Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Jan 30

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Spotlight Stories Headlines

Researchers develop 3-D microstructures that respond to temperature and light

Autonomous visual inspection of large-scale infrastructures using micro aerial vehicles (MAVs)

More extreme and more frequent: Drought and aridity in the 21st century

Ingestible, expanding pill monitors the stomach for up to a month

Extreme rainfall events are connected across the world

New studies reveal deep history of archaic humans in southern Siberia

Once-abundant sea stars imperiled by disease along West Coast

Genes behind lager yeast's cold- and sugar-loving success revealed

MIT robot combines vision and touch to learn the game of Jenga

Engineers build a soft robotics perception system inspired by humans

A step closer to self-aware machines—engineers create a robot that can imagine itself

Researchers wing it in mimicking evolution to discover best shape for flight

Study shows dangerous bee virus might be innocent bystander

Researchers ID, treat faulty brain circuitry underlying symptoms of schizophrenia

Train harder, for less time: Resistance exercise program builds muscle and reduces diabetes risk

Astronomy & Space news

Goodbye to a beauty in the night sky

For over a century and a half, Eta Carinae has been one of the most luminous – and most enigmatic – stars of the southern Milky Way.

Image: Modular experiment platform on the ISS

Getting a science experiment on the world's only floating outpost in Earth orbit is a costly and time-consuming endeavour. ICE Cubes is ESA's faster, lower cost answer to making science happen in space.

P120C solid rocket motor tested for use on Vega-C

The first qualification model of the P120C solid-fuel motor, configured for Vega-C, was static fired yesterday on the test stand at Europe's Spaceport in French Guiana.

MIT's REXIS and Bennu's watery surface

After flying in space for more than two years, NASA's spacecraft OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer) recently entered into orbit around its target, the asteroid Bennu. Asteroids like Bennu are considered to be leftover debris from the formation of our solar system. So, in the first mission of its kind flown by NASA, OSIRIS-REx is looking to retrieve a sample and bring it to Earth.

All systems go as Parker Solar Probe begins second sun orbit

On Jan. 19, 2019, just 161 days after its launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, NASA's Parker Solar Probe completed its first orbit of the Sun, reaching the point in its orbit farthest from our star, called aphelion. The spacecraft has now begun the second of 24 planned orbits, on track for its second perihelion, or closest approach to the Sun, on April 4, 2019.

Technology news

Autonomous visual inspection of large-scale infrastructures using micro aerial vehicles (MAVs)

A team of researchers at Luleå University of Technology, in Sweden, has developed a new framework for performing visual inspections of large 3-D infrastructures using fully autonomous micro aerial vehicles (MAVs). In their paper, pre-published on arXiv, they introduce an aerial inspection system with high levels of autonomy, which could potentially be deployed on a large scale for the inspection of old infrastructures.

Ingestible, expanding pill monitors the stomach for up to a month

MIT engineers have designed an ingestible, Jell-O-like pill that, upon reaching the stomach, quickly swells to the size of a soft, squishy ping-pong ball big enough to stay in the stomach for an extended period of time.

MIT robot combines vision and touch to learn the game of Jenga

In the basement of MIT's Building 3, a robot is carefully contemplating its next move. It gently pokes at a tower of blocks, looking for the best block to extract without toppling the tower, in a solitary, slow-moving, yet surprisingly agile game of Jenga.

Engineers build a soft robotics perception system inspired by humans

An international team of researchers has developed a perception system for soft robots inspired by the way humans process information about their own bodies in space and in relation to other objects and people. They describe the system, which includes a motion capture system, soft sensors, a neural network, and a soft robotic finger, in the Jan. 30 issue of Science Robotics.

A step closer to self-aware machines—engineers create a robot that can imagine itself

January 30, 2019—Robots that are self-aware have been science fiction fodder for decades, and now we may finally be getting closer. Humans are unique in being able to imagine themselves—to picture themselves in future scenarios, such as walking along the beach on a warm sunny day. Humans can also learn by revisiting past experiences and reflecting on what went right or wrong. While humans and animals acquire and adapt their self-image over their lifetime, most robots still learn using human-provided simulators and models, or by laborious, time-consuming trial and error. Robots have not learned simulate themselves the way humans do.

Bluetooth 5.1 will improve location accuracy

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG) is on the case for location, location, and is striving to make everything find-able. Bluetooth 5.1 has been announced as an update with enhanced support for location services and the latest 5.1 spec is now available for developers.

Engineers program marine robots to take calculated risks

We know far less about the Earth's oceans than we do about the surface of the moon or Mars. The sea floor is carved with expansive canyons, towering seamounts, deep trenches, and sheer cliffs, most of which are considered too dangerous or inaccessible for autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV) to navigate.

AI use may mask racial disparities in credit, lending, study suggests

By law, credit and loan decisions cannot discriminate on the basis of race or lead to outcomes that differ substantially by race. But to ensure that they don't discriminate, banks and other lenders aren't allowed to ask about race on most applications. This makes it challenging for auditors to make sure credit decisions are fair.

Scientists find way to help fuel cells work better, stay clean in the cold

In a study to publish in Nature on January 31, researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) report advances in the development of hydrogen fuel cells that could increase its application in vehicles, especially in extreme temperatures like cold winters.

Learning to teach to speed up learning

The first artificial intelligence programs to defeat the world's best players at chess and the game Go received at least some instruction by humans, and ultimately, would prove no match for a new generation of AI programs that learn wholly on their own, through trial and error.

Apple profit stable as service gains offset iPhone slump

Apple said Tuesday that profits held steady in the most recent quarter, with revenue growth in music, movies, apps and other services offsetting slumping iPhone sales, sparking a rally in shares of the California tech giant.

Trust the priority for Facebook with earnings due

Winning back trust is seen as the key priority for Facebook as the world's biggest social network readies its financial update on the final months of 2018 Wednesday.

Beyond 5G: The next generation

For many of us, when we send a text or make a call from our cell phones, we're relying on 4G. Though for as much as we rely on it, very few of us know what it actually means. In reality, the "G" in these terms only stands for generation: generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology. 2G brought us voice communication, 3G gave us access to the web and some video services, and 4G made things like the app economy possible. But with the applications of our wireless technology expanding at such a rapid rate—from smartphones and tablets, to full Internet of Things (IoT) implementation—even 4G is no longer going to cut it.

Siemens boss blasts EU over Alstom rail merger

Joe Kaeser, chief executive of German conglomerate Siemens, launched Wednesday a rare broadside against the European Commission, complaining that "backwards-looking technocrats" threatened to block a planned rail merger with France's Alstom.

Under-road heating system to keep highways ice-free

Under-road heating that melts ice and snow within 15 minutes and real-time information about icy road conditions could help prevent wintertime accidents.

Researchers decipher electrical conductivity in doped organic semiconductors

Organic semiconductors enable the fabrication of large-scale printed and mechanically flexible electronics applications, and have already successfully established themselves on the market for displays in the form of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). In order to break into other market segments, improvements in performance are still needed.

Optimizing solar farms with smart drones

As the solar industry has grown, so have some of its inefficiencies. Smart entrepreneurs see those inefficiencies as business opportunities and try to create solutions around them. Such is the nature of a maturing industry.

Supporting the international alignment of research data management

Research funding organisations, research organisations, and individual researchers have different needs and requirements when it comes to research data management (RDM). Science Europe's latest publication, the 'Practical Guide to the International Alignment of Research Data Management', aims to align these RDM requirements across research funding and research organisations in Europe.

A new machine learning based intention detection method using first-person-view camera for Exo Glove Poly II

A Korean research team has proposed a new paradigm for a wearable hand robot that can aid people with lost hand mobility. The hand robot collects user behaviors with a machine learning algorithm to determine the user's intention.

Facebook paid users to track smartphone use: report

Facebook paid users, including teens, to track their smartphone activity as part of an effort to glean more data that could help the social network's competition efforts, according to a new report that may raise fresh privacy concerns.

How Facebook went from friend to frenemy

As Facebook celebrates 15 years of virtual friendship, social science has compiled an expansive body of research that documents the public's love-hate relationship with its best frenemy.

'Feeling' data through haptic displays

To perceive surroundings, humans can draw on five senses. But dealing with technology requires screens and speakers, which only appeal to our senses of vision and hearing. Scientists at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are now developing haptic displays that use the sense of touch. The VibrAID system, for example, will use vibration patterns to simplify dealing with complex control systems.

Hydrogen trains are coming – can they get rid of diesel for good?

When the UK government cancelled its plans to electrify train lines across Wales, the Midlands and the north of England, and cut back on the Great Western rail network electrification, it brought a premature end to a rail investment programme once touted as the biggest the country had seen since the Victorian era. But now reports suggest that the government and train manufacturers are hoping there may be an alternative way to turn British railways electric: hydrogen.

Apple busts Facebook for distributing data-sucking app

Apple says Facebook can no longer distribute an app that paid users, including teenagers, to extensively track their phone and web use.

Storage of nuclear waste a 'global crisis': report

Nuclear waste is piling up around the world even as countries struggle to dispose of spent fuel that will remain highly toxic for many thousands of years, Greenpeace detailed in a report Wednesday.

Most people overlook artificial intelligence despite flawless advice

If you were convinced you knew the way home, would you still turn on your GPS?

Facebook profit climbs along with ranks of users

Facebook said Wednesday quarterly profit climbed to $6.9 billion as its ranks of users continued to grow despite scandals that have dented the leading social network's image.

Radiation leaks at Japan plutonium lab, no workers exposed

A Japanese state-run nuclear fuel laboratory near Tokyo has detected a radiation leak in its plutonium handling facility, but no workers were exposed.

Foxconn reconsiders plan for Wisconsin manufacturing hub

Electronics giant Foxconn reversed course and announced Wednesday that the massive Wisconsin operation that was supposed to bring a bounty of blue-collar manufacturing jobs back to the Midwest—and was offered billions of dollars in incentives from the state—will instead be devoted mostly to research and development.

New analysis methods facilitate the evaluation of complex engineering data

A further increase in the performance of supercomputers is expected over the next few years. So-called exascale computers will be able to deliver more precise simulations. This leads to considerably more data. Fraunhofer SCAI develops efficient data analysis methods for this purpose, which provide the engineer with detailed insights into the complex technical contexts.

Worried about FaceTime eavesdropping bug? How to disable the app

Worried about using FaceTime in light of a privacy bug confirmed by Apple? There is a way to disable the app.

Finding the energy for going viral

The question of how much energy a virus needs to replicate in its host translates into how likely a single infection is to become an epidemic. Writing in the International Journal of Exergy, Sevgi Eylül Ferahcan, Ayşe Selcen Semerciöz, and Mustafa Özilgen of the Department of Food Engineering, at Yeditepe University, in Istanbul, Turkey, explain how poliovirus is an RNA virus which proliferates in the host's intestines ultimately leading to a crippling disease.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi remains top car group

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance narrowly held onto its place as the top seller of cars last year despite the spectacular arrest of its boss Carlos Ghosn, figures showed Wednesday, beating Volkswagen and Toyota.

Medicine & Health news

Researchers ID, treat faulty brain circuitry underlying symptoms of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a chronic and disabling mental illness that affects more than three million Americans. Anti-psychotic medication can control schizophrenia's psychotic symptoms, including the hallucinations and delusions that are well-known hallmarks of the disease. However, there are no effective treatments for the disease's 'negative symptoms' - so-called because they involve a loss of normal function. The negative symptoms of schizophrenia include an inability to feel pleasure, a lack of motivation and difficulty with non-verbal communication. These symptoms can seriously impact patients' employment prospects, housing, relationships and overall quality of life.

Train harder, for less time: Resistance exercise program builds muscle and reduces diabetes risk

It has been said that "if exercise could be packaged in a pill, it would be the single most prescribed and beneficial medicine in the nation." Now, new research, published in Experimental Physiology by researchers from the University of Glasgow, has highlighted several of the positive health effects of a short duration, high-intensity resistance exercise training programme in overweight men. The findings of this study suggest that a six week programme consisting of three 15 minute sessions per week dramatically improves insulin sensitivity, as well as muscle size and strength in this population.

Babies who hear two languages at home develop advantages in attention

The advantages of growing up in a bilingual home can start as early as six months of age, according to new research led by York University's Faculty of Health. In the study, infants who are exposed to more than one language show better attentional control than infants who are exposed to only one language. This means that exposure to bilingual environments should be considered a significant factor in the early development of attention in infancy, the researchers say, and could set the stage for lifelong cognitive benefits.

New 3-D imaging technique reveals how pancreatic cancers start

A new technique to study tissue samples in 3-D has revealed that pancreatic cancers can start and grow in two distinct ways, solving a decades-old mystery of how tumours form.

Intestinal immune cells play key role in metabolic regulation, cardiovascular health

A Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) research team has identified what appears to be an important checkpoint in dietary metabolism, a group of cells in the small intestine that slow down metabolism, increasing the amount of ingested food that is stored as fat rather than being quickly converted into energy. In the report published in Nature they find that mice lacking these cells can consume diets high in fat and sugar without developing conditions like obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

HIV hidden in patients' cells can now be accurately measured

Researchers can now quickly and accurately count a hidden, inactive form of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that lurks in patients' cells. This version of HIV embeds into cells' genomes and can persist despite otherwise successful therapies—thwarting attempts to cure the infection.

Aerobic exercise improves cognition, even in young adults

Aerobic exercise training improves cognition, even for young and middle-aged adults, according to a new study led by researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Study shows blocking serotonin receptors blocks mind-altering effects of LSD

An international team of researchers has found that blocking serotonin receptors in the brain blocks LSD's mind-altering effects. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group describes experiments they carried out on volunteers given LSD and what they found.

Aging and chronic diseases share genetic factors, study reveals

The global population age 60 or over is growing faster than all younger age groups and faces the tide of chronic diseases threatening their quality of life and posing challenges to healthcare and economic systems. To better understand the underlying biology behind healthspan—the healthy period of life before the first chronic disease manifestation—scientists from Gero and MIPT collaborated with researchers from PolyOmica, the University of Edinburgh and other institutions to analyze genetic data and medical histories of over 300,000 people aged 37 to 73 made available by UK Biobank.

Cells that destroy the intestine

Patients affected by the chronic inflammatory bowel diseases morbus Crohn and ulcerative colitis often suffer from flare-ups, which damage intestinal tissue. Despite advances in treating these diseases with medication, associated chronic inflammation cannot be kept sufficiently in check for a number of patients. Until now, little has been known about what actually causes flare-ups. In a collaboration with researchers from the Netherlands, researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now proven that certain cells in the intestines play a key role in inducing acute inflammatory episodes. This discovery could lead to innovative approaches to treating the diseases in future.

E-cigarettes more effective than nicotine replacement therapies, finds major trial

E-cigarettes are almost twice as effective as nicotine replacement treatments, such as patches and gum, at helping smokers to quit, according to a clinical trial led by Queen Mary University of London.

GARFIELD classifies disease-relevant changes in the genome

Researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and EMBL's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) have developed a new approach to understand the functional effects of genetic variations associated with a disease, even if they aren't located in a gene. Using this approach could help scientists uncover previously unknown mechanisms that control gene activity and determine whether cell work normally or, in the case of genetic diseases, the cells malfunction. This knowledge will help drive new research and could identify new targets for drug development.

Calorie restriction prevents asthma symptoms linked to inflammation in mice

Experimenting with mice, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers report that a low-calorie diet prevented asthma symptoms regardless of the diet's fat and sugar content. The researchers also say they found that obesity resulting from a high-calorie diet led to asthma symptoms in the animals by causing lung inflammation, and a drug that blocks inflammation eased those symptoms.

Novel autism mouse model based on an epigenetic gene developed

The causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are diverse and to some extent, unknown. But without doubt, they are complex, layered and deeply nuanced. In a study published January 17, 2019 in Translational Psychiatry, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine describe how, in a novel mouse model, epigenetic regulation negatively impacts a downstream gene specifically involved in neurodevelopment and associated behaviors.

Researchers develop new approach for vanquishing superbugs

A scientific team from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Cleveland Clinic has developed a new way to identify second-line antibiotics that may be effective in killing germs already resistant to a first-line antibiotic—potentially helping overcome antibiotic resistance. This new research provides an approach clinicians could consult when deciding which antibiotic treatment courses will be most effective for patients. The method is based on a mathematical model created by Jacob Scott, MD, DPhil, principal investigator and associate staff member at Cleveland Clinic, and a clinical assistant professor at the medical school, and colleagues.

Data show no evidence that teens' social media use predicts depression over time

Longitudinal data from adolescents and young adults show no evidence that social media use predicts later depressive symptoms, according to research published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. However, the findings do show that relatively higher depressive symptoms predicted later social media use among adolescent girls.

Study reveals how brain tumors escape the effects of antiangiogenic drugs

A study led by investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the University of Cyprus reveals details of a way the dangerous brain tumors called glioblastomas resist the effects of antiangiogenic drugs designed to cut off their blood supply. In their report published in PNAS, the researchers describe how the tumors can spread along existing blood vessels in normal tissue, a process called vessel co-option that can lead to compression of those vessels, reducing the oxygen supply to adjacent tissues and actually stimulating angiogenesis.

Research team uncovers critical new clues about what goes awry in autistic brains

A team of UCLA-led scientists has discovered important clues to what goes wrong in the brains of people with autism—a developmental disorder with no cure and for which scientists have no deep understanding of what causes it.

Vitamin D could lower the risk of developing diabetes

The benefits of vitamin D in promoting bone health are already well known. A new study out of Brazil suggests that vitamin D also may promote greater insulin sensitivity, thus lowering glucose levels and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Care following opioid overdoses in West Virginia falls short

Only a small fraction of people who had non-fatal opioid overdoses in West Virginia received treatment in the aftermath, a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests. The finding, the authors say, represents a missed opportunity to prevent future fatal overdoses in a state that leads the nation in these deaths.

Many women get unnecessary mammograms before breast reduction surgery

Each year, thousands of younger women with no known risk of breast cancer get mammograms before having breast reduction surgery.

Your body image is impacted by those around you

Spending time with people who are not preoccupied with their bodies can improve your own eating habits and body image, according to researchers from the University of Waterloo.

Collective nostalgia makes people prefer domestic products

Nostalgia for events experienced by members of your own group can make you prefer domestic products over foreign ones, concludes the first systematic investigation into the effects of collective nostalgia on consumer decisions. The results could help countries bolster domestic industries without resorting to hard interventions, such as tariffs or international trade re-negotiations.

Effectively treating childhood anxiety can be done for less, new study finds

Computer-based interventions can cut childhood anxiety treatment costs nearly in half, according to a new study by researchers from the Center for Children and Families at Florida International University in Miami.

Pregnancy-related stroke more common among black women

The risk of pregnancy-related stroke is much higher among black women than among white women, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science and treatment of cerebrovascular disease.

Stroke risk factors increase among breast cancer survivors

Risk factors for stroke rise sharply in post-menopausal women in the first year after they are diagnosed with breast cancer, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019.

Climate change may increase congenital heart defects

Rising temperatures stemming from global climate change may increase the number of infants born with congenital heart defects (CHD) in the United States over the next two decades and may result in as many as 7,000 additional cases over an 11 year-period in eight representative states (Arkansas, Texas, California, Iowa, North Caroline, Georgia, New York and Utah), according to new research in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Counties with dirtier air have more stroke deaths

In a nationwide study, counties with dirtier air had higher rates of stroke deaths and shorter life expectancies, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019.

Draining blood from bleeding stroke may prevent death

A minimally invasive surgery combining the use of a clot-busting drug and a catheter to drain blood from the brain of hemorrhagic stroke patients reduced swelling and improved patients' prognoses, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019.

Opioid epidemic fueling a rise in infection-related stroke

The opioid epidemic is fueling a steep rise in infection-related stroke hospitalizations, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019.

Infection during delivery linked to greater risk of stroke after delivery

Women diagnosed with an infection during delivery had a much greater risk of stroke after delivery, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019.

'Bugs' in the gut might predict dementia in the brain

The makeup of bacteria and other microbes in the gut may have a direct association with dementia risk, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019.

E-cigarettes linked to higher risk of stroke, heart attack, diseased arteries

Using e-cigarettes increases your odds of having a stroke, heart attack and coronary heart disease, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019.

Flu, flu-like illnesses linked to increased risk of stroke, neck artery tears

Flu-like illnesses are linked to an increased risk of stroke and neck artery dissections, according to two preliminary research studies to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019.

Stroke risk factors on the rise in Native-Americans

Stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and smoking are common and on the rise among Native Americans with clot-caused stroke, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019.

Kidney transplantation to minority patients with a different blood types is safe

Minority patients achieve the same outcomes if they receive donor kidneys that are fully immunologically compatible compared with patients who receive the organs from fully compatible donors, according to study findings from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn. Three years after transplantation, patient and graft survival rates were the same for minorities who received a donor kidney with the same blood type as for those that received a donor kidney that carried a different blood type but had compatible immune system markers. Study findings are published as an "article in press" on the Journal of the American College of Surgeons website ahead of print.

Puerto Rico's 'fear lab' mentors neuroscience rigor amid diversity

A lineage of young neuroscientists from diverse backgrounds trace their scientific roots to a "fear lab" in Puerto Rico that the National Institutes of Health has been supporting for two decades. A crucible for studies of fear extinction, the lab has so far published 80 papers—some the first ever from Puerto Rico for certain journals—that generate more than 2,000 citations a year. Of 130 young people trained in the lab, 90 percent are from Puerto Rico and Latin America and half are women.

What is fentanyl? 10 things to know about the potentially deadly drug

In 2016, the powerful drug fentanyl claimed the life of music legend Prince and has, in recent years, largely contributed to the next wave of America's opioid crisis.

Prophylaxis for gonococcal eye infections in newborns advised

(HealthDay)—The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has reaffirmed the recommendation for use of ocular prophylaxis for gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum. This recommendation forms the basis of a final recommendation statement published online Jan. 29 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The future of psychiatry promises to be digital, from apps that track your mood to smartphone therapy

Ella, who is in her early 20s, has depression. When her sleep started to fall away after a stressful term at school, her smartphone was programmed to note the late-night texts and phone conversations indicating her insomnia. It made suggestions to improve her sleep.

Advancing 'medical professionalism' vital for doctor satisfaction and high-quality health care

The government's Long Term Plan for the NHS, published earlier this month, sets out its vision for a quality health service able to cope with an ageing and expanding population. But, as many commentators point out, without the workforce it needs to support it, the plan will not meet its objectives.

Listeners get an idea of the personality of the speaker through voice

A paper published by Cristina Baus and Albert Costa, UPF researchers at the Center for Cognition and Brain (CBC), in collaboration with researchers from the Université Aix-Marseille and the University of Glasgow, has shown that listeners across languages form very rapid personality impressions from the voice, and this is not modulated by the language of the listener, native or foreign.

Oversized meals have been shown to be a factor in obesity

Restaurants frequently serve oversized meals, not only in the United States but also in many other countries, according to a study conducted by an international team of researchers and supported by FAPESP—São Paulo Research Foundation.

New strategy expands the benefits of Internet-delivered CBT

Scientists at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have experimented with a new adaptive treatment strategy for Internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy (ICBT) that identifies patients within the first month who face a major risk of treatment failure. Published in the scientific journal American Journal of Psychiatry, the results also suggest that such patients may nevertheless benefit if their treatment is adjusted to accommodate their specific needs and challenges.

New anti-malaria drug findings reported

Artemisinin is derived from the leaves and flowers of the annual mugwort (Artemisia annua), and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Chinese researcher Tu Youyou recently tested its effectiveness, winning the Nobel Prize in 2015. Artemisinin and its semi-synthetic derivatives—collectively known as artemisinins—are used to treat the tropical infectious disease malaria. In addition, these molecules influence multiple cellular processes in humans. For example, artemisinins activate the immune system against several types of cancer and regulate the differentiation of pancreatic T cells, which could potentially be useful in the therapy of diabetes.

Scientists identify a new 'watchdog' that controls intestinal bacteria

The immune response to our intestinal microbiota, the community of microorganisms that live in the human gut, ensures that these microorganisms remain in their proper place. When the intestinal immune barrier is damaged, the gut bacteria can spread and cause inflammation throughout the body. Now, a study by researchers at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC) and the Department of Immunology at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid reveals a new mechanism in the regulation of this immune barrier.

Any way you slice it, nutrition studies are controversial

For every study that warns against the health perils of coffee, there's another that points to Java as the key to longevity.

It's cold. Put on a hat. Seriously.

It's a chorus repeated frequently by parents to their children during cold weather: "Where are your hat and gloves? Why don't you have your coat on and zipped up?"

Three healthy relationship hacks

Our lives are built around relationships: significant others, roommates, family, friends. Regardless of what kind of relationships you have, it takes effort to make them work. Consider these tips for building better relationships.

Drug shows promise to treat diet-induced osteoarthritis

QUT scientists have found that a drug derived from omega-3 fatty acids can reduce osteoarthritis inflammation that's been caused by a high-fat diet.

Five things baby boomers need to know as they grow older

Taking a deep dive into the life expectancy gap that exists between elderly men and women had Kathryn Crespin, a researcher at the University of Virginia's Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, feeling, at times, like a "Debbie Downer."

Could higher levels of testosterone hold the key to slower aging?

A new study of older men carried out by The University of Western Australia has found there is a link between men who have higher levels of the sex hormone estradiol, produced from testosterone, and slower ageing.

Innovative imaging technology effectively measures disease severity in rare neurodegenerative disorder

A rapid, non-invasive eye exam that uses innovative imaging technology effectively measures the severity of disease in patients with a rare neurodegenerative disease called Friedrich ataxia, according to a study by Weill Cornell Medicine, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar and NewYork-Presbyterian researchers. The results suggest that the exam, known as corneal confocal microscopy (CCM), could be a rapid and sensitive tool for assessing patients in the clinic and act as a biomarker in clinical trials testing new therapies for the disease.

Cauliflower: The versatile substitute for high-carb veggies

(HealthDay)—If you'd like to lighten up on carbs without compromising the taste of dishes you love, make cauliflower "rice" your go-to substitute ingredient.

How to head off sneaky weight gain

(HealthDay)—Slow and sneaky weight gain usually happens over time—on average one pound a year—so it's not always obvious at first, especially if you don't regularly weigh yourself.

New heart valve modeling technique enables customized medical care for patients

Engineers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a new noninvasive technique for simulating repairs to the heart's mitral valve with levels of accuracy reliable enough for use in a clinical setting. Mitral valve (MV) disease is one of the most common valve-related heart conditions, newly diagnosed in 5 million Americans each year. Left unchecked, MV disease can lead to heart failure and/or stroke. This advance in computational modeling technology allows surgeons to provide patient-specific treatments, a development that will improve the long-term efficacy of current medical approaches.

Research examines living well while dying

A UBC professor has determined that people diagnosed with terminal cancer—who have hope, positivity and family support—are able to live well during the advanced stage of the disease.

Northern millennials less likely to live into their 50s than their southern English counterparts

There is a stark disparity in wealth and health between people in the north and south of England, commonly referred to as England's "north-south divide". The causes of this inequality are complex; it's influenced by the environment, jobs, migration and lifestyle factors – as well as the long-term political power imbalances, which have concentrated resources and investment in the south, especially in and around London.

What is medicine? Why it's so important to answer this question

What is medicine? We recognise it in all societies past and present. But the nature of medicine differs so greatly from place to place and time to time that it's difficult to offer a single answer. So what is it that we see in common between a traditional healer's throwing of bones and the cardiologist's incisions?

How to target resources in efforts to end female genital mutilation

A new study shows that 130 million women have undergone female genital mutilation (FGM) in 29 of the highest prevalence countries, many of which are in Africa. And 30 million more girls in Africa under the age of 15 will be at risk in the coming decade.

Should we stop using electroconvulsive therapy?

Should we stop using electroconvulsive therapy to relieve symptoms of severe depression? Experts debate the issue in The BMJ today.

Study shows how vegans, vegetarians and omnivores feel about eating insects

Many non-vegan vegetarians and omnivores are open to including insects in their diet. For vegans, however, that is not an option, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows.

Cannabidiol: Rising star or popular fad?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, has become a household name. On many social media sites, people suggest "but have you tried CBD oil?" on posts pertaining to any health-related issue.

What would happen if U.S. hospitals openly shared their prices?

Imagine there was a store where there were no prices on items, and you never knew what you'd pay until you'd picked out your purchases and were leaving the shop. You might be skeptical that the store would have any incentive to offer reasonable prices.

Team breaks new ground in study of malignant pediatric brain tumor

Scientists are making important progress in the battle against a class of devilishly complex human pediatric brain cancers thanks to a new study from a team of Florida State University students and faculty.

Mental health disorders common following mild head injury

A new study reveals that approximately 1 in 5 individuals may experience mental health symptoms up to six months after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), suggesting the importance of follow-up care for these patients. Scientists also identified factors that may increase the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or major depressive disorder following mild mTBI or concussion through analysis of the Transforming Research and Clinical Knowledge in Traumatic Brain Injury (TRACK-TBI) study cohort. The study was supported by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the National Institutes of Health. The findings were published in JAMA Psychiatry.

Want healthier eating habits? Start with a workout

In the latest evidence that it's worth sticking to your health-focused New Year's resolutions, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have found that exercising regularly is linked to better eating habits.

Obesity prevention interventions needed beyond preschool

A Rutgers study has found a need for early childhood obesity prevention interventions beyond preschool education settings.

Expert-based clinical guidelines focus on behavioral symptoms in Huntington's disease

Although Huntington's disease (HD) is traditionally thought of as a neurological disorder, behavioral symptoms are a common feature and frequently cause distress and difficulty to patients, family members, and other caregivers. Since an estimated 70% of US patients with HD do not seek specialist care, they are often treated by general practitioners, general neurologists, and psychiatrists, many of whom may not be trained to recognize or treat HD-related behavioral symptoms. A group of experts has now developed consensus guidelines published in the Journal of Huntington's Disease written in simple terms to guide both specialists and non-specialists in the effective management of neuropsychiatric disorders in HD patients.

Two windows into the brain

One in 59 children are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), a wide array of conditions affecting a child's social, emotional, and behavioral development. With prevalence growing at an unprecedented rate—it has nearly tripled in the last 15 years—scientists race to understand ASD. While genetic and environmental influences have been implicated as potential causes of ASD, little is known about its neurobiology.

Extremely high blood pressure in African-Americans is five times the national average

Extremely high blood pressure that leads to strokes, heart attacks and acute kidney damage, classified as hypertensive emergency, is five times higher in inner-city African-American patients than the national average, according to a recent study co-lead by a Rutgers researcher.

BU program successful in preparing minority students for dental school

Boston University's Oral Health Sciences (OHS) master's program is a successful credential-enhancing program for dental school applicants, while also serving as a pipeline to increase the number of qualified applicants from underrepresented minority (URM) groups.

Researchers find antidepressants significantly raise risk of GI, intracranial bleeding

Patients taking anti-depressant medications classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are 40 percent more likely to develop severe gastrointestinal bleeding, particularly when they also use common over-the-counter pain relievers, according to a research review in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Research reveals new molecular player in heart enlargement due to cardiac disease

In response to conditions such as high blood pressure and reduced blood flow to cardiac muscle, the adult heart can drastically enlarge, a process called pathological hypertrophy that preserves cardiac function in the short term but predisposes patients to intractable heart failure and sudden cardiac death if left untreated. Now, researchers at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine found that the RNA-binding protein Lin28a is needed for the development of pathological hypertrophy.

Researchers call for big data infrastructure to support future of personalized medicine

Researchers from the George Washington University (GW), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and industry leaders published in PLOS Biology, describing a standardized communication method for researchers performing high-throughput sequencing (HTS) called BioCompute.

What causes aging of the upper lip? Loss of volume, not just 'sagging'

Plastic surgeons have long debated the mechanisms aging-related changes in the face: Are they related more to "deflation" or "sagging"? A new study helps settle the debate, showing significant loss of volume in the upper lip in older adults, reports the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Difference in brain connectivity may explain autism spectrum disorder

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have identified a possible mechanism of human cognition that underlies autism spectrum disorders, or ASD.

'Extreme' exercise no danger to middle-aged hearts: study

Middle-aged men who partake in extreme exercise are not putting their heart health at risk, a new study contends.

Could a heart attack or stroke lead to early menopause?

New research has found that women who have a heart attack, stroke or some other type of cardiovascular event before age 35 have twice the risk of going into early menopause—which could create its own set of health hazards.

Plunging temperatures a threat to people with Alzheimer's

(HealthDay)—The polar vortex that has enveloped much of the United States this week poses a special danger to people with Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.

Why more people don't call 911 when stroke symptoms hit

When stroke symptoms hit, not everyone calls 911—a decision that has perplexed experts. Now, a small study reveals some of the reasons.

More severe injuries sustained at jump parks versus home trampolines

(HealthDay)—The proportion of fractures/dislocations, lower-extremity fractures, fractures in adults, and surgical interventions is higher for injuries associated with jump parks versus home trampolines, according to a study published in the Jan. 1 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

Researchers identify high-risk areas for infant deaths in Harris County

To help Harris County target its preventive strategies for sudden unexpected infant death (SUID), researchers at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have identified areas of the county where these tragic deaths are most likely to occur.

Researchers link overexpression of MDMX protein to metastasis of 3X negative breast cancer

The MDMX and MDM2 proteins play critical roles in keeping the tumor-suppressing protein p53 from damaging the production of healthy cells. But researchers have also found a causal connection between overexpression of MDMX and MDM2 and breast cancer. Now, in a newly published paper in the journal Breast Cancer Research, scientists at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York and Hunter College are the first to report that MDMX promotes metastasis of triple-negative breast cancer—one of the most aggressive forms of the disease, and one that is more prevalent in young women and women of color. The researchers also were able to duplicate early findings from other scientists who showed that MDM2 promotes metastasis of triple negative breast cancer.

Women less likely to receive specialized medical evaluations after stroke

Hospitalized women with ischemic stroke were less likely than men to be evaluated by stroke specialists and get specialized diagnostic tests, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science and treatment of cerebrovascular disease.

Stroke survivors' beliefs seem to reduce blood pressure

Stroke survivors who believe they can protect themselves from having another stroke had more than twice the blood pressure reduction of nonbelievers, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019.

Clot removal beyond normal treatment time, still improved quality of life after stroke

Stroke survivors have better quality of life three months after their stroke if the clot that caused the stroke was mechanically removed even hours beyond the ideal treatment window compared to those treated with drugs alone. This preliminary research will be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019.

Clot buster use differs between black and white stroke patients

White stroke patients are much more likely than black patients to be treated in community hospital emergency departments with the clot-busting drug intravenous tissue-plasminogen activator, or tPA, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019.

Treating shingles after it appears doesn't reduce increased stroke risk

Stroke risk increased significantly in the days, weeks and months after shingles appeared, despite use of the shingles vaccine and antiviral therapy to treat it, according to preliminary research to be presented in Honolulu at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2019, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science and treatment of cerebrovascular disease.

Brown U criticized for using live pigs in medical training

An advocacy group has asked federal regulators to investigate Brown University's medical school, arguing it is violating the law by using live pigs for training in emergency medicine.

Novartis sees 2018 profit soar 64% after exiting GSK venture

Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis said Wednesday that the sale of its stake in a joint venture with Britain's GlaxoSmithKlein helped boost net profit last year by 64 percent.

Tyson recalls chicken nuggets over reports of rubber inside

Tyson Foods is recalling some chicken nuggets after customers said they found pieces of "soft, blue rubber" inside.

Fexinidazole, the first all-oral treatment for sleeping sickness, approved in DRC

Marketing authorization of fexinidazole for the treatment of Trypanosoma brucei gambiense human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), more commonly known as sleeping sickness, has been granted in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This approval paves the way for the distribution of fexinidazole in endemic countries this year, with another submission planned in Uganda.

Staying safe in the cold

In extremely cold, snowy and windy conditions, your safest option is to stay indoors. But if you have to head outside, experts at Rush University Medical Center have advice for avoiding the most common cold-related injuries: frostbite, hypothermia and falls.

Combined SPECT and cardiac MR imaging can help guide ventricular tachycardia ablation

Adding functional imaging to structural imaging of patients with ventricular tachycardia (VT) has the potential to improve current VT ablation strategies, according to new research published in the January issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine. Iodine-123 metaiodobenzylguanidine (123I-MIBG) SPECT imaging, when combined with cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), helped to identify specific subsets of heart tissue more prone to arrhythmia, which may allow physicians to achieve improved VT suppression and shorter procedure times.

Human milk is a 'life-saving intervention' for infants with congenital heart disease

With a lower risk of serious complications and improved feeding and growth outcomes, human milk is strongly preferred as the best diet for infants with congenital heart disease (CHD), according to a research review in Advances in Neonatal Care, official journal of the National Association of Neonatal Nurses.

New material could improve bone grafting

For complex injuries and other situations requiring bone grafts, the best available technique involves autologous bone harvesting and re-implantation at the site of regrowth. However, because this process is invasive and limited by a finite supply of suitable donor material, synthetic graft-extending material is desired. In a new article published in Tissue Engineering, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers, researchers report the first use of poly(thioketal urethane) (PTKUR) as an autologous graft extender in the technically demanding intertransverse process regeneration rabbit model.

Good results with autologous breast reconstruction after failed implant reconstruction

Implants are usually the first choice for breast reconstruction after mastectomy. But when implant-based reconstruction fails, autologous reconstruction—using the patient's own tissues—is a safe procedure that improves patient outcomes, reports a study in the February issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

Biology news

Once-abundant sea stars imperiled by disease along West Coast

The combination of ocean warming and an infectious wasting disease has devastated populations of large sunflower sea stars once abundant along the West Coast of North America in just a few years, according to research co-led by the University of California, Davis, and Cornell University published Jan. 30 in the journal Science Advances.

Genes behind lager yeast's cold- and sugar-loving success revealed

Lager beer is cold, crisp, dry—and worth about half a trillion dollars worldwide.

Study shows dangerous bee virus might be innocent bystander

Researchers at the University of Sydney have found that the relationship between the tissue-sucking Varroa mite and virulence of a virus of honey bees, has most likely been misunderstood.

Researchers create visual guide to identify invasive self-cloning tick

Rutgers researchers and other scientists have created a visual guide to help identify and control the Asian longhorned tick, which transmits a fatal human disease in its native countries and threatens livestock in the United States.

For some whales, sonar may provoke suicidal behaviour: study

Scientists have long known that some beaked whales beach themselves and die in agony after exposure to naval sonar, and now they know why: the giant sea mammals suffer decompression sickness, just like scuba divers.

How transcription factors explore the genome

Transcription factors (TFs) are proteins that regulate the transcription of genes, which is the first step in making a protein. The way TFs work is by searching the entire genome and binding to specific regions that regulate genes, turning them "on" or "off". TFs are known to not only bind to specific sequences of DNA, but also to non-specifically bind to any stretch of DNA.

Team develops first genetic switch for C. elegans

With their first ever RNA-based inducible system for switching on genes in the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), two researchers from the University of Konstanz have closed a significant gap in genetic switches. The new approach was developed as part of a joint research project carried out by Dr. Martin Gamerdinger (Department of Biology) and Professor Jörg Hartig (Department of Chemistry) at the University of Konstanz. By sharing their respective expertise in the area of C. elegans and the development of RNA-based genetic switches, the researchers successfully induced a gene in the animal model using an RNA-based genetic switch. They were further able to establish a novel inducible disease model for Huntington's disease, which opens up new opportunities for research and application.

Study shows global warming likely a factor in decline of glass eel

A team of researchers at Universidade de Lisboa has found evidence that suggests global warming is playing a role in the sharp decline of the European eel (Anguilla anguilla)—known more commonly as the glass eel. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the group describes subjecting specimens in their lab to global warming conditions and what they found.

Man's impact on flax evolution more limited than thought

Flax naturally adapted to new environments rather than by human influence due to a set of genes that enable it to change its architecture according to researchers from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Warwick.

Measuring stress around cells

Tissues and organs in the human body are shaped through forces generated by cells, that push and pull, to "sculpt" biological structures. Thanks to a new tool developed at McGill University, scientists will now be able to watch, and map these forces.

Scientists discover two mechanisms at work in crustacean's dazzling light displays

Evolution is a rich and dynamic process. Species respond to pressures in a variety of ways, most of which reduce to finding food, avoiding becoming someone else's food and attracting a mate. To solve that last one the animal kingdom is replete with fantastic, bizarre and mesmerizing adaptions. The bioluminescent courtship displays of ostracods may encapsulate all three.

Using artificial intelligence to save bees

A beekeeper teamed up with the Signal Processing Laboratory 5 and a group of EPFL students to develop an app that counts the number of Varroa mites in beehives. This parasite is one of the two main threats – along with pesticides – to bees' long-term survival. Knowing the extent of the mites' infestation will allow beekeepers to protect their bees more effectively.

What smart bees can teach humans about collective intelligence

When it comes to making decisions, most of us are influenced to some degree by other people, whether that's choosing a restaurant or a political candidate. We want to know what others think before we make that choice.

New journal article calls for responsible use of herbicides by rice farmers in Africa

A new publication, led by experts from the Natural Resources Institute (NRI, University of Greenwich) and the Africa Rice Center (AfricaRice), calls for effective national regulatory capacities to monitor the import, marketing and use of herbicides in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and the need for reliable information sources for smallholder farmers concerning proper and safe herbicide use.

Fungal infection affecting frogs' future

Researchers have identified how a fungal skin infection is wiping out our native frog species at an alarming rate.

No wonder fox hunting is still prevalent – the ban is designed to fail British wildlife

Despite overwhelming public opposition and a longstanding ban, fox hunting shows no signs of abating in the UK. The 2018 hunt season alone saw 550 reports of illegal hunting, though these figures only represent known incidents.

How a South African industrial site is providing a safe haven for wild cats

Ever since the industrial revolution, human activities have resulted in rapid environmental changes including degradation, fragmentation, and destruction of habitat, climate change and biodiversity loss. Animals, such as large carnivores, are often among the first to disappear as human disturbance increases.

We revealed the value of Zambia's wild yam. Why it matters

Wild harvested crops are a vital source of food in much of the world. Some common wild edible plants in southern Africa include wild mushrooms, such as Termitomyces titanicus, orchids from the genera Disa, Habenaria and Satyrium, and various wild vegetables such as wild spinach (an amaranth), and Cleome species.

The lamprey regenerates its spinal cord not just once—but twice

Spontaneous recovery from spinal cord injury is almost unheard of in humans and other mammals, but many vertebrates fare better. The eel-like lamprey, for instance, can fully regenerate its spinal cord even after it's been severed: Within 3 months the lamprey is swimming, burrowing, and flipping around again, as if nothing had happened.

A small fish provides insight into the genetic basis of evolution

Genetic analysis of sticklebacks shows that isolated populations in similar environments develop in comparable ways. The basis for this is already present in the genome of their genetic ancestors. Evolutionary biologists from the University of Basel and the University of Nottingham report these insights in the journal Evolution Letters.

Miscanthus with improved winter-hardiness could benefit northern growers

For farmers, Miscanthus represents a big up-front investment. The large perennial grass must be established from vegetative pieces at great cost to farmers, but it promises a decade or more of massive biomass yields, starting in year two or three. If a cold winter happens to strike in the first year, however, all bets are off.

To solve pollinator health crisis, state governments are key, study finds

Insect pollinators are vital to the existence of almost 90 percent of the world's flowering plants, including a large portion of food products. Blueberries and cherries, for instance, depend on honey bee pollination. But pollinator populations are falling amid what has been termed an "insect pollinator health crisis," and in the absence of sweeping international or federal action on this issue, it falls to state legislatures to come up with innovative solutions.

Monarch population up 144 pct at Mexico wintering grounds

The population of monarch butterflies wintering in central Mexico is up 144 percent over last year, experts said Wednesday.

Urban biodiversity: Remarkable diversity of small animals in Basel gardens

Gardens in urban areas can harbor a remarkable diversity of species. This has been found by researchers from the University of Basel in a field study carried out with the support of private garden owners from the Basel region. Furthermore, the research team shows that nature-friendly garden management and design can largely compensate for the negative effects of urbanization on biodiversity. The study will be presented at the public conference "Nature Conservation in and Around Basel" on 1 February 2019.

Which ecosystem changes can be reversed?

Across the world's ecosystems, from the boreal forests of North America to the savannas of Africa, a host of animals and plants constantly interact: predators fell prey, insects devour plants, epiphytes perched high in their host trees draw moisture from the air. All of these interactions influence animal and plant populations in myriad ways, but researchers are still trying to understand the complex dynamics. A working group to be held January 29-31 will look at the consequences of the changes in interactions between species—especially how these changes lead to irreversible transitions in the structure and composition of ecological communities.

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