Monday, January 28, 2019

Science X Newsletter Monday, Jan 28

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 28, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A new supervised learning approach to grasp planning in robots

A multi-granularity reasoning framework for social relation recognition

Nonlinear integrated quantum electro-optic circuits

Adaptive locomotion of artificial microswimmers

Use a microscope as a shovel? Researchers dig it

Converting Wi-Fi signals to electricity with new 2-D materials

Molecular analysis of anchiornis feather gives clues to origin of flight

Study shows audience judgments can identify online misinformation

How do fish & birds hang together? Researchers find the answer is a wake with purp

Peptide papers point to new ways of tackling bacteria

Three luminous blue variable candidates found in the galaxy NGC 4736

Waterproof skin patch allows for monitoring biometrics during water sports

Proton transport 'highway' may pave way to better high-power batteries

Whopping big viruses prey on human gut bacteria

AlphaStar hungry for world domination in StarCraft II fights

Astronomy & Space news

Three luminous blue variable candidates found in the galaxy NGC 4736

Russian astronomers have identified three new luminous blue variable (LBV) candidates in the star-forming galaxy NGC 4736. While one of the three newly found candidates was confirmed to be an LBV, the nature of the remaining two remains uncertain. The discovery is presented in a paper published January 16 on

Missing-link in planet evolution found

For the first time ever, astronomers have detected a 1.3 km radius body at the edge of the solar system. Kilometer-sized bodies like the one discovered have been predicted to exist for more than 70 years. These objects acted as an important step in the planet formation process between small initial amalgamations of dust and ice and the planets we see today.

To catch a wave, rocket launches from top of world

On Jan. 4, 2019, at 4:37 a.m. EST the CAPER-2 mission launched from the Andøya Space Center in Andenes, Norway, on a 4-stage Black Brant XII sounding rocket. Reaching an apogee of 480 miles high before splashing down in the Arctic Sea, the rocket flew through active aurora borealis, or northern lights, to study the waves that accelerate electrons into our atmosphere.

Curiosity says farewell to Mars' Vera Rubin Ridge

NASA's Curiosity rover has taken its last selfie on Vera Rubin Ridge and descended toward a clay region of Mount Sharp. The twisting ridge on Mars has been the rover's home for more than a year, providing scientists with new samples - and new questions - to puzzle over.

World's largest digital sky survey issues biggest astronomical data release ever

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, in conjunction with the University of Hawai'i Institute for Astronomy (IfA), is releasing the second edition of data from Pan-STARRS—the Panoramic Survey Telescope & Rapid Response System—the world's largest digital sky survey. This second release contains over 1.6 petabytes of data (a petabyte is 1015 bytes or one million gigabytes), making it the largest volume of astronomical information ever released. The amount of imaging data is equivalent to two billion selfies, or 30,000 times the total text content of Wikipedia. The catalog data is 15 times the volume of the Library of Congress.

Radiation for dummies

Meet Helga and Zohar, the dummies destined for a pioneering lunar flyby to help protect space travelers from cosmic rays and energetic solar storms.

The sun in 2018

This montage of 365 images shows the changing activity of our sun through the eyes of ESA's Proba-2 satellite during 2018. The images were taken by the satellite's SWAP camera, which works at extreme ultraviolet wavelengths to capture the sun's hot turbulent atmosphere – the corona, at temperatures of about a million degrees.

Technology news

A new supervised learning approach to grasp planning in robots

Researchers at the University of Utah have recently developed a probabilistic grasp planner that can explicitly model grasp types to plan high-quality precision and power grasps in real time. Their supervised learning approach, outlined in a paper pre-published on arXiv, can effectively plan both power and precision grasps for a given object.

A multi-granularity reasoning framework for social relation recognition

A team of researchers at Beijing University and JD AI Research have recently developed a multi-granularity reasoning framework for social relation recognition. Their framework, described in a paper pre-published on arXiv, was trained to analyze images of people in different scenes and predict the social relation between them.

Adaptive locomotion of artificial microswimmers

Bacteria display remarkable plasticity by exploiting mechanics in response to locally changing physical and chemical conditions. Compliant structures usually assist their taxis behavior to navigate inside complex and structured environments. Bioinspired microbiological mechanisms contain rationally designed architectures capable of large, nonlinear deformation to introduce autonomy into engineered small-scale devices.

Converting Wi-Fi signals to electricity with new 2-D materials

Imagine a world where smartphones, laptops, wearables, and other electronics are powered without batteries. Researchers from MIT and elsewhere have taken a step in that direction, with the first fully flexible device that can convert energy from Wi-Fi signals into electricity that could power electronics.

Waterproof skin patch allows for monitoring biometrics during water sports

An international team of researchers has developed a skin patch for monitoring a person's biometrics that functions underwater. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes the patch, how it works and its possible uses.

Proton transport 'highway' may pave way to better high-power batteries

Researchers at Oregon State University have found that a chemical mechanism first described more than two centuries ago holds the potential to revolutionize energy storage for high-power applications like vehicles or electrical grids.

AlphaStar hungry for world domination in StarCraft II fights

AlphaStar rocks. If its very name suggests pride of place, it is well earned.

VeryMal: Campaign in image-based malware spotted

By this time, news stories have made words like bugs, viruses and malware familiar and by all means frequent, as computer users scramble to self-educate on how to avoid falling victim to a range of security invasions.

Neural network assimilates multiple types of health data to help doctors make decisions with incomplete information

MIT researchers have developed a model that can assimilate multiple types of a patient's health data to help doctors make decisions with incomplete information.

Defending against cyberattacks by giving attackers 'false hope'

With almost every online purchase, a person's personal information—name, date of birth and credit card number—is stored electronically often in the "cloud," which is a network of internet servers. Now, as more people buy from online businesses, researchers at the University of Missouri hope to employ a new strategy in the ongoing struggle to protect digital information in the cloud from targeted cyberattacks. The strategy establishes a new artificial intelligence system to combat digital intrusions.

Netflix puts 'Fortnite' in crosshairs as streaming wars heat up

Netflix, moving to fend off the challengers in the war for streaming media dominance, is taking aim at competitors from the video game world, notably "Fortnite."

US free news sites BuzzFeed, HuffPost feel the layoff pinch

America's free online news heavyweights, BuzzFeed and HuffPost, this week were rocked by a new wave of layoffs, a sign of an advertising-dependent economic model under threat.

Big week for Big Tech as quarterly earnings loom

Big Tech firms face a critical test in the coming days with quarterly updates that may offer clues on whether the world's largest companies are seeing growth or retrenchment ahead.

Misinformation woes could multiply with 'deepfake' videos

If you see a video of a politician speaking words he never would utter, or a Hollywood star improbably appearing in a cheap adult movie, don't adjust your television set—you may just be witnessing the future of "fake news."

Dictionary learning-based classification of ink strokes in Vincent Van Gogh's drawings

Researchers in the Netherlands and the U.S. have used discriminative dictionary learning techniques to study and classify the brush strokes in historical artworks, specifically those created by Vincent van Gogh. Ultimately, the aim is to find a way to carry out the automatic classification of an ink drawing based on the type of stroke used by the artist.

Facebook has 'new tools' against EU election meddling

Facebook on Monday unveiled new tools to counter online political meddling in the European elections, part of a campaign to answer growing pressure to rein in disinformation.

Toshiba unveils robot to probe melted Fukushima nuclear fuel

Toshiba Corp. unveiled a remote-controlled robot with tongs on Monday that it hopes will be able to probe the inside of one of the three damaged reactors at Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant and grip chunks of highly radioactive melted fuel.

Smart technology could hold key to safer winter roads

A Heriot-Watt spin-out company is using smart technology to help safeguard Scotland's roads and possibly bring an end to pot-holes.

New method to determine how safe buildings are after an earthquake

Deciding when it's safe for a building's residents to move back in after an earthquake is a major challenge and responsibility for civil engineers. Not only do they have to evaluate whether the building could collapse, but also whether it could withstand aftershocks of the same magnitude. The good news is, some promising research is being carried out in this field.

Putting free energy to good use with minuscule energy harvesters

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have developed a micro-electromechanical energy harvester that allows for more flexibility in design, which is crucial for future IoT applications.

Can you life-hack your way to love?

There's never been a shortage of dating advice from family, friends and self-help authors. Yet in the digital age, people are turning to nerdy hacker-types as guides.

Watching TV is free and easy with under-the-radar Locast

You canceled cable long ago. Your TV antenna has trash reception for ABC. But you want to host an Oscars viewing party. What to do?

Facebook tightens EU political ad rules ahead of election

Facebook said Monday it is tightening requirements for political ads in the European Union ahead of bloc-wide elections scheduled for the spring, its latest effort to fight misinformation and increase transparency on its platforms.

Next-generation big data analytics tools will make sense of streaming data in real time

A new big data analytic tool being developed by computer scientists at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will help businesses make sense, in real time, of the deluge of data that streams at them like water from a fire hose.

First challenge for Renault's new chiefs: Ghosn's payout

Carlos Ghosn may no longer be in the driver's seat at Renault, but he will remain at the centre of vigorous negotiations in the coming weeks over severance pay potentially worth tens of millions of euros.

Nissan faces SEC probe over executive pay

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Nissan over executive pay, the firm said Monday, the latest blow for the auto giant reeling from the arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn over alleged financial misconduct.

Singapore says American leaked 14,200 HIV records

Singapore's health ministry accused an American on Monday of stealing and leaking the records of 14,200 people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, before January 2013.

Medicine & Health news

Does intensive blood pressure control reduce dementia?

Intensive lowering of blood pressure did not significantly reduce dementia risk but did have a measurable impact on mild cognitive impairment (MCI), according to the final, peer-reviewed results from the Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) Memory and Cognition in Decreased Hypertension (SPRINT MIND). SPRINT MIND secondary results are the first to show an intervention that significantly reduces the occurrence of MCI, which is a well-established precursor of dementia. The results were reported Jan. 28, 2019 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. SPRINT MIND was an integral aspect of the initial design for SPRINT, a large, randomized clinical trial of intensive blood pressure lowering on cardiovascular and renal disease; both were funded by the National Institutes of Health.

New knowledge about the interactions of messenger RNAs and micro-RNAs during brain development

One of the big challenges in neurobiology is cell classification, a problem compounded by the fact that the same cell type can look different depending on the method of analysis used to classify it—whether by cell shape, gene expression profile, electrophysiological firing pattern, or selective vulnerability to certain diseases.

Sleep loss heightens pain sensitivity, dulls brain's painkilling response

When we're in pain, we have a hard time sleeping. But how does poor sleep affect pain? For the first time, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have answered that question by identifying neural glitches in the sleep-deprived brain that can intensify and prolong the agony of sickness and injury.

Compound identified that improves heart function in rats

Heart attack survivors may think the worst is behind them. But many later develop heart failure, a progressive disease marked by shortness of breath and swelling in the legs. Symptoms can prevent patients from working, exercising—even picking up grandchildren.

Study suggests how high blood pressure might contribute to Alzheimer's

The brain's system for removing waste is driven primarily by the pulsations of adjoining arteries, University of Rochester neuroscientists and mechanical engineers report in a new study. They also show that changes in the pulsations caused by high blood pressure slow the removal of waste, reducing its efficiency.

A possible way to reenergize T cells exhausted from fighting a tumor

An international team of researchers has found a possible way to reenergize T cells exhausted from fighting a cancerous tumor. In their paper published in the journal Science Immunology, the group describes their study of the impact of a decrease in enolase 1 on T cells and how bypassing it allowed them to recharge immune cells.

Stress and dream sleep are linked to pathways of brain cell death and survival

The first and most distinct consequence of daily mild stress is an increase in rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, a new study in the journal PNAS reports. The research also demonstrated that this increase is associated with genes involved in cell death and survival.

In test of wisdom, new research favors Yoda over Spock

A person's ability to reason wisely about a challenging situation may improve when they also experience diverse yet balanced emotions, say researchers from the University of Waterloo.

Study uncovers why heart attack triggers arrhythmia in some, explores potential treatment

A team of researchers led by the University of California San Diego has identified a genetic pathway that causes some individuals to develop an abnormal heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, after experiencing a heart attack. They have also identified a drug candidate that can block this pathway.

Researchers identify faulty 'brake' that interferes with heart muscle's ability to contract and relax

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is the most common genetic disease of the heart and a leading cause of sudden cardiac death in young people and athletes.

Making 'sense' of the 'cart before the horse' in mammalian cells

A fusion gene is a new gene made by joining parts of two different genes. The current thought is that fusion genes can happen in cells with unstable genome when part of the DNA from one chromosome moves to another chromosome. When the fusion gene is transcribed into RNA, the product is a fusion RNA that then is translated into a fusion protein. Fusion proteins may lead to cancer development. For instance, they are found in some types of cancer such as leukemia, prostate, breast, lung and others, and are being studied for the diagnosis and treatment of these diseases.

Microscopic eye movements affect how we see contrast

It is often difficult for a driver to see a person walking on the side of the road at night—especially if the person is wearing dark colors. One of the factors causing this difficulty is a decrease in contrast, making it hard to segment an object, such as a person, from its background.

Blocking pro-fibrosis pathway may improve immunotherapy of metastatic breast cancer

A Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team has found that the overgrowth of connective called fibrosis may block the effectiveness of immunotherapies against metastatic breast cancer. Their report published in PNAS also finds that plerixafor, a drug approved to mobilize blood system stem cells in the treatment of lymphoma and multiple myeloma patients, can reduce fibrosis in both primary and metastatic breast tumors and improve response to immunotherapy in mouse models.

iMT: Creating a blueprint for cortical connectivity

With a bit of light, a few photo sensitive compounds and specialized paper, the blueprint was born. As the favored type of technical drawing for over a century, architects used this crucial tool for its fast reproducibility as well as its capacity for detailed documentation. For workers on a build site, the document was equally essential as it contained all the necessary design information, the specific types of components included, and served as a guide detailing how everything fit together. If there was ever any doubt, more often than not a quick consult with the blueprint resolved questions and progressed stalled construction forward.

State of emergency declared in US measles outbreak

A state of emergency was declared on Friday in the western US state of Washington following a measles outbreak that has affected more than two dozen people, the majority of them children.

Parents worried about risks, still think opioids are best for kids' pain relief

Headlines filled with frightening news of opioid abuse, overdoses and reports that 90 percent of addictions start in the teen years could make any parent worry. Yet parents remain conflicted about opioids: while more than half express concern their child may be at risk for opioid addiction, nearly two-thirds believe opioids are more effective at managing their child's pain after surgery or a broken bone than non-prescription medication or other alternatives, according to a nationwide survey commissioned by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA).

Injection of opioids linked to significant increase in bacterial heart infections

People who inject drugs are at a high risk for a number of health issues. In a new study from ICES, Lawson Health Research Institute and Western University, researchers discovered a significant rise in the risk of infective endocarditis, a serious heart infection, among Ontarians who inject drugs. When examining opioid prescriptions in the province, the research team discovered the increased risk of infective endocarditis may be related to the growing use of a specific opioid, hydromorphone.

Researchers highlight need for more smoking cessation programs in state prisons

Inmates want to quit smoking but don't have access to smoking cessation programs in state prisons, increasing the risk—especially among black male inmates—of cancer, heart disease, stroke and other smoking-related diseases, according to Rutgers researchers.

Addressing dietary inequities in Canada

To address the root causes of poor diets, improve nutrition and reduce dietary inequities in Canada requires a broad approach, combining nutrition and social policies, argues an analysis in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Study examines long-term opioid use in patients with severe osteoarthritis

New research published in Arthritis & Rheumatology, an official journal of the American College of Rheumatology, reveals that prescription opioids are commonly used long-term to treat pain in older patients with severe osteoarthritis. The study also found substantial statewide variation in rates of treatment with long-term opioid therapy for osteoarthritis, which was not fully explained by differences in patient characteristics or access to healthcare providers.

A 'compelling call' for pediatricians to discuss firearm safety

Paradoxically, as overall firearm ownership decreased in U.S. households with young children from 1976 to 2016, the proportion of these families who owned handguns increased. This shift in firearm preferences over decades from mostly rifles to mostly handguns coincided with increasing firearm-mortality rates in young children, researchers report Jan. 28, 2019, in Pediatrics.

Seven core principles can help substance use treatment systems focus on high-level goals

Building on reviews of existing studies, researchers in Canada have identified the principles that may help improve substance use treatment systems. They have published these seven core principles in an article in the current supplemental of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Why it's so important to have a primary care doctor

The United States health care system is generally centered around hospitals and specialty care. The value of primary care, however, has remained unclear and debated, in part due to limited research.

Diabetes tops common conditions for frequent geriatric emergency patients

Older adults go to the emergency department more often than other age groups, stay longer, and typically require more resources and medical interventions. The most common conditions among geriatric frequent users include diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, congestive heart failure and blockage or damage to veins or arteries, according to new research in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Updated treatment guidelines for atrial fibrillation recommend a new class of blood thinners to help prevent stroke

A newer type of blood-thinning medications, non-vitamin K oral anticoagulants (NOACs), is now recommended as the preferred alternative to warfarin for reducing the risk of stroke associated with atrial fibrillation (AFib), according to a focused update to the 2014 American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology/Heart Rhythm Society Guideline for the Management of Patients With Atrial Fibrillation.

Decision-making tool fails to ease anxiety for families of life-support patients

Every year, the families of more than 400,000 patients on prolonged life support in intensive care units across the U.S. face weighty decisions about their loved one's recovery and whether to end life-sustaining care.

Cycling and treadmill workstations may be 'healthier' than standing options

Cycling and treadmill workstations may be 'healthier' than standing versions, because their use seems to be associated with greater positive physiological changes in the body, finds a systematic review of the available evidence, published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Researchers develop urine test for bladder cancer

Researchers at the School of Medicine have developed a highly sensitive urine test for diagnosing and monitoring bladder cancer.

Drinking water study raises health concerns for New Zealanders

Last year, a Danish study reported a link between nitrate in drinking water and the risk of developing colorectal (bowel) cancer. This finding could have important implications for New Zealanders.

Helping kids manage side effects of allergy treatments

For children undergoing immunotherapy – a promising treatment for peanut allergies – uncomfortable side effects can induce anxiety, perhaps to the point of skipping doses or dropping treatment entirely. But guiding young patients to the mindset that uncomfortable side effects are a sign that treatment is working can help reduce anxiety, according to new research by Stanford psychologists.

Push to do more after US pedestrian deaths hit more than 49,000 in 10 years

The authors of a new report are calling on federal, state and local governments to do more to address a staggering spike in pedestrian fatalities.

Is the future of abortion online?

While the abortion debate continues worldwide, even in countries where it has long been legal, new drugs and online telemedicine services could provide access to safe abortion beyond borders and laws.

Let's stop blaming ourselves for stigmatizing mental health

Stigma is everywhere.

Why people with anxiety and other mood disorders struggle to manage their emotions

Regulating our emotions is something we all do, every day of our lives. This psychological process means that we can manage how we feel and express emotions in the face of whatever situation may arise. But some people cannot regulate their emotions effectively, and so experience difficult and intense feelings, often partaking in behaviours such as self-harm, using alcohol, and over-eating to try to escape them.

Women gain weight when job demands are high

Heavy pressures at work seem to predispose women to weight gain, irrespective of whether they have received an academic education. This is shown in a study of more than 3,800 people in Sweden.

Research team identifies a new genetic variant associated with acute respiratory distress

An international collaboration including Javier Belda, professor of surgery at the University of Valencia, has reported a new genetic variant associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The work, with a sample of more than 2,000 patients, has been published in the Intensive Care Medicine Experimental journal.

Train the brain to form good habits through repetition

You can hack your brain to form good habits – like going to the gym and eating healthily – simply by repeating actions until they stick, according to new psychological research involving the University of Warwick.

Genetically sequencing DNA could yield patient care insights

Increasingly, the words "genetics" and "genome" are making their way into news stories about health and medicine. Doctors talk about scientific research—how there may be links between gene mutations in your DNA and an increased risk of cancer or heart disease—but it all seems far away, like something that's not quite connected to your own health and well-being right now. And up until recently, that was true. To accurately identify those links, researchers would need to know how often a genetic mutation occurred among the U.S. population. To know that, they'd have to do large-scale genetic sequencing, which was prohibitively expensive.

Aging Americans fall prey to 'brain-boosting' supplements offering hope, hype and dodgy data

Americans are feeding the multi-billion-dollar "brain health" dietary supplement industry in a desperate bid to stave off or reverse Alzheimer's disease and other dementias. But such treatments are "pseudomedicine" and health care providers should discourage patients from pursuing them, say neurologists at UC San Francisco.

Hunting Ebola's origins

The outbreak of Ebola that started in 2013 in West Africa, infecting nearly 30,000 people and killing 11,000 before it ended in 2016, has long left scientists puzzling over a key question: Where did the virus originate?

Space Station engineer says indoor lights are making us sick. Here's why

Those fluorescent lights hanging above your cubicle might be making you sick, depressed and obese, according to ex-NASA scientist Robert Soler.

Researchers discover key protein in the production of insulin

The crucial hormone insulin needs help acquiring the right structure. A protein that assists in the process of insulin folding has just been discovered in a new study conducted by researchers at the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. They hope the new research results can be used to develop treatments for conditions such as increased level of insulin in the blood known as hyperinsulinemia.

Columbia study finds alcohol, space, and time influence young people's sexual encounters

A significant under-addressed issue in global health is the interaction between alcohol use and sexual encounters among adolescents, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. A study conducted by Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) in Tanzania explored the factors that influence young people's access to and use of alcohol, and subsequent engagement in safe or unsafe sexual behaviors, from the perspective of young people themselves. The results showed that alcohol use intersects with a spatial dimension in relation to where youths are consuming alcohol and subsequently engaging in sex which, in turn, influences young people's likelihood of using condoms and practicing safer sex. The findings are published online in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

The 'Choking game,' the 'Bird Box challenge': Which kids are most at risk?

(HealthDay)—The "choking game"—and other clearly ill-advised and dangerous internet challenges—leave many parents wondering what drives teens to take the bait and participate.

Snuggling your pet hedghog may spread salmonella, CDC warns

(HealthDay)—They're cute, but cuddling a pet hedgehog could transmit potentially deadly salmonella, U.S. health officials warned Friday.

Pictorial warning labels on hookahs reduce smoking satisfaction and exposure to smoking-related toxicants

In the first clinical laboratory study to provide evidence on the effects of warning labels on waterpipes, also known as hookahs, researchers at FIU Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work found pictorial warning labels are effective in reducing smokers' positive experiences.

Inhibiting DGAT1 reduces size of fat-carrying lipoparticles

The enzyme that 'loads up' fat-carrying particles in the liver before they are transported around the body has been identified for the first time by scientists at the University of Warwick.

Seven ways to cut calories in beverages

(HealthDay)—When counting calories, don't forget those in beverages. You might not realize how many you're drinking.

Fun moves for better agility

(HealthDay)—Agility, or the ability to react quickly to change without losing your balance, is an important skill not only for playing sports, but also for everyday living.

Pediatricians push for laws to prevent teen vaping

(HealthDay)—Strong limits on marketing and sales are needed to control and prevent teens' use of electronic cigarettes, a new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement says. Teens who use e-cigarettes are more apt to use traditional cigarettes eventually, studies show. The surge in vaping among American teens threatens to turn back five decades of public health gains in reducing tobacco use, the AAP warned.

Working mothers up to 40% more stressed, study finds

Biomarkers for chronic stress are 40% higher in women bringing up two children while working full-time, new research has found.

Screen time before bed puts children at risk of anxiety, obesity and poor sleep

Pre-teens who use a mobile phone or watch TV in the dark an hour before bed are at risk of not getting enough sleep, a new study reveals.

A proposal to reduce vaccine exemptions while respecting rights of conscience

Vaccine resistance is one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019, according to the World Health Organization. Here in the U.S., New York City is currently experiencing its worst outbreak of measles in decades, sickening scores of children in ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.

How renting could affect your health

Our homes play a number of vital roles in our lives. They are are where we rest, spend time with friends and family, and can be most ourselves. Given this central role it is not surprising that researchers have found a number of important relationships between the homes we live in and our health.

Not all saturated fats are equal when it comes to heart health

The type of saturated fats we eat can affect our risk of a heart attack, according to a study published in the International Journal of Cardiology. People whose diets contain relatively little palmitic and stearic acid—saturated fats composed of 16 or more carbon atoms (longer-chain saturated fats) that are typically found in meats—and eat plant-based proteins instead have decreased chances of myocardial infarction. Moreover, individuals who eat more saturated fats with 14 or fewer carbon atoms (shorter-chain saturated fats) that are typically found in dairy products have lower risk of myocardial infarction.

Johns Hopkins faculty data highlight how gender disparities in salary add up over a lifetime

Around the country, women physician researchers make 7 to 8 percent less per year than men. At the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, efforts to eliminate such a gender disparity have cut the difference in salaries from 2.6 percent in 2005 to a statistically insignificant 1.9 percent in 2016. But even with that improvement and seemingly small pay gap, women faculty are likely to accumulate much less wealth over their lifetimes, Johns Hopkins researchers found.

Trial using donated eye tissue offers stem cell surgery hope

People with sight problems could benefit from a surgical trial advance that has been shown to help restore the surface of the eye.

What you eat could impact your brain and memory

You may be familiar with the saying, "You are what you eat," but did you know the food you eat could impact your memory?

US Nobelist was told of gene-edited babies, emails show

Long before the claim of the world's first gene-edited babies became public, Chinese researcher He Jiankui shared the news with a U.S. Nobel laureate who objected to the experiment yet remained an adviser to He's biotech company.

Mechanism explains breast cancer cell plasticity

One of the main obstacles to successfully treating breast cancer is the cells' ability to change in ways that make them resistant to treatment. Understanding the cellular mechanisms that mediate this cancer cell plasticity may lead to improved treatments. Taking a step in that direction, a team led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine has discovered that breast cancer cells can shift between two forms of the cell surface molecule CD44, CD44s and CD44v. Published in the journal Genes & Development, the study shows that breast cancer cells expressing mainly CD44s have increased metastatic behavior and resistance to therapy, while those expressing CD44v do not associate with these behaviors but do present increased cell proliferation.

Drug compound could be next-generation treatment for aggressive form of leukemia

Researchers have been struggling for years to find a treatment for patients who have a recurrence of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aggressive blood cancer that is one of the most lethal cancers. About 19,520 news cases are diagnosed a year, and about 10,670 people a year die from it, according to the American Cancer Society.

High rates of opioid prescriptions may be linked to poor labor force participation

Prescription opioids may be negatively affecting labor force participation and unemployment nationwide, according to findings in a new study co-authored by economists at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and published in The Journal of Human Resources.

Kick-starting the genome in early development

After the fertilisation of an egg cell, two become one; two sets of genetic information combine to form a genome. We can think of the egg and sperm as information capsules with stored instructions for starting a new life, but post fertilisation, what kick starts the interpretation of these instructions?

Common test for mental health understanding is biased

How do clinicians rate how well a patient understands what other people are thinking and feeling? That is to say—how does the patient assess another person's mental state?

Study finds freestanding EDs charge more than urgent care centers

Freestanding emergency departments (FSEDs) may charge more than urgent care centers (UCCs) to provide care for fewer patients who have similar characteristics and conditions, according to a study released in the Journal of Emergency Medicine.

New precision medicine procedure fights cancer, advances treatment for pets and humans

In a first-of-its-kind study, scientists at the University of Missouri have helped advance a patient-specific, precision medicine treatment for bone cancer in dogs. By creating a vaccine from a dog's own tumor, scientists worked with ELIAS Animal Health to target specific cancer cells and avoid the toxic side effects of chemotherapy, while also opening the door for future human clinical trials.

Someday, a pig's heart might save a child's life

(HealthDay)—The supply of donor organs for infants needing a heart transplant is critically low, but researchers have taken a first step toward using pig hearts to fill the need.

Too much screen time a damper on child's development

Young children spend a lot of time fiddling with smartphones, tapping away at tablets and staring at TV screens.

Medical experts 'sound the alarm' on medical misinformation

"Fake news" has become a popular term these days. But when it comes to medical advice, fake news can result in physical harm, even death.

Gender gap seen in accessing alcohol treatment with cirrhosis

(HealthDay)—Women with alcohol-associated cirrhosis (AC) are less likely to receive alcohol use disorder (AUD) treatment than men with the disease even though such treatment is associated with improved outcomes at one year, according to a study published online Jan. 22 in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Paclitaxel exposure in vascular device not linked to mortality

(HealthDay)—Exposure to paclitaxel in drug-coated balloons used in procedures for the treatment of symptomatic femoropopliteal peripheral arterial disease is not associated with mortality, according to a study published online Jan. 25 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

First US patient in novel stem cell trial for stroke disability enrolled at UTHealth

The first U.S. patient to participate in a global study of a stem cell therapy injected directly into the brain to treat stroke disability was enrolled in the clinical trial this week at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

Experimental Zika test under development

A collaboration of scientists including Professor Jean Patterson, Ph.D., of Texas Biomedical Research Institute, is working on a new way to detect Zika virus that will help guide clinicians in their treatment of patients with the disease. The test uses optofluidic chips to screen bodily fluids (blood, urine, semen) for the presence of the virus. This new approach will also help pinpoint the stage of the disease. Researchers at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Brigham Young University, and the University of California at Berkeley developed the technology being tested.

Companies navigate dementia conversations with older workers

Faced with an aging American workforce, companies are increasingly navigating delicate conversations with employees grappling with cognitive declines, experts say.

Home remedies: Animals as healers

Pet therapy is gaining fans in health care and beyond. Animal-assisted therapy can reduce pain and anxiety in people with a range of health problems.

'CRISPR babies': What does this mean for science and Canada?

In the wake of the announcement in China last November of the first 'CRISPR babies', Prof. Bartha Knoppers and researcher Erika Kleiderman from McGill's Centre of Genomics and Policy (CGP) have published a commentary article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on the use of CRISPR gene-editing techniques.

The growing role of precision and personalized medicine for cancer treatment

In a paper published in the September/December 2018 issue of Technology, a group of researchers from Rutgers University Department of Biomedicine Engineering have published a review paper on the transformative potential of precision and personalized medicine (PPM) for cancer treatment.

Victorian convicts were fed a surprisingly sustaining diet

Inmates carried out heavy labour in Victorian prisons, and given the stories about the awful food in these prisons, you might assume that they wasted away while they did their time. However, our latest study shows that most convicts were within the normal BMI range at the beginning of their sentence and remained so on release.

Targeted antisense oligonucleotide drug tested in humans

A first-in-human study with a new class of antisense oligonucleotide therapeutics showed the ability to target the RNA-silencing drug to the liver, resulting in improved potency and safety at therapeutic doses. The design and results of this trial, conducted in healthy human volunteers are reported in Nucleic Acid Therapeutics.

Multichannel bioreactor for lung regeneration analysis

New strides are being made toward the ex vivo growth of human lungs. In a new article published in Tissue Engineering, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, researchers report the development of a high-throughput, automated, multichannel lung bioreactor that allows parallel culture of up to five human cell-populated isolated rat lung scaffolds.

Officials urge vaccinations amid Northwest measles outbreak (Update)

Public health officials scrambling to contain a measles outbreak in the U.S. Northwest warned people to vaccinate their children Monday and worried that it could take months to contain the highly contagious viral illness due to a lower-than-normal vaccination rate at the epicenter of the crisis.

Biology news

Molecular analysis of anchiornis feather gives clues to origin of flight

An international team of researchers has performed molecular analysis on fossil feathers from a small, feathered dinosaur from the Jurassic. Their research could aid scientists in pinpointing when feathers evolved the capacity for flight during the dinosaur-bird transition.

Whopping big viruses prey on human gut bacteria

Viruses plague bacteria just as viruses like influenza plague humans.

Hens that lay human proteins in eggs offer future therapy hope

Chickens that are genetically modified to produce human proteins in their eggs can offer a cost-effective method of producing certain types of drugs, research suggests.

'Bug bombs' are ineffective killing roaches indoors, leave behind toxic residue

Total release foggers, commonly known as "bug bombs," are ineffective at removing cockroaches from indoor environments, according to a new study from North Carolina State University.

Scientists identify toxic antipredator defense mechanism in locusts

A team of scientists led by Prof. Kang Le at the Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, has reported an unprecedented animal defense mechanism by which an olfactory aposematic (warning) signal can be converted to a hypertoxic chemical to facilitate an antipredator defense in locusts.

New insight into unique sugar transport in plants

Sugar transport through sugar transport proteins (STP) is unique to plants, and is important for the proper development of plant organs such as pollen. STPs are also used to concentrate sugars in specific tissues like fruit, and they play an important role in the plant defence against fungal attacks from things like rust and mildew.

How sponges undermine coral reefs from within

Coral reefs are demolished from within by bio-eroding sponges. Seeking refuge from predators, these sponges bore tunnels into the carbonate coral structures, thus weakening the reefs. Scientists from the Royal NIOZ Netherlands Institute for Sea Research have uncovered how the sponges hollow out and take over reef skeletons. This finding, published in Scientific Reports on Thursday January 24th, helps to explain why sponges erode reefs faster as atmospheric CO2 levels rise.

Could an extremophile hold the secret to treatment of devastating injuries?

Water bear. Moss piglet. Tardigrade

Scientists bring new insight into how animals see

Scientists from The University of Manchester have found a way to trick the eye into thinking the world is brighter than it actually is.

A solid scaffolding for cells

To perform the task for which they have been synthesized, proteins must first assemble to form effective cellular "machines." But how do they recognize their partners at the right time? Researchers at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) have deciphered the fundamental role of the Not1 protein, conserved in all eukaryotic organisms: by regulating the activity of ribosomes, the "protein factories" of cells, Not1 allows proteins that must work together to be synthesized in the same place and at the same time. The identification of this previously unknown mechanism helps to better understand one of the most fundamental elements of cellular machinery, which, if it malfunctions, causes many diseases. Results are published in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology.

Cassava high in iron and zinc could improve diets and health in west Africa

A new study led by Danforth Center principal investigator Nigel Taylor and research scientist Narayanan Narayanan, shows that field-grown cassava plants overexpressing a combination of plant genes can accumulate significantly higher concentrations of iron and zinc.

For endangered lemurs, internet fame has a dark side

Cats and dogs aren't the only cute animals that rule the internet. We also coo over a video of someone snuggling a tiger cub, feeding a sloth or tickling a loris.

Man versus condor: the king of the Andes under threat

By all accounts, Dasan and Illika should have died of poisoning.

Climate change pushing killer whales to migrate north

Paying no attention to nearby divers, a killer whale and her calf hunting for food frolic in a snowy Norwegian fjord.

AI adjusts for gaps in citizen science data

Citizen science is a boon for researchers, providing reams of data about everything from animal species to distant galaxies.

Otago bioethicists call for more robust system of ethical governance in human gene-editing

University of Otago bioethicists are calling for a more robust system of ethical governance in human gene-editing in the wake of the Chinese experiment aiming to produce HIV immune children.

Can dog show judges spot risky head shape?

Breed show judges could improve dogs' health by using their ability to detect subtle differences in head shapes of Cavalier King Charles spaniels, a new study by the School of Veterinary Science at the University of Surrey reports.

Listeria in the feed: A dangerous hygiene problem in fattening pigs

In a recent study, researchers from Vetmeduni Vienna investigated an episode of fatal listeriosis in fattening pigs with a mortality rate of nearly 10 percent. The research team traced the source of infection to the fed silage. Following simple guidelines during the ensilaging process can minimize this risk—with benefits for food safety and public health.

A biologist yearns to discover the secrets of Watts Towers' shells

Thirteen miles from the coast, marine biologist Bruno Pernet was himself surrounded by concrete, asphalt and an assortment of roughly 10,000 seashells.

Wheat can be made safe for people with coeliac disease by using gene editing

One to 2 per cent of the population has coeliac disease (CD), an immune reaction to gluten. Wheat grains contain gluten, a mixture of glutenin and gliadin proteins, which build a network that gives wheat bread its unique properties and quality. Most gliadins and part of the glutenins contain immunogenic epitopes, which are the actual trigger of the immune reaction. A gluten-free diet, excluding wheat, barley and rye, is currently the only remedy for coeliac patients. This diet is not easy to adhere to, partly because wheat gluten is added to many processed food products for their viscoelastic properties. In addition, gluten-free products typically require the inclusion of numerous additives to adjust their texture and taste, resulting in products that are often less healthy than gluten-based equivalents, and more expensive. Thus there is a need to develop healthier food products for coeliac patients.

Scientists investigate the uncontrolled expansion of invasive blue crabs in the Mediterranean

The American blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) is an invasive voracious alien species, with no known predators and with high reproductive and survival rates, which has now spread throughout the Mediterranean. Since it appeared in the Ebro Delta in 2012, this crab native to the American Atlantic has expanded via sea, rivers and wetlands all over the region of Valencia.

Increased speed of engineered human cell response

Researchers from the National Institute of Chemistry in Slovenia have developed a novel approach to regulate human cell response, endowing cells to respond to extracellular stimuli in minutes instead of hours. The authors believe that their system could be useful in various medical applications.

The evolution of lethal fighting in a spider mite

While fighting over females is common among male animals in the wild, these fights rarely result in death. You can't pass on your genes when you're dead or badly injured. So why do the males in some colonies of the tiny spider mite (Stigmaeopsis miscanthi) display aggressive, and sometimes deadly, behavior against rival males, while the males in other colonies do not, and how did this behavior evolve? Recent research published in the journal Ecology and Evolution, led by Professor Yukie Sato of the University of Tsukuba, Japan, shows that if you are a male Stigmaeopsis miscanthi mite, where you live is likely to determine your level of aggression.

Flounders in the Gulf of Finland: Decline caused by the near disappearance of one species

Over the past 40 years, there has been a dramatic decline in fishery landings of an iconic Baltic Sea fish: the flounder. In the 1980s, the landings of the flounder fishery in the Gulf of Finland dropped by 90 per cent, a trend that was later confirmed by fishery-independent surveys.

Significant drop in shark bites reported worldwide in 2018

University of Florida researchers say far fewer shark bites were reported worldwide last year.

Shiftless: Novel host antiviral factor that inhibits programmed -1 ribosomal frameshifting

The genome sizes of viruses are usually relatively small. To increase information content of the genome, many viruses employ a translation recoding mechanism dubbed programmed ribosomal frameshifting.

New family of fungi threatens a UNESCO-listed 8-century-old cathedral in Portugal

To be listed as UNESCO World Heritage requires special care and protection of valuable cultural monuments and pieces of Art from threats such as biodeterioration caused by microcolonial black fungi. The culprits lodge their branch-like structures (hyphae) deep into the stone forming fissures and cracks and also produce polysaccharides that trigger corrosion.

Haiti's first-ever private nature reserve created to protect imperiled species

In a race against time, an American professor and a Haitian CEO have teamed up to establish private nature reserves to protect Haiti's disappearing species. Now, with funding from Global Wildlife Conservation and Rainforest Trust, the first such park has been purchased: Grand Bois, a mountain in the southwest of Haiti with rare and endangered plants and animals.

Danes erect fence on German border to stop swine fever

Denmark has begun erecting a 70-kilometer (43.4-mile) fence along the German border to keep out wild boars in an attempt to prevent the spread of African swine fever, which could jeopardize the country's valuable pork industry.

Avian influenza in Bangladesh: the role of migratory birds in the transmission of disease

Since 2005, when the highly-pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 started spreading across the globe, researchers have been faced with the question how the virus can spread across entire continents so quickly: does the virus travel through trade with poultry and products, or does it hitch-hike with migratory birds? Jonas Waldenström, professor in Disease Ecology, and Mariëlle van Toor, postdoctoral fellow in Ecology at Linnaeus University, have now been granted SEK 3.5 million by the Swedish Research Council for the project "Avian influenza in Bangladesh: the role of wild waterfowl in disease transmission." In collaboration with researchers in Bangladesh, they will gather and analyse large quantities of data on how the transmission of viruses takes place. They will capture wild dabbling ducks and equip them with small GPS/GSM transmitters that record location and other sensory information with high accuracy. The GPS transmitter is charged with the help of solar cells and data is transmitted via the mobile phone network so that the ducks always can be monitored by the research team. This will allow the researchers to study the birds' movements day and night in close to real-time.

Tracking conflict and a migratory wolf

Thousands of people cross the border between Oregon and Idaho every day without anyone batting an eye. On one day about 13 years ago, another Idahoan left the Gem State for its western neighbor and, like many of the travelers before him, went totally unnoticed as he passed over the state line.

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