Monday, February 24, 2020

Science X Newsletter Monday, Feb 24

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 24, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

A perspective on the study of artificial and biological neural networks

Large-area electronic-grade graphene grows on the cheap

A new transverse tunneling field-effect transistor

One billion-year-old green seaweed fossils identified, relative of modern land plants

Why monkeys choose to drink alone

Watching magnetic nano 'tornadoes' in 3-D

When coronavirus is not alone: Team of complexity scientists present 'meme' model for multiple diseases

Mirrored chip could enable handheld dark-field microscopes

First direct seismic measurements of Mars reveal a geologically active planet

Programmable droplet manipulation by a magnetic-actuation robot

Let it snow: Researchers put cloud seeding to the test

Going super small to get super strong metals

Team discovers new way to control the phase of light using 2-D materials

Ancient DNA from Sardinia reveals 6,000 years of genetic history

Anonymous no more: combining genetics with genealogy to identify the dead in unmarked graves

Astronomy & Space news

New binary millisecond pulsar discovered in NGC 6205

Using the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST), astronomers have detected a new binary millisecond pulsar (MSP) in the globular cluster NGC 6205. The newly found pulsar received designation PSR J1641+3627F. The finding is reported in a paper published February 14 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

The seismicity of Mars

On 26 November 2018, the NASA InSight lander successfully set down on Mars in the Elysium Planitia region. Seventy Martian days later, the mission's seismometer SEIS began recording the planet's vibrations. A team of researchers and engineers at ETH Zurich, led by ETH Professor Domenico Giardini, had delivered the SEIS control electronics and is responsible for the Marsquake Service. The latter is in charge of the daily interpretation of the data transmitted from Mars, in collaboration with the Swiss Seismological Service at ETH Zurich. Now, the journal Nature Geoscience published a series of articles on the results of the mission in the first months of operation on Mars.

Skeptic of world being round dies in California rocket crash

A California man who said he wanted to fly to the edge of outer space to see if the world is round has died after his home-built rocket blasted off into the desert sky and plunged back to earth.

Image: Hubble fingerprints a galaxy

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope is no stranger to spiral galaxies. The telescope has brought us some of the most beautiful images ever taken of our spiral neighbors—and the galaxy known as NGC 4689 is no exception.

Pioneering black NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson dies

Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated rocket trajectories and earth orbits for NASA's early space missions and was later portrayed in the 2016 hit film "Hidden Figures," about pioneering black female aerospace workers, has died. She was 101.

How interferometry works, and why it's so powerful for astronomy

When astronomers talk about an optical telescope, they often mention the size of its mirror. That's because the larger your mirror, the sharper your view of the heavens can be. It's known as resolving power, and it is due to a property of light known as diffraction. When light passes through an opening, such as the opening of the telescope, it will tend to spread out or diffract. The smaller the opening, the more the light spreads, making your image more blurry. This is why larger telescopes can capture a sharper image than smaller ones.

Technology news

A new transverse tunneling field-effect transistor

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have recently fabricated a transverse tunneling field-effect transistor. This is a semiconductor device that can be used to amplify or switch electrical power or signals, operating through a phenomenon known as quantum tunneling. The new transistor, introduced in a paper published in Nature Electronics, was built using a van der Waals heterostructure, a material with atomically thin layers that do not mix with each other, but are instead attached via van der Waals interactions.

Microsoft Defender coming to devices running Android, iOS

Microsoft Defender software will extend its activity to fight the good fight against malware on iOS and Android mobile platforms. Expect to see the Defender software for these devices later this year, according to reports. But why bother? Matthew Humphries in PC Magazine says, "Microsoft believes there's a market for its security software on mobile devices, so Android and iOS users will soon have the option of running Microsoft Defender on their devices."

Predicting how well neural networks will scale

For all the progress researchers have made with machine learning in helping us doing things like crunch numbers, drive cars and detect cancer, we rarely think about how energy-intensive it is to maintain the massive data centers that make such work possible. Indeed, a 2017 study predicted that, by 2025, internet-connected devices would be using 20 percent of the world's electricity.

Hey, Alexa: Sorry I fooled you

A human can likely tell the difference between a turtle and a rifle. Two years ago, Google's AI wasn't so sure. For quite some time, a subset of computer science research has been dedicated to better understanding how machine learning models handle these "adversarial" attacks, which are inputs deliberately created to trick or fool machine learning algorithms.

Device mimics the mangrove's water-purifying power

The mangrove tree survives in its subtropical habitat by efficiently converting the salty water of its environment into fresh water—an engineering feat that has long baffled scientists.

Swarming robots avoid collisions, traffic jams

For self-driving vehicles to become an everyday reality, they need to safely and flawlessly navigate one another without crashing or causing unnecessary traffic jams.

Fox and NBCUniversal in talks to acquire streaming platforms: report

Media groups Fox Corp. and NBCUniversal are looking to buy ad-supported streaming platforms meant to lure customers who don't want to spend money on subscriptions, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

EU wants battery autonomy, but first it needs graphite

As Europe looks to declare its tech independence by becoming a leader in next-generation batteries, it will have to start by making its own graphite. The problem is, nearly all of it now comes from Asia, mainly China.

The holy grail of clean energy may still be on its way

Recent reports from scientists pursuing a new kind of nuclear fusion technology are encouraging, but we are still some distance away from the "holy grail of clean energy."

Electricity market transforming apace but security a worry

The transformation of the national electricity market has "progressed at a remarkable pace and scale" over the last year as it moves towards renewables, but security is a critical issue, according to the Energy Security Board.

Mobility technology: Will transport revolution live up to the hype?

Over the past decade almost US$200 billion has been invested globally in mobility technology that promises to improve our ability to get around. More than US$33 billion was invested last year alone. Another measure of interest in this area is the number of unicorns, which has doubled in the past two years.

New method: More timely and reliable transmission of wireless sensor networks

Since sensor nodes in wireless sensor networks (WSNs) are cheap and powered by batteries, their capabilities in communication and energy supply are relatively weak and limited. The deployment of relay nodes in constructing robust network topology can significantly enhance connectivity and reduce energy consumption of WSNs.

Anxiety, depression, PTSD: A hidden epidemic of data breaches and cybercrime

After a restorative getaway last July—a week in Stockholm, another exploring Norway's fjords and a picturesque hike deep into the peaceful wilds of western Sweden's forests—Christopher Lane returned home to his Chicago condo and an overflowing mailbox.

Venmo did what with my data? My location was shared when I paid with the app

Many of us have ditched cash and, instead, use smartphone apps like Venmo to pay for goods and services.

New artificial intelligence tools could help tackle online abuse

New tools which could be used to automatically detect and counter abuse on social media, are being developed by researchers at the University of Sheffield.

Pentagon adopts new ethical principles for using AI in war

The Pentagon is adopting new ethical principles as it prepares to accelerate its use of artificial intelligence technology on the battlefield.

New method proposed to achieve better robot self-learning

Human beings show amazing adaptability when dealing with complex tasks in daily life. This adaptability is the direct embodiment of individual learning ability, which enables human beings to improve their own behavior ability independently and incrementally.

Renault files civil claim against Ghosn

French car giant Renault said Monday it was filing a civil claim for damages against former CEO Carlos Ghosn over alleged financial misconduct.

Medicine & Health news

A perspective on the study of artificial and biological neural networks

Evolution, the process by which living organisms adapt to their surrounding environment over time, has been widely studied over the years. As first hypothesized by Darwin in the mid 1800s, research evidence suggests that most biological species, including humans, continuously adapt to new environmental circumstances and that this ultimately enables their survival.

Why monkeys choose to drink alone

Why do some people almost always drop $10 in the Salvation Army bucket and others routinely walk by? One answer may be found in an intricate and rhythmic neuronal dance between two specific brain regions, finds a new Yale University study published Feb. 24 in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Extra chromosomes in cancers can be good or bad

Cancer cells are notorious for their genetic disarray. A tumor cell can contain an abundance of DNA mutations and most have the wrong number of chromosomes. A missing or extra copy of a single chromosome creates an imbalance called aneuploidy, which can skew the activity of hundreds or thousands of genes. As cancer progresses, so does aneuploidy. Some advanced tumors can harbor cells that have accumulated more than 100 chromosomes, instead of 46 in normal cells.

Leukemia drugs hold promise for treatment-resistant lung cancer

Two recently approved leukemia drugs could be enlisted against treatment-resistant lung cancer, with a clinical trial expected to launch in Toronto and Zagreb, Croatia, later this year to evaluate one of them.

Antibodies: The body's own antidepressants

If the immune system attacks its own body, it can often have devastating consequences: autoantibodies bind to the body's structures, triggering functional disorders. The receptors for glutamate, a neurotransmitter, can also become the target of autoantibodies. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Experimental Medicine in Göttingen have been investigating the circumstances under which autoantibodies for a particular glutamate receptor—known as the NMDA receptor—are formed, and their effects in the brain. The researchers have discovered that the level of these autoantibodies in the blood can fluctuate considerably over a person's lifetime—independent of health conditions—and increases with age. Chronic stress can, however, drive up the concentration of these autoantibodies in the blood even in early life. According to the researchers, when the antibodies are able to enter the brain to act on NMDA receptors, people suffer less depression and anxiety. These autoantibodies are clearly acting as the body's own antidepressants.

Generosity breeds generosity: 4-year-olds who receive a kindness pay it forward

Have you ever received an unexpected kindness? A stranger in the car ahead of you paid your highway toll. Or a kind consumer picked up your tab at Starbucks. These actions can set off a chain reaction of kindness, as you pay that kindness forward to the next unsuspecting person in line.

'Resetting' immune cells improves traumatic brain injury recovery in mice

Targeting overactive immune cells and dampening their chronic neurotoxic effects may offer new therapeutic strategies for traumatic brain injury (TBI), according to new preclinical research in mice, which has been published today in the Journal of Neuroscience.

New tool for an old disease: Use of PET and CT scans may help develop shorter TB treatment

Experts believe that tuberculosis, or TB, has been a scourge for humans for some 15,000 years, with the first medical documentation of the disease coming out of India around 1000 B.C.E. Today, the World Health Organization reports that TB is still the leading cause of death worldwide from a single infectious agent, responsible for some 1.5 million fatalities annually. Primary treatment for TB for the past 50 years has remained unchanged and still requires patients to take multiple drugs daily for at least six months. Successful treatment with these anti-TB drugs—taken orally or injected into the bloodstream—depends on the medications "finding their way" into pockets of TB bacteria buried deep within the lungs.

Targeting hibernating breast cancer cells in the lung could reduce secondary cancers

Healthy lung cells support the survival of breast cancer cells, allowing them to hibernate in the lung before forming secondary tumours, according to new research from the Crick. The findings could help the development of new treatments that interfere with this behaviour, reducing the number of secondary cancers.

Releasing brakes: Potential new methods for Duchenne muscular dystrophy therapies

Researchers identified a group of small molecules that may open the door to developing new therapies for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), an as-yet-uncured disease that results in devastating muscle weakening and loss. The molecules tested by the team from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania eased repression of a specific gene, utrophin, in mouse muscle cells, allowing the body to produce more utrophin protein, which can be subbed in for dystrophin, a protein whose absence causes DMD. These findings by were published this month in Scientific Reports.

Researchers end decade-long search for mechanical pain sensor

Researchers at McGill University have discovered that a protein found in the membrane of our sensory neurons are involved in our capacity to feel mechanical pain, laying the foundation for the development of powerful new analgesic drugs.

Simple blood test could help reduce heart disease deaths

Scientists at Newcastle University have revealed how a simple blood test could be used to help identify cardiovascular ageing and the risk of heart disease.

How cancer cells stiff-arm normal environmental cues to consume energy

Using human lung cancer cells, UT Southwestern researchers have uncovered how cells in general modulate their energy consumption based on their surroundings and, furthermore, how cancer cells override those cues to maximize energy use. The findings, published this week in Nature, extend a report from last year in which the same group discovered that the cell's skeleton can promote cancer cell growth in metastasis or when under chemotherapy assault.

Emergency room, shops closed in Italian town on coronavirus lockdown

Streets were deserted and residents warned to keep out of an emergency room on Saturday in an Italian town placed under lockdown due to a flurry new cases of coronavirus.

South Korea reports surge in virus cases linked to hospital

South Korea reported 142 more coronavirus cases Saturday, the sharpest spike in infections yet, with many new cases involving patients being treated in hospital for mental health issues.

Health officials worry as untraceable virus clusters emerge

In South Korea, Singapore and Iran, clusters of infections are leading to a jump in cases of the new viral illness outside China. But it's not the numbers that are worrying experts: It's that increasingly they can't trace where the clusters started.

China's couriers take hands-off approach amid virus

China's armies of racing, swerving motorcycle deliverymen have been hailed as saviours during the coronavirus crisis, keeping shut-in citizens fed and stocked up. But it's come with major adjustments for couriers like Gao Yuchao.

Italy towns under lockdown as first European coronavirus death reported

An Italian man became the first European to die after being infected with the coronavirus Friday, just hours after 10 towns in the country were locked down following a flurry of new cases.

Coronavirus survivor recounts fear, confusion

Xiao Yao doesn't know when or where he caught the new coronavirus.

China virus cases drop as foreign fears rise

Fears mounted Saturday as cases of the new coronavirus multiplied outside China in places such as Europe, the Middle East and Asia, with pockets of outbreak sparking lockdowns and school closures.

South Korea raises virus alert to 'grave' as infections surge

South Korea raised its alert on the coronavirus to the highest level Sunday after reporting three more deaths and 169 new infections.

Italy coronavirus cases now surpass 100, up from 79: official

The number of coronavirus cases in Italy has risen to over 100, the president of the northern Lombardy region said on Sunday.

Floating Petri dishes? Coronavirus puts cruise industry in the dock

Deadly viruses, chickenpox outbreaks and mass cases of the runs: sometimes luxury cruise ship holidays are not the trips of a lifetime elderly passengers had hoped for.

Most young women unhappy, stressed about their sex lives, study finds

Half of young Australian women experience sexually-related personal distress, with one in five women having at least one female sexual dysfunction (FSD), new research by Monash University shows.

Italy announces three deaths linked to coronavirus

An elderly cancer patient became the third person known to be infected with the coronavirus to die in Italy, health officials said on Sunday, as the number of people contracting the virus continued to mount.

Spread of coronavirus confirms WHO fears, say experts

The sharp rise in cases and the geographical spread of the coronavirus outside China confirm WHO fears over dealing with the crisis, experts warned Sunday as they appealed for ever greater vigilance.

Israel confirms second coronavirus case among cruise returnees

Israel confirmed its second case of the new coronavirus Sunday—a second returned citizen from the stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess.

The global spread of the new coronavirus: Where is it?

The new coronavirus that emerged in central China at the end of last year has now killed more than 2,400 people and spread around the world.

Study of 418,000 Europeans finds different foods linked to different types of stroke

Different types of food are linked to risks of different types of stroke, according to the largest study to investigate this, published in the European Heart Journal today.

Could this plaque identifying toothpaste prevent a heart attack or stroke?

For decades, researchers have suggested a link between oral health and inflammatory diseases affecting the entire body—in particular, heart attacks and strokes. Inflammation is intimately involved in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis and is accurately measured by high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), a sensitive marker for future risks of heart attacks and strokes.

Alcohol ads lead to youth drinking, should be more regulated, experts say

The marketing of alcoholic beverages is one cause of underage drinking, public health experts conclude. Because of this, countries should abandon what are often piecemeal and voluntary codes to restrict alcohol marketing and construct government-enforced laws designed to limit alcohol-marketing exposure and message appeal to youth.

Kuwait, Bahrain announce first coronavirus cases

Kuwait and Bahrain confirmed on Monday their first novel coronavirus cases, health ministries in the two Gulf states announced, adding all had come from Iran.

South Korea on frontline as coronavirus spreads

The deadly coronavirus epidemic spread further outside China on Monday with a surge of infections in South Korea making it the biggest hotspot abroad, while authorities in Europe and the Middle East battled worsening outbreaks.

China 'comprehensively bans' wildlife trade over virus

China on Monday declared an immediate and "comprehensive" ban on the trade and consumption of wild animals, a practice believed responsible for the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

WHO experts visit Chinese virus epicentre

Experts from the World Health Organization have visited the locked-down central Chinese city at the epicentre of the deadly global coronavirus outbreak, Chinese authorities said Monday.

China reports 150 more virus deaths

China's death toll from the new coronavirus rose to 2,592 on Monday, after the National Health Commission reported 150 more fatalities, all but one in the epicentre of Hubei province.

Intensive behavioral therapy and liraglutide 3.0 mg show positive results for weight loss

Intensive behavioral therapy (IBT) combined with liraglutide 3.0 mg (Saxenda) can produce clinically-meaningful weight loss in patients who receive the treatment in predominantly primary care settings, according to a study published online in Obesity, the flagship journal of The Obesity Society. The study is the first multi-site evaluation of the efficacy of IBT based on a treatment visit schedule covered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Researchers propose new disease classification system for obesity

Researchers are proposing a new scientifically correct and medically actionable disease classification system for obesity, according to a paper published online in Obesity, the flagship journal of The Obesity Society.

Validating Toolbox to evaluate cognitive processing in people with intellectual disability

Researchers at the UC Davis MIND Institute have updated and validated a series of tests delivered on an iPad to accurately assess cognitive processing in people with intellectual disability. The validation opens new opportunities for more rigorous and sensitive studies in this population, historically difficult to evaluate.

Specific gut bacteria may be associated with pulmonary arterial hypertension

Researchers have identified a distinct collection of bacteria found in the gut that may contribute to and predict the development of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), according to new research published today in the American Heart Association's journal Hypertension.

Italy tries to contain virus as isolated towns hunker down (Update)

Police manned checkpoints around quarantined towns in Italy's north on Monday and residents stocked up on food as the country became the focal point of the outbreak in Europe and fears of its cross-border spread.

Coronavirus spreads around globe

Fears of a global coronavirus pandemic deepened on Monday with a growing number of deaths in Iran and the worsening of other outbreaks across Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

Fifth coronavirus death in Italy as infections mount (Update)

Italy reported Monday its fifth death from the new coronavirus, as the number of people contracting the disease continued to mount and officials called for calm.

Iran says 12 dead from new virus, rejects higher death toll (Update)

Iran's government said Monday that 12 people had died nationwide from the new coronavirus, rejecting claims of a much higher death toll by a lawmaker from the city of Qom that has been at the epicenter of the virus in the country.

New DNA test that reveals a child's 'true age' has promise, but ethical pitfalls

Epigenetic clocks are a new type of biological test currently capturing the attention of the scientific community, private companies and governmental agencies because of their potential to reveal an individual's "true" age.

Methamphetamine use and its impact on violence laid bare in world-first study

Almost a third of middle-aged New Zealanders have tried methamphetamine at least once, according to a new University of Otago, Christchurch study looking at the link between using the drug and violence in the general population.

U.S. life expectancy goes up as cancer deaths go down

U.S. life expectancy increased in 2018 after a worrisome four-year decline, a reversal owing in part to a welcome decrease in deaths due to overdose but even more so to a drop in those from cancer. The rise brought the anticipated lifespan of someone born in 2018 to 78.7 years, an increase of about a month from 2017 but still short of the 78.9 years reached in 2014. The 2018 figure also included easing in mortality from heart disease and lung disease. The reduction in deaths from cancer, the nation's No. 2 killer, occurred as rapid advances are being made in treatment with newly developed immunotherapies and precision targeting of tumors' genetic profiles as well as in detection and prevention. The Gazette spoke to Timothy Rebbeck, the Vincent L. Gregory Jr. Professor of Cancer Prevention at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and director of the Zhu Family Center for Global Cancer Prevention, to better understand the good news on the cancer front.

Paying all blood donors might not be worth it

Gretchen Chapman is a decision scientist who explores what makes it more likely that people will get vaccinated or engage in other behaviors that are good for public health. We asked her about her research about blood donation and generosity.

I think my child has outgrown their food allergy. How can I be sure?

Some children grow out of their food allergies, but researchers don't exactly know why.

Iraq confirms first novel coronavirus case

Iraq on Monday confirmed its first novel coronavirus infection in an Iranian national studying in the southern shrine city of Najaf, health officials said.

National approach 'urgently needed' for smoke pollution advice

Experts are calling for an independent national expert committee on air pollution and health protection to be urgently established following the catastrophic bushfire season in Australia.

How brain networks change with age

As we age, our bodies change, and these changes extend into our brains and cognition. Although research has identified many changes to the brain with age, like decreases in gray matter volume or delayed recall from memory, researchers like Shivangi Jain, Ph.D., are interested in a deeper look at how the brain changes with age.

Study: Personal data security concerns hinder mobile health app use

New Curtin University research has found a lack of understanding about the security of their personal data is a major barrier to many Australians using mobile health apps, which could have serious patient care ramifications as healthcare systems undergo a digital transformation.

Child participation in organized activities interferes with family meals

Parents and children who share regular family meals are known to have better health and diet quality than those who have family members who eat at separate times. However, the schedule of team sports or other enriching organized activities for children can make it difficult for families to eat together.

Alcohol too easy for minors to buy online

In an Australian first, public health researchers examined the sales, marketing and delivery practices of the 65 most popular online alcohol retailers in Australia, and the easy access to liquor—for anybody willing to buy it—shocked them.

Consumption-driven climate change leaves the poor worse off

Climate change is disproportionately impacting the poor, elderly and people with a disability , according to an expert from The Australian National University (ANU).

Quality of life similar after surgery, antibiotics for uncomplicated appendicitis

For patients being treated for uncomplicated acute appendicitis, quality of life (QOL) is similar at seven years after appendectomy or antibiotic therapy, according to a study published online Feb. 19 in JAMA Surgery.

New tech takes radiation out of cancer screening

Researchers have developed a new, inexpensive technology that could save lives and money by routinely screening women for breast cancer without exposure to radiation.

Switch to biosimilar drugs may pose legal challenges for doctors

The Alberta government's plan for many arthritis, diabetes and Crohn's disease patients to switch to less expensive medications by July 1 could create legal challenges for doctors, say two researchers at the University of Alberta.

Five clearly defined subgroups could lead to better therapies for psychoses

Psychiatrists led by LMU's Nikolaos Koutsouleris have used a computer-based approach to assign psychotic patients diagnosed as bipolar or schizophrenic to five different subgroups. The method could lead to better therapies for psychoses.

Experts map future of family caregiving research

A new supplemental issue of the journal The Gerontologist from The Gerontological Society of America shares 10 research priorities to better support the needs of family caregivers.

We don't know the true extent of cyberbullying—and children need help in dealing with it

There are growing fears about the rise of cyberbullying and its impact on children. Unlike traditional face-to-face bullying, a bully can conceal their identity online and target their victims constantly without the limits of location or time.

COPD patients' hospital stays 67% shorter due to one additional staff meeting, study finds

Hospitals can dramatically reduce the length of a patient's stay (by up to 67%) when their provider teams hold integrated care conferences (ICCs), a daily meeting for providers to share information at once. However, the seemingly obvious concept is rarely implemented, according to researchers in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

Eating disorders are about emotional pain, not food

In her documentary "Miss Americana," music icon Taylor Swift disclosed her history of eating disorders. Her revelation underscores the fact these disorders do not discriminate. According to the advocacy and awareness organization Eating Disorders Coalition, they strike all genders, races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Blacks are at higher risk for Alzheimer's, but why?

Blacks are at higher risk for several health conditions in the U.S. This is true for heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and stroke, which are often chronic diseases. And it is also for Alzheimer's disease, in which blacks have two times higher incidence rates than whites.

Four more Mideast nations report coronavirus cases

The new coronavirus hit four more Middle Eastern states on Monday, with Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait and Oman reporting new cases and the UAE calling on its citizens not to travel to Iran and Thailand.

WHO warns coronavirus may be 'around for months'

The World Health Organization warned Monday that the new coronavirus might be around for months but said the measures China implemented have prevented the infections of hundreds of thousands of people.

New global coronavirus infections spark more travel bans

Fears of a global coronavirus pandemic deepened on Monday as new deaths and infections in Europe, the Middle East and Asia triggered more drastic efforts to stop people travelling.

Italy's coronavirus 'red zone' gets used to life under quarantine

At the edge of the northern Italian town of Casalpusterlungo, residents are slowly getting used to the isolation measures descending around towns like theirs, the centres of Italy's outbreak of the new coronavirus.

Researchers show that DNA topological problems may cause lymphoma

Researchers from the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO), Madrid, and the Andalusian Molecular Biology and Regenerative Medicine Centre (Cabimer), Seville, published a paper in Nature Communications that shows that DNA topological problems may cause endogenous DNA breaks that have a causal relationship with cancer.

Pediatricians should promote physical activity in children

(HealthDay)—Pediatricians should promote physical literacy and activity in children, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics clinical report published online Feb. 24 in Pediatrics.

Increases in alcohol-induced death rates ID'd across U.S.

(HealthDay)—From 2000 to 2016, there were large increases in alcohol-induced death rates across age and racial/ethnic subgroups, according to a study published online Feb. 21 in JAMA Network Open.

Can a phone call help restart the heart?

When the heart suddenly stops beating, each passing moment can mean life or death. That is why emergency health providers and advocates are urging states to develop uniform standards and training for telecommunicator CPR.

When an untreated infection leads to heart valve disease

Much as he tried, Gabriel Oluka could never keep up with other children.

There's still a 'fighting chance' to contain coronavirus but time is running out, world health leader says

The head of the World Health Organization, alarmed by the recent spread of the coronavirus from Iran, warned Friday that while the chance to contain the virus globally still exists, "the window of opportunity is narrowing."

By decoding the coronavirus genome, scientists seek the upper hand against COVID-19

The genetic code of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is only about 30,000 characters long, but what a story it tells.

Women's wellness: Stay heart-healthy during breast cancer treatment

A diagnosis of breast cancer is never easy to hear. Thanks to early diagnosis and better treatments, more women are surviving the disease. Dr. Jordan Ray, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, urges all cancer patients to also pay attention to their heart health during and after treatment.

Electron microscopy allows scientists to understand the molecular trigger of allergic reactions

An international research team has been able to describe the overall structure of the antibody type IgE, which is the key molecule in allergic diseases. This is a scientific breakthrough which provides important insights into basic mechanisms of allergic reactions and may pave the way for more effective allergy medicine. The new research results have now been published in the scientific journal Allergy.

Immunotherapy combo effective for patients with high-grade neuroendocrine cancer

Many patients with rare, fast-growing neuroendocrine tumors respond well to a common immunotherapy drug combination, according to the first peer-reviewed publication out of DART, short for Dual Anti-CTLA-4 and Anti-PD-1 Blockade in Rare Tumors, a unique rare cancer clinical trial.

New study shows vision rehab treatment effective for stroke and injury related blindness

Jose Romano, Chief of the Stroke Division at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, co-authored a recently published international study that shows that visual rehabilitation is effective for patients who have suffered vision loss related to stroke or traumatic brain injury.

New method gives glaucoma researchers control over eye pressure

Neuroscientists at the University of South Florida have become the first to definitively prove pressure in the eye is sufficient to cause and explain glaucoma. They come to this conclusion following the development of a method that permits continuous regulation of pressure without damaging the eye.

A call to confront mistrust in the US health care system

"For those who have faced exploitation and discrimination at the hands of physicians, the medical profession, and medical institutions, trust is a tall order and, in many cases, would be naïve," writes Laura Specker Sullivan in "Trust, Risk, and Race in American Medicine." Specker Sullivan calls on medical providers to take action, writing that caring and competence are not always enough to earn patient trust. People in advantageous positions must work to gain knowledge of those who are more marginalized, the author writes, particularly in the context of American medicine, where many African American patients have experienced unjust treatment.

Many older adults face new disabilities after hospital stays for serious illnesses

Older adults often face new disabilities after a hospital stay for a serious illness. Among the problems they may need to adjust to are difficulties with bathing and dressing, shopping and preparing meals, and getting around inside and outside the home. These new disabilities can lead to being hospitalized again, being placed in a nursing home, and more permanent declines in well-being. The longer a serious disability lasts, the worse it can be for an older adult.

How the urban environment affects the diet of its citizens

In the high-impact journal Appetite the UPV/EHU's Nursing and Health Promotion research group has published a study using photovoice methodology and which qualitatively compares citizens' perceptions about the food environment in three Bilbao neighbourhoods with different socioeconomic levels. The participants in the project, residents in the said neighbourhoods, analysed and explained how the neighbourhoods can affect their diet.

Childhood physical abuse linked to heavy cigarette use among teens who smoke

Researchers have known that kids who are at high risk of being mistreated at home—who live in poverty or have parents who use drugs or have mental health problems—are more likely to start smoking. Because abused and neglected children are often unsupervised, these teens have easy access to cigarettes and other substances that they use to deal with anxiety and other trauma-related symptoms.

Research identifies how new cancer treatments can activate tuberculosis infection

Researchers at the University of Southampton have identified how new checkpoint inhibitor treatments for cancer can activate tuberculosis in some patients.

Why Edgar Allan Poe probably did not kill himself

A computational analysis of language used by the writer Edgar Allan Poe has revealed that his mysterious death was unlikely to have been suicide.

Stress may drive people to give as well as receive emotional support

Stress has a justifiably bad reputation for making people feel crummy. But new research suggests that despite its negative side effects, it may also lead to a surprising social benefit.

Virus 'peaked' in China but could trigger global pandemic: WHO

The World Health Organization on Monday said the new coronavirus epidemic had "peaked" in China but warned that a surge in cases elsewhere was "deeply concerning" and all countries should prepare for a "potential pandemic".

Italy authorities urge calm as coronavirus cases stabilise

Italy reported its seventh death from the new coronavirus Monday, but officials called for calm and reported a lower rise in the number of infections after a spike over the weekend.

EU sees 'moderate to high' risk of more virus clusters

EU health officials foresee a "moderate to high" risk of more new coronavirus clusters of the type happening in northern Italy, they said in a statement after a meeting Monday.

World must prepare for 'potential pandemic': WHO chief

The World Health Organization chief on Monday warned countries to prepare for a "potential pandemic" of new coronavirus, calling the sudden increase in cases in Iran, Italy and South Korea "deeply concerning".

Engaging with schizophrenia—experts argue for new approaches to treatment

A better understanding of the lived experience of people with schizophrenia would enable clinicians to help patients live with their condition, alongside treating symptoms with medication and psychotherapy, say experts at the University of Birmingham.

Cardiologists: Big data advances research, but shouldn't do so at the cost of privacy

We know we shouldn't, but most of us have clicked "agree" in a hurry to download an app or sign up for a streaming service without reading the user agreement in detail.

Social determinant screening not enough to capture patients at risk of utility shut-off

Researchers at Boston Medical Center have found that only a fraction of patients at risk of having their utilities shut off were identified through social determinants of health (SDOH) screening. Published in The Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, the research showed that among the patients who received a utility protection letter in 2018, 70 percent were screened for SDOH and only 16 percent screened positive for difficulty paying their utility bills.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation shows promise in treating stroke, dementia and migraines

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) has shown significant efficacy in treating major depressive and obsessive compulsive disorders. A newly published literature review by Antonio H. Iglesias, MD, a Loyola Medicine neurologist and assistant professor at the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, highlights the compelling scientific and clinical data supporting further studies into the use of TMS to treat a broader range of common neurological conditions, including stroke, acute migraines and dementia.

Cancer drug shortages leave Mexican kids fighting for life

Five-year-old Dhana Rivas is fighting for her life on two fronts, fending off the acute lymphoblastic leukemia eating away at her frail body while her family simultaneously battles the shortage of cancer drugs plaguing Mexico.

Moscow targets Chinese with raids amid virus fears

Bus drivers in Moscow kept their WhatsApp group chat buzzing with questions this week about what to do if they spotted passengers who might be from China riding with them in the Russian capital.

Third passenger from Japan cruise ship dies: health ministry

A third passenger has died after contracting the coronavirus on a cruise ship that was quarantined off Japan, the country's health ministry said on Sunday.

Study links physical activity to quality of life in African American cancer survivors

New research suggests that regular exercise may improve the well-being of African American cancer survivors, but most survivors do not meet current recommendations for physical activity. The findings are published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society (ACS).

'No one cares': Locked-in Wuhan residents adapt to find food

The lockdown of Guo Jing's neighbourhood in Wuhan –- the city at the heart of China's new coronavirus epidemic –- came suddenly and without warning.

Afghanistan finds first coronavirus case: health minister

Afghanistan has detected its first novel coronavirus case, the country's health minister said Monday, a day after Kabul announced it would suspend air and ground travel to Iran, where 12 people have died from the outbreak.

Pakistan quarantines 200 near Iran border on virus fears

Pakistan began quarantining at least 200 people near the Iranian border, officials said Monday, as fears spiralled over the growing toll from the coronavirus in the region amid allegations of a coverup in Iran.

Two more Japan officials aboard ship contract coronavirus

Two more officials sent to a cruise ship quarantined off Japan to help with on-board efforts to contain the deadly coronavirus have contracted the illness themselves, authorities said Monday.

Burnt is out: How sunscreen got a beauty makeover

Under Australia's harsh sun, we've long slapped on sunscreen to protect ourselves from skin damage and cancer.

Bus passengers from Italy blocked in France in coronavirus scare

A bus that arrived in the French city of Lyon from Milan in Italy was sealed off for several hours Monday after the driver showed symptoms of possible coronavirus infection, security sources said.

ARID2 suppresses hepatocellular carcinoma metastasis via DNMT1-snail axis

A recent study led by Dr. XIE Dong's group from Shanghai Institute of Nutrition and Health of the Chinese Academy of Sciences revealed the role and mechanism of ARID2 in liver cancer metastasis, providing therapeutic targets for treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This study was published online in PNAS on Feb 18.

Alzheimer's gene-mapping project proposed in New York state

A proposed project to map the genes of 1 million people in New York living with or at risk for Alzheimer disease was announced Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Social norms stop Ethiopian girls from making safe choices about pregnancy

Despite progress in reducing the rate of adolescent pregnancy, more than 16 million adolescent girls globally become parents each year. According to the World Health Organisation, 90% of these young mothers live in the global South.

Study finds inflammation caused by radiation can drive triple-negative breast cancer

While radiation is successfully used to treat breast cancer by killing cancer cells, inflammation caused as a side-effect of radiation can have a contrary effect by promoting the survival of triple-negative breast cancer cells, according to research published online in the International Journal of Radiation Biology by Jennifer Sims-Mourtada, Ph.D., director of Translational Breast Cancer Research at ChristianaCare's Helen F. Graham Cancer Center & Research Institute.

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma starts ad campaign for claims

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma launched an ad campaign Monday to tell people harmed by their powerful prescription opioid where they can file claims against the company.

Thailand prepares tough measures to control spread of virus

Thai authorities say they are taking steps to wield emergency legal powers to control the spread of the new virus and limit its economic and social impact.

Mayo Clinic Minute: What's a cardiac stress test?

Your heart provides blood to all parts of your body. In order to determine if it's pumping properly, your health care provider may order a cardiac stress test. It makes the heart pump harder and faster, and can reveal potential problems with blood flow.

Researchers analyze influenza epidemiologic supervision and children cases in Catalonia

The viral infections of the upper respiratory tract are an important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and, among them, influenza is one of the most important ones, with severe cases ranging from three and five million cases, and between 290,000 and 650,000 deaths per year. This is why a proper supervision of the disease is crucial. Two studies led by the UB analyzed several aspects involved in the detection of the disease: the utility of the definition of the illness considering clinical manifestation and complementarity of supervision systems based on severe ambulatory cases that require hospitalization in Catalonia. Moreover, they also studied the features of the cases that were detected in Catalonia among children and teenagers who are under 18 years old.

Hospital admission and neurological consultations associated with improved TIA care quality

Admission to the hospital and being seen by a neurologist are factors associated with better quality care for people with a transient ischemic attack (TIA), also known as mini-stroke, according to new research led by scientists from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Regenstrief Institute, Purdue University, and Indiana University. The study looked at patients treated in the U.S. Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

White House readying emergency coronavirus budget request

The White House is readying an urgent budget request to address the deadly coronavirus outbreak whose rapid spread is spooking financial markets and restricting international travel.

Study: Patients commonly prescribed opioids and antibiotics for dental conditions at EDs

A study in the March issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that antibiotics and opioids are frequently prescribed during emergency department visits for dental conditions, further emphasizing the need for continued efforts to combat both opioid abuse and overuse of antibiotics.

Research points the way toward a practical nutraceutical strategy for coping with RNA virus infections

In a compelling article in Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, Mark McCarty of the Catalytic Longevity Foundation, San Diego, CA, USA, and James DiNicolantonio, PharmD, a cardiovascular research scientist at Saint Luke's Mid America Heart Institute, Kansas City, MO, USA, propose that certain nutraceuticals may help provide relief to people infected with encapsulated RNA viruses such as influenza and coronavirus.

New tool aids patients in selecting a transplant center

A new website developed by researchers at Hennepin Healthcare Research Institute (HHRI) and the University of Minnesota (UMN) is making it easier for organ transplant candidates to choose which transplant center is right for them.

Biology news

One billion-year-old green seaweed fossils identified, relative of modern land plants

Virginia Tech paleontologists have made a remarkable discovery in China: 1 billion-year-old micro-fossils of green seaweeds that could be related to the ancestor of the earliest land plants and trees that first developed 450 million years ago.

Ancient DNA from Sardinia reveals 6,000 years of genetic history

A new study of the genetic history of Sardinia, a Mediterranean island off the western coast of Italy, tells how genetic ancestry on the island was relatively stable through the end of the Bronze Age, even as mainland Europe saw new ancestries arrive. The study further details how the island's genetic ancestry became more diverse and interconnected with the Mediterranean starting in the Iron Age, as Phoenician, Punic, and eventually Roman peoples began arriving to the island.

Solar storms may leave gray whales blind and stranded

A new study reported in the journal Current Biology on February 24 offers some of the first evidence that gray whales might depend on a magnetic sense to find their way through the ocean. This evidence comes from the discovery that whales are more likely to strand on days when there are more sunspots.

Soft robot fingers gently grasp deep-sea jellyfish

Marine biologists have adopted "soft robotic linguine fingers" as tools to conduct their undersea research. In a study appearing February 24 in the journal Current Biology, scientists found that jellyfish held by ultra-soft robotic fingers expressed significantly fewer stress-related genes than when braced by traditional submersible grippers. Shaped like the famous noodles, this new robotic technology allows for the collection of ecological data in a gentler, less invasive manner.

New CRISPR base-editing technology slows ALS progression in mice

With a new CRISPR gene-editing methodology, scientists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign inactivated one of the genes responsible for an inherited form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis—a debilitating and fatal neurological disease for which there is no cure. The novel treatment slowed disease progression, improved muscle function and extended lifespan in mice with an aggressive form of ALS.

Research: Algal bloom neurotoxin found during non-bloom periods

A potent neurotoxin that has long been associated with mass die-offs of marine mammals during harmful algal blooms has been detected in bottlenose dolphins from the Indian River Lagoon estuary.

A promising new strategy to help broken bones heal faster

People with diabetes are at a higher risk of fracturing a bone than the general population. And if they do break one it also takes longer than normal to heal.

Oldest reconstructed bacterial genomes link farming, herding with emergence of new disease

The Neolithic revolution, and the corresponding transition to agricultural and pastoralist lifestyles, represents one of the greatest cultural shifts in human history, and it has long been hypothesized that this might have also provided the opportunity for the emergence of human-adapted diseases. A new study published in Nature Ecology & Evolution led by Felix M. Key, Alexander Herbig, and Johannes Krause of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History studied human remains excavated across Western Eurasia and reconstructed eight ancient Salmonella enterica genomes—all part of a related group within the much larger diversity of modern S. enterica. These results illuminate what was likely a serious health concern in the past and reveal how this bacterial pathogen evolved over a period of 6,500 years.

Trajectory of fast-swimming magnetotactic bacterium is series of complex loops

A scientific team from the Biosciences and Biotechnology Institute of Aix-Marseille in Saint-Paul lez Durance, in collaboration with researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam and the University of Göttingen, determined the trajectory and swimming speed of the magnetotactic bacterium Magnetococcus marinus, known to move rapidly. The actual speed is 400-500 μm/s for a 1 μm bacterium, making it a swimming champion. More surprisingly, the trajectory is made up of complex spirals. The exceptional properties of this bacterium make possible to imagine its use as a micro-robot in the fields of biotechnology and the environment.

CRISPR gene cuts may offer new way to chart human genome

In search of new ways to sequence human genomes and read critical alterations in DNA, researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine say they have successfully used the gene cutting tool CRISPR to make cuts in DNA around lengthy tumor genes, which can be used to collect sequence information.

The 'purrfect' music for calming cats

Taking a cat to the vets can be a stressful experience, both for cat and owner. However, a study published in this month's issue of the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery (JFMS) has shown that playing cat-specific music during the visit can help.

Boost soybean yields by adapting photosynthesis to fleeting shadows, according to model

Komorebi is a Japanese word that describes how light filters through leaves—creating shifting, dappled "sunflecks" that illustrate plants' ever-changing light environment. Crops harness light energy to fix carbon dioxide into food via photosynthesis. In a special issue of Plant Journal, a team from the University of Illinois reports a new mathematical computer model that is used to understand how much yield is lost as soybean crops grapple with minute-by-minute light fluctuations on cloudy and sunny days.

Transport protein efficiently uses three independent lifts to shuttle the goods

The structure of a transport complex used by bacteria to import aspartate has been mapped in unique detail by University of Groningen scientists. The proteins were imaged using cryo-electron microscopy. The results reveal that the transporter works very efficiently. This is especially interesting as a similar transporter is vital for signal transduction between human brain cells. The study results were published in Nature Communications on 21 February.

Researchers examine nations losing fish species due to climate change

As ocean warming causes fish stocks to migrate toward cooler waters to maintain their preferred thermal environment, many of the nations that rely on commercial fish species as an integral part of their economy could suffer.

Computer-based simulator tests insects for effects of new pesticide

University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers have used a novel combination of techniques to compare the effects of two families of pesticides used in agriculture, and found that at low dosages the newer pesticide is less toxic than a currently used neonicotinoid one.

Living cell imaging technique sheds light on molecular view of obesity

A collaborative team of researchers at Utah State University and the University of Central Florida developed a tool to track cellular events that may lead to obesity-related conditions in people.

Spinal deformities in Sacramento-San Joaquin delta fish linked to toxic mineral selenium

Native fish discovered with spinal deformities in California's Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in 2011 were exposed to high levels of selenium from their parents and food they ate as juveniles in the San Joaquin River, new research has found.

Computer vision boosts pest control efficacy via insect sterilization

One of the strategies used for biological control of the South American fruit fly Anastrepha fraterculus is sterilization of males by X-ray or gamma-ray irradiation. The aim of the procedure is to bring about a decrease in the wild population of these insects.

Quokkas: What happened to the 'happiest animal in the world'

Australia, recently devastated by severe wildfires, is no stranger to the consequences of climate change, habitat destruction and invasive species.

Worms discovered in the brain of lizard embryos for the first time

Researchers have discovered nematodes, or worms, in the brains of lizard embryos. This is the first time they have been found in reptile eggs, and it was previously believed that egg laying prevents parasites from being transmitted in this way.

Feed supplement for dairy cows cuts enteric methane emissions by 25%

The addition of 3-Nitrooxypropanol to the feed of dairy cows reduced their enteric methane emissions by about 25% in a recently published study—one in a series of Penn State studies of the investigational substance in the United States—which might be an early step toward it being approved for use in this country.

Undulatory topographical waves for flow-induced foulant sweeping

The stingray, which spends much of their time partially buried on the ocean floor, uses its paired pectoral fins to stabilize their movement through the water and sweep away sandy foreign particles from its surface. A research team, affiliated with UNIST has drawn inspiration from such natural processes to create innovative solutions to prevent the adhesion of contaminants to device surfaces.

Extinction rate in bivalve mollusks is not entirely determined by growth rate

Six geology students alongside a research fellow at the University of Derby have published a new research paper into the growth rate, extinction and survival of seashells.

Threatened birds and mammals have irreplaceable roles in the natural world

A new study led from the University of Southampton has shown that threatened birds and mammals are often ecologically distinct and irreplaceable in their environment.

Nations seek biodiversity accord to stave off mass extinction

Nature experts and government delegates gather this week in Rome to thrash out an international deal for endangered species, trying to avoid a mass extinction event caused by human activity.

Tackling a top killer of New Jersey's bald eagles: electrocution

A female bald eagle took flight in September 2014 from the Maurice River in New Jersey's Cumberland County, soaring westward thousands of feet over the Delaware Bay. Nicknamed Millville after her hometown, she made her way to the upper Chesapeake Bay, 50 miles away, according to GPS tracking.

Researchers ID protein function in parasites that cause sometimes fatal diseases

In the quest to develop more effective treatments for parasitic diseases like African sleeping sickness, Chagas disease and Leishmaniasis, scientists look for weaknesses in the organisms' molecular machinery. These weaknesses can then be targeted with drug therapies designed to kill the parasites.

Camera trap study captures Sumatran tigers, clouded leopards, other rare beasts

Scientists deployed motion-sensitive camera traps across a 50-square-mile swath of Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park in southern Sumatra and, over the course of eight years, recorded the haunts and habits of dozens of species, including the Sumatran tiger and other rare and endangered wildlife. Their observations offer insight into how abundant these species are and show how smaller creatures avoid being eaten by tigers and other carnivores.

Five rhinos die from suspected anthrax infection in India

Rangers have suspended safari rides in a popular nature reserve in eastern India after five one-horned female rhinoceroses died from a suspected infectious disease, officials said Monday.

Nearly 50 rhinos killed in Botswana in 10 months as poaching surges

At least 46 rhinos have been slaughtered in Botswana in 10 months, a government official said on Monday as the southern African wildlife haven reported a surge in poaching of the endangered species.

New tool raises awareness of fish farming practices and parasites

A unique tool has been created which helps fish farmers to identify the risk of parasite infection associated with their current farming practices.

Buzz off, honey industry: National parks shouldn't be milked for money

Among the vast number of native species damaged by the recent bushfire crisis, we must not forget native pollinators. These animals, mainly insects such as native bees, help sustain ecosystems by pollinating native plants.

Mechanism of jasmonate-promoted root hair growth in Arabidopsis

Root hairs are tubular polarized extensions of root epidermal cells and are crucial for plant anchorage, nutrient acquisition, and environmental interactions. The plant hormone jasmonate has been reported to promote root hair growth. However, it remains unclear about the molecular mechanisms underlying the stimulation of root hair development by jasmonate.

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