to a ban on sales of iPhones in Germany.

What can you do to protect your data on Facebook?

Facebook has shared users' private messages, contact information and other personal data with companies such as Microsoft and Spotify, according to a New York Times report that was alarming even in light of previous disclosures about the social network's practices.

Facebook: backlash threatens world's biggest platform

Facebook, the world's largest social network, faces a growing backlash over privacy and data protection, with revelations this week about sharing data with business partners adding to pressure.

Apples pulls iPhone 7, 8 from German stores in patent spat

Apple is pulling older models of its iPhone from German stores after losing two patent cases brought by chipmaker Qualcomm, the company said Thursday.

Facebook, Google to pay Washington $450,000 to settle lawsuits over political-ad transparency

Tech giants Facebook and Google will pay Washington state more than $450,000 to settle twin lawsuits filed by Attorney General Bob Ferguson accusing the companies of failure to abide by state laws on political advertising transparency.

Embattled Noble Group completes $3.5 bn overhaul

Embattled commodities trader Noble Group has completed a $3.5 billion restructuring, it said Thursday, as the firm seeks to draw a line under a long-running crisis that pushed it to the brink of bankruptcy.

Google misleads kids and parents about apps, complaint filed with FTC says

Accusing Google of misleading practices about kids' apps, nearly two dozen child- and consumer-advocacy groups on Wednesday asked the FTC to investigate the Android maker.

Uber resumes autonomous vehicle tests in Pittsburgh

Uber is resuming autonomous vehicle tests in an area near downtown Pittsburgh.

Drone used to smuggle drugs into Kuwait

Kuwaiti authorities have arrested a man who used a drone to smuggle in drugs from a neighbouring country, the anti-narcotics department said Thursday.

Technology helps new pilots better communicate with air traffic control, increase safety

Learning to speak a new language can be difficult in any setting. Now, imagine trying to learn the language of the sky as a new pilot, while also navigating the instrument panel and learning to fly the plane safely.

How is big data impacting sports analytics?

Sports in all its forms, from Major League Baseball to Fantasy Football is driven by and produces huge amounts of data, and advanced data mining and machine learning techniques are now having a major impact on sports data analytics. A fascinating collection of research and perspective articles on the design, development, and evaluation of methods and their use in sports analytics, both on the business side and in game strategy is published in a special issue of Big Data.

US indicts Chinese govt hackers over attacks in 12 countries

The US Justice Department on Thursday indicted two Chinese hackers tied to Beijing's security services who allegedly targeted companies and agencies in a dozen countries, which US officials said showed President Xi Jinping had not fulfilled his pledge to stop cybercrime.

Gadgets: Smart tags help you stay organized

If getting organized is on your New Year's resolution list, the Adero is what you need.

Dog kennel designed by Ford blocks fireworks, thunder noise

Ford Motor Co. has developed a prototype quiet kennel for dogs by using noise-cancellation technology created for high-end vehicles sold in Europe.

Medicine & Health news

The joy of giving lasts longer than the joy of getting

The happiness we feel after a particular event or activity diminishes each time we experience that event, a phenomenon known as hedonic adaptation. But giving to others may be the exception to this rule, according to research forthcoming in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Nebraska virologists discover safer potential Zika vaccine

University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers may have identified a vaccine that would defend against Zika virus without producing antibodies.

Parkinson's disease protein buys time for cell repair

Australian researchers have discovered how a protein linked to Parkinson's disease may protect cells such as neurons in the brain.

Molecule discovery holds promise for gene therapies for psoriasis

Scientists at the University of Birmingham have discovered a protein that could hold the key to novel gene therapies for skin problems including psoriasis—a common, chronic skin disease that affects over 100 million people worldwide.

Convincing evidence that type 2 diabetes is a cause of erectile dysfunction

Evidence that type 2 diabetes is a cause of erectile dysfunction has been found in a largescale genomic analysis.

Researchers discover new drug cocktail that increases human beta cell proliferation at rapid rates

Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have discovered a novel combination of two classes of drugs that induces the highest rate of proliferation ever observed in adult human beta cells—the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. The result is an important step toward a diabetes treatment that restores the body's ability to produce insulin.

Human mortality 'plateau' may be statistical error, not hint of immortality

Human error, not human biology, largely accounts for the apparent decline of mortality among the very old, according to a new report publishing on December 20 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Saul Newman of Australia National University in Canberra. The result casts doubt on the hypothesis that human longevity can be greatly extended beyond current limits.

Drugs of abuse: Identifying the addiction circuit

What happens in the brain of a compulsive drug user? What is the difference in brain function between an addict and a person who takes a drug in a controlled manner? In an attempt solve this puzzle, neurobiologists at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, have been looking at this difference in a rodent addiction model. They have discovered that the brain circuit connecting the decision-making region to the reward system is stronger in compulsive animals. The researchers also found that decreased activity of this circuit allowed compulsive mice to regain control, and that conversely, by stimulating the connection, a mouse that initially remained in control became addicted. The work is published in this week's edition of the journal Nature.

Game over for Zika? Researchers develop promising vaccine

Scientists at the KU Leuven Rega Institute in Belgium have developed a new vaccine against the Zika virus. This vaccine should prevent the virus from causing microcephaly and other serious conditions in unborn babies.

Why the sense of smell declines in old age

As mammals age, their sense of smell deteriorates. In a study published in the journal Cell Reports, an interdisciplinary research team at Helmholtz Zentrum München and the University Medical Centre Mainz investigated why this is the case. For their study, the researchers tracked the development of stem cells in the brains of mice using what are known as confetti reporters. They then analysed the complex data obtained using intelligent algorithms.

Sequencing gut microbes shows differences between IBD and IBS

A team of researchers with members from the Netherlands and the U.S. has found differences in the numbers of gut microbes for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine the group describes how they sequenced the genome of gut microbes in patients with bowel problems and what they found.

Genome offers clues to esophageal cancer disparity

A change in the genome of Caucasians could explain much-higher rates of the most common type of esophageal cancer in this population, a new study finds. It suggests a possible target for prevention strategies, which preliminary work suggests could involve flavonoids derived from cranberries.

Stem cell-derived neurons stop seizures and improve cognitive function

About 3.4 million Americans, or 1.2 percent of the population, have active epilepsy. Although the majority respond to medication, between 20 and 40 percent of patients with epilepsy continue to have seizures even after trying multiple anti-seizure drugs. Even when the drugs do work, people may develop cognitive and memory problems and depression, likely from the combination of the underlying seizure disorder and the drugs to treat it.

US adults aren't getting taller, but still putting on pounds

You don't need to hang the mistletoe higher but you might want to skip the holiday cookies.

Giving birth associated with 14 percent higher risk of heart disease and stroke

Giving birth is associated with a 14% higher risk of heart disease and stroke compared to having no children, reports a study1 published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Higher radiation dose needed to X-ray obese patients increases cancer risk

Extremely obese people are needing a far higher dose of radiation during X-ray examinations than people of normal weight, increasing their risk of cancer, new research has shown.

Police interactions linked to increased risk of client violence for female sex workers

The more abusive interactions street-based female sex workers (FSWs) have with police, the higher their risk of violence at the hands of clients, a new study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests. The findings suggest the need for interventions that address relationships between FSW and police to help alleviate negative impacts on FSW work environments, the authors say.

Scientists advise caution in immunotherapy research

In a new study, Yale Cancer Center (YCC) scientists suggest that as the number of clinical trials in cancer immunotherapy grows exponentially, some caution should be exercised as we continue to better understand the biology of these new therapeutic targets. The findings are published today in the journal Cell.

Study finds elevated risk of rare blood cancers after chemotherapy for most solid tumors

Findings from a new study by researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) show that patients treated with chemotherapy for most solid tumors during 2000-2014 experienced an increased risk of therapy-related myelodysplastic syndrome/acute myeloid leukemia (tMDS/AML). The study, which used U.S. population-based cancer registry data from NCI's Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program and treatment information from the SEER-Medicare database, was published December 20, 2018, in JAMA Oncology. NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Leprosy declines in Morocco after implementation of preventive drug

Since 2012, the number of cases of leprosy in Morocco has declined by more than 16 percent per year. That change can be attributed to the implementation, beginning in 2012, of single dose rifampicin as a preventive to spread leprosy through households, researchers report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases this week.

Peritoneal dialysis trials often do not assess priorities most important to patients

Patients on peritoneal dialysis and their caregivers give high priority to outcomes that are absent from the majority of clinical trials in peritoneal dialysis, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN). The findings point to the need to focus the selection of outcomes towards those that are important to patients on peritoneal dialysis and their caregivers to support decisions about their own health.

Screen time: How to handle your children's smartphone, tablet and video game addictions

Scream time. That's what I've taken to calling the drama that can come from enforcing screen time limits with my kids. And no, it's not just them doing the screaming.

Quicker, safer test could accurately detect some bowel cancers

Patients with suspected bowel cancer could be offered a quicker test to assess their cancer risk.

Starving, sprouts and strolls: How to step into Christmas healthily

You can offset some of the effects of Christmas overindulgence with a few easy steps – quite literally!

Cancer passing heart disease as leading cause of death

Heart disease has been the leading cause of death in the United States for more than a century, ever since the early 1900s when it displaced acute diseases for the distinction. Now a growing number of states are crowning a new leading cause of death: cancer.

Map of neuronal pathways of the mammalian cerebral cortex and their evolution

Using an in utero electroporation technique for ferrets, researchers at Kanazawa University investigated the axonal fibers in the developing cerebral cortex, where ferrets have two fiber layers; the inner axonal fiber layer projects contralaterally and subcortically, whereas the outer fiber layer sends axons to neighboring cortical areas. Furthermore, mice and ferrets were found to have unexpected similarities. The results shed light on the cellular origins, projection patterns, developmental processes, and evolution of fiber layers in mammalian brains.

Home alone: How to keep your kids safe when you're at work during the holidays

Many working parents battle with school holidays, especially the long period between Christmas and the start of the new school year. Most people receive four weeks' leave a year, but school holidays take up about 12 weeks of the year.

Hepatitis: Liver failure attributable to compromised blood supply

In severe cases, a viral hepatitis infection can result in liver failure. A team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now discovered that immune cells attack cells in the vascular system, which disrupts the liver's blood and nutrient supply. This is responsible for the overwhelming damage that causes the liver to fail. Using an animal model, the researchers were then able to identify an agent to prevent this lethal process.

Girl, look at that body: Can changing who we look at help our body image?

New research has found that instructing people to pay attention to large or thin bodies can influence their body image, and may provide hope for new treatments for people with body image problems.

High survival rate among children who have suffered from growth restriction

Almost all children with restricted growth live to see their 18th birthday as long as they survive their first month of infancy. This is indicated in a study by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, which is published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Two thousand human brains yield clues to how genes raise risk for mental illnesses

It's one thing to detect sites in the genome associated with mental disorders; it's quite another to discover the biological mechanisms by which these changes in DNA work in the human brain to boost risk. In their first concerted effort to tackle the latter, 15 collaborating research teams of the National Institutes of Health-funded PsychENCODE Consortium leveraged statistical power gained from a large sample of about 2000 postmortem human brains.

The global burden of dementia has doubled since 1990

The number of people living with dementia globally more than doubled between 1990 and 2016 from 20.2 million to 43.8 million, prompting researchers to call for more preventative action.

Molecule predicts patient's ability to survive melanoma

Doctors may be able to assess the survival rates of melanoma patients following the discovery of a molecule that allows the cancer to spread from the skin to other parts of the body.

Researcher investigating high suicide rates of Massachusetts correction officers

Massachusetts correction officers die by suicide at a alarmingly high rate, and the state Department of Correction is concerned. It's gotten to be such a big problem, it has drawn the attention of lawmakers, compelling the state legislature to form a commission to study the phenomenon.

Loss of taste? The problem's probably up your nose

When patients report losing their sense of taste, the problem is most likely due to a dysfunction in their sense of smell, according to research from Virginia Commonwealth University's Smell and Taste Disorders Center.

Helping those in recovery when they come home for the holidays

The holiday break—packed with celebrations, family, friends and travel—can be hard on many people. Those in recovery from addictive behaviors face particular pressure during the holidays.

Stress and trauma in earliest years linked to reduced hippocampal volume in adolescence

Stressful or traumatic experiences occurring in a child's earliest years—birth to age 5—have been linked to reduced hippocampal volume in adolescence, according to a new Vanderbilt University report published in Developmental Science.

A new way to cut the power of tumors

Instead of tackling tumors head-on, an international team of researchers from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc in Amsterdam has chosen to regulate their vascularization by intervening with cellular receptor that is overexpressed specifically in tumor blood vessels. By acting on the development of the blood vessels within the tumor, scientists hope to modulate vasculature and deliver the treatments extremely accurately, and even if necessary to cut nutrient supply to the tumor. These findings are published in the British Journal of Cancer.

Doctors should recommend healthy lifestyle modifications more often

Doctors give their patients advice about healthy lifestyle changes too rarely. A statistical analysis of U.S. health data conducted by MedUni Vienna researchers together with international partners has shown that people suffering from obesity, diabetes and other high-risk conditions are much too rarely encouraged to eat more healthily and to take more exercise. Much more emphasis should be placed on such medical advice, according to the researchers.

Experimental gene therapy triples lifespan of mice with severe mitochondrial disease

Researchers at the University of Helsinki and Folkhälsan Research Center have, together with their collaborators, demonstrated in a mouse model that the partial restoration of respiratory chain function in mitochondria, which serve as cellular power plants, may be sufficient to prevent all symptoms of a severe mitochondrial disorder.

Threat of 'nightmare bacteria' with resistance to last-resort antibiotic colistin

A team of researchers led by Osaka University examined the dissemination of colistin-resistant bacteria among residents of rural communities in Vietnam to find that the prevalence of colistin-resistant Escherichia coli (CR-E) in the intestines was extremely high, at about 70 percent. This Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a non-pathogenic bacterium, so the residents have no symptoms, but the detection of this type of E. coli in developed countries has been infrequently reported. It was revealed that the prevalence of colistin-resistant bacteria in residents in Vietnam was extremely high and that colistin-resistant bacteria, whose clinical impact is a great concern in hospital settings, were spread in local communities in the developing country faster than expected.

Testing for human microRNA in saliva could help prevent outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease in children

Small RNA molecules in saliva could be used to detect the virus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease, enabling early intervention to limit spread of the infection.

Coagulating protein thrombin may reduce the likelihood of bacterial wound infection leading to sepsis

The protein thrombin is vital for ensuring blood coagulates in a wound, but new research suggests small fragments of it, called thrombin-derived C-terminal peptides (TCPs), could also decrease the risk of sepsis in response to bacterial contamination.

A deeper understanding of chromosome capping could improve therapies for both cancer and aging

Switching off the enzyme that adds protective caps to chromosome ends could help fight many types of cancer, A*STAR researchers have shown. The team demonstrated the treatment's potential by using it to thwart tumor growth in mice.

Stress related responses regulate immune function

The immune system is composed of a wide range of different immune cells each with dedicated functions. Natural killer T cells form a specialized immune cell that protects against a variety of diseases such as cancer, autoimmunity, metabolic disease or certain infections such as Lyme disease. This is because of their ability to make very rapidly large amounts of cytokines, which act as major communicators between different cell types.

How the brain makes choices: The sinuous path from decision to action

Imagine you have just flicked a lighter. If you don't see the flame, you will naturally try a second time. If after the second attempt it does not strike a flame, you will repeat your action again and again until it does. Eventually, you'll see the flame and you'll know that your lighter works. But what if it doesn't? How long are you going to flick the lighter until you decide to give up?

Study finds GABA cells help fight alcoholism

Scientists of the Higher School of Economics, Indiana University, and École normale supérieure have clarified how alcohol influences the dopamine and inhibitory cells in the midbrain that are involved in the reward system and the formation of dependency on addictive drugs. The results of the study were published in the article "Dynamical ventral tegmental area circuit mechanisms of alcohol-dependent dopamine release."

Christmas versus kilojoules – how to focus more on celebration and less on the food

Christmas and the holidays are a time to relax and celebrate with family and friends. But the festive season can also be a time of unwanted weight gain that won't budge once the holidays are over.

Understanding positive youth development in sport through the voices of Indigenous youth

Self-confidence and cultural relevancy may be the biggest drivers of successful participation for Indigenous youth in sports.

Flu vaccinations as effective in active healthy elderly compared to the young

Scientists from A*STAR's Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) and clinicians from Singapore's National University Hospital (NUH) have found that when it comes to influenza vaccinations, healthy elderly individuals are able to mount immune responses that are quantitatively and qualitatively similar to young individuals. This was discovered through post-vaccination measurements of the levels of antibodies in their body fluids. The research findings also suggest that antibody responses in the elderly, induced by the influenza vaccinations, are not impaired by frailty levels of these elderly subjects.

Study reveals high obesity rates amongst immigrant children

A new study from The Australian National University (ANU) has uncovered some alarming trends when it comes to obesity rates amongst children of Australian immigrants.

Having a second child worsens parents' mental health

Children are a wonderful gift, bringing joy, laughter, and love. But, then there are the toys, the sleepless nights, the constant barrage of "why?" questions and the plethora of sticky handprints.

Scientists synthesize molecule capable of eliminating hepatitis C virus

A new compound that inhibits the replication of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in several stages of its lifecycle, and which is also capable of acting on bacteria, fungi and cancer cells, has been synthesized by researchers at São Paulo State University (UNESP) in Brazil.

Have your cake and lose weight, too

(HealthDay)—No one thinks of a piece of layer cake as a diet item. But it turns out that even conscientious label readers may overestimate the size of a single serving and underestimate the number of calories they're eating.

New law boosts fight against sickle cell disease

(HealthDay)—A sickle cell disease prevention and treatment program in the United States has been reauthorized to receive nearly $5 million each year over the next five years.

Q&A: There are new vaccine options to help protect against influenza

Dear Mayo Clinic: I've read that there will be new options for getting the flu vaccine this year, including one for people who have egg allergies. How are these new vaccines different, and how do I know which one to pick? How do researchers know they will be safe?

Performance enhancer: Sports compression stockings a winning advantage

A scientist from James Cook University in Australia has found sports compression stockings are so effective they might be considered performance enhancers for soccer players.

Age is more than just a number: Machine learning may predict if you're in for a healthy old age

Doctors have long observed that biological age and chronological age are not always one and the same. A 55-year-old may exhibit many signs of old age and have numerous age-related diseases, whereas an 80-year-old may be healthy and robust. While diet, physical activity and other factors play a role, there are many contributors as to why and how some people age better than others. Those contributors remain poorly understood.

Suboptimal, inconsistent treatment for anaphylaxis due to unknown cause

A new Canadian study, led by a team at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC), is shedding light on anaphylaxis due to an unknown trigger (AUT)—an unpredictable and potentially fatal allergic reaction, about which surprisingly little is known.

Why you shouldn't force the kids to hug Granny at Christmas

Granny, who lives interstate and whom the kids haven't seen since last year, is visiting for Christmas. She loves the kids and is eager to scoop them up and smother them with kisses. The young children, who only have a vague memory of who she is, are wary and would rather keep an eye on this strange woman for the next few hours before committing to any physical contact.

Four tips on how to manage holiday stressors with Dr. Angela Stowe

With the holidays quickly approaching, many are beginning to feel the inevitable stressors of the expected "cheerful" holiday season. Between hosting family, gift swaps with friends and the ongoing list of holiday parties, it can all become extremely overwhelming if not properly managed.

Youths' adverse childhood experiences and their weight status

Childhood overweight and obesity is a serious problem across the United States.

Drug development is no longer just for Big Pharma—researchers at Bio-X explain

I am a graduate student and resident in the field of neurosurgery and would like to share an unusual and very personal story of developing a drug. Developmental biologist Dr. Matthew Scott and I went from purely basic biological research in our lab at Stanford University to discovering a target for drug development to identifying a drug for a pediatric brain cancer called medulloblastoma to a clinical trial – all within five years and for just US$500,000, with the money raised through philanthropic donations.

Deadly Marburg virus found in Sierra Leone bats

Scientists have discovered Marburg virus in fruit bats in Sierra Leone. This is the first time the deadly virus has been found in West Africa. Five Egyptian rousette fruit bats tested positive for active Marburg virus infection. Scientists caught the bats separately in three health districts: Moyamba, Koinadugu and Kono.

Certain moral values may lead to more prejudice, discrimination

People who value following purity rules over caring for others are more likely to view gay and transgender people as less human, which leads to more prejudice and support for discriminatory public policies, according to a new study published by the American Psychological Association.

Improved stem cell approach could aid fight against Parkinson's

Scientists have taken a key step towards improving an emerging class of treatments for Parkinson's disease.

Scientists discover new brain changes in early Alzheimer's disease

Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have discovered new changes occurring in the human brain in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers used a multiomic approach to determine RNA, protein, and phosphorylation levels and carried out further neurobioinformatic analyses on them. The findings, drawing on data from a Finnish biobank of brain tissue samples, were published in Neurobiology of Disease.

Parkinson's disease experts devise a roadmap

A recently discovered protein, alpha-synuclein, has become one of the most attractive targets for developing new drugs with the potential to slow down or arrest the progression of Parkinson's disease (PD). Experts in the field of Parkinson's research have now proposed a roadmap for preclinical and clinical trials investigating compounds targeting alpha-synuclein. Their consensus white paper is published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease.

Test detects protein associated with Alzheimer's and CTE

An ultrasensitive test has been developed that detects a corrupted protein associated with Alzheimer's disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma. This advance could lead to early diagnosis of these conditions and open new research into how they originate, according to National Institutes of Health scientists and their colleagues. In their new study, published in Acta Neuropathologica, the researchers explain how they adapted a diagnostic test originally developed for prion diseases to detect abnormal clusters of tau protein. Like other proteins involved in neurological diseases, tau protein clusters can seed themselves and contribute substantially to the disease processes of Alzheimer's and CTE. The study involved brain samples from 16 Alzheimer's patients, two boxers with CTE, and numerous control cases involving other brain diseases.

Memory and cognition problems affect recovery in rehabilitation facilities

After a hospital stay, many older adults will be discharged to a skilled nursing facility to recover. The goal of this type of short-term nursing care is to help patients regain their ability to function and perform their daily activities to the best of their ability so they can return home, if possible.

New research shows how a fatty diet can lead to life-threatening liver disease

A new study by Keck School of Medicine of USC researchers shows there's yet another reason to avoid a high fat, high cholesterol diet: It can trigger changes in the immune system that lead to a serious form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

Team examines impact of diet intervention on autoimmunity in mice

Could a change in diet be beneficial to people with autoimmune diseases such as lupus? A Yale-led team of researchers have revealed how a dietary intervention can help prevent the development of this autoimmune disease in susceptible mice. The study was published in Cell Host & Microbe.

Pay-it-forward model increases STD testing among gay men in China

Chinese gay men who were offered a free screening for gonorrhea and chlamydia and then asked to donate to the testing of another man were 48 percent more likely to get tested than men who were offered the standard of care. Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's UNC Project-China site said their findings prove this pay-it-forward model could be used to expand other infectious diseases screening, like HIV testing, among gay men in China. Their results were published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Researchers identify genes associated with polycystic ovary syndrome

Irregular periods, often with weight gain, or just irregular periods and infertility," said Corrine Welt, M.D., interim chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at University of Utah Health and one of the senior authors on the study. "These results drive home the point that regardless of symptoms for diagnosing PCOS the genetic underpinnings are exactly the same."

Bidi smoking costs India annual INR 805.5 billion in ill health and early death

Bidi smoking cost India 805.5 billion rupees in ill health and early deaths in 2017 alone, finds research published in the journal Tobacco Control.

Even non-concussion head hits affect young football players' vision

(HealthDay)—New research on 12 high school football players tracked for a season found that repeat head impacts affected the boys' vision—even if those hits didn't result in concussion.

Restrictive, obstructive lung disease linked to dementia risk

(HealthDay)—Both restrictive and obstructive lung disease are associated with an increased risk for incident dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

ADA 2019 standards of care emphasize patient-centered care

(HealthDay)—Patient-centered care is emphasized in updated clinical practice recommendations from the American Diabetes Association 2019 Standards of Care, published as a supplement to the January issue of Diabetes Care.

Pembrolizumab promising for metastatic head, neck SCC

(HealthDay)—For patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, pembrolizumab has a favorable safety profile and is associated with prolongation of overall survival, according to a study published online Nov. 30 in The Lancet.

Overlapping orthopedic surgery noninferior for patient safety

(HealthDay)—Overlapping inpatient orthopedic surgery is noninferior to nonoverlapping surgery with respect to perioperative complications, according to a study published in the Nov. 21 issue of The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.

Urine drug testing may be important in early phases of addiction treatment

A new study performed by Boston Medical Center (BMC) and faculty at the Boston University School of Medicine shows that urine drug testing can be a useful tool to treat patients with opioid use disorder in a primary care setting. The analysis revealed that patients are less likely to disclose drug use earlier in treatment, and although the study was not able to identify reasons for this, the authors believe that it may be related to fear of discharge from a treatment program and stigma related to relapse. Published in Drug and Alcohol Dependence, the study indicates the need to develop interventions for patients who have positive urine drug tests in order to keep them engaged in care.

New pathways for implementing universal suicide risk screening in healthcare settings

A new report, authored in part by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, provides guidance on how to implement universal suicide risk screening of youth in medical settings. The report describes a way for hospitals to address the rising suicide rate in a way that is flexible and mindful of limited resources.

Q&A: Sleep-friendly routines may help child fall asleep more easily

Dear Mayo Clinic: My 12-year-old son goes to bed each night around 10 p.m. but usually cannot fall asleep until 1 or 2 in the morning. Is this normal for a "tween," or should I talk to his doctor? What are some things that could cause insomnia in someone his age?

Hold the fries! How calorie content makes you rethink food choices

Seeing pictures of food with calorie information not only makes food less appetizing but it also appears to change the way your brain responds to the food, according to a Dartmouth-led study published in PLOS ONE. When food images appeared with the calorie content, the brain showed decreased activation of the reward system and increased activation in the control system. In other words, foods that you might otherwise be inclined to eat became less desirable once the calorie content was displayed.

Scientists uncover how protein clumps damage cells in Parkinson's

Biologists studying Parkinson's disease have long hoped to solve the mystery of the telltale "clumps." Scientists want to know how clumps of misfolded proteins damage brain cells and contribute to the disease.

Stem cell shots linked to bacterial infection outbreak

Health officials on Thursday reported an outbreak of bacterial infections in people who got injections of stems cells derived from umbilical cord blood.

Lipid raft components offer potential cholesterol-lowering drug target

Approximately 1 in every 4 deaths in the United States is caused by heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hypercholesterolemia, or high cholesterol, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. However, cholesterol is also an essential component of cell membranes.

Time to biochemical failure could be used as surrogate endpoint in treatment: LA prostate cancer

An analysis of the NRG Oncology clinical trial NRG-RTOG 9202 showed that the interval of time to biochemical failure (IBF), or the time it takes for previously treated cancer to return as indicated by prostate specific antigen (PSA) rise, could be used as a surrogate endpoint for locally advanced prostate cancer. Previously, surrogate endpoints based on PSA, which are alternate endpoints that could determine the effectiveness of a treatment earlier than traditional clinical endpoints, have been tested and evaluated with radiotherapy and short-term androgen deprivation. However, surrogate endpoints for long-term androgen deprivation, a proven therapy in high-risk, localized cancers, have not been investigated. The results of this analysis are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Studies examine pediatric services in US emergency departments

Three papers from research teams led by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) physician examine the current readiness of U.S. emergency departments (EDs) to care for children and describe an initiative that led to the appointment of a Pediatric Emergency Care Coordinator (PECC) - a step considered the single best intervention to improve pediatric emergency care—in all Massachusetts EDs. The three reports appear in the December issue of Academic Emergency Medicine.

Team develops new eye tests that could help patients and reduce burden on NHS

Researchers from Queen's University Belfast, in collaboration with the University of Bristol, are leading a cutting-edge project, named the "MONARCH" study, that could benefit eye disease patients whilst saving both time and money within the NHS.

Congo: Ebola outbreak 'certainly' to last 3-4 months more

The second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history is "certainly" expected to continue for another three or four months, Congo's health minister said Thursday.

Biology news

Warming warning over turtle feminization

Up to 93% of green turtle hatchlings could be female by 2100, as climate change causes "feminisation" of the species, new research suggests.

Gut-brain connection signals worms to alter behavior while eating

When a hungry worm encounters a rich food source, it immediately slows down so it can devour the feast. Once the worm is full, or the food runs out, it will begin roaming again.

Genetic study reveals how citrus became the Med's favorite squeeze

Genetic detective work has illuminated the important role of Jewish culture in the widespread adoption of citrus fruit by early Mediterranean societies.

Himalayan marmot genome offers clues to life at extremely high altitudes

Himalayan marmots can survive at altitudes up to 5,000 meters in the Himalayan regions of India, Nepal, and Pakistan and on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau of China, where many of them face extreme cold, little oxygen, and few other resources. Now, researchers have sequenced the first complete Himalayan marmot genome, which may help them to better explain how the marmots live in such extremes.

A molecular hammock for cotranslational modification

Proteins do most of the real work in cells and are modified in accordance with functional requirements. An LMU team has now shown how proteins are chemically altered on the ribosome, even before they fold into the active conformations.

Selfish genes can act as both makers, breakers of species

A selfish streak in genes known to drive species apart might occasionally bring them closer together, says a new study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Rochester.

Novel imaging technique brings diagnostic potential into operating room

A team of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers led by Bioengineering Professor Stephen Boppart has successfully visualized the tumor microenvironment of human breast tissue shortly after it was surgically removed from a patient in the operating room. The researchers achieved this using a new portable optical imaging system developed in Boppart's lab.

For gait transitions, stability often trumps energy savings

A dog's gait, according to the American Kennel Club, is "the pattern of footsteps at various rates of speed, each distinguished by a particular rhythm and footfall." When dogs trot, for example, the right front leg and the left hind leg move together. This is an intermediate gait, faster than walking but slower than running.

Elegant trick improves single-cell RNA sequencing

Droplet microfluidics has revolutionized single-cell RNA sequencing, offering a low-cost, high-throughput method for single-cell genomics. However, this method has been limited in its ability to capture complete RNA transcription information.

Cell-by-cell DNA science is 'Breakthrough of 2018'

The US journal Science on Thursday coined as "Breakthrough of the Year" for 2018 new technologies that reveal how DNA cues individual cells to grow through time.

Smiling at danger, China's finless porpoise fights to survive

In an oxbow lake along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, a breathy sigh pierces the surface stillness as one of China's most endangered animals comes up for a gulp of hazy air.

The 160K Natural Organism Library houses a wealth of novel compounds for biological research

A library based at A*STAR containing more than 160,000 biological specimens is a treasure trove of biologically active compounds for wide ranging applications.

Study shows how plants evolve for faster growth

Scientists at the University of Sheffield have taken a step forward in understanding how evolution has changed the photosynthesis process in wild plants to help them grow more rapidly.

Researchers discover the initial stages of the folding mechanism of membrane proteins

An international team including the University of Valencia has proven that the folding of membrane proteins begins before they are inserted into biological membranes, a fact that has been central to biochemical research for decades. The study, published in Nature Communications, was coordinated by Ismael Mingarro, professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Bacteria rely on classic business model

The pneumonia-causing pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa has developed a twin-track strategy to colonize its host. It generates two cell types—motile spreaders and virulent stickers. Researchers at the University of Basel's Biozentrum have now elucidated how the germ attaches to tissue within seconds and consecutively spreads just like a business model: settling—growing—expanding. The study has been published in Cell Host & Microbe.

Genome published of the small hive beetle, a major honey bee parasite

Beekeepers and researchers will welcome the unveiling of the small hive beetle's genome by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists and their colleagues. The small hive beetle (SHB) is a major parasite problem of honey bees for which there are few effective treatments.

Annual, biological rhythms govern milk production in dairy cows

The amount and composition of milk produced by dairy cows appears to be more regulated by internal, annual biological rhythms than by environmental factors such as heat and humidity, according to Penn State researchers who studied more than a decade of production records from herds across the country.

From a plant sugar to toxic hydrogen sulfide

In a doctoral research project conducted at the Department of Biology, researchers have described the degradation of the dietary sugar sulfoquinovose by anaerobic bacteria to toxic hydrogen sulfide for the first time—increased production of hydrogen sulfide in the human intestinal system has been associated with inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer.

Australian study into how seals react to boats prompts new ecotourism regulations

Unable to differentiate between a predator and a tourist boat carrying humans curious to view a colony of seals while resting in their natural habitat, pinnipeds are quick to react defensively as soon as they sense what they perceive as a potential life threat. The closer the vessel approaches, the more likely it is for the animals to rush into the sea in an attempt to escape and the greater the risk of injury and even death in the event of a stampede, or predation once they are in the water. In fact, just the act of remaining alert comes at potentially high energetic costs for the animals.

The Miami blue was fluttering toward extinction. Then the scientists showed up

One crisp, sunny afternoon this month, grad student Sarah Steele Cabrera headed down a sandy path at Long Key State Park carrying two nylon bug containers.

Cancer's metabolism subject of trailblazing study

No matter what form cancer takes in the body, it starts at the cellular level and grows via metabolism run amok.

Japan considers leaving IWC to resume commercial whale hunts

Japan is considering leaving the International Whaling Commission to resume commercial hunts, the Fisheries Agency said Thursday, after unsuccessfully campaigning for decades within the organization to gain support for the cause.

Better understanding of dog body language could make interactions safer

A better understanding of the way dogs communicate distress could be the first step in reducing the risk of dog bites for both children and adults, a new study has found.

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