Friday, February 7, 2020

Science X Newsletter Friday, Feb 7

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 7, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Can polarity-inverted membranes self-assemble on Saturn's moon Titan?

A flexible sensor for biometric authentication and the measurement of vital signs

How mosquitoes find humans to bite

Branching out for a new green revolution

Magnetic microrobots use capillary forces to coax particles into position

Scientists grow date palm plants from 2,000-year-old seeds

One small grain of moon dust, one giant leap for lunar studies

Scientists create 'chemical gardens' that can be used as bone substitute materials

New robot does superior job sampling blood

Research team delivers breakthrough for leading cause of blindness

New commuter concern: Cancerous chemical in car seats

Patent talk: Apple crease-free foldable sparks hopes for fresh phone

Scientists explore how females shut off their second X chromosome

Simple, solar-powered water desalination

Study in mice: Brain cells long thought of as passive play key role in memory

Astronomy & Space news

Can polarity-inverted membranes self-assemble on Saturn's moon Titan?

Astrobiologists are focused on resolving two central questions to understand the environmental and chemical limits of life. By understanding life's boundaries, they intend to identify possible biosignatures in exoplanet atmospheres and in the solar system. For example, the lipid bilayer membrane is a central prerequisite for life as we know on Earth. Preceding studies based on simulations of molecular dynamics have suggested that polarity-inverted membranes known as azotosomes made of small nitrogen-containing molecules may be kinetically abundant on cryogenic liquid worlds such as Saturn's moon Titan.

One small grain of moon dust, one giant leap for lunar studies

Back in 1972, NASA sent their last team of astronauts to the Moon in the Apollo 17 mission. These astronauts brought some of the Moon back to Earth so scientists could continue to study lunar soil in their labs. Since we haven't returned to the Moon in almost 50 years, every lunar sample is precious. We need to make them count for researchers now and in the future. In a new study in Meteoritics & Planetary Science, scientists found a new way to analyze the chemistry of the Moon's soil using a single grain of dust. Their technique can help us learn more about conditions on the surface of the Moon and formation of precious resources like water and helium there.

Galaxy formation simulated without dark matter

For the first time, researchers from the Universities of Bonn and Strasbourg have simulated the formation of galaxies in a universe without dark matter. To replicate this process on the computer, they have instead modified Newton's laws of gravity. The galaxies that were created in the computer calculations are similar to those we actually see today. According to the scientists, their assumptions could solve many mysteries of modern cosmology. The results are published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Solar Orbiter set to reveal Sun's secrets

The European Space Agency will embark upon one of its most ambitious projects to date Sunday when its Solar Orbiter probe launches from Florida's Cape Canaveral bound for the Sun.

Defective software could have doomed Boeing's crew capsule

Defective software could have doomed Boeing's crew capsule during its first test flight that ended up being cut short late last year, NASA said Friday.

Developing the spacesuit of the future

Researchers at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology have entered their third year of development of a wearable and wireless body sensor system—with the ability to be powered remotely—that will revolutionize NASA spacesuits.

Hubble captures grand spiral NGC 5364

This eye-catching galaxy is known as NGC 5364.

SpaceX gets $80 million from NASA to launch its Earth Science mission in 2022

SpaceX will get $80.4 million from NASA to launch the agency's 2022 Earth science mission, known as PACE.

Five things we're going to learn from Europe's Solar Orbiter mission

At 23.03 (local time) on Sunday 9 February, Europe's newest mission to study the sun is set to lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida, US. Called Solar Orbiter, this European Space Agency (ESA) mission will travel to within the orbit of planet Mercury to study the sun like never before, returning stunning new images of its surface.

Technology news

A flexible sensor for biometric authentication and the measurement of vital signs

Conformable imagers are flexible electronic components that can be placed in direct contact with a human user's skin, recording his/her vital signs or other biological information. Over the past few years, these imagers have become widely used, particularly for biometric authentication and in wearable electronics, such as smart watches or fitness trackers.

New robot does superior job sampling blood

In the future, robots could take blood samples, benefiting patients and healthcare workers alike.

Patent talk: Apple crease-free foldable sparks hopes for fresh phone

A patent application from Apple is all about a foldable device with a clever hinge design and it has tech watchers beating the drums for what Apple could bring to the table in folding phones with, if any, a difference.

Simple, solar-powered water desalination

A completely passive solar-powered desalination system developed by researchers at MIT and in China could provide more than 1.5 gallons of fresh drinking water per hour for every square meter of solar collecting area. Such systems could potentially serve off-grid arid coastal areas to provide an efficient, low-cost water source.

Using AI to spot causative relationships in overlapping medical datasets

A combined team of researchers from Babylon Health and University College has created an algorithm that they claim can find causal relationships among information in overlapping medical datasets. They have written a paper describing their algorithm and have uploaded it to the arXiv preprint server. They will also be giving a presentation describing their research at this year's Association for Advancement of Artificial Intelligence meeting.

Next generation of greenhouses may be fully solar powered

Many greenhouses could become energy neutral by using see-through solar panels to harvest energy—primarily from the wavelengths of light that plants don't use for photosynthesis. Those are the findings of a new modeling study conducted by engineering, plant biology and physics researchers at North Carolina State University.

Coronavirus claims world's biggest capacity car plant

The most productive car factory in the world fell quiet on Friday as South Korea's Hyundai suspended operations at its giant Ulsan complex, hamstrung by a lack of parts with the coronavirus outbreak crippling China's industrial output.

Pinterest shares leap as changes bear fruit

Pinterest shares leaped late Thursday after earnings figures showed the online bulletin board beat earnings and user expectations in the final quarter of last year.

Toyota extends China plant closure over virus

Japanese auto giant Toyota said Friday it would keep its Chinese factories shut until February 16, extending its suspension by a week amid the growing coronavirus crisis.

Intrusion alert: System uses machine learning, curiosity-driven 'honeypots' to stop cyberattacks

In recent months, the FBI issued a high-impact cybersecurity warning in response to increasing attacks on government targets. Government officials have warned major cities that such hacks are a disturbing trend that is likely to continue.

I hacked the government, and it was easier than you may think

Max Weiss never intended to hack the government. His discovery of how easy it is to do—outlined in a new paper he authored—came of the best of intentions.

Google Maps turns 15: Here are 15 tips to get the most out of the app

Google Maps turns 15 this week, and many of the 1 billion-plus people who turn to Google's app globally each month do so for more than navigation guidance.

Engineers streamline jet engine design

Anyone who looks to the stars also dreams of going to space. Turning this dream into reality depends on countless technological advances. One of these is new rocket and aircraft engines, which are becoming easier and cheaper to design and test, thanks in part to scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory.

Apple fined in France over iPhone-slowing software

France's consumer watchdog said Friday that Apple had agreed to pay 25 million euros ($27.4 million) for failing to tell iPhone users that software updates could slow down older devices.

Cyborgs, trolls and bots: A guide to online misinformation

Cyborgs, trolls and bots can fill the internet with lies and half-truths. Understanding them is key to learning how misinformation spreads online.

Study shows social media and search engines are better than their reputation suggests

Digital media have fundamentally changed the way we consume news. It is often assumed that the use of social networks and search engines has had a negative impact on the diversity of news that people access. This is often attributed to the algorithmic filtering used by these intermediaries, which only displays information that corresponds to the individual users' interests and preferences.

Software glitches force GM to recall pickups for 2nd time

General Motors is recalling about 162,000 full-size pickup trucks worldwide for a second time because of faulty brake control software that was installed in a recall from last year.

Its Wuhan plants shut, Honda reports quarterly profit drop

Japanese automaker Honda reported Friday a nearly 31% dive in its October-December profit as strong demand for its motorcycles failed to make up for falling vehicles sales.

Oscars 2020: How to stream the Academy Awards online

It's time for the Oscars. And while you might be able now to stream some of the movies up for the coveted golden statue, can you actually watch the show if you've cut the cord and dropped your cable subscription?

Scientists propose a technology reducing the cost of high-efficiency solar cells

A group of St. Petersburg scientists has proposed and experimentally tested a technology for the fabrication of high-efficiency solar cells based on A3B5 semiconductors integrated on a silicon substrate, which in the future may increase the efficiency of the existing single-junction photovoltaic converters by 1.5 times. The development of the technology was forecasted by the Nobel Laureate Zhores Alferov. The results have been published in the journal Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells.

Ericsson to skip mobile trade show over coronavirus

Swedish telecommunications equipment provider Ericsson said on Friday it would skip a major trade show because of the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Hong Kong Airlines to lay off 400 staff as virus hits city

Hong Kong Airlines said Friday it has been forced to slash hundreds of jobs and ask remaining staff to take unpaid leave as the coronavirus outbreak compounds problems at the already-struggling firm.

Medicine & Health news

Research team delivers breakthrough for leading cause of blindness

Researchers have identified a new protein linked to age-related macular degeneration (AMD) that could offer new hope for the diagnosis and treatment of the disease, which affects over 1.5 million people in the UK alone.

New commuter concern: Cancerous chemical in car seats

The longer your commute, the more you're exposed to a chemical flame retardant that is a known carcinogen and was phased out of furniture use because it required a Proposition 65 warning label in California.

Study in mice: Brain cells long thought of as passive play key role in memory

Microglia are resident immune cells in your brain that act as first responders, always on the lookout for trouble. Accounting for about 10% of our brain cells, they were historically thought of as passive bystanders in the brain until injury or infection kicked them into action. These cells were first observed in 1856 by the German physician Rudolf Virchow and later termed microglia, which means "small glue."

Study: To slow an epidemic, focus on handwashing

A new study estimates that improving the rates of handwashing by travelers passing through just 10 of the world's leading airports could significantly reduce the spread of many infectious diseases. And the greater the improvement in people's handwashing habits at airports, the more dramatic the effect on slowing the disease, the researchers found.

Fat droplets play surprise role in metabolism

In suspense novels, the most unassuming character sometimes turns out to be a mastermind, influencing events without attracting attention. That same storyline may be afoot in cells as well: an unglamorous fat-storing droplet appears to have a surprise role in controlling gene activity.

TrackSig: Unlocking the history of cancer through tumor evolution

A tumor is often made up of different cells, some of which have changed—or evolved—over time and gained the ability to grow faster, survive longer and potentially avoid treatment. These cells, which have an "evolutionary advantage," are thought to cause the vast majority of cancer deaths but researchers now have a new tool to tackle tumor evolution: TrackSig.

Just being around your cellphone affects your thinking, study finds

As smart phones have become a pervasive part of daily life over the last decade or so, they've changed the way people socialize and communicate. They're always around and always within reach, or nearly always.

More people and fewer wild fish lead to an omega-3 supply gap

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential components of healthy diets for both humans and fish. The dramatic increase in fish farming worldwide has boosted the demand for omega-3 fatty acids so much that today's supply can't meet demand. Reducing waste and finding new sources can help.

Sensory perception is not superficial brain work

If we cross a road with our smartphone in view, a car horn or engine noise will startle us. In everyday life we can easily combine information from different senses and shift our attention from one sensory input to another—for example, from seeing to hearing. But how does the brain decide which of the two senses it will focus attention on when the two interact? And, are these mechanisms reflected in the structure of the brain?

Pangolin Suspect #1 as direct source of coronavirus outbreak

Chinese researchers investigating the animal origin of the deadly coronavirus outbreak in China said Friday the endangered pangolin may be the "missing link" between bats and humans, but other scientists said the search may not be over.

Fly model offers new approach to unraveling 'difficult' pathogen

The Clostridium difficile pathogen takes its name from the French word for "difficult." A bacterium that is known to cause symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening colon damage, C. difficile is part of a growing epidemic of concern for the elderly and patients on antibiotics.

Middle-aged adults worried about health insurance costs now, uncertain for future

Health insurance costs weigh heavily on the minds of many middle-aged adults, and many are worried for what they'll face in retirement or if federal health policies change, according to a new study just published in JAMA Network Open.

Family dynamics may influence suicidal thoughts in children

Death by suicide in children has reached a 30-year high in the United States. During middle and high school, 10 to 15% of kids have thoughts of suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New method to detect early-stage cancer identified

A new method to detect cancer in its early stages using a targeted MRI contrast agent that binds to proteins has been identified by a team of researchers led by Georgia State University Regents' Professor Jenny Yang.

Discovery paves path forward in the fight against the deadliest form of malaria

Scientists have identified a key molecule involved in the development of cerebral malaria, a deadly form of the tropical disease. The study identifies a potential drug target and way forward toward alleviating this condition for which few targeted treatments are available.

New coronavirus infected 40 staff in single Wuhan hospital: study

Forty health care workers were infected with the novel coronavirus by patients at a single Wuhan hospital in January, a new study has found, underscoring the risks to those at the frontlines of the growing epidemic.

Seeing blue after the little blue pill: Visual disturbances in Viagra users

Sildenafil is commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction and is generally regarded as safe with limited side effects. However, a recent study in Frontiers in Neurology has highlighted the risk of persistent visual side-effects, such as light sensitivity and color vision impairment, in men who have taken the highest recommended dose of Viagra. While these effects appear to be rare, the research suggests that first-time Viagra users should start with a lower dose before increasing it, if necessary.

Bleeding may be a sign of bowel cancer not just a side-effect of blood-thinning drugs

Patients who are being treated with blood-thinning drugs for irregular heart beat should always be investigated for bowel cancer if they experience gastrointestinal bleeding, say the authors of a study published in the European Heart Journal today.

China virus crisis deepens as whistleblower doctor dies

A Chinese doctor who was punished after raising the alarm about China's new coronavirus died from the pathogen on Friday, sparking an outpouring of grief and anger over a worsening crisis that has now killed more than 630 people.

Coronavirus cases on Japan cruise ship treble to 61

At least 61 people on board a cruise ship off Japan have tested positive for the new coronavirus, the government said Friday, as thousands of passengers and crew face a two-week quarantine.

Researchers recommend early walking in a brace for Achilles tendon rupture

A new study from the University of Oxford and the University of Warwick reveals a breakthrough for sportsmen and women in the treatment of Achilles tendon rupture.

Social media users 'copy' friends' eating habits

Social media users are more likely to eat fruit and veg—or snack on junk food—if they think their friends do the same, a new study has found.

Researchers discover way to prime cancer tumors for immunotherapy

A cancer tumor's ability to mutate allows it to escape from chemotherapy and other attempts to kill it. So, encouraging mutations would not be a logical path for cancer researchers. Yet a Mayo Clinic team and their collaborators took that counterintuitive approach and discovered that while it created resistance to chemotherapy, it also made tumors sensitive to immunotherapy. They also found that this approach worked successfully across tumor types and individual patient genomes. Their findings involving mouse models and human cells appear in Nature Communications.

Virtual reality programs support the treatment of children with acquired brain injury

The use of virtual environments is a new and fast-developing field in pediatric neurorehabilitation. The first longitudinal study in Estonia on the cognitive and social rehabilitation of children with acquired brain injury was completed at the University of Tartu, confirming the efficiency of using computer-based programs and virtual reality for improving children's attention, visuospatial abilities and social skills.

Why should my child take swimming lessons? And what do they need to know?

Drowning is the third leading cause of unintentional death from injury worldwide. From July 2018 to June 2019, 276 people drowned across Australia—a 10% increase on the previous year.

New biomarker could better predict diabetic kidney disease

Clinicians may soon have a better way to predict which of their diabetic patients are most likely to develop kidney disease, allowing for earlier interventions that keep patients off lifelong dialysis or transplant waiting lists.

Team tracks integrin's role in lung function

Beta-1 integrin, a critical component of epithelial extracellular matrix receptors, is essential for normal lung function in adulthood, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center have discovered.

From 'bench-to-bedside' and more: Medical buzzwords decoded

A few short weeks ago, the word "coronavirus" probably meant little, if anything, to most people. (Human coronaviruses were first identified in the 1960s and, while they vary in severity, all have the ability to cause respiratory illnesses.) But today, headlines with that medical term are popping up everywhere, as this new virus continues to spread across China and the world.

New gene therapy method improves vision in mice with congenital blindness

Mice born blind have shown significant improvement in vision after undergoing a new gene therapy developed by a team of Japanese scientists.

New method for monitoring residual disease after treatment in children with neuroblastoma

A research group led by Professor NISHIMURA Noriyuki (Graduate School of Health Sciences, Kobe University) has developed a new method to monitor the residual disease after treatment in high-risk neuroblastoma patients. The method could be utilized to evaluate treatment response and facilitate early diagnosis of tumor relapse/regrowth.

How long coronaviruses persist on surfaces and how to inactivate them

A review article summarizes everything that researchers know about the lifetime of corona viruses on surfaces and the effect of disinfectants.

Early exposure to infections doesn't protect against allergies, but getting into nature might

Over the past few decades, allergies and asthma have become common childhood diseases, especially in developed countries. Almost 20% of Australians experience some kind of allergy, whether it's to food, pollen, dust, housemites, mold or animals.

Combined drug treatment for lung cancer and secondary tumors

Researchers at Kanazawa University report in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology a promising novel approach for a combined treatment of the most common type of lung cancer and associated secondary cancers in the central nervous system. The approach lies in combining two cancer drugs, with one compensating for a resistance side effect of the other.

Induced pluripotent stem cells used to regulate immune reaction to transplanted tissues

Scientists suggest a new strategy that uses induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) to regulate immune reaction to transplanted tissues.

Brain training does not improve early number skills, say researchers

Psychologists at the University of Sheffield have identified that core thinking skills are crucial in developing early number skills, and why children might differ widely in their early maths ability.

Blood-based multiplexed diagnostic sensor helps to accurately detect Alzheimer's disease

A research team at KAIST reported clinically accurate multiplexed electrical biosensor for detecting Alzheimer's disease by measuring its core biomarkers using densely aligned carbon nanotubes.

Few consumers understand THC levels in cannabis edibles

Few cannabis consumers understand what the THC numbers on packages of cannabis edibles really mean, according to a new University of Waterloo study.

What happens to medicines after their use-by dates

It is estimated that there is a staggering £300m worth of medicine unused in the UK every year. But is it safe to take these medicines if they are past their expiry date?

Gut hormone can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease

A new epidemiological study from Lund University and Skåne University Hospital in Sweden shows that there is a connection between high levels of the gastrointestinal hormone GIP in the blood, and an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease.

Cancer vaccine could boost the effectiveness of immunotherapy

Supercharging the mutation rate in cancer cells can create a powerful vaccine that is able to boost the effectiveness of immunotherapy, a major new study reports.

Coronavirus 2019-nCoV: The largest meta-analysis of the sequenced genomes of the virus

The largest analysis of coronavirus 2019-nCoV genomes that have been sequenced so far confirms that the virus originates in bats and shows a low virus heterogeneity. At the same time, researchers identified a hyper-variable genomic hotspot in the proteins of the virus responsible for the existence of two virus subtypes. The leading author of this study, published in the Journal of Medical Virology, is Federico M. Giorgi, bioinformatics researcher at the Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology of the University of Bologna.

Foxconn to start making face masks alongside iPhones in China

Foxconn will start manufacturing surgical face masks alongside Apple products at its Shenzhen factory, the world's biggest contract electronics maker announced Thursday in response to the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak.

Global shortage of anti-virus masks: WHO chief

The world is running out of masks and other protective equipment against the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organization chief warned on Friday.

Understanding gut microbiota, one cell at a time

A population of microorganisms living in our intestine, known as the gut microbiota, plays a crucial role in controlling our metabolism and reducing the risk of conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

Understanding unexplained low blood sugar in children: More than normal variation

Low blood sugar in children is often unexplained despite intense investigation into hormone Imbalances and inborn errors of cell metabolism. Despite its frequency, very little progress has been made in understanding this disease entity since 1964, where it was first named idiopathic ketotic hypoglycemia (IKH). Researchers from University of Southern Denmark and Odense University Hospital, Denmark, have now identified mutations in four novel genes that appear to explain IKH.

Coronavirus puts Shanghai into a coma

For more than a week, the rare resident of Shanghai who dared venture outside has encountered something unfamiliar: a surreal peace and quiet.

Scientists identify new biochemical 'warning sign' of early-stage depression

Chronic pain, or inflammation, is believed to be one of the major factors in the onset of major depressive disorder. Therefore, to better understand what happens physiologically during depression, scientists have long studied several metabolic processes or "pathways" related to inflammation. One of these pathways, called the kynurenine pathway, is the principal pathway involved in metabolizing the amino acid tryptophan.

Neurobiological mechanisms involved in the loss of control in a study in mice revealed

Researchers at UPF, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Mainz (Germany), the Center for Genomic Regulation, Instituto Cajal, Johannes Gutenberg University (Germany), the Autonomous University Barcelona and Hospital del Mar have identified for the first time the involvement of certain cortical areas in the brain in the loss of control over food intake. In the study, conducted in rodents and published today in Nature Communications, they have discovered a specific mechanism in this crucial cortical circuit for food addiction that involves a loss of control over intake. The study was led by the scientists Rafael Maldonado, Elena Martín-García and Beat Lutz.

Hexavalent vaccine included in vaccines for children program

(HealthDay)—The hexavalent combined diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP) adsorbed, inactivated poliovirus (IPV), Haemophilus influenza type b (Hib) conjugate (meningococcal protein conjugate), and hepatitis B (HepB; recombinant) vaccine (DTaP-IPV-Hib-HepB) has been included in the federal Vaccines for Children program, according to research published in the Feb. 7 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Infant sleep locations often do not align with recommendations

(HealthDay)—Fewer than half of mothers practice and intend to practice recommended infant sleep location practices of room sharing without bed sharing, according to a study published online Feb. 7 in Pediatrics.

Prenatal tobacco exposure may raise risk for pediatric psoriasis

(HealthDay)—Prenatal tobacco exposure is associated with an increased risk for pediatric psoriasis, according to a study published online Jan. 20 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Number of nurse practitioners more than doubled 2010 to 2017

(HealthDay)—From 2010 to 2017, there was a substantial increase in the number of nurse practitioners in the United States, with a corresponding reduction in the size of the registered nurse workforce, according to a report published in the February issue of Health Affairs.

Evidence lacking for use of bedside sitters to prevent falls

(HealthDay)—There is a lack of evidence to suggest that adding bedside sitters to usual care prevents falls for patients in acute care hospitals, according to a review published online Feb. 4 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

There's a virus spreading in U.S. that's killed 10,000: The flu

(HealthDay)—Folks fretting about the coronavirus are forgetting there's another virus already running rampant in the United States, one that's killed nearly 20 times as many people in this country alone.

Women's wellness: Understand heart disease symptoms and risk factors unique to women

Heart disease is often thought to be more of a problem for men. However, it's the most common cause of death for both women and men in the United States. Because some heart disease symptoms in women can differ from those in men, women often don't know what to look for.

Mayo Clinic minute: What is heart disease?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says heart disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans. And the risk of heart disease death differs by race and ethnicity.

Home remedies: Lifestyle changes can help your heart health

Heart disease can be improved—or even prevented—by making certain lifestyle changes. The following changes can help anyone who wants to improve heart health:

Mayo Clinic minute: How cholesterol affects your heart

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.

Q&A: Pertussis most contagious during early stages of illness

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Why is my health care provider recommending that I get the Tdap vaccine now to prevent whooping cough, even though I am in my late 70s? Doesn't whooping cough usually affect young children?

Children with ADHD more likely to receive medication if they live in poorer areas

Children with ADHD from the poorest areas are significantly more likely to receive medication as children with ADHD from the most affluent areas, according to the first UK study of its kind.

Cervical cancer screening saves lives

Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in women worldwide, but most American women can prevent it by being screened with tests that detect human papillomaviruses (HPV).

Microscopic eye movements vital for 20/20 vision

Visual acuity—the ability to discern letters, numbers, and objects from a distance—is essential for many tasks, from recognizing a friend across a room to driving a car.

New CAR-T target yields promising results for multiple myeloma

Too many patients with cancers like multiple myeloma relapse after treatment. This grim reality motivated researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah (U of U) to try to improve the depth and durability of treatment response in multiple myeloma through a new cancer cell targeting mechanism. Multiple myeloma is the second most common blood cancer and develops in the bone marrow. Approximately 30,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, and almost all patients eventually succumb to their disease.

Bright idea in dentist's office leads to innovative smoking cessation project

While sitting in the dentist's office, Hollings Cancer Center researcher Matthew Carpenter, Ph.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina, had a bright idea.

Inequitable medicare reimbursements threaten care of most vulnerable

Hospitals, doctors and Medicare Advantage insurance plans that care for some of the most vulnerable patients are not reimbursed fairly by Medicare, according to recent findings in JAMA.

No handshakes at meet and greet? Tech show adapts to virus

A major European technology trade fair has a low-tech idea for reducing virus risks: go hands-free.

Taiwan says virus couple likely infected on Hong Kong flight to Italy

A Taiwanese couple who recently tested positive for the new coronavirus likely picked up their infections on a flight from Hong Kong to Italy, authorities said.

Experts say U.S. flavored E-cigarette products ban will have little effect

The U.S. ban on certain flavored e-cigarette products that takes effect Thursday will do little to stem teens' use of nicotine, experts say.

Artificial intelligence can analyze myoclonus severity from video footage

Fast, reliable and automatic assessment of the severity of myoclonic jerks from video footage is now possible, thanks to an algorithm using deep convolutional neural network architecture and pretrained models that identify and track keypoints in the human body. Published in Seizure, the study is a joint effort by the Epilepsy Centre at Kuopio University Hospital, the University of Eastern Finland and Neuro Event Labs.

Dutch euthanasia clinic sees jump in death requests

The Netherlands' only euthanasia clinic said on Friday there had been a 22 percent jump in people wanting help to end their lives last year compared with 2018.

She put off heart symptoms until it was almost too late

When she's not biking, hiking or swimming, Bev Pohlit can probably be found tending to the vegetables growing in her quarter-acre backyard in Sinking Spring, Pennsylvania.

Quinn on Nutrition: Questions about grass-fed beef

These questions came in from a student journalist in Canada:

Pneumococcal vaccines are effective—But new strategies needed to reduce meningitis

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) have been highly effective in reducing pneumonia and other invasive infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. But rates of meningitis have shown little change, as pneumococcal strains not targeted by PCVs emerge as more important causes of meningitis, reports a paper in The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, the official journal of The European Society for Paediatric Infectious Diseases.

In vitro organ model research trends

Two distinct approaches are predominantly used to recapitulate physiologically relevant in vitro human organ models. Organoids use stem cells to grow self-assembled replica organs through directed differentiation, whereas the organ-on-a-chip approach involves microfluidics and carefully controlled, 3-D-printed architecture and assembly. It is difficult to assess and compare each strategy's overall influence with the increasing pace of discovery, but a new study using bibliometric analysis of nearly 3,000 research and review articles illuminates research trends. This work is reported in Tissue Engineering.

Biology news

How mosquitoes find humans to bite

In a paper appearing online February 6 in Science, professor of biology Paul Garrity, Ph.D. student Chloe Greppi, post-doctoral fellow Willem Laursen and several colleagues report that they've figured out an important part of how mosquitoes hone in on human warmth to find and bite people.

Branching out for a new green revolution

Researchers at the University of Oxford and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have discovered a new gene that improves the yield and fertilizer use efficiency of rice.

Scientists grow date palm plants from 2,000-year-old seeds

Methuselah, Adam, Jonah, Uriel, Boaz, Judith and Hannah—all sat dormant in Judea since biblical times. Now scientists have resurrected them in the hopes of better understanding their vanished lineage.

Scientists explore how females shut off their second X chromosome

Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg and Institut Curie in Paris have shown that the protein SPEN plays a crucial role in the process of X-chromosome inactivation, whereby female mammalian embryos silence gene expression on one of their two X chromosomes.

Solved: Mystery of marine nitrogen cycling in shelf waters

Nitrogen cycling in shelf waters is crucial to reduce surplus nutrients, which rivers pour out into the ocean. Yet this process is poorly understood. Scientists from Bremen have now found answers to a longstanding mystery in a key process of the nitrogen cycle.

Biodiversity yields financial returns

Farmers could increase their revenues by increasing biodiversity on their land. This is the conclusion reached by an interdisciplinary research team including the fields of agricultural sciences, ecology and economics at ETH Zurich and other universities.

Novel techniques for mining patented gene therapies offer promising treatment options

The global gene therapy market is expected to reach $13 billion by 2024 as new treatment options target cancers and other diseases.

New platform for composing genetic programs in mammalian cells

A new synthetic biology toolkit developed at Northwestern University will help researchers design mammalian cells with new functionalities.

New details on how a viral protein puts the brakes on virus replication

An interdisciplinary team of researchers at Colorado State University has used computational chemistry, biochemistry and virology to uncover new information on how viruses such as West Nile, dengue and Zika replicate. Based on their research, the team said these viruses appear to cripple their own genome replication machinery.

East African fish in need of recovery

A study of East African coral reefs has uncovered an unfolding calamity for the region: plummeting fish populations due to overfishing, which in turn could produce widespread food insecurity.

Sharp rise in canine fertility clinics but not always staffed with vets

There has been a sharp rise in the number of specialist canine fertility clinics, according to an investigation published in this week's issue of the Vet Record.

Single-molecule imaging reveals how myosin moves to bring about muscle contraction

In a research first, molecular biologists at RIKEN have directly visualized the motion of a critical motor protein at the single molecular level. This achievement could aid in the hunt for new ways to treat diseases associated with myosin malfunction.

New tool probes gene regulation

DNA methylation (DNAme) is a modification of the genome—an epigenetic "mark"—that is required for proper cellular differentiation. It has been implicated in the regulation of gene expression, but its role in this stepwise process is poorly understood.

I walked 1,200 kilometers in the outback to track huge lizards

In 2017 and 2018 I walked the equivalent of 28 marathons in the scorching Western Australian outback. Why, you ask? To assess how some of Australia's largest lizard species interact with restored mines.

Cattle grazing supports biodiversity in Romania

Blocking out the seemingly endless rain, cold and dark of midwinter is no mean feat, but picture this: it's early summer, the days are growing longer, the earth is warming underfoot and meadows are humming with life. Fit to bursting with plants, insects, birds and small mammals, these wildflower havens are a sensory overload. Vibrant yellows, pinks and purples nestle among the fresh greens while the meadow orchestra buzzes, twitters and snuffles its summertime song.

CRISPR gene editing creates 'designer' immune cells that fight cancer

In a first, scientists have used gene-editing technology to create "designer" immune system cells that can fight tumors and survive for months in cancer patients' bodies.

Beef cattle genetics, management critical in fine tuning herds to fit environment

Matching cattle to the land available to graze and the nutrition it offers is critical in optimizing production in an operation.

Alaska's national forests contribute 48 million salmon a year to state's fishing industry

Alaska's Tongass and Chugach National Forests, which contain some of the world's largest remaining tracts of intact temperate rainforest, contribute an average of 48 million salmon a year to the state's commercial fishing industry, a new USDA Forest Service-led study has found. The average value of these "forest fish" when they are brought back to the dock is estimated at $88 million per year.

Epigenetics: Inheritance of epigenetic markers

A study undertaken by an international team led by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich molecular biologist Axel Imhof sheds new light on the mechanisms that control the establishment of epigenetic modifications on newly synthesized histones following cell division.

Mediterranean sea urchins are more vulnerable than previously thought

The sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus, an eatable species of great commercial interest found in the Mediterranean and North-East Atlantic, is more vulnerable than so far believed.

Bacterial influencers—rhizosphere microbiome mediates root metabolite exudation

The rhizosphere is home to a rich microbial diversity. The metabolites secreted by the roots (products of root exudation) are known to shape the composition of the root microbiota. However, until recently it was not known if or how the microbiota in turn impact root exudation. Scientists have discovered that microbial communities can effect specific systemic changes in tomato root exudation via root-to-root signalling. The underlying process was termed as 'systematically induced root exudation of metabolites' (SIREM).

Scientists can now design new proteins from scratch with specific functions

Proteins are the molecular machines that make all living things hum—they stop deadly infections, heal cells and capture energy from the sun. Yet because our basic understanding of how proteins work has until now remained a mystery, humans have only been able to harness the power of proteins by modifying ones we happen to find in nature. This is beginning to change. Enabled by decades of basic research, the rise of inexpensive computing, and the genomics revolution in reading and writing DNA, scientists can now design new proteins from scratch with specific functions.

Biologists find that generalist diet is helping Cincinnati's rusty crayfish take over streams

An invasive species of crayfish that is taking over streams from Minnesota to Maine might be successful because it's not a fussy eater, according to biologists with the University of Cincinnati.

No clear path for Golden Rice to reach consumers

Heralded as a genetically modified crop with the potential to save millions of lives, Golden Rice has just been approved as safe for human and animal consumption by regulators in the Philippines. The rice is a beta carotene-enriched crop that is intended to reduce Vitamin A deficiency (VAD), a health problem in very poor areas.

France goes soggy on using CRISPR technique for veggies

France's highest administrative court decided Friday that plants produced using new gene editing techniques such as CRISPR undergo strict testing as genetically modified organisms in a ruling that could see some varieties pulled from the market.

Biologist discovers that lavender enhances the immunity of carp

Biologist from RUDN University Morteza Yousefi has found that lavender extract added to the food reduces stress and improves immunity in carp in fish farms. The article was published in the journal Aquaculture.

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