Thursday, January 30, 2020

Science X Newsletter Thursday, Jan 30

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for January 30, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

ArguLens: a framework to help developers make sense of usability-related feedback

Heart failure: Researchers make headway against diastolic dysfunction

Researchers create 3-D-printed, sweating robot muscle

Brain's 'GPS system' toggles between present and possible future paths in real time

Astronomers investigate broadband variability of the blazar Markarian 501

Four-dimensional micro-building blocks: Printable, time-related, programmable tools

Astronomers witness the dragging of space-time in stellar cosmic dance

New predatory dinosaur added to Australia's prehistory

Fermented soy products linked to lower risk of death

Meteorites reveal high carbon dioxide levels on early Earth

Emerging organic contaminant levels greatly influenced by stream flows, seasons

Cells' springy coils pump bursts of RNA

Antibiotic-resistance in Tanzania is an environmental problem

Microscopic partners could help plants survive stressful environments

Anti-solar cells: A photovoltaic cell that works at night

Astronomy & Space news

Astronomers investigate broadband variability of the blazar Markarian 501

An international team of astronomers has studied variable broadband emission of the gamma-ray blazar Markarian 501 during a period of its high X-ray activity. The research, published January 21 on the arXiv preprint server, could lend better understanding of emission mechanisms in blazars.

Astronomers witness the dragging of space-time in stellar cosmic dance

An international team of astrophysicists led by Australian Professor Matthew Bailes, from the ARC Centre of Excellence of Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav), has shown exciting new evidence for 'frame-dragging'—how the spinning of a celestial body twists space and time—after tracking the orbit of an exotic stellar pair for almost two decades. The data, which is further evidence for Einstein's theory of General Relativity, is published today the journal Science.

Solar Orbiter mission to track the sun's active regions, improve space weather prediction

Our understanding of space weather, its origin on the sun, and its progression and threat to Earth, comes with critical gaps—gaps that the European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter hopes to help fill after its upcoming launch.

Two satellites just avoided a head-on smash: How close did they come to disaster?

It appears we have missed another close call between two satellites—but how close did we really come to a catastrophic event in space?

Technology news

ArguLens: a framework to help developers make sense of usability-related feedback

Evaluating the usability of open-source software (OSS), software that is made freely available to developers worldwide, generally entails analyzing the feedback and comments of those who used it. Processing and understanding the feedback provided in user discussions, however, can be challenging due to the vast number of comments online, and because they often present opposing opinions.

Researchers create 3-D-printed, sweating robot muscle

Just when it seemed like robots couldn't get any cooler, Cornell researchers have created a soft robot muscle that can regulate its temperature through sweating.

Four-dimensional micro-building blocks: Printable, time-related, programmable tools

Four-dimensional (4-D) printing is based on merging multimaterial printing, reinforcement patterns or micro and nanofibrous additives as time-related programmable tools, to achieve desired shape reconfigurations. However, the existing programming approaches still follow an origami design principle to generate reconfigurable structures using self-folding and stacked 2-D materials at small scales. In a new report on Science Advances, T. Y. Huang and a team of interdisciplinary, international researchers in the U.S. and China proposed a programmable modular design to directly construct 3-D reconfigurable microstructures capable of 3-D-to-3-D transformations via 4-D micro-building block assembly.

Anti-solar cells: A photovoltaic cell that works at night

What if solar cells worked at night? That's no joke, according to Jeremy Munday, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UC Davis. In fact, a specially designed photovoltaic cell could generate up to 50 watts of power per square meter under ideal conditions at night, about a quarter of what a conventional solar panel can generate in daytime, according to a concept paper by Munday and graduate student Tristan Deppe. The article was published in, and featured on the cover of, the January 2020 issue of ACS Photonics.

Rachmaninoff the most innovative composer according to network science

Rachmaninoff, followed by Bach, Brahms and Mendelssohn, was the most innovative of the composers who worked during the Baroque, Classical and Romantic eras of music (1700 to 1900) according to a study published in the open access journal EPJ Data Science.

Intel casts third patch to battle MDS Goliath

What does a chip giant gotta do? ZombieLoad won't die and that is not to be allowed. Intel has forced out a third patch, said reports.

Wearable health tech gets efficiency upgrade

North Carolina State University engineers have demonstrated a flexible device that harvests the heat energy from the human body to monitor health. The device surpasses all other flexible harvesters that use body heat as the sole energy source.

Giving cryptocurrency users more bang for their buck

A new cryptocurrency-routing scheme co-invented by MIT researchers can boost the efficiency—and, ultimately, profits—of certain networks designed to speed up notoriously slow blockchain transactions.

Computer servers now able to retrieve data much faster

Computer scientists at the University of Waterloo have found a novel approach that significantly improves the storage efficiency and output speed of computer systems.

Samsung Electronics says Q4 net profit slumps 38%

The world's biggest smartphone maker, Samsung Electronics, reported a slump in fourth-quarter net profits on Thursday, blaming weakening demand in key products and falling chip prices.

Mitsubishi Motors denies emissions test fraud after German raids

Mitsubishi Motors denied Thursday equipping engines with devices to make them appear less polluting, after raids by prosecutors in Germany probing suspected diesel emissions cheating.

Huawei races to replace Google apps for next smartphone

If you can make smartphone apps, Chinese tech giant Huawei wants you.

Toyota's 2019 global vehicle sales trail Volkswagen's

German automaker Volkswagen has kept its lead as the world's largest automaker after Japanese rival Toyota announced it sold fewer vehicles last year.

Uber, Lyft confirm Phoenix airport business as usual for now

Ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft say they won't change their service at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport until Arizona's highest court rules on proposed fee increases that prompted threats to stop picking up and dropping off customers at one of the nation's largest airports.

Apple, Broadcom ordered to pay $1.1bn for patent infringement

A Los Angeles jury on Wednesday ordered Apple and Broadcom to pay $1.1 billion to a California university for infringing wifi technology patents in what is thought to be one of the largest patent verdicts ever.

Nintendo logs nine-month profit leap, upgrades annual forecast

Japanese gaming giant Nintendo on Thursday reported a leap in sales and profit for the nine months to December, upgrading its full-year profit forecast on strong demand for its popular Switch console.

Microsoft gets lift from rise in earnings

Microsoft said Wednesday that its profits rose sharply in the past quarter, boosted by improving sales across a range of consumer products and business services, sending its shares higher.

Using AI, people who are blind are able to find familiar faces in a room

Theo, a 12-year-old boy who is blind, is seated at a table in a crowded kitchen on a gray and drippy mid-December day. A headband that houses cameras, a depth sensor and speakers rings his sandy-brown hair. He swivels his head left and right until the camera in the front of the headband points at the nose of a person on the far side of a counter.

Building standards give us false hope. There's no such thing as a fireproof house

Bushfires have killed 33 people and destroyed nearly 3,000 houses across Australia so far this fire season. Canberra is under threat right now.

China demand for Jaguar, Land Rover boosts India's Tata Motors

Chinese demand for British luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover helped Indian automaker Tata Motors return to the black on Thursday, despite falling sales in the domestic market.

Big hit for Facebook as latest results show cracks in growth

Facebook shares came under heavy selling pressure Thursday as the latest earnings report for the leading social network highlighted mushrooming costs in dealing with privacy, abuse and misinformation.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a message for you: He doesn't care if you like him

Mark Zuckerberg has a message for you: He doesn't care if you like him.

IBM's Watson Center pitches AI for everyone, from chefs to engineers

At the IBM Watson Experience Center, digital and physical worlds meet in a futuristic-looking lounge overlooking San Francisco's Financial District.

Axing Lightning for iPhone would mean unprecedented e-waste, Apple says

Forcing Apple to change iPhones from Lightning to USB-C connectors would cause "an unprecedented volume of electronic waste," the company said recently. The remark follows a European Commission call earlier this month for a common charger for all mobile phones, an effort to reduce waste and make life easier for consumers. Apple argues, however, that this would create even more waste, because its Lightning accessories would become obsolete.

Here's why Galaxy Z Flip is the foldable phone I'm most excited for right now.

Samsung's fully embraced the "Go big or go home" mentality with its tabletlike Galaxy Fold last year. But its second foldable phone—rumored to be called the Galaxy Z Flip (internal code name Galaxy Bloom) - is almost guaranteed to be smaller. It's also likely going to be cheaper, bend vertically instead of horizontally and be outfitted with only half the cameras its folding predecessor has. And honestly, I couldn't be more excited.

Novel approach allows 3-D printing of finer, more complex microfluidic networks

First introduced in the 1980s, stereolithography (SL) is an additive manufacturing process that prints 3-D objects by the selective curing of liquid polymer resin using an ultra-violet (UV) light source in a layer-by-layer fashion. The polymer employed undergoes a photochemical reaction which turns it from liquid to solid when exposed to UV illumination. Today, SL is touted as one of the most accurate forms of 3-D printing that is accessible to consumers, with desktop models (e.g., liquid crystal display variants) costing as little as USD $300.

World record: Efficiency of perovskite silicon tandem solar cell jumps to 29.15%

While silicon converts mostly the red portions of sunlight into electricity, perovskite compounds primarily utilise the blue portions of the spectrum. A tandem solar cell made of stacked silicon and perovskite thus achieves significantly higher efficiency than each individual cell on its own.

Autonomous pods SWARM together like bees in world first demonstration

Autonomous pods born in Coventry are now able to swarm together in a world first, thanks to research by WMG at the University of Warwick in partnership with Aurrigo and Milton Keynes council.

Sun, wind, and hydrogen: New Arctic station will do without diesel fuel

The Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) has initiated a project of the Russian Federation called "Arctic Hydrogen Energy Applications and Demonstrations" (AHEAD) in the Arctic Council's Sustainable Development Working Group (SDWG). The project is supported by the Russian Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic, the governor of Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug, and the EnergyNet infrastructure center of the National Technology Initiative.

Hummer is making a comeback, but this time it's electric

The Hummer, once a gas-guzzling target for environmentalists, is making a comeback. But this time around it won't burn fuel or spew greenhouse gases.

Self-learning heat­ing control system saves energy

Can buildings learn to save all by themselves? Empa researchers think so. In their experiments, they fed a new self-learning heating control system with temperature data from the previous year and the current weather forecast. The "smart" control system was then able to assess the building's behavior and act with good anticipation. The result: greater comfort, lower energy costs.

Haptic helmet for firefighters

Imagine firefighters trying to navigate through an unfamiliar, burning building full of suffocating smoke and deafening noise. Firefighting is exceedingly dangerous, and the ability for first responders to maintain communications in hostile environments can literally mean life or death.

Dating apps face US inquiry over underage use, sex offenders

A House subcommittee is investigating popular dating services such as Tinder and Bumble for allegedly allowing minors and sex offenders to use their services.

UK automakers report drop in investment, production

British auto production dropped for a third straight year in 2019, as carmakers continued to hold off on investment amid uncertainty over the country's departure from the European Union.

Dark patterns: The secret sauce behind addictive tech

Think you're pretty internet savvy? You may be falling for app and web design tricks without even realizing it ...

Likelihood of e-book purchases increase 31% by combining previews and reviews

New research in the INFORMS journal Information Systems Research finds that the purchasing decision of customers considering buying e-books is significantly influenced through easy access to a combination of e-book previews and reviews, resulting in a staggering 31% increase in a consumer's likelihood to purchase an e-book. When exposed to either previews only or online reviews only, purchase likelihood is between 7 and 17%.

Medicine & Health news

Heart failure: Researchers make headway against diastolic dysfunction

Heart failure is a major public health concern, a disease that affects tens of millions of people around the world—forcing many into a vicious cycle of hospitalizations, discharges and frequent readmissions.

Brain's 'GPS system' toggles between present and possible future paths in real time

Survival often depends on animals' ability to make split-second decisions that rely on imagining alternative futures: If I'm being chased by a hungry predator, do I zag left to get home safely or zig right to lead the predator away from my family? When two paths diverge in a yellow wood, which will lead me to breakfast and which will lead me to become breakfast? Both look really about the same, but imagination makes all the difference.

Fermented soy products linked to lower risk of death

A higher intake of fermented soy products, such as miso and natto, is associated with a lower risk of death, finds a study from Japan published by The BMJ today.

New target identified for repairing the heart after heart attack

Billions of cardiac muscle cells are lost during a heart attack. The human heart cannot replenish these lost cells, so the default mechanism of repair is to form a cardiac scar. While this scar works well initially to avoid ventricular rupture, the scar is permanent, so it will eventually lead to heart failure and the heart will not be able to pump as efficiently as before the damage caused by heart attack.

Researchers discover new piece of the puzzle for Parkinson's disease

Biomedical scientists at KU Leuven have discovered that a defect in the ATP13A2 gene causes cell death by disrupting the cellular transport of polyamines. When this happens in the part of the brain that controls body movement, it can lead to Parkinson's disease.

New discovery would allow researchers to fine-tune CAR-T activity

A discovery by University of North Carolina Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers could allow scientists to fine-tune genetically engineered immune cells to heighten their killing power against tumors or to decrease their activity level in the case of severe side effects.

Putrid compound may have a sweet side gig as atherosclerosis treatment

Putrescine, the compound responsible for perhaps the foulest odor in nature—the smell of decomposing flesh—may also be a remedy for atherosclerosis and other chronic inflammatory diseases, according to a new study led by researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

Scientists link rapid brain growth in autism to DNA damage

Researchers at the Salk Institute have discovered a unique pattern of DNA damage that arises in brain cells derived from individuals with a macrocephalic form of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The observation, published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, helps explain what might go awry in the brain during cell division and development to cause the disorder.

Study links daylight saving time to 28 fatal car accidents per year in the US

Several U.S. states have considered doing away with the practice of changing the clocks forward or back in favor of permanent Daylight Saving Time (DST), while experts around the world suggest permanent Standard Time is a better alternative for health and wellbeing. A study appearing January 30 in the journal Current Biology puts forth evidence of another downside of DST: it increases the risk of fatal car accidents for about a week each year.

Genetic screen offers new drug targets for Huntington's disease

Using a type of genetic screen that had previously been impossible in the mammalian brain, MIT neuroscientists have identified hundreds of genes that are necessary for neuron survival. They also used the same approach to identify genes that protect against the toxic effects of a mutant protein that causes Huntington's disease.

Precancerous milestone discoveries improve clinical risk prediction and cancer prevention

A team of researchers affiliated with multiple institutions in Massachusetts has discovered some of the precancerous milestones that can lead to breast cancer in women with a BRCA2 gene mutation. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their detailed analysis of breast tissue taken from women with the mutation who elected to undergo a mastectomy, and what they found.

Immune responses to tuberculosis mapped across three species

Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world's most vexing public health problems. About 1.5 million people died from this bacterial lung infection in 2018, and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that one-quarter of the world's population—some 2 billion people, mostly in developing countries—are infected with the bacteria that causes TB.

Scientists discover how non-human primate ovaries age, with implications for human fertility

Due to the modern tendency to postpone childbirth until later in life, a growing number of women are experiencing issues with infertility. Infertility likely stems from age-related decline of the ovaries, but the molecular mechanisms that lead to this decline have been unclear. Now, scientists from the U.S. and China have discovered, in unprecedented detail, how ovaries age in non-human primates. The findings, published in Cell on January 30, 2020, reveal several genes that could be used as biomarkers and point to therapeutic targets for diagnosing and treating female infertility and age-associated ovarian diseases, such as ovarian cancer, in humans.

Patterns in the brain shed new light on how we function

The patterns created by neurons in the brain can be used to shine a light on how the brain functions, and take us a step closer to creating intelligent robots, scientists claim.

New clues into the genetic origins of schizophrenia

The first genetic analysis of schizophrenia in an ancestral African population, the South African Xhosa, appears in the Jan. 31 issue of the journal Science. An international group of scientists conducted the research, including investigators from Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and New York State Psychiatric Institute, as well as the University of Cape Town and the University of Washington.

Brain drowns in its own fluid after a stroke

Cerebral edema, swelling that occurs in the brain, is a severe and potentially fatal complication of stroke. New research, which was conducted in mice and appears in the journal Science, shows for the first time that the glymphatic system—normally associated with the beneficial task of waste removal—goes awry during a stroke and floods the brain, triggering edema and drowning brain cells.

Imaging study of key viral structure shows how HIV drugs work at atomic level

Salk scientists have discovered how a powerful class of HIV drugs binds to a key piece of HIV machinery. By solving, for the first time, three-dimensional structures of this complex while different drugs were attached, the researchers showed what makes the therapy so potent. The work, which appeared in Science on January 30, 2020, provides insights that could help design or improve new treatments for HIV.

Unexpected immune response in brain, spinal cord could offer clues to treating neurological diseases

An unexpected research finding is providing new information that could lead to new treatments of certain neurological diseases and disorders, including multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and spinal cord injury.

How HIV develops resistance to key drugs discovered

The mechanism behind how HIV can develop resistance to a widely-prescribed group of drugs has been uncovered by new research from the Crick and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, with the findings opening the door to the development of more effective treatments.

Efforts to avoid appearing dishonest may actually lead to lying, study finds

People may lie to appear honest if events that turned out in their favor seem too good to be true, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Medicaid expansion reduce cancer, saves black lives

Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina could sharply lessen the burden of colon cancers in the state and save the lives of thousands of Black men as well as improving access to care for men of all races, researchers report in the 27 January issue of PLOS ONE.

New clinical practice guideline for complex ADHD in children and adolescents

New clinical guidelines call strongly for providing psychosocial supports for children and adolescents with complex attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Developed by the Society for Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (SDBP), the guideline provides a framework for diagnosing and treating complex ADHD in these age groups. Its recommendations complement existing ADHD guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The new guideline is published in a supplemental issue of SDBP's Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Infectious disease experts warn of outbreak risks in US border detention centers

Over the past year, at least seven children have died from diseases including influenza while being detained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. Infectious disease experts at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) called for protections like influenza vaccinations to prevent serious outbreaks.

Researchers discover how cellular senescence leads to neurodegeneration

Although a link has been established between chronic inflammation and neurodegenerative diseases, there have been many open questions regarding how cellular senescence, a process whereby cells that stop dividing under stress spew out a mix of inflammatory proteins, affects these pathologies. Publishing in PLOS ONE, researchers at the Buck Institute report that senescence in astrocytes, the most abundant cell type in the brain, leads to damaging "excitotoxicity" in cortical neurons that are involved in memory.

Low-calorie sweeteners do not mean low risk for infants

Many people turn to artificial or so-called natural sweeteners to cut calories and lose weight. A new study led by Dr. Raylene Reimer, Ph.D., published in the high-impact journal Gut discovered that the consumption of low-calorie sweeteners while pregnant increased body fat in their offspring and disrupted their gut microbiota—the trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that inhabit the intestinal tract and affect our health and risk of numerous diseases.

Project fear: Misinformation spreads China virus panic

Misleading bat soup videos, vastly inflated death tolls, quack remedies and vaccine conspiracies—a global deluge of misinformation is compounding public fears about China's new coronavirus and stoking racial stereotypes.

Do masks offer protection from new virus? It depends

People around the world are buying up protective face masks in hopes of keeping the new virus from China at bay. Some companies have required them for employees. Schools in South Korea have told parents to equip their children with masks and hand sanitizer when they return from winter vacation.

China counts 170 virus deaths, new countries find infections

China on Thursday raised the death toll to 170 and more countries reported infections from a new virus, including some spread locally, as foreign evacuees from China's worst-hit region returned home to medical tests and even isolation.

Deadliest day for China in virus fight as global fears mount

China reported its biggest single-day jump in novel coronavirus deaths on Thursday, as global fears deepened with more infections confirmed overseas including three Japanese evacuated from the outbreak's epicentre.

In US, diabetics turn to black market or Canada for life-saving insulin

On a frosty January morning in a Minneapolis suburb, Abigail Hansmeyer leaves her car engine running and takes out a brown paper bag carrying needles and a vial, handing it over to its recipient in an anonymous shopping center parking lot.

New coronavirus study places incubation period at around 5 days

The period between exposure to the new coronavirus that originated in China and symptoms is 5.2 days on average, but varies greatly among patients, according to one of the largest studies yet published on the deadly epidemic.

Study identifies reasons for drinking in UK serving and ex-serving military personnel

A study, led by the University of Liverpool and King's College London, has identified the reasons why UK serving and ex-serving military personnel drink, in research based on military personnel self-reporting a stress or emotional problem.

Discovery reveals antibiotic-resistant strep throat may be too close for comfort

Infectious disease scientists identified strains of group A streptococcus that are less susceptible to commonly used antibiotics, a sign that the germ causing strep throat and flesh-eating disease may be moving closer to resistance to penicillin and other related antibiotics known as beta-lactams.

City in a test tube: Researchers simulate urban pollution to show how it damages the heart

A unique study mimicking city centre pollution levels shows how just two hours of bad air adversely affects the heart and blood vessels for a whole day. The research is published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Vision may be the real cause of children's motor skill and developmental delays

Do you have poor motor skills or struggle to read, write or solve math problems? Maybe it's really because of how your brain interprets what it sees.

Video: Epidemiologist answers common questions about coronavirus

Coronavirus, also known as the Wuhan virus or 2019-nCoV, is similar to the seasonal flu in symptoms and how it is transmitted.

Movement study could be significant in helping understand brain rehabilitation

The human brain's ability to recall a single movement is significantly affected by the characteristics of previous actions it was learned with, a new study has shown.

Tasting no-calorie sweetener may affect insulin response on glucose tolerance test

Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose provide the seductive taste of sweetness without the calories contained in sugar—a seeming win-win for people who need to control their blood sugar and insulin levels or weight.

New therapy may ease congestion for heart failure patients

The American Heart Association estimates that the total cost of heart failure in the United States could reach $70 billion by 2030. Volume overload contributes to 90% of heart failure-related hospitalizations in the U.S. A new therapy developed by Sequana Medical demonstrates that direct sodium removal (DSR) is a safer alternative to remove excess sodium from the body.

Improvements in care could save the lives of more acute bowel obstruction patients

"Delay in Transit," published by the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD), reviewed 686 cases of patients aged 16 and over, in an attempt to improve the high mortality rates for the condition which are currently at around 10 percent in cases where surgery is needed.

Researchers build a better lung model

Using a combination of pluripotent stem cells (cells that can potentially produce any cell or tissue type) and machine learning (artificial intelligence that allows computers to learn automatically), researchers have improved how they generate lung cells.

MRI tool can diagnose difficult cases of ovarian cancer

Researchers have developed a new MRI tool that can identify cases of ovarian cancer which are difficult to diagnose using standard methods.

Not getting enough sleep linked to handgun carrying among teens

Getting less than five hours of sleep a night leads to an increased likelihood of teens carrying a handgun—and even taking a gun to school, according to a new study published in Sleep Health by researchers from FIU and the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Is 'impossible' meat too good to be true?

It sizzles on the grill. But does it fizzle in terms of nutrition? That's the question when it comes to the new plant-based burgers that are flying off grocery store shelves and restaurant tables.

How digital technology can reduce mental illness stigma

When those with mental illness experience prejudice and discrimination in the form of stigma, it can make their suffering considerably worse.

Don't believe the myths: Taxing sugary drinks makes us drink less of them

This year's Australian of the Year, Dr. James Muecke, is an eye specialist with a clear vision. He wants to change the way the world looks at sugar and the debilitating consequences of diabetes, which include blindness.

What is GHB, the liquid ecstasy drug implicated in rape crimes?

The case of Reynhard Sinaga, an Indonesian man convicted by a court in Manchester, United Kingdom for 136 rapes, has shed light on an illegal drug he most likely used to paralyze his victims.

Study finds most nursing home aides report missing or rushing essential care tasks

Improving working conditions for care aides could be a low-cost way to cut down on missed and rushed tasks and improve overall quality of care for residents in Canadian nursing homes, according to a new study led by University of Alberta nursing researchers.

Letting your child pick their snack may help you eat better, study suggests

Giving in to your kid's desire for an unhealthy snack may improve your own eating choices, a new University of Alberta study shows.

Researcher: New online therapy for lingering depression symptoms could fill 'gap in care'

An online version of a pioneering therapy aimed at reducing the lingering symptoms of depression can offer additional benefits for patients receiving care, a new University of Toronto study has found.

Vegetarian diet linked with lower risk of urinary tract infections

A vegetarian diet may be associated with a lower risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs), a study in Scientific Reports suggests.

Daily smoking and drinking may be associated with advanced brain age

Daily drinking and smoking may be associated with modest increases in relative brain age compared to those who drink and smoke less, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Study confirms CT screenings can cut lung cancer deaths

A new Dutch study is being hailed as proof of the need for annual CT screenings of former and current longtime smokers to reduce deaths from lung cancer.

Appendicitis is painful—add a $41,212 surgery bill to the misery

Joshua Bates knew something was seriously wrong. He had a high fever, could barely move and felt a sharp pain in his stomach every time he coughed.

Many countries 'unprepared' for China virus: monitor

Many countries are unprepared to face the deadly virus spreading in China and beyond, a global health monitor warned Thursday as it urged goverments to get ready.

South Korea reports local human-to-human virus transmission

South Korea on Thursday reported the first local case of human-to-human transmission of the deadly virus that has killed 170 people in China and spread to more than a dozen countries.

Double trouble: A drug for alcoholism can also treat cancer by targeting macrophages

Developing a therapy to combat cancer remains one of the most difficult challenges in medical research. Cancer cells use the host's own immune system to grow and spread, ultimately becoming deadly. Immune cells like macrophages, which ordinarily fight to protect normal cells, are hijacked by malignant cancer cells, and populate the environment around the tumors, becoming tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). In fact, it was found that the cancerous tissue of patients for whom immunotherapy was not successful was rich in macrophages, confirming the link between the cancer and the TAMs. It is these TAMs that produce signaling proteins like chemokines and trigger the inhibitory immune checkpoint releases that create an immunosuppressive tumor environment, which protects the cancer cells and allows their accelerated growth. Since it is the TAMs that facilitate the spreading of cancer cells, regulating them as a therapeutic strategy for combating cancer has gained attention in recent years.

How fast can a new internet standard for sharing patient data catch fire?

Medical professionals have been storing personal health information in electronic form for more than a decade, but it is cumbersome for patients to gather disparate computer and paper records scattered across doctors' offices, hospitals and medical labs.

What you need to know about cholesterol

Most people know that high cholesterol is bad for their heart, but few people really understand what cholesterol is. Dr. Claire Haga, a Mayo Clinic family physician, explains why it's so closely related to heart problems. She also discusses the power you have to control it.

Smoke two of these and call me in the morning? Not quite, study finds

Researchers quizzed cannabis enthusiasts at a marijuana advocacy event about their beliefs on whether the drug is effective in treating certain medical conditions.

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement shows similar safety outcomes as open-heart surgery

A new study from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai and other centers nationwide shows that patients who underwent a minimally invasive transcatheter aortic-valve replacement (TAVR), had similar key 5-year clinical outcomes of death and stroke as patients who had traditional open-heart surgery to replace the valve.

Researchers find that regulating lipid metabolism in neurons helps axon regeneration

Typical examples include paralysis due to a spinal cord injury and visual field atrophy, or even complete blindness due to optic nerve atrophy in glaucoma patients. Therefore, in-depth study of the basic biological processes that affect axon regeneration is particularly important for human health. Traditional research on axon regeneration has focused on the cytoskeleton, with a few studies exploring cell membranes. However, because the nervous system is rich in lipids, and the axon regeneration process requires a large amount of lipids to participate in the formation of cell membranes, related research is of great significance. The role of neuronal lipid metabolism on axon regeneration is a mystery that is still waiting to be solved.

New insights into how the human brain solves complex decision-making problems

A new study on meta reinforcement learning algorithms helps us understand how the human brain learns to adapt to complexity and uncertainty when learning and making decisions. A research team, led by Professor Sang Wan Lee at KAIST jointly with John O'Doherty at Caltech, succeeded in discovering both a computational and neural mechanism for human meta reinforcement learning, opening up the possibility of porting key elements of human intelligence into artificial intelligence algorithms. This study provides a glimpse into how it might ultimately use computational models to reverse engineer human reinforcement learning.

Study: Urgent care, ER physicians overprescribing antibiotics for dental issues

Dentists, emergency room doctors and primary care physicians need to ease up on prescribing antibiotics for dental issues in patients who are otherwise healthy and have no manifestation of systemic disease.

A high-fiber diet may counteract the harmful health effects of pollutants

Research from the University of Kentucky's Superfund Research Center (UK-SRC) shows that a diet high in fiber could possibly reverse the adverse effects that environmental toxins have on cardiovascular health.

Torture isn't necessary – our study suggests an ethical alternative

Torture, such as waterboarding, is on the rise in several countries. US President Donald Trump has been vocal in his support of it, both as a method for punishing people and as an effective way of gaining intelligence. This is despite a recent US government report concluding that the use of such "enhanced interrogation" by the CIA was ineffective.

Ketamine use is underreported—likely due to unknown exposure—among EDM partygoers

Nearly 37 percent of electronic dance music (EDM) party attendees test positive for ketamine use when samples of their hair are tested—despite only 14.6 percent disclosing that they have used the drug in the past year.

Researchers identify cancer cell defect driving resistance to CAR T cell therapy

Some cancer cells refuse to die, even in the face of powerful cellular immunotherapies like CAR T cell therapy, and new research from the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania is shedding light on why. In a new study, researchers describe how a death receptor pathway in the cancer cell itself plays a central role in determining its response to CAR T cells. It's the first study to show that natural cancer features can influence response to CAR T cells, and that cancer cells can drive the development of CAR T cell dysfunction. The findings may provide guidance for future immunotherapies in patients whose blood cancers are resistant to CAR T therapy. The findings published today in Cancer Discovery, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

High and low exercise intensity found to influence brain function differently

A new study shows for the first time that low and high exercise intensities differentially influence brain function. Using resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (Rs-fMRI), a noninvasive technique that allows for studies on brain connectivity, researchers discovered that low-intensity exercise triggers brain networks involved in cognition control and attention processing, while high-intensity exercise primarily activates networks involved in affective/emotion processing. The results appear in a special issue of Brain Plasticity devoted to exercise and cognition.

Maino and the emergence of hip-hop as a source of mental resilience

Born in Brooklyn, New York, the rap artist Maino (Jermaine John Colman) takes his experiences not only from growing up in the famous borough, but also the 10 long years he spent behind bars at Riker's Island Penitentiary. A new dialogue paper, by two academics and co-founders of HIP HOP PSYCH (HHP) in Forensic Science International: Mind and Law, published by Elsevier, review Maino's time behind bars using his lyrics, and exploring the connections between hip-hop, mental health and resilience.

What is a super-spreader? An infectious disease expert explains

As the emerging Wuhan coronavirus outbreak dominates the daily news, you might be wondering just how the pathogen is working its way around the world. This virus travels from place to place by infecting one person at a time. Some sick people might not spread the virus much further, but it looks like some people infected with the novel coronavirus are what epidemiologists call "super- spreaders."

How social media is changing research and reactions to coronavirus outbreak

Over the past two decades, three novel coronaviruses—SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) in 2002, MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) in 2012 and now 2019-nCoV—have emerged, with both health and economic consequences around the globe.

Parental education level affects children's mental health

It is well known that children who have parents with a short education perform worse in school and more often have symptoms of ADHD and depression than other children do. In this new study, researchers wanted to find out why—is the difference due to genetic vulnerability or certain environmental factors?

HIV outcomes improved by state-purchased insurance plans, study finds

Health insurance purchased by state AIDS Drug Assistance Programs for people living with HIV in states that did not expand Medicaid are improving outcomes and have the potential to save millions in healthcare costs, a new study suggests.

New research establishes how first exposure to flu virus sets on our immunity for life

Were you born in an H1N1 year or an H3N2 year? The first type of influenza virus we are exposed to in early childhood dictates our ability to fight the flu for the rest of our lives, according to a new study from a team of infectious disease researchers at McMaster University and Université de Montréal.

Less chemotherapy may have more benefit in rectal cancer

Chemotherapy used to shrink a tumor before surgery, called neoadjuvant chemotherapy, is becoming more common in many cancers, including stage II and III rectal cancer. However, the chemotherapy regimens FOLFOX and CapeOx used in this setting come with significant side effects, to the degree that many patients are unable to complete the recommended schedule.

A multicenter study identifies a new biomarker for vascular dementias

Vascular dementia is caused by a defect on blood flow arrival to the brain, which consequently generates neuronal damage. Until now, its diagnosis has been quite complicated because only neuroimaging methods, such as a scanner, and the appearance of symptoms were available. The lack of more precise and specific methods creates confusion with other neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's. A study, developed between Medical Center of Göttingen University (UMG) and Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL), has described a new biomarker for this disease, lipocalin 2 protein. This protein is present in the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain.

Researchers improve animal welfare by discovering genetic mutations that cause disease

Humans and animals are made up of trillions of cells, and each cell contains DNA specific to that individual. Therefore, identifying DNA that causes genetic disorders gives researchers and clinicians a better understanding of how to treat inherited diseases and possibly prevent the diseases from being passed down to future generations.

Families give high marks to parenting supports 'for refugees, by refugees,' study finds

Refugees from Bhutan and Somalia report high rates of approval for a new intervention program developed "for refugees, by refugees" to help strengthen immigrant families as they settle in the US, according to a new study by the Boston College team that developed and implemented the community-based initiative.

Poliovirus therapy shows potential as cancer vaccine in lab studies

A modified form of poliovirus, pioneered at Duke Cancer Institute as a therapy for glioblastoma brain tumors, appears in laboratory studies to also have applicability for pediatric brain tumors when used as part of a cancer vaccine.

Mothers on antiepileptic medication can safely breastfeed

Breastfeeding is associated with benefits for children and their mothers. However, when mothers take medications there is a potential for adverse side effects in the infant.

Promoting mixed chimerism promising in kidney transplants

(HealthDay)—For patients undergoing living kidney transplants, persistent mixed chimerism can be achieved to allow complete or partial withdrawal of immunosuppressive drugs, according to a study published in the Jan. 29 issue of Science Translational Medicine.

Conservative therapy for spontaneous pneumothorax seems noninferior

(HealthDay)—Conservative management with initial observation may be noninferior to immediate interventional management for carefully selected patients with primary spontaneous pneumothorax, according to a study published in the Jan. 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Nitrite consumption may up risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma

(HealthDay)—Nitrite consumption is associated with an increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), according to a meta-analysis published online Jan. 17 in Scientific Reports.

Comorbidities tied to higher rates of all-cause admissions in MS patients

(HealthDay)—Comorbidities increase the rate of all-cause, but not multiple sclerosis (MS)-specific, hospital admissions among patients with MS, according to a study published online Jan. 21 in Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders.

U.S. spends more on health care, but has worse life expectancy

(HealthDay)—The United States spends substantially more than any other wealthy nation on health care, yet it has a lower life expectancy and a higher suicide rate than other wealthy nations, according to a January data brief released by the Commonwealth Fund.

Will a face mask protect you from coronavirus?

(HealthDay)—The dreaded coronavirus in China has many reaching for face masks across the globe.

Life expectancy in U.S. increases for first time in 4 years

(HealthDay)—After four years of declines, life expectancy in the United States increased in 2018, health officials reported Thursday.

Coronavirus infections in China hit 7,700, as WHO mulls emergency declaration

(HealthDay)—As the number of coronavirus cases shot to 7,700 in China on Thursday, almost 200 American evacuees remain at a California military base while health officials monitor them for any signs of possible infection.

Many moms-to-be are stressed, and it might affect baby's brain

(HealthDay)—Many mothers-to-be feel overwhelmed by stress, and it might have implications for their babies' brain development in the womb, a new study suggests.

To best treat a burn, first cool with running water, study shows

New research in the January edition of Annals of Emergency Medicine reveals that cooling with running water is the best initial treatment for a child's burn. Researchers found that cool running water can reduce the odds of needing a skin graft, expedite healing and lessen the chance that a young burn victim requires admission to the hospital or an operating procedure.

US reports first case of person-to-person spread of new virus

For the first time in the U.S., the new virus from China has spread from one person to another, health officials said Thursday.

Coronavirus: what we do and don't know

How deadly and how contagious is the coronavirus? When do symptoms appear, and can a patient spread the virus before they do? Experts are zeroing in on these and other questions, but clear answers are not yet at hand.

US life expectancy up for first time in four years

US life expectancy is up for the first time in four years, driven by factors including a fall in the rate of fatal drug overdoses and cancer deaths, official statistics showed Thursday.

Study identifies need for disaster preparedness training for dermatologists

The dermatology community is inadequately prepared for a biological disaster and would benefit from a formal preparedness training program, according to a study from the George Washington University (GW). The article is published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology.

US birth weights drop due to rise in cesarean births, inductions

U.S. birth weights have fallen significantly in recent decades due to soaring rates of cesarean deliveries and inductions which have shortened the average pregnancy by about a week, new CU Boulder research shows.

Advanced medical imaging combined with genomic analysis could help treat cancer patients

Melding the genetic and cellular analysis of tumors with how they appear in medical images could give physicians and other cancer therapy specialists new insights into how to best treat patients, especially those with brain cancer, according to a new study led by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), an affiliate of City of Hope.

Study finds vaping prevention program significantly reduces use in middle school students

In response to the youth vaping crisis, experts at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) developed CATCH My Breath, a program to prevent electronic cigarette use among fifth—12th grade students. Research published in Public Health Reports reveals the program significantly reduces the likelihood of e-cigarette use among students who complete the curriculum.

WHO declares global virus emergency after deadliest day for China

The World Health Organization on Thursday declared a global emergency over the deadly coronavirus spreading from China, after the Asian giant reported its biggest single-day jump in the death toll.

Intravenous drugs can often rapidly restore normal heart rhythm without sedation, shocks

A study published in The Lancet found that two ways of quickly restoring normal heart rhythm in patients with acute atrial fibrillation in the emergency department are equally safe and effective.

Study examines quality of life in patients with kidney disease in India

A new study indicates that even early stages of chronic kidney disease (CKD) can negatively impact individuals' quality of life. The findings, which appear in an upcoming issue of CJASN, point to the importance of addressing, in addition to the medical aspects of chronic diseases, other factors that are important to patients.

Russia to shut border with China over coronavirus

Russia said Thursday it was closing the border with China to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus and would stop issuing electronic visas to Chinese nationals.

Your gums reveal your diet

Sweet soft drinks and lots of sugar increase the risk of both dental cavities and inflammation of the gums—known as periodontal diseases—and if this is the case, then healthy eating habits should be prioritised even more. This is the conclusion of a research result from Aarhus University.

Our brain has a barrier that stops drugs. How do we get past it?

A new drug for Alzheimer's, stroke or brain injury might work well in the lab, but the crucial test is whether it can get to where it needs to be.

Biology news

Cells' springy coils pump bursts of RNA

In your cells, it's almost always spring. Or at least springy.

Microscopic partners could help plants survive stressful environments

Tiny, symbiotic fungi play an outsized role in helping plants survive stresses like drought and extreme temperatures, which could help feed a planet experiencing climate change, report scientists at Washington State University.

Biological diversity as a factor of production

Can the biodiversity of ecosystems be considered a factor of production? A group of researchers under the direction of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) are studying the economic benefits that farmers and foresters can obtain by focusing on several species instead of just one. The benefits that biodiversity brings to society are also being studied in an extensive literature review.

Oysters as catch of the day? Perhaps not, if ocean acidity keeps rising

When it comes to carbon emissions, people tend to focus more on what happens in the atmosphere and on land. But about a quarter of carbon emissions dissolve into oceans, lowering the water's pH and causing ocean acidification.

Scientists boost gene-editing tools to new heights in human stem cells

During the past decade, the gene editing tool CRISPR has transformed biology and opened up hopeful avenues to correct deadly inherited diseases. Last fall, scientists began the first human clinical trials using CRISPR to combat diseases like cancer. They remove some of a person's cells, CRISPR edit the DNA, and then inject the cells back in, where hopefully, they will cure the disease.

Bacteria engineered to protect bees from pests and pathogens

Scientists from The University of Texas at Austin report in the journal Science that they have developed a new strategy to protect honey bees from a deadly trend known as colony collapse: genetically engineered strains of bacteria.

Researchers discover a genetic mechanism that affects birth defects, some cancers

Scientists have understood for some time that proper embryonic development depends in large part on transcriptional repressors, proteins that prevent genes from being expressed at inappropriate times. Steven Vokes, associate professor of molecular biosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, and his team focus on a set of proteins called GLI (glioma-associated oncogene) and how they control gene expression in response to what is known as the Hedgehog pathway.

Why Australia's severe bushfires may be bad news for tree regeneration

Blackened tree stems are all that remain in many post-fire images of eastern Victoria. The charred, often leafless trees are a testament to the severity of this season's bushfires, which have had a devastating impact on the state's biodiversity.

Coral genes go with the flow further than expected

The southern Red Sea is more readily connected with the Indian Ocean than with the northern Red Sea, according to simulations carried out at KAUST. This helps explain genetic patterns seen in the Red Sea and highlights the need for a collaborative regional approach to marine conservation.

Solving the riddle of strigolactone biosynthesis in plants

Strigolactones (SLs) are a class of chemical compounds found in plants that have roles as plant hormones and rhizosphere signaling molecules. They regulate plant architecture and promote germination of root parasitic weeds that have detrimental effects on plant growth and production.

Novel method for reading complete genomes from limited amounts of biological material

An improved method for reading and interpreting genomes from organisms that are difficult to investigate has been developed at Uppsala University. A team of researchers, led by Dr. Anna Rosling, has applied this method to decipher the genetic information of fungi present in the environment, which can be relevant, for example, for plant growth.

How we recruited albatrosses to patrol the high seas for illegal fishers

Wandering albatrosses have long been considered exceptional creatures. They can fly 8.5 million kilometres during their lifetimes – the equivalent of flying to the Moon and back more than ten times. Their three-and-a-half-metre wing span is the same length as a small car and they can weigh as much as 24 puffins. Their body shape means they can effortlessly glide over the ocean waves, flying in some of the strongest winds on Earth. Now research led by the Centre d'études biologiques de Chizé in France has found that these seabirds may have promising careers in the fight against overfishing.

Biophysicists find 'extra' component in molecular motor

Researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology have discovered an additional component in ATP synthase, a molecular machine that produces the energy-conserving compound in all cellular organisms. The new unique features of the ATP synthase structure are described in detail in a paper in Scientific Reports.

Trees might be 'aware' of their size

Trees are known for their great, but not unlimited, trunk height and diameter. They have evolved to develop a heavy above-ground biomass, but this integral feature poses a challenge to the trunk's stability.

Orientation of protein patterns

During embryogenesis in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, the first cell division occurs transverse to the long axis of the fertilized egg. In a new study, biophysicists at LMU have now shown how this axis is reliably selected.

Immune systems not prepared for climate change

Researchers have for the first time found a connection between the immune systems of different bird species, and the various climatic conditions in which they live. The researchers at Lund University in Sweden believe that as the climate changes, some birds may be exposed to diseases that they are not equipped to handle.

Near caves and mines, corrugated pipes may interfere with bat echolocation

When entrances to caves and mines—essential roosting places for bats—are blocked to prevent people from going inside, the gates often include a pipe to allow bats to access their roosts. However, many of the pipes have been constructed with corrugated rings for added strength.

Researchers discover new cellular mechanism related to aging and chronic illnesses

A Montana State University biotechnology researcher was part of an international team that recently discovered an internal mechanism which may protect human cells from oxidative damage. The discovery could lead to strides in understanding many problems associated with aging and some chronic illnesses.

Hemp 'goes hot' due to genetics, not growing conditions

As the hemp industry grows, producers face the risk of cultivating a crop that can become unusable—and illegal—if it develops too much of the psychoactive chemical THC. Cornell University researchers have determined that a hemp plant's propensity to 'go hot' - become too high in THC—is determined by genetics, not as a stress response to growing conditions, contrary to popular belief.

Researchers discover high levels of selenium in wheat grown in selenium-rich areas

RUDN doctors have found an increased level of selenium and other significant microelements in wheat bread and wheat from selenium-rich areas. Thanks to this, bread and wheat can be used as a source of selenium for people with selenium deficiency. The article was published in the journal Biological Trace Element Research.

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