Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Dec 18

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 18, 2018:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new reconfiguration strategy for modular robots inspired by origami folding

How much are we learning? Natural selection is science's best critic

New AI system mimics how humans visualize and identify objects

New bright high-redshift quasar discovered using VISTA

Sugar targets gut microbe linked to lean and healthy people

Scientists develop a new method to revolutionize graphene printed electronics

Mysteries of the primrose unraveled

Picky dolphins are choosy about their friends

Rare relic is one of only three fossil clouds known in the universe

Salmon may lose the ability to smell danger as carbon emissions rise

Removing sweets from checkouts linked to dramatic fall in unhealthy snack purchases

Scientists develop method to visualize a genetic mutation

Serious loneliness spans the adult lifespan but there is a silver lining

A new model of ice friction helps scientists understand how glaciers flow

Research finds opioids may help chronic pain, a little

Astronomy & Space news

New bright high-redshift quasar discovered using VISTA

Using the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), astronomers have detected a new bright quasar at a redshift of about 6.8. The newly identified quasar, designated VHS J0411-0907, is the brightest object in the near-infrared J-band among the known quasars at redshift higher than 6.7. The finding is reported in a paper published December 6 on arXiv.org.

Rare relic is one of only three fossil clouds known in the universe

A relic cloud of gas, orphaned after the Big Bang, has been discovered in the distant universe by astronomers using the world's most powerful optical telescope, the W. M. Keck Observatory on Maunakea, Hawaii.

Mystery of coronae around supermassive black holes deepens

Researchers from RIKEN and JAXA have used observations from the ALMA radio observatory located in northern Chile and managed by an international consortium including the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) to measure, for the first time, the strength of magnetic fields near two supermassive black holes at the centers of an important type of active galaxies. Surprisingly, the strengths of the magnetic fields do not appear sufficient to power the "coronae," clouds of superheated plasma that are observed around the black holes at the centers of those galaxies.

NASA's 1st flight to moon, Apollo 8, marks 50th anniversary

Fifty years ago on Christmas Eve, a tumultuous year of assassinations, riots and war drew to a close in heroic and hopeful fashion with the three Apollo 8 astronauts reading from the Book of Genesis on live TV as they orbited the moon.

InSight engineers have made a Martian rock garden

NASA's InSight lander is due to set its first science instrument on Mars in the coming days. But engineers here on Earth already saw it happen—last week.

ESA paves way for new space transport services

Imagine moving satellites to higher orbits, collecting space debris, and dedicated launches for small satellites. These are the winning entries of ESA's call for ideas on new commercial space transportation services.

Image: 115 years of flight

For most of human history, we mere mortals have dreamt of taking to the skies—from the myth of Icarus, to kites in China, to the development of hydrogen-filled balloons in the 8th century, to early experiments with gliders in the 19th. Then, 115 years ago on on December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright achieved what many thought impossible—flight by a powered heavier-than-air aircraft.

MuSCAT2 to find Earth-like planets in the TESS era

A Japan-Spain team has developed a powerful 4-color simultaneous camera named MuSCAT2 for the 1.52-m Telescopio Carlos Sánchez at the Teide Observatory, Canaries, Spain. The instrument aims to find a large number of transiting exoplanets, including Earth-like habitable planets orbiting stars near the sun, in collaboration with NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched in April 2018.

New Horizons spacecraft takes the inside course to Ultima Thule

With no apparent hazards in its way, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has been given a "go" to stay on its optimal path to Ultima Thule as it speeds closer to a Jan. 1 flyby of the Kuiper Belt object a billion miles beyond Pluto – the farthest planetary flyby in history.

The Saturn Nebula reveals its complexity

A planetary nebula is the corpse that remains when a star dies. When planetary nebulae were observed for the first time with a telescope, they presented a roughly circular shape, resembling that of the gas giant planets. Hence their name, which remains in use even though they are very different from planets. The article published recently by Astronomy & Astrophysics is the first detailed study of a galactic planetary nebula with the MUSE integral field spectrograph on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). This work has revealed unexpected complexity in the gas and dust expelled by a giant red star at the end of its life. The distribution of temperatures and densities within the nebula challenges current techniques to unravel the history of the formation processes and demonstrates the potential of the MUSE instrument to revise research concerning planetary nebulae.

Launch of next generation GPS satellite postponed for 1 day

The launch of a new GPS satellite was postponed for one day Tuesday because of an unspecified problem with the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will put the satellite in orbit.

Gaming with Galileo: New Android smartphone apps published

Use Europe's satellite navigation system to seek treasure in virtual mazes or 'see' Galileos as they cross the sky above you: two new Android smartphone apps based on Galileo are now available for general download, the results of a competition by ESA trainees.

Trump orders US military to create 'Space Command'

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday ordered the creation of "Space Command," a new organizational structure within the Pentagon that will have overall control of military space operations.

Pence misses launch but treated to new SpaceX crew capsule

Vice President Mike Pence missed seeing a SpaceX rocket soar Tuesday. But he still got to view the company's new crew capsule, designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station as soon as next year.

Technology news

A new reconfiguration strategy for modular robots inspired by origami folding

Researchers at the Reconfigurable Robotics Lab (RRL) of École Polytechnique Fédèrale de Lausanne (EPFL) have recently developed a new approach for the reconfiguration of modular robots that is inspired by the art of origami. This method, outlined in a paper published in Sage's International Journal of Robotics Research, eliminates connectivity changes during a system's transformation.

New AI system mimics how humans visualize and identify objects

UCLA and Stanford University engineers have demonstrated a computer system that can discover and identify the real-world objects it "sees" based on the same method of visual learning that humans use.

Machine learning to develop safer batteries

Electronics are essential to everyday life. What would our lives be like without our cell phones or computers? From toys to laundry machines to electric cars, electronics continue to populate our daily routines. Many of these electronics are powered by high energy density lithium-ion batteries. But two factors in these batteries can lead to dangerous consequences.

Artificial intelligence for better computer graphics

At the TU Wien (Vienna), neural networks have been developed which make it much easier to create photorealistic pictures of a wide variety of materials.

Technique allows integration of single-crystal hybrid perovskites into electronics

An international team of researchers has developed a technique that, for the first time, allows single-crystal hybrid perovskite materials to be integrated into electronics. Because these perovskites can be synthesized at low temperatures, the advance opens the door to new research into flexible electronics and potentially reduced manufacturing costs for electronic devices.

Understanding dynamic stall at high speeds

When a bird in flight lands, it performs a rapid pitch-up maneuver during the perching process to keep from overshooting the branch or telephone wire. In aerodynamics, that action produces a complex phenomenon known as dynamic stall. Although many fixed-wing aircraft can withstand similar rapid pitch-up maneuvers, a vehicle subject to this dynamic stall process is not reliably controllable. Motivated by the lack of detailed understanding, University of Illinois researchers took a deep dive into the physics of dynamic stall so that it can be used beneficially and reliably by aircraft.

Silicon Valley East: Google plans $1B expansion in New York

Silicon Valley is becoming Silicon Nation.

Sprint, T-Mobile merger gets first green light

The proposed $26-billion merger between wireless operators T-Mobile and Sprint in the US won approval Monday from regulators that vet such deals for national security concerns.

Huawei defends global ambitions amid Western security fears

Huawei defended its global ambitions and network security on Tuesday in the face of Western fears that the Chinese telecom giant could serve as a Trojan horse for Beijing's security apparatus.

Drone delivers vaccines in key Vanuatu trial

A one-month-old on a remote island in the Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu became the first child to be immunised in a commercial trial of drone-delivered vaccines, the UN children's fund UNICEF said Tuesday.

Algorithms take the wheel

Car sharing with autonomous vehicles could improve cities in many ways. Singapore is taking a pioneering role, working with ETH researchers to explore the potential of personalised, electrified and automated public transport.

New guidelines for responding to cyber attacks don't go far enough

Debates about cyber security in Australia over the past few weeks have largely centred around the passing of the government's controversial Assistance and Access bill. But while government access to encrypted messages is an important subject, protecting Australia from threat could depend more on the task of developing a solid and robust cyber security response plan.

Have we reached Peak Car?

General Motors has announced it's shuttering five production facilities and killing six vehicle platforms by the end of 2019 as it reallocates resources towards self-driving technologies and electric vehicles.

Globally, new solar power plants added almost 35% to new power generating capacity in 2017

For the 8th year now, solar power attracted the largest share of new investments in renewable energies, according to the new JRC PV status report 2018. The EUR140billion investments in solar energy globally accounted for almost 60 percent of all new renewable energy investments.

Elon Musk to unveil underground tunnel, transport cars

Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk is set to unveil an underground transportation tunnel on Tuesday that could move people faster than subways.

Huawei calls on US, others to show proof of security risk

The chairman of Huawei challenged the United States and other governments to provide evidence for claims the Chinese tech giant is a security risk as the company launched a public relations effort Tuesday to defuse fears that threaten its role in next-generation communications.

Smart charging keeps power grid from overloading

Smart charging electric cars with a dynamic price mechanism may play an important part to help keep the power grid from overloading. For her PDEng at Twente University, Marieke van Amstel from ElaadNL and Enexis Netbeheer designed a model to render power demand and supply more flexible. This will eliminate the biggest risk of overloading the power grid. Grid operators must be able to intervene if necessary and have cars charge more slowly in case of an overload risk.

Advanced digital networks look a lot like the human nervous system

Parents have experienced how newborns grab their finger and hold tight. This almost instantaneous response is one of the sweetest involuntary movements that babies exhibit. The newborn's nerves sense a touch, process the information and react without having to send a signal to the brain. Though in people this ability fades very early in life, the system that enables it offers a useful example for digital networks connecting sensors, processors and machinery to translate information into action.

Solution to determine emotions of people in group photographs

The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. But what if you can't tell what the picture shows? From awkward family photos to class photographs, sometimes it's tricky to tell what the people in the pictures are thinking.

Upwind wind plants can reduce flow to downwind neighbors

New National Science Foundation and Department of Energy-funded research highlights a previously unexplored consequence of the global proliferation of wind energy facilities: a wake effect from upwind facilities that can reduce the energy production of their downwind neighbors.

Dream of augmented humans endures, despite sceptics

Brain implants, longer lives, genetically modified humans: for the prophets of transhumanism—the scientifically assisted evolution of humans beyond our current limitations—it is just a matter of time.

Grocery delivery, with no humans drivers, is underway

Deliveries from an Arizona grocery store will soon be arriving with no one behind the wheel.

Elon Musk's SpaceX set to raise $500 mn: report

Elon Musk's rocket company SpaceX plans to raise $500 million to help launch its satellite internet service, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

Automakers denounce 'unrealistic' EU emissions targets

German and other European automakers warned Tuesday that EU plans to slash carbon dioxide emissions from new cars and vans by 2030 are "totally unrealistic" without a network to recharge electric cars and more effort to retrain workers.

Wastewater treatment plants can become sustainable biorefineries

In the future, wastewater treatment plants can have a broader function by being converted into biorefineries.

Medicine & Health news

Sugar targets gut microbe linked to lean and healthy people

Sugar can silence a key protein required for colonization by a gut bacterium associated with lean and healthy individuals, according to a new Yale study published the week of Dec. 17 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Removing sweets from checkouts linked to dramatic fall in unhealthy snack purchases

Policies aimed at removing sweets and crisps from checkouts could lead to a dramatic reduction to the amount of unhealthy food purchased to eat 'on the go' and a significant reduction in that purchased to take home, suggests new research led by the University of Cambridge.

Serious loneliness spans the adult lifespan but there is a silver lining

In recent years, public health officials have warned about a rising epidemic of loneliness, with rates of loneliness reportedly doubling over the past 50 years. In a new study, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine put a specific, concerning and surprising face to the issue.

Research finds opioids may help chronic pain, a little

Use of opioids for patients with chronic, non-cancer pain may help, but not a lot.

What prevents remyelination? New stem cell research reveals a critical culprit

New research on remyelination, the spontaneous regeneration of the brain's fatty insulator that keeps neurons communicating, could lead to a novel approach to developing treatments for multiple sclerosis (MS) and other inflammatory diseases.

Two ways cancer resists treatment are actually connected, with one activating the other

Drugs that target BRAF and MEK in cancer have shown promise in treating a subset of melanoma that carries a mutation in the BRAF gene, but drug resistance usually emerges, reversing the benefit of these drugs and limiting the survival of patients. Research has shown tumors have two common ways of resisting this approach. Until now, those resistance mechanisms were thought to be separate, but a new study from the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania is the first to show they're actually connected by a newly-identified process called ER translocation—where the first mechanism leads to a chain reaction that activates the second. Further, since drugs already exist that can block some of the steps of ER translocation, this finding potentially opens the door for new approaches to overcome resistance to treatment. Researchers published their findings in Cancer Discovery today.

A versatile vaccine that can protect mice from emerging tick-borne viruses

A group of researchers led by Michael Diamond of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a vaccine that is effective in mice against Powassan virus, an emerging tick-borne virus that can cause life-threatening encephalitis in humans. They also show that the vaccine produces antibodies that can protect the mice against other, related tick-transmitted flaviviruses. Their findings appear December 18 in the journal Cell Reports.

Junk food diet raises depression risk, researchers find

A diet of fast food, cakes and processed meat increases your risk of depression, according to researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Get a warrant: Researchers demand better DNA protections

New laws are required to control access to medical genetic data by law enforcement agencies, an analysis by University of Queensland researchers has found.

Metal chemotherapy drugs boost the impact of immunotherapy in cancer

Due to their powerful tumour-killing effect, metal-based chemotherapies are frequently used in cancer treatment. However, it was hitherto assumed that they damaged the immune system, because of their cytotoxic (cell-damaging) effect even against dividing healthy cells. In a scientific review produced by the Translational Cancer Therapy Research cluster, established by the University of Vienna and MedUni Vienna, it has now been demonstrated that the opposite is true: metal-based chemotherapies can even boost the immune response against cancer and hence strengthen immunotherapies, because they render the cancer cells visible and eliminate inhibitory components of the immune system, amongst other things. The article appeared in Chemical Reviews.

Gene variant found in brain complicit in MS onset

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease affecting the function of the central nervous system. Up to now, most of the 230 genetic variants associated with the disease have been linked to changes in immune cells. However, Yale scientists now report that genetic risk variants can also affect the function of brain cells, which then become complicit in triggering the potentially disabling disease.

How cholera bacteria make people so sick

The enormous adaptability of the cholera bacterium explains why it is able to claim so many victims. Professor Ariane Briegel from the Leiden Institute of Biology has now discovered that this adaptability is due to rapid sensory changes in the bacterium. Her research has been published in PNAS.

Female biology – two X chromosomes and ovaries – extends life and protects mice from aging

Around the world, women outlive men. This is true in sickness and in health, in war and in peace, even during severe epidemics and famine. In most animal species, females live longer than males.

To understand life expectancy fall, start in West Virginia

If you want to understand why U.S. life expectancy is declining, West Virginia is a good place to start.

'No place for a mother': S. Korea battles to raise birth rate

When Ashley Park started her marketing job at a Seoul drugmaker she had a near-perfect college record, flawless English, and got on well with her colleagues—none of which mattered to her employer once she fell pregnant.

Inclusive primary care improves people's health, study finds

Respectful, inclusive practices in primary care clinics can significantly improve the health of low-income, marginalized people who may have previously experienced trauma or discrimination, a new study from the University of British Columbia and Western University has found.

Children of problem drinkers more likely to marry someone with a drinking problem: study

Children of parents who have alcohol use disorder are more likely to get married under the age of 25, less likely to get married later in life, and more likely to marry a person who has alcohol use disorder themselves, according to a new study by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University and Lund University in Sweden.

Split liver transplants could safely help sickest children

In a review of registry data for more than 5,300 liver transplants performed in children nationwide, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers identify the type of patient who is most likely to survive a split liver transplant—receiving only part of a donor's liver—with no additional long-term health risks, which could allow for an increase in the availability of organs. A report on the new study is published in the December issue of the journal Liver Transplantation.

Your postal code may influence your health: study

Where you live in Canada may play a role in your risk of major diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer.

MRI effective for monitoring liver fat in obese patients

MRI provides a safe, noninvasive way to monitor liver fat levels in people who undergo weight loss treatments for obesity, according to a new study published in the journal Radiology.

Convincing Chinese smokers to kick the habit—by text

Among smokers receiving a 12-week-long mobile phone-based intervention encouraging them to quit, up to 6.5% of participants stopped smoking by the end of the study, according to a research article published this week in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Jinsong Tang of the Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University in China, and colleagues. As noted by the authors, the so-called "Happy Quit" intervention could have far greater reach and higher feasibility than in-person treatments, so it has great potential to improve population health and should be considered for large-scale use in China.

Internet-based interventions can help reduce problem drinking

Internet-based interventions may be effective in curbing various patterns of adult problem drinking in both community and health care settings, according to a study published December 18 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Heleen Riper of VU University in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues. As noted by the authors, their large-scale meta-analysis of trial data suggests that Internet-based interventions for adult problem drinking (iAIs) could serve as a first step toward changing problem-drinking behaviors and seeking more intensive treatment if needed.

Mindfulness training may help support weight loss

Mindfulness training may improve the effectiveness of intensive weight management programs, according to a small study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Study examines effects of taking ondansetron during first trimester of pregnancy

Ondansetron (Zofran) is commonly and increasingly prescribed during pregnancy to relieve nausea. In 2014, an estimated 22 percent of pregnant women in the U.S. had used the drug at some point during their pregnancy. Despite its prevalence, data on the safety of the drug and any effects on the developing fetus have been limited, with small-scale studies producing conflicting results. A new study conducted by investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital has analyzed data from more than 88,000 pregnancies in which pregnant women had taken ondansetron during the first trimester to examine risk of cardiac malformations or oral clefts. In a paper published online in JAMA, the team reports no increased risk of cardiac malformations and a very small increased risk of oral clefts.

You might be able to spot a psychopath by their eyes

The eyes of psychopaths have an unusual reaction when they are shown images of nasty things, such as mutilated bodies and threatening dogs, reveals a new study by researchers at Cardiff and Swansea Universities.

Weight change in middle-aged and elderly Singaporean Chinese linked to increased mortality risk

Both moderate-to-large weight gain and weight loss, defined as a change of 10% or more in weight, among middle-aged and elderly Chinese Singaporeans are linked to increased risk of death, particularly from cardiovascular disease, and between them, weight loss was associated with higher risk than weight gain. Furthermore, excessive weight loss increased risk among participants who were overweight or obese to start with, and excessive weight gain might increase risk even among participants with low or normal body mass index at baseline.

Are Fitbits the answer to nurse fatigue?

Activity trackers might lead to better outcomes for hospital patients—when nurses wear them.

Fentanyl unknowingly taken by illicit drugs users in England, new study finds

A small but significant minority of people who use illicit opioids such as heroin may unknowingly be using a powerful and potentially harmful synthetic opioid that has been linked to a number of deaths.

Wound care revolution: Put away your rulers and reach for your phone

Monitoring a wound is critical, especially in diabetic patients, whose lack of sensation due to nerve damage can lead to infection of a lesion and, ultimately, amputation. Clinicians and healthcare professionals at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and other hospitals believe that the use of a new app, Swift Skin and Wound, which accurately measures and charts the progression of skin wounds, could potentially have a significant impact on clinical management and patient outcomes.

Clues to chronic fatigue syndrome in overactive immune response

New research from King's College London finds that an exaggerated immune response can trigger long-lasting fatigue, potentially explaining how chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) begins. The study is the most in-depth biological investigation yet into the role of the immune system in lasting symptoms of fatigue.

Gut microbiota linked to obesity and mental disorders

The MyNewGut project has discovered new bacterial species and strains in healthy people that seem to be effective against obesity, metabolic and mental disorders related to stress and obesity (e.g. depression). They do so by influencing the endocrine and immune pathways that have an impact on both our physical and mental health.

New approach to bowel cancer analysis could lead to better prognosis for patients

Bowel (colorectal) cancer is the third most commonly occurring cancer in men and the second most commonly occurring cancer in women worldwide. The global burden is expected to increase by 60 per cent to more than 2.2 million new cases and 1.1 million deaths by 2030.

Patient power sets top research priorities for lichen sclerosus

People with a distressing skin condition have had their say in which aspects of the disease should be prioritised in future medical research.

It can wait: Apps aim to stop deadly phone use

Is the temptation to use your phone and drive simply too much for most people?

Communication between neural networks

The brain is organized into a super-network of specialized networks of nerve cells. For such a brain architecture to function, these specialized networks – each located in a different brain area – need to be able to communicate with each other. But which conditions are required for communication to take place, and which control mechanisms work? Researchers at the Bernstein Center Freiburg and colleagues in Spain and Sweden are proposing a new model that combines three seemingly different explanatory models. Their conclusions have now been published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience.

Conform to the social norm: Why people follow what other people do

Why do people tend to do what others do, prefer what others prefer, and choose what others choose?

Neurons migrate in the nascent brain as if on rails

Researchers examined the brain development of mouse embryos. They concentrated on a pool of neuronal precursor cells that develops in the hindbrain about ten days after fertilization. These mature into nerve cells and then migrate to other regions in the developing hindbrain. Similar complex cell migrations also occur in humans during early brain development. "However, there is still little understanding of how the whole process works," explains Prof. Dr. Sandra Blaess from the Institute of Reconstructive Neurobiology at the University of Bonn.

New genetic testing technology enhances precision of analysis of clinical biomarkers

Estonian scientists have announced the invention of a genetic testing technology to analyse the number of clinical biomarkers at the single-molecule level, which enhances the sensitivity of tests in precision medicine and will make them more affordable in future. The TAC-seq method, for which a patent is pending, is already being used in fertility clinics to determine the personal variations in the menstrual cycle for opportune embryo transfer.

Scientists discover mechanisms behind neonatal diabetes

Insulin is secreted from the beta cells located in the pancreas, and the hormone is crucial for the maintenance of normal blood sugar levels. Deficiency of insulin leads to diabetes, characterized by elevated blood sugar. Diabetes most commonly presents in childhood as type 1 diabetes and in adults as type 2 diabetes.

Diffusible guidance molecule that divides the brain

Boundaries between different regions of the brain are essential for the brain to function. Research to date has shown that molecular machinery located at the cell membrane, such as cell adhesion molecules, are responsible for regulating the boundary formation. Specifically, Slit and Netrin are diffusible guidance molecules that regulate the attraction and/or repulsion of the cells. Cells that receive Slit or Netrin are repelled from its source. However, it is also known that some cells are attracted to Netrin. Makoto Sato at Kanazawa University and colleagues report in iScience that these diffusible molecules are essential for the boundary formation in fly brains.

Quantitative assessment of the blood coagulation cascade

Thrombosis is a harmful activation of the clotting process that prevents bleeding in healthy people. Thrombosis is associated with the occurrence of strokes, ischemic heart disease, and other blood vessel-related diseases. Pathological enhancement of the clotting cascade causes thrombosis, and activated factor X (FXa) plays a pivotal role in this process. Researchers have sought to quantitatively determine the activity of FXa during medical treatment for thrombosis, but few methods have been both successful and easy to use, until now.

The science of saying goodbye to Santa

Dear Parent,

How a single faulty gene can lead to lupus

A research team at the Academy of Immunology and Microbiology, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) & Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea has discovered the role of a key gene involved in the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) or lupus for short. In the December issue of Immunity, the scientists reported that defects in Ets1 gene in both mice and humans are linked to some of the characteristic SLE immunity abnormalities, and found a potential therapeutic candidate.

Legalizing once-illicit substances can have a public health impact

Since California's decision to allow for legal medicinal marijuana in 1996, a number of American states have followed its lead and taken a decidedly different tack in their approach to the market for cannabis.

We're not as Grinchy as we think: How gift-giving is inspired by beliefs-based altruism

'Tis the season for gift-giving and for the scrooges among us to complain about the wastefulness of gift-giving. Why give gifts, they say, when people know what they want better than anyone else? Others grudgingly admit that, since gift-giving is customary, they will go along with it to avoid being a contrarian.

Why naming all our mosquitoes is important for fighting disease

Notorious for spreading diseases like malaria and Zika virus overseas, mosquitoes contribute to thousands of cases of human disease in Australia each year. But only half of Australia's approximately 400 different species of mosquitoes have been scientifically named and described. So how are scientists able to tell the unnamed species apart?

Cancer survival is on the rise, but return to work rates are not keeping up

It is just over a month since I received my diagnosis of oesophageal cancer. I've had better days, I admit. After spending a significant part of my career looking at how to help working people living with chronic conditions such as schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis and musculoskeletal disorders, I'm now faced with the immediate challenges of treatment, succumbing to occasional rage, caring for loved ones and wondering what remains of my own working life and career.

Chronic fatigue syndrome: new evidence of biological causes

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) affects up to 24m people, globally, but little is known about its causes. Our latest study unravels some of this mystery. The results suggest that an overactive immune system may trigger this long-term condition.

Biologists identify promising drug for ALS treatment

A drug typically used to treat hepatitis could slow the progression of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, according to new research by University of Alberta scientists.

Grief dreams can provide comfort and healing during holidays

The holidays are generally a time for good cheer. But for some families, an empty chair at the dinner table is a sad reminder of the loss of a loved one.

Holiday hacks for your diet

Around 80% of diets fail within two years. Here's how you can beat the odds.

Researchers identify ways breast cancer avoids immune system detection

Recent breakthroughs in immunotherapy are making a huge difference in treating some forms of cancer, especially metastatic cancer. But breast cancer has proven a tricky foe for this new therapy, and an interdisciplinary team of FSU researchers is now a little bit closer to figuring out why.

Brain health not affected by major heart surgery

Patients who undergo heart surgery do not experience major memory changes—either better or worse—when compared with those who have a much less invasive, catheter-based procedure, according to a study published online today in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

The problem with using psychoanalysis on children

Children with problems or problem children? That is the question often asked by parents and teachers alike. If a child is naughty in school, are they a "bad" child or are they facing mental ill health?

You can probably eat more Christmas cookies than you think—just take a look at the calorie guidelines

It's that time of year when cookies, cakes, candy and treats show up at work, home and every place in between.

Reducing energy costs and social isolation important for older adults in extreme weather

The cost of heating and cooling the home, and increasing social isolation are significant factors in health risk of older adults during extreme weather, according to a new study by the University of Warwick.

Editorial: Stop allowing beliefs to get in the way of treating opioid use disorder

There is a breadth of academic research demonstrating that there are three medications that successfully treat opioid use disorder (OUD): methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. However, patients face unnecessary barriers to evidence-based treatment from government regulations as well as providers' own beliefs that are not grounded in science, researchers from the Grayken Center for Addiction at Boston Medical Center (BMC) said in an Annals of Internal Medicine editorial.

Study of traditional medicine finds high use in Sub-Saharan Africa despite modern medicine

Researchers who have undertaken the first systematic review of into the use of traditional, complementary and alternative medicines (TCAM) in Sub-Saharan Africa found its use is significant and not just because of a lack of resources or access to "conventional medicine".

Researchers make important breakthrough in pulmonary fibrosis

A team of investigators led by members of the University of Colorado School of Medicine faculty at CU Anschutz Medical Campus has identified a connection between mucus in the small airways and pulmonary fibrosis.

Vaccine, checkpoint drugs combination shows promise for pancreatic cancers

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center discovered a combination of a cancer vaccine with two checkpoint drugs reduced pancreatic cancer tumors in mice, demonstrating a possible pathway for treatment of people with pancreatic cancers whose response to standard immunotherapy is poor.

HPV discovery raises hope for new cervical cancer treatments

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have made a discovery about human papillomavirus (HPV) that could lead to new treatments for cervical cancer and other cancers caused by the virus.

Majority of people with severe mental ill health would like to be more physically active, new research suggests

Taking part in regular physical activity is linked to a more positive outlook on general health in people with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to a new report.

Research into mental health first aid in the workplace prompts new guidance

Concerns about how businesses use employees to support colleagues with mental health issues, highlighted by University of Nottingham research, have prompted new guidance for bosses.

Morning lark or night owl? How our body clocks affect our mental and physical performance

Whether you're a morning person or love burning the midnight oil, we're all controlled by so-called "body clocks." These body clocks (which regulate your circadian rhythms) are inside almost every cell in the body and control when we feel awake and tired during a 24-hour period. But as it turns out, our latest study found that our body clocks have a much bigger impact on us than we previously realised. In fact, our body clocks actually effect how well a person performs on both mental and physical tasks.

Nearly one in five Tibetan refugee schoolchildren has tuberculosis infection, study finds

In a tuberculosis screening and treatment initiative covering the entire population of Tibetan refugee schoolchildren in northern India, a team directed by researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine and the University of Wisconsin says it has found not only a startlingly high prevalence of TB disease and infection, but also a potentially workable strategy to eliminate the disease in a large, high-risk group.

Widespread, occasional use of antibiotics in US linked with resistance

The increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance in the U.S. appears more closely linked with their occasional use by many people than by their repeated use among smaller numbers of people, according to a large new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

US surgeon general warns of teen risks from e-cigarettes

The government's top doctor is taking aim at the best-selling electronic cigarette brand in the U.S., urging swift action to prevent Juul and similar vaping brands from addicting millions of teenagers.

'We've been forgotten': Brazil's Zika generation

When doctors told her that the six-month-old fetus she was carrying had severe brain damage caused by the Zika virus, Thamires Ferreira da Silva tried to commit suicide by jumping in front of a bus in Rio de Janeiro.

Looking 'outside the tumor' to detect lung cancer

Scientists in Anant Madabhushi's computational imaging lab at Case Western Reserve University have started thinking outside the box—or in their case, looking outside the tumor.

Experts identify 'tipping point' in tree disease outbreaks

New models which can predict the critical point at which plant pests and diseases shift from being a localised problem to a major outbreak could help us in our fight to save the world's woodlands.

Gut microbiome regulates the intestinal immune system, researchers find

Scientist have long known that bacteria in the intestines, also known as the microbiome, perform a variety of useful functions for their hosts, such as breaking down dietary fiber in the digestive process and making vitamins K and B7.

Study suggests shifts in Afghan attitudes towards increased education and delayed marriage

In Afghanistan's most underdeveloped regions, attitudes towards education and child marriage appear to have changed significantly since the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2002, according to a study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

With a focus on high-risk patients, SLU researcher eyes eliminating TB for good

In a recent paper published in PLOS One, Soumya Chatterjee, M.D., assistant professor of infectious diseases, allergy and immunology at Saint Louis University, presents data to show that a focus on high-risk tuberculosis patients may be the answer to stalled progress in stamping out the illness in the United States.

Prostate cancer scoring method may underestimate mortality risk in black men

Black men diagnosed with prostate cancer classified as low risk may actually have a more-aggressive form of the disease that is more likely to be fatal than in nonblack men placed in the same prognostic category, a new study suggests.

New insight on inflammatory regulation could inform future pain drug development

A novel way in which the inflammatory response to pain is regulated has been described in the open-access journal eLife.

Today's children reach bone maturity earlier, study reveals

Children born in the most recent century have bones that reach full maturity earlier—by nearly 10 months in girls and nearly seven months in boys—according to a new study from the University of Missouri School of Medicine.

Heart failure takes heavy toll, even for those with stronger hearts

(HealthDay)—Having a stronger heart after being hospitalized for heart failure may not translate into a better outcome, new research suggests.

Genetic changes tied to rare brain bleeds in babies

(HealthDay)—Researchers say they've identified genetic mutations linked with a blood vessel defect that can lead to deadly brain bleeds in babies.

Should pacemakers, defibrillators be recycled—and reused in others?

Reuse and recycle. Americans employ the concept on nearly everything. Now, medical researchers are working hard to apply it to pacemakers and defibrillators.

Take it outside! The benefits of exercising outdoors

(HealthDay)—If you've ever come home from a brisk walk feeling reinvigorated, you're not alone. Research shows that this is just one of many benefits of exercising outdoors.

Protein portions: Feeling satisfied on fewer calories

(HealthDay)—Eating protein every day is important for good health. While it can come from animal and/or plant sources, the amount of protein we need is rather small—just 5 to 7 "ounce equivalents," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Chest CT can ID respiratory AE risk in RA patients on biologics

(HealthDay)—Chest computed tomography (CT) findings may identify risk factors for respiratory adverse events (RAEs) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients undergoing long-term biological therapy, according to a study recently published in the International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases.

EHR data ID differences in HTN control across health systems

(HealthDay)—An analysis of electronic health record data reveals considerable differences in hypertension control across health systems, according to a study published in the November-December issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Exclusion of doctors from public health insurance up 2007 to 2017

(HealthDay)—From 2007 to 2017, the number of physicians excluded from Medicare and state public insurance programs increased, according to a study published online Dec. 14 in JAMA Network Open.

Appropriate use criteria released for peripheral artery intervention

(HealthDay)—Appropriate use criteria have been developed for peripheral artery intervention (PAI) in peripheral artery disease, according to a report published online Dec. 17 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Psychosocial factors key in peds care for special-needs kids

(HealthDay)—Pediatric providers need to be aware of the impact of psychosocial factors on the health and wellness of children and youth with special health care needs and their families, according to a clinical report published online Dec. 17 in Pediatrics.

Palliative care in MS inpatients rises from 2005 to 2014

(HealthDay)—From 2005 to 2014, trends in palliative care use increased substantially among multiple sclerosis (MS) inpatients, according to a study published in the December issue of the Journal of Clinical Neuroscience.

Routine supplements to prevent chronic disease not advised

(HealthDay)—Routine use of vitamin and mineral supplements to prevent chronic disease is not recommended, according to an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position paper published in the November issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Exercise may be as effective as prescribed drugs to lower high blood pressure

Exercise may be as effective as prescribed drugs to lower high (140 mm Hg) blood pressure, suggests a pooled analysis of the available data, in what is thought to be the first study of its kind, and published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

New study on cognitive archaeology and tactile responses to the lithic industry

The Paleoneurobiology group of the Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana (CENIEH), led by Emiliano Bruner, has just published, in collaboration with the Museo de la Evolución Humana (MEH) in Burgos and the company Sociograph from Valladolid, a new paper on cognitive archaeology in which the hand-tool relationship is studied, analyzing the geometry of the tools, the grasp of the hand, and the electrical responses of the skin (electrodermography).

High negative pressure limits dispersion of airborne contaminants in hospitals and renovation sites

Maintaining a high negative pressure in airborne infection isolation rooms of hospitals (over -10 Pa) and in renovation sites (over -5 Pa) effectively limits the dispersion of airborne contaminants and dust, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows.

Scientists find molecular 'switch' for allergic asthma treatment

A team of Russian scientists has identified the role of the interleukin-6 molecule in the development of allergic asthma. It may comprise a new target for the treatment of this disease. The results are published in Frontiers in Immunology.

Research is saving lives in the Ebola outbreaks in DRC

Protecting the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo from Ebola takes a chain of responders from all over the world. With one outbreak earlier this year over, and a second ongoing, research has been at the heart of the response.

ECDC: Influenza vaccination coverage rates insufficient across EU member states

None of the European Union (EU) Member States could demonstrate that they reach the EU target of 75% influenza vaccination coverage for vulnerable groups, according to a new report from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). Influenza vaccination coverage remains low in many countries, and leads to severe disease, hospitalisations and premature deaths. If no improvements in the vaccine uptake will be seen, significant burden on the healthcare systems can be expected also during this upcoming winter season.

New York governor says he's ready to legalize recreational pot

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday called for the legalization of recreational marijuana use in his state—a move that would add America's most populous city to the growing list of places that allow the drug's use.

Trial may uncover new diagnostics and treatment option for cardiovascular disease

Forty-two percent of all deaths in the United States are related to cardiovascular disease (CVD). According to the Global Cardiovascular Drugs Market Forecast, by 2030 the number of deaths from CVD will rise to 23.6 million per year in the U.S. alone. Along with increased deaths, spending on drugs to treat CVD as well as related hospital stays, home health care and lost productivity will also rise.

California farm tied to E. coli outbreak expands recall beyond romaine lettuce

The California farm where romaine lettuce was implicated in the recent nationwide E. coli outbreak said it is expanding its recall to include other forms of produce.

Biology news

How much are we learning? Natural selection is science's best critic

In 2003, the Human Genome Project revealed to the world the three billion chemical units within human DNA. Since that time, scientists have designed many ways to organize and assess this overwhelmingly large amount of information. Now, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) have determined that evolution can help guide these efforts.

Mysteries of the primrose unraveled

Plant scientists at the University of East Anglia have succeeded in unravelling the complete genome sequence of the common primrose—the plant whose reproductive biology captivated the Victorian naturalist Charles Darwin.

Picky dolphins are choosy about their friends

Dolphins are picky about who they are friends with and shun rival groups, new research has found.

Salmon may lose the ability to smell danger as carbon emissions rise

The ability to smell is critical for salmon. They depend on scent to avoid predators, sniff out prey and find their way home at the end of their lives when they return to the streams where they hatched to spawn and die.

Scientists develop method to visualize a genetic mutation

A team of scientists has developed a method that yields, for the first time, visualization of a gene amplifications and deletions known as copy number variants in single cells.

Scientists gain insights into traffic cop function of gene expression protein

Scientists at the UNC School of Medicine have discovered a crucial quality-control mechanism inside cells that, when it fails, might contribute to major diseases including cancers.

Climate change drives tundras out of sync

Warming temperatures in cold places are causing plants to flower earlier, according to a new study.

Technique for preserving tissue allows researchers to create maps of neural circuits with single-cell resolution

MIT chemical engineers and neuroscientists have devised a new way to preserve biological tissue, allowing them to visualize proteins, DNA, and other molecules within cells, and to map the connections between neurons.

Researchers uncover the detailed molecular structure of the sporopollenin polymer

For hundreds of millions of years, plants thrived in the Earth's oceans, safe from harsh conditions found on land, such as drought and ultraviolet radiation. Then, roughly 450 million years ago, plants found a way to make the move to land: They evolved spores—small reproductive cells—and eventually pollen grains with tough, protective outer walls that could withstand the harsh conditions in the terrestrial environment until they could germinate and grow into a plant or fertilize an ovule.

Explaining differences in rates of evolution

Scientists look to fossils and evolutionary trees to help determine the rate of evolution – albeit with conflicting results. A new model by ETH researchers has helped to resolve these contradictions.

Looking for LUCA, the last universal common ancestor

Around 4 billion years ago there lived a microbe called LUCA: the Last Universal Common Ancestor. There is evidence that it could have lived a somewhat 'alien' lifestyle, hidden away deep underground in iron-sulfur rich hydrothermal vents. Anaerobic and autotrophic, it didn't breathe air and made its own food from the dark, metal-rich environment around it. Its metabolism depended upon hydrogen, carbon dioxide and nitrogen, turning them into organic compounds such as ammonia. Most remarkable of all, this little microbe was the beginning of a long lineage that encapsulates all life on Earth.

Searching for the source of planarians' regenerative powers

Using a technique that involves analyzing thousands of single cells, scientists have figured out a new way to capture a stem cell that underlies flatworm regeneration.

Pathogen predicament: How bacteria propel themselves out of a tight spot

Scientists have deciphered how some types of "swimming" bacteria have evolved to be able to escape when trapped in small spaces.

Research points to chemical and sensory cues that trigger infant-directed aggressive behavior in male mice

It may seem like one of the cruelest aspects of the natural world, but research has shown that infanticide is actually an instinctive behavior in many animals—and Catherine Dulac has begun deciphering the chemical and other sensory cues that drive the behavior.

Dive-bombing for love: Male hummingbirds dazzle females with a highly synchronized display

When it comes to flirting, animals know how to put on a show. In the bird world, males often go to great lengths to attract female attention, like peacocks shaking their tail feathers and manakins performing complex dance moves. These behaviors often stimulate multiple senses, making them hard for biologists to quantify.

Using endangered barbary macaques as photo props could negatively impact Moroccan tourism

Wild animals are increasingly exploited for entertainment and photo opportunities. A new study highlights that tourists in Morocco object to the use of barbary macaques as photo props, raising concerns about the animal's welfare and risk to human health. The findings are presented today at the British Ecological Society annual conference in Birmingham.

Foxes in the city: Citizen science helps researchers to study urban wildlife

A team of researchers led by wildlife ecologist Theresa Walter analyzed over 1,100 fox sightings reported by the public as part of the citizen science project StadtWildTiere. The joint team of researchers from the Vetmeduni Vienna and the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) now report that foxes prefer specific city areas and environments. The study also revealed that fox sighting reports correlate with the educational level of the population.

China's win-at-all-costs approach suggests it will follow its own dangerous path in biomedicine

The world was shocked by Chinese scientist He Jiankui's recent claim that he'd brought to term twin babies whose genes – inheritable by their own potential descendants – he had modified as embryos. The genetic edit, He said, was meant to make the girls resistant to HIV infection.

Willow tits survive best with support from a flock

Willow tits (Poecile montanus) generally reside in one territorial area throughout their adult lives. But brutal winters in the north kill off many of them. They aren't able to manage well on their own, and storing seeds in the autumn is not always enough. For the young of the year, it is absolutely vital to find a flock to spend the winter with. Juvenile birds also have to try to become high-ranking members within the flock.

Research brings swine industry closer to broad virus protection

After eight years of gathering data from more than 1,000 pigs infected with porcine circovirus 2, University of Nebraska–Lincoln researchers have identified the gene associated with pigs' susceptibility to the deadly swine disease.

Research finds ethical sourcing of seeds required for global restoration

Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of wild seeds are needed to restore plant ecosystems globally but overharvesting risks their depletion unless ethical seed-sourcing regulations are developed, Curtin University research has found.

Rewilding war zones can help heal the wounds of conflict

Where the Iron Curtain once divided Europe with barbed wire, a network of wilderness with bears, wolves and lynx now thrives. Commemorating 100 years since the end of World War I, people wear poppies to evoke the vast fields of red flowers which grew over the carnage of Europe's battlefields. Once human conflict has ended, the return of nature to barren landscapes becomes a potent symbol of peace.

Researchers 'dig in' to how seed fraud impacts Kenyan farmers

For farmers, a productive harvest can mean money in the bank. Poor yield due to drought, pests and other environmental factors, on the other hand, can threaten livelihoods.

Recruiting ants to fight weeds on the farm

Harvester ants that eat weed seeds on the soil's surface can help farmers manage weeds on their farms, according to an international team of researchers, who found that tilling less to preserve the ants could save farmers fuel and labor costs, as well as preserve water and improve soil quality.

Extraordinary 'faithful father' revealed by study of smooth guardian frog of Borneo

Stay-at-home dads might find their spirit animal in the smooth guardian frog of Borneo. A new pair of research papers authored by an investigator at the University of Kansas shows the male of the smooth guardian frog species (Limnonectes palavanensis) is a kind of amphibian "Mr. Mom"—an exemplar of male parental care in the animal kingdom.

The importance of 'edge populations' to biodiversity

More than two-thirds of Canada's biodiversity is made up of species that occur within the country's borders only at the very northern edge of their range. Biologists have long debated how much effort should be dedicated to conserving these "edge populations." One argument in their favour is that they may be especially well suited to lead northward range shifts for their species as the climate warms.

Scientists reveal how water fleas settled during the Ice Age

A new study shows that the roots used by three close species of microscopic Daphnia crustaceans to settle across the territory of Northern Eurasia differed greatly. The findings shed light on how continental freshwater fauna formed. The results are published in PLOS ONE.

Is it unethical to give your cat catnip?

As the Christmas season gets underway thoughts turn to buying gifts for the entire family. For some, companion animals are on the gift list, particularly cats and dogs who share our homes and hearts.

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