Thursday, October 24, 2019

Science X Newsletter Thursday, Oct 24

Dear Reader ,

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

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A user-friendly approach for active reward learning in robots

Rats trained to drive tiny cars find it relaxing, scientists report

Martian landslides not conclusive evidence of ice

Multifrequency observations shed more light on the nature of radio galaxy MRC 2011-298

New process could make hydrogen peroxide available in remote places

Fossil trove shows life's fast recovery after big extinction

Male spiders show their sensitive side

Childhood obesity linked to structural differences in key brain regions

New study suggests the original location of the Bayeux Tapestry is finally solved

Newly discovered protein is the permit to the powerhouse of cells

Bio-inspired nano-catalyst guides chiral reactions

Magnets sustainably separate mixtures of rare earth metals

Chemicals in consumer products during early pregnancy related to lower IQ

Finally, the answer to a 'burning' 40-year-old question

Gut instincts: Researchers discover first clues on how gut health influences brain health

Astronomy & Space news

Martian landslides not conclusive evidence of ice

Detailed three-dimensional images of an extensive landslide on Mars, which spans an area more than 55 kilometres wide, have been analysed to understand how the unusually large and long ridges and furrows formed about 400 million years ago.

Multifrequency observations shed more light on the nature of radio galaxy MRC 2011-298

Using Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA), astronomers have performed multifrequency radio observations of the radio galaxy MRC 2011-298. Results of these observations, described in a paper published October 15 on, provide crucial information about the morphology and properties of MRC 2011-298, shedding more light on the nature of this galaxy.

Beyond Jupiter, researchers discover a 'cradle of comets'

Comets are known to have a temper. As they swoop in from the outer edges of our solar system, these icy bodies begin spewing gas and dust as they venture closer to the sun. Their luminous outbursts can result in spectacular sights that grace the night sky for days, weeks or even months.

With NASA telescope on board, search for intelligent aliens 'more credible'

Astronomers dedicated to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) have announced a new collaboration with scientists working on a NASA telescope.

Why a rocky planet with three suns has astronomers' attention

Planets that are even a little like Earth are hard to find. That's why when astronomers like Jennifer G. Winters come across a body that may be solid, rocky, and possibly have its own atmosphere, they get excited. And especially so in a case like this: For although it is statistically unlikely to host life, finding one with three suns raises the likelihood that studying the planet may offer valuable insights into our own.

NASA taps telecommunications technology to develop more capable, miniaturized spectrometer

A technology that has enabled ever-faster delivery of voice and data over the Internet and other telecommunications platforms could play a front-and-center role in NASA's quest to develop a super-small instrument for gathering unprecedented details about extraterrestrial planets, moons, comets, and asteroids.

Technology news

A user-friendly approach for active reward learning in robots

In recent years, researchers have been trying to develop methods that enable robots to learn new skills. One option is for a robot to learn these new skills from humans, asking questions whenever it is unsure about how to behave, and learning from the human user's responses.

Will a Samsung headset entry rain on Apple's AR parade?

Tech watchers got busy this week in patent talk over possibilities that Samsung may be thinking of coming out with a device that could rival Apple's alleged AR glasses.

Built for distance and speed, Tunabot can illuminate how fish move

The best human runners specialize—with some devoted to covering ultra-long distances while others focus on lightning speed over a matter of yards.

Zuckerberg defends Facebook's currency plans before Congress

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg endured hours of prickly questioning from lawmakers Wednesday as he defended the company's new globally ambitious project to create a digital currency while also dealing with widening scrutiny from U.S. regulators.

Eager to leave scandal, Nissan shows off smooth-driving tech

An electric car with smooth four-wheel drive and a virtual friend for the coming age of automated driving are among the technology in development from Nissan.

Tesla's stock soars after company posts surprising 3Q profit

Tesla posted a surprising profit of $143 million in its latest quarter, raising hopes the electric car pioneer may finally be turning the corner after posting mostly losses during its first decade as a publicly held company.

SK Hynix posts lowest profit in three years

The world's second-largest memory chip maker, South Korea's SK Hynix, posted its lowest quarterly profit in three years as it suffers from a long-running slump in the global chip market, it said Thursday.

Volkswagen unveils new Golf as end of era nears

Volkswagen unveiled the newest incarnation of its iconic Golf hatchback on Thursday, counting on the bestseller to help fund a costly switch to the electric era and bridge the gap to the cars of the future.

Cloud computing gains drive up profit for Microsoft

Microsoft reported Wednesday that quarterly profits rose on the back of its thriving cloud computing business which has become a core focus for the US technology giant.

Global caution over 5G puts pressure on Nokia

Finnish tech company Nokia warned Thursday that its profits will be lower than expected due to tough competition and costs related to new-generation 5G networks, about which mobile operators are cautious amid global concerns about cybersecurity.

French media take copyright fight to Google

French media firms said Thursday that they would drag Google before the country's competition regulator over its refusal to pay for displaying their content in search results, setting up a legal fight over a new EU copyright law.

Hydrogen plant will make the 'whisky island' Myken self-sufficient in electricity

Surrounded by the sea off the coast of Helgeland in Mid-Norway, lies an island called Myken. This small island has about ten permanent inhabitants, and for more than 50 years has been supplied with electricity via a 32-kilometer submarine cable. The cable is now so old that it should really be replaced.

Twitter tumbles as 'bugs' hit revenue growth

Twitter shares plunged Thursday after reporting that "bugs" impacted its ad-targeting ability, pulling down revenue growth in the past quarter.

More Americans are using Apple Pay than any other mobile-payment app

Apple, which has focused on its services business as a major source of its future revenue growth, can now claim a new title for its Apple Pay digital payment service.

Radio noise maps show where emergency communications could get tricky

Researchers have created a street-level map of disruptive radio noise in Boston, they report in a new study. The study's findings suggest radio noise, which could obstruct first response or military communications, is persistent in urban environments and knowing its patterns could help make communications more reliable.

Spotting cutting-edge topics in scientific research using keyword analysis

Spotting emerging trends in scientific research has always been challenging, as thousands of research papers are published every year on a vast number of subjects. But now, researchers from Japan have developed a novel technique for detecting cutting-edge trends in research that will be of keen interest to the scientific community, policymakers, and investors.

Artificial intelligence system gives fashion advice

People turn to many different sources for clothing style advice, from magazines to best friends to Instagram. Soon, though, you may be able to ask your smartphone.

Why artificial intelligence doesn't really exist yet

The processes underlying artificial intelligence today are in fact quite dumb. Researchers from Bochum are attempting to make them smarter.

The driving school for computers

In order to generate realistic images of road signs, researchers pit two algorithms against each other.

Some apps give discounts and let you skip the line. But is that really fair?

When visitors drive over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco to get to Sausalito, they find that technology has taken over.

Predicting pollution with internet of things

Recent research suggests that heart attacks, cerebral stroke, and asthma attacks all rise with increasing air pollution in our cities, and of course the wider problems for the environment and human, animal, and plant life are becoming better understood with each study. Now, science published in the International Journal of Computational Intelligence Studies suggests that big data from Internet of Things devices might be useful in predicting air pollution incidents. Knowing in advance when problems might arise could offer some hope of ameliorating the detrimental effects or at the very least providing vulnerable people with advance warning of potential threats to their health.

Could AI beat radiologists at spotting bleeds in the brain?

Computer-driven artificial intelligence (AI) can help protect human brains from the damage wrought by stroke, a new report suggests.

Diesel innovation has humble beginnings

An engine innovation first conceived and tested by Sandia National Laboratories has attracted the attention of big business because of its potential to cost-effectively reduce emissions of soot and nitrogen oxides, encourage the use of renewable fuels, and maintain or improve engine performance.

Hey Google and Alexa, how easy is it to take control?

Hey, Google and Alexa—say it ain't so.

How do you navigate: Google Maps or Waze?

It's always been a wonder why Google has two fantastic navigation apps under one umbrella. What does Google get from people going to Waze? Shouldn't they all just be at Google Maps?

Hackers target UN humanitarian organizations: Lookout

Hackers are targeting United Nations and humanitarian aid workers with a scheme designed to trick members into revealing passwords, security researchers said Thursday.

Amazon shares hit by earnings disappointment

Amazon on Thursday reported that quarterly profits shy of Wall Street forecasts, sending shares of the tech giant tumbling in after-market trades.

RIT researchers win first place in eye-tracking challenge by Facebook Research

A team of Rochester Institute of Technology researchers took the top prize in an international competition held by Facebook Research to develop more effective eye-tracking solutions. The team, led by three Ph.D. students from the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, won first place in the OpenEDS Challenge focused on semantic segmentation.

Daimler profits nose ahead in third quarter

German carmaker Daimler reported Thursday a return to quarterly profits in July-September after its first three-month loss in 10 years, but said more work was ahead as it confronts a slowing global market.

US federal probe launched against Infosys, firm says

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating Indian IT giant Infosys after whistleblowers alleged its top executives acted unethically to inflate revenues, the firm said Thursday.

Through the FUBImethod, children engage in designing full-body interactive experiences

Narcís Pares, a member of the Cognitive Media Technologies research group of the Department of Information and Communication Technologies (DTIC) at UPF, is working on a research line known as "full-body interaction." At his laboratory, he designs different applications based on such interactions in order to study the mediation of experiences.

American Airlines earnings rise despite Boeing MAX hit

American Airlines rode strong demand for flying among the traveling public to higher earnings on Thursday despite mounting costs connected to the prolonged grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX.

Researchers: Cyberespionage campaign targets UN agencies

Cybersecurity researchers say a coordinated cyberespionage campaign has targeted U.N. relief agencies, the International Red Cross and other non-governmental organizations groups for the past 10 months.

US senators call for security probe of TikTok

Two senior US senators called for the government to study national security risks possibly posed by Chinese-owned video app TikTok, saying it could leave American users vulnerable to Beijing's spying.

Medicine & Health news

Childhood obesity linked to structural differences in key brain regions

Obesity in children is associated with differences in brain structure in regions linked to cognitive control compared to the brains of children who are normal weight, according to new research from the University of Cambridge.

Chemicals in consumer products during early pregnancy related to lower IQ

Exposure during the first trimester of pregnancy to mixtures of suspected endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in consumer products is related to lower IQ in children by age 7, according to a study by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Karlstad University, Sweden, published in Environment International in October. This study is among the first to look at prenatal suspected endocrine-disrupting chemical mixtures in relation to neurodevelopment.

Gut instincts: Researchers discover first clues on how gut health influences brain health

New cellular and molecular processes underlying communication between gut microbes and brain cells have been described for the first time by scientists at Weill Cornell Medicine and Cornell's Ithaca campus.

Babies understand counting years earlier than believed

Babies who are years away from being able to say "one," "two," and "three" actually already have a sense of what counting means, Johns Hopkins University researchers have discovered.

Researchers learn how Ebola virus disables the body's immune defenses

A new study by researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston uncovered new information on why the Ebola virus can exert such catastrophic effects on the infected person. They've described for the first time how the virus disables T cells, an important line of immune defense, thus rendering the infected person less able to combat the infection. The findings are currently available in PLOS Pathogens.

Mindfulness meditation enhances positive effects of psilocybin: study

Recent years have seen a renewed interest in the clinical application of classic psychedelics in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. Researchers of the University of Zurich have now shown that mindfulness meditation can enhance the positive long-term effects of a single dose of psilocybin, which is found in certain mushrooms.

Flu antibody protects against numerous and wide-ranging strains

Researchers have found an antibody that protects mice against a wide range of lethal influenza viruses, according to a study from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, and Scripps Research in La Jolla, Calif. The antibody could serve as a template to aid in design of a universal vaccine that protects against all strains of the virus, and a drug to treat and protect against severe cases of flu, including pandemics.

Widely used health care prediction algorithm found to be biased against blacks

From predicting who will be a repeat offender to who's the best candidate for a job, computer algorithms are now making complex decisions in lieu of humans. But increasingly, many of these algorithms are being found to replicate the same racial, socioeconomic or gender-based biases they were built to overcome.

Whole-genome study of metastatic tumors provides a catalog of genetic features of metastatic cancer

A team of researchers with members affiliated with multiple institutions in The Netherlands and Australia has conducted the largest-ever whole-genome study of metastatic solid tumors. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes their study and the benefits it has already provided. Jillian Wise and Michael Lawrence with the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Department of Pathology have published a News & Views piece describing the work by the team in the same journal issue.

Green tea used as control trigger for activating cell therapies remotely

A team of researchers with East China Normal University and First Affiliated Hospital of Shenzhen University has found that it is possible to use green tea as a control mechanism for activating cell therapies remotely. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the group describes testing the use of green tea as a control mechanism and how well it worked.

Breakthrough in understanding rare genetic skin condition

A breakthrough has been made in understanding a rare genetic skin disease that causes progressively enlarging skin tumours over the scalp, face and body.

Scientists identify new signposts in blood and urine to reflect what we eat and drink

Researchers at McMaster University have identified several chemical signatures, detectable in blood and urine, that can accurately measure dietary intake, potentially offering a new tool for physicians, dieticians and researchers to assess eating habits, measure the value of fad diets and develop health policies.

Vision scientists disprove 60-year-old perception theory

Vision researchers at York University have disproved a long-standing theory of how the human vision system processes images, using computational models and human experiments.

Scientists uncover the process behind protein mutations that impact gut health

A new study led by researchers at St. Michael's Hospital and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Canada and Zhejiang University School of Medicine in China has uncovered why a protein mutation that causes inflammatory bowel diseases is dysfunctional.

Schizophrenia risk gene linked to cognitive deficits in mice

Researchers have discovered in mice how one of the few genes definitively linked to schizophrenia, called SETD1A, likely confers risk for the illness. Mice genetically engineered to lack a functioning version of the enzyme-coding gene showed abnormalities in working memory, mimicking those commonly seen in schizophrenia patients. Restoring the gene's function corrected the working memory deficit. Counteracting the gene's deficiencies also repaired neuronal circuit deficits in adult mice—suggesting clues for potential treatment strategies. A team of scientists led by Joseph Gogos, M.D., Ph.D., of Columbia University, New York City, reported on their research—supported by the National Institutes of Health—in Neuron.

Controlling the immune system's brakes to treat cancer, autoimmune disorders

Immunologists at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have discovered key biological switches that control regulatory T cells—specialized white blood cells that keep the immune system in check. A paper detailing this work was published today in Immunity.

Ban filtered cigarettes to curb global plastic waste, say experts

The sale of filtered cigarettes should be banned to reduce global plastic pollution from the trillions of "butts" that are thrown away each year, argue experts in The BMJ today.

Where the sun doesn't shine? Skin UV exposure reflected in poop

The sun can indeed shine out of your backside, suggests research. Not because you're self-absorbed, but because you've absorbed gut-altering UV radiation.

Poverty may be more critical to cognitive function than trauma in adolescent refugees

For approximately a decade, research has examined whether trauma or poverty is the most powerful influence on children's cognitive abilities. To address this question, a new study compared adolescents in Jordan—refugees and nonrefugees—to determine what kinds of experiences affected their executive function (the higher-order cognitive skills needed for thinking abstractly, making decisions, and carrying out complex plans). The study concluded that poverty worsened refugee youth's working memory.

A tale of two cities: Impact of reducing teens' access to flavored tobacco products

Restricting youth access to flavored tobacco products holds the promise of reducing their overall tobacco use, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Sentinel lymph node biopsy has no benefits for stage zero breast cancer

Older women with a very early, non-invasive breast cancer known as ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) gain no long-term benefit from undergoing a sentinel lymph node biopsy to see if the cancer has spread, new research by the Yale School of Public Health has found.

Ending HIV will require optimizing treatment and prevention tools, say NIH experts

Optimal implementation of existing HIV prevention and treatment tools and continued development of new interventions are essential to ending the HIV pandemic, National Institutes of Health experts write in a commentary Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Consensus report shows burnout prevalent in health care community

Clinician burnout is affecting between one-third and one-half of all of U.S. nurses and physicians, and 45 to 60% of medical students and residents, according to a National Academy of Medicine (NAM) report released today.

Strain of wild poliovirus eradicated: WHO

Wild poliovirus type 3 has been eradicated, the World Health Organization said Thursday, hailing the development as an "historic achievement for humanity" that leaves only one strain of the virus in transmission.

Researchers adapt CAR-T immunotherapy to target the HIV latent reservoir

A team of Gladstone scientists and their partners at Xyphos Biosciences, Inc. describe a new way of attacking cells infected by HIV in this week's issue of the journal Cell. The work showcases a novel version of CAR-T, the technology known for its recent successes in fighting blood cancers. With improvements lending it greater breadth of coverage and versatility, the new technology, called convertibleCAR, shows great promise in several therapeutic areas, particularly in the fight against HIV, as it could be used to shrink the reservoir of infected cells that persists in patients under antiretroviral therapy.

Using artificial intelligence to predict risk of thyroid cancer on ultrasound

Thyroid nodules are small lumps that form within the thyroid gland and are quite common in the general population, with a prevalence as high as 67%. The great majority of thyroid nodules are not cancerous and cause no symptoms. However, there are currently limited guidelines on what to do with a nodule when the risk of cancer is uncertain. A new study from The Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center—Jefferson Health investigates whether a non-invasive method of ultrasound imaging, combined with a Google-platform machine-learning algorithm, could be used as a rapid and inexpensive first screen for thyroid cancer.

Rare diseases: Over 300 million patients affected worldwide

Rare diseases represent a global problem. Until now, the lack of data made it difficult to estimate their prevalence. Created and coordinated by Inserm, the Orphanet database contains the largest amount of epidemiological data on these diseases taken from the scientific literature, and has made it possible to obtain a global estimate. Under the coordination of Inserm US14 Director Ana Rath, the resulting data have shown that more than 300 million people worldwide are currently living with a rare disease. The study, published in the European Journal of Human Genetics, is the first to analyze the available data on rare diseases with such precision.

CRISPR-edited C. elegans identifies vulnerabilities in cancer

A one-millimeter worm, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, is an animal model widely used in biomedical research by hundreds of laboratories around the world. Surprisingly, it has approximately the same number of genes that humans have, about 20,000. In addition, most human disease-causing genes have their counterparts, or orthologs, in C. elegans worms.

Kidney replacement therapy rates have remained higher in men vs. women for decades

Fewer women than men receive kidney replacement therapy, such as dialysis or kidney transplantation, and a recent analysis from Europe reveals that this difference has remained consistent over the last 5 decades and across countries. Additional studies are needed to determine whether these findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of CJASN, are related to biology, access to care, or other reasons.

Most prescribed blood pressure drugs may be less effective than others

A new multinational study shows that the most popular first-line treatment for hypertension is less effective and has more side effects than an alternative that's prescribed much less often.

20th-century views and responses to drug use are no longer fit for purpose

A report from The Lancet calls for a new international approach to drug use—using evidence-based policies, which adapt faster, and respond more humanely and effectively to new drugs and their changing availability and patterns of use.

How children influence the life expectancy of their parents

There somehow seems to be a link between people's life expectancy and the number of children they have: People with children generally live longer than those without. Parents with two children even have a small longevity bonus added to their lifespan. A new study based on data on biological and adoptive parents explores the potential reasons for this association.

Smartphone study shows pain more likely on humid, windy days

People with long-term health conditions are 20 percent more likely to suffer from pain on days that are humid and windy with low atmospheric pressure according to new research from University of Manchester scientists.

Five tips for surviving in an increasingly uncertain world

A recent study showed that North Americans are becoming less tolerant of uncertainty.

Can Africa end the curse of sleeping sickness?

Once the bane of sub-Saharan Africa, sleeping sickness is agonisingly close to being wiped out, but only if countries—and donors—keep up their guard, say scientists.

Gentle exercise program improves outcomes among older home care clients

A study published in Innovation in Aging, a journal of the Gerontological Society of America, shows that a gentle exercise program delivered by home care aides improved client health, especially among participants whose caregivers are not family members.

Flu shots benefit patients hospitalized with pneumonia

Routine, in-hospital influenza vaccinations for all adults hospitalized with pneumonia may save lives and reduce hospitalizations, according to a study presented at CHEST 2019, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians, held from Oct. 19 to 23 in New Orleans.

Serum elaidic acid levels tied to dementia, Alzheimer's disease

Higher serum levels of elaidic acid, an objective biomarker for industrial trans fat, are associated with an increased risk for developing all-cause dementia and Alzheimer disease, according to a study published online Oct. 23 in Neurology.

Wellness strips with companion mobile app give users test results ASAP

Jon Carder is best known as the guy who co-founded three multi-million dollar internet businesses before he turned 30. He retired at 27 as an e-commerce star here in San Diego, but it was short-lived. He later co-founded Empyr and Mogl, which combined raised roughly $100 million in startup capital.

Video: Scientists visualize pain's pathway

The lab of Stephen Waxman, Bridget M. Flaherty Professor of Neurology and of Neuroscience, has identified the key role of sodium channels arrayed on nerve cells in experience of pain.

Lay health navigators key to cervical cancer prevention, study finds

In Appalachia, women die from cervical cancer at rates a fifth to a third higher than elsewhere in Virginia. According to new research just published by Emma Mitchell, a University of Virginia assistant professor of nursing, self-collection HPV kits distributed by specially trained community members are crucial in reducing those deaths.

Intermittent fasting: Foolproof or fad?

Fad diets and exercise routines seem to come and go as often as the refrigerator calls out to people looking to lose a few pounds.

First evidence of clinical stabilization in Tay-Sachs

Preliminary data from an expanded access study of an investigational gene therapy in two patients with infantile Tay-Sachs disease indicates the potential to modify the rate of disease progression, according to an upcoming report at the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy Annual Congress in Barcelona by Terence R. Flotte, MD, the Celia and Isaac Haidak Professor of Medical Education, executive deputy chancellor, provost and dean of the School of Medicine. Tay-Sachs is a rapidly progressive and fatal pediatric neurodegenerative genetic disorder that has a median life expectancy of approximately three to four years.

Over-the-top policing of bike helmet laws targets vulnerable riders

Cycling is often held up as a model of healthy and sustainable urban transport. So why have bike laws become more, not less, draconian? Our ongoing research shows mandatory helmet laws have become a tool of disproportionate penalties and aggressive policing.

We have a vaccine for hepatitis B, but we still need a cure

Hepatitis B is blood-borne virus that packs a punch. Worldwide, more than 1.3 billion people have been infected with hepatitis B, and 257 million people have developed a life-long infection. This includes 240,000 Australians, many of whom are Indigenous.

Professor studies how jazz improvisation affects the brain

Jazz artist Louis Armstrong once said, "never play a thing the same way twice." Although musical improvisation—composing new passages on the spot—is not unique to jazz, it's perhaps the genre's most defining element. While improvised jazz solos are spontaneous, there are rules, says Martin Norgaard, associate professor of music education.

Neurorehabilitation: Fighting strokes with robotics

Having a stroke can be a scary experience, but the long road to recovery might be getting shorter, thanks to research out of ECU.

Researchers find four new strains of adenovirus

Human adenovirus infections in Singapore and Malaysia have caused severe respiratory disease among children and adults in recent years, but scientists still don't know whether these outbreaks were caused by new or re-emerging virus strains.

Scientists discover new survival strategy for oxygen-starved pancreatic cancer cells

Oxygen is essential to life. When fast-growing tumor cells run out of oxygen, they quickly sprout new blood vessels to keep growing, a process called angiogenesis.

Deleting a liver enzyme lowers the health risk of sweet treats (at least in mice)

Excessive sugar and fat in the diet can lead to hepatic (liver) insulin resistance. Often seen in people who are obese, hepatic insulin resistance leads to unhealthy levels of fatty lipids in the liver and is a risk factor for serious illnesses like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Researchers at the University of Tsukuba are attempting to unravel the complicated physiology of insulin resistance, and in a new study published in Hepatology, they show how one gene can have a major impact on insulin resistance in the liver.

Gene discovery solves 51-year-old mystery cause of inherited pancreatitis

What began as a 51-year-old mystery comes down to a single gene, as researchers from the University of Chicago and University of California, San Francisco discovered the cause of a new inherited form of pancreatitis.

New treatment for macular holes means some patients can avoid surgery

Ophthalmologist and retinal surgeon Dimitra Skondra, MD, Ph.D., knows that developing any new treatment can be fraught with false hopes and unexpected setbacks. She is cautiously optimistic, however, that a new method she and her colleagues are developing to treat macular holes with eye drops means some people can avoid having invasive surgery to fix the vision problem.

Young moms more likely to have kids with ADHD

Young mothers have a greater chance of having a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) according to new research from the University of South Australia.

New research shows lower rates of cancer screening in women with diabetes

Cancer screening rates are up to a quarter lower in women with diabetes, varying by type of cancer, and putting them at risk of poorer cancer outcomes, concludes new research in Diabetologia.

Quad training for knee support

Whether you're mountain biking, kicking a soccer ball with friends, or just sprinting down the street to catch a bus, your quadriceps are hard at work.

Don't forget these tips to boost your memory

If you have a hard time remembering names or what to get at the supermarket, there are ways to boost your memory.

More teens learning to drive in safer conditions

Could America's roads become safer in the future?

Nasal swab could help gauge smokers' odds for lung cancer

Could a person's risk for lung cancer someday be determined with a quick swab of the nose?

Safe injection rooms save lives – yet the UK government continues to oppose them

Urgent action is needed to stem the UK's overdose crisis, according to a group of cross party MPs, who have called upon the government to properly tackle the issue. Drug-related deaths rose to record numbers in 2018 in England and Wales. A total of 4,359 people died due to drug poisoning—over half of them related to opiate use.

When Halloween became America's most dangerous holiday

The unquiet spirits, vampires and the omnipresent zombies that take over American streets every October 31 may think Halloween is all about spooky fun. But what Halloween masqueraders may not realize is that in the early 1970s and well into the next decade, real fear took over.

Exploring an unsung part of the brain: the choroid plexus

If you've never heard of the choroid plexus, you're not alone. In fact, few neuroscientists know much about this part of the brain. In the words of the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield, the choroid plexus "don't get no respect."

Alzheimer's amyloid build-up affects certain parts of brain cells more than others in mice

A protein that is linked with Alzheimer's Disease has been found to be more likely to affect certain parts of brain cells that send messages than other parts of the cells.

How forceps permanently changed the way humans are born

Obstetric forceps look like ninja weapons. They come as a pair: 16 inches of solid steel for each hand with curved "blades" that taper into a set of molded grips. Designed for emergencies that require a quick delivery, they have a heftiness that conveys the weight of wielding them.

Arthritis risk linked to obesity may be passed down through generations

Arthritis affects one in five Americans, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that number jumps to one in three among people with obesity. Now, new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests obesity may increase arthritis risk not only in obese people but in their children and grandchildren, too.

Researchers find cells linked to leading cause of blindness in elderly

Age-related macular degeneration is one of the leading causes of blindness in the elderly, affecting more than 2 million people in the United States and leading to progressive loss of central vision. Genome wide studies have identified almost three dozen genes that play a role in the disease, but exactly where in the eye they inflict damage was not well known.

The mystery of what makes a joke funny—but only to some people

How do you like the following joke from Sumeria in about 1900BC? "Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband's lap." Or this classic from Egypt, 1600BC? "How do you entertain a bored pharaoh? You sail a boatload of young women dressed only in fishing nets down the Nile and urge the pharaoh to go catch a fish."

Scientists reveal novel oncogenic driver gene in human gastrointestinal stromal tumors

Sarcomas—cancers that arise from transformed mesenchymal cells (a type of connective tissue)—are quite deadly. Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) are the most common human sarcoma and are initiated by activating mutations in the KIT receptor tyrosine kinase.

Mayo Clinic studies patient privacy in MRI research

Though identifying data typically are removed from medical image files before they are shared for research, a Mayo Clinic study finds that this may not be enough to protect patient privacy.

Overweight, obese patients rate tummy tuck results highly

(HealthDay)—Overweight and obese patients are overwhelmingly pleased with the results of tummy tuck procedures, according to a study published in the October issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Prediagnosis exercise may reduce CV risk in breast cancer

(HealthDay)—For women with primary breast cancer, prediagnosis exercise exposure is associated with a graded reduction in subsequent cardiovascular event (CVE) risk, according to a study published in the September issue of JACC: CardioOncology.

Fresh truck helps Boston's neighborhoods connect to healthy meals

Three converted school buses rumble through 18 low-income Boston neighborhoods. They carry the cargo that for too long has been scarce: fresh, healthy food.

E-cigarette flavors decrease perception of harm among youth

As more and more youth use electronic cigarettes, combined with research showing the health consequences of vaping—including nicotine addiction—researchers at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill found that non-menthol flavors attract youth and adults to use e-cigarettes and that the use of flavored e-cigarettes contributes to multiple pathways linked to higher e-cigarette use among youth.

Researchers identify genetic variations linked to oxygen drops during sleep

Researchers have identified 57 genetic variations of a gene strongly associated with declines in blood oxygen levels during sleep. Low oxygen levels during sleep are a clinical indicator of the severity of sleep apnea, a disorder that increases the risk of heart disease, dementia, and death. The study, published today in the American Journal of Human Genetics, was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Mineral oils found in baby formula in France, Germany, Netherlands: NGO

A consumer watchdog group said Thursday that testing had discovered traces of a potentially carcinogenic mineral oils in several brands of powdered baby formula in France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Baby formula improved by ingredient often removed during homogenization

Results from a clinical trial published today in the Journal of Pediatrics show infants who consume formula containing milk fat globule membrane (MFGM)—a complex layer that normally surrounds fat in milk—score higher in tests of cognitive, language and motor development by their first birthdays than infants consuming a milk-based formula that didn't contain MFGM.

For better research results, let mice be mice

Animal models can serve as gateways for understanding many human communication disorders. Insights into the genetic paths possibly responsible for conditions such as autism and schizophrenia often begin by studying acoustic behavior in mice.

Obesity exacerbates many causes of death, but risks are different for men and women

People who carry around unhealthy amounts of weight don't just have heart disease and diabetes to worry about. Obesity is implicated in two thirds of the leading causes of death from non-communicable diseases worldwide and the risk of certain diseases differs for men and women. Cecilia Lindgren of the University of Oxford and colleagues report these findings in a new study published 24th October in PLOS Genetics.

Subgroups of breast and ovarian cancers exhibit the same unique drug sensitivity

Although cancers are commonly classified and named by site of origin, and effective drugs are FDA-approved accordingly, a research team at Dartmouth's Norris Cotton Cancer Center has found that multiple organ sites share some of the same genetic features associated with vulnerability to drug therapies. This strategy could open new opportunities for developing novel therapies that can target multiple cancers.

Contrast-enhanced ultrasound predicts nodule transformation to hepatocellular carcinoma

An article published ahead-of-print in the January 2020 issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR) has identified sonographic biomarkers that can predict eventual malignant transformation of pathologically confirmed cirrhotic nodules for patients at risk for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Researchers identify possible approach to block medulloblastoma growth

University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers have identified a potential approach to stop the growth of the most common type of brain tumor in children.

Novel approach identifies factors linked to poor treatment outcomes in acute lymphoblastic leukemia

The survival of patients with pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) has significantly improved in the last several decades. However, novel strategies to identify cases that are likely to respond poorly to treatment are still needed. In a new study published in the journal EBioMedicine, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Cancer Center reported that profiling the bone marrow metabolome, the constellation of small molecules produced by metabolism in patients' bone marrow, at the time of diagnosis, enabled them to identify patients who were most likely to respond poorly to treatment.

Gap in care found for patients with chronic kidney disease: study

Millions of Canadians living with chronic kidney disease (CKD) may be going without critical testing from their primary care practitioners that would give them a good idea of the severity of the disease so they could intervene earlier with more appropriate care, according to a new study.

Researchers find risk factors for unemployment with multiple sclerosis vary by age

A recent study by Kessler Foundation researchers explored numerous factors that contribute to the high unemployment rate among individuals of different ages with multiple sclerosis (MS). This is the first investigation to consider age within the context of disease- and person-specific factors affecting employment in MS. The article, "Unemployment in multiple sclerosis across the ages: How factors of unemployment differ among the decades of life," was epublished on September 14, 2019 by the Journal of Health Psychology.

Food markets near Ethiopia's poor provide fewer choices at high price, impacting child health

The rural poor in Ethiopia tend to live near lower-quality markets that sell fewer food groups at high prices, adversely impacting the health of children in these communities, a new study from researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has found. The findings, drawn from data from rural Ethiopia, mark the first attempt to examine how rural markets vary in their diversity, competitiveness, frequency, and food affordability, and how these characteristics are associated with children's diets.

Influenza human challenge study begins at NIH-sponsored clinical trial units

A clinical trial in which healthy adults will be deliberately infected with influenza virus under carefully controlled conditions is recruiting volunteers at four Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Units (VTEUs) supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). One study aim is to assess how levels of pre-existing influenza antibodies impact the timing, magnitude and duration of a volunteer's flu symptoms following exposure to influenza virus. NIAID is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Alexithymia: Emotional blindness makes it difficult for some people to know how they feel

How do you feel today?

Global Health Security Index finds gaps in preparedness for epidemics and pandemics

A new Global Health Security Index released today, the first comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across 195 countries, suggests that not a single country in the world is fully prepared to handle an epidemic or pandemic. The GHS Index is a joint project of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), with research by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). The Center for Health Security is a part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Blood transfusion practices should be revisited

Restricting blood transfusion guidelines may save both lives and money, according to a study presented at CHEST 2019, the annual meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians, held from Oct. 19 to 23 in New Orleans.

Home remedies: Weathering those wrinkles

Wrinkles are a natural part of aging, especially for the face, neck, hands and forearms. But some people are more prone to wrinkles based on sun-exposure and other factors. Although genetics mainly determine skin structure and texture, sun exposure is a major cause of wrinkles, especially for fair-skinned people. Pollutants and smoking, also contribute to wrinkling.

New survey shows link between comprehensive antibiotic stewardship programs and infection preventionist certification

Nearly half of all nursing homes do not have adequately trained infection prevention staff and their efforts to combat the over prescription of antibiotics are suffering as a result, according to a new study in the American Journal of Infection Control (AJIC), the journal of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

Biology news

Rats trained to drive tiny cars find it relaxing, scientists report

Sometimes life really can be a rat race.

Male spiders show their sensitive side

The sensory capacity of male spiders during mating may be higher than previously thought, a study in the open access journal Frontiers in Zoology suggests.

Newly discovered protein is the permit to the powerhouse of cells

Aging, and the mechanics behind it, remains one of the most closely guarded secrets of life.

Scientists identify British butterflies most threatened by climate change

Scientists have discovered why climate change may be contributing to the decline of some British butterflies and moths, such as Silver-studded Blue and High Brown Fritillary butterflies.

Plant microbes suppress costly root immune responses to boost plant growth

Beneficial microbes are considered a major promise for sustainable crop production. Utrecht researchers discovered that beneficial microbes on plant roots suppress host immunity to fully colonize and benefit their host plant, just like their disease-causing pathogenic counterparts. Their findings were published October 24 in Current Biology.

Special cells contribute to regenerate the heart in zebrafish

It is already known that zebrafish can flexibly regenerate their hearts after injury. An international research group led by Prof. Nadia Mercader of the University of Bern now shows that certain heart muscle cells play a central role in this process. The insights gained could be used to initiate a similar repair process in the human heart.

Higher local earthworm diversity in temperate regions than in the tropics

In any single location, there are typically more earthworms and more earthworm species found in temperate regions than in the tropics. Global climate change could lead to significant shifts in earthworm communities worldwide, threatening the many functions they provide. These are the two main results of a new study published in Science. The research was led by scientists from the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) and Leipzig University. They brought together 140 researchers from across the globe to compile the largest earthworm dataset worldwide, encompassing 6928 sites in 57 countries.

Evolution is resetting the annual clock in migratory birds

The timing of spring migration is vital for birds. Returning too late comes at a cost. In 1981, German ornithologist Eberhard Gwinner demonstrated how an internal circannual clock is responsible for the correct timing of flycatchers' migration. Replicating this experiment more than twenty years later, Barbara Helm, University of Groningen Associate Professor of Biological Rhythms of Natural Organisms, has shown there is an evolutionary response of this clock to climate. The results were published online on 24 October by the journal Current Biology.

Fungi could reduce reliance on fertilizers

Introducing fungi to wheat boosted their uptake of key nutrients and could lead to new, 'climate smart' varieties of crops, according to a new study.

Swarm of sea urchins wreaks destruction on US West Coast

Tens of millions of voracious purple sea urchins that have already chomped their way through towering underwater kelp forests in California are spreading north to Oregon, sending the delicate marine ecosystem off the shore into such disarray that other critical species are starving to death.

Genetic risk factor for laryngeal paralysis in miniature bull terriers identified

Laryngeal paralysis is a serious and sometimes deadly disease in some dog breeds that prevents proper opening of the larynx for breathing. In a new study published 24th October in PLOS Genetics, a team of German specialists in canine head and neck surgery and geneticists from the University of Bern identify a mutation responsible for laryngeal paralysis in Miniature Bull Terriers, enabling the development of a genetic test for the disease.

Rescuing the world's endangered river dolphins takes cutting edge science and community

River dolphins in the Amazon and Orinoco are under ever increasing pressure from the impact of hydropower dams and mercury contamination from small-scale gold mining, according to results from the first ever river dolphin satellite tagging program released today to mark World River Dolphin Day.

Study uncovers a plant barrier against toxic aluminum

Aluminum toxicity has long been known to damage plant cells and inhibit the growth of plants. Aluminum is widely found in soils that are too acidic, and as human activities have increased soil acidity across the globe, aluminum toxicity has become a leading cause of low crop yield worldwide. While the effect of aluminum on plants is widely known, precisely how aluminum enters plant cells and causes harm is not well understood. In a new study published in Frontiers in Plant Science, researchers at the University of Tsukuba have found that an integral part of a plant's cell wall may play a role in protecting rice plants from soil aluminum.

Australian honey abuzz with high-value antibacterial activity

Australia has at least seven Leptospermum species that produce honey with exceptionally high levels of antibacterial activity, providing the scientific basis to facilitate the entry of Australian honey producers into premium medicinal markets.

120-year-old extinct lizard specimen revealed by mitochondrial DNA

Together with a Ukrainian colleague, Senckenberg researchers examined the 120-year-old specimen of a "Crimean lizard." Until now, these animals had been considered a species of green lizard restricted to the Crimean Peninsula. Based on the complete mitochondrial genome, the team was able to show that these reptiles actually represent a species introduced from Italy. The results emphasize the importance of historical collections. The study was published today in the Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research.

Iron availability in seawater, key to explaining the amount and distribution of fish

People tend to pay more attention to how much food they are eating than to how rich their diet is in essential micronutrients like iron. However, if we do not get enough iron, we can become anemic, which leaves us sluggish and can impair growth and development. In the same way, biologists do not usually consider insufficient iron supply as being an important factor for the nutrition of wild animals, and instead tend to think about the total amount of food available to them. A new paper led by ICTA-UAB researchers Eric Galbraith and Priscilla Le Mézo and published in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science proposes that, in fact, the available iron supply in large areas of the ocean is insufficient for most fish, and that—as a result—there are fewer fish in the ocean than there would be if iron were more plentiful.

Deformed wing virus genetic diversity in US honey bees complicates search for remedies

Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), one of the leading causes of honey bee colony losses, is much more genetically diverse in the United States than previously thought, according to a study published by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in PLoS Biology.

Gray wolves are protected in Washington. So why does the state keep killing them?

Somewhere near this tiny farming town last month, a Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife hunter conducted what officials call a lethal removal, killing a gray wolf, a member of a species that the state considers endangered.

Dried-out tardigrades could point way to drug preservation, resilient crops

New insights into how tardigrades survive extremely dry environments could reveal new ways of preserving drugs, boosting crops' tolerance to drought or fighting disease, but so far there is no simple answer to how these tiny creatures endure desiccation.

The benefits that carnivorous animals bring to society are under-studied

Carnivores deliver important benefits for society, but it is their conflicts with humans that account for the majority of academic research publications, according to an international study led by the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM), in which a researcher from the University of Granada (UGR) is participating.

81% of tuna catch comes from stocks at healthy levels, 15% require stronger management

Of the total commercial tuna catch worldwide, 81% came from stocks at "healthy" levels of abundance, according to the October 2019 International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) Status of the Stocks report. In addition, 15% of the total tuna catch was from overfished stocks, and 4% was from stocks at an intermediate level of abundance.

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