Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Dec 19

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 19, 2018:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Casanova: A scalable consensus protocol for blockchain

Proposed test of quantum superposition measures 'quantum revivals'

Rabbit gene helps houseplant detoxify indoor air

Team locates nearly all US solar panels in a billion images with machine learning

Chemical catalyst turns 'trash' into 'treasure,' making inert C-H bonds reactive

The Casimir torque: Scientists measure previously unexamined tiny force

Scientists program proteins to pair exactly

Cost to walk away from Facebook for a year? More than $1,000, new study finds

Study shows huge armored dinosaurs battled overheating with nasal air-conditioning

3-D-printed robot hand plays the piano

Robots with sticky feet can climb up, down, and all around

New composite advances lignin as a renewable 3-D printing material

Self-healing electroluminescent (EL) devices

Astronomers discover nine new variable stars

Study shows women lower their voice when competing for a man

Astronomy & Space news

Astronomers discover nine new variable stars

A team of astronomers from Chile has detected nine new variable stars in the globular cluster NGC 6652 and its background stream. Six of the newly found stars were classified as eclipsing binaries, one as an SX Phoenicis star, and two remain unclassified. The finding is detailed in a paper published December 10 on arXiv.org.

Lab study adds credence to life arriving on Earth from asteroids theory

A team of researchers at NASA's Ames Research Center has found some evidence that adds credence to the theory that the basic ingredients for life came to Earth from asteroids. In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the group describes the experiments they carried out, what they found, and why they believe their work offers evidence of life arriving from elsewhere.

Newly discovered adolescent star seen undergoing 'growth spurt'

Astronomers have discovered a young star undergoing a rare growth spurt—giving a fascinating glimpse into the development of these distant stellar objects.

Physicists provide first model of moon's rotational dynamics, accounting for the solid inner core

A new model of the moon's rotational dynamics—the first that takes into account the moon's solid inner core—helps explain why it appears to wobble on its axis.

Planetary astronomers identify cycle of spectacular disturbances at Jupiter's equator

A regular pattern of unusual meteorological events at Jupiter's equator has been identified by planetary scientists at the University of Leicester.

Image: Elf on the ISS

There is no escaping the holidays, even in space.

Space telescope detects water in a number of asteroids

Using the infrared satellite AKARI, a Japanese research team has detected the existence of water in the form of hydrated minerals in a number of asteroids for the first time. This discovery will contribute to the understanding of the distribution of water in the solar system, the evolution of asteroids, and the origin of water on Earth.

To the moon and back: Apollo 8 and the future of lunar exploration

Apollo 8 was supposed to be a test flight, meant to simulate atmospheric re-entry from the moon but never meant to go there. Hurtling toward Earth at 2,407.5 miles per hour is hairy business and NASA, having never done so before, needed practice. But then the USSR successfully launched two of its own moonshots (unmanned Zond 5 and 6) on the heels of President Kennedy's call for men on the moon by the end of the '60s. It felt to most like a matter of time before America lost its space race for good.

BepiColombo's first routine firing in space

On Monday this week, BepiColombo began its very first routine electric propulsion firing.

Queen guitarist Brian May releases tribute to NASA spacecraft

Jamming and astrophysics go hand-in-hand for Queen lead guitarist Brian May, who announced Wednesday he is releasing a musical tribute to a far-flung NASA spacecraft that is about to make history.

China warns US against 'weaponising' space

China said Wednesday it opposed the "weaponisation" of space as it criticised US President Donald Trump's orders to create a new command centre for controlling military space operations.

Nanosatellite imaging technology could revolutionize how we manage climate change

A pioneering Finnish nanosatellite has now reached space equipped with the world's smallest infrared hyperspectral camera. The photos with infrared data taken from the satellite provide new solutions for monitoring and managing the effects of climate change. The hyperspectral camera is a trailblazing innovation from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The Reaktor Hello World nanosatellite was launched into space on 29 November by the Finnish space technology startup Reaktor Space Lab.

Technology news

Casanova: A scalable consensus protocol for blockchain

A team of researchers at Pyrofex Corporation recently introduced Casanova, a leaderless optimistic consensus algorithm suited for use in a blockchain. Rather than producing a chain, Casanova produces blocks in a directed acyclic graph (DAG), which is essentially a directed graph with no cycles. Casanova pipelines voting rounds and block production to improve scalability and has a unique 'line item veto' for conflicting transactions such as double spends.

Team locates nearly all US solar panels in a billion images with machine learning

Knowing which Americans have installed solar panels on their roofs and why they did so would be enormously useful for managing the changing U.S. electricity system and to understanding the barriers to greater use of renewable resources. But until now, all that has been available are essentially estimates.

3-D-printed robot hand plays the piano

Scientists have developed a 3-D-printed robotic hand which can play simple musical phrases on the piano by just moving its wrist. And while the robot is no virtuoso, it demonstrates just how challenging it is to replicate all the abilities of a human hand, and how much complex movement can still be achieved through design.

Robots with sticky feet can climb up, down, and all around

Jet engines can have up to 25,000 individual parts, making regular maintenance a tedious task that can take over a month per engine. Many components are located deep inside the engine and cannot be inspected without taking the machine apart, adding time and costs to maintenance. This problem is not only confined to jet engines, either; many complicated, expensive machines like construction equipment, generators, and scientific instruments require large investments of time and money to inspect and maintain.

Hardware-software co-design approach could make neural networks less power hungry

A team led by the University of California San Diego has developed a neuroinspired hardware-software co-design approach that could make neural network training more energy-efficient and faster. Their work could one day make it possible to train neural networks on low-power devices such as smartphones, laptops and embedded devices.

Elon Musk's new tunnel 'a little rough around the edges' (Update)

Elon Musk unveiled his underground transportation tunnel on Tuesday, allowing reporters and invited guests to take some of the first rides in the revolutionary albeit bumpy subterranean tube—the tech entrepreneur's answer to what he calls "soul-destroying traffic."

Nvidia's face-making approach is genuinely GAN-tastic

A new kind of Generative Adversarial Network approach has technology observers scratching their heads: How can images be fake and yet look so real?

Cheaper, more efficient solar technology a step closer

A new study led by The Australian National University (ANU) could lead to cheaper and more efficient solar technology.

Pennsylvania lets Uber self-driving cars back on roads

Authorities in the US state of Pennsylvania have given Uber the green light to resume testing self-driving cars, the ride-sharing giant said Tuesday, after a fatal crash in Arizona prompted a pause.

SoftBank mobile unit in record IPO but market debut flops

Japanese technology giant SoftBank celebrated the world's second-biggest IPO for its mobile unit Wednesday but the newly traded shares endured a torrid time in their debut session, plunging nearly 15 percent.

Norway sees boom in electric cars, fueled by the government

A silent revolution has transformed driving in Norway.

Robots are being programmed to adapt in real time

A robust, adaptable robot that responds to its environment on the fly and overcomes obstacles such as a broken leg without human intervention could be used to rescue people from an earthquake zone or clean up sites that are too hazardous for humans.

Report investigates 'shifting the peaks' of electricity consumption via three residential appliances

A University of Otago study has examined the potential for New Zealand residential electricity consumption to be shifted to reduce costs for consumers, demand on infrastructure and avoid future carbon emissions.

Playing video games may help researchers find personalized medical treatment for sepsis

A deep learning approach originally designed to teach computers how to play video games better than humans could aid in developing personalized medical treatment for sepsis, a disease that causes about 300,000 deaths per year and for which there is no known cure.

NeuNetS: Automating neural network model synthesis for broader adoption of AI

On December 14, 2018, IBM released NeuNetS, a fundamentally new capability that addresses the skills gap for development of latest AI models for a wide range of business domains. NeuNetS uses AI to automatically synthesize deep neural network models faster and easier than ever before, scaling up the adoption of AI by companies and SMEs. By fully automating AI model development and deployment, NeuNetS allows non-expert users to build neural networks for specific tasks and datasets in a fraction of the time it takes today—without sacrificing accuracy.

When high tech goes underground

ANYmal, a robot developed at ETH, can see and hear, and even open doors. An international research team is now working to ensure the robot can function in extreme conditions – a mission that takes them to the labyrinth of drains and tunnels below Zurich.

EU electricity reform calls end to coal subsidies

European Union member states and the European Parliament agreed Wednesday to reform the bloc's electricity market, including a call to end coal subsidies by 2025.

Elon Musk bores tunnel to revolutionize city driving

Elon Musk on Tuesday took a break from futuristic electric cars and private space travel to unveil a low-cost tunnel he sees as a godsend for city traffic.

Daimler, BMW win green light for car-sharing merger

German carmakers Daimler and BMW said Wednesday they had won final approval to merge their car-sharing services Car2Go and DriveNow, paving the way for the creation of a European giant to challenge the likes of Uber.

How African cities can harness green technologies for growth and jobs

In 1967 one gigabyte of hard drive storage space cost US$ 1m. Today it's around two US cents. Computer processing power has also increased exponentially: it doubles every two years. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to technological progress in the 21st century.

Facebook defends data sharing after new report on partner deals

Facebook defended its data sharing practices Wednesday after a report revealing that certain partners of the social network had access to a range of personal information about users and their friends.

Preventing concrete bridges from falling apart

Extremes of temperature, rain, exposure to corrosive substances—all of these environmental factors contribute to the degradation of concrete. Specifically, a gas present in our environment, called hydrogen sulphide, turns into sulphuric acid, a corrosive substance, when combined with rainwater.

Local official sues Facebook over data misuse

The top legal officer in the US capital city has sued Facebook over privacy violations related to personal data leaked to the Cambridge Analytica consultancy working on Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

FACT CHECK: Facebook defines 'permission' loosely

Facebook gave companies such as Apple, Amazon and Yahoo extensive access to users' personal data, effectively exempting them from the company's usual privacy rules, according to a New York Times report .

New Zealand warns Google over naming murder accused

New Zealand warned Google to "take responsibility" for its news content Wednesday, after the internet giant broke a court order suppressing the name of a man charged with murdering a British backpacker.

From robotic companions to third thumbs, machines can change the human brain

People's interactions with machines, from robots that throw tantrums when they lose a colour-matching game against a human opponent to the bionic limbs that could give us extra abilities, are not just revealing more about how our brains are wired – they are also altering them.

US cybersecurity firm: Hackers stole EU diplomatic cables

Hackers have spent years eavesdropping on the diplomatic communications of European Union officials, a U.S. cybersecurity firm said Wednesday, an operation disrupted only after researchers discovered hundreds of intercepted documents lying around on the internet.

Uber loses UK case on worker rights, expected to appeal

Uber pledged Wednesday to challenge a U.K. Court of Appeal decision that drivers should be classed as workers rather than self-employed employees, a verdict that has potentially wide-ranging implications for the rapidly growing gig economy and the rules that govern it.

Ryanair wants to sack all Eindhoven-based crew: union

Ryanair has filed for the collective dismissal of all Dutch-based staff at its now shuttered base at Eindhoven airport, a union representing pilots said Wednesday.

Lawsuit adds to Facebook woes on data protection

Facebook's woes mounted Wednesday as it faced a lawsuit alleging privacy violations related to data leaked to a consultancy working on Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, and as a new report suggested it shared more data with partners than it had said.

Medicine & Health news

Exposure to cannabis alters the genetic profile of sperm

As legal access to marijuana continues expanding across the U.S., more scientists are studying the effects of its active ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), in teens, adults and pregnant women.

From eye drops to potential leukaemia treatment

An active ingredient in eye drops that were being developed for the treatment of a form of eye disease has shown promise for treating an aggressive form of blood cancer. Scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, University of Cambridge, University of Nottingham and their collaborators have found that this compound, which targets an essential cancer gene, could kill leukaemia cells without harming non-leukemic blood cells.

Helping make brain surgery safer

A biopsy needle that can help surgeons identify and avoid blood vessels in the brain during surgery has undergone initial tests in humans.

Study differentiates iPS cells into various ocular lineages

The discovery of pluripotent stem cells, which have the ability to differentiate into the huge range of different cell lineages that make up the human body, signaled the start of a new era in biological science and medicine. Although we are also now able to reprogram regular cells to exhibit this pluripotency, we still have much to learn about the different cues that lead such cells towards a particular cell fate, including the cells that make up the eye.

Computer hardware originally designed for 3-D games could hold the key to replicating the human brain

Researchers at the University of Sussex have created the fastest and most energy efficient simulation of part of a rat brain using off-the-shelf computer hardware.

RNA proofreading mistakes drive group of autoimmune diseases

A team from Scripps Research has found a molecular cause of a group of rare autoimmune disorders in which the immune system attacks the body's own healthy cells.

Study links nutrients in blood to better brain connectivity, cognition in older adults

A new study links higher levels of several key nutrients in the blood with more efficient brain connectivity and performance on cognitive tests in older adults.

What are you looking at? How attention affects decision-making

Scientists using eye-tracking technology have found that what we look at helps guide our decisions when faced with two visible choices, such as snack food options.

Tau protein suppresses neural activity in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease

A study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators sheds new light on how the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease—amyloid-beta (A-beta) plaques and neurofibrillary tangles containing the protein tau—produce their damaging effects in the brain. The findings suggest that strategies directed against both pathologic proteins, rather than one or the other, might be promising therapeutic options.

Process makes stem-cell-derived heart cells light up

A faster, more cost-efficient, and more accurate method of examining the effectiveness of human pluripotent stem-cell-derived cardiac muscle cells has been discovered, according to researchers from Penn State.

New memory study first to use intracranial recordings

Declarative memory—memories that can be consciously recalled—is critical to everyday life. Throughout childhood and adolescence, declarative memory improves remarkably. However, until most recently, there was a critical gap in our understanding of how maturation of the prefrontal cortex drives memory development.

Workplace 'resilience' programs might not make any difference

Workplace resilience programmes, designed to bolster mental health and wellbeing, and encourage employees to seek help when issues arise, might not make any difference, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Targeting chemical signals between the gut and brain could lead to new treatment for obesity

New research published in The Journal of Physiology has shed light on how to disrupt chemical signals that affect how much someone eats, which could lead to a method for helping manage obesity.

New study demonstrates effectiveness and safety of vaginal estrogen

Despite its proven effectiveness in treating the genital symptoms of menopause, low-dose vaginal estrogen therapy remains underused largely because of misperceptions regarding its safety. However, a new study that followed women from the Nurses' Health Study demonstrates that its use is not associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease or cancer. Results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Flu is serious for pregnant women and others at high risk

Pregnant women and the extremely obese are among those at high risk for complications from the flu—including death—and should be tested and begin antiviral treatment promptly if they are sick enough to be hospitalized with flu symptoms, according to updated guidelines released by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA). Outpatients who have been diagnosed with the flu and are at high risk for complications should also be provided antiviral treatment as soon as possible, note the seasonal influenza guidelines, which are published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Studies aim to improve cognition, reduce weight gain in schizophrenia

Aerobic exercise can improve the size and function of the brain, and now investigators want to know if it can also improve cognitive function in patients with schizophrenia who struggle with memory and attention problems.

Do personality traits of compulsive users of social media overlap with problem drinking?

A study published in the Australian Journal of Psychology found certain similarities and differences in personality traits when comparing compulsive use of social media with problematic or risky alcohol use.

Dancing may help older women maintain the ability to perform daily tasks

A new study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports examined the potential effects of 16 different exercise types for reducing disability for activities of daily living (ADL) in older women.

Alcoholic beverages are frequently considered migraine triggers

In a European Journal of Neurology study of 2,197 patients who experience migraines, alcoholic beverages were reported as a trigger by 35.6 percent of participants.

Aggressive behavior brings emotional pain to the sadist

People with sadistic personality traits tend to be aggressive, but only enjoy their aggressive acts if it harms their victims. According to a series of studies of over 2000 people, these actions ultimately leave sadists feeling worse than they felt before their aggressive act.

Lung transplant patients face elevated lung cancer risk

In an American Journal of Transplantation study, lung cancer risk was increased after lung transplantation, especially in the native (non-transplanted) lung of single lung transplant recipients.

High sodium intake may contribute to increased heart-disease deaths in China

Nearly a fifth of heart disease deaths in adults aged 25-69 in 2011 may be attributed to high sodium diets in a large province in China. Reducing salt intake in the region could potentially save thousands of lives, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

DNA 'webs' aid ovarian cancer metastasis, study reveals

Researchers from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have discovered that ovarian cancer cells spread, or metastasize, to new tissue after being caught in DNA "webs" extruded by immune cells. The study, which will be published December 19 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, reveals that preventing immune cells from forming these webs reduces metastasis in mice, suggesting that similar treatments could be used to limit the spread of ovarian cancer in humans.

Sleeping in contact lenses puts you at risk of dangerous infection

Contact lenses are worn by an estimated 45 million Americans. Improper care or wear, like going to sleep without removing your lenses, can lead to infections of the cornea like microbial keratitis, which can lead to serious health problems.

In just six months, exercise may help those with thinking problems

Getting the heart pumping with aerobic exercise, like walking or cycling for 35 minutes three times a week, may improve thinking skills in older adults with cognitive impairments, according to a study published in the December 19, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. After six months of exercise, study participants' scores on thinking tests improved by the equivalent of reversing nearly nine years of aging.

Possible biomarker for multiple sclerosis identified

A biomarker for multiple sclerosis that could be an early warning for the disease has shown promise in both human and animal testing.

Teen vaping rising fast, according to survey

A recent study charts a rapid increase in teen e-cigarette use, or vaping, with a 10 percent rise among high school seniors over the past year.

Delivery method associated with pelvic floor disorders after childbirth

Research completed at Johns Hopkins and the Greater Baltimore Medical Center has demonstrated that vaginal childbirth substantially increases the probability a woman will develop a pelvic floor disorder later in life. Pelvic floor disorders, including urinary incontinence and uterine prolapse, afflict millions of women in the United States. However, until now little was known about who will develop these conditions and how they progress over time. In this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, Johns Hopkins and Greater Baltimore Medical Center researchers report results of a 10-year study showing that some delivery modes, including spontaneous vaginal delivery, are associated with higher risk of some types of pelvic floor disorders.

Buruli ulcer: Promising new drug candidate against a forgotten disease

Buruli ulcer, a neglected tropical disease, is debilitating and stigmatising. Affecting mainly children in West and Central Africa, the chronic disease results in devastating skin lesions and can lead to permanent disfigurement and long-term disabilities. Buruli ulcer is caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, which belongs to the same family of bacteria that causes tuberculosis (TB) and leprosy. M. ulcerans is found in the environment, and despite considerable research efforts, the mode of transmission to humans remains unclear.

What looks like substance abuse could be rational self-medication, study suggests

When improved antidepressants hit the market in the 1980s, heavy drinking among people with depression dropped 22 percent, suggesting people who knowingly use drugs and alcohol to relieve mental and physical pain will switch to safer, better treatment options when they can get them, a new Johns Hopkins University study has found.

Researchers find a potential new combination therapy against a rare disease

Myelofibrosis is a severe and very rare haematological disease for which treatment has only been partially effective to date. Its low incidence rate is one of the reasons why effective therapies are still lacking. The H12O-CNIO Haematological Malignancies Clinical Research Unit at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) has now reported substantial improvement in the treatment of myelofibrosis using a three-drug combination therapy. A clinical trial involving patients is already up and running. Findings are published in the journal Haematologica

Sofosbuvir rids organism of chikungunya and yellow fever viruses

A study performed at the University of São Paulo's Biomedical Science Institute (ICB-USP) in Brazil shows that sofosbuvir, a drug used to treat chronic hepatitis C, is capable of eliminating chikungunya virus and yellow fever virus. "Human cells infected by chikungunya virus were treated with sofosbuvir, and the drug eliminated the virus without damaging any cells. The drug proved to be 11 times more effective against the virus than against cells," said Rafaela Milan Bonotto, a co-author of the study.

A dream of sustainable surgery in Uganda

Nasser Kakembo, MD, is a pediatric surgeon—one of just four among the 200 surgeons who serve more than 40 million people in Uganda. He gets up at 5 a.m. every weekday and drives 40 minutes to the hospital in Kampala, the capital city.

Dramatic advances in forensics expose the need for genetic data legislation

Many people first became familiar with DNA testing through its use in the OJ Simpson murder trial in 1994. Now, 24 years later, there have been two dramatic advances in the capability of forensic genetics that mark the start of a new era.

Home-packed lunches include more vegetables if children help, study finds

Nearly half of the home-packed lunches that children brought to school each day rarely or never included vegetables, a University of Illinois researcher found in a new study of families in California.

When measuring resilience, the type of trauma suffered matters

In previous studies of resilience in people, researchers have rarely differentiated in their analysis between the types of traumatic events experienced by individuals. However, the type of trauma undergone seems to be a significant predictor of how someone will fare long-term, according to a new study by researchers at the Yale School of Medicine and the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. Additionally, the team found that reactions to various types of trauma differs greatly by gender.

Ischaemic stroke assessment

Non-contrast computed tomography (NCCT) is a low-cost medical imaging technology that is used widely in investigating damage to a patient's brain caused by ischaemic stroke. However, writing in the International Journal of Image Mining, researchers from Algeria explain that it is not without limitations. As such, they are developing an algorithm that can automatically detect ischaemic areas of the brain from CT images within hours of the onset of symptoms using a comparison of the two brain hemispheres.

Popular children more likely to give less to pals at Christmas

Popular children are likely to be less generous towards their friends at Christmas than other kids, but only if their giving takes place in private and their classmates won't be told.

Not only in America – sexual violence on campuses is widespread in Indonesia

It is sadly ironic to see the slow response from universities in handling cases of sexual violence. Campuses are supposed to be at the front line in educating society. Instead, they seem to be soft on sexual violence perpetrators by letting them escape punishment.

Anticancer vaccines gain new lease of life with personalisation techniques

Anticancer vaccines have gained a new lease of life with techniques to personalise them to individual patients. Cutting edge developments in this re-energised field were revealed at the ESMO Immuno-Oncology Congress in Geneva, Switzerland.

Hands-free crutches alleviate pain and discomfort associated with conventional crutches

A snowboarding accident led a group of Purdue University students to create a new kind of hands-free crutch aimed at helping injured people avoid obstacles typically associated with using crutches to get around.

Not a season to be jolly: How to deal with dying during the holidays

Dying doesn't disappear at Christmas. For those who know death will come soon but don't know exactly when, the festive season, when the air is thick with "joy", can be particularly unsettling.

Testing the connection between neighborhood cohesion and viral suppression among HIV-positive New Yorkers

HIV viral suppression is a positive medical outcome which indicates viral control and inability to transmit infection. It is usually achieved through antiretroviral therapy. There is a lack of research into the psychosocial factors affecting HIV viral suppression, such as perceived neighborhood social cohesion, or how connected the subject feels to their neighbors.

DIY braces? Orthodontists say to think twice before straightening your teeth solo

A couple of years ago, the story of a college student 3-D printing his own braces went viral. Fast forward to now and you've likely seen billboards or social media ads for a whole new slate of DIY aligner companies, which cut out the orthodontist chair and send trays straight to your doorstep. They're both attempting to democratize the quest for straight teeth, but experts and graduates from the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC say it's important to get a doctor's OK when considering the DIY route.

How the brain reacts to loss of vision

If mice lose their vision immediately after birth due to a genetic defect, this has a considerable impact, both on the organisation of the cerebral cortex and on memory ability. This is the conclusion drawn by researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum in a study published online in the journal Cerebral Cortex on 7 December 2018. They demonstrated that, in the months after blindness emerged, the density of neurotransmitter receptors that regulate excitation balance and are required for memory encoding was altered in all areas of the cortex that process sensory information. Furthermore, the hippocampus, a brain region that plays a crucial role in memory processes, was profoundly affected.

Kidney failure on the rise in Australians under 50 with type 2 diabetes

A study of more than 1.3 million Australians with diabetes has found that kidney failure is increasing in people with type 2 diabetes aged under 50 years, leading to reduced quality of life and placing growing demand on the country's kidney dialysis and transplantation services.

Known risks don't explain blacks' higher rates of sudden cardiac death

(HealthDay)—A sizable study still can't explain why black Americans are much more likely than whites to suffer sudden cardiac death.

Ballet class: Not just child's play anymore

(HealthDay)—Ballet dancers are known for their sleek, sculpted look, in part the result of hours spent exercising at the ballet barre.

Many say ketamine eased their depression, but is it safe?

(HealthDay)—Jen Godfrey couldn't shake the "deep cloud" that lingered even after she found an antidepressant she could tolerate.

Whether you feel 73 or 37, age perception alone does not spur treatment decisions

One 80-year-old patient told Wilmot Cancer Institute investigators that he felt 20. A 74-year-old who felt like he was 40 had a goal of outliving his 90-year-old father. But for these vibrant older adults, age was only one of the complex factors influencing their decisions to receive chemotherapy, a study found.

Are your grandparents getting tipsy at the holiday party?

November and December are defined by parties and social events. And in the U.S., alcohol is synonymous with socializing, with Americans particularly likely to overindulge during the holidays.

High-protein snacks that satisfy

(HealthDay)—Does your typical afternoon snack leave you feeling unsatisfied and reaching for more? If your pick-me-up is a bag of salty chips or a chocolate bar, a better (and healthier) way to go is with a high-protein choice, according to research published in The Journal of Nutrition.

Exercise linked to reduced mortality for patients with cancer

(HealthDay)—For patients with cancer, participation in prediagnosis and postdiagnosis recreational physical activity is associated with reduced mortality, according to a study published online Nov. 28 in Cancer Causes & Control.

Alterations detected in brain connectivity in patients with type 1 diabetes

Patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D) have a brain connectivity network different from that of healthy people, according to a new study led by researchers of the Institute of Neurosciences and the Institute of Complex Systems (UBICS) of the University of Barcelona. This confirmation, reached with neuroimaging techniques and statistical models applied to complex systems, reinforces the idea that these patients' brains develop a series of functional changes to adapt to cognitive alterations caused by this disease. These results could have potential implications in the diagnosis of diabetes and the study of other disorders with cognitive alterations.

Two-fold overweight risk for five-year-olds given milk cereal drinks in infancy

In five-year-old children, the risk for overweight is almost twice as high if they at 12 months had consumed milk cereal drinks every day, a study in the journal Acta Paediatrica shows.

Why Ebola is proving hard to beat in the DRC

Nearly this time exactly two years ago I wrote about the latest positive results showing – for the first time – that a vaccine against one of the world's scariest viruses, Ebola, could work. I was writing after the epidemic that hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2013 until 2016. Since then, there have been three more outbreaks of the disease: all in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

'Tis the season for conception

Does it ever seem like you're invited to an awful lot of summer birthday gatherings? For good reason. In the United States, most births occur between June and early November. Count back nine months, and you'll see that places most conceptions in the fall and winter.

Network of proteins influences the advancement of osteoarthritis

A network of carbohydrate binding proteins—so-called galectins—plays an important role in the degeneration of cartilage in osteoarthritis. A research group at the MedUni Vienna was able to demonstrate this correlation, in cooperation with international study partners. In osteoarthritis, certain galectins are produced by the cartilage cells themselves and accelerate the degeneration process of the cartilage matrix.

Research should be at the heart of an epidemic response

To be prepared for epidemics, we need certain things in place. We need widespread surveillance systems to detect outbreaks before they can spread, and robust health systems that can give people the care and treatment they need.

Scientists break new ground in potential treatment of common form of leukaemia

Scientists at the University of Glasgow have discovered a potential combination therapy for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), the most common form of leukaemia in the Western world, diagnosed in more than 3,500 people in the UK each year.

Elite female athletes at greater risk of eating disorders

An extremely slender and toned body, strict diet, low body fat and a BMI of 18.5, but still worried about her body shape. Are these the traits of a person with an eating disorder? A top athlete? Or both?

NHS in Fortnite and Facebook? It would put mental healthcare where it's needed

Screens now dominate so much of people's daily lives, it's no wonder that digital environments can very easily become sites of mental disorder. This is an especially big problem for young people, who are growing up with unprecedented access to technology. According to recent research, 54% of US teens reported feeling that they spend too much time on mobile devices, and two thirds of parents are worried about this as well.

Study suggests universal meningitis vaccination is not cost-effective for college students

A computer-generated model developed by Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers adds to evidence that providing universal vaccination against meningitis B infection to students entering college may be too costly to justify the absolute number of cases it would prevent. The study also suggests that if vaccine developers could significantly lower the price, universal vaccination might be worth requiring on college campuses.

Researchers find lasting impact of concussions on young adults

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have found that young adults who experienced repetitive mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), or concussions, can experience persistent cognitive changes as well as altered brain activity.

MRI technique shows unique signatures of concussion in rugby players

Using MRI to study the brains of young female athletes has helped researchers develop an objective way to monitor a concussion injury. By using a technique that combines both structural and functional MRI information, Western University researchers were able to identify three unique signatures—one that shows acute brain changes after an athlete has suffered a concussion, another that can identify persistent brain changes six months after the concussion, and a third that shows evidence of concussion history.

Potential therapeutic target for lung fibrosis identified

In an article published online by Frontiers in Endocrinology, researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) report that they have identified a potential therapeutic target for lung fibrosis or scarring. They showed in a preclinical model that the protein promotes fibrosis by turning on profibrotic genes and increasing levels of profibrotic factors, including itself. It is particularly attractive as a target because it exerts its influence early, before most other profibrotic factors emerge.

Diabetes drug could be used to treat common heart failure syndrome, study suggests

Researchers at the University of Arizona have discovered that metformin, a drug commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, might also be used to treat heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), a condition that is predicted to affect over 8% of people ages 65 or older by the year 2020. The study, which was published December 19 in the Journal of General Physiology, shows that metformin relaxes a key heart muscle protein called titin, allowing the heart to properly fill with blood before pumping it around the body.

Intellectual curiosity and confidence help children take on math and reading

Children's personalities may influence how they perform in math and reading, according to a study by psychology researchers at The University of Texas at Austin.

'Rescuing' food to feed the hungry

Leah Lizarondo continues to be amazed by how much food gets thrown away daily.

Failure of timely stop to certain prescription drugs is common

(HealthDay)—Legacy prescribing of certain drugs, such as antidepressants and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), is common, according to a study published in the November/December issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Cognitive therapy helps reduce anxiety in COPD patients

(HealthDay)—Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) delivered by respiratory nurses is associated with reduced anxiety symptoms and is cost-effective for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study recently published in ERJ Open Research.

Edentulism tied to greater risk for high BP after menopause

(HealthDay)—Postmenopausal women with edentulism are at an increased risk for developing hypertension, according to a study published online Dec. 4 in the American Journal of Hypertension.

Targeted treatment slows progression of rare connective tissue tumor

In a phase three clinical trial, a drug called sorafenib stopped progression of desmoid tumors for two years in 80 percent of patients who completed treatment, a significant increase in progression-free survival compared with placebo. (Progression-free survival is the length of time a patient lives without worsening of the disease).

How US children and teens die: Study reveals the widespread and persistent role of firearms

America lost 20,360 children and teens in 2016—60 percent of them to preventable injuries, a new study shows. More than 4,000 of them died in motor vehicle crashes, though prevention efforts and better trauma care have cut the death rate of young people from such crashes in half in less than two decades.

New study reveals 'startling' risk of stroke

Globally, one in four people over age 25 is at risk for stroke during their lifetime, according to a new scientific study.

Mortality rates rising for Gens X and Y too

Declining life expectancies in the U.S. include Gen X and Y Americans, in addition to the older Baby Boomers. But the causes of premature mortality vary by race, gender and ethnicity, according to a new study from Duke University.

Can pyruvate improve cardiac function following surgery?

Can pyruvate, the end product of glycolysis, help improve cardiovascular function in children who have cardiopulmonary bypass surgery and suffer from low cardiac output syndrome (LCOS)? This question is one that Rafael Jaimes, Ph.D., a staff scientist at Children's National Heart Institute, a division of Children's National Health System, is studying, thanks to a two-year grant from the American Heart Association.

Edging closer to personalized medicine for patients with irregular heartbeat

In 2015, then President Barack Obama launched a precision medicine initiative, saying that its promise was "delivering the right treatments, at the right time, every time to the right person." A biomedical engineer at Washington University in St. Louis has answered the call by making a significant step toward precision medicine for patients with a life-threatening form of irregular heartbeat by determining in which patients a commonly used drug treatment would be most beneficial.

Can Facebook advertising prevent cancer?

Is there ever a truly good time for a colonoscopy? Even with the recommendation of a primary care physician, it's easy to procrastinate or simply forget to schedule an appointment with your friendly neighborhood endoscopist. That's why the Colorado Cancer Screening Program (CCSP) and partners have been exploring ways to remind patients—to prod them, if you will—in places that patients will notice. Namely via text and social media. Results of the initiative, called EndCancer, are published this week in the journal mHealth.

US urges doctors to write more Rx for overdose antidote

The U.S. government told doctors Wednesday to consider prescribing medications that reverse overdoses to many more patients who take opioid painkillers in a move that could add more than $1 billion in health care costs.

High cost of re-operation after breast-conserving surgery

A small number of women require re-operation after breast-conserving surgery (BCS) for breast cancer, if the surgical margins are not free from cancer.

Food insecurity linked with binge-eating disorder and obesity

Food insecurity—difficulty affording enough food to support regular, balanced meals—was associated with increased likelihoods of binge-eating disorder and obesity in a recent International Journal of Eating Disorders study.

Mind-body exercises may improve cognitive function as adults age

Mind-body exercises—especially tai chi and dance mind-body exercise—are beneficial for improving global cognition, cognitive flexibility, working memory, verbal fluency, and learning in older adults. The findings come from a meta-analysis of all relevant published studies.

Birthweight and early pregnancy body mass index may risk pregnancy complications

Women who were born with a low birthweight are at increased risk of pregnancy complications, according to a new Obesity study. The findings suggest that women who were born small may have been affected by unfavourable intrauterine conditions, and the physiological demands of pregnancy may act as a "second hit" leading to pregnancy complications.

GSK, Pfizer to merge consumer healthcare units

Pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer on Wednesday announced a merger of their consumer healthcare units that produce over-the-counter medicines.

Veganism and masculinity

Meat has long been thought to guarantee masculinity. How gender is defined by diet during the "veggie boom" is explained by Professor of Sociology, Tanja Paulitz, and her research associate, Martin Winter.

The virtual cancer patient

No two cancers are the same. Each type of leukaemia has its peculiarities, every tumour patient a unique disease. Why? Cancer cells are degenerate cells whose growth is out of control as the result of various genetic changes. These mutations vary even amongst patients with the same kind of cancer. And even cells within a tumour can vary genetically. These genetic changes not only influence the growth of the diseased cells, but also the way they respond to treatment. "Traditional treatments are often about making adjustments that won't work for a particular patient," says Heinz Koeppl, Professor of Electrical Engineering and co-member of the Department of Biology.

Do's and don'ts of helping loved ones pay medical bills

Relief from medical debt doesn't top the typical holiday wish list. But help with unexpected medical bills could be a welcome gift for millions of Americans.

Bustling Ugandan border town on high alert for Ebola

Stormwater from the peaks of the Rwenzori Mountains swells the muddy Lhubiriha River that marks the often porous border between western Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Obama health law sign-ups beat forecast despite headwinds

The Affordable Care Act has yet again beaten predictions of its downfall, as government figures released Wednesday showed unexpectedly solid sign-ups for coverage next year.

Biology news

Rabbit gene helps houseplant detoxify indoor air

We like to keep the air in our homes as clean as possible, and sometimes we use HEPA air filters to keep offending allergens and dust particles at bay.

Study shows women lower their voice when competing for a man

A team of researchers with members from the U.K., Poland and Germany has found that women tend to lower their voices when competing sexually for a man. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group describes their study involving participants in a speed-dating event and what they found.

Three generations, 1,000s of miles: Scientists unlock mystery of a dragonfly's migration

Thanks to photos and films featuring clouds of stunning orange and black monarch butterflies flying across North America, many people today are familiar with how monarchs migrate. The migration patterns of other insects, however, remain more mysterious, for both the public and scientists alike. A new paper in Biology Letters describes a dragonfly's full life cycle for the first time, in compelling detail.

Researchers find gender separation affects sense of smell

A University of Wyoming researcher and his team have discovered that separating male and female mice, over time, changes the way they smell.

Stick insects: Egg-laying techniques reveal new evolutionary map

Known for exceptional mimicry, stick insects have evolved a range of egg-laying techniques to maximize egg survival while maintaining their disguise—including dropping eggs to the ground, skewering them on leaves, and even enlisting ants for egg dispersal. Scientists have now combined knowledge on these varied techniques with DNA analysis to create the best map of stick-insect evolution to date. Contrary to previous evolutionary theories based on anatomical similarities, the new analysis finds the first stick insects flicked or dropped their eggs while hiding in the foliage. It also finds that geographically isolated populations of stick insects are more likely to be related than those with similar features. The research, published in a special issue on stick insects in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, takes us one step closer to understanding these enigmatic creatures.

Mice give predators the cold shoulder

Starve or be eaten? For small animals, this challenge must be faced every day. Searching for food is a risky business, and small animals must balance their need to eat as much as possible against the risk of being eaten themselves. New research from Western Sydney University shows how mice, and likely other small prey, resolve this problem with the help of an energy-saving mechanism known as torpor.

Regulating the rapidly developing fruit fly

From birth, it takes humans almost two decades to reach adulthood; for a fruit fly, it takes only about 10 days. During a fly embryo's initial stages of development, the insect looks different from minute to minute, and its body plan is defined in just a few hours. Caltech researchers have now gained new insights into how a fly's genes influence this fast period of development—work that ultimately could shed light on the rapid cellular proliferation that occurs in other situations, including human cancers.

Multicultural creatures of habit: Long-term study reveals migratory patterns of bats

Every year, trillions of animals migrate for thousands of kilometres between their summer and winter habitats. Among them are several species of bats whose journeys in the dark of the night unfold largely unnoticed by humans and have only partially been investigated by science. A reconstruction of individual migration patterns of the common noctule (Nyctalus noctula) in Central Europe has now revealed that traveling distances vary greatly among individuals, yet overall, females cover longer distances than males.

Giant fungus covering many acres found to have stable mutation rate

A team of researchers from Canada and the U.S. has found that a giant fungus covering many acres has a stable mutation rate. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group describes their study of the extremely old fungus and what they found.

Groups of pilot whales have their own dialects

In humans, different social groups, cities, or regions often have distinct accents and dialects. Those vocal traits are not unique to us, however. A new study from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has found that short-finned pilot whales living off the coast of Hawai'i have their own sorts of vocal dialects, a discovery that may help researchers understand the whales' complex social structure. The study was published on Dec. 14, 2018, in the journal Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.

Social animals have more parasite infections but lower infection-related costs

Animals living in large groups tend to have more parasites than less social animals do, but according to a new study in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, they may also be better protected from the negative effects of those parasites.

When 'alien' insects attack Antarctica

Of the known alien (non-native) species found in Antarctica, a non-biting species of midge currently presents one of the highest risks to terrestrial ecosystems, researchers have found.

How does your garden grow in space?

Astronauts in low-earth orbit could use a fresh salad to brighten up all those freeze-dried meals. But the microgravity space environment can affect plant growth in ways we're only beginning to understand. In research presented in a recent issue of Applications in Plant Sciences, Drs. Anna-Lisa Paul and Robert Ferl, and colleagues at the University of Florida Space Plants Lab, showed that two different transcriptomic approaches could feasibly be used to understand how subcomponents of plant organs respond to the space environment.

Broadening the biodiversity catalogue of spider populations in the Iberian Peninsula

The biodiversity catalogue of Iberian Peninsula spiders now includes a dozen new species from seven newly discovered families mainly found in soil, according to an article led by Professor Miquel Àngel Arnedo from the Faculty of Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute (IRBio) of the University of Barcelona.

X chromosome: How genetics becomes egalitarian

In cell biology, men and women are unequal: men have an X chromosome, while women have two. How can we get around this difference? Geneticists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), Switzerland, turned to some historic research dating from the 1960s to sequence skin and blood cells one by one. They observed how the second X chromosome in females gradually becomes inactive in order to avoid an overdose of genes encoded by the X. They also found that several genes bypassed this inactivation, which varied according to the tissue and life phases of the cell. The UNIGE research explains the inequalities noted between men and women regarding genetic diseases. You can read all about the results in the journal PNAS.

Marmoset monkeys expect the melody's closing tone

In speech and music, words and notes depend on each other. Humans are highly sensitive to such dependencies, but the evolutionary origins of this capacity are poorly understood. Cognitive biologists at the University of Vienna conducted playback experiments with common marmoset monkeys and found that sensitivity to dependencies might have been present in the shared ancestor of marmosets and humans. The study results were recently published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

Banning trophy hunting imports won't save the world's wildlife

Well-meaning celebrities and MPs recently published a letter in the Guardian, calling for a ban on trophy hunting imports into the UK. To the novice conservationist, this surely sounds like a good thing, right? After all, trophy hunting kills animals so how could it possibly be good for conservation?

Climate change affects breeding birds

The breeding seasons of wild house finches are shifting due to climate change, a Washington State University researcher has found.

Getting yeast to make artificial sweets

The holiday season can be a time of excess, but low- or no-calorie sweeteners could help merry-makers stay trim. Stevia is a zero-calorie sweetener that is sometimes called "natural" because it is extracted from the leaves of a South American plant. Now, a report in ACS Synthetic Biology describes a way to prepare large quantities of stevia using yeast, which would cut out the plant middleman and could lead to a better tasting product.

Snowed in: Wolves stay put when it's snowing, study shows

Wolves travel shorter distances and move slower during snowfall events, according to new research by University of Alberta biologists. The effects were most pronounced at night, when wolves hunt, and behaviour returned to normal within a day. Wolf tracks across snow in northeastern Alberta.

New research indicates that whale teeth are still present past mid-gestation, which is somewhat surprising

The humpback whale and a handful of similar whale species have a feeding mechanism utterly unique in the animal kingdom.

Loss of forest intactness increases extinction risk in birds

Fragmentation within intact forests has a higher impact on vertebrate biodiversity than equivalent losses in already degraded landscapes, but the relationship between forest 'intactness' and extinction risk has not been quantified.

Outrage as six baby seals decapitated in New Zealand

Six baby seals have been found decapitated in New Zealand in what wildlife rangers on Wednesday branded a "cruel and senseless" act against a protected species.

First Steps: Scientists launch evolutionary study to explore the origins of fish that walk

A new research collaboration with support from the National Science Foundation, or NSF, begins an unprecedented study of walking cavefish to better understand the "fin-to-limb" transition that enabled the first vertebrates to walk on land more than 350 million years ago. This new research collaboration between LSU, New Jersey Institute of Technology, or NJIT, and University of Florida is set to launch the first evolutionary study of the unique pelvic structure and walking mechanics of the waterfall-climbing blind cavefish, or Cryptotora thamicola—the only living species of fish known capable of walking on land with a similar motion as four-limbed vertebrates, or tetrapods, which include mammals, reptiles and amphibians.


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