Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Oct 23

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for October 23, 2019:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

New study reveals that crabs can solve and remember their way around a maze

Machine-learning analysis of X-ray data picks out key catalytic properties

Study provides framework for one billion years of green plant evolution

First identification of a heavy element born from neutron star collision

Most complete exploration of fly landing maneuvers to advance future robots

Quantum leap in computing as Google claims 'supremacy'

Free-space data-carrying bendable light communications

Building blocks of all life gain new understanding

Why are bald eagles such great gliders? It's all in the wrist

How to spot a wormhole (if they exist)

Biologists build proteins that avoid crosstalk with existing molecules

Earthquakes in slow motion: Studying 'slow-slip' events could shed light on destructive temblors

3+ hours daily social media use linked to poor sleep patterns in UK teens

Revealing the nanostructure of wood could help raise height limits for wooden skyscrapers

Magnetics with a twist: Scientists find new way to image spins

Astronomy & Space news

First identification of a heavy element born from neutron star collision

For the first time, a freshly made heavy element, strontium, has been detected in space, in the aftermath of a merger of two neutron stars. This finding was observed by ESO's X-shooter spectrograph on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) and is published today in Nature. The detection confirms that the heavier elements in the Universe can form in neutron star mergers, providing a missing piece of the puzzle of chemical element formation.

When exoplanets collide

A dramatic glimpse of the aftermath of a collision between two exoplanets is giving scientists a view at what can happen when planets crash into each other. A similar event in our own solar system may have formed the moon.

The whole picture of a distant supercluster in three dimensions

Using the Subaru Telescope and Gemini-North Telescope, a team of astronomers has revealed that the supercluster CL1604, a distant supercluster located about 7.3 billion light-years away, is a large-scale 3-D structure extending over about 160 million light-years in the north-south direction. This is more than two times more extended than previously known. Until now, astronomers saw merely the "tip of the iceberg" of this supercluster. The wide-field capability of the Subaru Telescope enabled the team to survey the whole of the supercluster and the Gemini-North Telescope played a critical role in confirming the structures. This is the outcome of the synergy of the telescopes of the Maunakea observatories.

A crisis in cosmology: New data suggests the universe expanding more rapidly than believed

A group of astronomers led by University of California, Davis has obtained new data that suggest the universe is expanding more rapidly than predicted.

Stardust machine shows presence of carbon nanograins, molecular compounds but few aromatics

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in Spain and one in France has built what they call their Stardust machine—a device that mimics the activity around a red giant where real stardust forms. In their paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, the group describes their new machine and what it showed them about the means by which stardust forms naturally. Michael Gatchell, with Stockholm University, has published a News & Views piece discussing the work in the same journal issue.

Automating collision avoidance

ESA is preparing to use machine learning to protect satellites from the very real and growing danger of space debris.

Air-breathing engine precooler achieves record-breaking Mach 5 performance

UK company Reaction Engines has tested its innovative precooler at airflow temperature conditions equivalent to Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. This achievement marks a significant milestone in its ESA-supported development of the air-breathing SABRE engine, paving the way for a revolution in space access and hypersonic flight.

NASA to demonstrate new star-watching tech with thousands of shutters

NASA scientists plan to demonstrate a revolutionary technology for studying hundreds of stars and galaxies at the same time—a new capability originally created for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.

US vows closer cooperation with French space agency

The United States on Wednesday pledged closer cooperation with France's space agency, saying the two were advancing the commercial development of space.

Technology news

Most complete exploration of fly landing maneuvers to advance future robots

To inspire advanced robotic technology, researchers in the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering have published the most complete description of how flying insects land upside-down.

Study warns of security gaps in smart light bulbs

Smart bulbs are expected to be a popular purchase this holiday season. But could lighting your home open up your personal information to hackers?

Microsoft and partners toughen firmware defense

For many people who are not tech professionals, the word "firmware" first appears to them in the negative. News items over the past years have used the word over and over again to report attacks. What is firmware? If software is "soft," is it just another word for hardware?

Robots can learn how to support teachers in class sessions

Robots can take just three hours to successfully learn techniques which can be used to support teachers in a classroom environment, according to new research.

Extending Wi-Fi range for smart home devices

A group of researchers led by a BYU computer engineering professor has created a protocol that significantly extends the distance a Wi-Fi-enabled device can send and receive signals.

When WiFi is weak, send noise instead

When WiFi was designed, it was intended for high-speed data communications. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) set the standards for communications—that's the 802.11 protocol, a familiar number on many wireless routers.

How voice assistants follow inaudible commands

An attack against speech recognition systems with manipulated audio files used to work only via a data interface. Now, all it takes is playing the secret messages via loudspeakers.

Plans in place to build the UK's first commercial cryogenic energy storage facility

Energy storage company Highview Power has announced its intention to build a cryogenic energy storage facility in the north of England—a first for the U.K. The project calls for converting a decommissioned thermal power plant into a 50 MW/250 MWh capacity CRYOBattery capable of supporting approximately 25,000 homes for an entire day.

Swarm of tiny drones explores unknown environments

Researchers have presented a swarm of tiny drones that can explore unknown environments completely by themselves. This work, presented in Science Robotics on 23 October, is a significant step in the field of swarm robotics. The challenge comes from the fact that the tiny 33-gram drones need to navigate autonomously while having extremely limited sensing and computational capabilities. The joint research team—with researchers from TU Delft, University of Liverpool and Radboud University of Nijmegen—tackled this challenge by drawing inspiration from the relative simplicity of insect navigation.

Rebel robot helps researchers understand human-machine cooperation

In a new twist on human-robot research, computer scientists at the University of Bristol have developed a handheld robot that first predicts then frustrates users by rebelling against their plans, thereby demonstrating an understanding of human intention.

Study leads to a system that lets people use simple English to create complex machine learning-driven visualizations

The ubiquity and sheer volume of data generated today give experts in virtually every domain ample information to track everything from financial trends, disaster evacuation routes, and street traffic, to animal migrations, weather patterns, and disease vectors. But using this data to build visualizations of complex predictive models using machine learning is a challenge to experts who lack the requisite computer science skills.

WeWork co-founder pushed aside in $5B SoftBank takeover

WeWork is accepting a financial rescue package that hands control of the company to Japanese tech giant SoftBank and pushes aside co-founder Adam Neumann and his grandiose vision of changing the world through communal working.

Toyota eyes Olympic platform to boost hydrogen tech

Toyota showcases its next-generation hydrogen-powered Mirai model at Wednesday's Tokyo Motor Show, but with the technology still lagging behind electric, the Japanese firm is hoping for an Olympic boost.

Samsung heir's corruption retrial hangs over phonemaker

The heir to the Samsung empire returns to court this week for a retrial over a sprawling corruption scandal that could see him return to prison and deprive the world's largest smartphone and chip manufacturer of its top decision-maker.

Journalists urge action against Google over EU copyright dispute

Hundreds of journalists called Wednesday for European officials to take action against Google over its refusal to pay media companies for displaying their content in defiance of a strict new EU copyright law.

Boeing 737 MAX flight control system key factor in Lion Air crash

Mechanical and design problems with a Boeing 737 MAX flight control system were key factors in the crash of a Lion Air jet last year, Indonesian investigators told victims' families in a briefing on their findings Wednesday.

Zuckerberg appears in Congress as Facebook faces scrutiny

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is again appearing before Congress to face questions about his company's massive market power, privacy lapses and tolerance of speech deemed false or hateful.

Report: Smartphone malware targeting Pakistani officials

A security firm says fake smartphone apps laden with malware are targeting Pakistan's military and government.

AR platform for improving the efficiency of automated tasks

When Tesla failed to hit weekly production targets in the first quarter of 2018, chief executive Elon Musk blamed it on "excessive automation." The robots were slowing things down and "underrated" humans could do better.

Nearly two-thirds of Uber riders never tip, study finds

The ridesharing company Uber added tipping more than two years ago, but how often do people actually use the feature? Less than a fifth of the time, it turns out.

New tool determines threats to networked 3-D printers

In the rising era of industrial Internet of Things (IoT) devices, factories are being upgraded. Devices, such as networked 3-D printers, can now interact with other machines and be controlled remotely to improve efficiency. But connecting these devices to the network makes them more prone to danger. Some cyberattackers might stop them from working, while others could steal designs or hold them hostage for ransom.

Algorithm can help boost the popularity of social media posts

Computer scientists created a new algorithm to recommend tags for social media posts which should boost the popularity of the post in question. This algorithm takes into account more kinds of information than previous algorithms with a similar goal. The result is a measurably improved view count for posts which use the tags recommended by this new algorithm. Such research could be useful commercially and for other researchers who study online behavior.

Trackless trams or light rail? It's not a contest – both can improve our cities

A Greenpeace video of me plugging a trackless tram that went viral with four million hits has caused a few eyebrows to be raised over whether I think light rail is dead. So let me be clear: light rail remains the gold-standard technology for providing high-quality, rapid, zero-emissions public transport along a street corridor.

Is the internet addictive?

The emergence of new technology always brings with it concerns about the effects it might have on users in terms of physical and mental health. The Internet, and specifically social media, is no different. One worry is that the endless novelty and pressure to engage with social media whether photo, video, or textual updates, is leading to some people using these tools throughout the day and even the night to the detriment of what one might refer to as normal "offline" life.

World-first study with drone cameras now separates living from the dead

Autonomous drone cameras have been trialled for several years to detect signs of life in disaster zones. Now, in a world first study, researchers from Adelaide and Iraq have taken this a step further.

Expecting the unexpected: A new model for cognition

Cognitive scientists are modeling the inner workings of the human brain using computer simulations, but many current models tend to be inaccurate. Researchers in the Cognitive Neurorobotics Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) have developed a computer model inspired by known biological brain mechanisms, modeling how the brain learns and recognizes new information and then makes predictions about incoming sensory inputs.

Multiplayer bouncing exercise brings extra motivation

Computer-game augmented trampolines motivate people to exercise, according to a new study presented at the CHI PLAY conference. The study was carried out by researchers in Professor Perttu Hämäläinen's group at Aalto University and CEO Raine Kajastila's team at Valo Motion, a Finnish computer game company with strong ties to the university, and looked at users of Valo Motion's game Super Stomp.

Driverless cars could lead to more traffic congestion

New research from the University of Adelaide has predicted that driverless cars could worsen traffic congestion in the coming decades, partly because of drivers' attitudes to the emerging technology and a lack of willingness to share their rides.

Google touts quantum computing milestone

Google said it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing research, saying an experimental quantum processor has completed a calculation in just a few minutes that would take a traditional supercomputer thousands of years.

Honda speeds up plans to electrify car models in Europe

Japanese car-making giant Honda announced Wednesday it will speed up plans to have electric options for all new car models for the European market by 2022, as it launched its latest hybrid.

Boeing confirms 737 MAX timetable as profits tumble

Boeing on Wednesday reported a sharp drop in third-quarter earnings due to the 737 MAX grounding but said it still expects regulatory approval this year to return the plane to service.

Looking inside the body with indirect light

Light provides all our visual information, but it reaches our eyes in different ways. Direct light comes unperturbed, straight from the source, whereas indirect light bounces off different surfaces, such as walls or ceilings, before entering our eyes. Extracting information from these two pathways has significant implications in diagnostic imaging and other applications.

Technology is remaking how we see the ancient art of theater

When James Corden kicked off the Tony Awards this year, his opening number was a full-throated endorsement of the live theatrical experience.

Facebook 'big' project on journalism set for this week

Facebook is set to make a "big announcement" this week aimed at supporting news and journalism, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday.

Facebook's Zuckerberg open to scaling back Libra plan

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg opened the door Wednesday to scaling back plans for its digital coin Libra if it cannot win approval as a new currency for global exchanges.

Jim Rossman: Is Apple breaking up iTunes? Yes and no

A reader has a question about iTunes: "I heard a rumor that Apple was doing away with iTunes and replacing it with (Apple) Music. If so, how does that affect us old folks who still use the old iPods that rely on iTunes? I tried to find as much information as I could, but it's getting more confusing. Any help will be appreciated."

Tapis computing platform weaves together science computing tools

Scientists looking to reduce their complexity to research and add a new computational tool to their tool belt can explore the Tapis Project. The Tapis software platform aims to help researchers more easily leverage powerful supercomputers and integrate and manage data from different and distant sources.

Medicine & Health news

3+ hours daily social media use linked to poor sleep patterns in UK teens

Spending three or more hours a day on social media is associated with poor sleep patterns, such as falling asleep after 11 pm on school nights and waking during the night, among UK teens, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Wake-up call: Cellular sleep isn't as harmless as once thought

A University of Arizona-led research team challenged the traditional understanding of cellular sleep and discovered new information that could lead to interventions in the aging process.

Scientists identify what may be a key mechanism of opioid addiction

Scientists at Scripps Research have discovered a molecular process in brain cells that may be a major driver of drug addiction, and thus may become a target for future addiction treatments.

Polymerized estrogen shown to protect nervous system cells

Spinal cord damage that causes paralysis and reduced mobility doesn't always stop with the initial trauma, but there are few treatment options to halt increased deterioration—and there is no cure. Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a promising new biomaterial that could offer targeted treatment to the damaged spinal cord and tissue, preventing further damage.

Clues to improve cancer immunotherapy revealed

Cancer immunotherapy drugs trigger the body's immune system to attack tumors and have revolutionized the treatment of certain cancers, such as lymphoma, lung cancer and melanoma. Yet, while some patients respond well to the drugs, others don't respond at all. Cancer immunologists want to change that.

Scientists unveil the secret of cancer-associated Warburg effect

A new study, led by researchers at the University of Chicago, provides an answer to why cancer cells consume and use nutrients differently than their healthy counterparts and how that difference contributes to their survival and growth.

Uncovering the pathway to colon cancer

The hidden world of genetic changes, or mutations, in healthy colon tissue has been uncovered by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and their collaborators. The team developed technology to sequence the genomes of small numbers of colon cells, allowing them to study genetic mutations in unprecedented detail. Researchers found complex patterns of mutations, including changes in cancer genes, and a huge variability of mutations both within and between people.

Alcohol byproduct contributes to brain chemistry changes in specific brain regions

Triggers in everyday life, such as running into a former drinking buddy, walking by a once-familiar bar, or attending a holiday gathering can cause people recovering from alcohol use disorder to relapse. A common chemical called acetate that is produced when the liver breaks down alcohol may contribute to this phenomenon, a team including Mount Sinai researchers has now found.

Researchers identify new antiviral drug effectively treats influenza infection

A new antiviral drug that induces mutations in the genetic material of influenza virus is highly effective in treating influenza infection in animals and human airway tissue and could be a groundbreaking advance in influenza therapy, according to a study by the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University.

New blood test could be used to help millions of people infected with tuberculosis

More than 10 million people around the world have active tuberculosis (ATB), and every year more than a million die from it. The majority of patients live in low-resource countries where diagnosing ATB is especially challenging—newer tests require expensive lab equipment that is frequently not available. Additionally, the historic standard of taking a sputum sample and culturing it is slow and often not sensitive enough to correctly identify ATB, meaning that many patients whose disease needs treatment are not identified until it is too late.

Promising therapy for common form of eczema identified in early-stage trial

A therapy that targets the immune system showed promise for treating atopic dermatitis—the most common form of eczema—in a small proof-of-concept trial, led by scientists from the Medical Research Council Human Immunology Unit at the University of Oxford.

Zeroing in on how a tumor suppressor protein is cast away

Researchers from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research have uncovered new details about several proteins implicated in tumor growth and metastasis, opening a potential avenue for the development of treatments for diseases such as breast cancer.

New approach to shutting down breast cancer recurrence shows promise in mice

A new approach to treat advanced breast cancer shuts down the growth of cells that become resistant to standard hormone therapy, according to Duke Cancer Institute animal studies.

Study pinpoints rare genetic change that may boost risk of warts in throat

Generally speaking, the immune system does a good job safeguarding us from various types of the human papilloma virus (HPV), best known as the perpetrator of skin and genital warts. Although most people do get infected at some point in their lives, the virus is usually kept in check so that no symptoms develop.

Accumulation of DNA mutations found in healthy liver leads to disease

New insights into the journey from health to disease in the human liver have been made by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute, the University of Cambridge and their collaborators. In the largest study of its kind, the team documented in unprecedented detail how the accumulation of changes in our DNA over time, known as mutations, evolves during the development of chronic liver disease and liver cancer.

Stress-related disorders linked to subsequent risk of severe infections

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other stress related disorders are associated with a subsequent risk of life threatening infections such as meningitis and sepsis, finds a large Swedish study published in The BMJ today.

A single, master switch for sugar levels?

A single neuron appears to monitor and control sugar levels in the fly body, according to research published this week in Nature. This new insight into the mechanisms in the fly brain that maintain a balance of two key hormones controlling glucose levels, insulin and glucagon, can provide a framework for understanding diabetes and obesity in humans.

Antibiotics with novel mechanism of action discovered

Many life-threatening bacteria are becoming increasingly resistant to existing antibiotics. Swiss researchers co-headed by the University of Zurich have now discovered a new class of antibiotics with a unique spectrum of activity and mechanism of action—a major step in the fight against antimicrobial resistance. By disrupting outer membrane synthesis, the antibiotics effectively kill Gram-negative bacteria.

Common chemical linked to rare birth defect in mice

A chemical commonly used in consumer and agricultural products to boost the effectiveness of insecticides has been linked to a rare birth defect in mice. The chemical, piperonyl butoxide or PBO for short, is widely used as a "synergist" in household and agricultural insecticides to make the toxic effects of the insecticide longer lasting and to reduce the amount of actual insecticide in a product.

Why, sometimes, we don't see what we actually saw

Georgetown University neuroscientists say they have identified how people can have a "crash in visual processing"—a bottleneck of feedforward and feedback signals that can cause us not to be consciously aware of stimuli that our brain recognized.

High-salt diet promotes cognitive impairment through the Alzheimer-linked protein tau

A high-salt diet may negatively affect cognitive function by causing a deficiency of the compound nitric oxide, which is vital for maintaining vascular health in the brain, according to a new study in mice from Weill Cornell Medicine researchers. When nitric oxide levels are too low, chemical changes to the protein tau occur in the brain, contributing to dementia.

Study fingers new player in cancer immunity

The immune system must strike an exquisite balance between vanquishing infections and cancer, while at the same time restraining its activity to avoid inadvertently attacking the body's healthy tissues and organs.

Anorexia nervosa among young children in the UK and Ireland on the up

The annual number of new cases of anorexia nervosa among 8 to 12 year olds in the UK and Ireland is around double that of a previous estimate in 2006, indicates research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Prescribing rates for anxiety and sleeping drugs highest in deprived areas

Prescriptions for drugs to treat anxiety, alcohol withdrawal and sleep problems are highest in the most deprived areas in England, according to a new study from the University of Warwick.

Study identifies brain injury as a cause of dementia in some older adults

A UCLA-led study finds that, with the use of MRI scans, it is possible to distinguish between memory loss caused by Alzheimer's disease and traumatic brain injury.

Dementia patients' adult kids diagnosed earlier than their parents

A person's chance of developing dementia is influenced by family history, variations in certain genes, and medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. But less is known about the factors that affect when the first symptoms of forgetfulness and confusion will arise.

Researcher finds exercise can reduce artery stiffness associated with heart failure

Generally, exercise is considered good for you. However, physicians and medical doctors previously prescribed bedrest to people with heart failure, fearing exercise could potentially lead to additional health problems.

When a freestanding emergency department comes to town, costs go up

Rather than functioning as substitutes for hospital-based emergency departments, freestanding emergency departments have increased local market spending on emergency care in three of four states' markets where they have entered, according to a new paper by experts at Rice University.

Heat-cam exhibit alerts tourist to breast cancer

A tourist discovered she had breast cancer after an interactive heat-cam exhibit revealed a tumour during a family trip to a museum in Edinburgh.

Is the stethoscope dying? High-tech rivals pose a threat

Two centuries after its invention, the stethoscope—the very symbol of the medical profession—is facing an uncertain prognosis.

Choosing the best embryos—researchers pave the way to successful pregnancies

Struggling with infertility? You are not alone. Infertility affects one out of every six Canadian couples. Some resort to in vitro fertilization, with mixed results. In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers from the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM) unveiled a mechanism that likely contributes to the low level of pregnancy success in some fertility clinics. This new information could ultimately increase women's chances of having a baby.

Novel agent flips on garbage disposal in neurons, eliminating toxic brain proteins in mice

Neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center say they have developed and tested an agent that reduces the buildup of toxic proteins in animal models of both Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases, and improves cognitive and motor behavior.

Bed time is the best time to take blood pressure medication

People with high blood pressure who take all their anti-hypertensive medication in one go at bedtime have better controlled blood pressure and a significantly lower risk of death or illness caused by heart or blood vessel problems, compared to those who take their medication in the morning, according to new research.

Chronic kidney disease patients at increased risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes

Chronic kidney disease, which afflicts an estimated 6.4% of U.S. adults 45 and older, is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and other adverse cardiovascular outcomes, according to new research from Mayo Clinic.

Women scientists author fewer invited commentaries in medical journals than men

Women scientists were 21% less likely to author invited commentaries in medical journals during a five-year period than men with similar scientific expertise, seniority, and publication metrics, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and in collaboration with Elsevier. They found that the disparity was larger for women who were further progressed in their careers, reaching as high as 40% for the most senior authors.

Medicaid expansion improved coverage more for married versus unmarried people

New research suggests that, under the United States' Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), expanded Medicaid coverage has provided greater improvements in health insurance coverage for married people, especially women, than for unmarried people. Jim Stimpson of Drexel University, Pennsylvania, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on October 23, 2019.

Leading foods in the EU fall short of criteria for marketing to children

Many food products sold across Europe fail to meet two sets of nutrition criteria developed to restrict marketing to children in the European Union, according to new research from the European Commission's Joint Research Centre. The findings are published in the open access journal PLOS ONE on October 23, 2019.

UN says 1st local polio case found in Zambia since 1995

The World Health Organization says Zambia has reported its first local case of polio since 1995, in a 2-year-old boy paralyzed by a virus derived from the vaccine.

Unexpected role of mTORC2 protein in colorectal cancer

New results from researchers at MedUni Vienna's Center for Pathobiochemistry and Genetics show that a protein called mTORC2, which is the target of newly developed cancer drugs, is not even active in colorectal cancer. mTORC2 activity was only found in certain immune cells, which actually need this protein to fight cancer cells.

The breast cancer 'avatar' mice that could help personalise treatment 

All cancers are different. Lung cancer is very different from breast cancer, and one person's breast cancer may be very different from another's.

Expert: Opioid settlements come with limitations

The nation's three biggest drug distributors and a major drugmaker agreed to a $260 million settlement Monday over the toll taken by opioids in two Ohio counties, averting the first federal trial over the crisis.

Phone coaching prevents falls in older people

A new, phone-based falls prevention program called RESPOND has been shown to reduce falls in older people who are sent home from hospital emergency departments.

Your brain approaches tricky tasks in a surprisingly simple way

Have you ever sat down to complete your morning crossword or Sudoku and wondered about what's happening in your brain? Somewhere in the activity of the billions of neurons in your brain lies the code that lets you remember a key word, or apply the logic required to complete the puzzle.

New chemical weapon to combat cancer

UNIGE researchers have discovered a new combination of drugs that is effective in fighting cancer cells without affecting healthy cells.

Study: How diet contributes to toxic exposure for pregnant women and children

Which foods are the healthiest, and which cause us harm? It's been debated long before "paleo," "low-carb" and "sugar-busting" entered our lexicon. But even staples of healthy diets like fish and fruit may be harmful in higher doses for certain vulnerable groups—especially pregnant women and kids—because of exposure to pesticides and other contaminants in those foods, according to a new study in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Medical alarms may be inaudible to hospital staff

Thousands of alarms are generated each day in any given hospital, but there are many reasons why humans may fail to respond to medical alarms, including trouble hearing the alarm.

Half of all commonly used drugs profoundly affecting the gut microbiome, warn experts

A new study presented at UEG Week 2019 reports that 18 commonly used drug categories extensively affect the taxonomic structure and metabolic potential of the gut microbiome. Eight categories of drugs were also found to increase antimicrobial resistance mechanisms in the study participants.

Vitamin D deficiency and poor muscle function in the over-60s

New research from Trinity College Dublin shows that vitamin D deficiency is an important determinant of poor skeletal muscle function in adults aged 60 years and over. Maintaining skeletal muscle function throughout life is a crucial component of successful aging, in promoting independence, mobility, quality of life and reducing falls and frailty. While resistance exercise is known to preserve muscle function, there is growing evidence that adequate vitamin D status may also be protective. The paper was recently published in the international journal Clinical Interventions in Ageing.

Zebrafish discovery throws new light on human hearing disorders

A study of the genetic make-up of zebrafish has provided brand new insights into the cause of congenital hearing disorders in humans.

Don't be fooled by foods that sound healthy but aren't

You probably already realize that adding zucchini or carrots to a cake won't magically make it low calorie or healthy. But you might not realize that there are many foods that sound healthy but really aren't.

The exercise effect and prediabetes

If you've been told that your blood glucose is higher than normal and that you have prediabetes, your doctor is likely to first suggest lifestyle steps to stop it from progressing to diabetes.

Questionnaire helps terminal patients express needs and wishes to loved ones, caregivers

It's not easy talking about quality of life as death approaches, but a group of University of Alberta researchers have developed a tool to help families start that difficult conversation.

Snacking: the modern habit that could be putting your health and waistline at risk

Cakes, biscuits and energy bars are, for many people, just staples of everyday life—the snacks that keep them going through the day.

The long arm of childhood conditions

Available research on the impact of a person's socioeconomic status during childhood suggests that the circumstances one grows up in matter a great deal for adult health. The results of a new IIASA study supports the notion of a "long arm of childhood conditions" that remains invisible beyond mid-life but can affect health satisfaction later in life.

Scientists' discovery leads to greater understanding of Alzheimer's disease

Otago scientists have made an important discovery in understanding the role a particular protein plays to impair memory in Alzheimer's disease, which could lead to more effective treatment in future.

Optoacoustic imaging shows potential for noninvasive diagnostics for thyroid disorders

A combination of multispectral optoacoustic tomography (MSOT) and ultrasound has been used to noninvasively characterize a range of thyroid disorders, according to new research published in the October issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine. By providing a semiquantitative analysis of functional parameters and tissue characterization, the novel noninvasive imaging technique can provide novel biomarker information for initial evaluation and differential diagnosis of thyroid disorders.

Anti-arthritis drug also stops tuberculosis bacillus from multiplying in blood stem cells

Immunologist Johan Van Weyenbergh (KU Leuven) and his Belgian-Brazilian colleagues have shown that a drug used to fight arthritis also stops the process that allows the tuberculosis bacillus to infect and hijack blood stem cells.

Researchers study immune response to influenza

It is estimated that influenza (flu) results in 31.4 million outpatient visits each year. New research from the University of Minnesota Medical School provides insights into how the body can protect itself from immunopathology during flu.

FDA wants stronger warning on breast implants about risks

U.S. health officials want women getting breast implants to receive stronger warnings and more details about the possible risks and complications.

Stressing cancer with spice

A new study by scientists in Japan and Indonesia reports how an experimental drug agent stops cancer cells from growing. A little over a decade ago, Indonesian scientists first reported pentagamavumon-1 (PGV-1), an analogue of a molecule found in turmeric and that has been since discovered to have anti-cancer effects. In the new study, tests on cancer cells and animals reveal that these anti-cancer effects come from PGV-1 inhibiting a series of enzymes responsible for the metabolism of reactive oxygen species. This finding is expected to clarify how modifications to PGV-1 will lead to its use for cancer treatment.

Treatment for common vision disorder does not improve children's reading skills

Results from a clinical trial funded by the National Eye Institute (NEI) show that while vision therapy can successfully treat convergence insufficiency (CI) in children, it fails to improve their reading test scores. Investigators from the Convergence Insufficiency Treatment Trial—Attention and Reading Trial (CITT-ART) published the results online today in Optometry and Vision Science. NEI is part of the National Institutes of Health.

A possible gut-brain connection to 'chemo brain'

Scientists looking for evidence of the gut's involvement in cognitive and mood problems related to chemotherapy treatment are testing their theories with the help of an unsavory rodent habit: eating feces.

Q&A: Should you get vaccinations with a suppressed immune system?

Dear Mayo Clinic: I am 72 and take a drug for rheumatoid arthritis that suppresses my immune system. I'm scheduled to receive a vaccine later this year. Is it safe for me to receive this vaccine?

A weapon to make a superbug become even more deadly

A recent research led by a scientist at City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has discovered an easily transmitted DNA piece that can make a new type of hyper-resistant and deadly superbug become hyper-virulent quickly, posing an unprecedented threat to human health.

First use of flavored tobacco linked to subsequent use

(HealthDay)—First use of a flavored tobacco product is associated with increased risk of subsequent tobacco use, according to a study published online Oct. 23 in JAMA Network Open.

Limited English proficiency may worsen chronic disease outcome

(HealthDay)—In predominantly English-speaking settings, patients with limited English proficiency (LEP) and chronic conditions have higher rates of emergency department revisits and hospital readmissions than patients with English proficiency (EP), according to a research letter published in the Oct. 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Patients with diabetes still require more hospitalizations for infections

(HealthDay)—Rates of hospitalizations for common infections requiring hospitalization remain substantially higher in adults with diabetes compared with adults without diabetes, according to a study published online Oct. 15 in Diabetes Care.

Lung transplant with ex vivo lung perfusion feasible

(HealthDay)—Use of ex vivo lung perfusion (EVLP)-treated lungs increases the number of patients undergoing transplantation with comparable long-term outcomes, according to a study published online Oct. 9 in JAMA Surgery.

Pregnancy complications tied to higher risk of later hypertension

(HealthDay)—Several first-time pregnancy complications are associated with development of hypertension (HTN) two to seven years later, according to a study published in the Oct. 1 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Outcomes across nonmelanoma skin cancer treatments similar

(HealthDay)—Outcomes for nonmelanoma skin cancers are similar at one year, regardless of treatment type, although cosmetic results vary, according to a review published in the Oct. 15 issue of Cancer.

Interest in CBD products keeps soaring, but health experts wary

(HealthDay)—CBD oil, CBD cookies, even CBD-infused massages: CBD (cannabidiol) seems to be everywhere nowadays, and a new study confirms it's one the hottest health trends for Americans.

Vaping devices under scrutiny as lung illness outbreak continues to vex health officials

Mangala Narasimhan carefully inserted the long, thin probe down Gregory Rodriguez's throat, snaking it past his vocal cords and deep into his damaged lungs.

Caption glasses aid the deaf and hard of hearing

Deaf in one ear and significantly hard of hearing in the other, Cheryl Johnson does not go to the theater unless she gets great seats.

Even the fetus has gut bacteria, study shows

A study in humans and mice demonstrated that a fetus has its own microbiome, or communities of bacteria living in the gut, which are known to play important roles in the immune system and metabolism. Researchers also confirmed that the fetal microbiome is transmitted from the mother. These findings open the door to potential interventions during pregnancy to stimulate the fetal microbiome when a premature birth is expected, to help the baby grow faster and be better equipped to tolerate early life infection risk. The study was published in the journal JCI Insight.

Young adult women abused as adolescents report higher levels of pain

Young adult women with a documented history of being maltreated as children report higher levels of pain than women not maltreated in childhood, according to a new study.

Scientists discover reasons why targeted immuno-oncology drugs sometimes fail

Researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center—Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC—James) report a discovery that helps scientists understand why some tumors lack immune cell infiltration and are therefore unresponsive to newer PD-1 targeted therapies.

Central Valley workplaces can be hostile for minority doctors

Despite the dire need for primary health care providers in California's Central Valley, workplace discrimination and harassment can cause them to change practices or leave the region entirely.

Too many older adults readmitted to hospitals with same infections they took home

About 15% of hospitalized older adults will be readmitted within a month of discharge.

Study calls for forensic nursing exams to include concussion evaluation

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are not evaluated during standard forensic nursing exams following a domestic violence assault, strangulation or rape. But researchers at the University of Arizona College of Medicine—Phoenix say adding neurologic tests to current protocols could help victims seek treatment.

Study looks at distribution of new cases of diabetes, density of specialists

In the last five years, the landscape of type 2 diabetes treatment has changed dramatically. Two new classes of drugs—SGLT2 inhibitors and GLP-1 receptor agonists—have been shown to prevent some of the most serious diabetes complications, including heart and kidney conditions, in patients. While primary care physicians treat the majority of patients with type 2 diabetes, many patients also seek out internal medicine specialists, including nephrologists, endocrinologists and cardiologists for care. To better understand the distribution of specialists in the U.S. who may be able to help care for the rising number of patients with diabetes, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital analyzed national data on the prevalence of diabetes and the number of internal medicine specialists in each U.S. state. They found that cardiologists were the highest represented specialists and conclude that they are well positioned to be integral members of a patient's care team. Their findings are published in JAMA Cardiology.

As large chains grow to dominate dialysis, patient outcomes decline

As large, for-profit dialysis chains acquired more than 1,200 smaller providers across the U.S. from 1998 to 2010, they cut skilled medical staff, increased patient volumes, altered drug regimens and adopted other practices that hurt patient health, according to new research from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business.

Mapping international drug use by looking at wastewater

Wastewater-based epidemiology is a rapidly developing scientific discipline with the potential for monitoring close to real-time, population-level trends in illicit drug use. By sampling a known source of wastewater, such as a sewage influent to a wastewater treatment plant, scientists can estimate the quantity of drugs used in a community from the measured levels of illicit drugs and their metabolites excreted in urine. The results of the international monitoring campaigns performed annually over seven years (2011-2017) by an international group of scientists, the SCORE group (Sewage analysis CORe group Europe), are now compiled in an article published in the prestigious journal Addiction.

Lowest-paid workers have longest retirements

The lowest-paid workers in the UK have three more years of retirement on average compared to their professional counterparts, but are more likely to suffer ill health after stopping work, a new UCL-led study suggests.

Brain studies show chronic fatigue syndrome and Gulf War illness are distinct conditions

Gulf War Illness (GWI) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) share symptoms of disabling fatigue, pain, systemic hyperalgesia (tenderness), negative emotion, sleep and cognitive dysfunction that are made worse after mild exertion (postexertional malaise). Now, neuroscientists at Georgetown University Medical Center have evidence, derived from human brain studies, that GWI and CFS are two distinct disorders that affect the brain in opposing ways.

The first drug in Hong Kong to be granted orphan drug designation by the US FDA

A research team from the School of Chinese Medicine at Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) has successfully developed a novel aptamer, i.e. a single-stranded piece of DNA, for the treatment of osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) with the aid of artificial intelligence (AI) technology. It is the first time a drug in Hong Kong has been granted orphan drug designation by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Disneyland visitor had measles, may have exposed others

Los Angeles County health officials say a visitor to Disneyland this month may have exposed others to measles.

US and Gates Foundation plan $200m for sickle cell, HIV cures

The US government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged Wednesday to jointly invest $200 million over the next four years to achieve affordable gene therapy-based cures for sickle cell disease (SCD) and HIV.

Biology news

New study reveals that crabs can solve and remember their way around a maze

A new Swansea University study has revealed how common shore crabs can navigate their way around a complex maze and can even remember the route in order to find food.

Study provides framework for one billion years of green plant evolution

Gene sequences for more than 1100 plant species have been released by an international consortium of nearly 200 plant scientists, the culmination of a nine-year research project.

Why are bald eagles such great gliders? It's all in the wrist

Birds come in an astounding array of shapes and colours. But it's their physical prowess—like a bald eagle's incredible ability to soar—that captivates human imagination.

Biologists build proteins that avoid crosstalk with existing molecules

Inside a living cell, many important messages are communicated via interactions between proteins. For these signals to be accurately relayed, each protein must interact only with its specific partner, avoiding unwanted crosstalk with any similar proteins.

Bacterial lifestyle alters the evolution of antibiotic resistance

How bacteria live—whether as independent cells or in a communal biofilm—determines how they evolve antibiotic resistance, which could lead to more personalized approaches to antimicrobial therapy and infection control.

Research identifies earlier origin of neural crest cells

Neural crest cells—embryonic cells in vertebrates that travel throughout the body and generate many cell types—have been thought to originate in the ectoderm, the outermost of the three germ layers formed in the earliest stages of embryonic development.

Male specimens preferred by animal collectors, study suggests

Museum collections of birds and mammals may be disproportionately skewed to favour males, even if female members of the species outnumber males in the wild, according to research published Wednesday.

Yeast study reveals how multiple genes interact to influence a surprising cellular outcome

Most diseases are complex—caused by faults in multiple genes—but studying how combinations of different genetic variants affect cellular traits is challenging. A new study from Frederick Roth's team, out today in the journal Cell Systems, uses baker's yeast as a model system to demonstrate a new approach to understand how genes can interact in unexpected ways.

Evolving alongside other bacteria keeps hospital bug potent

Bacteria that evolve in natural environments—rather than laboratory tests—may become resistant to phage treatments without losing their virulence, new research shows.

Understanding local attitudes to snow leopards vital for their ongoing protection

The team of researchers found that local attitudes towards the snow leopard were strongly linked to local views on the conservation methods used to protect them.

Stingless bee species depend on a complex fungal community to survive

A study published in PLOS ONE shows that the larvae of the Brazilian stingless bee Scaptotrigona depilis depend on interactions between three different species of fungus to complete their development and reach adulthood.

Chemical 'vaccine' helps plants repel pathogens

When plants come under attack from invading bacteria, viruses or fungi, they mount a two-pronged response, producing both offensive chemicals to kill invaders and defensive chemicals to prevent infestations from spreading.

Marine pathogenic bacterium forms specialized cells for dissemination

Vibrio parahaemolyticus can be found in the tidal zones in estuarine areas. The marine bacterium causes acute gastroenteritis in humans and is the leading cause for seafood borne illnesses in the world. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for terrestrial Microbiology in Marburg, Germany, have identified specialized "adventurer" cells that ensure the bacterium's dissemination and prevalence. Their new findings are an important basis for the future management of the disease.

Marmoset monkeys can learn a new dialect

Monkeys and other animals communicate through calls that can differ depending on region. The common marmoset is one such animal that communicates using regional dialects. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now found out that they even adapt their dialect when they move to a different area.

Poor water conditions drive invasive snakeheads onto land

The largest fish to walk on land, the voracious northern snakehead, will flee water that is too acidic, salty or high in carbon dioxide—important information for future management of this invasive species.

Doubt over future of Antarctic ocean sanctuary plans

A push by Australia and France to create a massive ocean sanctuary in east Antarctica is in doubt as nations meet in Hobart to discuss the plans, with China and Russia opposing.

Lots of good terns: Bird ready to fly off endangered list

After 34 years on the endangered species list, a tiny Midwestern bird is ready to fly free of federal protection.

Growth Arrest Specific 7 protein allows cells to eat

Without hands or feet, a single human cell has little to protect itself from surrounding threats like bacteria or viruses. In this way, the cell membrane has evolved to be much more than a wall that keeps cell content inside and everything else outside. By dynamically changing its shape, the membrane allows the cell to purge itself of waste and also attack nearby threats. Japanese scientists now report how the assembly of the protein Growth Arrest Specific 7 (GAS7) into two-dimensional sheets is crucial for this second process.

New field test detects banana fungus faster than ever

A new field test developed by Wageningen University & Research (WUR) for detecting Tropical Race 4 (TR4) – the Fusarium strain that causes the much-feared Panama disease in bananas—has tested positive in Colombia. The so-called LAMP test (from Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification assay) helped swiftly determine the presence of TR4 in the South American country. The WUR test is faster and more practical than laboratory tests and allows banana farmers and authorities to take immediate measures once suspect plants test positive for the fungus in order to prevent further spreading. The LAMP test was developed by a research team led by professor Gert Kema (WUR).

Strategies of a honey bee virus

The Israeli acute paralysis virus is a pathogen that affects honey bees and has been linked to colony collapse disorder, a key factor in decimating the bee population. Researchers have now analyzed in detail how the virus hijacks the cellular protein production machinery and misuses it for its own purposes. The research, published in The EMBO Journal, is an important step towards the development of strategies to fight the colony collapse disorder.

Noise pollution hurts wildlife, but states have trouble turning down the volume

A low rumble thrums through the deck as Tacoma, a 5,000-ton ferry, makes its run across Puget Sound from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. Standing near the railing, Colin McCann, a legislative analyst for Washington State Ferries, points to the water where the agency recently dropped a microphone 500 feet below the surface as part of a study to capture the acoustic profile of every vessel in the state's fleet.

Keep quiet or be eliminated: How cell competition modulates morphogen gradients

Tissue patterning is an important process during embryo formation, as well in adult tissue, which ensures that groups of cells are correctly arranged to allow them to function properly. Many studies have attempted to understand how disruptive cells (arranged or signaling improperly) are removed from healthy tissues; none have provided a clear explanation, until now.

Protecting species on the move

The key to how coral reefs of the future will look and function—and how to protect them—could lie hidden in their ancient past.

Fish pass 'hot genes' onto their grandchildren

Fish that are able to adjust to warming waters may pass heat-tolerant genes not just onto their children, but their grandchildren too.

Underwater grandmothers reveal big population of lethal sea snakes

A group of snorkelling grandmothers is helping scientists better understand marine ecology by photographing venomous sea snakes in waters off the city of Noumea, New Caledonia.

Researchers discover the 'KARAPPO' gene and illuminate vegetative reproduction

The mechanism by which liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha) asexually reproduces via the development of clonal progenies (gemmae) has been revealed by a cross-institutional research group. They discovered the gene "KARAPPO," which is essential for initiating gemma development in liverwort. These findings are expected to contribute fundamental knowledge towards technological developments to boost agricultural and horticultural cultivation efficiency.

Bringing policy and law into fight against buffelgrass

The spread of buffelgrass "rivals climate change and water scarcity as our region's most pressing environmental issue," according to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.

New portable DNA sequencer quickly and accurately diagnoses wheat viruses

Blasts cause significant loses in wheat crops. Recently Bangladesh was devastated by an invasion of South American races of wheat blast fungus, which occurred for the first time in the country in 2016. The disease spread to an estimated 15,000 hectares (16% of cultivated wheat area in the country) and resulted in yield losses as high as 100%.

Swiss government bans 'shredding' of male chicks

Switzerland is banning the practice of "shredding" newly hatched male chicks, citing progress in techniques to determine chicks' gender in the egg.

New insect database to help with forensic investigations

Researchers at Cranfield University are using blowflies and other insects to develop a database which will provide a complementary method of estimating time since death in forensic investigations.

Official: Solving wild horse problem will take $5B, 15 years

It will take $5 billion and 15 years to get an overpopulation of wild horses under control on federal lands across the West, the acting head of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management said Wednesday, adding that several developments have made him more optimistic about his agency's ability to get the job done.

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