Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Science X Newsletter Tuesday, Feb 12

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 12, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Using laser beams for communication and coordination of spacecraft swarms

Laser-induced graphene gets tough, with help

Making green cars greener with battery recycling

Earth's magnetic shield booms like a drum when hit by impulses

Researchers discover how sleep can fight infection

Why too much DNA repair can injure tissue

Stonehenge mystery solved? Prehistoric French may have inspired it and other European megaliths

Rent-a-robot for laundry help? That's the plan in Japan

Ice volume calculated anew

Bird flu shuffle probes viral compatibility

Questions in quantum computing—how to move electrons with light

Scientists build the smallest optical frequency comb to-date

Researchers show that tropical reefs can host coral or seaweed communities under the same conditions

Seven moral rules found all around the world

Investigating cell stress for better health—and better beer

Astronomy & Space news

Earth's magnetic shield booms like a drum when hit by impulses

The Earth's magnetic shield booms like a drum when it is hit by strong impulses, according to new research from Queen Mary University of London.

James Clerk Maxwell Telescope discovers flare 10 billion times more powerful than those on the sun

The Hawaii-based James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) has discovered a stellar flare 10 billion times more powerful than the Sun's solar flares, a history-making discovery that could unlock decades-old questions about the origin of our own Sun and planets, giving insight into how these celestial bodies were born.

Van Allen probes begin final phase of exploration in Earth's radiation belts

Two tough, resilient, NASA spacecraft have been orbiting Earth for the past six and a half years, flying repeatedly through a hazardous zone of charged particles around our planet called the Van Allen radiation belts. The twin Van Allen Probes, launched in August 2012, have confirmed scientific theories and revealed new structures and processes at work in these dynamic regions. Now, they're starting a new and final phase in their exploration.

New study suggests possibility of recent underground volcanism on Mars

A study published last year in the journal Science suggested liquid water is present beneath the south polar ice cap of Mars. Now, a new study in the AGU journal Geophysical Research Letters argues there needs to be an underground source of heat for liquid water to exist underneath the polar ice cap.

Insulating crust kept cryomagma liquid for millions of years on nearby dwarf planet

A recent NASA mission to the dwarf planet Ceres found brilliant, white spots of salts on its surface. New research led by The University of Texas at Austin in partnership with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) delved into the factors that influenced the volcanic activity that formed the distinctive spots and that could play a key role in mixing the ingredients for life on other worlds.

We've discovered the world's largest drum – and it's in space

Universities in the US have long wrangled over who owns the world's largest drum. Unsubstantiated claims to the title have included the "Purdue Big Bass Drum" and "Big Bertha", which interestingly was named after the German World War I cannon and ended up becoming radioactive during the Manhattan Project.

CTA prototype telescope, the Schwarzschild-Couder Telescope, achieves first light

Less than a week after its inauguration on 17 January 2019, the prototype Schwarzschild-Couder Telescope (pSCT), a prototype telescope proposed for the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA), successfully detected its first Cherenkov light on January 23 at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in Arizona. A dual-mirrored Medium-Sized Telescope, the SCT is proposed to cover the middle of CTA's energy range (80 GeV – 50 TeV).

Kepler's final image

On October 30th, 2018, after nine years of faithful service, the Kepler Space Telescope was officially retired. With nearly 4000 candidates and 2,662 confirmed exoplanets to its credit, no other telescope has managed to teach us more about the worlds that exist beyond our solar system. In the coming years, multiple next-generation telescopes will be deployed that will attempt to build on the foundation Kepler built.

New SpaceX Raptor engine beats the chamber pressure of Russia's RD-180 engine, according to Elon Musk

2019 has been shaping up to be an interesting year for SpaceX and its founder, Elon Musk. After completing work on the miniaturized version of the Starship (Starship Alpha or "Starship hopper") over the holidays, SpaceX moved ahead with the test-firing of its new Raptor engine in late January/early February. In accordance with Musk's vision, these engines will give the Starship the necessary thrust to reach the Moon and Mars.

Technology news

Using laser beams for communication and coordination of spacecraft swarms

Swarms of small spacecraft could have a variety of interesting applications, particularly in terms of Earth observation, global positioning and communications. Compared to large spacecraft, small spacecraft provide greater apertures, allowing for better observation of both ground and space targets.

Rent-a-robot for laundry help? That's the plan in Japan

Japan-based startup Mira Robotics has some statistics in mind. By 2035, said the company, 1 in 3 Japanese citizens will be elderly. Other parts of the globe will be facing low birthrates and aging populations too. Mira Robotics sees the business opportunity to offer service robots that can give daily assistance for the elderly and infirm.

Selfies to self-diagnosis: Algorithm 'amps up' smartphones to diagnose disease

Accessible, connected, and computationally powerful, smartphones aren't just for "selfies" anymore. They have emerged as powerful evaluation tools capable of diagnosing medical conditions in point-of-care settings. Smartphones also are a viable solution for health care in the developing world because they allow untrained users to collect and transmit data to medical professionals.

Teaching self-driving cars to predict pedestrian movement

By zeroing in on humans' gait, body symmetry and foot placement, University of Michigan researchers are teaching self-driving cars to recognize and predict pedestrian movements with greater precision than current technologies.

IBM says AI debate loss is still a win

IBM conceded Tuesday its artificial intelligence-powered Project Debater lost a competition to a human debate champion but said the experience was an important milestone in efforts to get computers to master human language.

Google Maps AR navigation will help city pedestrians

A new headline-hummer for Google is revelation that Google Maps is to show up in AR mode. Stay tuned. Eventually. It's being tested at the moment by select users.

Research will help urban planners prioritize bike lanes

A new virtual tool could help planners choose the best places to install bikes lanes in cities.

Samsung reaches settlement over 'exploding' washing machines

Samsung Electronics has reached a settlement in a class-action lawsuit over 2.8 million "exploding" washing machines recalled in the US, the South Korean company said Tuesday.

Tencent investment in Reddit sparks censorship worry

Reddit confirmed Monday a new funding round that included a $150 million investment by Chinese technology behemoth Tencent, prompting concerns that "the front page of the internet" might wind up censored.

Amazon buys eero: What does it mean for the price of Wi-Fi routers?

Eero was the first company of note to solve Wi-Fi issues at home through what is known as "mesh" technology. On Monday came word that Amazon and eero will be meshing together, with the news that the e-commerce giant was acquiring the San Francisco startup, pending customary regulatory approvals.

Fitbit launches new wearable, but your employer has to sign you up

Fitbit quietly introduced a new activity and sleep tracker, but, unlike the company's previous step counters, the wearable is available only from your health plan or employer.

Motorola's Moto G7 line aims for budget phone shoppers with three new phones

A new phone doesn't need to cost you several hundred dollars.

Is AI a special ingredient to help make food taste better? IBM and McCormick think so

Sure, we're accustomed to artificial flavors influencing how our food tastes, but artificial intelligence getting baked in now?

Xbox Live could soon be coming to iOS, Android and the Nintendo Switch

Playing games between an Xbox and Nintendo Switch may soon expand beyond "Fortnite," "Minecraft" and "Rocket League."

A peek at living room decor suggests how decorations vary around the world

People around the world paint their walls different colors, buy plants to spruce up their interiors and engage in a variety of other beautifying techniques to personalize their homes, which inspired a team of researchers to study about 50,000 living rooms across the globe.

Study takes aim at biased AI facial-recognition technology

A study by Deb Raji, a fourth-year student in the University of Toronto's Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, and researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is underscoring the racial and gender biases found in facial-recognition services.

Using artificial intelligence to foil online dating scams

Dating apps and websites could soon use computing algorithms that 'think' like humans to pinpoint fake profiles designed to con victims out of thousands of pounds.

Data science is a growing field. Here's how to train people to do it

The world is inundated with data. There's a virtual tsunami of data moving around the globe, renewing itself daily. Take just the global financial markets. They generate vast amounts of data – share prices, commodity prices, indices, option and futures prices, to name just a few.

Walking simulation games signal a new literary genre

Research from the University of Kent has revealed that walking simulations are blurring the boundaries of different art forms to create a new literary genre.

Scientists make the track their lab to improve the performance of racing drivers

A new concept that, for the first time, collects biomechanical data from drivers and riders while on the track could give racing teams a new dimension to optimise their performance.

Frankfurt airport working on flying taxis

The operator of Frankfurt's international airport says it is developing a concept for electric air taxi services.

40 countries agree cars must have automatic braking

Forty countries led by Japan and the European Union—but not the U.S. or China—have agreed to require new cars and light commercial vehicles to be equipped with automated braking systems starting as soon as next year, a U.N. agency said Tuesday.

Turn down the volume: WHO takes aim at harmful smartphone use

More than one billion young people risk damaging their hearing through excessive use of smartphones and other audio devices, the UN warned Tuesday, proposing new safety standards for safe volume levels.

Amid border wall debate, 'smart' tech raises questions too

As congressional Democrats counter President Donald Trump's border wall plan with a high-tech solution, the idea of a "smart" security barrier is raising fresh questions over the potential for intrusive surveillance.

California nixes plans for high-speed LA-SF rail line

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday that he was abandoning plans to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco, citing the high cost and the time it would take.

Thyssenkrupp presses on with split as profits rise

German industrial conglomerate Thyssenkrupp on Tuesday confirmed its earnings forecasts for the full year after increasing profits in its first quarter, while announcing a January 2020 vote on its split into two separate firms.

Nissan cuts forecast in first earnings since Ghosn arrest

Crisis-hit Japanese automaker Nissan slashed its full-year forecast Tuesday as nine-month net profit dropped 45 percent in the first earnings report since the stunning arrest of former chairman Carlos Ghosn.

Sprint sues AT&T over the company's use of '5G E,' claims false advertising

AT&T's calling its latest 4G LTE network "5G E" isn't just drawing the ire of tech media and fans. It's now drawing fire from Sprint in the form of a lawsuit.

Consumers can save dramatically on wireless by skipping unlimited

If you're wondering how a tiny local wireless startup can afford to offer monthly wireless service that's a good two-thirds less than comparable plans from Verizon, AT&T and other carriers, it comes down to this: location, location, location.

World Record Egg: From a challenge to social media to a mental health campaign

The Instagram account @world_record_egg was originally designed as a fun way to challenge and question social media, its creators say. However, the account quickly morphed into an opportunity to focus on mental health positivity and to encourage people to speak up.

Pinnacle Engines develops efficient, low-emission gasoline engine using supercomputing

A more efficient car engine? That's the goal. An opposed-piston engine is more efficient than a traditional internal combustion engine. Pinnacle Engines is developing a multi-cylinder gasoline engine for automotive use. The team enhanced the engine's reciprocating sleeve-valve system, thanks to a Department of Energy supercomputer. The result? An engine with better combustion and reduced pollutant emissions.

No flights to or from Belgium due to strike on Wednesday

Belgian airspace was to be closed to all flights below 8,000 metres on Wednesday as a national strike threatened to bring the European country to a standstill.

Infosys forms community college partnership in Rhode Island

Technology company Infosys announced a new partnership with a community college in Rhode Island to develop workers for digital jobs on Tuesday, with the goal of forming similar arrangements elsewhere in the country.

Medicine & Health news

Researchers discover how sleep can fight infection

Researchers in Germany have discovered why sleep can sometimes be the best medicine. Sleep improves the potential ability of some of the body's immune cells to attach to their targets, according to a new study that will be published February 12 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine. The study, led by Stoyan Dimitrov and Luciana Besedovsky at the University of Tübingen, helps explain how sleep can fight off an infection, whereas other conditions, such as chronic stress, can make the body more susceptible to illness.

Why too much DNA repair can injure tissue

DNA-repair enzymes help cells survive damage to their genomes, which arises as a normal byproduct of cell activity and can also be caused by environmental toxins. However, in certain situations, DNA repair can become harmful to cells, provoking an inflammatory response that produces severe tissue damage.

Bird flu shuffle probes viral compatibility

When influenza viruses that infect birds and humans meet in the same cell, they can shuffle their genomes and produce new strains that might have pandemic potential. Think of this process, called reassortment, as viruses having sex.

Tuberculosis—Inhibiting host cell death with immunotherapy

Tuberculosis treatment still entails the administration of several antibiotics over a period of months and is torturous for many patients. The pathogen's increasing multidrug resistance additionally complicates this lengthy treatment, and side effects frequently lead to a discontinuation of treatment and high mortality rates. Developing alternative treatment approaches is therefore of critical importance. DZIF scientists from the University Hospital Cologne are working on an immunotherapy that supports antibiotic treatment. In their current study, they were able to identify a new target protein in human immune cells, which can inhibit the bacteria's destructive effects.

Once seen as the nerve cells' foot soldier, the axon emerges as an independent decision-maker in its own right

As far as cells go, neurons are pretty weird. Most other cells come in spherical blob-like shapes with a central nucleus. But neurons come in a variety of wild and spiky forms, with branching projections sprouting out of their tiny cell bodies in all directions.

Another early-onset Alzheimer's gene mutation is found in a Colombian family, and is traced back to Africa

For some of us, they carry the bright blue of our grandfather's eyes. For others they result in the characteristic cleft chin or the familial tendency toward color blindness.

How Viagra puts a brake on a master growth regulator to treat heart disease

When normal cells grow, divide or do any job in the body, they do so in response to a whole slew of internal sensors that measure nutrients and energy supply, and environmental cues that inform what happens outside the cell. A protein called mTOR receives information from these signals and then directs the cell to take action. And now, with data from cells and mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine say they have uncovered a long-sought built-in molecular switch that behaves much like a car-brake—slowing mTOR's action—and in this particular study prevents overworked hearts from enlarging.

The unexpected creates reward when listening to music

If you love it when a musician strikes that unexpected but perfect chord, you are not alone. New research shows the musically unexpected activates the reward centre of our brains, and makes us learn about the music as we listen.

Study explores the role of estrogen in controlling Type 2 diabetes

The results of a recent Texas A&M University-led study provide insights into the mechanism by which estrogen can decrease insulin resistance and the production of glucose, reducing incidences of Type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Diagnostic technique reveals protein biomarker that accurately differentiates bladder cancer from benign inflammation

Label-free digital pathology using infrared (IR) imaging with subsequent proteomic analysis for bladder cancer (BC) has revealed the first protein biomarker (AHNAK2) for BC. AHNAK2 differentiates between chronic cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) and a non-muscle invasive-type BC (carcinoma in situ) which is challenging to diagnose. A report in the American Journal of Pathology describes this new diagnostic procedure, which is label-free, automated, observer-independent, and as sensitive and specific as established histopathological methods.

Direct-acting antivirals reduce risk of premature mortality and liver cancer for people with chronic hepatitis C

The first prospective, longitudinal study investigating treatment of chronic hepatitis C with direct-acting antivirals finds that the treatment is associated with reduced risk of mortality and liver cancer, according to a study published in The Lancet. The research is the first to demonstrate the clinical effectiveness of direct-acting antivirals on the disease and suggests that they should be considered for all patients with chronic hepatitis C infection.

New research suggests a simple blood test could improve the early detection of lung cancer

New research led by scientists at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Toxicology Unit suggests that by analysing levels of DNA in the blood, the early detection of lung cancer could be improved.

Novel technique accurately assesses cardiovascular risks

A new noninvasive technique for imaging the carotid artery offers advantages over other imaging methods and could provide an earlier, more accurate assessment of cardiovascular disease risk, according to a study published in the journal Radiology.

What do we really know about e-cigarettes and vaping?

E-cigarettes get teenagers hooked on nicotine. Or they aid cigarette smokers seeking to quit. Or they may be harmful in other ways. Those competing messages make the devices a tricky subject for health communicators, says Cabral Bigman, a professor of communication at Illinois whose research focuses on health communication issues around vaping. She spoke with News Bureau social sciences editor Craig Chamberlain.

Five tips to help your kid succeed in sport – or maybe just enjoy it

Are you signing up your child to a recreational, representative or school sporting program for the new school year?

Research reveals need to ensure drug trials for anxiety are carried out on appropriate patients

University of Otago psychiatry experts are concerned some medications used to treat anxiety may appear ineffective because they are not being tested in appropriate patients.

Study proves value of teaching open-water survival skills to children

Despite the majority of drownings occurring in open-water, basic aquatic skills are typically taught in swimming pools.

Slower runners benefit most from high-tech shoes, other elite methods

Think state-of-the-art shoes, performance diets and well-thought-out racing strategies are only for elite runners? Think again.

Prescription opioid overdose deaths falling in Iowa - synthetics and heroin spike new concern

Stronger regulation and efforts to prescribe fewer opioids have helped reduce overdose deaths in Iowa, but an Iowa State University researcher says another crisis is on the horizon.

Researchers develop technique to analyse cancer cells' life history

A team of researchers from the MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford University has developed a new technique that allows scientists to reliably track genetic errors in individual cancer cells, and find out how these might lead to uncontrollable growth.

Public health researchers recommend reevaluating approach amid declining US life expectancy

Since 2015, average life expectancy in the US gradually declined among all racial and ethnic groups, which included declines in nearly 12 preventable diseases and conditions such as substance abuse, chronic diseases, mental health factors, metabolic diseases and various cancers. In a recent opinion piece published in the February 12th online edition of Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers at Emory's Rollins School of Public Health recommend possible solutions to this growing health issue.

Why visual illusions appear in everyday objects – from nature to architecture

Optical illusions are cleverly designed to distort reality, but did you know that the same distortions occur frequently in everyday life?

GPs and pharmacists don't have time to involve patients in medication reviews

GPs and pharmacists struggle to find the time to involve patients in medication reviews, despite National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance advising them to do so, according to a study by researchers at the University of Bristol's Centre for Academic Primary Care.

Risk factors identified for infanticide in the 21st century

In a study on the subject of infanticide recently published in the Archives of Women's Mental Health, Claudia Klier from MedUni Vienna's Department of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, working with Finnish experts from Helsinki and Turku, has, for the first time, identified risk factors associated with single and repeated neonaticide events. The surprising results were as follows: the only differences between the 28 cases of single and repeated neonaticide events studied lay in certain sociodemographic variables, such as the woman's age, the total number of children she had, her educational status and life situation. The greatest commonality, on the other hand, lies in denial of the pregnancy by the women concerned and their social circle.

Gene involved in colorectal cancer also causes breast cancer

Rare mutations in the NTHL1 gene, previously associated with colorectal cancer, also cause breast cancer and other types of cancer. Researchers from Radboud university medical center, Leiden University Medical Center and the Princess Máxima Center in the Netherlands report this new multi-tumor syndrome, in collaboration with international colleagues, in Cancer Cell. Nicoline Hoogerbrugge, professor of Hereditary Cancer at Radboud university medical center: "We presumed to know all multi-tumor syndromes, but we have taken yet another step in identifying cancer genes."

More is better when coordinating with others, according to new study

Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology, Imperial College London and the University of Tokyo have demonstrated that physical coordination is more beneficial in larger groups.

What can early adulthood tell us about midlife identity?

Identity formation is a major developmental task in adolescence but continues throughout adulthood. Significant individual differences, however, emerge. The long-term role of personal styles for predicting identity stability and change during midlife at ages 36, 42 and 50 was assessed in a longitudinal study of Finnish women and men.

New method to improve diagnostics and treatment for corneal dystrophy

The results from a Fight for Sight funded study pave the way for early diagnosis of a corneal eye condition, as well as aiding the development of new targeted treatments.

Physical activity environment and obesity risk – new research

A new study from the University of Canterbury (UC) shows a link between recreational physical activity spaces in a neighbourhood and obesity risk in adults.

Is personality affected by appearance? (Or the way we think we look?)

To what extent is personality an adaptation to appearance or even physique? A team of scientists at the University of Göttingen has investigated this question. Their results: it depends on gender and on which behaviour is under consideration. The study was published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

Breaking the vicious cycles of age-related diseases

Biologist Aleksey Belikov from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology has proposed that rapid progression of age-related diseases may result from the formation of so-called vicious cycles. An example of this is when toxic products of a biochemical reaction trigger that same reaction to happen again. The study, published in the January issue of Ageing Research Reviews, highlights the most promising options for age-related disease treatment that focus on interrupting vicious cycles.

Demonisation of smoking and drinking in pregnancy can prevent quitting

The demonisation of women who smoke or drink during pregnancy can lead to them smoking or drinking in secret rather than seeking the support they need to stop, finds a new study by Cardiff University.

Searching for side effects

Extracting relevant information from the scientific literature about side effects and adverse drug reactions to pharmaceutical products is an important part of data mining in this area. Writing in the International Journal of Data Mining and Bioinformatics, a team from China has developed a new search strategy that offers the optimal trade-off between retrieving pertinent abstracts and coping with the vast amounts of information available.

FDA warns 17 companies about illegal Alzheimer disease products

(HealthDay)—A number of warning/advisory letters have been issued to 17 companies for selling illegal products that claim to prevent, treat, or cure Alzheimer disease and other serious conditions, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says.

Congo Ebola outbreak claims nearly 100 children's lives

(HealthDay)—The ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed the lives of nearly 100 children, and the number of cases are on the rise, according to the charity Save the Children.

Low fitness, obesity linked to later disability pension

(HealthDay)—Among men, low cardiorespiratory fitness and obesity in adolescence are associated with an increased risk for later receipt of a disability pension, according to a study published online Feb. 12 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Smart steps for healthy feet

(HealthDay)—Are your feet something you think about only when they hurt? Simple steps can protect them from common problems, some of which are hard to get rid of.

Setting preschoolers on an active path

(HealthDay)—Physical activity is closely linked to development of a child's mental skills—ones essential to academic success and navigating challenges they'll face throughout life.

Study reports survival benefit for black men on new prostate cancer drugs

It used to be a statistical fact that African-American men fared worse than whites when battling prostate cancer.

Opioids overprescribed for common children's fracture, study says

(HealthDay)—Children who have surgery for a broken elbow may be overprescribed potentially addictive opioid painkillers, a new study finds.

Unfit teens often grow into sickly middle age, study shows

(HealthDay)—Teen boys who are unfit and/or obese have higher odds for chronic disease and disability as adults, according to a large Swedish study.

Food or heart meds? Many Americans must make a choice

(HealthDay)—Millions of Americans with heart disease say they face financial strain because of their medical care, with some skipping meds or cutting back on basics like groceries.

Strep A bacteria kill a half-million people a year. Why don't we have a vaccine?

Looking back, Otto remembers struggling to breathe when he was as young as four. Exertion would make him cough, and the coughing fits would go on and on. Growing up in a family of eight children in a village in northern Uganda, he would try to run and play with other kids. But usually he ended up collapsing or needing to rest.

Lung cancer treatment combo given initial NHS 'no' in England

A treatment combination has been provisionally rejected for people with certain types of lung cancer on the NHS in England.

Newly discovered disease opens for future diabetes treatment

Knowledge of a newly discovered genetic disorder, which means that a person cannot produce the protein TXNIP (thioredoxin interacting protein) in their cells, can open for the development of new diabetes drugs. This is shown in a study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden published in the journal Diabetes.

Lactate triggers genes that modify brain activity

A genome-wide study led by Dean Pierre Magistretti sheds light on the mechanisms through which lactate regulates long-term memory formation and neuroprotection.

Cancer comparison across species highlights new drug targets

Cancer genes in mucosal melanoma, a rare and poorly understood subtype of melanoma, have been compared in humans, dogs and horses for the first time by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and their collaborators. Researchers sequenced the genomes of the same cancer across different species to pin-point key cancer genes.

New diagnostic test for malaria uses spit, not blood

"Spit here, please."

Time for a Manhattan Project on Alzheimer's

Imagine if Alzheimer's was treated like other common diseases. Instead of worrying about the prospect of slowly losing your memory, you might get a series of shots during middle age to prevent the onset of this neurological nightmare, just as we do to reduce the risk of flu. Or you could take a daily pill as many do to control their cholesterol or blood pressure.

Obstructive sleep apnea linked to inflammation, organ dysfunction

Voyagers no longer embark in search of the storied Fountain of Youth, but the quest for longevity is still very much alive for researchers.

Up to 15 percent of children have sleep apnea, yet 90 percent go undiagnosed

Children are grossly underdiagnosed for sleep disordered breathing (SDB), which includes obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and the symptoms may be wrongly attributed to behavior issues, according to research in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Young children who express suicidal ideation understand death better than their peers

Four- to six-year-old children who express suicidal thoughts and behaviors have a better understanding of what it means to die than the majority of their peers, reports a study recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP).

Some primary care doctors not prepared to help with cancer treatment decisions

The idea of team-based cancer care most often focuses on involving primary care physicians in the care of cancer survivors. But research has shown patients are discussing initial cancer treatment options with their primary care doctors.

Accelerated risk of mobility loss for people aged 60+ tied to excess weight/inactivity

The combination of excess weight/obesity and an inactive lifestyle represents a powerful joint risk factor for developing mobility loss after age 60, according to a new study.

Scientists provide new insight on gene mutations associated with autism

A novel investigation into the impacts of neuronal mutations on autism-related characteristics in humans has been described in the open-access journal eLife.

The search for the holy grail: Promising strategies for slowing, stopping, or reversing Parkinson's disease

Understanding of the processes involved in Parkinson's disease (PD) degeneration has vastly improved over the last 20 years. In this insightful review, published in the special supplement to the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, experts consider which of the existing strategies to slow down or stop the degenerative processes of PD are most likely to be successful over the next 20 years.

Intervening in glial cells protects neurons in Parkinson's model

Loss of dopaminergic neurons is a hallmark of Parkinson's disease pathology. When dopaminergic neurons are stressed, they send out a call for help to nearby glial cells that are tasked with providing neuronal support, protection and nourishment. Under particular molecular conditions, those calls for help can over-activate the glial cells, resulting in a cascade of inflammatory signaling that eventually contributes to the degradation of these neurons over time. Working in two fruit fly models of Parkinson's disease, researchers at the Buck Institute have characterized a novel molecular mechanism that orchestrates such a harmful cascade of inflammatory signaling and demonstrated that its disruption protects neurons as they age. The research, published in Cell Reports, provides a new framework for understanding the pathology of Parkinson's disease and offers an alternative approach for developing preventative treatments for a neurodegenerative disorder that afflicts millions of patients worldwide.

Insurance rules make it harder to treat opioid use disorder

Insurance industry cost-control measures may be worsening the nation's opioid epidemic by limiting access to a key medication that treats addiction, according to a research letter published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

High cadence cycling offers no benefit to amateurs, finds new study

A new study published today in the International Journal of Sports Medicine has found that exercise efficiency decreases in recreational cyclists when they pedal very hard, incorporating more revolutions per minute.

Scientists gain new insight on triggers for preterm birth

A group of scientists led by Ramkumar Menon at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have gained new insight on a poorly-understood key player in the timing of labor and delivery. This new information brings scientists closer to being able to prevent preterm births. This study is in Scientific Reports.

Researchers develop more efficient system to reprogram stem cells

Induced pluripotent stem cells, the workhorse of many regenerative medicine projects, start out as differentiated cells that are reprogrammed to pluripotent stem cells by exposure to a complex set of genetic cocktails. Mayo researchers now report that using the measles virus vector; they've trimmed that multi-vector process with four reprogramming factors down to a single "one cycle" vector process. They say the process is safe, stable, faster and usable for clinical translation. The findings appear in the journal Gene Therapy.

Counseling urged to prevent depression in at-risk new moms

Doctors already are supposed to screen new mothers for depression, to find those who need prompt care. Now they're also being urged to identify women at risk—because counseling could prevent depression from setting in.

Couples creating art or playing board games release 'love hormone'

When couples play board games together or take a painting class with each other, their bodies release oxytocin—sometimes dubbed the "hugging hormone." But men wielding paintbrushes released twice as much or more as the level of women painters and couples playing games, a Baylor University study has found.

Gallbladder removal operation during pregnancy associated with adverse maternal outcomes

Pregnant women produce extra progesterone, which puts them at greater risk for gallstones. When the stones become problematic, causing painful attacks, a surgeon may recommend that the diseased gallbladder be taken out by performing an operation known as a cholecystectomy. However, new research findings suggest the timing of the operation may increase the risk of adverse outcomes for pregnant women.

With age comes hearing loss and a greater risk of cognitive decline

Hearing impairment is a common consequence of advancing age. Almost three-quarters of U.S. adults age 70 and older suffer from some degree of hearing loss. One unanswered question has been to what degree hearing impairment intersects with and influences age-related cognitive decline.

More U.S. men holding off on prostate cancer surgery

(HealthDay)—Many more American men are now saying no to surgery for low-risk prostate cancer, and choosing to monitor the disease instead, a new study finds.

Are there health benefits from chocolate?

Every year, Americans spend $22 billion on chocolate, and it's a safe bet that Valentine's Day accounts for a decent percentage of that total. While a heart-shaped box of chocolates may seem like the opposite of healthy, experts say it's less about the occasional small indulgence and more about making good everyday food choices.

CDC: screening policies for critical congenital heart disease widespread

(HealthDay)—All 50 states and the District of Columbia have implemented newborn screening policies for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD), although there are opportunities for improving data collection, according to research published in the Feb. 8 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

New machine learning method could spare some women from unnecessary breast surgery

Atypical ductal hyperplasia (ADH) is a breast lesion associated with a four- to five-fold increase in the risk of breast cancer. ADH is primarily found using mammography and identified on core needle biopsy. Despite multiple passes of the lesion during biopsy, only portions of the lesions are sampled. Other variable factors influence sampling and accuracy such that the presence of cancer may be underestimated by 10-45%. Currently, surgical removal is recommended for all ADH cases found on core needle biopsies to determine if the lesion is cancerous. About 20-30% of ADH cases are upgraded to cancer after surgical excision. However, this means that 70-80% of women undergo a costly and invasive surgical procedure for a benign (but high-risk) lesion.

Large study fails to link phthalates and increased breast cancer risk

In the largest study to date on phthalates and postmenopausal breast cancer, a University of Massachusetts Amherst cancer epidemiology researcher found no association between breast cancer risk and exposure to the plasticizing and solvent chemicals used in such common products as shampoo, makeup, vinyl flooring, toys, medical devices and car interiors.

Researchers suggest balanced reporting of sports head injuries

A group of more than 60 leading international neuroscientists, including Mark Herceg, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist at Northwell Health's Phelps Hospital in Sleepy Hollow, NY, and a member of The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, published a correspondence today in The Lancet Neurology, asking for balance when reporting on sports-related injury chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is a type of dementia associated with exposure to repeated concussions, and has been linked with a variety of contact sports such as boxing, football, American football and rugby.

Book provides a new framework for making sense of mental illness

Fear. Anxiety. Hope. Desire. Love. Anger. Guilt. Grief. These are the gamut of human emotions universal to our experiences.

Model for improving campylobacter management

A refined model for understanding the source of campylobacter infections may be a key management tool for public health officials around the world.

How to classify high blood pressure in pregnancy?

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 6—8% of pregnant women experience hypertension. High blood pressure during pregnancy is associated with a number of risks to the woman and fetus, including low-birth weight infants, preterm birth, problems with the placenta, heavy bleeding, heart defects and other congenital anomalies, and in the most severe cases death.

Researchers present new findings on postpartum racial disparities and cardiovascular disease

Cardiovascular disease and hypertensive disorders are leading causes of maternal morbidity and mortality. Two studies will be presented on February 14, 2019, at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's (SMFM) annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting, that address racial disparities in the postpartum period with a special focus on cardiovascular health.

Face transplant surgery can improve speech in victims of severe face trauma

A new case study out of New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development finds that face transplant surgery in patients who have experienced severe facial trauma can improve speech production.

Investing in antibiotics critical to saving lives during pandemic influenza outbreaks

There have been roughly three global pandemic influenza outbreaks each century for the past four hundred years, each of which have resulted in larger numbers of infections and deaths. Secondary bacterial infections have been responsible for a significant proportion of deaths in previous pandemics.

Network driving emergency healthcare research

An Australian initiative is successfully helping emergency doctors and nurses develop better treatments, diagnostics and services for improving patient care.

Biology news

Investigating cell stress for better health—and better beer

Human beings are not the only ones who suffer from stress—even microorganisms become stressed out. Now, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have devised a new method to study how single biological cells react to stressful situations. Understanding these responses could lead to more effective drugs for serious diseases. Additionally, the research could even help to brew better beer.

Basis of efficient blue-green light harvesting and photoprotection in diatoms revealed

Diatoms are abundant photosynthetic organisms in aquatic environments; they contribute 20 percent of global primary productivity. Their fucoxanthin (Fx) chlorophyll (Chl) a/c-binding proteins (FCPs) have exceptional light harvesting and photoprotection capabilities. However, the structure of the FCP proteins and arrangement of pigments within them remain unknown.

Researchers engineer more efficient Cas12a variants

A team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and MIT has engineered Cas12a variants that are able to target a wider range of protospacer adjacent motifs (PAMs). In their paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology, the group describes the variants they engineered and how they fared when compared against more traditional Cas12a nucleases (enzymes that are used to cut the chains of nucleotides in nucleic acids).

Longest-ever eDNA study offers important insights into ocean health

Tiny genetic 'breadcrumbs' left behind by marine organisms offer unprecedented insights into ocean biodiversity and how it changes over time and in response to our changing climate, new research at Curtin University, in collaboration with CSIRO, has revealed.

Looking for love online may impact how humans evolve

Anybody looking for a Valentine's Day date in cyberspace might want to consider this prediction from an evolutionary biologist: Online dating could affect how humans evolve in the future.

Study: How cells and tissues maintain their shape

Scientists have long pondered how the body's tissues maintain their stiffness in the face of growth, injury, and other forces. In a new study, Yale researchers have described this mysterious process, which is key to healthy cell and tissue function.

Climate change is killing off Earth's little creatures

Climate change gets blamed for a lot of things these days: inundating small islands, fueling catastrophic fires, amping-up hurricanes and smashing Arctic sea ice.

Scientists research impact of oil rig spills on fish

University of Manchester scientists are at the forefront of the fight to protect cold water fish from the effects of crude oil spills from offshore oil rigs.

Marine life typically thrives in the tropics – so why do whales prefer the poles?

Life in the sea isn't easy. Talk to most people about the ocean and they are likely to imagine a tropical scene with a stretch of golden sand and warm, clear water. The reality is often quite different – the marine environment can be a surprisingly cold place.

New AI toolkit is the 'scientist that never sleeps'

Researchers have developed a new AI-driven platform that can analyse how pathogens infect our cells with the precision of a trained biologist.

New tarantula species from Angola distinct with a one-of-a-kind 'horn' on its back

A new to science species of tarantula with a peculiar horn-like protuberance sticking out of its back was recently identified from Angola, a largely underexplored country located at the intersection of several Afrotropical ecoregions.

Mom's reward: Female Galapagos seabird has a shorter lifespan than males

The male Nazca booby, a large seabird of the Galápagos Islands, often outlives the domineering female of the species, according to new research from Wake Forest University published today in the Journal of Animal Ecology. Why? It's a story of rotating sex partners, the cost of being a parent and how the body falls apart in old age.

Researchers discover new frog species on remote Ethiopian mountain

In summer 2018, NYU Abu Dhabi Postdoctoral Associates Sandra Goutte and Jacobo Reyes-Velasco explored an isolated mountain in southwestern Ethiopia where some of the last primary forest of the country remains. Bibita Mountain was under the radars of the team for several years due to its isolation and because no other zoologist had ever explored it before.

Malaysia makes record 30-tonne pangolin seizure

Malaysian authorities have made a record seizure of about 30 tonnes of pangolins and their scales worth some $2 million in raids on major processing facilities, police and environmentalists said Tuesday.

Three evolution researchers talk about Charles Darwin, evolution on other planets and mass extinction on Earth

Celebrations are held on the 12th of February each year to commemorate the birthday of Charles Darwin, the 19th-century British naturalist, who achieved major insights into the process of evolution thereby completely revolutionising traditional concepts of life on earth and human's position in it. For Diethard Tautz and Paul Rainey of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön and Ralf Sommer of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Tübingen, Darwin laid the foundations for evolutionary science, a field of research, which no longer solely considers the past but, instead, increasingly looks to the future.

What makes Helicobacter so adaptable?

The bacterial pathogen Helicobacter pylori owes its worldwide distribution to its genetic adaptability. LMU microbiologists have identified an enzyme that plays a vital role in the flexible control of global gene expression in the species.

Spain police seize over 200 stuffed endangered animals

Spanish police said Tuesday they had seized more than 200 stuffed endangered animals, including giraffes, rhinos, lions and tigers, from an illegal taxidermy workshop that was selling them online.

Polar bears invade Russian town; locals delighted but wary

Russian wildlife specialists are heading for an Arctic archipelago to try to resolve a situation that has both terrified and delighted the locals: the polar bears that moved into a populated area.


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