Thursday, February 27, 2020

Science X Newsletter Thursday, Feb 27

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 27, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Large exoplanet could have the right conditions for life

Engineers develop miniaturized 'warehouse robots' for biotechnology applications

Using a cappella to explain speech and music specialization

Discovery of expanding pectin nanofilaments that manipulate plant cell shapes

Physicists may have accidentally discovered a new state of matter

Reviewing recent developments in the electrolysis of saline water

Researchers discover second type of schizophrenia

Satellite almost on empty gets new life after space docking

Computer scientists' new tool fools hackers into sharing keys for better cybersecurity

Helpful interactions can keep societies stable

Researchers combine advanced spectroscopy technique with video-rate imaging

Most amphibians can glow in the dark, scientists report

Earth captures new 'mini moon'

Scientists show how caloric restriction prevents negative effects of aging in cells

SNIPRs take aim at disease-related mutations

Astronomy & Space news

Large exoplanet could have the right conditions for life

Astronomers have found an exoplanet more than twice the size of Earth to be potentially habitable, opening the search for life to planets significantly larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune.

Satellite almost on empty gets new life after space docking

A communication satellite almost out of fuel has gotten a new life after the first space docking of its kind.

Earth captures new 'mini moon'

Earth has acquired a second "mini-moon" about the size of a car, according to astronomers who spotted the object circling our planet.

Astronomers detect biggest explosion in the history of the Universe

Scientists studying a distant galaxy cluster have discovered the biggest explosion seen in the Universe since the Big Bang.

NASA selects new instrument to continue key climate record

NASA has selected a new space-based instrument as an innovative and cost-effective approach to maintaining the 40-year data record of the balance between the solar radiation entering Earth's atmosphere and the amount absorbed, reflected, and emitted. This radiation balance is a key factor in determining our climate: if Earth absorbs more heat than it emits, it warms up; if it emits more than it absorbs, it cools down.

Earth's new 'moon': What you should know

The Minor Planet Centre has just announced that the Earth has been orbited by a second moon for the past three years or so. But while excitement about the discovery is growing, it is important to keep in mind that this moon isn't as impressive as our main satellite. It is extremely faint—it is estimated to be only between one and six metres across—and won't be with us for much longer.

Distant star and planet get new Cree language names from national contest

A giant planet 344 light-years from Earth and the star it orbits have new names in the Cree language, thanks to a national contest.

How astronomers are piecing together the mysterious origins of superluminous supernovae

When a massive star reaches the end of its life, it can explode as a supernova. But there's a unique type of supernova that's much brighter that we're just starting to understand—and which may prove useful in measuring the universe.

Future astronauts could enjoy fresh vegetables from an autonomous orbital greenhouse

If humanity is going to become a spare-faring and interplanetary species, one of the most important things will be the ability of astronauts to see to their needs independently. Relying on regular shipments of supplies from Earth is not only inelegant; it's also impractical and expensive. For this reason, scientists are working to create technologies that would allow astronauts to provide for their own food, water and breathable air.

Technology news

Engineers develop miniaturized 'warehouse robots' for biotechnology applications

UCLA engineers have developed minuscule warehouse logistics robots that could help expedite and automate medical diagnostic technologies and other applications that move and manipulate tiny drops of fluid. The study was published in Science Robotics.

Computer scientists' new tool fools hackers into sharing keys for better cybersecurity

Instead of blocking hackers, a new cybersecurity defense approach developed by University of Texas at Dallas computer scientists actually welcomes them.

Data centers use less energy than you think

If the world is using more and more data, then it must be using more and more energy, right? Not so, says a comprehensive new analysis.

Socially assistive robot helps children with autism learn

Many children with autism face developmental delays, including communication and behavioral challenges and difficulties with social interaction. This makes learning new skills a major challenge, especially in traditional school environments.

'Surfing attack' hacks Siri, Google with ultrasonic waves

Ultrasonic waves don't make a sound, but they can still activate Siri on your cellphone and have it make calls, take images or read the contents of a text to a stranger. All without the phone owner's knowledge.

Octopus-inspired robot can grip, move, and manipulate a wide range of objects

Of all the cool things about octopuses (and there's a lot), their arms may rank among the coolest.

Facebook bans ads with false claims about new virus

Facebook said Wednesday that it is banning ads that make false claims about products tied to the new coronavirus.

Microsoft says virus hurting supply chain more than expected

The virus outbreak in China is hurting Microsoft more than expected, as the company said it won't meet targets that had already factored in the uncertainty.

Tech giants free to censor content under US Constitution: ruling

Tech giants including Google are free to censor content as they wish, a US court ruled Wednesday, in a landmark freedom-of-speech case concerning private internet platforms.

IAEA backs sea release of contaminated Fukushima water

The world's nuclear watchdog gave its backing Thursday to Japanese plans to release contaminated water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean.

A novel processor that solves notoriously complex mathematical problems

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology have designed a novel processor architecture that can solve combinatorial optimization problems much faster than existing ones. Combinatorial optimizations are complex problems that show up across many fields of science and engineering and are difficult for conventional computers to handle, making specialized processor architectures very important.

Australia could soon export sunshine to Asia via a 3800-km cable

Australia is the world's third largest fossil fuels exporter – a fact that generates intense debate as climate change intensifies. While the economy is heavily reliant on coal and gas export revenues, these fuels create substantial greenhouse gas emissions when burned overseas.

Amazon's new grocery store is watching our every move—but we asked for this

In Amazon's new grocery store, there are no registers, and you can walk out as soon as you've grabbed what you need. The catch? All the information about your purchase lives in sensors, computers, and the cameras hanging from the ceiling.

Iron powder as the battery of the future

Iron in the tank. It seems like a fairy tale, but iron has a bright future as a fuel. Clean from the pump, no CO2 emissions, that's what researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology say.

Can mobile networks connect first responders in remote areas?

The high plateaus of Colorado's Rocky Mountains, known for panoramic vistas, wildlife, old gold mines and sports of all kinds, are attracting new pioneers: engineers working to improve emergency communications.

Email still beats texts—for hackers phishing for your data

Despite all the attention given to phishing attacks, and high profile hacks, email still remains the number one place where victims fall prey to bad guys.

Shaping the future of machine learning for active matter

Now researchers are presenting guidelines for how active matter, such as cells and microorganisms, can best be studied using machine learning techniques. The guidelines can help others navigate the new field, which can significantly improve research in active matter.

Two NE tree species can be used in new sustainable building material

Two tree species native to the Northeast have been found to be structurally sound for use in cross-laminated timber (CLT) - a revolutionary new type of building material with sought-after sustainability characteristics, according to research by a University of Massachusetts Amherst timber engineer.

Facebook sues analytics firm for data misuse

Facebook on Thursday filed a federal lawsuit against oneAudience data intelligence firm over a tactic it used to gather information about users of social media platforms.

Huawei to open European 5G factory in France

Chinese telecom giant Huawei said Thursday that it would begin manufacturing radio equipment for next-generation 5G networks in France, its first such facility outside of China.

Facebook nixes developers conference due to coronavirus

Facebook on Thursday canceled its annual F8 developers conference, the biggest annual event for the US tech giant, over fears about the possible spread of the novel coronavirus.

Walmart confirms it will launch a rival to Amazon's Prime

Walmart is confirming that it's developing a competitor to Amazon's juggernaut Prime membership program.

Air France cuts costs as coronavirus stings: letter

Air France is taking new cost-cutting measures, including a partial hiring freeze, to offset the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the travel sector, according to an internal letter obtained by AFP.

Foreign firms in China forecast revenue drop due to virus

Foreign firms in virus-hit China are expecting large drops in revenue, especially for the first half of the year, with some planning to lower their business targets, said trade associations on Thursday.

Aston Martin shares in reverse as annual losses balloon

Shares in Aston Martin Lagonda tanked Thursday after James Bond's favourite carmaker said net losses nearly doubled last year on weak global demand—and warned over the potential impact of coronavirus.

Decarbonizing energy supply by using community power

Renewable energy has become a mainstream source of power production. The estimated share of renewables in global electricity generation reached 26 % at the end of 2018, while far less growth occurred in heating, cooling and transport, according to the Renewables 2019 Global Status Report. With the increased use of renewable energy sources (RESs) like solar and wind, citizens and communities are seen as key to the clean energy transition's success.

Researchers propose high-density surface electromyography technique for automatic speech recognition

Verbal communication is an important way to engage in social interactions. The normal speaking process requires coordinated contractions of a mass of articulatory muscles on the face and neck.

Climate campaigners win appeal to prevent new Heathrow runway

Britain's Court of Appeal on Thursday ruled in favour of environmental campaigners who oppose the building of a third runway at London's Heathrow airport, Europe's busiest.

German carmakers warn virus to shrink China market

China's car market could shrink up to seven percent year-on-year in 2020 as the effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak bite, Germany's VDA manufacturers' association said Thursday.

Delivery giant DoorDash takes step toward public offering

Food delivery giant DoorDash has taken a first formal step toward a stock market debut.

Medicine & Health news

Using a cappella to explain speech and music specialization

Speech and music are two fundamentally human activities that are decoded in different brain hemispheres. A new study used a unique approach to reveal why this specialization exists.

Researchers discover second type of schizophrenia

Penn Medicine researchers are the first to discover two distinct neuroanatomical subtypes of schizophrenia after analyzing the brain scans of over 300 patients. The first type showed lower widespread volumes of gray matter when compare to healthy controls, while the second type had volumes largely similar to normal brains. The findings, published Thursday in the journal Brain, suggest that, in the future, accounting for these differences could inform more personalized treatment options.

Researchers discover new approach for use of stem cells to improve bone marrow transplantation

Mount Sinai researchers have discovered a way to enhance the potency of blood-forming stem cells, potentially opening the door to a new approach for bone marrow transplantation, according to a study published on February 27 in Cell Stem Cell.

Team deciphers how myotonic dystrophy generates lethal heart dysfunctions

Roughly 80% of people with myotonic dystrophy—a common form of muscular dystrophy—experience dangerous heart ailments, and heart rhythm defects are the second-leading cause of death in those with the condition. In a new study, researchers traced the molecular events that lead to heart abnormalities in myotonic dystrophy and recreated the disease in a mouse model.

Learning difficulties due to poor connectivity, not specific brain regions

Different learning difficulties do not correspond to specific regions of the brain, as previously thought, say researchers at the University of Cambridge. Instead poor connectivity between 'hubs' within the brain is much more strongly related to children's difficulties.

Genetic 'fingerprints' implicate gut bacterium in bowel cancer

A common type of bacteria found in our guts could contribute to bowel cancer, according to research funded by a £20 million Cancer Research UK Grand Challenge award and published in Nature today.

Study unravels how our immune system deals with fungal and viral infections

The body's immune response to fungal infections changes when a patient is also infected by a virus, according to new research which investigated the two types of infection together for the first time.

Existing drugs may offer a first-line treatment for coronavirus outbreak

The number of people infected with the new coronavirus continues to skyrocket, with more than 80,000 cases worldwide as of the end of February. But there's no vaccine or cure in sight, meaning that doctors can do little more than offer supportive treatment to the very sick and hope their bodies can survive the infection.

New drugs on the horizon for stroke and hydrocephalus

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States is having a stroke. The disease is one of the leading causes of short-term disability and kills about 140,000 Americans a year.

Huntington's disease-causing DNA repeat mutations reversed in the lab

Neurodegenerative diseases, like Huntington's disease and myotonic dystrophy, are often referred to as DNA repeat diseases, named because of long repeated sequences in the DNA of patients. Increasing repeat expansion length in the affected tissues contribute to earlier age of disease onset and worsen the progression and severity of the disease over time.

High doses of vitamin C found to enhance immunotherapy in combating cancer in mice

A team of researchers affiliated with multiple institutions in Italy has found that giving cancerous mice high doses of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) enhanced immunotherapy, resulting in slowed or stopped tumor growth. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the researchers describe their studies of vitamin C and how it might be used to treat cancer patients.

How does the brain put decisions in context? Study finds unexpected brain region at work

When crossing the street, which way do you first turn your head to check for oncoming traffic? This decision depends on the context of where you are. A pedestrian in the United States looks to the left for cars, but one in the United Kingdom looks right. A group of scientists at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute has been studying how animals use context when making decisions. And now, their latest research findings have tied this ability to an unexpected brain region in mice: an area called the anterior lateral motor cortex, or ALM, previously thought to primarily guide and plan movement.

Newly identified cellular trash removal program helps create new neurons

New research by University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists reveals how a cellular filament helps neural stem cells clear damaged and clumped proteins, an important step in eventually producing new neurons. The work provides a new cellular target for interventions that could boost neuron production when it's needed most, such as after brain injuries. And because clumping proteins are a hallmark of many neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer's, the new study could provide insight into how these toxic proteins can be cleared away. Assistant Professor of Neuroscience Darcie Moore led the work with her graduate student Christopher Morrow. Their study is available online in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

Revving habits up and down, new insight into how the brain forms habits

Each day, humans and animals rely on habits to complete routine tasks such as eating and sleeping. As new habits are formed, this enables us to do things automatically without thinking. As the brain starts to develop a new habit, in as little as a half a second, one region of the brain, the dorsolateral striatum, experiences a short burst in activity. This activity burst increases as the habit becomes stronger. A Dartmouth study demonstrates how habits can be controlled depending on how active the dorsolateral striatum is. The results are published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Lessons learned from addressing myths about Zika and yellow fever outbreaks in Brazil

When disease epidemics and outbreaks occur, conspiracy theories often emerge that compete with the information provided by public health officials. A Dartmouth-led study in Science Advances finds that information used to counter myths about Zika in Brazil not only failed to reduce misperceptions but also reduced the accuracy of people's other beliefs about the disease.

WHO's malaria vaccine study represents a 'serious breach of international ethical standards'

A large scale malaria vaccine study led by the World Health Organization (WHO) has been criticised by a leading bioethicist for committing a "serious breach" of international ethical standards, finds a special report published by The BMJ today.

Intervention to help GPs identify and treat patients with hepatitis C found to be effective

The first UK clinical trial to increase the identification and treatment of hepatitis C (HCV) patients in primary care has been found to be effective, acceptable to staff and highly cost-effective for the NHS. The University of Bristol-led Hepatitis C Assessment to Treatment Trial (HepCATT), published in the British Medical Journal today, provides robust evidence of effective action GPs should take to increase HCV testing and treatment.

Multi-sensor band quickly and simply records subtle changes in patients with multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a progressive, chronic disorder in which the body's immune system attacks the central nervous system, resulting in multiple adverse effects, from numbness, fatigue and impaired speech to loss of muscle control and vision. There is no cure for MS; treatment focuses upon managing symptoms and slowing progression.

China fears mount over virus cases from outside

A month of containment measures to halt the spread of the deadly coronavirus in China seems to be working, but the rise of overseas cases means the country is now facing a fresh challenge—keeping it out.

Japan woman tests positive for virus after 'recovery'

A woman in Japan who contracted the new coronavirus and was released from hospital after recovering has tested positive again, officials said Thursday.

Australia warns virus pandemic now 'upon us'

Australia's prime minister said the country considered the new coronavirus to be a pandemic Thursday, going a step beyond the WHO as he extended a travel ban on visitors from China.

CT provides best diagnosis for COVID-19

In a study of more than 1,000 patients published in the journal Radiology, chest CT outperformed lab testing in the diagnosis of 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The researchers concluded that CT should be used as the primary screening tool for COVID-19.

New app launched for public to help pioneering hand identification research

Scientists behind a pioneering hand-identification research programme are launching a new app and are calling on thousands of members of the public to help.

Widowhood accelerates cognitive decline among those at risk for Alzheimer's disease

The death of a spouse often means the loss of intimacy, companionship and everyday support for older adults. A new study finds that widowhood can have another profound effect: It may accelerate cognitive decline. Investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital analyzed older, cognitively normal Americans enrolled in the Harvard Aging Brain Study whose marital status and brain β-amyloid levels—a marker of Alzheimer's disease—were determined at the beginning of the study. The team found that individuals who were widowed experienced a sharper cognitive decline than their married counterparts, especially among those who had high β-amyloid levels. The study suggests that widowhood may be an important and understudied risk factor for cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer's disease and highlights the need for increased focus on this high-risk population. Findings are published in JAMA Network Open.

Hearing aids may delay cognitive decline, research finds

Wearing hearing aids may delay cognitive decline in older adults and improve brain function, according to promising new research.

Hardest-hit China, South Korea count 938 new virus cases

As the worst-hit areas of Asia continued to struggle with a viral epidemic, with hundreds more cases reported Thursday in South Korea and China, worries about infection and containment spread across the globe.

New US coronavirus case may be 1st from unknown origin (Update)

California and federal officials were in the midst of an intense effort Thursday to retrace the movements of a Northern California woman believed to be the first person in the U.S. to contract the highly contagious coronavirus with no known connection to travel abroad or other known causes.

Japan at 'crossroads' on virus outbreak, expert warns

Japan is at a "crossroads" in its bid to prevent a major coronavirus outbreak and may need to reconsider the Olympics if domestic transmissions are not brought under control, an expert advising the government has warned.

Researchers develop first catalogue of genes that comprise community of microbes in vaginal microbiome

University of Maryland School of Medicine's (UMSOM) Institute for Genome Sciences (IGS) researchers have created the first catalog of genes that comprise the community of microbes, which inhabit the human vagina. The catalog, called human vaginal non-redundant gene catalog (VIRGO), was recently released as a public resource that can be used by researchers to facilitate a more in-depth understanding of the role of vaginal microorganisms in women's health and to potentially develop future treatments for certain gynecologic conditions.

Imaging can guide whether liquid biopsy will benefit individual glioblastoma patients

Tracking brain cancer with a blood test instead of a surgical biopsy may greatly improve quality of life for glioblastoma (GBM) patients and provide critical information for their care, but it is not feasible in all cases. Now new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Penn's Abramson Cancer Center shows brain imaging may be able to predict when a blood test known as a liquid biopsy would or would not produce clinically actionable information, allowing doctors to more efficiently guide patients to the proper next steps in their care. The key is the ability to image two things—the blood brain barrier and a type of immune cell called macrophages—which, this study found, correlate with the amount of circulating DNA in the bloodstream. The journal Neuro-Oncology Advances published the findings today.

Scientists discover new 'Jekyll and Hyde' immune cell

Scientists at Trinity College Dublin have identified a rare, new cell in the immune system with "Jekyll and Hyde properties". These cells play a key protective role in immunity to infection but—if unregulated—also mediate tissue damage in autoimmune disorders.

Combined therapy may improve clinical responses for endometrial, colorectal and gastric tumors

A study at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center discovered a novel therapeutic vulnerability for patients who have tumors caused by a genetic misfire in the DNA mismatch repair (MMR) pathway, a system for repairing genetic aberrations. Study findings were published in the Feb. 27 online issue of Cancer Cell.

Two new UK coronavirus cases linked to Italy, Tenerife

Two more patients have tested positive for coronavirus in Britain, health authorities said Thursday, bringing the total number of diagnosed cases in the UK to 15.

China virus expert says earlier action would have reduced infections

China would have seen far fewer infections from the new coronavirus if it had been quicker to adopt strict control measures, a top Chinese scientist said Thursday, in apparent criticism of the way the outbreak was handled.

About 40% of US adults are obese, government survey finds

About 4 in 10 American adults are obese, and nearly 1 in 10 is severely so, government researchers said Thursday.

Low fruit and vegetable intakes and higher body fat linked to anxiety disorders

New research from the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging shows that adults who have low fruit and vegetable intakes have a higher likelihood of being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

Vexed by how to contain virus, countries take tough steps

Saudi Arabia cut travel to Islam's holiest sites, South Korea toughened penalties for those breaking quarantines and airports across Latin America looked for signs of sick passengers Thursday as the new virus troubled a mushrooming swath of the globe.

Distrust of past experience may underlie obsessive-compulsive symptoms

People with higher obsessive-compulsive symptoms may place less trust in their past experience, leading to increased uncertainty, indecisiveness, and exploratory behaviors, according to new research presented in PLOS Computational Biology by Isaac Fradkin of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and colleagues.

A new strategy to prevent the most aggressive tumors from generating resistance to chemotherapy

One of the most frequent problems when treating cancer is that the tumors develop resistance to therapies; at that point, treatments cease to be effective at stopping tumor growth. This is especially relevant in patients with aggressive diseases such as pancreatic cancer or patients with metastases, who must often undergo frequent changes in treatment. Now, a study led by the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) in collaboration with researchers from the Weill Cornell Medicine Center and Pfizer Inc. (U.S.), proposes a novel combined approach to avoiding pancreatic cancer resistance to chemotherapy, and thus treat these tumor cells effectively. The work is forthcoming in the journal Cancer Cell.

How can we prepare for the coronavirus? 3 questions answered

Public health officials in the U.S. warned that the coronavirus, which has in large part spared the U.S., is coming and that the country needs to be prepared. But just what does this mean for you, as well as for public health officials? Aubree Gordon, public health scholar at the University of Michigan, explains.

Digital technology use and digital inequality could complicate teens' lives

Adolescents are avid users of smartphones and social media. And with that use come concerns that constant connectivity is leading to bad academic performance, disconnection from life offline and heightened psychological distress.

How door-to-door canvassing slowed an Ebola epidemic

Liberia was the epicenter of a high-profile Ebola outbreak in 2014-15, which led to more than 10,000 deaths in West Africa. But for all the devastation the illness caused, it could have been worse without an innovative, volunteer-based outreach program Liberia's government deployed in late 2014.

New outbreaks of coronavirus can be halted with isolation measures

China is taking drastic steps to contain the spread of a recently identified coronavirus, but the outbreak has already traveled past its borders, and cities around the globe must be ready to respond to cases within their jurisdictions. Yale SOM's Edward Kaplan used early reports out of Wuhan to evaluate the likely effectiveness of common tactics, such as isolation of patients and quarantine, in keeping the disease from spreading in new regions. His model predicts that new outbreaks can likely be contained by isolating infected patients, but it also highlights the importance of identifying new cases as early as possible.

What's next for coronavirus, how to avoid it, and will there be a vaccine?

As the new coronavirus, known in shorthand as COVID-19, continues to spread around the world, researchers, including those at the University of Virginia, are turning their attention to developing vaccines and antiviral drugs that could contain and treat the respiratory virus.

Sprint-interval exercise may induce healthier food choices

People who incorporate sprints into their exercise may be more likely to make healthier food choices after their workout, according to a new study by The University of Western Australia and James Cook University.

Risk of recurrent fractures lowered by new care routines

Older people's risk of recurrent fractures decreases by 18 percent if the care they receive is more structured and preventive, through fracture liaison services. This is shown by a study from the University of Gothenburg.

When chronic pain leads to depression in children

When chronic pain keeps children from being active and social, it's no surprise that anxiety and depression can become unwelcome playmates.

4 myths about polycystic ovary syndrome, and why they're wrong

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal condition. When using the definition supported by the international guidelines, it affects just under one in six young Australian women.

MRI shows blood flow differs in men and women

Healthy men and women have different blood flow characteristics in their hearts, according to a new study published in the journal Radiology: Cardiothoracic Imaging. Researchers said the results could be used to help create quantitative standards that adjust for gender to provide improved assessment of cardiac performance.

What you need to know about travelling during the coronavirus crisis

The coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) has now reached more than 80,000 recorded cases, largely concentrated in China, with a death toll over 2,700 and rising.

Coronavirus: How behaviour can help control the spread of COVID-19

Amid the carnage of the First World War, a flu epidemic took hold in the front-line trenches and subsequently spread around the world, infecting one-quarter of the world's total population and ultimately killing more people than the war itself.

Paleo fact and fiction: The key to being healthy

Humans have conquered smallpox and drastically reduced child mortality rates, yet we now face problems never seen before. Conditions like heart disease, obesity, cancer, and diabetes pose serious threats to our health. How can we overcome them? The answer may lie in our past.

Let's 'declare war on type 2 diabetes': Expert discusses why we need to cut back on sugar

Humans are physiologically hardwired to love and seek out sweet things. It's an ancient survival mechanism that evolved to prepare our bodies for periods of fasting when food supplies were scarce.

Computer-simulated patients help untangle sociological influences in pain care

The opioid crisis has been a major issue for health care officials across the United States.

New Zealand's needle exchanges helped reduced HIV transmissions

New Zealand has avoided the high HIV rates seen among high-risk groups in other countries, a new study shows.

Assessing stem cell therapy potential for treating preeclampsia

Preeclampsia is the leading cause of death and disability, for both mothers and babies, killing approximately 76,000 mothers and 500,000 babies globally every year. Despite this, the only cure at present is to deliver the placenta and the baby, with the potential for long term complications. In recent years stem cell therapies have been investigated in animal models. A review article published in Current Hypertension Reports investigates mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) as a potential new treatment for preeclampsia.

Our own immune cells damage the integrity of the blood-brain barrier

Researchers have shown that microglia, a class of immune cells in the brain, regulate the permeability of the brain's protective barrier in response to systemic inflammation. During inflammation, microglia initially protect the barrier's integrity, but they can later reverse their behavior and increase the barrier's permeability.

Virus enigma: Experts ask why Africa seems to have few cases

The coronavirus is spreading fast beyond its China birthplace but sub-Saharan Africa, one of the world's most vulnerable regions, has so far been almost spared—and experts want to know why.

Record number of pedestrian deaths seen in U.S.

Walking on America's streets is getting ever more dangerous, a new report shows.

Celiac disease might be cured by restoring immune tolerance to gliadin

Celiac disease affects 0.3-2.4% of people in most countries world-wide, and approx. 2% in Finland. Celiac patients suffer from a variety of symptoms, typically intestinal complaints, such as diarrhea, but are often symptom-free. Immunologist Tobias Freitag co-developed and tested nanoparticles containing gliadin for the immunomodulatory treatment of celiac disease in Professor Seppo Meri's research group at the University of Helsinki, in collaboration with industry.

Researchers confirm celiac disease can damage the brain

People living with celiac disease (CD) have a higher risk of neurological damage according to a new study from the University of Sheffield.

4 science-based strategies to tame angry political debate and encourage tolerance

"Climate change is a hoax," my cousin said during a family birthday party. "I saw on Twitter it's just a way to get people to buy expensive electric cars." I sighed while thinking, "How can he be so misinformed?" Indeed, what I wanted to say was, "Good grief, social media lies are all you read."

Excellent long-term stability of treatment gains of stepwise treatment for pediatric OCD

A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) reports that the long-term stability of treatment gains for children and adolescents diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), participating in a stepwise manualized treatment, is excellent.

Study reveals how drug meant for Ebola may also work against coronaviruses

A group of University of Alberta researchers who have discovered why the drug remdesivir is effective in treating the coronaviruses that cause Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) expect it might also be effective for treating patients infected with the new COVID-19 strain.

WHO says virus at 'decisive point' as world battles spread

The World Health Organization declared Thursday that the new coronavirus epidemic was at a "decisive point" as countries across the globe battled to contain the deadly outbreak.

First glimpse of endometrial microbiota during pregnancy

A team of Valencia University (UV), in collaboration with the Igenomix Foundation and the INCLIVA, has managed to access the human endometrial microbiota during early pregnancy. The study shows that the uterus is dominated by Lactobacillus and provides the first profile of a pregnant woman's microbiota.

Researchers develop novel approach to capture hard-to-view portion of colon in 3D

In a groundbreaking discovery, researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) developed a new imaging method that allows scientists to view the enteric nervous system (ENS) - a key part of the human colon—in three dimensions by making other colon cells that normally block it invisible. The ENS has previously only been visible in thin tissue slices that provide limited clinical information. The findings were published online today in the journal Gastroenterology.

Study finds artisanal CBD not as effective as pharmaceutical CBD for reducing seizures

Children and teens with epilepsy who were treated with pharmaceutical cannabidiol (CBD) had much better seizure control than those who were treated with artisanal CBD, according to a preliminary study to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 72nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, April 25 to May 1, 2020.

Fine particle air pollution linked with poor kidney health

People living in areas with higher levels of air pollution faced higher risks of developing kidney disease in a recent study. The findings appear in an upcoming issue of CJASN.

Handheld 3-D printers developed to treat musculoskeletal injuries

Biomedical engineers at the UConn School of Dental Medicine recently developed a handheld 3-D bioprinter that could revolutionize the way musculoskeletal surgical procedures are performed.

CDC: Prevalence of obesity 42.4 percent in 2017 to 2018

(HealthDay)—The prevalence of obesity was 42.4 percent among U.S. adults in 2017 to 2018, according to a February data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.

Study uncovers role of membrane-associated protein in development and function of human T cells

All biological cells are bounded by a lipid bilayer known as the plasma membrane. In addition, the cells of higher organisms contain specialized intracellular membrane compartments, which interact with each other and with the plasma membrane. The highly dynamic functional interplay between these membrane systems plays a vital role in many biological processes, and is essential for normal cell function and survival. A new report published by a group of researchers led by Christoph Klein (Professor of Pediatrics at Dr. von Hauner's Children's Hospital, which is part of the LMU Medical Center) throws new light on the action of a key component of this network, and uncovers its significance for the development and function of human T cells. The new findings appear in the online journal Nature Communications.

How cardiorespiratory function is related to genetics

How high altitudes affect people's breathing and its coordination with the heart beat is due to genetic differences say researchers.

Opioid use disorder medications improve health outcomes after endocarditis hospitalization

Starting medication to treat opioid use disorder within 30 days of being discharged from the hospital due to injection drug use-related endocarditis—a type of serious heart infection—improves health outcomes, a new study shows. Led by researchers at Boston Medical Center's Grayken Center for Addiction, the results showed that those who receive medication in that timeframe are less likely to overdose or be readmitted to the hospital within a year. Given that the underlying cause of many endocarditis inpatient hospitalizations is opioid use disorder, the findings highlight the importance of offering and prescribing medications to treat opioid use disorder while these patients are in the hospital, and connecting them to treatment after discharge.

Extra virgin olive oil retains health properties when used for cooking

Consuming extra virgin olive oil has proved to have protective effects for the health, especially due to its antioxidant content. However, there are not many studies on whether it is the best oil to use when cooking. A study by the University of Barcelona stated this kind of oil keeps the levels of antioxidants—regarded as healthy—when used for cooking, a common technique in Mediterranean cuisine. These results could be relevant for future recommendations or nutritional guidelines.

How to properly wash your hands

A 20-second way to prevent illness is to wash your hands properly. Knowing when and how to wash your hands will help you avoid sickness from the flu along with a number of diseases. It seems simple enough, but you'd be surprised to find out many people are washing their hands all wrong.

What heart patients should know about coronavirus

The coronavirus should have everyone's attention by now, health experts say. And people with heart disease have extra reasons to be alert.

Is it safe to have sex if I have heart failure?

If you're living with heart failure, you know that physical activity may leave you feeling fatigued or short of breath. If exercise makes you feel winded you might wonder—is it safe to have sex?

Infectious diseases A-Z: Influenza's second wave

Flu activity in the United States remains high and is expected to continue for weeks. So far this flu season, the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention estimates there have been 29 million flu illnesses and 280,000 hospitalizations, as well as 16,000 deaths from the flu, including more than 100 children.

Hormone blocker shocker: Drug costs 8 times more when used for kids

Dr. Sudeep Taksali, an orthopedic surgeon, became worried that his 8-year-old daughter had already grown taller than his 12-year-old son. And sometimes she had an attitude more befitting a teenager. Something seemed wrong.

Under reporting of data on the outcomes among older adults in cancer clinical trials

While older adults, defined as those 65 and older, make up the largest percentage of cancer patients and survivors, this group is not adequately represented in clinical trials, research at the University of Cincinnati has shown.

Cells carrying Parkinson's mutation could lead to new model for studying disease

Parkinson's disease researchers have used gene-editing tools to introduce the disorder's most common genetic mutation into marmoset monkey stem cells and to successfully tamp down cellular chemistry that often goes awry in Parkinson's patients.

Could new discovery play a role in diagnosing Alzheimer's earlier?

Scientists have detected that a previously overlooked gene behavior could potentially lead to a new way to diagnose Alzheimer's earlier.

The opioid crisis may be far worse than we thought: study

New research appearing in the journal Addiction shows that the number of deaths attributed to opioid-related overdoses could be 28 percent higher than reported due to incomplete death records. This discrepancy is more pronounced in several states, including Alabama, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, and Indiana, where the estimated number of deaths more than doubles—obscuring the scope of the opioid crisis and potentially affecting programs and funding intended to confront the epidemic.

New algorithm tracks pediatric sepsis epidemiology using clinical data

Researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) have developed a novel computational algorithm to track the epidemiology of pediatric sepsis, allowing for the collection of more accurate data about outcomes and incidence of the condition over time, which is essential to the improvement of care.

Early intervention following traumatic brain injury reduces epilepsy risk

A research team led by a scientist at the University of California, Riverside, has found that brains treated with certain drugs within a few days of an injury have a dramatically reduced risk of developing epilepsy later in life.

Getting off of the blood sugar roller coaster

For the 250,000 Canadians living with type 1 diabetes, the days of desperately trying to keep their blood sugar stable are coming to an end. A team of researchers at McGill University's Faculty of Medicine is working to optimize an artificial pancreas with the ability to minimize the glucose highs and lows that diminish quality of life and contribute to long-term health complications.

California bracing for spread of coronavirus

California said Thursday it was monitoring some 8,400 people for the new coronavirus, after officials confirmed a woman had contracted the disease without traveling to outbreak-hit regions.

Coronavirus: latest developments worldwide

The list of countries hit by the coronavirus grows. Mecca suspends entry for pilgrims. Several countries close their schools, stock exchanges plunge.

'Play, Dagmar, play': Violinist recalls tumour op performance

Emerging from the depths of slumber, Dagmar Turner had barely a chance to notice the hushed intensity of the operating theatre when someone thrust her violin into her hands. It was time to play the performance of her life.

Italy blasts virus panic as it eyes new testing criteria

With tourism tanking and panic rising, Italy tried to control the coronavirus in the realm of public perception Thursday as its outbreak grew to 650 cases and other countries took measures to limit travel to and from affected Italian regions.

Saudi Arabia halts pilgrimages over virus; Iran says 22 dead

Saudi Arabia on Thursday halted travel to the holiest sites in Islam over fears about a viral epidemic just months ahead of the annual hajj pilgrimage, a move that came as the Mideast has over 240 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus.

Trump downplays epidemic fears as virus spreads around world

President Donald Trump has played down fears of a major coronavirus outbreak in the United States, even as infections ricochet around the world, prompting Saudi Arabia to ban pilgrims from visiting Islam's holiest sites.

Denmark announces first coronavirus case

Denmark reported its first coronavirus case Thursday, a man who had returned from a skiing holiday in northern Italy which has become a hotspot for the disease.

North Korea extends school breaks over virus fears

North Korea has postponed the new school term to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, reports said Thursday, the latest measure as the ill-equipped country ramps up efforts to prevent a devastating outbreak.

Trump mulls travel bans on Italy, S. Korea over coronavirus

Donald Trump said Wednesday he was considering travel restrictions on Italy and South Korea over coronavirus fears, as he sought to reassure Americans worried about the epidemic.

Estonia reports first coronavirus case

Estonia reported its first coronavirus case on Thursday, a day after the man returned to the Baltic nation from a business trip in his homeland Iran.

Japan PM calls for nationwide closure of schools over virus

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday urged schools nationwide to close for several weeks to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus, as authorities reported the country's fourth death linked to the outbreak.

Iran coronavirus deaths jump to 26, top officials infected

The coronavirus epidemic in Iran has cost 26 lives, the health ministry announced Thursday, with a vice president becoming the latest top official to be infected as the spread appeared to accelerate.

Coronavirus data analyses published on open-source platform Galaxy

Dr. Wolfgang Maier and Dr. Björn Grüning from the University of Freiburg, together with researchers from universities in Belgium, Australia and the U.S., have reviewed previously available data on sequences of the novel coronavirus and published their analyses on the open source platform Galaxy. The two Freiburg bioinformaticians hope that this will facilitate the exchange of data between authorities, institutes and laboratories dealing with the virus. The Freiburg researchers have documented their approach and results on the bioRxiv portal.

Spain probes first local coronavirus transmissions

Spanish health ministry officials were on Thursday investigating the country's first suspected cases of locally-transmitted coronavirus infections, with one elderly patient in a serious condition.

Which countries are affected by coronavirus in Europe?

With governments scrambling to contain a slew of new coronavirus cases popping up across Europe, here is an overview of the countries affected, where people have died and the precautions being taken.

On the virus frontline with Italy's first sick mayor

Pietro Mazzocchi, 59, has the dubious honour of being the first Italian mayor to catch the new coronavirus—but sees it as an occupational hazard.

ASA survey shows health insurers abruptly terminating physician contracts

A new national survey from the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) finds physician anesthesiologists are being forced out of network as insurance companies terminate their contracts, often with little or no notice.

New radiopharmaceutical shows promise for improved detection of neuroendocrine tumors

The newly developed [55Co]55Co-DOTATATE imaging agent has emerged as a more accurate and sensitive radiopharmaceutical to aid in the diagnosis of neuroendocrine tumor metastases. According to research published in the February issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) imaging with [55Co]Co-DOTATATE resulted in superior image contrast and enhanced detection of metastases as compared with other commonly used radiopharmaceuticals.

Drug used for breast, kidney cancers may also extend survival for head and neck cancers

A targeted therapy drug used for breast and kidney cancers may also extend progression-free survival for patients with advanced head and neck cancer who are at high risk for recurrence after standard treatment. Patients enrolled in a randomized phase II trial who received the mTOR inhibitor everolimus were more likely to be cancer-free a year after therapy than those who took a placebo drug, and the benefit persisted for those with mutations in their TP53 gene. The findings may present a new treatment option for a group of patients whose survival rates have not improved in more than 30 years.

Malawi passes medical cannabis legislation

Malawi on Thursday became the latest African country to legalise the growing of cannabis, a crop that could supplement the tobacco industry, which has been the country's economic mainstay.

Radiation/immunotherapy combo shows promise for recurrent/metastatic head and neck cancers

A new phase II trial finds that a combination of radiation therapy and immunotherapy led to encouraging survival outcomes and acceptable toxicity for patients with locally advanced head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The combination of radiation and pembrolizumab may offer a new treatment option for patients who are ineligible for cisplatin chemotherapy, part of standard treatment for the disease. Findings will be presented at the 2020 Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancers Symposium, taking place February 27-29 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Pre-operative immunotherapy triggers encouraging response in oral cancers

A new clinical trial suggests that immunotherapy given before other treatments for oral cavity cancers can elicit an immune response that shrinks tumors, which could provide long-term benefit for patients. Findings will be presented at the 2020 Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancers Symposium, taking place February 27-29 in Scottsdale, Arizona.

French lax on routine hygiene, study suggests

As France braces for a surge in cases of the new coronavirus, which is spread mainly by poor hygiene, a new survey suggests that some of the population may need to clean up their act when it comes to routine cleanliness.

With first case, Latin America prepares for COVID-19 virus

With Brazil reporting the first case of the COVID-19 virus, neighboring countries and other nations around Latin America were attempting to block the possible arrival of the virus.

Cigarettes, a few jokes on offer at Italy's quarantine checkpoints

In one Italian village under coronavirus quarantine, an unassuming bus stop bench has become a lifeline.

Pence tries to project calm as virus response coordinator

Vice President Mike Pence moved Thursday to project calm in the role of chief coordinator of the government's response to the new coronovirus, as the Trump administration rushed to contain mounting public concerns and steep stock market declines.

First case of coronavirus confirmed in The Netherlands

The first case of coronavirus in the Netherlands was detected on Thursday, in a patient who had travelled to northern Italy, the worst hit area in Europe, the national public health institute announced.

Biology news

Discovery of expanding pectin nanofilaments that manipulate plant cell shapes

Scientists have discovered new filamentous structures within plant cell walls that influence cell growth and help build complex three-dimensional cell shapes.

Helpful interactions can keep societies stable

For half a century, scientists who have developed models of how ecological communities function have arrived at an unsettling conclusion. Their models' predictions—seen as classic tenets of community ecology—suggested that mutualistic interactions between species, such as the relationship between plants and pollinators, would lead to unstable ecosystems.

Most amphibians can glow in the dark, scientists report

Glowing amphibians may be far more common than thought, scientists reported Thursday, suggesting that the ability may help them locate each other in low light.

Scientists show how caloric restriction prevents negative effects of aging in cells

If you want to reduce levels of inflammation throughout your body, delay the onset of age-related diseases, and live longer—eat less food. That's the conclusion of a new study by scientists from the US and China that provides the most detailed report to date of the cellular effects of a calorie-restricted diet in rats. While the benefits of caloric restriction have long been known, the new results show how this restriction can protect against aging in cellular pathways, as detailed in Cell on February 27, 2020.

SNIPRs take aim at disease-related mutations

A typo appearing in the draft of a novel is no great calamity. Nature, however, is often less forgiving of errors. A change in just one letter of the genetic code can have catastrophic consequences for human health.

Researchers discover an RNA-related function for a DNA repair enzyme

After decades of speculation, researchers have demonstrated that a classical DNA repair enzyme also binds to RNA, affecting blood cell development.

How enzymes build sugar trees

Researchers have used cryo-electron microscopy to elucidate for the first time the structure and function of a very small enzyme embedded in cell membranes. This enzyme builds complex sugar trees that are subsequently attached to other membrane proteins. The findings could accelerate the development of new, protein-based medications.

Abnormal growth of bacterial cells could be linked to antimicrobial resistance

Scientists from the University of Surrey have identified mutations in a gene in an Escherichia coli (E.coli) model that could help explain a form of anti-microbial resistance (AMR) known as 'persistence."

There are two distinct red panda species, according to DNA analysis

A team of researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences has found that two varieties of red panda actually comprise two different species. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group describes the genetic study they undertook of the mammals, which are native to the Himalayas and southwestern China, and what they learned.

A molecular atlas of skin cells

Skin is protective against physical injury, radiation and microbes, and at the same time, produces hair and facilitates perspiration. Details of how skin cells manage such disparate tasks have so far remained elusive. Now, researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have systematically mapped skin cells and their genetic programs, creating a detailed molecular atlas of the skin in its complexity. The study is published today in the scientific journal Cell Stem Cell.

Anthropogenic seed dispersal: Rethinking the origins of plant domestication

The plants consumed for food have changed drastically in the 10,000 years since humans began practicing agriculture, but hominids have been intensively interacting with the plants and animals around them since before the dawn of our species. As humans became aware of the ability to modify crops through selective breeding, the evolution of new traits in plants greatly increased. However, plants have been evolving in response to human selective pressures since long before people began consciously altering them through breeding.

Metals could be the link to new antibiotics

Compounds containing metals could hold the key to the next generation of antibiotics to combat the growing threat of global antibiotic resistance.

Monogamous female sea turtles? Yes, thanks to sperm storage

Like most other species, male sea turtles will mate with any female sea turtle they can. However, when it comes to female sea turtles and mate selection, it's a little more complex. Sea turtles are known to have multiple mates, yet there is no consensus on why they do.

Bifunctional nanobodies protect against botulinum neurotoxins including Botox

A new study reveals potential for developing novel antibody-based antitoxins against botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs), including the most commonly used, yet most toxic one, Botox.

Naked mole rats migrate above ground with no help from the moon

A full moon conjures an image of a person transforming into a werewolf—a mythical story of moonlight explaining the unexplainable. While werewolves may only exist in the movies, unusual animal and human behaviors noticed under a full moon are real. Could moonlight be responsible?

Sugar-poor diets wreak havoc on bumblebee queens' health

Without enough sugar in their diets, bumblebee queens can experience difficulty reproducing and shorter lifespans.

Questions raised about of China anti-locust 'duck army' (Update)

Questions were raised Thursday about a Chinese newspaper report that the country is planning to dispatch a 100,000-strong army of ducks to help Pakistan combat a massive locust infestation.

How state-mandated pollinator plots support native bee populations

Bees—both honey bees and less famous native bees—are critical for agriculture, especially for pollinating fruits and vegetables.

Solar-powered water quality sensor could help fish farmers to monitor pollution in ponds remotely

Solar-powered water quality sensors could help fish farmers protect their aquatic assets and safeguard the future of food.

We groom dogs in our own image: The cuter they are, the harder we fall

Australians are slightly obsessed with our dogs. But are we obsessed enough to watch a reality doggy makeover show?

Roadmap to a win-win against invasive weeds

Researchers at Wits University in Johannesburg, South Africa, have created the world's first framework, to better guide the management of terrestrial invasive species.

Baldness gene discovery reveals origin of hairy alpine plants

Scientists have solved a puzzle that has long baffled botanists—why some plants on high mountainsides are hairy while their low-lying cousins are bald.

Researchers solve old biodiversity mystery

For many years, researchers have disagreed as to why some global areas have an extremely large species richness, while others have almost no species. In other words, what explains the uneven distribution of biodiversity on earth?

A tadpole with a twist: Left-right asymmetric development of Oikopleura dioica

How does a developing embryo, which is initially round, tell left from right? This basic process is still poorly understood. However, investigating unusual cases can help shed light on how this process occurs in animals. More than a century ago, German biologist Dr. H. C. Delsman described unusual left-right (L-R) patterning in the tadpole-like tunicate Oikopleura dioica. Now, researchers at Osaka University have uncovered the details of this process in O. dioica, reported in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Deep-sea creature named after Metallica

Senckenberg researcher Dr. Torben Riehl and his colleague Dr. Bart De Smet from Ghent University in Belgium have named a previously unknown species of deep-sea crustacean in honor of the band Metallica. The deep-sea scientist from Frankfurt suggested the name to pay tribute to his rock idols. At the same time, the researchers want to raise awareness. This creature has been discovered in the abyss of the northern Pacific while conducting environmental baseline studies as part of a broader environmental impact assessment for a potential future nodule extraction project. The study is being published today in the scientific journal PeerJ.

The troubled waters surrounding the Spratly Islands

New research reveals the unseen environmental damage being done to coral reefs in the hotly contested South China Sea, as China and other nations jostle for control of the disputed sea lanes.

New immunotherapeutic strategy shows promise in eradicating infectious biofilms

The same way baking soda breaks down grease and grime, making surfaces easier to clean, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) now show that a new therapeutic molecule can break apart communities of harmful bacteria, opening the way for bacteria-killing antibiotics to more effectively clear out infections.

Skin and non-adhesive cells on the skin's surface found to play pivotal role in the formation of fingers and toes

Human fingers are sculpted from a primitive pad-like structure during embryonic development. Sometimes, this process goes awry and babies are born with fused fingers or toes. A new study from the University of California, Irvine reveals new factors involved in the congenital malformation called syndactyly.

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