Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Feb 12

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Spotlight Stories Headlines

Time crystals and topological superconductors merge

Training robots to identify object placements by 'hallucinating' scenes

Huge bacteria-eating viruses close gap between life and non-life

Half of US deaths related to air pollution are linked to out-of-state emissions

VLT observations detect a low-mass companion of the young massive star MWC 297

Animal simulations and smart drug design: Nanomaterial transport to individual cells

Bubble-capturing surface helps get rid of foam

New models hint at longer timescale for Mars formation

Programming the electron biocomputer with Dopamine redox shuttles

Fossilized insect from 100 million years ago is oldest record of primitive bee with pollen

Researchers shrink laser-induced graphene for flexible electronics

Vapers show chemical changes in their genome linked to cancer

'Genetic rewiring' drives cancer's drug resistance

Local genetic adaption helps sorghum crop hide from witchweed

Casting light on the brain's inner workings

Astronomy & Space news

VLT observations detect a low-mass companion of the young massive star MWC 297

Using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, astronomers have discovered a low-mass stellar companion embedded in the disk of the young pre-main-sequence (PMS) massive star designated MWC 297. The finding is detailed in a paper published February 5 on the arXiv pre-print server.

New models hint at longer timescale for Mars formation

The early solar system was a chaotic place, with evidence indicating that Mars was likely struck by planetesimals, small protoplanets up to 1,200 miles in diameter, early in its history. Southwest Research Institute scientists modeled the mixing of materials associated with these impacts, revealing that the Red Planet may have formed over a longer timescale than previously thought.

Scientists discover the nearest-known 'baby giant planet'

Scientists from Rochester Institute of Technology have discovered a newborn massive planet closer to Earth than any other of similarly young age found to date. The baby giant planet, called 2MASS 1155-7919 b, is located in the Epsilon Chamaeleontis Association and lies only about 330 light years from our solar system.

Asteroid experts catch final glimpse of Solar Orbiter

Last night, ESA's Planetary Defence team observed the rare moment in which an object escaped our planet's gravity, in contrast to their normal objects of study—potentially hazardous rocks that could strike it.

Citizen scientists discover rare cosmic pairing

Citizen scientists have uncovered a bizarre pairing of two brown dwarfs, objects much smaller than the Sun that lack enough mass for nuclear fusion. The discovery, reported in The Astrophysical Journal and confirmed by a scientific team led by astrophysicist Jackie Faherty at the American Museum of Natural History, shows that brown dwarf systems—the formation of which are still poorly understood—can be very low mass and extremely far apart yet inexorably linked.

Astronomers discover potential near earth objects

Three astronomers from Leiden University (the Netherlands) have shown that some asteroids that are considered harmless for now can collide with the earth in the future. They did their research with the help of an artificial neural network. The results have been accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Salt water may periodically form on the surface of Mars

Briny water may form on the surface of Mars a few days per year, research by Planetary Science Institute Senior Scientist Norbert Schorghofer shows. 

Love the stars? Astronomers have a unique suggestion for Valentine's Day

Few sights are more romantic than a star-filled sky, but there are fewer and fewer places on Earth where we can still enjoy a truly dark, star-filled sky. Light pollution means we risk losing one of the most romantic spectacles in nature, so this Valentine's Day astronomers are asking the public to help show their love for the stars by making light pollution observations as part of the Globe at Night program. 

Astronomers have serious concerns about satellite constellations

Picture the space around Earth filled with tens of thousands of communications satellites. That scenario is slowly coming into being, and it has astronomers concerned. Now, a group of astronomers has written a paper outlining detailed concerns, and how all of these satellites could have a severe, negative impact on ground-based astronomy.

Ten things we've learned about the sun from NASA's SDO this decade

In February 2020, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory—SDO—is celebrating its 10th year in space. Over the past decade the spacecraft has kept a constant eye on the sun, studying how the sun creates solar activity and drives space weather—the dynamic conditions in space that impact the entire solar system, including Earth.

Hackers could shut down satellites–or turn them into weapons

Last month, SpaceX became the operator of the world's largest active satellite constellation. As of the end of January, the company had 242 satellites orbiting the planet with plans to launch 42,000 over the next decade. This is part of its ambitious project to provide internet access across the globe. The race to put satellites in space is on, with Amazon, U.K.-based OneWeb and other companies chomping at the bit to place thousands of satellites in orbit in the coming months.

Video: Lagrange mission to provide solar warning

Earth's magnetic field protects life on Earth from the intense radiation and titanic amounts of energetic material our Sun blasts in every direction. However, astronauts and satellites in space, future explorers travelling to the Moon and Mars, and infrastructure on Earth such as power grids and communication systems remain vulnerable to these violent outbursts.

Technology news

Training robots to identify object placements by 'hallucinating' scenes

With more robots now making their way into a number of settings, researchers are trying to make their interactions with humans as smooth and natural as possible. Training robots to respond immediately to spoken instructions, such as "pick up the glass, move it to the right," etc., would be ideal in many situations, as it would ultimately enable more direct and intuitive human-robot interactions. However, this is not always easy, as it requires the robot to understand a user's instructions, but also to know how to move objects in accordance with specific spatial relations.

Making 3-D printing smarter with machine learning

3-D printing is often touted as the future of manufacturing. It allows us to directly build objects from computer-generated designs, meaning industry can manufacture customized products in-house, without outsourcing parts. But 3-D printing has a high degree of error, such as shape distortion. Each printer is different, and the printed material can shrink and expand in unexpected ways. Manufacturers often need to try many iterations of a print before they get it right.

A brain implant system may become path to sight for blind

A woman who was blind for 16 years was able to see with a brain implant rather than artificial eye, and that has sparked a number of new reports about the latest progress made in exploring the sight restoring potential of brain implants.

Bridging the gap between human and machine vision

Suppose you look briefly from a few feet away at a person you have never met before. Step back a few paces and look again. Will you be able to recognize her face? "Yes, of course," you probably are thinking. If this is true, it would mean that our visual system, having seen a single image of an object such as a specific face, recognizes it robustly despite changes to the object's position and scale, for example. On the other hand, we know that state-of-the-art classifiers, such as vanilla deep networks, will fail this simple test.

Second wind: New technology to help diagnose and manage respiratory diseases

Monash University researchers in Australia have developed radical non-invasive technology that can be used to diagnose respiratory lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis and lung cancer, and potentially fast-track treatments for patients.

New air-pressure sensor could improve everyday devices

A team of mechanical engineers at Binghamton University, State University of New York investigating a revolutionary kind of micro-switch has found another application for its ongoing research.

Automated system can rewrite outdated sentences in Wikipedia articles

A system created by MIT researchers could be used to automatically update factual inconsistencies in Wikipedia articles, reducing time and effort spent by human editors who now do the task manually.

DIY tools TalkBox and SenseBox help people with disabilities to communicate

Researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) have developed do-it-yourself (DIY) assistive technology prototypes that are revolutionizing how people with disabilities can access tools that will help them interact with the world.

Boeing sounds alarm about virus impact on aviation

Boeing issued a stark warning Wednesday about the impact of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, saying there was "no question" it would hammer the aviation industry and the broader economy.

GM Korea to suspend assembly line as virus hits parts supply

The biggest US car company General Motors was caught up on Wednesday in the supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus in China when its South Korean unit announced a partial suspension of operations next week.

Esports league starts strong on ambitious global schedule

They stood, they cheered, they booed and they boozed. Turns out, esports fans in New York aren't much different from their traditional sports counterparts.

Political ad spending surges; Facebook dominates digital: survey

Political ad spending is surging for the US election, with digital campaigns—led by Facebook—accounting for nearly one-fifth of the total, researchers said Wednesday.

Create a WTO-equivalent to oversee the internet, recommends new report

The internet needs an international World Trade Organization (WTO)-style body to protect and grow it as one of the world's unique shared resources: a communications infrastructure that is open, free, safe and reliable, concludes a new report published today.

Google, EU bring battle to court

Google and the EU battled in court Wednesday as the search engine giant tried to persuade judges that it was unfairly accused of ill-treating rivals of its Shopping service.

Australia's Chief Scientist: We need to transform our world into a sustainable 'electric planet'

I want you to imagine a highway exclusively devoted to delivering the world's energy.

Something from nothing: Using waste heat to power electronics

Collecting energy from environmental waste heat such as that lost from the human body is an attractive prospect to power small electronics sustainably. A thermocell is a type of energy-harvesting device that converts environmental heat into electricity through the thermal charging effect.

The epicenter of law enforcement's battle to unlock encrypted smartphones

Inside a steel-encased vault in lower Manhattan, investigators are bombarding an Apple iPhone 7 with a jumble of numerical codes generated by nearby computers.

How kirigami can help us study the muscular activity of athletes

The upcoming Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020 represent a big opportunity for governments to promote a healthy lifestyle and sports, and the turn of the decade is a great opportunity to showcase how recent technological developments can be used to help us understand human motion during sports. In this regard, the combination of high-speed cameras and surface electromyographic sensors, which record the electromyographic activity of palm muscles, has been employed to obtain a better understanding of the fine control athletes and sportspeople exert on their palm muscles.

Deepfakes: Five ways in which they are brilliant business opportunities

A visitor to The Dalí Museum in St Petersburg, Florida presses a doorbell beside a dark life-sized screen. A darkened figure wearing a dapper suit and sporting a pencil mustache slowly leaves his easel and comes toward her into the light.

WhatsApp defends encryption as it tops 2 billion users

The Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp said Wednesday it now has more than two billion users around the world as it reaffirmed its commitment to strong encryption to protect privacy.

Audit slams safety US oversight of Southwest Airlines

The Federal Aviation Administration's lax oversight allowed Southwest Airlines to put millions of passengers at risk, according to a new audit that adds to scrutiny of the US regulator.

Study shows explosive growth in time spent streaming TV

Streaming services like Netflix or Hulu account for 19% of television viewing in the United States now for people who have that capacity, virtually double what it was less than two years ago, a report out Wednesday said.

Are robots designed to include the LGBTQ+ community?

In a new short paper in the journal Nature Machine Intelligence, Roger A. Søraa from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and co-authors Eduard Fosch-Villaronga from Leiden University in the Netherlands, and Adam Poulsen from Charles Sturt University in Australia discuss what a queering of robots might entail.

Nissan files $90 mn suit against Ghosn

Japanese car giant Nissan on Wednesday filed a civil lawsuit to reclaim some 10 billion yen ($90 million) from former chairman Carlos Ghosn for what it called "years of his misconduct and fraudulent activity".

SoftBank Group nine-month net profit down nearly 70%

Major Japanese technology investor SoftBank Group said Wednesday its net profit plunged nearly 70 percent for the nine months to December as investments in sharing economy companies including WeWork and Uber took a hit.

Google vs EU: a decade-long saga goes to court

Google and the EU have a big day in court Wednesday as the search engine giant enters a new phase of a legal saga that began a decade ago.

Nokia latest to drop out of mobile tech fair over virus

Nokia on Wednesday became the latest company to drop out of one of the world's biggest technology fairs over worries about the viral outbreak from China.

The 3-D-printed healthcare revolution

Need brain surgery? We'll get printing now.

Sprint and T-Mobile merger approved by federal judge: What it means for consumers

Sprint and T-Mobile have moved yet another step closer to a merger, and it could lead to consumers paying more for wireless plans.

Twitter follows Facebook cracking down on census misinformation

Social media company Twitter Inc. extended policies meant to protect election integrity to the U.S. Census Tuesday, saying it will prohibit posts containing false or misleading information about how to participate in the national survey.

Condition monitoring and data analysis in the cloud

In today's factories, to prevent damage to machines, sensors often trigger an alarm as soon as equipment begins to exhibit suspicious behavior—but rarely is this sensor data fully exploited. At the Hannover Messe Preview on February 12, 2020, researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK will be showing just what is possible when sensor technology is connected to a cloud platform: perfectly coordinated workflow management and the optimization of entire fleets of machine tools.

Additively manufactured rocket engine features an aerospike nozzle for microlaunchers

Microlaunchers are an alternative to conventional launch vehicles. Able to carry payloads of up to 350 kilograms, these midsized transport systems are designed to launch small satellites into space. Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material and Beam Technology IWS in Dresden and TU Dresden's aerospace experts developed an additively manufactured rocket engine with an aerospike nozzle for microlaunchers. The scaled metal prototype is expected to consume 30 percent less fuel than conventional engines. It will feature prominently at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 12 and in the showcase at booth C18 in hall 16 at the Hannover Messe from April 20 through 24, 2020.

Ford recalls over 240K vehicles to fix suspension problem

Ford is recalling over 240,000 SUVs and cars worldwide because a suspension part can fracture and increase the risk of a crash.

Facebook purges more accounts linked to Russia in new crackdown

Facebook said Wednesday it purged dozens of accounts linked to Russian military intelligence in the latest effort to root out manipulation and disinformation of the huge social network.

World Mobile Congress cancelled over coronavirus fears

Organisers of the World Mobile Congress said Wednesday they have cancelled the world's top mobile trade fair due to fears stemming from the coronavirus that sparked an exodus of industry heavyweights.

Britain starts setting up 'first internet watchdog'

The British government said Wednesday it plans to allow its broadcast regulator to police the internet and issue substantial fines when social media giants fail to remove "online harm".

Medicine & Health news

Programming the electron biocomputer with Dopamine redox shuttles

Although most neurotransmitters perform the same basic role, they are not fungible. Each takes the baton from an incoming action potential and passes the neural message across the synaptic divide, yet each flavor of transmitter adds its own unique twist. Simply put, they have completely different metabolic actions. Properly functioning brains require the eclectic services of all of them, everywhere, all the time. In nearly every remote outpocket of the brain, whether retina, olfactory bulb, or even transmitter-specific projection nuclei of the brainstem, all of the major transmitter systems can be found within each.

Vapers show chemical changes in their genome linked to cancer

Biologically important changes in DNA seen in smokers are also being found in people who vape, according to a new study published in the journal Epigenetics.

'Genetic rewiring' drives cancer's drug resistance

A tiny molecule of RNA—known as 'micro RNA' - plays a key role in 'rewiring' cancer cells so they can resist the effects of chemotherapy, a new study reveals.

Casting light on the brain's inner workings

The mammalian brain is the most complex organ in the body, capable of processing thousands of stimuli simultaneously to analyze patterns, predict changes and generate highly measured action. How the brain does all this—within fractions of a second—is still largely unknown.

Mom-to-be's cosmetics chemicals could lead to heavier baby

When pregnant women use cosmetics containing parabens, their children may have a greater likelihood of becoming overweight, a new study suggests.

Researchers stimulate areas vital to consciousness in monkeys' brains—and it wakes them up

One of the central questions in neuroscience is clarifying where in the brain consciousness, which is the ability to experience internal and external sensations, arises. On February 12 in the journal Neuron, researchers report that a specific area in the brain, the central lateral thalamus, appears to play a key role. In monkeys under anesthesia, stimulating this area was enough to wake the animals and elicit normal waking behaviors.

Absent p53, oral cancers recruit and reprogram nerves to fuel tumor growth

Loss of an important tumor-suppressing gene allows head and neck cancer to spin off signals to nearby nerves, changing their function and recruiting them to the tumor, where they fuel growth and cancer progression, researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report in the journal Nature today.

New mouse model for celiac disease to speed research on treatments

Researchers at the University of Chicago have developed the first truly accurate mouse model of celiac disease. The animals have the same genetic and immune system characteristics as humans who develop celiac after eating gluten. This provides a vital research tool for developing and testing new treatments for the disease.

Gene associated with autism also controls growth of the embryonic brain

A UCLA-led study reveals a new role for a gene that's associated with autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability and language impairment.

Research reverses the reproductive clock in mice

Researchers have lifted fertility rates in older female mice with small doses of a metabolic compound that reverses the aging process in eggs, offering hope for some women struggling to conceive.

CRISPR 'minigene' approach stops genetic liver disease in mice

A new CRISPR gene-editing technique prevented a genetic liver disease known to be driven by hundreds of different mutations and improved clinical symptoms in mice, Penn Medicine researchers reported in new proof-of-concept study published online in Science Advances. The findings suggest a promising CRISPR tool that could potentially treat patients with a rare metabolic urea-cycle disorder caused by a deficiency the enzyme, ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC), as well as other hereditary diseases triggered by different mutations on the same gene.

Designer probiotic treatment for cancer immunotherapy

Researchers at Columbia Engineering have engineered probiotics to safely deliver immunotherapies within tumors. These include nanobodies against two proven therapeutic targets—PD-L1 and CTLA-4. The drugs are continuously released by bacteria and continue to attack the tumor after just one dose, facilitating an immune response that ultimately results in tumor regression. The versatile probiotic platform can also be used to deliver multiple immunotherapies simultaneously, enabling the release of effective therapeutic combinations within the tumor for more difficult-to-treat cancers like colorectal cancer. The study is published today in Science Translational Medicine.

Team discovers new drug combo to induce high rates of human beta cell regeneration

Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have discovered a novel combination of two classes of drugs that, together, cause the highest rate of proliferation ever observed in adult human beta cells—the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin—without harming most other cells in the body. The result is an important step toward a diabetes treatment that restores the body's ability to produce insulin.

Robot assisted microsurgery passes human clinical trial

A team of researchers working at Maastricht University Medical Center in The Netherlands has assessed the capabilities of a robot that assists with microsurgeries. In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the group describes how the robot works and how well it did in its first human trial.

Cancer cells alter protein production machinery to hasten metastasis

Hormone receptor-positive breast cancer can spread throughout the body via the bloodstream as circulating tumor cells, or CTCs, which eventually reach distal (remote) body sites to form metastatic tumors. An increase in ribosomes, the protein-making machinery found in every living cell, increases their potential to form metastasis, report investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center (MGH) and Harvard Medical School (HMS).

Answers to microbiome mysteries in the gills of rainbow trout

While many immunologists use mouse models to conduct their research, J. Oriol Sunyer of Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine has made transformational scientific insights using a very different creature: rainbow trout.

Preclinical study links human gene variant to THC reward in adolescent females

A common variation in a human gene that affects the brain's reward processing circuit increases vulnerability to the rewarding effects of the main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis in adolescent females, but not males, according to preclinical research by Weill Cornell Medicine investigators. As adolescence represents a highly sensitive period of brain development with the highest risk for initiating cannabis use, these findings in mice have important implications for understanding the influence of genetics on cannabis dependence in humans.

MAiD is not driven by socioeconomic vulnerability or poor access to palliative care

A new study of people who received medical assistance in dying (MAiD) in Ontario found that about three-quarters were cared for by palliative care practitioners at the time of their request for MAiD, and MAiD recipients were younger, wealthier and more likely to be married than the general population at time of death. These findings dispel concerns that MAiD requests are driven by lack of access to palliative care services or by socioeconomic vulnerabilities.The article is published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) along with a related editorial.

Foot-and-mouth-disease virus could help target the deadliest cancer

The foot-and-mouth-disease virus is helping scientists to tackle a common cancer with the worst survival rate—pancreatic cancer.

Telemedicine helps pregnant women tackle taboo issue

Sarah, a military veteran living on the coast of South Carolina, knew she had a problem. The opioids prescribed for her pain were becoming a headache of their own.

Frailty can affect how well older adults fare following emergency surgery

Frailty is the medical term for becoming weaker or experiencing lower levels of activity/energy. Becoming frail as we age increases our risk for poor health, falls, disability, and other serious concerns. This can be especially true for older people facing surgery, up to half of whom are classified as frail.

Postmenopause vitamin D deficiency associated with disc degeneration and lower back pain

Lumbar disc degeneration and resulting lower back pain become greater concerns with age and disproportionately affect women more than men, likely as a result of decreasing estrogen levels during menopause. A new study demonstrates that vitamin D deficiency, smoking, high body mass index (BMI), and osteoporosis are risk factors for greater back pain. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Japan cruise ship virus cases climb to 174

Another 39 people aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan have tested positive for the new coronavirus, authorities said Wednesday, as thousands more steel themselves for a second week in quarantine.

Global experts study promising drugs, vaccines for new virus

The World Health Organization convened outside experts Tuesday to try to speed the development of tests, treatments and vaccines against the new coronavirus, as doctors on the front lines experiment on patients with various drugs in hopes of saving lives in the meantime.

Indonesia criticises US study concerns over no coronavirus cases

Indonesia has criticised a US study questioning why the world's fourth most populous nation had not yet recorded a case of coronavirus, calling the findings an insult and insisting it was on high alert.

China sees hope in virus 'war' as deaths top 1,100

China's leadership touted "positive results" Wednesday from efforts to contain the new coronavirus epidemic, but warned it still faced a "large-scale war" against the outbreak as the death toll passed 1,100.

Surprise! One in five Americans hit with unexpected bills after surgery

One in five Americans who undergo elective surgery receive surprise bills—despite their insurance covering the procedure—researchers said Tuesday, with the average debt around $2,000.

'Exhausted': Doctors at China's virus epicentre overworked and unprotected

Doctors on the frontline of China's new coronavirus epidemic are facing a daunting task: treat an ever-growing number of infected patients and risk getting infected themselves due to a drastic shortage of masks and other protective equipment.

2 patients in Russia with COVID-19 have fully recovered

Two Chinese nationals hospitalized with COVID-19 in Russia last month have fully recovered from the disease and were discharged from hospitals this week, officials said.

Nutrition a key ingredient for psychological health in Canadian adults

A new study investigating factors that contribute to psychological distress in adults has found that that risk of malnourishment is linked to psychological distress among Canadians aged 45 years and older.

Genetics enhance sex's role as a stroke, heart attack risk factor

Genetics enhances the role sex plays in determining risk for stroke and heart attack in healthy middle-aged adults (ages 40 to 60), according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Blacks, Hispanics of Caribbean descent have higher stroke risk than white neighbors

Both Blacks and Hispanics of Caribbean descent living in Northern Manhattan have a significantly higher risk of stroke than their non-Hispanic, white neighbors, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Damaged eye vessels may indicate higher stroke risk for adults with diabetes

Damaged small blood vessels in the eye may be a marker for increased stroke risk among people with diabetes, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Developing seizures after stroke may increase risk of death, disability

Seizures may be linked to a higher risk of death or disability in adults who have had a severe ischemic stroke, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Golfing regularly could be a hole-in-one for older adults' health

Regularly golfing—at least once per month—was found to lower the risk of death among older adults, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Gum disease, inflammation, hardened arteries may be linked to stroke risk

Gum disease was associated with a higher rate of strokes caused by hardening of large arteries in the brain and also with severe artery blockages that haven't yet caused symptoms, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Moving later in life may not lower cognitive decline linked to Stroke Belt

People who spent their childhood or early adulthood in the Stroke Belt are more likely to develop cognitive impairment later in life, even if they have moved away, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

New model may help predict stroke risk in adults with migraine and aura

Researchers have developed a simple risk score prediction model to help determine stroke risk in adults who experience migraine accompanied by aura, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Optimism reduces stroke severity, inflammation

Stroke survivors with high levels of optimism had lower inflammation levels, reduced stroke severity and less physical disability after three months, compared to those who are less optimistic, according to preliminary research presented at the Nursing Symposium of the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 18-21 in Los Angeles. The conference is a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Portable MRIs bring diagnostics to stroke patients' bedside

A portable, low-field Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) system may become a safe and practical way to get accurate brain images at a patient's bedside, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Sex hormone-related protein levels may impact stroke risk in women

Low levels of a protein that binds to and transports sex hormones in the blood may indicate women who have a higher risk of ischemic stroke, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Shingles vaccine may also reduce stroke risk

Shingles, a viral infection caused by the chickenpox virus, is linked to an increased risk of stroke. A new study found that Zoster Vaccine Live, one type of shingles vaccination, may prevent some older adults from having a stroke, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Smoking rates falling in adults, but stroke survivors' smoking rates remain steady

While the rate of Americans who smoke tobacco has fallen steadily and significantly over the last two decades, the rate of stroke survivors who smoke has not changed significantly, according to preliminary research to be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Stimulation of nerve cluster during stroke may have beneficial effects

In patients unable to have the clots that caused their stroke dissolved or removed, a promising new stimulation treatment that increases blood flow to the brain may become an option, according to two preliminary studies to be presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 19-21 in Los Angeles, a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health. Researchers also found the treatment improved hand strength in those with minor strokes and may decrease disability in patients with severe stroke.

Cracking the code for hookworm infestation

Hookworms infect nearly around 700 million people in the world, mostly in countries where sanitation is poor, and people often walk barefoot.

Gay and bisexual men have higher rate of skin cancer

In the largest study of skin cancer rates among gay, lesbian or bisexual individuals, investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital report important differences in skin cancer prevalence among sexual minorities. Rates of skin cancer were higher among gay and bisexual men compared to heterosexual men but lower among bisexual women than heterosexual women. These findings, which were possible because of the sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) module built into a national system of surveys, have implications for patient education and community outreach initiatives focused on reducing skin cancer risk. They also have implications for the design of future nationwide surveys. Results are published in JAMA Dermatology.

Sleep problems in children, teens with autism are focus of new AAN guideline

It is not uncommon for children and teens with autism spectrum disorder to struggle with sleep. Trouble falling asleep and staying asleep or refusing to go to bed are just some of the sleep problems they can experience. To help families, neurologists and other healthcare providers make decisions on the best treatments, the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) has issued a new guideline for sleep problems in children and teens with autism, published in the February 12, 2020, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Heart rate measurements of wearable monitors vary by activity, not skin color

Biomedical engineers at Duke University have demonstrated that while different wearable technologies, like smart watches and fitness trackers, can accurately measure heart rate across a variety of skin tones, the accuracy between devices begins to vary wildly when they measure heart rate during different types of everyday activities.

Doctors and pharmacists need to develop trusting relationships, study finds

General practitioners (GPs) and pharmacists work best together when they understand and value one another's expertise, according to a new study by researchers at the Centre for Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol.

Expert says coronavirus likely now 'gathering steam'

The number of confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus have continued to surge inside China, sickening tens of thousands, with a death toll of more than 1,000. But outside the Asian giant the numbers remain a fraction of that, a trend Harvard's Marc Lipsitch views with suspicion. Lipsitch thinks it is just a matter of time before the virus spreads widely internationally, which means nations so far only lightly hit should prepare for its eventual arrival in force and what may seem like the worst flu season in modern times. Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and head of the School's Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics, talked to the Gazette about recent developments in the outbreak and provided a look ahead.

Looking for love on a dating app? You might be falling for a ghost

Consider the moments you have fallen in love.

Expensive new wound treatment method no more effective than cheap standard dressings

A new method of treating wounds after major trauma costing nearly £150 per dressing may be no more effective in reducing infections than a standard wound dressing priced under £2, a new clinical trial involving the University of Warwick has found.

The silent threat of the coronavirus: America's dependence on Chinese pharmaceuticals

As the new coronavirus, called 2019-nCoV, spreads rapidly around the globe, the international community is scrambling to keep up. Scientists rush to develop a vaccine, policymakers debate the most effective containment methods, and health care systems strain to accommodate the growing number of sick and dying. Though it may sound like a scene from the 2011 movie "Contagion," it is actually an unfolding reality.

Decreasing liver macrophages reduces inflammatory proteins in rats

Certain white blood cells, called macrophages, occur in higher numbers in older individuals and contribute to inflammation and oxidative stress that accelerate the aging process, according to a team of researchers. New findings suggest that macrophages can be altered to become less inflammatory, which may aid in improving the life span of aged individuals.

Can low IVF success be reversed with new insights into egg cell aging?

A UNSW researcher explores the biology of infertility, and explains how a recent study in mice contributes to our understanding of reproductive aging, with the aim of improving IVF success rates in humans.

Less than a quarter of at-risk adolescent boys ever get tested for HIV

Less than one in four adolescent men who have sex with men (AMSM) ever get tested for HIV, research funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), part of the National Institutes of Health, has reported. The study, led by Brian Mustanski, Ph.D., of Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, appeared today in the journal Pediatrics.

Making antidepressants safer for people with suicide risk

The people who could benefit most from the newest antidepressant therapies—those at risk for suicide—are most often excluded from the clinical trials that test those drugs for safety and efficacy, according to new research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

Modernize scope of practice for health-care professionals, researchers say

Around the country, the collective voice of eight directors of health workforce research centers came together to call for a reforming of laws and regulations that limit the practice of health professionals.

Fewer steroids, no plasma exchange: A change in treatment for vasculitis

A decade-spanning trial found that for patients with antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis, two common methods of treatment actually do not have an impact on their long-term survival. The study, called PEXIVAS, was co-led by Peter A. Merkel, MD, MPH, chief of Rheumatology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and was the largest ever conducted in vasculitis. It demonstrated that survival and progression to kidney failure (with the need for dialysis) for patients with ANCA-associated vasculitis remained virtually unchanged whether or not they underwent plasma exchange or if they took approximately half the typically prescribed dosage of oral glucocorticoids—which are commonly referred to as "steroids." The study was published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Fall in new cases raises hope in virus outbreak in China

The number of new cases of the coronavirus in China dropped for a second straight day, health officials said Wednesday in a possible glimmer of hope amid the outbreak that has infected over 45,000 people worldwide and killed more than 1,100.

Why sequencing the human genome failed to produce big breakthroughs in disease

An emergency room physician, initially unable to diagnose a disoriented patient, finds on the patient a wallet-sized card providing access to his genome, or all his DNA. The physician quickly searches the genome, diagnoses the problem and sends the patient off for a gene-therapy cure. That's what a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist imagined 2020 would look like when she reported on the Human Genome Project back in 1996.

A 4-step maintenance plan to help keep your relationship going strong

Early on, relationships are easy. Everything is new and exciting. You go on dates, take trips, spend time together and intentionally cultivate experiences that allow your relationship to grow.

Cleaner hands make healthcare healthier

One of the simplest and most effective health measures that can prevent illnesses from spreading is basic hygiene, such as handwashing. Hand hygiene prevents the spread of germs and bacteria through person-to-person contact but also keeps them off items like door handles and phones that are often touched.

Instant prescriptions: We need to manage the risks before we jump in

Digital technology is making access to health care easier than ever before. Multiple websites and apps allow consumers to consult general practitioners (GPs) and pharmacists from any location, at any time.

Coronavirus 'infodemic': How to cut through the noise

The novel coronavirus that has so far killed more than 1,100 people now has a name – COVID-19.

Cigarette smokers often reject electronic cigarettes, study shows

Not wanting to substitute one addictive product for another was cited as a major reason why U.S. smokers who have never used electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) rejected them as a means to quit cigarettes, according to a study by tobacco researchers from Georgia State University's School of Public Health.

Patients with challenging cancers to benefit from genomic sequencing

More than 1,000 Victorian cancer patients are set to benefit from real-time genomic testing in the next three years, aiming to improve diagnosis and provide more targeted and effective treatments for cancers of unmet need.

Depression linked to low sports activity

From a friendly game of soccer to sweating it solo in the gym, most of us know that exercise is good for our health. But beyond the obvious physical benefits, research led by UniSA expert in sports sociology Dr. Katja Siefken shows that sport can also protect us from developing serious mental health disorders.

Family members are swiping hospice patients' painkillers

In another sign of just how bad the U.S. opioid abuse epidemic has become, a new study finds family members often steal painkillers from dying relatives in hospice care.

Find social media frustrating? Try empathy

Does social media make you happier… or more frustrated?

EpiPens still costly despite generic alternatives, other reforms

If Meg White ever got stung by a bee, her EpiPen could ultimately save her life.

Many teens are victims of digital dating abuse, boys get the brunt of it

With February being Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, new research is illuminating how this problem is manifesting online. "Digital dating abuse" as it has been termed, uses technology to repetitively harass a romantic partner with the intent to control, coerce, intimidate, annoy or threaten them. Given that youth in relationships today are constantly in touch with each other via texting, social media and video chat, more opportunities for digital dating abuse can arise.

Chatting on a mobile phone changes the way people walk on stairs

Multitasking young people unconsciously change the way they walk when going up or down a flight of stairs while talking on their mobile phone at the same time, a study has found.

How nutrition education can make a difference to people with HIV in Nigeria

HIV and AIDS are still global health problems and sub-Saharan Africa remains the most affected region. Globally, around 770,000 people died from AIDS-related conditions in 2018, 160,000 of them in West and Central Africa.

Algorithms for identifying new 'cancer genes'

It is estimated that the number of cancer cases worldwide will double by 2040. This makes the search for genes that cause cancer even more important. A team of researchers from the University of Bern and Inselspital, University Hospital Bern, has now developed algorithms that massively simplify the hunt for "cancer genes" in a poorly understood part of our genome.

Can we trust AI not to further embed racial health inequalities?

Heralded as an easy fix for health services under pressure, data technology is marching ahead unchecked. But is there a risk it could compound inequalities, asks journalist Poppy Noor in The BMJ today?

Scientists investigate a special form of RNA in the brain suspected of playing a key role in mental illness

In Biology 101 you were taught that inside each cell, tiny strands of a molecule called RNA "transcribe" the genetic code in your DNA, the first step in the process of building the proteins that make up your body.

A brain circuit that could indicate the risk of developing Alzheimer's

Late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD), the one that appears after age 65, is the most common form of this neurodegenerative disease and accounts for more than 90% of cases. The first brain changes associated with the disease may appear years before the first symptoms, but the lack of clear risk markers complicates the application of the appropriate prevention strategies for those that are more vulnerable.

Researchers describe new condition involving numerous GI polyps in cancer survivors

In a paper published online today, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers provide new details about a recently discovered condition in which childhood cancer survivors develop numerous colorectal growths called polyps despite not having a hereditary susceptibility to the condition.

Prolonged use of hormone therapy may minimize muscle loss associated with aging

Skeletal muscle mass and strength are critical in helping prevent falls, fractures, and disability. Yet, they continue to decline during the menopause transition. A new study showed that the prolonged use (defined as ≥13 mo) of hormone therapy (HT) was associated with higher muscle mass and less chance of sarcopenia. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

High BMI may cut overall survival in HER2+, metastatic breast cancer

(HealthDay)—For patients with human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive (HER2+) metastatic breast cancer (mBC) treated with pertuzumab and/or trastuzumab emtansine (T-DM1), a body mass index (BMI) of ≥30 kg/m² is associated with worse overall survival but does not affect progression-free survival to first-line chemotherapy (PFS1), according to a study published online Jan. 15 in the Journal of Cellular Physiology.

Young cancer survivors at higher risk for hospitalization

(HealthDay)—Adolescent and young adult (AYA) cancer survivors (aged 15 to 39 years) have an increased risk for inpatient hospitalization, according to a study published online Jan. 20 in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Rates of liver disease high among world trade center responders

(HealthDay)—World Trade Center (WTC) responders have a three times higher rate of liver disease compared with non-WTC responders, according to a study recently published in Clinical Imaging.

Coronavirus in America: Keep your panic in check

(HealthDay)—A deadly virus that's surging through a foreign country makes its way into the United States, carried into this country by an unwitting traveler.

In small study, no sign that coronavirus can be passed to baby during pregnancy

(HealthDay)—There's some good news about the new coronavirus: Preliminary research suggests that the virus cannot be transmitted from an infected pregnant woman to the fetus.

Stroke survivors might need better screening for depression

Depression among stroke survivors peaks during the early months of recovery and persists for a full year, a new study finds. Experts say better screening methods are needed for this population to more effectively prevent and treat depression.

Children's fingertip injuries could signal abuse

Many children who suffer fingertip injuries have been abused, according to a Rutgers study. The researchers found that children who had a documented history of abuse or neglect were 23 percent more likely to suffer a fingertip injury before age 12.

New drug leads could battle brain-eating amoebae

Brain-eating amoebae can cause particularly harmful forms of encephalitis, and more than 95% of people who develop these rare but devastating infections die. Despite the high mortality rate, there is currently no single effective drug available to fight these microbes. Now, however, researchers have designed some new compounds that show promise in the laboratory as treatments, according to a report in ACS Chemical Neuroscience.

Researchers identify privacy law gaps in high school STI health services

Without addressing these gaps, collaboration between schools (operating under FERPA) and health departments (operating under HIPAA) can compromise student privacy.

Early treatment of schizophrenia may not slow disease progression

Stony Brook University-led study reveals that, despite the common view that early intervention in schizophrenia slows or stops mental decline, those who receive early intervention eventually experience the same declines as those whose treatment started later. The finding, published online in The American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that studies of schizophrenia should take into account how long study participants have been symptomatic, otherwise treatments may appear more effective than they actually are.

Component of human breast milk enhances cognitive development in babies

Maternal factors, such as breast milk, have been shown to affect a baby's development, and previous animal studies have determined that a carbohydrate, the oligosaccharide 2'FL found in maternal milk, positively influences neurodevelopment. Now, in the first study done in humans, investigators at Children's Hospital Los Angeles in collaboration with the University of California, San Diego, have shown that 2'FL found in breast milk enhances cognitive development. Findings will be published in PLOS ONE on Feb 12.

Researchers find test to ID children at higher risk for cystic fibrosis liver disease

A major multi-center investigation of children with cystic fibrosis has identified a test that allows earlier identification of those at risk for cystic fibrosis liver disease.

Multi-center neuroimaging study offers new insights on schizophrenia

What if the key to a better understanding of schizophrenia has been here all along—but researchers haven't had the resources to study it?

What would it take to make FMT mainstream? Two publications consider the opportunities

Many of the microbes that live in your gut are also found in your stool, and fecal microbiota transplants (FMTs) are being studied to determine whether they can improve health outcomes in patients with various diseases such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. However, it is important to recognize that FMT does carry some risk such as bloodstream infections and the transmission of drug-resistant bacteria. Furthermore, FMT treatment for most microbiome-associated diseases has not been rigorously studied in humans—and any such studies would be subject to regulation by the Food and Drug Administration. In a pair of forums publishing February 12 in the journal Cell Host & Microbe, clinicians and an FDA scientist detail some areas of FMT research that could facilitate the development of safe and effective FMT therapies for patients.

AJR: Smartphone, laptop prove reliable and accurate for acute ischemic stroke decision

Mobile devices proved both reliable and accurate for the clinical decision to administer IV thrombolysis in patients with acute stroke, according to an ahead-of-print article in the April issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR).

Scientists find ally in fight against brain tumors: Ebola

Glioblastomas are relentless, hard-to-treat, and often lethal brain tumors. Yale scientists have enlisted a most unlikely ally in efforts to treat this form of cancer—elements of the Ebola virus.

Researchers develop 'multitasking' AI tool to extract cancer data in record time

As the second-leading cause of death in the United States, cancer is a public health crisis that afflicts nearly one in two people during their lifetime. Cancer is also an oppressively complex disease. Hundreds of cancer types affecting more than 70 organs have been recorded in the nation's cancer registries—databases of information about individual cancer cases that provide vital statistics to doctors, researchers, and policymakers.

WHO says 'way too early' to predict end of novel coronavirus

The UN health agency on Wednesday cautioned it was "way too early" to say whether COVID-19 might have peaked or when it might end, following a drop in new cases.

More stroke awareness, better eating habits may help reduce stroke risk for young adult African-Americans

Young African American adults are experiencing higher rates of stroke compared to others due to high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, yet their perception of their stroke risk is low, according to preliminary research to be presented at the Nursing Symposium of the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2020—Feb. 18-21 in Los Angeles. The conference is a world premier meeting for researchers and clinicians dedicated to the science of stroke and brain health.

Bat for sale at Indonesia's wildlife market despite virus warning

Bats, rats and snakes are still being sold at an Indonesian market known for its wildlife offerings, despite a government request to take them off the menu over fears of a link to the deadly coronavirus.

Getting curious about curiosity

In a world increasingly driven by technology, human skills are becoming more important.

Keeping health professionals in remote communities

A research team has defined what it will take to keep health professionals in remote communities in a recent paper published in BMC's Human Resources for Health.

Finnish doctors and nurses dissatisfied with usability of electronic health record systems

According to a recent study, nurses' and physicians' views on what aspect of the systems should be developed differ from each other, however

Africa is way behind the curve in managing heart disease: Here's a new approach

The burden of noncommunicable diseases in sub-Saharan African is growing because of factors such as demographic changes and increases in life expectancy. These diseases include heart attacks, stroke, cancer, respiratory diseases and diabetes.

Time spent watching television does not replace physical activity for Finnish men – unlike for Finnish women

A large proportion of highly active men watch more television than their low-active peers do. In contrast, highly active women watch less television than low-active women do.

Massachusetts sues Juul over e-cigarette marketing tactics

Massachusetts sued electronic cigarette giant Juul Labs Inc. on Wednesday, accusing the company of deliberately targeting young people through its marketing campaigns.

Gene therapy prevents disorders with alcohol exposure in ALDH2 deficiency

A new study has shown that gene therapy to treat one of the most common hereditary disorders, aldehyde dehydrogenase type 2 (ALDH2) deficiency, may prevent increased risk for esophageal cancer and osteoporosis associated with chronic alcohol exposure. The study, performed in a mouse model of ALDH2, is published in Human Gene Therapy.

How much stress are Germany's eSports players under?

"The stresses and strains reported by eSports players do not differ much from those felt among the general public." These are the findings of the second eSport study of the German Sport University Cologne which was presented on 12 February 2020 in Cologne. After the first eSport study last year focused on a comprehensive picture of training and health behaviour, this year's survey focuses on the topics "well-being" and "recovery."

ACC, Hearthero to advance out-of-hospital cardiac arrest treatment

The American College of Cardiology and HeartHero have formed an alliance to make a significant impact on survival rates after sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) and further ACC's mission to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health through HeartHero's innovative portable automated external defibrillator (AED) technology. While ACC is involved in other innovation relationships, this is the College's first and only vested relationship with a device company.

UN: Congo's Ebola outbreak slows but still global emergency

The World Health Organization said although signs are now "extremely positive" in Congo that the Ebola outbreak is winding down, the epidemic remains a global health emergency.

EU seeks better coordination to tackle coronavirus

European Union nations will on Thursday discuss ways to increase cooperation in a bid to tackle the threat posed by the coronavirus which has killed over 1,100 people in China and spread to several EU member states.

US health authority shipped faulty coronavirus test kits across country

A number of test kits sent out by US health authorities to labs across the country to diagnose the deadly novel coronavirus are faulty, a senior official said Wednesday.

New data shows rising repeat ER visits for opioid-related emergencies

The emergency department is being increasingly utilized as a patient's best or only treatment option for opioid use disorder (OUD). New analysis in Annals of Emergency Medicine shows that the prevalence of patients who visited emergency departments at four Indiana hospital systems for repeat opioid-related emergencies jumped from 8.8 percent of all opioid-related visits in 2012 to 34.1 percent in 2017—nearly a four-fold increase in just five years.

Biology news

Huge bacteria-eating viruses close gap between life and non-life

Scientists have discovered hundreds of unusually large, bacteria-killing viruses with capabilities normally associated with living organisms, blurring the line between living microbes and viral machines.

Local genetic adaption helps sorghum crop hide from witchweed

Sorghum crops in areas where the agricultural parasite striga, also known as witchweed, is common are more likely to have genetic adaptations to help them resist the parasite, according to new research led by Penn State scientists. Changes to the LGS1 gene affect some of the crop's hormones, making it harder for parasites to find in the soil, at least in some regions. The changes, however, may come at a cost, affecting photosynthesis-related systems and perhaps growth. The new study by an international team of researchers appears online February 11, 2020, in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and may eventually inform strategies for managing the parasite.

Researchers identify new 'universal' target for antiviral treatment

As the coronavirus outbreak shows, viruses are a constant threat to humanity. Vaccines are regularly developed and deployed against specific viruses, but that process takes a lot of time, doesn't help everyone who needs protection, and still leaves people exposed to new outbreaks and new viruses.

Antibiotics discovered that kill bacteria in a new way

A new group of antibiotics with a unique approach to attacking bacteria has been discovered, making it a promising clinical candidate in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.

Anatomical details of rare electric fish revealed by an advanced imaging technique

In an article published in the journal PLOS ONE, a group of researchers supported by FAPESP has updated the description of the Ghost knifefish, Tembeassu marauna, a neotropical electric fish species found only once in the wild.

Control of a mitochondrial protective mechanism identified

Mitochondria are essential for normal functioning of almost all cells, since they are the main production sites of the energy-carrying molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In addition, mitochondria are the key sites of biosynthesis of various proteins, lipids, nucleotides and signaling molecules. Interestingly, mitochondria appear to descend from bacteria that were incorporated into cells and put into their service early during biological evolution.

Technology takes a step forward in genetic research

New research brings combined computational and laboratory genome engineering a step closer following the design of smaller and smaller genomes, to advance genetic manipulation, using supercomputers by researchers at the University of Bristol.

A less-contentious alternative to biodiversity offsetting

A new approach to compensate for the impact of development may be an effective alternative to biodiversity offsetting—and help nations achieve international biodiversity targets.

Dairy cattle found to have less stable personality traits during puberty

A team of researchers at the University of British Columbia has found that dairy cattle have less stable personality traits during puberty. In their paper published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, the group describes experiments they carried out with dairy cattle and what they learned.

Lane change in the cytoskeleton

Many amphibians and fish are able to change their color in order to better adapt to their environment. Munich-based scientists have now investigated the molecular mechanisms in the cytoskeleton necessary for this and revealed potential evolutionary paths.

New discovery: Madagascar's bizarre aye-aye has six fingers on each hand

The aye-aye is one of nature's most fascinatingly bizarre creatures. Native to Madagascar, this lemur is the largest nocturnal primate in the world and has unique features that set it apart. It has bat‐like ears that allow it to echo-locate and rodent-like ever-growing incisors—both unique among primates.

Polar bears in Baffin Bay skinnier, having fewer cubs due to less sea ice

Polar bears are spending more time on land than they did in the 1990s due to reduced sea ice, new University of Washington-led research shows. Bears in Baffin Bay are getting thinner and adult females are having fewer cubs than when sea ice was more available.

Human language most likely evolved gradually

One of the most controversial hypotheses for the origin of the human language faculty is the evolutionary conjecture that language arose instantaneously in humans through a single gene mutation. `

One-third of plant and animal species could be gone in 50 years, study says

Accurately predicting biodiversity loss from climate change requires a detailed understanding of what aspects of climate change cause extinctions, and what mechanisms may allow species to survive.

Algae team rosters could help ID 'super corals'

U.S. and Australian researchers have found a potential tool for identifying "super corals" that can tolerate a limited amount of climate change.

Bacteriophages may play a role in childhood stunting... and be able to help treat it

New research spearheaded by McGill University has discovered that bacteriophages (viruses that infect bacteria) found in the intestinal tracts of children may play a role in childhood stunting, a significant impediment to growth that affects 22% of children under the age of five around the world.

Tiny Dancer: Scientists spy on booty-shaking bees to help conservation

We've long known honey bees shake their behinds to communicate the location of high-value flower patches to one another, a form of signaling that scientists refer to as "waggle dances."

Small marsupials in Australia may struggle to adjust to a warming climate

Numerous questions remain unanswered as to how the planet's species will respond to climate change. A new paper in the journal Frontiers in Physiology suggests that at least one species of marsupial "mice" may struggle to adapt to a warming world.

Asian carp roundup in Kentucky opens new front in battle

Like a slow-motion, underwater cattle drive, wildlife officials in a half-dozen aluminum boats used pulses of electricity and sound on a recent gray morning to herd schools of Asian carp toward 1,000-foot-long (305 meters) nets.

Monitoring organs and cells in living fly larvae

Small changes in a cell's composition can radically transform its function and drive the development of diseases like diabetes, cancer or neuronal dysfunction. Scientists led by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, the Institute for Genetics of the University of Cologne, the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, and CECAD and the CMMC in Cologne have developed a method to study processes taking place in the cells of a living fruit fly larva. This technique, published in Nature Protocols on 10 February, provides a simple but effective way to study the functions of organs in living animals.

Penguins starving as Antarctica warms: Drones help count the losses

Elephant Island, Antarctica—Yang Liu packs his drone, puts on his hiking boots, and dons a life vest before climbing into the inflatable boat that will take him and a team of researchers to a small island 150 miles off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Bacteria under the microscope: A new growth model for tuberculosis

For centuries, scientists have peered down the lens of a microscope and watched as bacteria – some circular, others rod-shaped – multiply before their eyes. Yet, much about the details of how cells grow and divide is still hidden, in part because the technology to resolve this process is lacking. A team of engineers, biologists, and physicists at EPFL have now used a combination of state-of-the-art microscopes to uncover new insights into the growth of mycobacteria, a family that includes the bacillus responsible for tuberculosis. The process, described in a paper in Nature Communications, could play a part in antibiotic resistance and other bacterial defense mechanisms.

Vertebral size and shape potentially linked to generalized back problems

According to a multidisciplinary study at the University of Oulu, contemporary Finns' vertebrae have not grown in the same proportion to body size compared to people who lived 200 to 500 years ago. The smaller size of vertebrae may be linked to contemporary back problems.

Bringing public health to the forefront in gene set enrichment analysis

Gene set enrichment analysis is integral to the study of genomics, allowing researchers to interpret data collected at the level of single genes by their collective involvement in biological pathways. However, the assessment and comparison of such methods has been generally ad hoc and lacking in data related to public health.

Marvelous mycorrhizae: The fungal networks that boost food production

It's the end of a long, dry growing season. The earth is parched, soils have turned to dust and hungry birds have eaten the bulk of the crop, leaving next to nothing for the harvest. Perhaps expanding the field by cutting down nearby trees could help increase food supply? The soils there are full of nutrients and would offer a good chance of securing food for next year…

Bacteria genes help researchers keep track of human environmental impact in oceans

The gene expression of marine bacteria can be a valuable sensor for discovering environmental changes caused by humans. Furthermore, bacteria help to clean our oceans and hopefully they could be used to purify drinking water from harmful environmental toxins in the future. This is shown in a new dissertation in marine microbial ecology by Christofer Osbeck at Linnaeus University.

Taming age survival of Asian elephants three times higher than in the 1970s—certain calves still more at risk

Researchers from the University of Turku (UTU) in Finland, and veterinarians from the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE) in Myanmar have investigated the trends behind Asian elephant calf mortality during the taming period. They found that calves that were younger at the onset of taming and those with less experienced mothers were more likely to die during taming. Calf mortality in taming age was notably higher than that of wild elephants of the same age. The results of the study were published in the esteemed Scientific Reports journal.

Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria

In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender. This has been shown by researchers from the University of Copenhagen in a new study which has studied skin samples from knees and hips. The researchers hope it is a step in the direction of a better understanding of why skin disorders occur.

How plants in the cabbage family look inward when sulfur is scarce

New research from Kyushu University in Japan provides a better understanding of how chemicals thought to impart unique health benefits to plants in the cabbage family are broken down to promote growth in conditions lacking sufficient sulfur, and could aid in the future development of broccoli and cabbage that are even healthier for you.

How roots find their way to water

Plants use their roots to search for water. While the main root digs downwards, a large number of fine lateral roots explore the soil on all sides. As researchers from Nottingham, Heidelberg and Goethe University of Frankfurt report in the current issue of Nature Plants, the lateral roots already "know" very early on where they can find water.

Pea instead of soy in animal feed

By far the largest proportion of soybeans grown worldwide is used for animal feed. This is particularly problematic because soybean cultivation inflicts massive environmental damage on supplier countries. The Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) is therefore currently researching domestic alternatives as part of the SilaToast project. This project is conducted jointly with the Saxon State Office for the Environment, Agriculture and Geology (LfULG), with the aim of determining what special handling alternative feedstuffs will require to equal the nutritional value of soybeans.

Pollinating opossums confirm decades-long theory

In Brazil there is a plant so strange that researchers predicted—and 27 years later, proved—that opossums are key to its pollination. The findings are published in the Ecological Society of America's journal Ecology.

New technique reduces pathogen identification time from two weeks to less than one hour

Transmitted by insects, especially the aster leafhopper, aster yellows (AY) outbreaks can cause severe production losses in many crops, including carrots, lettuce, and canola. Canola is a billion-dollar crop for Canada but the growing season in Western Canada is very short. Depending on the environmental conditions and number of infected leafhoppers, AY can be transmitted to canola in less than 24 hours and the leafhoppers can continue spreading the disease for the rest of their lives.

How bird flocks with multiple species behave like K-pop groups

Birds of a feather don't always flock together: Peer into a forest canopy, and you will likely spot multiple bird species flying and feeding together, a phenomenon most spectacular in the Amazon where 50 species may travel as a unit. But are birds in these mixed flocks cooperating with one another or competing?

Protecting redundancy in the food web helps ensure ecological resilience

In 2014, a disease of epidemic proportions gripped the West Coast of the U.S. You may not have noticed, though, unless you were underwater.

The challenges and opportunities of inclusive conservation in Salonga

Within the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in an area so remote that it can only be accessed by water or air, lies the Salonga National Park.

Invasive species that threaten biodiversity on the Antarctic Peninsula are identified

Invasive species are non-native ones that are introduced into a new habitat and are able to adapt to it, displacing indigenous species or causing them to go extinct. This threat is increased by the fact that people and things are constantly moving all over the world, and this is one of the main causes of biodiversity worldwide. Though it is uninhabited, Antarctica is not free from this problem. Due to scientific activity and growing tourism in Antarctica, especially on the Antarctic Peninsula, there is a high risk of invasive species coming into this habitat and killing off indigenous species in the area.

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