Thursday, February 13, 2020

Science X Newsletter Thursday, Feb 13

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 13, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Quantum anomalous Hall effect in intrinsic magnetic topological insulator

Study unveils security vulnerabilities in EEG-based brain-computer interfaces

Quantum memories entangled over 50-kilometer cable

Fragile topology: Two new studies explain the strange electron flow in future materials

Study uncovers new electronic state of matter

Sophisticated Emotet malware loader thriving on unsophisticated passwords

Immune cells consult with neighbors to make decisions

Scientists develop first electrically-driven 'topological' laser

Image: 'Pale Blue Dot' revisited

Variations in precipitation at the North Pole set to increase sharply

Researchers develop potential way to reprogram immune cells to fight cancer, other diseases

How cellular machinery labels proteins for degradation

Hidden away: An enigmatic mammalian brain area revealed in reptiles

'Sensorized' skin helps soft robots find their bearings

New process for preserving lumber could offer advantages over pressure treating

Astronomy & Space news

Image: 'Pale Blue Dot' revisited

For the 30th anniversary of one of the most iconic views from the Voyager mission, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is publishing a new version of the image known as the "Pale Blue Dot."

NASA's space snowman reveals secrets: few craters, no water

NASA's space snowman is revealing fresh secrets from its home far beyond Pluto.

Record-setting astronaut feels good after near year in space

NASA's new record-setting astronaut said Wednesday that aside from sore muscles and trouble with balance, she's readjusting well to gravity after nearly 11 months in space.

NASA's Mars 2020 rover goes coast-to-coast to prep for launch

NASA's next Mars rover has arrived in Florida to begin final preparations for its launch to the Red Planet this July. Two Air Force C-17 Globemaster cargo planes carrying the Mars 2020 rover as well as the cruise stage, descent stage and Mars Helicopter touched down at NASA's Kennedy Space Center at about 3 p.m. EST (12 p.m. PST) today, completing a 2,300-mile (3,700-kilometer) trip that began yesterday at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Images: The two halves of Mars' whole

Mars is very much a world of two halves, as this new image from ESA's Mars Express highlights, showing where these dramatically different regions come together as one.

Technology news

Study unveils security vulnerabilities in EEG-based brain-computer interfaces

Brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) are tools that can connect the human brain with an electronic device, typically using electroencephalography (EEG). In recent years, advances in machine learning (ML) have enabled the development of more advanced BCI spellers, devices that allow people to communicate with computers using their thoughts.

Sophisticated Emotet malware loader thriving on unsophisticated passwords

Emotet has evolved. And that's not good. The worm is winning the attention of security watchers this month, as an exploit of Wi-Fi networks. It hops. It spreads. Its triggers are insecure passwords on routers and Windows PCs.

'Sensorized' skin helps soft robots find their bearings

For the first time, MIT researchers have enabled a soft robotic arm to understand its configuration in 3-D space, by leveraging only motion and position data from its own "sensorized" skin.

Researchers identify security vulnerabilities in voting app

In recent years, there has been a growing interest in using internet and mobile technology to increase access to the voting process. At the same time, computer security experts caution that paper ballots are the only secure means of voting.

Computer-based weather forecast: New algorithm outperforms mainframe computer systems

The exponential growth in computer processing power seen over the past 60 years may soon come to a halt. Complex systems such as those used in weather forecast, for example, require high computing capacities, but the costs for running supercomputers to process large quantities of data can become a limiting factor.

Consider workplace AI's impact before it's too late, study says

The consequences of workplace automation will likely impact just about every aspect of our lives, and scholars and policymakers need to start thinking about it far more broadly if they want to have a say in what the future looks like, according to a new paper co-authored by a Cornell University researcher.

Will Facebook Dating swipe online lovebirds out of digital nest?

All's fair in electronic love and dating—or is it? The battle for hearts and minds of couples seeking their perfect match online has taken a new turn.

Andy Rubin smartphone startup Essential Products shuts down

Smartphone startup Essential Products, launched by one of the co-creators of Android mobile software, announced Wednesday that it was shutting down.

Fines cause turbulence for Airbus results

Airbus on Thursday reported a net loss of 1.36 billion euros for 2019, weighed down by massive fines to settle bribery scandals and extra costs for the A400M military transport aircraft.

Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimization

Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a five-year research project to make fiber optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits that consume 10 times less energy. The project has yielded several scientific articles in publications including Nature Communications.

Facial recognition technology: In our rush to deploy it, are we ignoring the risks?

Taylor Swift uses it to identify stalkers. Retail stores are using it to provide a no-checkout, cashierless experience. Even churches are getting in on it to keep track of their congregants.

High-tech shortages loom as coronavirus shutdowns hit manufacturers

There are now more than 45,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus dubbed COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, and the disease has caused at least 1,115 deaths. The impact of the virus is now reaching way beyond public health: China is at the heart of global manufacturing, and as supply chains suffer, panic is beginning to set in.

'One more episode, please?' Why we can't stop binge-watching on Netflix

The increasing popularity of global media content like American TV series has been considered as one notable factor associated with binge-watching practices, or continuously consuming media content in a single session.

Cybersecurity regulations for air transport may prove ineffective

A new study led by academics from the Cloud Legal Project at Queen Mary University of London has found that current cybersecurity standards set by the European Union, known as the NIS Directive, do not go far enough and could potentially be undermined.

Can artificial intelligence replace whistleblowers in the business sector?

Research published in the International Journal of Technology Policy and Law sets out to answer the question: Can artificial intelligence (AI) replace whistle-blowers in the business sector?

Researchers devise approach to reduce biases in computer vision data sets

Addressing problems of bias in artificial intelligence, computer scientists from Princeton and Stanford University have developed methods to obtain fairer data sets containing images of people. The researchers propose improvements to ImageNet, a database of more than 14 million images that has played a key role in advancing computer vision over the past decade.

Alibaba earnings surge 58 pct on 'Single's Day' boost

Chinese e-commerce leader Alibaba said Thursday that net profit increased 58 percent in the latest quarter, citing another record "Single's Day" sales promotion in November and growth in cloud computing.

Russia fines Twitter, Facebook for keeping data abroad

A Moscow court on Thursday fined social networking giants Twitter and Facebook for ignoring a Russian law requiring them to store Russian citizens' user data inside the country.

France won't bar but may restrict Huawei in 5G network

France on Thursday said it would not bow to American pressure to exclude Huawei from supplying equipment for its 5G networks, though the Chinese telecommunications firm could be subject to restrictions.

Storytelling can reduce virtual reality cybersickness

A storyline with emotionally evocative details can reduce virtual reality cybersickness for some people, according to a new study.

Artificial intelligence is becoming sustainable

A research group from Politecnico di Milano has developed a new computing circuit that can execute advanced operations, typical of neural networks for artificial intelligence, in one single operation.

Bombardier exits commercial aviation with A220 sale to Airbus

Once the third largest aircraft maker, Canada's Bombardier on Thursday announced the sale of its A220 stake to Airbus and the Quebec government, effectively exiting commercial aviation after a failed expansion.

Newspaper chain McClatchy files for bankruptcy protection (Update)

McClatchy, the publisher of the Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star and dozens of other newspapers, has filed for bankruptcy protection as it struggles to pay off debt while revenue shrinks because more readers and advertisers are going online.

Huawei hit with new US charges of trade secrets theft

Chinese tech giant Huawei was hit Thursday with fresh US criminal charges alleging a "decades-long" effort to steal trade secrets from American companies.

Tesla shifts gears with plans to issue more shares

Tesla shifted gears Thursday and said it would issue new shares to raise fresh cash, as the electric carmaker responded to the coronavirus epidemic impact on its Shanghai factory and the China car market.

Facebook spars with EU regulator over dating app delay

Facebook and its Irish data regulator gave conflicting signals Thursday about what caused the tech giant to postpone the European launch of its vaunted dating app.

Amazon wins suspension of $10 bn 'JEDI' contract to Microsoft

A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the US military from awarding a multibillion-dollar cloud computing contract to Microsoft, after Amazon claimed the process was tainted by politics.

Puerto Rico online scam targeted more than $4M amid crisis

An online scam that targeted Puerto Rican agencies attempted to steal more than $4 million, police said Thursday, deepening concerns about the management of local government finances during an economic crisis.

Billionaire Bezos buys estate for $165 mn: report

Billionaire Amazon chief Jeff Bezos has purchased a Los Angeles-area estate for $165 million, setting a new record for the region, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

Australian court approves $10 bn Vodafone-TPG merger

Two of Australia's largest telecommunications firms appear set to merge, after a court ruled on Thursday that the multi-billion-dollar deal between Vodafone and TPG would not pose a major threat to competition.

Nissan downgrades forecasts as 9-month net profit plunges

Crisis-hit Japanese automaker Nissan said Thursday its net profit plunged more than 87 percent for the nine months to December as it struggles with weak demand and fallout from the arrest of former boss Carlos Ghosn.

Human-centered design for future mobility

Evolution of the way we move rapidly increased during the industrial revolution when the automobile replaced horse-drawn carriages. In the early 1900s, linear production lines—largely attributed to the Ford Motor Company—made personal transportation more affordable. With this came many challenges, some of which are still being resolved today, such as safety, speed, efficiency and power.

Not (trade) fair: industry gatherings fall victim to coronavirus

Cancel, delay or go ahead: the organisers of industry events are faced with a difficult choice as international gatherings of thousands or even of tens of thousands of people pose a risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus.

Automated construction site productivity and quality monitoring

If you want to improve the productivity and quality of construction work, you need an efficient way to monitor progress and detect quality issues on a daily basis. Aalto University's Reality Capture (RECAP) project examined how photogrammetry and machine learning applications could be used for that purpose.

Facebook halts small Iranian group targeting U.S. users on social network

Facebook has taken down three networks, each of which used "coordinated inauthentic behavior" to exploit other users and spread misinformation across Facebook and Instagram.

Southwest again delays expected return date for Boeing Max

Southwest Airlines said Thursday it has removed the grounded Boeing 737 Max from its schedule for another two months during the peak summer travel season and will drop about 9% of its planned flights as a result.

Medicine & Health news

Immune cells consult with neighbors to make decisions

Many people consult their friends and neighbors before making a big decision. It turns out that cells also are consulting their neighbors in the human body.

Researchers develop potential way to reprogram immune cells to fight cancer, other diseases

Immune therapy research by a team of Tuskegee University faculty scientists and doctoral students—in partnership with the National Institutes of Health—shows great promise in the ability to reprogram immune cells, kill cancer cells and halt tumor growth in several types of cancer.

Kisspeptin hormone injection can boost brain activity associated with attraction

The researchers behind the early-stage work, published in JCI Insight, are exploring whether kisspeptin can ultimately be used to treat men with common psychosexual disorders—sexual problems which are psychological in origin such as low libido. The team are now hoping to perform trials in patients with low sexual desire.

Research pinpoints rogue cells at root of autoimmune disease

There are more than 100 different autoimmune diseases. But what unites them all is that they arise from an individual's own cells—rare and mysterious immune cells that target not external viruses and bacteria but the body's own healthy organs and tissues.

New, detailed molecular roadmap boosts fight against endometrial cancer

A study published Feb. 13 in Cell provides an unprecedented look at the dozens of molecular steps that occur to bring about endometrial cancer, commonly known as uterine cancer. The study offers insights about how physicians might be able to better identify which patients will need aggressive treatment and which won't, and offers clues about why a common treatment is not effective with some patients.

Childhood brain tumor discovery may unlock new treatments for many cancers

A surprising discovery about a rare form of childhood brain cancer suggests a new treatment approach for that cancer—and potentially many others.

Poop matters: Making the mouse gut microbiome more human-like

There is a growing consensus that the gut microbiome is involved in many aspects of physical and mental health, including the onset of Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and even some behaviors. The microbiota of the small intestine in particular are likely to have important effects on human health because most nutrients and drugs are absorbed by the body in this location. To study the gut microbiome, researchers typically use mice and rats because these animals are easy to take care of, reproduce quickly, and have many biological similarities to humans. But there are significant differences between humans and these animals. One such difference—the propensity for laboratory rodents to eat their own feces—may have major implications for research related to the small-intestine microbiome.

Understanding how a protein wreaks havoc in the brain in Parkinson's disease

What causes neurons to die in Parkinson's disease? Parkinson's disease is a long-term (chronic) neurological condition that affects around 12,000 people in Ireland and between 7 and 10 million people worldwide.

Brain imaging study reveals new clues about PTSD in victims of terrorist attacks

The terrorist attacks committed in Paris and Saint-Denis on November 13, 2015 have left lasting marks, not only on the survivors and their loved ones, but also on French society as a whole. A vast transdisciplinary research program, the 13-Novembre Project, is co-directed by Francis Eustache, neuropsychologist and director of the Inserm Neuropsychology and Imaging of Human Memory Laboratory and Denis Peschanski, historian and CNRS research director. It seeks the ongoing construction and evolution of the individual and collective memory of these traumatic events and to improve our understanding of the factors that protect against the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

10+ lifetime sexual partners linked to heightened cancer risk

A history of 10 or more lifetime sexual partners is linked to a heightened risk of being diagnosed with cancer, reveals research published online in the journal BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health.

Smelling your lover's shirt could improve your sleep

The scent of a romantic partner can improve sleep, suggests new psychology research from the University of British Columbia.

Molecular switch mechanism explains how mutations shorten biological clocks

A new study of molecular interactions central to the functioning of biological clocks explains how certain mutations can shorten clock timing, making some people extreme "morning larks" because their internal clocks operate on a 20-hour cycle instead of being synchronized with the 24-hour cycle of day and night.

Using the immune system, hydrogels, and bacteria to treat and prevent intestinal diseases

Each one of us carries about 38 trillion bacteria around with us in our gut every day—if you wanted to count them all, it would take you more than a million years. How can such a veritable zoo of microbes reside peacefully in our guts without triggering our immune systems to attack them, as do "bad" bacteria that cause disease? The answer lies in the intestinal mucosal barrier, which includes tightly connected epithelial cells that line the intestine, a layer of dense mucus that protects those cells from bacteria and other gut contents, and immune cells underneath the epithelial cells that quickly kill any microbes that penetrate the barrier.

Autophagy genes act as tumor suppressors in ovarian cancer

Shedding light on a decades-old controversy, scientists at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and University of California at San Diego (UCSD) published findings in PLOS Genetics this month showing that autophagy or "self-eating" genes work against tumors in certain types of ovarian cancer.

Why are ethnic minority doctors less successful than white doctors?

Why are ethnic minority doctors less successful in academic tests and securing the top jobs than white doctors, ask experts in The BMJ today?

As China needs virus masks, phone and diaper makers fill void

A diaper manufacturer in eastern China was closed for the Lunar New Year holiday when it heard from officials—China needed vast amounts of masks to fight a deadly virus epidemic and factories needed to chip in.

Virus death toll soars as China changes counting methods

China's official death toll from the new coronavirus spiked dramatically on Thursday after authorities changed their counting methods, fuelling concern the epidemic is far worse than being reported.

Virus death toll in Hubei surges by 242 in one day: govt

The number of fatalities and new cases from China's coronavirus outbreak soared on Thursday, with 242 more deaths and nearly 15,000 extra patients in hard-hit Hubei province as authorities changed their threshold for diagnosis.

Fewer liquor stores may lead to less homicide

Reducing the number of businesses in Baltimore that sell alcohol in urban residential areas may lower the homicide rate, according to new research.

Reconnecting with nature key for the health of people and the planet

Individuals who visit natural spaces weekly, and feel psychologically connected to them, report better physical and mental wellbeing, new research has shown.

Fewer veterans dying or requiring amputations for critically blocked leg arteries

Between 2005 and 2014, the number of veterans who were hospitalized, required amputation or died due to critical blockages in leg arteries declined, according to new research published today in Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions, a journal of the American Heart Association.

A new thermal insulation bag will save lives

In cold conditions, it is very likely that the human body will develop hypothermia following an accident. Maintaining a patient's body temperature on the way to hospital can be crucial to survival. The prototype of a new and improved solution is now ready.

Acid reflux drug is a surprising candidate to curb preterm birth

Lansoprazole, an over-the-counter acid reflux drug that is often taken by pregnant women, may be a promising therapy to reduce preterm birth, according to a computational drug repurposing study that also tested several of the drugs in mice.

Researchers validate link between genetic variant and poor outcomes in advanced prostate cancer

In a new Cleveland Clinic-led study published in JAMA Oncology, researchers show that a testosterone-related genetic variant—HSD3B1(1245C) - is associated with more aggressive disease and shorter survival in men with metastatic prostate cancer.

Study reveals improved survival after kidney transplantation during childhood

An analysis of information from Australia indicates that survival after kidney transplantation during childhood has improved drastically over the last 40 years, led by decreases in deaths from cardiovascular disease and infection. The findings appear in an upcoming issue of CJASN.

Most quality metrics for kidney disease fall short

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects 14 percent of adults in the U.S. There are several stages of CKD, but when it progresses to kidney failure, outcomes are quite poor, with those patients dying at a higher rate than patients with most advanced cancers. Patients who go on dialysis face both an exhausting treatment regimen and a high rate of death with 50 percent of patients dying within three years. Last July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services launched the Advancing American Kidney Health initiative to try to improve kidney care. But this raised an important question in the medical community: How do you measure the quality of kidney care and the success of new innovations? A study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology evaluated national kidney disease quality metrics—the benchmarks used today to measure kidney disease progression, patient outcomes and more—and found that more than half were of middle or low quality.

Novel drug targets tumor growth in advanced kidney cancer

Scientists report promising activity of a novel drug that targets a key molecular driver of clear cell renal cell carcinoma in patients with metastatic disease.

Underemployment affects African-American parents and their relationships

Penn State researchers have found that perceived underemployment among African-American parents may have an effect on their careers, their mental and physical health, and their relationships.

Balancing flu risks and deaths while everyone's talking about coronavirus

An additional 2,000 Americans—10 of them children—have died from the flu since the last reporting period, according to the weekly flu report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

New gene mutation associated with Fabry cardiomyopathy

The A143T variant of the GLA gene is associated with an increased risk of Fabry cardiomyopathy, according to a new study. The variant plays a role in lipid metabolism. According to the researchers, patients carrying the mutation and manifesting changes in the heart should initiate treatment to prevent the disease from progressing. The study, conducted at the University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, was published in the journal Heart.

'Swiper's thumb?' Explore some common tech-related injuries

Nearly half of all U.S. adults say they can't live without their smartphones, according to the Pew Research Center. But what happens when our fondness for the latest electronic gadgets creates more pain than gain?

When laser surgery turns into a nightmare, the toll can be enormous

It will soon be a year since Jessica Starr, a popular weather person on Detroit TV, took her own life. Her husband said she did so because of complications related to her recent laser refractive surgery.

Coronavirus: The latest disease to fuel mistrust, fear and racism

With the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Wuhan, China, stories of courage and strength have captured our collective attention as the disease spreads.

9 ways to talk to people who spread coronavirus myths

The spread of misinformation about the novel coronavirus, now known as COVID-19, seems greater than the spread of the infection itself.

What's behind the new advice to stop taking glucosamine for arthritis?

The Australian Rheumatology Association this week warned people not to take the supplement glucosamine for their osteoarthritis due to possible allergic side-effects.

Public health service gaps for both refugees and migrants to Australia

Refugees and migrants are missing out on important health care services across Australia, experts at Flinders University warn.

The dangers of asbestos: What the public should know

The School District of Philadelphia has an ongoing asbestos crisis that, as of Feb. 12, has closed seven schools this academic year for varying intervals of time. Hundreds of reports of damaged asbestos in city schools have been filed in the district's system, which the administration has yet to resolve.

For outcomes and cost, study supports holistic approach to mental healthcare

In the U.S., young adults struggling with depression and anxiety commonly receive mental healthcare based on a traditional medical model, reinforced by health insurance company policies. This means a psychiatric diagnosis, prescribed psychotropic medications, and professional talk therapy.

Wearable tech can provide better data for Parkinson's

Wearable technology and other mobile data-gathering devices should replace self-reporting diaries to track symptoms in people with Parkinson's disease, a new study from a large industry and academic collaboration argues. The study was published January 17 in npj Digital Medicine.

A smart jumpsuit provides information on infants' movement and development

A new innovation by University of Helsinki and Aalto University researchers makes it possible, for the first time, to quantitatively assess children's spontaneous movement in the natural environment.

New insight into immune cell behavior offers opportunities for cancer treatment

An international group of scientists has discovered that certain cells of our immune system—the so-called T cells—communicate with each other and work together as a team. To fight an infection they stimulate each other's growth, but at the same time, they inhibit each other when there is a surplus of T cells. That insight offers new opportunities for the treatment of cancer. The study is published in Immunity.

New high-tech mouthwash uses light to kill harmful bacteria on teeth

Nearly every person in the world gets cavities in their teeth at some point in their lives, and about 70% of the world's population experience varying degrees of gingivitis. According to the Health 2000 population survey, more than half of Finns aged 30 or over suffer from gum disease. Undetected oral and chronic infections can contribute to the occurrence of many serious diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and lung cancer, and can increase the risk of premature delivery among expectant mothers.

New study calculates damage of food and lifestyle choices on inflammation

Hot sauce may burn the tongue, but the inner fire of inflammation brings real damage.

The search for an effective HIV vaccine continues

An HIV vaccine trial that started in 2016 in South Africa was halted in February 2020. The study sponsors made the call after interim results showed that the vaccine, known as HVTN 702, did not prevent HIV. This result was disappointing, but the search for an effective HIV vaccine continues. Anatoli Kamali speaks to The Conversation Africa's Ina Skosana about other developments in the field.

Cigarette prices have risen following standardised packaging, despite warnings

The cost of smoking in the UK has risen since the advent of 'plain packs' for cigarettes in 2017, countering claims made by the tobacco industry at the time that the public health measure would lead to discount pricing.

Europe worried about medicine stocks as coronavirus spreads

European health ministers expressed concern about stocks of medicine and medical supplies Thursday and urged EU member states to work together against the new coronavirus outbreak.

Japan woman with coronavirus dies as cruise ship cases soar

Japan on Thursday reported the first death of a person infected with novel coronavirus, as the number of cases on a quarantined cruise ship offshore soared over 200.

Coronavirus: what we know and what we don't

After a sudden jump in the number of deaths caused by the novel coronavirus in China, here is what we know about the disease, how it spreads and how it might be contained.

Scientists stop breast cancer cells from spreading

Biologists have discovered a way to stop cells from one of the most aggressive types of breast cancer spreading in the lab.

Huel: what happens if you replace every meal with this vegan meal powder?

Imagine a synthetic product that can give your body all the essential nutrients it needs to survive, is easy to prepare, affordable, and has a low environmental impact. While it might sound too good to be true, this is what Huel, a vegan powdered meal replacement product, claims it is. Our team decided to put Huel to the test on an episode of the BBC 2 series Trust Me I'm a Doctor to see what effects it had on overall health.

Food bank parcels high in sugar and low in vital nutrients

Food bank parcels do not provide a balanced, healthy diet for those requiring emergency food and would benefit from being supplemented with fresh produce, according to new research.

Babies mimic songs, study finds

Researchers and parents have long known that babies learn to speak by mimicking the words they hear. But a new study shows that babies also might try to imitate the singing they hear in songs.

The influence of drugs on murder rates is being overstated

The latest data on UK homicide rates shows that 31% of victims and suspects were "under the influence" of alcohol and other drugs at the time of death. Drugs and alcohol continue to be a convenient scapegoat when it comes to finding blame. But there is still very little being done about other contributing factors—including poverty, cuts to youth services, domestic violence and education.

Urgent improvements needed in the care of children with suspected appendicitis

Thousands of UK children undergo unnecessary appendix surgery each year in the NHS, a new study reveals.

Online tool eyes youth mental healthcare experience

A new online project aims to improve the experiences of young people entering the mental healthcare system with an eye toward building better relationships between providers and youth.

US announces 15th virus case, this one in Texas evacuee

U.S. officials on Thursday announced the country's 15th confirmed case of the new coronavirus—an evacuee from China who had been under quarantine in Texas.

Mayo clinic minute: Reversing versus preventing heart disease

Regular exercise, a heart-healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking can help prevent heart disease. But is there anything that you can do to reverse it?

Infectious diseases A to Z: the common cold versus the flu

Influenza and the common cold are respiratory illnesses caused by viruses. The more intense flu symptoms tend to come on more abruptly than the gradual, more mild symptoms of a cold. Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic, explains these two viral illnesses.

Timing of brain cell death uncovers a new target for Alzheimer's treatment

Alzheimer's remains the leading cause of dementia in Western societies, with some estimates suggesting that as many as 24 million people worldwide are living with the disease. Alzheimer's is characterized by a progressive decline in cognitive ability that eventually affects even basic functions such as walking and swallowing. The exact cause of Alzheimer's is unknown, but pathological changes in the brain, including neuron loss and an accumulation of protein aggregates called beta-amyloid plaques, are a diagnostic hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

One's internal clock could be targeted to prevent or slow the progression of breast cancer

City of Hope scientists have identified an unlikely way to potentially prevent or slow the progression of aggressive breast cancer: target one's internal clock.

Gentle touch loses its pleasure in migraine patients

A recent study published in the journal Cephalalgia, the official journal of the International Headache Society, builds on the sensorial characteristics of migraine patients. The study, entitled "C-tactile touch perception in migraineurs—a case-control study", was led by Dr. Gudrun Gossrau, from the University Hospital and Faculty of Medicine Carl Gustav Carus, Dresden, Germany.

2011 to 2018 saw decline in problems paying medical bills

(HealthDay)—From 2011 to 2018, there was a decrease in the percentage of families having problems paying medical bills in the past 12 months, according to a February data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

Living in greener neighborhoods may postpone the natural onset of menopause

Living near green spaces is associated with a wide variety of benefits, including a lower risk of obesity, improved attention capacity in children and slower physical decline in old age. Now, for the first time, a study led by the University of Bergen and the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), a centre supported by "la Caixa," has found that living in a greener neighbourhood is also associated with older age at the onset of menopause.

Clinical practice guideline approval process introduces potential conflicts of interest

Most clinical practice guidelines in the U.S. are created by medical specialty societies. While there is widespread awareness of the potential for intellectual and financial conflict of interest by individual panel members, there is little recognition of the potential for the processes used by guideline panels to create conflict of interest. This is particularly important for medical specialty societies, which have the dual obligation to advocate for patients served by the specialty and for the professional interest of their physician members.

State of mind: The end of personality as we know it

We all have our varying mental emphases, inclinations, and biases. These individual dispositions are dynamic in that they can change over time and context. In a study published today in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Prof. Moshe Bar, a neuroscientist at the Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center at Bar-Ilan University (BIU), together with Noa Herz, of Tel Aviv University, and Shira Baror, of BIU, introduces a new theory that brings us closer to understanding how the mind adapts to various situations.

No major change in 'trajectory' of coronavirus outbreak: WHO

The World Health Organization on Thursday said a sharp rise in reported COVID-19 cases in China, due to a change in counting methods, did not represent a big shift in the epidemic.

New study describes neural inflammatory processes in lab-developed human cells

Astrocytes are neural cells with many important functions in the nervous system. The inflammation of these cells occurs in brain infections and neurodegenerative disorders, a process called astrogliosis. Aware of this fundamental process for the prevention of diseases and improvement of current treatments, a team led by researchers at the D'Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR) and five other Brazilian Federal Universities published one of the first studies to categorically observe this inflammatory reaction in human astrocytes created in the laboratory.

Risk for complications from mesh implant does not diminish

(HealthDay)—Continued surveillance after mesh use in pelvic organ prolapse (POP) repairs is necessary, according to a study published online Feb. 6 in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Orthostatic hypotension during therapy not tied to CVD events

(HealthDay)—Orthostatic hypotension (OH) during hypertension treatment is not associated with a higher risk for cardiovascular disease events, according to a study published online Jan. 27 in Hypertension.

State alcohol laws focus on drunk driving; they could do much more

A new Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) study finds a substantial increase in the number and strength of state laws to reduce impaired driving over the last 20 years, while laws to reduce excessive drinking remained unchanged. The study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, scores each state on a scale from 0 to 100, with 100 representing the most effective possible set of alcohol control laws. South Dakota scores the lowest at 25, but the highest scorer, Utah, only comes in at 68.

Shale drilling activity linked to increased sexually transmitted infections in Texas

Researchers at the Yale School of Public Health have found that rates of two sexually transmitted infections (STIs), gonorrhea and chlamydia, are 15% and 10% higher, respectively, in Texas counties with high shale drilling activity ("fracking"), compared to counties without any fracking.

Parents, grandparents to blame for many child drug poisonings, CDC warns

(HealthDay)—If you are sometimes less than careful with your prescription medications and have young kids at home, a new study shows how easily tragedies can occur.

'Tough guys' may be at especially high risk for suicide

(HealthDay)—Young men who believe that "real men don't cry" may be more prone to suicide, a new study suggests.

Can bilingualism protect the brain even with early stages of dementia?

A study by York University psychology researchers provides new evidence that bilingualism can delay symptoms of dementia.

E-cigarette use among teens may be higher than previously thought, study finds

Juul, the popular e-cigarette brand that is being sued for fueling the youth e-cigarette epidemic, may have influenced high school students' perception of vaping such that some Juul users do not consider themselves e-cigarette users, a Rutgers-led study finds.

UK medical schools failing to deal with racism, finds BMJ investigation

Medical schools in the UK are unprepared to deal with the racism and racial harassment experienced by black and ethnic minority students, an investigation by The BMJ has found.

Japan cruise ship virus cases jump to 218 as elderly offered escape

Japan said Thursday it would allow some elderly passengers off a quarantined cruise ship and into government-designated lodging, as the number of new coronavirus cases on the vessel jumped to 218.

Australia extends ban on visitors from China

Australia on Thursday announced a ban on travellers from China would extend for at least a week beyond Saturday's planned deadline, as the death toll from the coronavirus soared.

Vietnam quarantines area with 10,000 residents over coronavirus

Villages in Vietnam with 10,000 people close to the nation's capital were placed under quarantine on Thursday after six cases of the deadly new coronavirus were discovered there, authorities said.

New cohort of iPSC lines will accelerate research into Huntington's disease

The European Bank for induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (EBiSC) and CHDI Foundation have collaborated with Censo Biotechnologies to generate a cohort of 45 iPSC lines derived from Huntington's disease gene-expansion carriers and associated controls. These new lines will be used to further investigate the mechanisms of HD progression and for the development of novel therapeutics and will be widely available to any interested researcher via the EBiSC catalog at

The most influential socioeconomic factor in cognitive development during childhood

An investigation in which different Spanish institutions have participated, including the University of Valencia, has shown that the factors that most influence cognitive development in childhood are the formative level of the mother and the social class of the father. The study, on 525 children minors aged five and six from Valencia, has been published in Gaceta Sanitaria and shows the influence of social inequalities from a gender perspective.

Q&A: Consistent oversight to ensure purity, safety of nonprescription CBD products doesn't exist

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I'm interested in trying CBD for knee pain. I see CBD for sale everywhere—even at gas stations. How do I figure out which kind to buy? Are CBD products that are available without a prescription safe and effective?

Benefits and barriers of prescription drug lists for asthma medications

A new study led by the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute examines the benefits and barriers of Prescription Drug List coverage for preventive asthma medications. The study, "Preventive Drug Lists as Tools for Managing Asthma Medication Costs", appears in the February edition of The American Journal of Managed Care.

Children miss more school when their mothers experience high physical violence

A new study published in Maternal and Child Health Journal, led by Anna M. Scolese, Master of Public Health student at George Mason University, found that 23.3% of women who experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) reported their child's school attendance was disrupted due to IPV. The study used baseline data from a sub-sample of 659 women in Mexico City who recently experienced IPV and reported having a child under age 18. Researchers identified four distinct classes of IPV experiences: Low Physical and Sexual Violence; Low Physical and High Sexual Violence, High Physical and Low Sexual Violence and Injuries; and High Physical and Sexual Violence and Injuries.

Updated abortion law data show an active year for reproductive rights in the US

The landscape of abortion law in the United States saw increase in targeted restrictions in 2019, but also some efforts to protect access by state governments and courts, according to data published today to by the Center for Public Health Law Research.

Biology news

How cellular machinery labels proteins for degradation

Proteins are molecular work horses in the cell that perform specific tasks, but it is essential that the timing of protein activities is exquisitely controlled. When proteins have fulfilled their tasks, their degradation ends processes that are unneeded or detrimental. To control timing, a label called ubiquitin is attached to unwanted proteins, marking them for degradation. Although complex molecular machineries were known to attach ubiquitin, how these machines carry out the labeling process was unknown. Researchers at MPIB, in collaboration with the University of Nevada Las Vegas have revealed these mechanisms and published the results in the journal Nature.

Hidden away: An enigmatic mammalian brain area revealed in reptiles

Reptiles have a brain area previously suspected to play a role in mammalian higher cognitive processes, and establish its role in controlling brain dynamics in sleep.

Stinging water mystery solved: Jellyfish can sting swimmers, prey with 'mucus grenades'

In warm coastal waters around the world, swimmers can often spot large groups of jellyfish pulsing rhythmically on the seafloor. Unless properly prepared with protective clothing, it is best to steer clear of areas that Cassiopea, or upside-down jellyfish inhabit: getting too close can lead to irritating stings, even without direct contact.

When frogs die off, snake diversity plummets

Since 1998, scientists have documented the global loss of amphibians. More than 500 amphibian species have declined in numbers, including 90 that have gone extinct, due to the fungal pathogen Batrachochytrium, commonly known as chytrid.

Why C. difficile infection spreads despite increased sanitation practices

New research from MIT suggests the risk of becoming colonized by Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) increases immediately following gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances that result in diarrhea.

'Ghost' DNA found in some West African people

A team of researchers at the University of California, has found evidence of "ghost" DNA in some modern West African people. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes their study of genetic samples collected from the Yoruba and Mende groups and what they found.

For bacteria, your community determines whether you evolve or not

A study of puddles has shown that bacteria evolve and adapt differently depending on the make-up of the community of bacteria they live within.

Sea lions could point the way to monitor riverbed erosion

A recent research study conducted by City, University of London's Professor Christoph Bruecker and his team, has revealed a novel correlation in the way sealions and rats use their whiskers, which paves the way for the online-monitoring underwater events which trigger riverbed erosion.

Mathematical model reveals behavior of cellular enzymes

Everything a cell does, from dividing in two to migrating to a different part of the body, is controlled by enzymes that chemically modify other proteins in the cell. Researchers at Princeton University have devised a new mathematical technique to describe the behavior of many cellular enzymes. The approach, which will be published February 13 in the journal Current Biology, will help researchers determine how genetic mutations change the behavior of these enzymes to cause a range of human diseases, including cancer.

Researchers find unique organ-specific signature profiles for blood vessel cells

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago have discovered that endothelial cells—those that create the inner lining of blood vessels—have unique genetic signatures based on their location in the body.

High-tech imaging under UV light shows which parts go where when millipedes mate

Scientists have a pretty good handle on how the birds and the bees work, but it comes to mating, almost all millipedes have been a mystery—until now. For the first time, researchers have puzzled out how these tiny creatures' complex genitalia work, thanks to new imaging techniques and blacklights that make the different tissues glow. The findings are published in a new paper in the journal Arthropod Structure and Development.

How a tiny and strange marine animal produces unlimited eggs and sperm over its lifetime

A little-known ocean-dwelling creature most commonly found growing on dead hermit crab shells may sound like an unlikely study subject for researchers, but this animal has a rare ability—it can make eggs and sperm for the duration of its lifetime. This animal, called Hydractinia, does so because it produces germ cells, which are precursors to eggs and sperm, nonstop throughout its life. Studying this unique ability could provide insight into the development of human reproductive system and the formation of reproductive-based conditions and diseases in humans.

Taking a bite out of mosquito-borne disease

It has long been the dream of infectious disease researchers around the world to create a safe, non-toxic way to kill mosquitoes.

Panamanian field expeditions examine how species persevere in face of climate change

Last month, two graduate students from the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University traveled to one of the most species-rich landscapes in the world: a remote strip of tropical rainforest at the narrowest point in the Central American country of Panama.

Researchers announce extinction of the Chinese paddlefish

The new decade 2020 began with the sad announcement that another species is now extinct—the Chinese Paddlefish (Psephurus gladius), a close relative of the sturgeon family. A paper by Chinese scientists concluded (based on IUCN criteria) that after 200 million years, the "Panda of the Yangtze" which reached up to 7m is now gone from the Yangtze forever. Although the paper received wide coverage in international media, unfortunately it only marked the scientific notification of a fate already sealed and known for some time. In fact, the authors estimated that the paddlefish went extinct somewhere in 2005–2010. The last time a live specimen was found was in 2003. Ten years before that (1993), scientists announced that the species was already "functionally extinct," meaning that for lack of mates it could not reproduce anymore. Therefore, the newest paper did not write a surprise ending for this sad story. Experts have been well aware of the situation for many years.

Autophagy degrades liquid droplets—but not aggregates—of proteins

Under JST's Strategic Basic Research Programs, Noda Nobuo and Yamasaki Akinori at the Institute of Microbial Chemistry, in collaboration with other researchers, have discovered that autophagy is effective for selectively degrading protein in a liquid droplet state that is formed through liquid-liquid phase separation, but does poorly with the degradation of protein in aggregation or solid state.

Using digital cameras for basic health checks saves zoo animals from anesthetics

A pilot study undertaken by researchers from the University of South Australia at Adelaide Zoo, has developed a new way to undertake basic health checks of exotic wildlife using a digital camera.

Neuron-like activity detected in an unforeseen place

The cells under Sanford M. Simon's microscope could easily be mistaken for neurons—they sport the characteristic long branches, and blips of light indicating bursts of calcium traveling from cell to cell. But looks can deceive. Members of the lab have found that neuron-like signaling exists outside of the nervous system—what you're actually seeing is skin cells known as melanocytes.

Alternatives to antibiotics found in sheep poo and on human skin

Scientists at the APC Microbiome Ireland SFI Research Centre have added to their arsenal of new antimicrobials with discoveries of Nisin J, a new antimicrobial produced from staphylococcal bacteria found on human skin and actifensins produced by Actinomycetes isolated from sheep feces.

Farmers to tackle locust swarms armed with new app

A new smartphone app to tackle pests destroying crops has been developed—and it could soon help farmers whose lands are being decimated by swarms of locusts, something the UN has called for "rapid action" action on.

Improving protection of wildlife in national parks

How are wild animals managed in European national parks and what factors influence management decisions? The team of Suzanne van Beeck Calkoen and associate professor Dr. Marco Heurich of the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Management at the University of Freiburg has examined differences in national policies for wild animal management in European national parks. Due to major variations in wild animal management policies in Europe, the researchers are calling for a uniform legal framework in order to improve the protection of wildlife in national parks. The researchers have published their latest results in the scientific publication the Journal of Environmental Management.

Understanding different brown bear personalities may help reduce clashes with people

The brown bear is one of Europe's five large carnivores and can sometimes cross paths with people, with potentially fatal consequences. But bears have different personalities and behaviours, say researchers, and understanding this is the key to reducing conflict and protecting both them and humans.

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