Thursday, January 24, 2019

Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jan 24

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 24, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers develop a dynamic keyboard character recognition system

People think and behave differently in virtual reality than they do in real life

Rocking improves sleep and memory, studies in mice and people show

Unlocking graphene's superconducting powers with a twist and a squeeze

Sleep deprivation accelerates Alzheimer's brain damage

New digital-camera-based system can 'see' around corners

Cellular stress at the movies: Biochemists illuminate a key survival mechanism in cells

How to escape a black hole: Simulations provide new clues about powerful plasma jets

Stellar winds, the source material for the universe, are clumpy

Physicists use supercomputers and AI to create the most accurate model yet of black hole mergers

Scientists drill to record depths in West Antarctica

Chefs and truck drivers beware: AI is coming for your jobs

New kidney research sheds light on harms of certain drugs

Xiaomi's foldable prototype has wings and video gets mega-played

Multicolor holography technology could enable extremely compact 3-D displays

Astronomy & Space news

Stellar winds, the source material for the universe, are clumpy

Data recorded by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory of a neutron star as it passed through a dense patch of stellar wind emanating from its massive companion star provide valuable insight about the structure and composition of stellar winds and about the environment of the neutron star itself. A paper describing the research, led by Penn State astronomers, appears January 15, 2019, in the journal, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

New detector fails to confirm would-be evidence of dark matter

Almost 20 years ago, the DAMA/LIBRA experiment at Italy's Gran Sasso National Laboratory—LNGS began publishing data showing that it had detected a signal modulation produced by an interaction with the Milky Way's dark matter halo.

Stars shrouded in iron dust

The Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) has participated in the discovery of a group of metal-poor stars shrouded in a large amount of iron dust situated in the Large Magellanic Cloud. This study involved a combination of theoretical models of the formation of dust in circumstellar envelopes with infrared observations taken with the Spitzer Space Telescope. The work includes predictions for the future James Webb Space Telescope.

NASA's storm-silenced rover marks 15th anniversary on Mars

NASA's Opportunity rover is silently marking the 15th anniversary of its touchdown on Mars.

As clouds fall apart, a new star is born

Using the ALMA observatory in Chile, a group of astronomers led by MPIA's Henrik Beuther has made the most detailed observation yet of the way that a giant gas cloud fragments into dense cores, which then act as the birthplaces of stars. The astronomers found that the mechanisms for fragmentation are fairly straightforward, resulting from the combination of the cloud's pressure and gravity. More complex features, such as magnetic lines or turbulence, play a smaller role than previously thought.

This galaxy is no match for a hungry cluster

A new study led by Yale University astronomers tells the story of a galaxy that ran out of gas.

Prolonged spaceflight could weaken astronauts' immune systems

NASA hopes to send humans to Mars by 2030 on a round-trip mission that could take up to three years—far longer than any human has ever traveled in space. Such long-term spaceflights could adversely affect certain cells in the immune systems of astronauts, according to a new study led by University of Arizona researchers.

Amazing images from Sunday's total lunar eclipse as observers spy impact flash

Wow. Sunday night's total lunar eclipse offered an amazing view, and for a few astute observers, a little surprise.

Making the Hubble's deepest images even deeper

It has taken researchers at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias almost three years to produce the deepest image of the universe ever taken from space, by recovering a large quantity of "lost" light around the largest galaxies in the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field survey.

Moving on the moon

Europe is preparing to go forward to the moon, but how will astronauts move once they get there? Despite the Apollo missions, little is known about what lunar gravity may mean for our bodies. ESA's space medicine team is working to find out through a series of studies.

Preparing astronaut lunar exploration

Developing the most efficient and safest way to return to the Moon starts on Earth. European astronauts and spacewalk experts are getting ready for the future of Moon exploration with electronic aids, upgraded geological tools from the Apollo era and improved scientific protocols.

SpaceX Starhopper damaged in high winds

Elon Musk indicates that the SpaceX Starhopper has been damaged after being toppled in 50 mile-per-hour winds. This will take a few weeks to repair.

Technology news

Researchers develop a dynamic keyboard character recognition system

Researchers at NIT Silchar, India, have recently developed a new dynamic hand-gesture-based keyboard character recognition system. This virtual keyboard system, presented in a paper published in Springer's Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Humanized Computing, uses an image-based approach for gesture recognition that is pattern, speed and scale invariant in nature.

New digital-camera-based system can 'see' around corners

What if your car possessed technology that warned you not only about objects in clear view of your vehicle—the way that cameras, radar, and laser can do now in many standard and autonomous vehicles—but also warned you about objects hidden by obstructions. Maybe it's something blocked by a parked car, or just out of sight behind a building on a street corner.

Chefs and truck drivers beware: AI is coming for your jobs

Robots aren't replacing everyone, but a quarter of U.S. jobs will be severely disrupted as artificial intelligence accelerates the automation of existing work, according to a new Brookings Institution report.

Xiaomi's foldable prototype has wings and video gets mega-played

Yet another in-the-wings foldable thrown into the smartphone ring: this one from Xiaomi. This one has won considerable attention. Foldables-inundated tech watchers who saw it the concept via video said it looked "incredible," "unique," "amazing." What's the big deal? Think wings, actually. Two of them. Then think paper pamphlets that fold out in threes.

More efficient cryptocurrency reduces data needed to join the network and verify transactions by 99 percent

MIT researchers have developed a new cryptocurrency that drastically reduces the data users need to join the network and verify transactions—by up to 99 percent compared to today's popular cryptocurrencies. This means a much more scalable network.

Computer program aids food safety experts with pathogen testing

An innovative computer program could be a big help for food safety professionals working to keep production facilities free of food-borne pathogens.

Researchers create algorithm to predict PEDV outbreaks

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed an algorithm that could give pig farms advance notice of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) outbreaks. The proof-of-concept algorithm has potential for use in real-time prediction of other disease outbreaks in food animals.

Huawei announces 5G smartphone based on own technology

Chinese tech giant Huawei announced plans Wednesday to release a next-generation smartphone based on its own technology instead of U.S. components, stepping up efforts to compete with Western industry leaders in the face of Washington's warnings the company might be a security risk.

SK Hynix sees first quarterly profit fall in two years

The world's second-largest memory chip maker, South Korea's SK Hynix, saw operating profits drop for the first time in two years in the fourth quarter as prices fell, it said Thursday.

BuzzFeed to cut 15% of its workers: reports

BuzzFeed, one of the highest profile entertainment and news sites on the internet, plans to cut 15 percent of its workforce, US media reports said Wednesday.

'The new oil': Dublin strikes it rich as Europe's data hub

A new industrial revolution is under way on the outskirts of Dublin.

Static electricity could charge our electronics

Unhappy with the life of your smartphone battery?

Here's how a 100% renewable energy future can create jobs and even save the gas industry

The world can limit global warming to 1.5 ℃ and move to 100% renewable energy while still preserving a role for the gas industry, and without relying on technological fixes such as carbon capture and storage, according to our new analysis.

Instadrugs: new research reveals hidden dangers when young people use apps to buy illicit substances

Markets for illicit drugs are constantly evolving to increase profits and reduce risks to suppliers in response to law enforcement tactics. New technologies have been taken up with enthusiasm: from the use of pagers and mobile phones in the 1990s, to the more recent growth of online pharmacies and drug cryptomarkets, which host large numbers of illicit drug vendors operating in the hidden portion of the internet known as the "dark net."

Information theory holds surprises for machine learning

New SFI research challenges a popular conception of how machine learning algorithms "think" about certain tasks.

Microsoft's Bing back online in China

Microsoft's Bing search engine resumed service to Chinese users on Thursday, after a disruption raised fears among social media users that it was the latest foreign website to be blocked by censors.

Self-driving cars: why we can't expect them to be 'moral'

Ever since companies began developing self-driving cars, people have asked how designers will address the moral question of who a self-driving car should kill if a fatal crash is unavoidable. Recent research suggests this question may be even more difficult for car makers to answer than previously thought because the moral preferences people have vary so much between countries.

Apple puts brakes on car team but keeps eye on road

Apple acknowledged Thursday that it has trimmed its team devoted to self-driving car technology but stressed that its still in the race.

OECD hopes for global digital tax by 2020

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria said Thursday he hopes to lay the foundations this year for an international tax on digital giants that could come into force in 2020.

Is the world ready for the 'digital transformation'?

The annual business rendezvous in Davos is a hothouse of insider tech jargon, but this year's buzzword of "digital transformation" could translate into profound and painful changes for companies and workers.

Information wars endanger civilization, say 'Doomsday' experts

Information warfare is amplifying major worldwide threats like climate change and nuclear warfare, endangering the future of civilization, US experts said Thursday as the symbolic Doomsday Clock stayed at two minutes to midnight.

Goodbye to Ghosn as Renault appoints new chiefs (Update)

Carmaker Renault named two experienced French auto executives to replace arrested boss Carlos Ghosn on Thursday, signalling the start of a new era for the French manufacturer and its vital but strained alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi.

Digital technology offers new ways to teach lessons from the Holocaust

When it comes to understanding the horrors of the Holocaust – one of the key aims of International Holocaust Remembrance Day – most millennials are woefully lacking in knowledge. That much was laid bare in a 2018 study commissioned by the Claims Conference – an organization that supports survivors of the Holocaust.

Interactive control to guide industrial robots

Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU have developed an innovative technology enabling people and large industrial robots to work together in an intuitive way that feels a lot like human teamwork. Using the benefit of this technology, robots can recognize gestures, faces and postures to make this collaboration that much safer and more efficient. Fraunhofer IWU is set to present this innovation at the Hannover Messe Preview in hall 19 on January 24, 2019, and at the Hannover Messe in hall 17 at booth C24 from April 1 through 5, 2019.

Flexible bipolar plates made of polymers make it possible to build compact batteries

Whether used for power supply or in electric cars, current battery systems are based on a series of interconnected individual cells, which has certain disadvantages in terms of efficiency and manufacturing. Bipolar battery setups, in contrast, comprise compact stacks of individual cells. A new type of flexible and extremely thin bipolar plate allows batteries to be manufactured cost effectively. At the Hannover Messe Preview on January 24, 2019 (Hall 19) and the Hannover Messe itself from April 1 to 5, 2019 (Hall 2, Booth C22), researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety and Energy Technology UMSICHT will be presenting the development of this technology.

American Airlines warns of delays from shutdown

American Airlines executives warned of significant travel delays if the US government shutdown goes on much longer, but said Thursday that customer demand has not been significantly affected thus far.

Hitachi wants nationalisation of UK nuclear project: report

Hitachi's frozen nuclear power project in Britain can only be revived if it is nationalised, the Nikkei business paper reported the company's chairman as saying on Wednesday.

BA owner says will not bid for Norwegian

IAG, the owner of British Airways and Spanish carrier Iberia, said Thursday that it has decided not to make a formal bid for low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle.

General Motors to invest $22M more in Tennessee facility

General Motors says it plans to invest another $22 million in its Tennessee manufacturing facility to build more engines.

Medicine & Health news

People think and behave differently in virtual reality than they do in real life

Immersive virtual reality (VR) can be remarkably lifelike, but new UBC research has found a yawning gap between how people respond psychologically in VR and how they respond in real life.

Rocking improves sleep and memory, studies in mice and people show

Anyone who has ever put a small child to bed or drifted off in a gently swaying hammock will know that a rocking motion makes getting to sleep seem easier. Now, two new studies reported in Current Biology on January 24, one conducted in young adults and the other in mice, add to evidence for the broad benefits of a rocking motion during sleep. In fact, the studies in people show that rocking not only leads to better sleep, but it also boosts memory consolidation during sleep.

Sleep deprivation accelerates Alzheimer's brain damage

Poor sleep has long been linked with Alzheimer's disease, but researchers have understood little about how sleep disruptions drive the disease.

New kidney research sheds light on harms of certain drugs

Scientists have identified an enzyme that is a "master regulator" of kidney function that if excessively suppressed, can trigger renal failure. Their findings have implications for the use of existing drugs and the development of new pharmaceuticals.

Protein promotes small artery growth to damaged heart tissue in mice, study finds

A collaboration between basic and clinical scientists at Stanford University has revealed a protein that promotes the growth of small arteries leading into oxygen-starved heart tissues in mice.

'Training gym' for lab-grown heart cells: Engineering researchers design new platform

Heart muscle cells need exercise—even when they grow outside the human body. A new device designed by U of T Engineering researchers uses a rigorous training regimen to grow small amounts of cardiac tissue and measure how strongly it beats. The platform is ideal for testing the effects of potential drug molecules, and could help bring personalized medicine closer to reality.

Study may explain why once-promising cancer drugs failed

Nearly two decades after a class of once-promising cancer drugs called MMP inhibitors mysteriously failed in clinical trials, scientists think they may have an explanation for what went wrong.

New drug targets for BRCA-driven cancer uncovered

BRCA1 and BRCA2 ("BReast CAncer genes") are critical tumor suppressor genes—women carrying a mutation in one of these genes have up to an 80 percent risk of developing breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer. Cancer drugs known as Parp inhibitors have recently been approved for treating patients with BRCA-driven metastatic breast cancer or recurrent ovarian cancer, but many patients' cancers become resistant to the drugs. New drug targets for treating BRCA-driven cancer are urgently needed. Investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital have conducted a study to systematically identify new genetic targets on which BRCA2 cancer cells are more dependent than healthy cells and have tested these targets in the lab. Such "synthetic lethals" point to potential avenues for drug development. The team's findings are published in Molecular Cell.

Lessons learned from the adult neurogenesis debate

Since the 1960s, consensus about whether human adults generate new neurons with age has swayed back and forth from "yes, at least in some places in the brain" to "no, not at all." The debate reignited in 2018 when two headline-grabbing papers (10.1016/j.stem.2018.03.015 and 10.1038/nature25975), published weeks apart, made convincing arguments for each side. In a review paper published January 24 in the journal Trends in Neurosciences, University of British Columbia professor Jason Snyder (@jsnsndr) argues that the conflicting reports are reconcilable, reveal issues related to the way we study the brain, and draw attention away from how enhancing adult neurogenesis, even artificially, could benefit human health.

Slim people have a genetic advantage when it comes to maintaining their weight

In the largest study of its kind to date, Cambridge researchers have looked at why some people manage to stay thin while others gain weight easily. They have found that the genetic dice are loaded in favour of thin people and against those at the obese end of the spectrum.

Evolution of signaling molecules opens door to new sepsis therapy approaches

Minor infections can become fatal: Millions of people die each year from sepsis, an overreaction of the immune system. A new immune signaling molecule designed by a research team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) now provides the basis for potential new approaches in sepsis therapy.

Infinite hug mechanism may be key to lung fibrosis

Researchers have long known that fibrosis – scarred tissue and organs – is caused by a wound healing mechanism that goes awry beyond normal wound repair. Now, a group of researchers at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Dentistry has identified mechanisms underlying the development of fibrosis in the lungs – and it seems to originate with a cellular-level "hug" that just won't end.

Research raises hope for new therapies for chordoma, a rare bone cancer

Chordoma is literally a one in a million cancer, with few effective treatment options. A new understanding of the biology behind this tumor type is bringing novel opportunities to light.

Study suggests birth mechanics are part of the process that leads to autism

A team of researchers at Neurochlore, Ben-Ari Institute of Neuroarcheology has found evidence suggesting that the birth process itself may play a role in the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in some people. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes monitoring brain size in ASD mouse models before, during and after birth, and what they found.

Genetically modified virus shown able to kill tumors in mice with retinoblastoma

An international team of researchers reports that modifying an adenovirus a certain way made it an effective tumor killer in mice with retinoblastoma. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the researchers describe modifying the virus and testing its effectiveness in treating retinoblastoma.

A cerebrospinal fluid test to track tumor progression in some gliomas

A team of researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical College used genetic testing of cells found in cerebrospinal fluid to track certain brain tumors. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes tests they conducted with cancer patients and analysis of their cerebrospinal fluid, and what they found.

deCODE publishes the first full-resolution genetic map of the human genome

Scientists at deCODE genetics in Iceland, a subsidiary of Amgen, today publish the first genetic map of the human genome developed using whole-genome sequence data.

Teaching human cells to clean house to delay aging and fight neurodegeneration

Monash researchers have unlocked a key process in all human cells that contributes to diseases like cancer and neurodegenerative diseases as well as ageing. The discovery reveals how cells efficiently get rid of cellular junk, which when it accumulates, can trigger death and the health problems associated with getting older.

Fried food linked to heightened risk of death among older US women

Regularly eating fried food is linked with a heightened risk of death from any cause and heart-related death, among postmenopausal women, finds a US study in The BMJ today.

Needle and syringe programmes cost-effectively prevent hepatitis C transmission

Providing clean injecting equipment through needle and syringe programmes is a highly cost-effective way of preventing hepatitis C (HCV) transmission among people who inject drugs and could save millions of pounds in infection treatment costs in the UK, according to research led by the University of Bristol and London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

Teens' same-gender friendships key to later satisfaction in romantic relationships

Researchers have long known that the quality of an adult's romantic life is closely tied to both physical and mental health in adolescence. A new longitudinal study sought to identify the factors in adolescence that best predicted who would and would not have a satisfying romantic life in their late 20s. The study found that the skills teens learn in friendships with peers of the same gender were the strongest predictors of later romantic satisfaction.

Study: Natural disaster affects children's schooling years later

The social disruption that results from natural disasters often interrupts children's schooling. However, we know little about how children's learning is affected in the years after a disaster. A new study looked at changes in children's academic performance after major bushfires in Australia. The study concluded that children in regions affected significantly by bushfires demonstrated poorer academic outcomes in some subjects than children in regions that were less severely affected by the fires.

US children show clear evidence of bias at the intersection of race and gender

A new Northwestern University study provides strong and consistent evidence of bias at the intersection of race and gender in 4-year-old children. The researchers examined 4-year-old children's responses to images of other children who varied both in race—black and white—and gender—female and male.

More people in recovery from substance use problems are quitting smoking than ever before

Smoking rates among people recovering from an alcohol or drug disorder are more than double that of the general population. But a study from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Recovery Research Institute), that will appear in the February issue of Drug and Alcohol Dependence and was published online last month, found that those entering recovery in the past 10 years are quitting in greater numbers than their cohorts in the 1980s and 90s.

New global task force report questions effectiveness of spinal fusion procedures, provides recommendations

There is little to no evidence that two surgical procedures used to fuse crumbled vertebrae following a spinal fracture caused by osteoporosis reduce pain for patients any better than non-surgical or placebo procedures, according to a new report from a global task force of bone health experts published today in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research (JBMR).

Positive self belief key to recovery from shoulder pain

People are more likely to recover from shoulder pain if they have the confidence to carry on doing most things, despite their pain—according to new research from the University of East Anglia and University of Hertfordshire.

Free lung cancer screening program builds valuable relationships with patients

A free, simple screening for lung cancer can save a patient money, while building a healthy relationship for any medical needs they may have in the future. The research, published in the Annals of Thoracic Surgery, shows the partnership can be beneficial for patients looking for cardiology specialists, family medical care and other health-related issues, as well as for medical facilities that offer the free screening.

Zinc deficiency may play a role in high blood pressure

Lower-than-normal zinc levels may contribute to high blood pressure (hypertension) by altering the way the kidneys handle sodium. The study is published ahead of print in the American Journal of Physiology—Renal Physiology.

Lower-carbon diets aren't just good for the planet, they're also healthier

A new study examining the carbon footprint of what more than 16,000 Americans eat in a day has good news for environmentally conscious consumers: diets that are more climate-friendly are also healthier.

PopPUNK advances speed of bacterial pathogen surveillance

Differences in genetic diversity among bacterial pathogens correlate with clinically important factors, such as virulence and antimicrobial resistance, prompting the need to identify clusters of similar bacterial strains. However, current bacterial clustering and typing approaches are not suitable for real-time pathogen surveillance and outbreak detection.

Let's talk about Rx use: Recognizing and reversing an overdose

As addiction to opiates continues to be a major public health concern, it has become increasingly important to know how to respond to possible overdose situations. Knowing how to prevent and recognize the signs of an overdose, and how to respond to it, may save a life. Here's what you need to know.

One-third of gun injuries in America are treated in non-trauma centers

Of the roughly 74,000 emergency department visits for gunshot injuries in the United States every year, a third are treated in community hospitals that are not trauma centers, according to new research published today in JAMA Surgery. While public health efforts to better understand gun violence in the United States have increased, until now there has been relatively limited research on non-fatal gun injuries, which far outnumber fatal injuries, and where patients are treated. The recent availability of nationally representative data from over 900 U.S. hospitals allows researchers to better understand the injuries that are seen in the emergency department, and their causes and outcomes. The study, from researchers at Penn Medicine, could help inform hospitals' efforts to reduce future, gun-related injuries in their communities.

Study finds yogurt, other dairy foods associated with better cardiometabolic health

The consumption of yogurt and other dairy foods is associated with healthier dietary habits and cardiometabolic profile, according to a new study by University of Maine researchers.

New technology gives unprecedented look inside capillaries

More than 40 billion capillaries—tiny, hair-like blood vessels—are tasked with carrying oxygen and nutrients to the far reaches of the human body. But despite their sheer number and monumental importance to basic functions and metabolism, not much is known about their inner workings.

Breakthrough study reveals likely cause of neurological disorders

A team of researchers affiliated with UNIST has discovered a key protein that serves as the basic element for the development of intracellular structure of nerve cells. This protein, known as PLCγ1, is particularly important in connecting the nerves, so that both the corpus callosum, which connects the cerebral cortex's left and right hemispheres, and the dopaminergic nervous system to function properly.

How genes and evolution shape gender – and transgender – identity

Mismatch between biological sex and gender identity, culminating in its severest form as gender dysphoria, has been ascribed to mental disease, family dysfunction and childhood trauma.

When delayed gratification backfires

Much of life can seem like an endless cage match in which you're pitted against the forces of delayed gratification. Sticking to a diet or a gym regimen is hard when the payoff may not be seen or felt for months (or for decades, in a healthier later-life you), while tonight there's tiramisu on the dessert menu and a Netflix binge awaiting if you park yourself on the couch.

Researchers discover new biomarker for age-related macular degeneration

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, along with collaborators from the University of Iowa, have discovered a genetic biomarker that is associated with age-related macular degeneration and delayed rod-mediated dark adaptation—the first visual function for incident AMD in older adults with normal macular health and early AMD.

Connecting the dots between heartburn drugs and kidney damage

(HealthDay)—Just because a medication is available over the counter doesn't mean it won't have side effects or pose other dangers. One example is PPIs, a popular type of heartburn medication that can harm the kidneys, especially when taken long-term.

Slim down by counting bites instead of calories

(HealthDay)—Weight loss wisdom suggests chewing every bite 15 or more times to give your brain time to process what you're eating and send the signal that you're full. Now a group of studies has found that counting the bites themselves could be an effective way to lose weight.

Enzyme that breaks down amino acids may promote aging

Permanently arrested cell growth is known as "cellular senescence", and the accumulation of senescent cells may be one cause of aging in our bodies. Japanese researchers have discovered that a certain enzyme in our bodies promotes cellular senescence by producing reactive oxygen species. Drugs that target this enzyme could potentially suppress this process, and inhibit aging and aging-related illnesses.

Therapeutic and diagnostic functions of one antibody for pancreatic cancer

Of all gastrointestinal cancers, pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive. Because of this, it has a very low 5-year survival rate of just 5% and a median survival time below 6 months. Additionally, treatment is difficult, with only surgery shown to provide a cure. However, the vast majority of patients have tumors that cannot be removed surgically or their cancer is too advanced or spread too far to be treatable.

Identical twins light the way for new genetic cause of arthritis

Identical twin toddlers who presented with severe arthritis helped scientists to identify the first gene mutation that can single-handedly cause a juvenile form of this inflammatory joint disease. By investigating the DNA of individual blood cells of both children and then modelling the genetic defect in a mouse model, the research team led by Adrian Liston (VIB-KU Leuven) was able to unravel the disease mechanism. The findings may help to develop an appropriate treatment as well.

Spina bifida research shows surprising improvement in independent living

A unique study of spina bifida patients found that while mobility tended to decline in later life, surviving adults were more likely to live independently.

Benzodiazepines may decrease mortality in congestive heart failure

A study published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics indicates that treatment of anxiety with benzodiazepines may improve survival in congestive heart failure. Depression (in various forms and as various entities) is usually the main focus of research and treatment among psychiatric comorbidities in CVD patients. Anxiety has usually been lumped together with depression as a risk factor and a treatment focus. Thus, treatment with newer antidepressants with lesser cardiac toxicity and touted efficacy for both depression and anxiety has been the preferred approach to depression and anxiety in patients with CVD. However, the results of the 2 reviewed studies in this issue suggest (a) an independent (of depression) association of anxiety and CVD, and (b) the favorable effects of medications other than newer antidepressants in patients with CVD.

Two new, highly drug-resistant forms of bacteria that cause life-threatening typhoid fever

Every year, about 11-20 million people get sick with typhoid and between 128 000 and 161 000 people die from it, according to the World Health Organization. It's a potentially fatal gastrointestinal infection caused by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) bacteria that's usually spread through contaminated food or water. The highest incidences occur in parts of Asia and Africa. Although vaccines can provide some protection against typhoid fever and antibiotics are most commonly used to treat the disease, the increased levels of drug resistance are a cause of major concern.

Ambient air pollution exposure linked to sleep apnea

(HealthDay)—Ambient air pollution exposure is associated with sleep apnea, according to a study recently published online in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Endometrial scratching does not increase live birth rate in IVF

(HealthDay)—For women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF), endometrial scratching by pipelle biopsy between day 3 of the cycle preceding the embryo-transfer cycle and day 3 of the embryo-transfer cycle, does not result in a higher rate of live birth, according to a study published in the Jan. 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Insulin price more than doubled in the US

(HealthDay)—Some Americans with type 1 diabetes have cut back on their insulin usage as the cost of the drug nearly doubled over a five-year period.

When to seek help after taking a pill

With more suspected drug-related deaths at festivals this summer, the debate around testing these illegal drugs to check their purity and for contaminants has flared up once more. But from a user perspective, when should a person seek help for themselves or a friend after taking a pill? What can ambulance paramedics do to help if you do?

New research reveals how the marriage equality debate damaged LGBT Australians' mental health

Although Australia has now achieved marriage equality, the topics of sexuality and gender identity continue to spark heated – and often discriminatory – public debates.

'Gigantic gaps' in health system show up in crowdfunding, GoFundMe CEO says

Scrolling through the GoFundMe website reveals a seemingly endless number of people who need help or community support. A common theme is the cost of health care.

How to reduce your risks of dementia

Many people do not want to think about dementia, especially if their lives have not yet been touched by it. But a total of 9.9 million people worldwide are diagnosed with dementia each year. That is one person every 3.2 seconds.

The electronics industry sees money in your health

If the scores of personal health care devices at the recent Consumer Electronics Show are any indication, it's clear that the Apple Watch has kicked off a rush by high-tech companies to capitalize on people's worries about their health.

House calls are on the way: Health startup expands doctor house calls to Atlanta area with Aetna

Insurance company Aetna announced it is teaming up with the Los Angeles-based startup Heal to offer doctor house calls to the Atlanta metropolitan area.

How to wash your hands: Startup aims to solve major health care problem

When Luke Kyne and his classmates Marawan Gamal, Parham Chinikar and Michael Wu learned Canada has the highest rate of health care acquired infections (HAIs) of any developed country, they were inspired to reduce it.

Treating newborns exposed to opioids during pregnancy

There's a term used to describe the constellation of symptoms that can arise in newborns exposed to opioids during gestation: Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). And incidents of NAS, which can include jitteriness and diarrhea, are on the rise—more than tripling in Canada between 2003 and 2014.

Regulatory policy changes needed to bring AI into clinical decision making, study says

A new white paper from the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy outlines the policy needs for incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into diagnosis and other types of clinical decision support software with effective innovation, regulation and patient protections.

Using genetic clues to reform cardiac care

Experiencing cardiac arrest can be compared to being in a hot air balloon in a room that is rapidly filling with water. You are trapped, desperately aware of the danger you are in, and running out of time.

Human microbiome-derived bacterial strains with antitumor activity

Vedanta Biosciences, a clinical-stage company developing a new category of therapies for immune-mediated diseases based on rationally defined consortia of human microbiome-derived bacteria, today announced a publication in Nature reporting a newly discovered mechanism underlying antitumor immunity that involves human microbiota-driven induction of interferon-gamma-producing (IFNy+) CD8+ T cell accumulation in the gut and tumors. Led by Vedanta's scientific co-founder Kenya Honda, M.D., Ph.D., of Keio University School of Medicine, the research also led to the identification and selection of a defined consortium of human microbiome-derived bacterial strains that harnesses this mechanism of antitumor activity and cooperatively potentiates responses to checkpoint inhibitor therapies and immune challenges in general. Based on this research, Vedanta is advancing VE800, a proprietary clinical candidate designed to enhance immune responses against cancer. Vedanta plans to initiate clinical studies in 2019 to evaluate VE800 in combination with Bristol-Myers Squibb's checkpoint inhibitor OPDIVO (nivolumab).

Can artificial intelligence help doctors and patients have better conversations?

The practice of medicine involves complex—often stressful—communication between healthcare providers and patients and their families. People with chronic conditions are often advised to follow detailed treatment plans; end-of-life care often requires many complex (and emotionally draining) decisions; options for treating certain diseases are increasing dramatically. How much could health outcomes be improved with more effective communication between patients and healthcare providers? In a recent article in the BMJ, researchers from The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Trinity College Dublin, and the University of Edinburgh explore the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve patient/provider communication.

Low-cost changes in hospital canteens could 'nudge' customers to healthier diets

Making healthy food easier to access in hospital canteens and food outlets, as well as increasing healthy options and reducing portion sizes, are the most effective ways of encouraging healthcare staff to improve their diets according to a new study from the University of Warwick.

Gene drive technology makes mouse offspring inherit specific traits from parents

As mouse geneticists, we spend a lot of time waiting for mice to make more mice. Their small size, ease of care and willingness to mate have made mice the "mammal of choice" for scientists for more than a century. Indeed, these wriggly fur balls that strike fear in the hearts of some are owed a debt of gratitude for all they've taught researchers about human health and how mammalian bodies are built and function.

Researchers find new treatment for prostate cancer

Professor Fahri Saatcioglu at University of Oslo's Department of Biosciences (IBV) heads a research group investigating how androgens – male sex hormones – affect the risk of being affected by prostate cancer. The researchers have been working extensively in the study of what is called intracellular signaling pathways in prostate cancer cells, and this basic research has now given promising results. The scientific article that represents the results was published on January 24 in the highly regarded journal Nature Communications.

What impact does epigenetics have on our psychology?

In the battle of nature versus nurture, nurture has a new recruit: epigenetics—brought in from molecular biology to give scientific heft to the argument that genes are not destiny. The overwhelming evidence for genetic effects on our psychological traits conjures up a fatalistic vision for many people, one in which we are slaves to our biology, not in control of our own psyche and our own behaviour. Epigenetics, a mechanism for regulating gene expression, seems to offer an escape from genetic determinism, a means to transcend our innate predispositions and change who we are.

Dyscalculia: 'maths dyslexia,' why so many children struggle with numbers

You've probably heard of dyslexia, but have you heard of dyscalculia before? Maybe not, given that children with dyscalculia – or mathematical learning difficulties – are less likely to be diagnosed.

Any 'planetary diet' must also work for the poorest and most vulnerable

Over the past two years, 37 experts from around the world have battled to develop a diet that is both sustainable and healthy. They integrated existing knowledge on the impact of diet on diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer, with the impact of current food production systems on the environment.

Most Malawi children living with HIV are not aware of their illness

Almost two thirds of children living with HIV in Malawi were not informed about their HIV status by their primary caregivers, new research led by Curtin University found.

Scientists discover Ebola virus in West African bat

The government of Liberia, in partnership with the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and EcoHealth Alliance, announced the discovery of Ebola virus in a bat in Liberia. This is the first finding of Zaire ebolavirus in a bat in West Africa, adding to other evidence suggesting bats serve as a natural wildlife reservoir for Ebola and other related viruses. Scientists found both genetic material from the virus and ebolavirus antibodies in a Greater Long-fingered bat (Mineopterus inflatus) in Liberia's northeastern Nimba District. CII has been working to identify and characterize novel viruses at the intersection of humans and animals, on a global scale, for more than three decades. This work is a part of the USAID PREDICT project, which aims to better understand the animal reservoirs, seasonality, and transmission of viruses that can cause epidemic diseases.

Why liver transplant waitlists might misclassify high-risk patients

A new study has uncovered that the standard method for ranking patients on the waitlist for lifesaving liver transplantation may not prioritize some of the sickest candidates for the top of the list.

'Cascade of Care' framework aims to reduce opioid deaths

Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death for individuals under the age of 50, as the opioid epidemic continues unabated. One reason is that the majority of the estimated 2.4 million Americans with opioid use disorder aren't getting evidence-based treatment, including medications to treat opioid addiction.

Kids prefer friends who talk like they do

Children tend to prefer to be friends with other children who speak with the same local accent as they have, even if they grow up in a diverse community and are regularly exposed to a variety of accents, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

Anticancer immunity through tumor antigen identification and conversion to DNA vaccines

Wistar scientists and collaborators demonstrated the utility of an optimized synthetic DNA vaccine platform for rapidly inducing immunity against unique combinations of tumor neoantigens. These results reveal a direct pathway to effectively tackling the tumor variability that presents enormous challenges for the development of effective immune strategies.

Vegetable and fish diet linked to reduced risk of high blood pressure in pregnancy

A diet rich in vegetables and fish is associated with a lower risk of developing high blood pressure, and a related condition known as pre-eclampsia.

New food guide rightly eschews serving sizes, says expert

The evolution of Canada's Food Guide to a plate full of three food categories – plus a glass of water – represents a positive step towards healthy, 'flexetarian' eating, says a leading Western expert on diet and nutrition.

Brain condition related to long-term spaceflights needs more attention, data

More people today are poised to explore space than ever before; those who do will experience the effects of microgravity on the human body. Recognizing the need for more data related to those effects, Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) neuroradiologist Donna Roberts, M.D., and co-author Lonnie G. Petersen, M.D.,Ph.D., University of California San Diego, have published "The Study of Hydrocephalus Associated With Long-term Spaceflight (HALS) Provides New Insights into Cerebrospinal Fluid Flow," in JAMA Neurology's Jan. 23 online publication.

New insights into why we crave fatty foods when dieting

Have you ever wondered why we crave the very foods that we try to avoid when dieting? Or wish there was a way to turn off the craving?

LGB and other sexual minorities face significant health disparities

Sexual minorities—people who are attracted to members of the same sex or who identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual—are at a higher risk for several different health problems at different points in their lives, according to Penn State researchers.

Tests find widespread pestcide, toxin traces in French bread

Tests on samples of French bread have found widespread traces of pesticides and toxins, according to an investigation by a consumer magazine.

Researchers create road map of care for children with severe head trauma

Severe traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death and disability in children leaving 61 percent of survivors  with a lifelong disability, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

Copy number variants contribute to risk of 'schizophrenia-like' bipolar disorder subtype

A form of rare genomic structural variation called copy number variants (CNVs) may be more closely associated with schizophrenia than bipolar disorder. A new study published in Biological Psychiatry failed to find that CNVs were associated broadly with risk for bipolar disorder. However, schizoaffective disorder, which is a hybrid of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, had higher rates of CNVs compared with controls and other bipolar disorder subtypes.

Sleep deprivation may affect our genes

Sleep deprivation was associated with DNA damage in a new Anaesthesia study.

HBOT showed improvement in Alzheimer's disease

Dr. Paul Harch, Clinical Professor and Director of Hyperbaric Medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, and Dr. Edward Fogarty, Chairman of Radiology at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine, report the first PET scan-documented case of improvement in brain metabolism in Alzheimer's disease in a patient treated with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). The report, published in the current issue of the peer-reviewed journal Medical Gas Research.

Kidney-resident macrophages—a role for healing during acute kidney injury?

During development in the womb, immune cells called macrophages go to the kidneys, and they remain there for life. Understanding the possible healing role for these macrophages after kidney damage may be crucial to helping treat patients who suffer acute kidney injury.

Study reveals alarming numbers of violent injuries among schoolchildren

Nearly 1 in 5 fifth-graders has received violent injuries, the majority delivered by guns or knives, according to recently published research by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

Insulin deprivation leads to decreased ATP production in animal study

Despite the strong association between diabetes and dementia, how insulin deficiency affects brain function remains unclear. A recent study published in The FASEB Journal used a mouse model to investigate this mechanism.

NIFLA v. Becerra: A case of abortion rights or deceptive speech?

A 2018 Supreme Court case was framed as a debate over abortion rights, but a new analysis led by NYU College of Global Public Health published in the American Journal of Public Health finds that the Court was silent on one of the case's key issues: deceptive speech.

Increasing murder rate is erasing gains in life expectancy among Mexican men

The murder rate in Mexico increased so dramatically between 2005 and 2015 that it partially offset expected gains in life expectancy among men there, according to a new study by a UCLA public health researcher.

Frail kidney transplant recipients face higher risk of cognitive impairment

Among adults undergoing kidney transplantation, frailty was associated with cognitive decline over several years. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN) suggest that efforts are needed to preserve cognitive function in frail kidney transplant recipients.

Seasonal influenza plays a role in the deaths of many kidney failure patients

In patients with kidney failure, influenza-like illness (ILI) likely contributes to more than 1,000 deaths per year. The finding, which comes from a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN), points to the importance of protection against, surveillance of, and, where possible, treatment of such infections in patients with kidney dysfunction.

Effective method for reducing hospital stay after 'whipple' operation

Pancreaticoduodenectomy, or the Whipple operation, is one of the most complex abdominal surgeries, and is commonly prescribed as a first line of therapy for cancer located within the pancreatic head. It remains the most effective treatment method associated with prolonged survival. The surgery involves removal of parts of the pancreas, bile duct, and small intestine, requiring careful reconstruction of the organs involved. Clinicians at Jefferson have now shown that providing patients intensive care after surgery can help reduce hospital stay and reduce time to eligibility for adjuvant chemotherapy. The prospective, randomized, controlled study was published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Time is ripe for trying new fruits and vegetables

The start of a new year is a ripe time to branch out—and try those fruits and vegetables you may have noticed but keeping passing by at the supermarket.

Levodopa + carbidopa does not modify disease in early Parkinson

(HealthDay)—For patients with early Parkinson disease, treatment with levodopa combined with carbidopa has no disease-modifying effect, according to a study published in the Jan. 24 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Plasma marker predicts allograft failure in lung transplant

(HealthDay)—Donor-derived cell-free DNA (ddcfDNA) is a potential biomarker that can predict allograft failure after lung transplantation, according to a study published online Jan. 23 in EBioMedicine.

Body size, physical activity could impact odds of reaching 90

(HealthDay)—Height, body mass index (BMI), and physical activity are associated with longevity, with correlations differing by sex, according to research published online Jan. 21 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Psychopathic traits in adulthood up with child lead exposure

(HealthDay)—Higher childhood blood lead levels are associated with more psychopathy during the life course, according to a study published online Jan. 23 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Time to breast cancer surgery delayed for non-hispanic blacks

(HealthDay)—The time to surgery (TTS) after a breast cancer diagnosis is delayed for non-Hispanic black (NHB) versus non-Hispanic white (NHW) women, according to a study published online Jan. 23 in JAMA Surgery.

BP >120/80 mm hg linked to lower gray matter volume

(HealthDay)—In young adults, lower gray matter volume (GMV) is seen in individuals with blood pressure (BP) >120/80 mm Hg, according to a study published online Jan. 23 in Neurology.

Short duration between dinner, bed has no effect on HbA1c

(HealthDay)—Ensuring a short duration between dinner and bedtime has no effect on hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) levels in middle-aged and older Japanese adults, according to a study published online Jan. 22 in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.

In life and death, Alzheimer's disease looks different among Hispanic patients

Researchers at Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC), part of University of California San Diego School of Medicine, report that autopsies of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease (AD) when they were alive—and confirmed by autopsy—indicate many cognitive issues symptomatic of the condition are less noticeable in living Hispanic patients.

Drought in Lesotho heightened HIV risk in girls

Adolescent girls exposed to severe drought conditions in rural Lesotho had higher rates of HIV, according to a new study led by researchers at ICAP at Columbia University, a global health organization based at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, and from the Lesotho Ministry of Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adolescent girls and young women in rural areas of drought were also more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors, including sex work, and were more likely to drop out of school. The findings are published in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Follow-up phone calls by pharmacists help patients after hospital discharge

A new British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology study illustrates the benefits of having clinical pharmacists follow up, by telephone, with patients at risk of having medication-related issues after hospital discharge. The aim is to help patients manage their medications effectively.

Study uncovers ethnic differences in cognition and age in people diagnosed with dementia

In an International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry study of individuals diagnosed with dementia in the United Kingdom, people from minority ethnic backgrounds (Asian and Black patients) had lower cognitive scores and were younger when they were diagnosed with dementia than White patients.

Does classification system help with clinical decisions about hip surgery?

Determining which patients can benefit from hip preservation surgery (rather than hip replacement surgery) is challenging, but the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons recently published a hip preservation surgery appropriateness classification system.

Positive well-being may protect against depression in people with autism

In an Autism Research study of 36 newly employed adults with autism spectrum disorder who were participating in a supported employment program, positive well-being—or a sense of happiness and life satisfaction—was associated with a lower risk of developing depression over 12 months of follow-up.

3-D printing may help treat osteoarthritis

In a Journal of Orthopaedic Research study, scientists used 3-D printing to repair bone in the joints of mini-pigs, an advance that may help to treat osteoarthritis in humans.

Do economic conditions affect pregnancy outcomes?

Economic downturn during early pregnancy was linked with modest increases in preterm birth in a Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology analysis.

Overprescribing of antidepressant medications may be common in elderly patients

In a Pharmacology Research & Perspectives study of individuals living in Olmsted County, Minnesota from 2005-2012, potential overprescribing of antidepressant medications occurred in nearly one-quarter of elderly residents.

Are tattoos linked with individuals' health and risky behaviors?

In a survey-based study published in the International Journal of Dermatology, having tattoos was not significantly related to overall health status, but individuals with tattoos were more likely to be diagnosed with a mental health issue and to report sleep problems.

Patients who identify as transgender have lower odds of being screened for cancer: Study

Patients who identify as transgender have lower odds of being screened for cancer, suggests a new study from St. Michael's Hospital, which also explores how doctors can address the disparity.

Analysis examines migraine's link to higher stroke risk

Migraine with aura was associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, but a recent post-hoc analysis published in Headache reveals unexpected results suggesting that onset of such migraines before age 50 years is not associated with such risk. Later onset of migraine with aura was linked with a higher risk, however.

Normal variations in thyroid function may be linked to atrial fibrillation risk

A study by researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center has strengthened the link between thyroid function and atrial fibrillation (AF), an irregular heart rhythm that increases the risk of stroke and other heart-related complications.

General Mills recalls some flour over salmonella concerns

General Mills is voluntarily recalling some bags of its Gold Medal Unbleached Flour because of salmonella concerns.

Schools are a crucial place for physical activity programmes – here's how to make them work

The importance of promoting activity in young people cannot be overstated. It is a public health priority. And yet a new study reports that school-based physical activity programmes are ineffective at improving the activity levels of young people. The review found that in 17 international studies of a variety of school-based physical activity interventions, there was little or no change in the amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) the young people did throughout the day.

Concussion and its consequences

Professor Inga Koerte uses advanced medical imaging to study the immediate and long-term effects of repetitive head trauma on the brains of football players. In the following interview, she discusses her findings and their implications.

New treatment approach for leukemia

The BCR/ABL gene, which does not occur among healthy people, has been shown to be a causative agent in the pathogenesis of B-cell acute lymphocytic leukemia. The gene causes white blood cells to become leukemia cells that reproduce out of control. Earlier studies by the research group of Veronika Sexl at Vetmeduni Vienna had already shown that the STAT5 transcription factor was essential for the development of BCR/ABL-induced leukemia. The solution seemed simple: remove STAT5 and the tumor cell dies.

Insufficient evidence' that antidepressants affect fertility or infertility-treatment outcomes

Based on limited research, there's no strong evidence that selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) - the most widely used class of antidepressants—have an adverse impact on fertility, according to a paper in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry.

Your personality could put you at greater risk for developing diabetes

It has been said that a good personality can help one succeed in life. But can it also guard against disease risk? A new study based on data from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows that positive personality traits, such as optimism, actually may help to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Study: Keloids linked to early onset and late stage breast cancer

Findings from a new study conducted by researchers at Henry Ford Health System suggest a link between keloids and increased risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, particularly among African Americans. Keloids are benign fibroproliferative tumors, which can result in excessive growths of scar-like tissue on the skin. Keloids have been reported to affect some 11 million people worldwide. Despite this prevalence, the exact cause of keloid formation is unknown.

Biology news

Cellular stress at the movies: Biochemists illuminate a key survival mechanism in cells

Much like our fight-or-flight response, our cells also have a stress autopilot mode. An oxygen dropoff, overheating, or an invading toxin can trigger the cellular stress response – a cascade of molecular changes that are the cell's last-ditch effort to survive.

Biosecurity strategy needed for China's Belt and Road Initiative, researchers say

China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched five years ago, includes more than 120 countries, linked by six proposed land-based Economic Corridors between core cities and key ports along traditional international transport routes. But, as new evidence reported in the journal Current Biology on January 24 shows, the risk of introducing invasive species into new areas is substantial as it would threaten native species and biodiversity.

Sci-fi to reality: Superpowered salamander may hold the key to human regeneration

Regeneration is one of the most enticing areas of biological research. How are some animals able to regrow body parts? Is it possible that humans could do the same? If scientists could unlock the secrets that confer those animals with this remarkable ability, the knowledge could have profound significance in clinical practice down the road.

Climate drives link between forest biodiversity and productivity

Some ecologists believe that species richness is positively related to ecosystem productivity, while others conclude that the relationship is bell-shaped or they are unrelated. Using big data, Purdue University scientists now know which theory is correct—all of them.

A boost for photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is a fundamental biological process by which plants use light energy for growth. Most life forms on Earth are directly or indirectly dependent on photosynthesis. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry in Germany have collaborated with colleagues from the Australian National University to study the formation of carboxysomes, a structure that increases the efficiency of photosynthesis in aquatic bacteria. Their results, now published in Nature, could lead to the engineering of plants with more efficient photosynthesis and thus higher crop yields.

Research reveals new species are evolving fastest in Antarctica

New research published in Nature overturns previous theories about how the stunning biodiversity of the oceans evolved, with important implications for conservation.

Noisy gene atlas to help reveal how plants 'hedge their bets' in race for survival

As parents of identical twins will tell you, they are never actually identical, even though they have the same genes. This is also true in the plant world. Now, new research by the University of Cambridge is helping to explain why 'twin' plants, with identical genes, grown in identical environments continue to display unique characteristics all of their own.

Research shows what it takes to be a giant shark

In a paper published by Evolution, research led by Swansea University's Dr. Catalina Pimiento and co-authored by an international team of scientists from the UK, Europe and the USA examined the biological traits of all sharks and rays before running a series of evolutionary models to seek how gigantism evolved over time.

Study of archaeal cells could teach us more about ourselves

Forty-two years after Carl Woese defined archaea as the third domain of life, scientists at the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are still learning about these ancient organisms in ways that could help us learn more about eukaryotes.

Scientists tackle breeding challenges of land mine-finding rats

Thousands of people—many of them children—are hurt or killed by land mines each year, so finding these devices before they explode is critical.

Tasmanian devil cancer unlikely to cause extinction, say experts

A new study of Tasmanian devils has revealed that a transmissible cancer which has devastated devil populations in recent years in unlikely to cause extinction of the iconic species.

China clones gene-edited monkeys to aid disorder research

Chinese scientists announced Thursday they had cloned five monkeys from a single animal that was genetically engineered to have a sleep disorder, saying it could aid research into human psychological problems.

It's a bird–eat–bird world

Baby birds and eggs are on the menu for at least 94 species of animals in Australia's forests and woodlands, according to new research from The University of Queensland.

Researchers use genome mapping to save rare parrot species

Researchers at Oakland University led an international effort to map and analyze the DNA of three Amazon parrot species, with the goal of preserving the birds from extinction.

The curious link between brain diseases and blue-green algae

A scientific breakthrough intended to help boost the yields of food crops—such as wheat, cowpeas and cassava—might also improve understanding of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's that could one day lead to a cure.

Understanding the growth of coral reefs

Determining the growth dynamics of Red Sea coral reefs has enabled researchers to establish a baseline to assess the effects of environmental change.

Keeping chromosomes in check: A new role for heterochromatin

Although many people are aware that chromosomal damage and shortening contribute to the aging process, understanding how chromosomal defects occur is about more than just finding a way to turn back the clock. Large changes in the structure of chromosomes, known as gross chromosomal rearrangements, can result in cell death or genetic diseases such as cancer.

Expedition to Antarctica finds signs of life—researchers investigating if it still exists

An astonishing discovery is made by a research team including Brad Rosenheim, Ph.D., associate professor of geological oceanography in the USF College of Marine Science. He just returned from a six-week expedition to Antarctica where he lived in a tent under constant sunlight in a remote field camp roughly 500 miles from the South Pole.

New gene-editing kit puts the power of frog growth into citizen scientists' hands

In an ordinary house tucked away on a quiet street in Oakland, Josiah Zayner stands over a container filled with green tree frogs with a syringe in hand.

Using artificial intelligence for error correction in single cell analyses

Modern technology makes it possible to sequence individual cells and to identify which genes are currently being expressed in each cell. These methods are sensitive and consequently error prone. Devices, environment and biology itself can be responsible for failures and differences between measurements. Researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München joined forces with colleagues from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the British Wellcome Sanger Institute and have developed algorithms that make it possible to predict and correct such sources of error. The work was published in Nature Methods and Nature Communications.

Proactive personality has stronger wake-sleep rhythm

Proactive zebrafish appear to have a much stronger wake-sleep rhythm than reactive fish. In the most reactive fish, rhythmicity appears to be lacking completely. This is shown with research by Leiden biologists, published in December 2018 in the journal BMC Biology.

Researchers develop approach to protect biodiversity

New Zealand and other islands have experienced invasions of rats, Europe has seen the arrival of the spinycheek crayfish, spreading a deadly disease called crayfish plague: invasive species can put native animal and plant species on the brink of extinction. They often go undetected for a long time, or their damaging impacts are not immediately clear. This phenomenon – referred to as crypticity – represents a huge challenge for the management of species communities and the conservation of biodiversity. This is the conclusion of an international team of researchers involving the Czech Academy of Sciences, Berlin's Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB), Freie Universität Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, the University of Potsdam, India's National Institute of Advanced Studies and the University of Vienna.

You can't control what you can't find: Detecting invasive species while they're still scarce

Most of the 10,000 ships lost to the bottom of the Great Lakes in wrecks over the past 400 years are still lost – hidden somewhere in 6 quadrillion gallons of water. Finding anything in a lake is a lesson in humility, so life as a freshwater biologist is always humbling. If we can't account for huge steel freighters, imagine the challenge of finding a single tiny organism.

Stowaway fungi hitch a ride with birds to be with their plant partners

For the first time, scientists have shown that fungal hitchhikers use birds to colonize new territories with their plant partners. In a New Phytologist study, the researchers provide the first evidence that birds don't just carry plants to new places, but their fungal partners too.

Japan whalers discuss plan to resume commercial hunt July 1

Japanese whalers discussed plans Thursday to resume their commercial hunting along the northeastern coast on July 1, for the first time in three decades.

Government shutdown delays, disrupts environmental studies

The rainwater collection system is broken at the environmental research station on a remote, rocky Pacific island off the California coast. So is a crane used to hoist small boats in and out of the water. A two-year supply of diesel fuel for the power generators is almost gone.

Ecuador eradicates Galapagos rats using drones

Ecuador used drones to scatter rat poison on one of the Galapagos Islands in a bid to protect species including the world's only nocturnal seagull from the pests, the archipelago's national parks authority, PNG, said Thursday.

Baby pudu named for Korean pop star debuts at LA Zoo

Fans of a Korean pop star have raised more than $2,000 to name a baby deer at the Los Angeles Zoo after their favorite doe-eyed singer.

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