Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Feb 26

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Spotlight Stories Headlines

Building ultrasensitive and ultrathin phototransistors and photonic synapses using hybrid superstructures

A language generation system that can compose creative poetry

Overlooked arch in the foot is key to its evolution and function

Firefox unveils major security upgrade: DoH protocol boosts user privacy

Thermonuclear X-ray bursts and dips detected from the X-ray binary 4U 1323-62

Study identifies a transition in the strong nuclear force that illuminates the structure of a neutron star's core

Complex local conditions keep fields of dunes from going active all at once

Ancient meteorite site on Earth could reveal new clues about Mars' past

New app takes you out of the picture

Method with polarized light can create and measure nonsymmetrical states in a layered material

Parasitic worms have armies, and produce more soldiers when needed

Babies from bilingual homes switch attention faster

Deaf moths evolved noise-cancelling scales to evade predators

Seagulls favor food humans have handled

Scientists develop enzyme produced from agricultural waste for use as laundry detergent

Astronomy & Space news

Thermonuclear X-ray bursts and dips detected from the X-ray binary 4U 1323-62

Using the AstroSat satellite, astronomers have investigated a low-mass X-ray binary (LMXB) known as 4U 1323-62, reporting the detection of thermonuclear X-ray bursts and dips from the source. The discovery was presented in a paper published February 19 on the arXiv pre-print repository.

Ancient meteorite site on Earth could reveal new clues about Mars' past

Scientists have devised new analytical tools to break down the enigmatic history of Mars' atmosphere—and whether life was once possible there.

Turbulent times revealed on Asteroid 4 Vesta

Planetary scientists at Curtin University have shed some light on the tumultuous early days of the largely preserved protoplanet Asteroid 4 Vesta, the second largest asteroid in our Solar System.

Digging into the far side of the moon: Chang'E-4 probes 40 meters into lunar surface

A little over a year after landing, China's spacecraft Chang'E-4 is continuing to unveil secrets from the far side of the Moon. The latest study, published on Feb. 26 in Science Advances, reveals what lurks below the surface.

Virgin Galactic reports high interest in its space flights

Virgin Galactic has received nearly 8,000 online reservations of interest since its first successful test flight into space 14 months ago, the company said Tuesday as it nears commercial operation and prepares to reopen ticket sales.

Suited up: Testing how microgravity affects our ability to grab and manipulate objects in space

When it comes to grasping an object, our eyes, ears and hands are intimately connected. Our brain draws information from different senses, such as sight, sound and touch, to coordinate hand movements.

Gemini South telescope captures exquisite planetary nebula

The latest image from the international Gemini Observatory showcases the striking planetary nebula CVMP 1. This object is the result of the death throes of a giant star and is a glorious but relatively short-lived astronomical spectacle. As the progenitor star of this planetary nebula slowly cools, this celestial hourglass will run out of time and will slowly fade from view over many thousands of years.

Help find the location of newly discovered black holes in the LOFAR Radio Galaxy Zoo project

Scientists are asking for the public's help to find the origin of hundreds of thousands of galaxies that have been discovered by the largest radio telescope ever built: LOFAR. Where do these mysterious objects that extend for thousands of light-years come from? A new citizen science project, LOFAR Radio Galaxy Zoo, gives anyone with a computer the exciting possibility to join the quest to find out where the black holes at the center of these galaxies are located.

Technology news

A language generation system that can compose creative poetry

Over the past few decades, researchers have developed increasingly advanced artificial intelligence (AI) tools and computational techniques that can be applied in a variety of settings. Among these, techniques that can generate written or spoken language have attracted considerable attention, particularly with the introduction of new voice assistants, robots and new interactive devices.

Firefox unveils major security upgrade: DoH protocol boosts user privacy

In a major step to curb eavesdroppers from tapping into users' web browsing habits, Mozilla today launched a major security initiative for all Firefox users in the United States.

New app takes you out of the picture

In a social media era where one can be "ghosted" or "canceled" at the tap of a key, it should come as no surprise that we can now be simply "erased." Call it: the "un-selfie."

Personalization of online services: Helpful customization or furtive manipulation?

Whether we are looking for a restaurant tip, researching health information, or scrolling through social media posts, algorithms use the personal data they gather on us to determine what we are shown online. But how aware are people of the impact algorithms have on their digital environments? A team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the University of Bristol has conducted a survey of 1,065 people in Germany to address these questions.

Protecting sensitive metadata so it can't be used for surveillance

MIT researchers have designed a scalable system that secures the metadata—such as who's corresponding and when—of millions of users in communications networks, to help protect the information against possible state-level surveillance.

A tactile robot finger with no blind spots

Researchers at Columbia Engineering announced today that they have introduced a new type of robotic finger with a sense of touch. Their finger can localize touch with very high precision—

As humanity's relationship with AI grows, experts call for protective framework

Scientists have proposed a new international framework to keep ethics and human wellbeing at the forefront of our relationship with technology.

Sweat sensor detects stress levels; May find use in space exploration

If someone asked you right now how stressed you are, what would you say? A little? A lot? You do not know?

Stretchable, wearable coils may make MRI, other medical tests easier on patients

Anyone who has had a mammogram or an MRI knows how uncomfortable and awkward the tests can be. Now, Purdue University researchers have taken technology used in the defense and aerospace industries to create a novel way of doing some medical imaging.

Panasonic scraps solar panels partnership with Tesla

Panasonic is pulling out of its partnership with Tesla to produce solar panels at a factory in New York state, the Japanese electronics maker said Wednesday.

Star power: Togo bets on solar energy for its rural poor

Not so long ago, whenever he wanted to watch a football match or recharge his phone, Ousmane Kantcho had to go "into town"—a 15-kilometre ride by bicycle on poor roads in the savannah.

Internet giants fight spread of coronavirus untruths

As the new coronavirus spreads globally, the online battle to keep misinformation about the disease is also stepping up.

How to shop for a low-tech car

New vehicles are more technologically advanced than ever. A car today can mirror your smartphone on its center display screen, warn you of objects in your blind spot, brake on its own in an emergency, adjust the climate control via voice, and much more.

New patented invention stabilizes, rotates satellites

Many satellites are in space to take photos. But a vibrating satellite, like a camera in shaky hands, can't get a sharp image. Pointing it at a precise location to take a photo or perform another task, is another important function that requires accuracy. Vedant, an aerospace engineering doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was working on a way to eliminate vibrations on a satellite when he discovered his invention could also rotate the satellite.

How Tinder is being used for more than just hook-ups

The developers of the dating app Tinder recently announced that new safety features would be added to its app throughout 2020. These updates include a means to connect users with emergency services when they feel unsafe and more safety information provided through the app.

People prefer robots to explain themselves – and a brief summary doesn't cut it

Artificial intelligence is entering our lives in many ways—on our smartphones, in our homes, in our cars. These systems can help people make appointments, drive and even diagnose illnesses. But as AI systems continue to serve important and collaborative roles in people's lives, a natural question is: Can I trust them? How do I know they will do what I expect?

Google pledges new $10 bn investment in US in 2020

Google said Wednesday it would invest more than $10 billion in US offices and data centers in 2020, including its new campus planned for New York City and projects in 10 other states.

Apple and Johnson & Johnson team up on study to reduce stroke risk: How to volunteer

Can the Apple Watch and an app on your iPhone reduce the likelihood you'll have a stroke?

Study analyzes impact of switch from nuclear power to coal, suggests directions for policy

Since incidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima, many countries have switched from nuclear power to electricity production fired by fossil fuels, despite the environmental consequences of burning fuels such as coal. A new study used data from the United States to analyze the costs and benefits of electricity production from coal-fired versus nuclear sources. The study's authors conclude that policymakers should look at nuclear power as a low-carbon electricity source, but that utilities will need to have incentives to do so.

Finnish minister: EU needs to establish own OS, web browser

A top Finnish government member wants the European Union to develop its own computer operating system and internet browser to reduce reliance in the 27-nation bloc on tech giants.

French carmaker PSA defies sales slowdown with record profits

French car giant PSA Peugeot-Citroen, currently in the process of merging with rival Fiat Chrysler, said Wednesday it shook off a drop in sales to notch up record profits in 2019.

Air New Zealand tests beds for economy passengers

Air New Zealand on Wednesday announced a proposal to put beds in economy-class, which it claimed could prove a "game changer" for passengers desperate to stretch out on long-haul flights.

Lufthansa says to freeze hiring, cut costs over coronavirus

German airline Lufthansa said Wednesday it would freeze new hires and use unpaid leave and additional short-time work to cut costs to help cushion the economic impact of the novel coronavirus.

Intercepting enemy unmanned aircraft systems midflight

Sandia National Laboratories robotics experts are working on a way to intercept enemy unmanned aircraft systems midflight. They successfully tested their concept indoors with a swarm of four unmanned aircraft systems that flew in unison, each carrying one corner of a net. Acting as a team, they intercepted the flying target, trapped it in air like an insect caught in a web and safely lowered it to the ground.

Medicine & Health news

Babies from bilingual homes switch attention faster

Babies born into bilingual homes change the focus of their attention more quickly and more frequently than babies in homes where only one language is spoken, according to new research published in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Structural framework for tumors also provides immune protection

Aggressive colorectal cancers set up an interactive network of checkpoints to keep the immune system at bay, scientists report.

MicroRNA regulates process vital to placenta growth in early pregnancy

Abnormal formation and growth of the placenta is considered an underlying cause of various pregnancy complications such as miscarriages, preeclampsia and fetal growth restriction. Yet, much remains to be learned about molecular mechanisms regulating this blood-vessel rich organ vital to the health of a pregnant woman and her growing fetus.

Researchers make asthma breakthrough

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin have made a breakthrough that may eventually lead to improved therapeutic options for people living with asthma. The researchers have uncovered a critical role for a protein (Caspase-11), which had previously never been implicated in the disease.

Sugary drinks a sour choice for adults trying to maintain normal cholesterol levels

Middle-aged and older adults who drank sugary beverages daily were at greater risk of developing abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels compared to those who rarely drank those beverages, according to a new epidemiological study published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Liver diseases and obesity: Protein research identifies new treatment options

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have identified a molecular pathway that, when silenced, could restore the normal function of immune cells in people with fatty liver disease. The findings could lead to new strategies for treating the condition, which is a major health risk for people with obesity. The study is published in the scientific journal Science Translational Medicine.

Bone or cartilage? Presence of fatty acids determines skeletal stem cell development

In the event of a bone fracture, fatty acids in the blood signal to stem cells that they have to develop into bone-forming cells. If there are no blood vessels nearby, the stem cells end up forming cartilage. The finding that specific nutrients directly influence the development of stem cells opens new avenues for stem cell research. Biomedical scientists from KU Leuven and Harvard University published these results in Nature.

Low fiber diet can cause high blood pressure, international study finds

An international study co-led by Monash scientists has confirmed for the first time that low fiber diets may lead to high blood pressure—the 'silent disease' which affects one third of Australian adults.

Study: Children need self-regulation to learn

A considerable amount of development takes places in the brains of young children. Children experience a steep increase in their cognitive skills—including self-regulation—at an early age. What exactly is self-regulation? And why is it so important—especially for children?

Anti-psychotic medication linked to adverse change in brain structure

In a first-of-its-kind study using advanced brain imaging techniques, a commonly used anti-psychotic medication was associated with potentially adverse changes in brain structure. This study was the first in humans to evaluate the effects of this type of medication on the brain using a gold-standard design: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial.

Sex-specific traits of the immune system explain men's susceptibility to obesity

Melbourne researchers have uncovered important differences between the male and female immune system which may explain why men are more susceptible to obesity and metabolism-related associated diseases, such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

New study allows brain and artificial neurons to link up over the web

Research on novel nanoelectronics devices led by the University of Southampton has enabled brain neurons and artificial neurons to communicate with each other. This study has for the first time shown how three key emerging technologies can work together: brain-computer interfaces, artificial neural networks and advanced memory technologies (also known as memristors). The discovery opens the door to further significant developments in neural and artificial intelligence research.

How resident microbes restructure body chemistry

The makeup of our microbiomes—the unique communities of bacteria, viruses and other microbes that live in and on us—have been linked, with varying degrees of evidence, to everything from inflammatory bowel disease to athletic performance.

Gold nanoparticles detect signals from cancer cells

A novel blood test that uses gold nanoparticles to detect cancer has also been shown to identify signals released by cancer cells which could result in earlier diagnosis and better treatment.

Stem cell transplants in utero offers Tx for metabolic disorders that often end pregnancy

Administering stem cell or enzyme therapy in utero may be a path to alleviating some congenital diseases that often result in losing a pregnancy, according to a new study in mice by UC San Francisco researchers, who showed that stem cells can enter the fetal brain during prenatal development and make up for cells that fail to make an essential protein.

Targeting stromal cells may help overcome treatment resistance in glioblastoma

The deadly brain cancer glioblastoma (GBM) is often resistant to chemotherapy and radiation, but new research from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Penn's Abramson Cancer Center shows targeting stromal cells—the cells that serve as the connective tissue of the organs—may be an effective way of overcoming that resistance. Specifically, the researchers found that GBM causes these stromal cells to act like stem cells, naturally resisting attempts to kill them and promoting tumor growth instead. They also identified the pathway that makes this all possible and showed that blocking that pathway makes cancer vulnerable in a lab setting. Science Translational Medicine published the findings today.

Researchers identify novel anti-aging targets

A recent study published in Nature has reported two conserved epigenetic regulators as novel anti-aging targets. The research, by scientists from Dr. Cai Shiqing's Lab at the Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology, Institute of Neuroscience of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and Dr. Jiang Lubing's team at Institut Pasteur, Shanghai of CAS, identified conserved negative regulators of healthy aging by using multiple modalities and systems, thus providing insights into how to achieve healthy aging.

Coronavirus screening 'missing more than half of cases': study

Global screening efforts to prevent the rapid spread of coronavirus are likely to fail, according to new research warning that even best-case screenings of air travellers will miss more than half of infected people.

Nanosize device 'uncloaks' cancer cells in mice and reveals them to the immune system

Scientists at Johns Hopkins report they have designed and successfully tested an experimental, super small package able to deliver molecular signals that tag implanted human cancer cells in mice and make them visible for destruction by the animals' immune systems. The new method was developed, say the researchers, to deliver an immune system "uncloaking" device directly to cancer cells.

Researchers uncover hidden antibiotic potential of cannabis

McMaster University researchers have identified an antibacterial compound made by cannabis plants that may serve as a lead for new drug development.

Revving up immune system may help treat eczema

The aggravating skin condition eczema is most commonly treated by suppressing the immune system, but not all patients get relief. Now, a drug strategy aimed at revving up the immune system and boosting a type of immune cell known as natural killer cells appears, at least in mice, to effectively treat eczema.

Weight gain associated with accelerated lung function decline in adulthood

Lung function declines naturally over the course of the human lifespan. However, this decline is steeper in individuals who experience moderate or high weight gain. This was the conclusion of a new study led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), which analyzed the effect of weight changes on respiratory health over a 20-year period.

Portable 'electronic nose' can accurately pick up esophageal cancer precursor

A portable 'electronic nose' can accurately pick up the precursor condition to food pipe (oesophageal) cancer, known as Barrett's oesophagus, indicates a proof of principle study, published online in the journal Gut.

Age at menopause not linked to conventional cardiovascular disease risk factors

The age at which a woman's periods stop, and the menopause starts, doesn't seem to be linked to the development of the risk factors typically associated with cardiovascular disease, suggests research published online in the journal Heart.

Trials show new drug can ease symptoms of chronic cough

Two trials of a new drug have shown that at low doses, it can ease the often distressing symptoms of chronic cough with minimal side effects.

Mid-life weight gain linked to faster decline in lung capacity in older age

Mid-life weight gain is linked to an acceleration in the natural decline in lung capacity that comes with ageing, reveals a 20-year study published online in the journal Thorax.

Connectedness to nature makes children happier

A new study in Frontiers in Psychology, led by Dr. Laura Berrera-Hernández and her team at the Sonora Institute of Technology (ITSON), has shown for the first time that connectedness to nature makes children happier due to their tendency to perform sustainable and pro-ecological behaviors.

Researchers outline centralized genetic testing model

The Roberts Individualized Medical Genetics Center (RIMGC) at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) launched in 2014 as a first-of-its-kind system to help families navigate the complex process of genetic and genomic testing and standardize how genetic testing is performed across different clinical disciplines.

Spending time in nature reduces stress, research finds

New research from an interdisciplinary Cornell team has found that as little as 10 minutes in a natural setting can help college students feel happier and lessen the effects of both physical and mental stress.

German with virus in grave condition; Austria probes death

Authorities in western Germany said Wednesday that a man who contracted COVID-19 is in critical condition and has been taken to a specialist hospital in Duesseldorf, as officials in neighboring Austria sealed off an apartment complex where a female tourist from Italy with a possible infection died overnight.

Dozens allowed off Japan virus-hit ship have 'symptoms': minister

Dozens of passengers allowed off a coronavirus-stricken ship have developed symptoms including fever and will be asked to take tests for the virus, Japan's health minister said Wednesday.

Virus hits more countries as health official warns world 'not ready'

The new coronavirus epidemic swelled on Wednesday with cases in South Korea surging past 1,000 after deaths soared in Iran and infections appeared in previously untouched countries, prompting dire warnings that the world was not ready to contain it.

China reports 52 more virus deaths, lowest in 3 weeks

China on Wednesday reported 52 new coronavirus deaths, the lowest figure in more than three weeks, bringing the death toll to 2,715.

Electrolyte supplements don't prevent illness in athletes, study finds

Electrolyte supplements popular with endurance runners can't be relied on to keep essential sodium levels in balance, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and their collaborators.

Slow, steady increase in exercise intensity is best for heart health

For most people, the benefits of aerobic exercise far outweigh the risks, however, extreme endurance exercise—such as participation in marathons and triathlons for people who aren't accustomed to high-intensity exercise—can raise the risk of sudden cardiac arrest, atrial fibrillation (a heart rhythm disorder) or heart attacks, according to a new Scientific Statement "Exercise-Related Acute Cardiovascular Events and Potential Deleterious Adaptations Following Long-Term Exercise Training: Placing the Risks Into Perspective-An Update from the American Heart Association," published today in the Association's premier journal Circulation.

Heart health problems in your 20s may affect brain health decades later

Having health issues such as smoking, high cholesterol or a high body mass index (BMI) in your 20s may make you more likely to have problems with thinking and memory skills and even the brain's ability to properly regulate its blood flow, according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 72nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, Canada, April 25 to May 1, 2020.

2nd virus death in France, 1 new infection linked to Italy

A 60-year-old Frenchman has died of the new virus in a Paris hospital, the second virus-related death in France since it emerged in China late last year.

Scramble to contain coronavirus as infections spread in Europe

Governments worldwide were scrambling to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus Wednesday after fresh infections emerged linked to European hotspot Italy amid dire warnings that countries are not ready to contain the outbreak.

Cognitive impairment after intensive care linked to long-lasting inflammation

People who have been treated in intensive care commonly suffer from residual cognitive impairment, but the reason for this is unknown. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden now link cognitive impairment with lasting inflammation and a potential treatment target. The results are presented in the scientific journal Intensive Care Medicine.

Globe battles virus as cases multiply outside China

Crews scrubbed everything from money to buses, military bases were on high alert and quarantines were enforced Wednesday from a beachfront resort in the Atlantic to a remote island in the Pacific, as the world worked to halt the fast-spreading virus that for the first time counted more new cases outside China than inside the country where the epidemic originated.

Italy seeks to calm fears in Europe as cases, deaths rise

Italy sought to rally international support for its virus containment efforts Wednesday even as its caseload reached 400, people linked to Italy fell ill across Europe and as far away as Brazil, and the U.N.'s health agency urged a scaled-up response.

Coronavirus cases emerging faster outside China: WHO

There are now more new cases of the coronavirus reported each day outside China than inside the hardest-hit country, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday.

No reason to panic about coronavirus in Europe: EU

The novel coronavirus is concerning for Europe but there is no reason for alarm, the EU's health commissioner said on Wednesday as Italy battles the world's third-biggest outbreak.

Coronavirus outbreak fuels China black market for supplies

China's coronavirus crisis has sparked a thriving black market in fake medical supplies, forcing a crackdown from authorities who have seized 31 million counterfeit or substandard face masks.

Pandemic: what does it mean and does it matter?

When does an epidemic become a pandemic? As the novel coronavirus continues its spread across the globe, what does the designation mean to world healthcare systems as they try to rein in the deadly disease?

Study: Kids eat more calories in post-game snacks than they burn during the game

Almost every parent knows the drill: When it's your turn, you bring Capri Suns and Rice Krispies Treats to your child's soccer game as a post-game snack. Whether you're a parent that loves the tradition or despises it, new research shows just how detrimental post-game treats are to a child's health.

Pilot clinical trial in China to test possible targeted therapy for COVID-19 

A University of British Columbia researcher is part of an international team working with a biotechnology company on a pilot clinical trial of a potential new treatment for patients with severe coronavirus infections in China.

Heart disease in women: How pregnancy, menopause, and more affect risk

It's a common scenario. A woman in her 50s wakes up feeling nauseous. Dismissing it, she moves through her day, feeling a bit fatigued during her morning walk, even short of breath. Her friends urge her to go to the doctor after she experiences shooting pain in one arm. Despite thinking it's nothing, she goes to the emergency room where she is put through a battery of tests. She is told there isn't a blockage in one of the three main arteries, and that instead she may have a stomach issue or anxiety, and is sent home.

Schistosomiasis research: New hope for a neglected disease

It's a disease that's hard to pronounce and even harder to eradicate, but schistosomiasis is worth the effort. Caused by parasitic worms carried by freshwater snails, schistosomiasis leads to about 280,000 deaths each year, with more than 200 million people infected—mostly in Africa, but also in parts of Asia and South America.

What is a rare disease? It's not as simple as it sounds

You may not know, however, that being diagnosed with a rare disease means you are part of a community of up to two million Australians with one of these conditions. And more than 300 million people globally.

Sights and sounds of slot machines increase allure of gambling, study shows

The sights and sounds of winning on a slot machine may increase your desire to play—and your memories of winning big, according to new research by University of Alberta scientists.

Treating heart attacks with clot busters leads to better outcomes, researchers find

New research from University of Alberta cardiologists suggests that treating one of the most serious types of heart attack with clot-busting drugs along with the current primary treatment may lead to better health outcomes for patients.

Calls for caution on psychotropic drug use in residential aged care

Residential aged care providers should rethink use of psychotropic medicines according to researchers behind the latest work from the SAHMRI-based Registry of Senior Australians (ROSA).

Still a fan of the golden tan? Tune in to social media and tone down your risk of skin cancer

Social media smarts could make you less susceptible to skin cancer as new research shows that media literacy skills can help change people's attitudes about what is believed to be the 'tanned ideal'.

Diet alone can improve older adults' health

Older adults on a diet designed to help patients with high blood pressure reaped benefits beyond those anticipated by South Dakota State University researchers.

Life expectancy not improving for first time in 100 years

For the first time in more than 100 years life expectancy has failed to increase across the country, and for the poorest 10% of women it has actually declined, according to a new report from Professor Sir Michael Marmot and the UCL Institute of Health Equity.

Race, income in neighborhoods tied to cardiac arrest survival

Socioeconomics might impact the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest, suggests a new study that found survival rates are lower in heavily black than in heavily white neighborhoods, and in low- and middle-income areas compared with wealthy ones.

How do those bereaved by suicide respond to media reports?

Guidelines on reporting suicide are aimed at preventing further suicides and minimising distress to the bereaved. Here Dr. Alexandra Pitman (UCL Psychiatry) writes about her research looking at how relatives of suicide victims respond to news, and speaks to others in the field.

Coronavirus: should frontline doctors and nurses get preferential treatment?

It is mid-March 2020. James is a 29-year-old junior doctor working in a London hospital. Last week, James cared for a man who had become sick after returning from abroad. The man had been treated in isolation and is now improving. However, James has since become unwell. He developed a cough and fever, but then rapidly became breathless.

Can pollution face masks really protect us from exposure to toxic particles?

An estimated 28,000 to 36,000 deaths a year in the UK are attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution. Exposure to air pollution can cause a range of serious health complications, including lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. Pollution can come from a variety of sources, including wood burning fires and fossil fuels. But research shows that pollution from traffic might actually be worse for our health than pollution from any other source.

Airplanes spread diseases quickly – so maybe unvaccinated people shouldn't be allowed to fly

As the coronavirus spreads, the nation's leading health official told a Senate committee on Feb. 25 that "we cannot hermetically seal off the United States to a virus."

Quitting smoking during the first trimester of pregnancy still puts the baby at risk

Although quitting smoking during the first trimester of pregnancy reduces the risk of low birth weight, it isn't enough to protect the unborn child from being born shorter and with smaller brain size, a new study from the University of Eastern Finland shows. The study looked at 1.4 million mother-child pairs in Finland, analysing the effect of maternal smoking on newborns' body size and body proportions when the mother had smoked only during the first trimester as opposed to continued smoking. The findings were published in BMJ Open yesterday.

Intensive blood pressure control can extend life up to three years

A new study by investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital puts the results of a landmark trial about blood pressure control into terms that may be easier to interpret and communicate to patients. When data from The Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT) were published in 2015, the medical community responded enthusiastically to the news that reducing blood pressure lower than the normal targets could reduce overall death rates by 27 percent for adults at high cardiovascular risk. While these study results are being integrated into clinical practice, explaining what they mean and why they are important to patients can be challenging. Investigators from the Brigham describe how aggressively lowering blood pressure levels can extend a person's life expectancy. They report that having a blood pressure target of less than 120 mm Hg—rather than the standard 140 mm Hg—can add six months to three years to a person's lifetime, depending upon how old they are when they begin intensive blood pressure control. Results are published in JAMA Cardiology.

Study finds long-term endurance exercise is associated with enlarged aorta

It's long been known that endurance athletes have larger hearts on average than the rest of the population and that cardiac enlargement is a healthy adaptation to exercise.

Adequate folate levels linked to lower cardiovascular mortality risk in RA patients

Decreased folate levels in the bloodstream have been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular mortality in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, shedding light on why those patients are more susceptible to heart and vascular disease, according to research published today in JAMA Network Open by experts at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

KAT6A syndrome: advances on the genetic bases and clinical picture of a rare disease

A research team has described five new cases of a rare disease known as KAT6A syndrome, of which there are only 80 dominant cases worldwide. This neurological and developmental disorder, caused by alterations in the lysine acetyltransferase 6A gene (KAT6A), involves intellectual disability, language impairment, low muscle tone, cardiovascular malformation and eye defects, among other symptoms.

The world's largest stem cell biobank launched

Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease make up the world's most common diseases. A new biobank at Lund University in Sweden—the largest of its kind—with stem cells from both those affected and healthy individuals, will contribute to an increased understanding of how these diseases arise.

Elderly patients also benefit from kidney transplantation

People in industrialized countries are getting older and are very often in good health as a result of good nutrition, a healthier lifestyle and a higher level of education. More people nowadays know how to keep fit and prevent diseases. Screening programs have increased the survival rates of many illnesses such as cancer, national vaccination programs have completely eradicated many diseases, and better safety standards such as traffic regulation, risk management and safe work procedures have helped to reduce the number of accidents.

Scientists shed light on COVID-19 vaccine development

A team of scientists at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) has recently made an important discovery in identifying a set of potential vaccine targets for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, providing crucial leads for guiding experimental efforts towards the vaccine development against the novel pneumonia (COVID-19) caused by the virus.

Motion capture technology used to prevent falls in older people

Volunteers in their seventies have donned motion capture suits for a study using Hollywood technology to assess the benefits of an exercise programme designed to reduce the risk of falls in older people.

ALS mystery illuminated by blue light

A joint research group in Japan has succeeded in reproducing key ALS symptoms in a small tropical fish by remotely controlling a disease-associated protein molecule using light illumination.

Surveillance after surgery does not improve outcomes for patients with glioblastoma

Glioblastoma is an aggressive and deadly brain cancer. Although improved treatment protocols have doubled the survival rate over the past 20 years, glioblastoma tumors usually grow back. After surgeons remove the tumor, patients typically undergo surveillance imaging within 48 hours followed by regular screenings to monitor for recurrence. However, a retrospective study from the University of Missouri School of Medicine and MU Health Care showed patients who underwent surveillance imaging after surgery did not have better outcomes than patients who did not have imaging and returned when they felt symptoms of recurrence.

Blood test can predict clinical response to immunotherapy in metastatic NSCLC

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients with higher measures of tumor mutations that show up in a blood test generally have a better clinical response to PD-1-based immunotherapy treatments than patients with a lower measure of mutations. A clinical trial led by researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Penn's Abramson Cancer Center shows that in cases where the liquid biopsy detects higher volumes of mutations, patients with cancers that have spread are more likely to see a clinical benefit at six months, as well as to survive longer without seeing their disease progress. The findings published today in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Poor cleaning can jeopardize sterilization of medical tools

Vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP) failed to completely sterilize surgical tools 76 percent of the time when the tools were soiled with salts or blood and not cleaned prior to sterilization, according to a study published today in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America.

Brazil confirms Latin America's first coronavirus case

Brazil's health ministry said on Wednesday a Sao Paulo resident has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, the first case recorded in Latin America.

European nations step up coronavirus measures

As Italy sees a surge in new coronavirus infections, other countries in Europe and European institutions have stepped up measures to combat the spread.

Scramble to contain coronavirus as infections spread in Europe

Coronavirus cases spread in Europe and beyond Wednesday, with Latin America confirming its first patient as the world scrambled to contain the deadly epidemic that has killed thousands worldwide.

Judge says more answers needed about relocation of COVID-19 patients

(HealthDay)—Federal and California officials must provide more information to local officials about plans to relocate former cruise ship passengers who have tested positive for the new coronavirus to a facility in a Southern California community, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Age at period cessation not linked to CVD risk trajectories

(HealthDay)—There is little evidence for associations between age at period cessation and trajectories of anthropometry, blood pressure, lipids, and hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) measures, according to a study published online Feb. 25 in Heart.

Influence of politics has not waned in opinions about ACA

(HealthDay)—Public opinion about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains divided 10 years after its passage, according to a study published online Feb. 19 in Health Affairs.

30 million women struggle with low sex drive. This Dallas OB-GYN has an app for that

Investors have pumped $1 million into Dallas-based OB-GYN Dr. Lyndsey Harper's startup Rosy, seeing an opportunity to fund an app they believe could bridge an infrequently-discussed gap in health care: women's sexual health.

The Golden State's mixed record on lung cancer

It was a bewildering moment for Zach Jump, the American Lung Association's national director of epidemiology and statistics. The numbers leaped off the computer screen and prompted an immediate question:

Antioxidant precursor molecule could improve brain function in patients with multiple sclerosis

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) is a naturally occurring molecule that replenishes antioxidants and shows improved brain metabolism and self-reported improvements in cognitive function in patients with multiple sclerosis, according to a study published in the journal, Frontiers in Neurology.

Understanding the link between nicotine use and misuse of 'benzos'

Studies have correlated a relationship between smoking or vaping nicotine with misuse of other substances, such as alcohol and prescription drugs. Lately, misuse of prescription benzodiazepines (such as alprazolam or Xanax, and diazepam or Valium) has also been linked to nicotine use. These connections have all been statistically derived—researchers did not directly study human interaction with these drugs.

Scientists find link between genes and ability to exercise

A team of researchers have discovered a genetic mutation that reduces a patient's ability to exercise efficiently.

Immune therapy reduces risk of recurrence in aggressive breast cancer

An immune therapy for the most aggressive form of breast cancer can substantially reduce the risk of the disease returning, according to a clinical trial led by Professor Peter Schmid of Queen Mary University of London.

Q&A: Canker sores often go away on their own, are not contagious

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: Every few months, my teenage son gets canker sores in the back of his throat that really bother him and last for about a week. Is there something that he can do to prevent them? Will this continue throughout his life?

Study says herbal supplements may not be effective for weight loss

If you've relied on taking herbal supplements to aid in weight loss, a recently published study has news for you.

New compounds thwart multiple viruses, including coronavirus

According to a February 13 report from the World Health Organization, the Wuhan coronavirus has stricken more than 46,000 people and has caused over 1,300 deaths since the first cases in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. Now, researchers reporting in ACS' Journal of Medicinal Chemistry have designed compounds that block the replication of similar coronaviruses, as well as other disease-causing viruses, in the lab. The compounds have not yet been tested in people. 

Research suggests adults—not just teens—like electronic cigarette flavors

On February 6, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began to enforce a previously-issued policy on unauthorized flavored cartridge-based e-cigarette products with the goal of addressing the current epidemic of youth use of e-cigarettes. A new study by researchers at Penn State finds that adults enjoy sweet e-cigarette flavors just as much as teens, suggesting that the policy may have consequences for adults too.

Potential new heartburn drug studied at VUMC

An investigational drug that binds bile acids in the stomach can reduce the severity of heartburn symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) when combined with a proton pump inhibitor (PPI), a new study suggests.

Rates of ADHD diagnosis in veterans are rising, reports VA study in Medical Care

Rates of diagnosed attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in veterans receiving care in the VA health system more than doubled during the past decade, reports a study in the March issue of Medical Care. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio by Wolters Kluwer.

One year into 'soda tax,' researchers find law did not affect sugary-beverage consumption

One year into Philadelphia's 1.5-cents-per-ounce "soda tax," new findings show that the law had minimal to no influence on what Philadelphians are drinking. The results were published this month in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health from researchers at Drexel University's Dornsife School of Public Health.

Vaping changes oral microbiome, increasing risk for infection

Using e-cigarettes alters the mouth's microbiome—the community of bacteria and other microorganisms—and makes users more prone to inflammation and infection, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU College of Dentistry.

No benefit found in using broad-spectrum antibiotics as initial pneumonia treatment

Doctors who use drugs that target antibiotic-resistant bacteria as a first-line defense against pneumonia should probably reconsider this approach, according to a new study of more than 88,000 veterans hospitalized with the disease. The study, conducted by University of Utah Health and VA Salt Lake City Health Care System researchers, found that pneumonia patients given these medications in the first few days after hospitalization fared no better than those receiving standard medical care for the condition.

Study shows genetic effects of pre-surgical chemo in breast cancer

Results from one of the first studies to determine the effects of pre-surgical, or neoadjuvant, chemotherapy on the breast cancer genome offer up two key insights. One is a before treatment finding that can help predict which patients would most benefit from pre-surgical chemo, and the other an after treatment finding which sheds light on how cancer cells survive chemotherapy. Findings appear in Clinical Cancer Research.

Study reveals potential new treatment for patients with metastatic melanoma

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have uncovered a potentially more beneficial treatment regimen for patients with metastatic melanoma.

Job insecurity negatively affects your personality, study finds

New research shows that experiencing chronic job insecurity can change your personality for the worse.

Community support groups vital to African American women with breast cancer

Shelley White-Means, Ph.D., a professor of health economics at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, is the principal investigator of a paper published this month in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health that found breast cancer support groups play a major role in helping underserved African-American women at risk for or diagnosed with breast cancer in Memphis.

Using social media to understand the vaccine debate in China

Vaccine acceptance is a crucial public health issue, which has been exacerbated by the use of social media to spread content expressing vaccine hesitancy. Studies have shown that social media can provide new information regarding the dynamics of vaccine communication online, potentially affecting real-world vaccine behaviors.

England off track to meet government's 2030 smoke-free target

England will fail to be smoke-free by 2030 if current smoking trends continue, according to a report released today from Cancer Research UK.

Metabolic health and weight management key to minimizing diabetes risk

Increased fat distribution during menopause has long been shown to increase insulin resistance and the risk of diabetes. A new study based on data from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows that being metabolically unhealthy increases diabetes risk, even in women of normal weight. Results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Greece reports first coronavirus case in traveller from Italy (Update)

Greece on Wednesday reported its first coronavirus case, a woman who had recently travelled to northern Italy.

South Korea starts virus checks on 200,000-plus sect members

More than 200,000 members of a religious sect were being checked for coronavirus symptoms by South Korean authorities Wednesday, as US commanders reported the first case among American forces in the country.

North Korea imposes 'extraordinary' measures against virus

Loudspeakers blaring hygiene messages, foreign ambassadors locked in their compounds and state media demanding "absolute obedience" to health authorities—North Korea is taking what diplomats call "unprecedented" measures as it seeks to prevent a crippling coronavirus outbreak.

China quarantines 94 people on Seoul flight after 3 show fever

China quarantined 94 air passengers arriving from Seoul after three people on the flight were discovered to have fevers, state media reported Wednesday.

South Korea reports 169 new coronavirus cases, total tops 1,100

South Korea's coronavirus case total jumped well into four figures Wednesday as authorities reported 169 new infections, taking the overall tally to 1,146, by far the largest outside China.

Iran raises its death toll to 19 amid 139 coronavirus cases

Iran's president said Tehran has no immediate plans to quarantine cities over the new coronavirus rapidly spreading across the country, even as the Islamic Republic suffers the highest death toll outside of China with 19 killed amid 139 cases confirmed on Wednesday.

German court scraps ban on professional assisted suicide

Germany's highest court on Wednesday ruled that a 2015 law banning professional assisted suicide was unconstitutional, saying in a landmark decision that people have "the right to a self-determined death".

Austria lifts lockdown of hotel over coronavirus

Dozens of guests at an Austrian hotel hit by the new coronavirus have been allowed to leave after a lockdown was lifted, officials said on Wednesday.

Japan reports two more virus-linked deaths, urges public events cancelled

Japan reported two more deaths linked to the coronavirus Wednesday as the government called for organisers to reconsider holding major events in coming weeks to limit the outbreak.

Teacher confirmed as first French coronavirus death

A 60-year-old teacher who died in Paris after falling ill with the new coronavirus has become the first French casualty of the illness, health officials said Wednesday, adding he had not travelled to an outbreak hotspot.

Beijing orders quarantine for foreign arrivals from virus-hit areas

Beijing announced Wednesday that people landing in the Chinese capital from countries hit by the new coronavirus epidemic will have to go into 14-day self-quarantine.

Spain tries to stop coronovirus spread from Italy

Spain tried Wednesday to prevent the spread of the coronavirus from Italy after eight cases of the flu-like disease were detected within a 24-hour period all linked to the country.

Generic drugmakers sold most opioids during overdose crisis

Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals doled out lavish perks for top U.S. employees who hit or beat sales goals for prescription opioids and other drugs: six-figure bonuses and a chance to snag a coveted "President's Club" award, which could mean vacations to Hawaii, the Caribbean or Mexico.

Trial finds promising new approach to treat common aches and pains

A new pilot trial led by Keele University to help GPs decide which treatment to offer patients with common aches and pains has shown promising initial findings to help reduce painkiller prescriptions and the use of X-rays.

Second coronavirus case in Lebanon

Lebanon's health ministry said Wednesday a second case of coronavirus was confirmed in a woman who entered the country on the same flight from Tehran that carried the first case.

Trump defends administration's coronavirus response (Update)

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday defended his administration's response to the novel coronavirus, lashing the media for spreading panic as he announced an evening news conference on the epidemic.

Spain seeks to calm nerves as virus cases jump

Spain on Wednesday issued assurances that a cluster of new coronavirus infections did not risk a broader spread, after ten cases were detected since Monday evening.

Mayfield neurosurgeon is first in US to use GammaTile for newly diagnosed malignant brain tumors

Vincent DiNapoli, MD, Ph.D., a neurosurgeon with Mayfield Brain & Spine and Director of the Brain Tumor Center at The Jewish Hospital-Mercy Health, continued to evolve the standard of care this month when he became the first surgeon in the United States to utilize GammaTile Therapy for the treatment of newly diagnosed malignant brain tumors.

Mayo Clinic Minute: What may be causing your hands and feet to tingle

If you experience tingling, weakness or stabbing pain in your hands or feet, you may be among the 2%-3% of the population with peripheral neuropathy.

Infectious diseases A-Z: Flu vaccine is a good match

The flu vaccine is a good match for the 2019-2020 flu season, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Efficacy of the vaccine is estimated to be 45% so far this season. The CDC says the vaccine was even better for kids, providing substantial protection at 55% efficacy among children and adolescents aged 6 months to-17.

Physicians first in US analyzing lung disease in coronavirus patients

Mount Sinai Health System physicians—the first experts in the country to analyze chest computed tomography (CT) scans of patients from China with coronavirus disease (COVID-19)—have identified specific patterns in the lungs as markers of the disease as it develops over the course of a week and a half. The finding, published in the February issue of Radiology, could lead to quicker diagnosis in patients who come in with possible COVID-19 symptoms, and help keep patients isolated in early stages when the lung disease may not show up in initial scans.

The best preoperative definition of cancer-related malnutrition depends on cancer type

The best approach for surgeons to identify malnourished cancer patients before they have a cancer operation may be specifically related to the type of cancer the patient has, according to researchers who found that common definitions of malnutrition do not apply equally to all cancers in assessment of preoperative risk. The study is published as an "article in press" on the Journal of the American College of Surgeons website ahead of print.

Omega-3 fatty acids may prevent breast implant complications, like capsular contracture

For women receiving breast implants during reconstructive or cosmetic breast surgery, scarring around the implant—called capsular contracture—is a common, costly, and painful complication. The anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, might help to avoid abnormal capsule formation suggests an experimental study in the March issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

First patient in US treated for atrial fibrillation using new device

Cardiologists at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are the first in the United States to test a new type of ablation technology for patients suffering from atrial fibrillation, a common type of irregular heartbeat.

Pakistan confirms first two cases of coronavirus

Pakistan has detected its first two cases of novel coronavirus, a public health advisor to Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted Wednesday, days after Islamabad closed its land border with Iran, where 19 people have died from the virus.

Woman becomes North Macedonia's first virus case after Italy trip

North Macedonia reported its first coronavirus case on Wednesday, after a woman who had returned from a month in Italy was found to be infected with the virus.

'Fear and panic' as virus threatens Afghanistan, Pakistan

With porous borders, creaking hospitals and large illiterate populations, Afghanistan and Pakistan face a potentially devastating health crisis after the new coronavirus erupted in neighbouring Iran.

What we learned after 5,000 non-surgical rhinoplasties

As patients continue to seek non-invasive treatments across the cosmetic spectrum, "liquid rhinoplasty" is emerging as the non-surgical alternative to the traditional nose job. Using dermal fillers to change the appearance of the nose, non-surgical rhinoplasty is gaining in popularity due to its relatively low cost, convenience, and short recovery time.

Biology news

Overlooked arch in the foot is key to its evolution and function

long-overlooked part of the human foot is key to how the foot works, how it evolved, and how we walk and run, a Yale-led team of researchers said.

Parasitic worms have armies, and produce more soldiers when needed

In estuaries around the world, tiny trematode worms take over the bodies of aquatic snails. These parasitic flatworms invade the snail's body and use its systems to support their colony, sometimes for over a decade, "driving them around like cars," according to senior author Ryan Hechinger, professor of marine sciences at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego.

Deaf moths evolved noise-cancelling scales to evade predators

Some species of deaf moths can absorb as much as 85 per cent of the incoming sound energy from predatory bats—who use echolocation to detect them. The findings, published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface today, reveal the moths, who are unable to hear the ultrasonic calls of bats, have evolved this clever defensive strategy to help it survive.

Seagulls favor food humans have handled

Seagulls favour food that has been handled by humans, new research shows.

Seeds in Tibet face impacts from climate change

Seeds offer a level of resilience to the harmful effects of climate change in ecosystems across the globe. When seeds are dropped into the soil, often becoming dormant for many years until they are ready to grow into plants, they become part of the natural storage of seeds in "soil seed banks." These banks have been thought to better withstand extreme conditions than can the sprouted vegetation that exists above-ground.

Study reveals similarities between bee brains and human brains

In a discovery that could open new avenues for understanding of the brain, researchers have found similarities between the brain activity of honey bees and humans.

New research sheds light on the unique 'call' of Ross Sea killer whales

New Curtin University-led research has found that the smallest type of killer whale has 28 different complex calls, comprising a combination of burst-pulse sounds and whistles, which they use to communicate with family members about the changing landscape and habitat.

Cellular metabolism regulates the fate decision between pathogenic and regulatory T cells

Patients with autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis have an imbalance between two types of immune system T cells. Destructive Th17 cells that mediate chronic inflammation are elevated, and regulatory T cells, or Treg cells, which suppress inflammatory responses and play a protective role in autoimmune disorders, are diminished.

Breakthrough virus simulations tackle the flu

A team of researchers from the University of California San Diego and the University of Pittsburgh offers a new approach for developing treatments for influenza.

Vertical fibers in the suckerfish's suction cup-like fin help it hitchhike

As the hitchhikers of the marine world, the remora fish is well known for getting free rides by gripping onto hosts with its suction disc, a highly modified dorsal fin on its head. Now, work investigating the suction disc—appearing February 26 in the journal Matter—reveals that one of the secrets to the fish's strong grip lies within the unique architecture of the lip of the disc.

Super-urinators among the mangroves: Excretory gifts from estuary's busiest fish promote ecosystem health

A new University of Michigan-led study of individually radio-tracked tropical fish in a Bahamian mangrove estuary highlights the importance of highly active individuals in maintaining ecosystem health.

Biodiversity increases the efficiency of energy use in grasslands

Plants obtain their energy from the sun. Other beings rely on eating to survive. Yet how does the energy flow inside ecosystems function and are there differences between ecosystems with many species in comparison to those with few species? Researchers have now examined these questions using a holistic approach by evaluating data gathered through a large-scale biodiversity experiment.

Billions lost as illicit fisheries trade hurting nations who can afford it least

More than eight million to 14 million tonnes of unreported fish catches are traded illicitly every year, costing the legitimate market between $9 billion and $17 billion in trade each year, according to new UBC research.

Mosaic evolution painted lorikeets a rainbow of color

A new study examines how color evolved in one of the flashiest groups of parrots—Australasian lorikeets—finding that different plumage patches on the birds evolved independently through time. The study, published this week in the journal BMC Evolutionary Biology, helps explain why it's possible for the birds' faces and front sides to display a dazzling variety of colors—from vibrant ultraviolet blue only visible to other birds to deep crimson and black—while their wings and backs tend to be the same color: green.

Why coronavirus could help save China's endangered species

The novel coronavirus outbreak in China may end up saving one of the world's most trafficked animals after Beijing announced a total ban on the sale and consumption of the pangolin.

CT scanning wheat grains for stress tolerance

Scientists have developed a computed tomography (CT) scanning method for screening large samples of wheat for drought and heat tolerance.

Researchers turn bacterial cell into biological computer

Researchers at the Technion have created a biological computer, constructed within a bacterial cell and capable of monitoring different substances in the environment. Currently, the computer identifies and reports on toxic and other materials. Next up: the ability to warn about hemorrhaging in the human body.

Melting properties determine the biological functions of the cuticular hydrocarbon layer of ants

As social insects, ants are particularly dependent on optimizing their communication in order to ward off enemies and to recognize individuals from their own colony. They must also protect themselves against desiccation. Their bodies are covered with wax-like substances known as cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) that serve both purposes—communication and protection against desiccation.

Global species loss could be halved

Extinction risk could decrease by more than 50% if at least 30% of land were to be conserved across the tropics, a new study reveals.

Are cats the 'canary in the coal mine' for wildfire effects on human health?

Cats who suffered burns and smoke inhalation in recent California wildfires also had a high incidence of heart problems, according to a new study from researchers at the University of California, Davis, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. The study represents the first published research to come from the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine on feline victims of California wildfires and was recently published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Cannibalism on rise among polar bears, say Russian scientists

Cases of polar bears killing and eating each other are on the rise in the Arctic as melting ice and human activity erode their habitat, a Russian scientist said Wednesday.

Scientists develop algorithm for researching evolutionary history of species with whole-genome duplications

An international team of scientists from ITMO University and George Washington University (U.S.) created an algorithm for studying the evolutionary history of species with whole-genome duplications, chiefly yeast and plants.

Scientists create virus-resistant tomato plants

Researchers of Valencia's Polytechnic University (UPV) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) have used tools that regulate gene expression in order to produce tomato plants that are resistant to the spotted wilt virus (TSWV), thus proving the usefulness of this type of strategy to generate crops that are resistant to viral infections. The results of this project have been published in The Plant Journal.

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