Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Feb 5

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Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for February 5, 2020:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

BlockPGP: A new blockchain-based PGP management framework

Phonon hydrodynamics and ultrahigh-room temperature thermal conductivity in thin graphite

Crystal-stacking process can produce new materials for high-tech devices

Scientists solve structure enabling cyanobacteria to thrive in low light

Novel method used to investigate supernova remnant DEM L71

Cuttlefish eat less for lunch when they know there'll be shrimp for dinner

Genetic variants reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease

Tiny 'bridges' help particles stick together

Researchers discover intricate process of DNA repair in genome stability

'Levitating' proteins could help diagnose opioid abuse, other diseases

Shelter, safest air intake locations during urban pollution events identified

Scientists advance better imaging tool to study disease

Astronomers discover unusual monster galaxy in the very early universe

Researchers design proteins that can be utilized to combat Alzheimer's disease

Researcher's technology differentiates between Parkinson's disease and multiple system atrophy

Astronomy & Space news

Novel method used to investigate supernova remnant DEM L71

Using the smoothed particle inference (SPI) technique, astronomers have investigated the supernova remnant (SNR) DEM L71, mainly analyzing the X-ray emission from this source. Results of the study, presented in a paper published January 28 on, shed more light on the nature of this SNR.

Astronomers discover unusual monster galaxy in the very early universe

An international team of astronomers led by scientists at the University of California, Riverside, has found an unusual monster galaxy that existed about 12 billion years ago, when the universe was only 1.8 billion years old.

ALMA catches beautiful outcome of stellar fight

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), in which ESO is a partner, have spotted a peculiar gas cloud that resulted from a confrontation between two stars. One star grew so large it engulfed the other which, in turn, spiralled towards its partner provoking it into shedding its outer layers.

NASA's Webb will seek atmospheres around potentially habitable exoplanets

This month marks the third anniversary of the discovery of a remarkable system of seven planets known as TRAPPIST-1. These seven rocky, Earth-size worlds orbit an ultra-cool star 39 light-years from Earth. Three of those planets are in the habitable zone, meaning they are at the right orbital distance to be warm enough for liquid water to exist on their surfaces. After its 2021 launch, NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will observe those worlds with the goal of making the first detailed near-infrared study of the atmosphere of a habitable-zone planet.

Astronomers reveal rare double nucleus in nearby 'Cocoon Galaxy'

Allen Lawrence, wrapping up a long career as an electrical engineer, was serious about moving his astronomy hobby beyond the 20-inch telescope he'd hauled to star parties under the dark skies of Texas and Arizona.

Artificial intelligence tool developed to predict the structure of the universe

Advancements in telescopes have enabled researchers to study the universe with greater detail, and to establish a standard cosmological model that explains various observational facts simultaneously. But there are many things researchers still do not understand. Remarkably, the majority of the universe is made up of dark matter and dark energy of an unknown nature. A promising avenue to solving these mysteries is studying the structure of the universe. The universe is made up of filaments where galaxies cluster together. These filaments resemble threads from far away, surrounding voids where there appears to be nothing. The discovery of the cosmic microwave background has given researchers a snapshot of what the universe looked like close to its beginning; understanding how its structure evolved to what it is today would reveal valuable characteristics about dark matter and dark energy.

SPIDER mission will assemble and manufacture a communications antenna in space

It has been suggested that if humanity truly wants to embark on a renewed era of space exploration, one of the key ingredients is the ability to manufacture structures in space. By assembling everything from satellites to spacecraft in orbit, we would eliminate the most costly aspect of going to space. This, simply put, is the sheer expense of escaping Earth's gravity well, which requires heavy launch vehicles and a lot of fuel.

Technology news

BlockPGP: A new blockchain-based PGP management framework

Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), one of the most widely used cryptographic standards, enables safe end-to-end encryption for emails, messages and other data sharing between users. Essentially, PGP works by implementing asymmetric encryption, in which certificates are shared through a network of PGP key servers.

Meena is model of sensible conversation, outperforms other chatbots

Google's AI scientists have unveiled Meena. Tech watchers are calling it a chatbot breakthrough. Points for responses well matched to human intent. Points for relevant word choices. Points for (gasp) sounding sensible.

New droplet-based electricity generator: A drop of water generates 140V power, lighting up 100 LED bulbs

A research team led by scientists from the City University of Hong Kong (CityU) has recently developed a droplet-based electricity generator (DEG) with a field-effect transistor (FET)-like structure that allows for high energy conversion efficiency and instantaneous power density thousands of times that of its counterparts without FET technology. This would help to advance scientific research of water energy generation and tackle the energy crisis.

Improving AI's ability to identify students who need help

Researchers have designed an artificial intelligence (AI) model that is better able to predict how much students are learning in educational games. The improved model makes use of an AI training concept called multi-task learning, and could be used to improve both instruction and learning outcomes.

Google says glitch sent people's videos to strangers

Google on Tuesday said that a software glitch resulted in some Photo app smartphone videos being given to the wrong people.

Huawei promises 'Made in Europe' 5G for EU

Chinese telecom giant Huawei said on Tuesday it would set up manufacturing hubs in Europe, as it tries to fight off US pressure on EU nations to stop it from operating.

Vodafone takes 200-mn-euro hit from Huawei 5G curbs

British telecoms giant Vodafone revealed Wednesday that it would cost about 200 million euros ($221 million) over five years to remove controversial Chinese group Huawei's equipment from core 5G European activities.

Study shows transportation beliefs of 20 years ago largely myths, predicts today's will be as well

As long as humans have been moving, there have been fantastic predictions about how technology will revolutionize transportation. Most of them turn out to be myths. A University of Kansas researcher has written a study revisiting an influential article that called out widely held transportation predictions of 20 years ago as myths, finding it is still highly accurate.

Smart city or not? Now you can see how Australian cities compare

The highest-ranked areas in an Australia-wide assessment of smart city performance are all in metropolitan regions with higher population densities. "Australia's 60 top-performing local government areas house more than quarter of the nation's population," we note in the newly released Smart Cities Down Under report.

Four ways the UK government must phase out petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2035

The UK government recently pledged to bring forward a ban on new diesel and petrol car sales from 2040, to 2035. The move surprised some, but perhaps most surprising was the confirmation that the ban will also include hybrid vehicles, which use a combustion engine running on fossil fuel and an electric battery pack.

Coronavirus could slow down Apple iPhone shipments

The coronavirus could affect the tech products that show up on your doorstep.

Now a smart lightbulb system got hacked

That shiny new smart light bulb that can be turned on and off with Alexa and change colors with the Google Assistant could be vulnerable to a hack.

What's your brand?

Researchers created an algorithm that successfully predicted consumer purchases. The algorithm made use of data from the consumers' daily activity on social media. Brands could use this to analyze potential customers. The researchers' method combines powerful statistical modeling techniques with machine learning-based image recognition.

Controlling light with light: Researchers develop a new platform for all-optical computing

The future of computation is bright—literally.

Thwarting hacks by thinking like the humans behind them

If we understood the humans behind hacking incidents—and their intent—could we stop them? Research from Michigan State University reveals the importance of factoring in a hacker's motive for predicting, identifying and preventing cyberattacks.

LinkedIn CEO steps aside after 11 years, says time is right

The LinkedIn professional networking service is getting a new CEO.

Groups call on Chicago mayor to ban city's use of facial recognition technology

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot should ban the city's use of facial recognition technology of the kind the Chicago Police Department utilizes on the grounds it's racially biased and an invasion of residents' privacy, a group of activists said Tuesday.

As Tesla gyrates, Ford and GM get no love from Wall Street

While Wall Street continued to ogle Tesla's skyrocketing valuation Wednesday, shares of Ford and General Motors were under pressure after reporting fourth-quarter losses.

Tesla shares dive, giving back some gains from rally

Tesla shares dived around 20 percent in early afternoon trading Wednesday, giving back some of the gains the electric-car maker racked up since October.

Translate this: How real-time translation breaks down barriers when you don't speak the language

Feeling lost in translation?

Want to take back your online privacy? 7 easy steps to stop Facebook and others from spying on you

Survey after survey shows we don't like having our sensitive personal information collected, monitored and tracked whenever we share with friends on social media, shop online or use our mobile devices.

YouTube: Face recognition firm must stop harvesting videos

YouTube is demanding that a facial recognition company stop harvesting its videos to identify the people in them, which the startup does as part of its work with police.

Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific asks all staff to take unpaid leave

Hong Kong's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific is asking its entire workforce to take up to three weeks of unpaid leave, its CEO announced Wednesday, as the airline faces a crisis in the wake of the new coronavirus outbreak.

Virus impact: Automakers look at restarting China operations

Automakers are considering whether to resume operations in China amid efforts to contain a virus outbreak while the impact on other companies spreads.

Dubai airport reports first dip in passenger numbers in 20 years

The number of travellers passing through Dubai International airport dipped last year for the first time in 20 years but the airport remained the world's busiest for international passengers, authorities said on Wednesday.

UK regulator bans Ryanair's 'misleading' green adverts

A British regulator on Wednesday banned advertisements by Ryanair that gave "misleading" claims over the Irish airline's "low" level of carbon emissions—a move welcomed by environmental campaigners.

Airbus closes China plant due to coronavirus

Airbus has closed its aircraft production facility in Tianjin, near the Chinese capital Beijing, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the aviation giant said Wednesday.

How to create smart city technology with connected cars

Smart city initiatives are increasingly implemented in various sectors like mobility and ICT to better handle resources and improve citizens' quality of life. The vision of such innovative solutions holds out the promise of integrating data from multiple organizations, diverse environments and a wide variety of intelligent devices that can be challenging.

New guidebook informs next generation of grid integration studies

When the government of India set a goal of deploying 175 gigawatts of renewable power by 2022, they understood changes to their power system's operations were needed to achieve that level of renewable power on the grid. India decided to work with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United States Department of Energy's (DOE's) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to develop a comprehensive grid integration study identifying operational pathways that would enable India to efficiently meet its renewable energy target.

General Motors says labor strike led to $194 mn 4Q loss

General Motors reported a fourth-quarter loss on Wednesday due to a lengthy labor strike in the United States, while projecting lower 2020 industrywide sales in the US and China.

An end-to-end general framework for automatic diagnosis of manufacturing systems

The manufacturing sector is envisioned to soon be heavily influenced by artificial intelligence-based technologies with the extraordinary increases in computational power and data volumes. Data-driven methods use sensor data, such as vibration, pressure, temperature, and energy data to extract useful features for diagnosis and prediction. A central challenge in the manufacturing sector lies in the requirement of a general framework to ensure satisfied diagnosis and monitoring performances in different manufacturing applications.

Circular economy can improve the profitability of wind power—and vice versa

Circular economy can utilise surplus wind power to improve profitability of the entire energy system. This was demonstrated by VTT's new modelling tool that was used to calculate the effects of circular economy in the Åland Islands, where the share of wind power is expected to increase rapidly in the next few years.

Rockstar loses its rock star GTA game producer

The creative force behind the Grand Theft Auto video games, Dan Houser, will leave next month the Rockstar Games firm he cofounded, its parent company said.

FTC: Consumer finance website favored companies that paid

A personal finance website founded by former University of Delaware students has agreed to pay $350,000 to settle allegations that it posted fake reviews and steered users toward companies that paid the site, according to federal regulators.

Medicine & Health news

Genetic variants reduce risk of Alzheimer's disease

A DNA study of over 10,000 people by UCL scientists has identified a class of gene variants that appear to protect against Alzheimer's disease.

Researchers design proteins that can be utilized to combat Alzheimer's disease

A team of researchers, led by NYU Abu Dhabi Assistant Professor of Biology Mazin Magzoub, has developed small proteins called cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) that prevent the aggregation of the amyloid-β (Aβ) protein associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Researcher's technology differentiates between Parkinson's disease and multiple system atrophy

Scientists have found a way to distinguish between two progressive neurodegenerative diseases, Parkinson's disease (PD) and multiple system atrophy (MSA), using a technology developed by a researcher at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The discovery was published today in Nature.

Molecular 'first responder' that triggers plaques uncovered

Oxford University scientist have discovered the molecular 'first responder' which detects disturbances in the flow of blood through the arteries, and responds by encouraging the formation of plaques which can lead to serious problems, including heart attack, stroke and even death.

Signs of cancer that occur years before diagnosis could lead to earlier cancer detection

Early signs of cancer can appear years before diagnosis and developing tests for these genetic signs could provide new ways to spot cancer early, according to new research led by the Crick and EMBL-EBI, and supported by an international cancer genomics consortium, the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes Project. The collaboration included Wellcome Sanger Institute, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Big Data Institute at the University of Oxford and Oregon Health & Science University.

Cancer-causing culprits will be caught by their DNA fingerprints

Causes of cancer are being catalogued by a huge international study revealing the genetic fingerprints of DNA-damaging processes that drive cancer development. Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Duke-NUS Medical School Singapore, University of California San Diego School of Medicine, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and their collaborators around the world have achieved the most detailed list of these genetic fingerprints to date, providing clues as to how each cancer developed.

Platelet microparticles give antibody drug 'piggyback ride' to repair damaged heart

New research from North Carolina State University shows that platelet microparticles are an effective way to deliver therapeutic drugs directly to the heart following a heart attack. This method increases drug concentration at the site and could help heart attack patients reduce side effects from drugs used to aid recovery.

Normal resting heart rate appears to vary widely from person to person

A person's normal resting heart rate is fairly consistent over time, but may vary from others' by up to 70 beats per minute, according to analysis of the largest dataset of daily resting heart rate ever collected. Giorgio Quer of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California, and colleagues present these findings in the open-access journal PLOS ONE on February 5, 2020 as part of an upcoming PLOS Collection on Digital Health Technology.

Charting immune system development in sub-Saharan African children

In an effort to boost vaccination efficiency in children at most risk of infectious disease, a global team of researchers has performed an in-depth analysis of the developing immune system in children from sub-Saharan Africa. The team, which brought together researchers from Cambridge, UK, Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia, Tanzania and Mozambique, discovered that the development of the immune system is most affected by age and location. These findings suggest that how ready a child's immune system is to respond to a vaccine will vary by age, where they live and health factors such as anaemia. This study's in-depth look into the immune systems of African children will be a valuable resource to support vaccination programmes and the development of new vaccines for these at-risk populations. The findings are published today (Wednesday 5 February) in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Gene ID'd as potential therapeutic target for dementia in Parkinson's

Dementia is one of the most debilitating consequences of Parkinson's disease, a progressive neurological condition characterized by tremors, stiffness, slow movement and impaired balance. Eighty percent of people with Parkinson's develop dementia within 20 years of the diagnosis, and patients who carry a particular variant of the gene APOE are at especially high risk.

New substance prevents vascular calcification

Researchers at ETH Zurich and ETH spin-off Inositec have developed a new substance to prevent vascular calcification, which affects many patients suffering from chronic kidney disease. As their metabolism is impaired, calcium salts may deposit in soft tissues, such as blood vessels or even the heart valves, causing them to stiffen. This often leads to severe, potentially fatal cardiovascular diseases. However, before patients can benefit from the substance further research and tests must be carried out.

What the brain really thinks about forever chemicals

The human-made chemicals that make our kitchen pans stick-free, our athletic wear water-repellent and firefighting chemicals more efficient do their jobs incredibly well, but it's at the expense of lingering in the body and environment for what is believed to be forever.

A close-up look at mutated DNA in cancer cells

No two tumors are alike. That's why two people with the same kind of cancer can react very differently to the same medicine. In one the tumor gets smaller, in another the degenerated tissue remains unaffected. Usually this is due to genetic variations in the individual cancer cells.

Viruses and cancer: DNA sequencing reveals viral components in malignant tumor samples

Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center systematically investigated the DNA of more than 2,600 tumor samples from patients with 38 types of cancer to discover traces of viruses, which they found in 13 percent of the samples studied. The researchers also identified mechanisms that the pathogens use to trigger carcinogenic mutations in the DNA. The work is part of the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG), an initiative launched by the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC).

fMRI scans on conscious autism-model mice illuminate reduced brain connectivity

An international research group led by the Graduate School of Medicine's Dr. TAKUMI Toru (RIKEN Center for Brain Science team leader) and Dr. TSURUGIZAWA Tomokazu (NeuroSpin/CEA, France) has succeeded in developing a system to conduct fMRI scans on conscious mice. This method was subsequently utilized to detect brain network dysfunction and monitor neural responses to social cues in autism-model mice. Furthermore, administration of D-cycloserine (DCS) was shown to have some success in correcting social behaviors.

Gut bacteria help control healthy muscle contraction in the colon

Micro-organisms in the gut support healthy digestion by helping nerve cells within the intestine to regulate the contraction and relaxation of the muscle wall of the colon, according to new research from the Crick and Bern University.

Focus on context diminishes memory of negative events, researchers report

In a new study, researchers report they can manipulate how the brain encodes and retains emotional memories. The scientists found that focusing on the neutral details of a disturbing scene can weaken a person's later memories—and negative impressions—of that scene.

First comprehensive survey of virus DNA found within cancer cells

Researchers from the University of East Anglia have helped to carry out the first comprehensive survey of viruses found within different types of cancer.

Traces of immortality in tumor DNA

To gain an infinite lifespan, cancer cells need to maintain the ends of their chromosomes, known as telomeres. They achieve this in various ways. Scientists from the German Cancer Research Center systematically investigated more than 2,500 tumor genomes of 36 types of cancer to find out how these mechanisms are manifest in changes in the DNA. Active lengthening of the telomeres is one of the hallmarks of all cancer cells and hence an important focus in developing targeted treatments. The study is part of the Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG).

Industry-linked studies more favorable to indoor tanning, researchers say

Studies of indoor tanning that are financially linked to the industry are significantly more likely to downplay the risks and highlight perceived benefits of indoor tanning than studies without such ties, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

New research into how peace of mind can influence parents' attitude to vaccines

Many people experience peace of mind from getting their children vaccinated, according to new research from the University of Bristol. However, this benefit is currently being ignored when health bodies weigh up vaccine benefits to make decisions about whether or not to introduce vaccines or expand their coverage.

Certain meditation strategies may help perfectionists

Mindfulness meditation with a focus on nonjudgment of emotions may help perfectionists recover from stress, according to a study published in Psychophysiology.

Extreme difficulty breathing and swallowing linked to teen's vaping?

A teenage girl with no hint of prior asthma or respiratory illness began to feel hoarseness in her throat and a feeling that she needed to clear her throat frequently. Within a few weeks, her hoarseness and throat-clearing worsened with early morning voice loss and feeling as if food were lodged in her throat. She started having trouble swallowing and began to avoid food all together.

Gene variants provide insight into brain, body incongruence in transgender

Some of the first biological evidence of the incongruence transgender individuals experience, because their brain indicates they are one sex and their body another, may have been found in estrogen receptor pathways in the brain of 30 transgender individuals.

Radiologists describe coronavirus imaging features

In a special report published today in the journal Radiology, researchers describe CT imaging features that aid in the early detection and diagnosis of Wuhan coronavirus.

New hope for COPD patients possible with in-home device

In a new paper published Feb. 4 in JAMA, Mayo Clinic researchers describe the benefits of in-home noninvasive ventilation therapy—which includes a type referred to as bilevel positive airway pressure, or BiPAP—for many patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The team identified a number of benefits, including reduced mortality, fewer hospital admissions, lower risk of intubation, improved shortness of breath, and fewer emergency department visits.

Does abdominal fat affect the cognitive function of older adults with diabetes?

Higher levels of abdominal fat were linked with reduced cognitive function in a Clinical Obesity study of older Asians with type 2 diabetes—even in individuals with normal weight.

Not all hormone therapy protects equally against heart disease in postmenopausal women

Hormone therapy has proven to slow down heart fat deposition and the progression of atherosclerosis, depending on the type of hormone therapy and route of administration. A new study compared the effects of conjugated equine estrogens (CEE) and 17β-estradiol and contrasted oral and transdermal delivery to determine their effectiveness in preventing heart disease. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Study links three key variables to higher rural mortality rates in US

Since the 1980s, the all-cause mortality rate in the U.S for rural residents has exceeded that of urban dwellers. In a recently completed study, researchers from the F. Marie Hall Institute for Rural and Community Health at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) sought to determine why this disparity exists in general, and why specifically this imbalance varies so much between states.

Coronavirus infects at least 10 on Japan cruise ship

Thousands were marooned on a cruise ship off the Japanese coast Wednesday, after medics evacuated 10 people infected with the deadly coronavirus, with many facing an anxious wait for their own test results.

More Chinese cities shut down as virus death toll rises

Millions more people have been ordered to stay indoors as China battles to curb the spread of a new virus that authorities said Wednesday has already killed nearly 500 people.

Major US airlines add Hong Kong to China flight suspensions

United and American Airlines on Wednesday both announced plans to temporarily suspend flights to Hong Kong following the outbreak of a deadly new coronavirus.

China virus deaths rise as WHO says 'opportunity' to halt spread

The world has a "window of opportunity" to halt the spread of a deadly new virus, global health experts said, as the number of people infected in China jumped to 24,000 and millions more were ordered to stay indoors.

Measles vaccine group targets 45 million children

Vaccine group Gavi said on Tuesday it would help to innoculate up to 45 million children in countries in Asia and Africa over the next six months.

Unknowns of the new virus make global quarantines a struggle

Health authorities are scrambling to halt the spread of a new virus that has killed hundreds in China, restricting visitors from the country and confining thousands on cruise ships for extensive screening after some passengers tested positive. But with important details about the illness and how it spreads still unknown, officials and medical personnel are struggling.

Healthy habits still vital after starting blood pressure, cholesterol medications

Heart-healthy lifestyle modifications are always recommended whether blood pressure or cholesterol medications are prescribed or not. However, a new study found that many patients let these healthy habits slip after starting the prescription medications, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the open access journal of the American Heart Association.

Incarceration of a family member during childhood associated with diabetes in men

Men who experienced a family member's incarceration are 64% more likely to have diabetes in later adulthood, compared to those who were not exposed to this childhood adversity, report researchers from the University of Toronto and University of Alabama in a recent study in SAGE-Open Medicine.

Activating immune cells could revitalize the aging brain, study suggests

Researchers at Albany Medical College in New York have discovered that a specific type of immune cell accumulates in older brains, and that activating these cells improves the memory of aged mice. The study, which will be published February 5 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine (JEM), suggests that targeting these cells might reduce age-related cognitive decline and combat aging-associated neurodegenerative disease in humans.

Unprecedented exploration generates most comprehensive map of cancer genomes to date

An international team has completed the most comprehensive study of whole cancer genomes to date, significantly improving our fundamental understanding of cancer and signposting new directions for its diagnosis and treatment.

People with cluster headaches may miss twice as much work as those without

Cluster headaches are short but extremely painful headaches that can occur many days, or even weeks, in a row. Now a new study has found that people who have this debilitating form of headache may miss twice as many days of work as people without such headaches. The study is published in the February 5, 2020, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Baby tests positive for China virus just 30 hours after birth

A baby in China's epidemic-hit Wuhan city has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus just 30 hours after being born, Chinese state media reported Wednesday.

In Alibaba's hometown, a grim message: 'don't go out'

A loudspeaker broadcast ominous instructions across the deserted streets of Hangzhou, the eastern Chinese city that is home to e-commerce giant Alibaba: "Please don't go out, don't go out, don't go out!"

Hong Kong announces quarantines for mainland China arrivals

Hong Kong announced Wednesday a mandatory two-week quarantine for all travellers from mainland China, in a bid to stop more cases of the deadly new coronavirus.

Malaria: Vaccine clinical trial for pregnant women yields promising results

Malaria infection during pregnancy represents a major public health problem in the regions endemic for the disease, substantially increasing the risks to mothers and their unborn children. A new vaccine known as PRIMVAC has undergone a clinical trial to study its safety and collect preliminary data on its ability to induce an immune response.

Co-treatments help beat peanut allergies

Desensitising children to peanut allergies through oral immunotherapy is more effective when done in conjunction with antihistamines and probiotics, South Australian researchers have found.

Can 'supermind design' help tackle depression in Japan?

The health care sector is at an important crossroads. With new diseases emerging and endemic diseases becoming more widespread, the industry is having to explore new ways to face such challenges.

Smoking cessation medication not linked to higher risk of pregnancy complications

Studies analyzing the safety of using quit smoking medication during pregnancy have been few and far between—now, new UNSW big data research sheds light on the matter.

Targeted lung cancer treatment gets initial 'no' for NHS in England

Adults in England with advanced lung cancer will not have access to a new targeted cancer drug, lorlatinib (Lorviqua).

AI-based marker for colon cancer can help improve quality of treatment

A Norwegian-led research group has developed a clinically useful prognostic marker using deep learning and digital scanning of conventional hematoxylin and eosin-stained tumor tissue sections. The assay has been extensively evaluated in large, independent patient populations, correlates with and outperforms established molecular and morphological prognostic markers, and gives consistent results across tumor and nodal stage.

Parkinson's genes regulate a signaling pathway of the innate immune system

The Parkin gene protects nerve cells against functional impairment and cell death. It particularly ensures that mitochondria, cell organelles that are responsible for energy production, remain intact and that damaged mitochondria are removed. PACRG is located next to the Parkin gene in the genome. Both genes share what is called a promotor, which regulates the expression of the genes. Parkin and PACRG are thus expressed in a similar pattern.

Coronavirus: How health and politics have always been inextricably linked in China

Since the onset of the Chinese revolution in the early 20th century, public health objectives have been an integral part of the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) ideology. China's overwhelming poverty, linked to poor hygiene and health of the Chinese population, particularly those living in the countryside, signaled China's backwardness to the world.

Coronavirus fears: Should we take a deep breath?

With a new infectious disease outbreak on our doorstep, we might ask ourselves: are we reacting to the coronavirus in a way that is proportional to the threat?

Animals suffer for meat production – and meatworkers do, too

Industrial livestock farms or factory farms account for more than 50% of global pork and poultry meat production and 10% of beef and mutton production. Graphic exposés of how animals are processed in such places rarely fail to shock us.

What is Charles Bonnet syndrome, the eye condition that causes hallucinations?

Visual hallucinations, or seeing things that aren't really there, can be frightening and distressing.

Fiber crossings ahead: Key enzymes affecting nervous system pathway identified

Voluntary motor movements rely on the corticospinal tract (CST)—a group of neuronal fibers in mammals that connect each side of the brain to the opposite side of the spinal cord, and ultimately to muscles. It contains about 1 million fibers, the majority of which cross sides where the brain meets the spinal cord. This is why, for example, the left side of the brain controls your right hand. New experiments in mice by researchers at the University of Tsukuba have found that normal crossing of these fibers during development, and subsequent motor coordination during adulthood, rely on two key enzymes—Sulf1 and Sulf2.

Suspect eliminated as a therapeutic target in B cell lymphoma

Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have narrowed the focus on which survival proteins are important for the survival of B cell lymphomas, eliminating the protein BCL-W from the "suspect list."

Young migrants from Africa at increased risk of developing psychosis

Young people who have migrated to Australia from Africa are up to 10 times more likely to develop a psychotic disorder than their Australian-born counterparts, Orygen research has found.

Individuals are more optimistic about their own political parties or sports teams than others

People tend to be irrationally optimistic about the future success of their sports team or political party, while supporters of their rivals hold similar overly positive views about the performance of their own group, a new study from Oregon State University has found.

Safely aging: Growing old in a smart home requires technology to monitor health and behavior

With an aging population, there is an increasing need for a smart home to be able to monitor health and behavior with a view to allowing people to continue to live in their homes independently. Research published in the International Journal of Ad Hoc and Ubiquitous Computing shows how motion sensors, actuators, and surveillance systems can be used in different rooms in a home to monitor people are they carry out household chores, such as cooking and cleaning, and other activities, such as using the bathroom, watching television, partaking of hobbies, and sleeping.

Gaps remain in rural opioid crisis research

Rural areas have been hit hard by the opioid crisis, but few studies have been done to understand how to improve access to treatment and reduce the overdose death rate in these communities, according to a new study by Rutgers University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University.

Plasma reactor that zaps airborne viruses could slow spread of infectious diseases

It's the enduring media image of infectious disease outbreaks, including the current coronavirus outbreak from Wuhan, China: people in public spaces with faces half-hidden by surgical masks.

Excessive exercise and eating disorders: Psychological mechanisms decoded

Excessive and obsessive exercise is very harmful to health, this being particularly pronounced for persons suffering from eating disorders. Based on electronic diaries, a team of researchers of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the University of Freiburg has now uncovered for the first time psychological mechanisms underlying pathological exercise. Their results suggest that persons with eating disorders use exercise to regulate depressive mood and negative thoughts relating to their eating disorders. The study is published in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics.

Gluten-free and dairy-free diets: No effect on behavior of children with autism spectrum disorders

A study by researchers from the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Granada (UGR) has analyzed the effects of a gluten-free diet and casein-free diet on the behavior of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders.

Chronic stress can cause heart trouble

Sometimes stress can be useful. But constant stress can affect overall well-being and may even impact heart health.

Irrefutable evidence that lung cancer screening works

Professor Stephen Duffy, Professor of Cancer Screening at the Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine, and Professor John Field, from the University of Liverpool's Department of Molecular and Clinical Cancer Medicine, comment on recently published results from a lung cancer screening trial.

Drop in visits to primary care providers seen for insured adults

From 2008 to 2016, there was a decrease in commercially insured adults' visits to primary care providers (PCPs), according to a study published online Feb. 4 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Is vaping a scourge on your skin?

Burns on the face, arms and hands that require skin grafts. Acne boils and ugly rashes. Black hairy tongue and other oral lesions.

New study provides criteria for good infant sleep for the first time

According to a new study, sleep problems among infants are very common and normally improve by the time the child reaches the age of two. The study was carried out by the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) and the University of Turku.

Coronavirus surveillance: Team creating unique codes for disease tracking

As public health leaders from around the world, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, work to contain the spread of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, a team at Regenstrief Institute, an international leader in health information technology, is providing help to track cases of the illness. The World Health Organization has declared the virus a global public health emergency.

Targeting the cancer microenvironment

The recognition of bacterial infections or foreign substances is mediated and controlled by the human immune system. This innate and adaptive immune system comprises the most important metabolic and cellular process to fight against infections and other diseases. Paradoxically, this immune system is also involved in the development of systemic diseases and cancer. Therefore it is of utmost importance to further understand fundamental biochemical processes involved in the cellular reactions of the immune system which can lead directly to novel therapies against systemic diseases and cancer.

Choosing common pain relievers: It's complicated

About 29 million Americans use over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to treat pain. Every year in the United States, NSAID use is attributed to approximately 100,000 hospitalizations and 17,000 deaths. In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently strengthened its warning about risks of non-aspirin NSAIDs on heart attacks and strokes. While each over-the-counter and prescription pain reliever has benefits and risks, deciding which one to use is complicated for health care providers and their patients.

Solitary confinement significantly increases post-prison death risk

Even just a few days of solitary confinement may significantly increase inmates' risk of death after serving their sentences.

CD19 CAR NK-cell therapy achieves 73% response rate in patients with leukemia and lymphoma

According to results from a Phase I/IIa trial at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, treatment with cord blood-derived chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) natural killer (NK)-cell therapy targeting CD19 resulted in clinical responses in a majority of patients with relapsed or refractory non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), with no major toxicities observed.

Novelty speeds up learning thanks to dopamine activation

Brain scientists led by Sebastian Haesler (NERF, empowered by IMEC, KU Leuven and VIB) have identified a causal mechanism of how novel stimuli promote learning. Novelty directly activates the dopamine system, which is responsible for associative learning. The findings have implications for improving learning strategies and for the design of machine learning algorithms.

Protein could offer therapeutic target for breast cancer metastasis

A new study by University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center researchers suggests that targeting a protein known as heat shock protein 47 (Hsp47) could be key for suppressing breast cancer metastasis.

Medical students become less empathic toward patients throughout medical school

A key factor of solid patient/doctor relationships is a notion of empathy that drives a feeling of shared humanity.

Novel intervention in senior housing communities increases resilience and wisdom

The United States Census Bureau estimates that by 2060, nearly one in four Americans will be age 65 and older. As America turns increasingly gray, numerous stressors, such as declining health, loss of loved ones or independence, negatively impact the lives of older adults.

'Severe' hospital bed shortage at China virus epicentre: officials

Authorities in China warned Wednesday they faced a severe shortage of hospital beds and equipment needed to treat a growing number of patients stricken by the new coronavirus, as cities far from the epicentre tightened their defences.

WHO issues appeal for $675m to fight novel coronavirus

The World Health Organization on Wednesday called for $675 million (613 million euros) in donations for a plan to fight the novel coronavirus, mainly through investment in countries considered particularly "at risk".

H. pylori eradication cuts gastric cancer risk in those with family history

(HealthDay)—Among those who have Helicobacter pylori infection and a family history of gastric cancer in first-degree relatives, eradication treatment for H. pylori reduces the risk for gastric cancer, according to a study published in the Jan. 30 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Safety tips to keep you out of the emergency department this winter

Winter may be winding down for some, but for others, the snow, cold and ice will continue to create hazardous conditions that can lead to serious injury.

As VA tests keto diet to help diabetic patients, skeptics raise red flags

A partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and Silicon Valley startup Virta Health Corp. is focusing attention on the company's claim that it provides treatment "clinically-proven to safely and sustainably reverse type 2 diabetes" without medication or surgery.

Infectious diseases A-Z: Norovirus cases rise in winter months

Norovirus is a highly contagious viral infection that is commonly referred to as "stomach flu." However, it is not related to the flu, which is caused by the influenza virus.

Retinoid X receptor boosts brain recovery after stroke in preclinical trial

A regulator of gene expression, retinoid X receptor (RXR), can boost scavenging cells in their mission to clear the brain of dead cells and debris after a stroke, thus limiting inflammation and improving recovery, according to preclinical research led by Jarek Aronowski, MD, Ph.D., of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

Paternal involvement might improve health of mom, infant

Paternal involvement can have positive health impacts for a mother and her baby, according to a new study by Northwestern Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Autism screening rate soars with use of CHICA system

Universal early screening for autism is recommended for all children but is not routinely performed. A new study from Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University School of Medicine researchers, published in JAMA Network Open, reports that the system they designed and developed called CHICA (short for Child Health Improvement through Computer Automation), increased the autism screening rate at 24 months of age from zero to 100 percent.

Higher opioid doses fail to lessen pain

Increasing chronic pain patients' opioid prescription doses does not seem to improve pain, according to a Veterans Affairs study. Researchers from the Central Arkansas and Minneapolis VA health care systems and three universities looked at prescribing data of more than 50,000 VA patients taking opioids. They found that patients who had their opioid dosage increased did not have meaningful improvements in pain, compared with patients who continued to take the same dose.

Majority of veterans with GWI report moderate/severe fatigue, sleep, and pain symptoms

An online survey of nearly 500 veterans with Gulf War illness (GWI) suggests a high burden of disease almost three decades after the conflict.

New study adds to evidence of diabetes drug link to heart problems

A new study published by The BMJ today adds to evidence that rosiglitazone—a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes—is associated with an increased risk of heart problems, especially heart failure.

The benefits of physical activity for older adults

Physically active older adults benefit from reduced risks of early death, breast and prostate cancer, fractures, recurrent falls, functional limitations, cognitive decline, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and depression. The findings come from a review of all published reviews of studies that assessed the relationship between physical activity and health in adults aged 60 years or older.

Treating obesity benefits children's mental health

Treating obesity in children and adolescents improves self-esteem and body image, according to an analysis of all relevant studies published to date. The analysis, which is published in Pediatric Obesity, included 64 studies.

Study reveals seasonal variations in hypertensive disorders during pregnancy

Researchers observed seasonal variations in the risk of the hypertensive disorders of pregnancy—including gestational hypertension and preeclampsia—in a study of Danish women. In the Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica study, the highest risk for hypertensive disorders was seen in pregnancies conceived during spring and summer.

The economic burden of kidney transplant failure in the United States

A recent analysis published in the American Journal of Transplantation estimates that for the average US patient who has undergone kidney transplantation, failure of the transplanted organ (graft failure) will impose additional medical costs of $78,079 and a loss of 1.66 quality-adjusted life years. (One quality-adjusted life year is equal to one year of life in perfect health.)

Do elevated mercury levels in the blood increase skin cancer risk?

Higher levels of mercury in the blood were linked with a higher prevalence of non-melanoma skin cancer, the most common human malignancy, in a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology.

Self-perception of aging may affect the prognosis of older patients with cancer

Self-perception of aging—or attitudes toward one's aging experience—may affect older individuals' risk of dying early after being diagnosed with cancer, according to results from a study published in Cancer Medicine.

Dementia may reduce likelihood of a 'good death' for patients with cancer

As the population ages, the number of cancer patients with dementia has increased. A recent study published in Geriatrics & Gerontology International found that cancer patients with dementia were less likely to achieve a "good death" than those without.

Medical marijuana laws may affect workers' compensation claims

New research published in Health Economics indicates that after US states passed medical marijuana laws, workers' compensation claims declined.

Lung cancer rates are rising in young women across multiple countries

An International Journal of Cancer study that examined lung cancer rates in young adults in 40 countries across five continents uncovered a trend of higher lung cancer rates in women compared with men in recent years.

Study identifies potential risk factors for cognitive decline in older adults

In older adults with abdominal obesity (excess belly fat), sustained elevations of blood sugar were linked to a higher likelihood of experiencing cognitive decline. In older adults without abdominal obesity, the hormone adiponectin appeared to be a likely risk factor for cognitive decline.

Does tramadol increase hip fracture risk?

Use of the pain medication tramadol was linked with a higher risk of hip fractures compared with the use of other pain medications in an analysis of a patient database from the United Kingdom.

Vietnam setting up field hospitals for possible virus influx

Vietnam is setting up field hospitals with thousands of beds to handle a potential influx of coronavirus cases, health officials said, as it prepares to receive its nationals from China.

Italy, Turkey screen all arriving passengers for coronavirus

Italy and Turkey said Wednesday they were taking the temperatures of all arriving airline passengers in new prevention measures aimed at halting the spread of a virus outbreak that has killed hundreds of people in China.

Mathematicians develop a model of the movement of immune cells

Mathematicians from RUDN University have developed a computational model that allows predicting the mobility of T-lymphocytes, immune cells that recognize and destroy viruses. The model will help in the treatment of immune system disorders, including those that can lead to cancer, and in the development of HIV vaccines. The study was published in Frontiers in Immunology.

Are waistbands the new 'vital sign' along with BMI to check your health?

Healthcare professionals should routinely measure waist circumference, alongside body mass index (BMI) to properly assess and manage obesity-related health risk, write Robert Ross and 16 colleagues in a Consensus Statement in Nature Reviews Endocrinology. They argue that decreases in waist circumference are a critically important treatment target for reducing potential health risks.

Genetic changes implicated in altered Alzheimer's risk

Today, researchers from UCL have presented more evidence that a gene, PSEN1, implicated in inherited, early-onset Alzheimer's disease is also involved in the more common form of the condition. They also suggest genes that play a key role in a fundamental cellular process could decrease or increase the risk of developing the disease. The research was published in the scientific journal Nature.

Less advertising for high-calorie snacks on children's TV

The number of overweight children has increased significantly. In addition to psychological problems, chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and joint wear and tear are on the rise. Some food and beverage companies have signed a voluntary commitment at EU level to restrict advertising of foods high in fat, sugar and salt to children. A study by scientists at the University of Bonn shows: The number of corresponding commercials aimed at children decreased in Germany once this agreement had been put in place, but the companies also exploit loopholes. The results have now been published in the journal "Food Policy."

Programmed vascular endothelium remodeling using a remote-controlled 'smart' platform

According to the statistics from World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular disease has become the leading cause of death worldwide, inducing almost 1/3 of death each year. Owing to its importance and promise in cardiovascular disease treatment, vascular regeneration has attracted global attention in both academic and clinical settings. Within the vascular regeneration process, endothelium remodeling, which refers to the formation of a confluent vascular endothelial cell monolayer on the lumen, plays a vital role. However, rapid endothelialization confronts large challenges using existing synthetic biomaterials or engineering methods as vascular endothelium remodeling is a complicated and dynamic process. Successful endothelium remodeling has become the key to the success of vascular remodeling.

Short, intensive training improves children's health

Many children don't get enough exercise and as a result often have health problems such as being overweight and having high blood pressure. A research team from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the Medical School Berlin (MSB) has found that simple methods can be used to combat this. They integrated high-intensity interval training (HIIT) into standard physical education and observed improvements in children's health within a very short period of time.

Gates Foundation announces $100 million for coronavirus response

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged Wednesday to commit up to $100 million for the global response to the novel coronavirus epidemic that has claimed nearly 500 lives.

Wilderness Medical Society issues important new clinical practice guidelines

The Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) has released new clinical practice guidelines in a supplement to Wilderness & Environmental Medicine, published by Elsevier. This issue features updates to previously published clinical practice guidelines and newly developed guidelines on diabetes management and spinal immobilization in the wilderness setting.

New therapy option identified for early-stage breast cancer

Radionuclide therapy has proven successful in delaying the growth of disseminated tumor cells (DTCs) in early-stage breast cancer in a small animal model, suggesting its use as a potential adjuvant therapy for retarding the proliferation of DTCs. As reported in the January issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, the alpha-particle-emitting radiopharmaceutical 223RaCl2 not only impacts cells directly hit by radiation but also has significant effects on cells outside of the radiation field (i.e., bystander cells).

7 dead in Congo fever outbreak in Mali

Seven people have died in an outbreak of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, also known as Congo fever, in a village in central Mali, an official said.

Biology news

Scientists solve structure enabling cyanobacteria to thrive in low light

Scientists have determined the structure of the protein complex that gives cyanobacteria their unique ability to convert weak, filtered sunlight into useable energy. Their findings could one day be used to engineer crops that thrive under low-light conditions.

Cuttlefish eat less for lunch when they know there'll be shrimp for dinner

When cuttlefish know that shrimp—their favourite food—will be available in the evening, they eat fewer crabs during the day. This capacity to make decisions based on future expectations reveals complex cognitive abilities.

Researchers discover intricate process of DNA repair in genome stability

An elaborate system of filaments, liquid droplet dynamics and protein connectors enables the repair of some damaged DNA in the nuclei of cells, researchers at the University of Toronto have found. The findings further challenge the belief that broken DNA floats aimlessly—and highlight the value of cross-disciplinary research in biology and physics.

New global biodiversity study provides unified map of life on land and in the ocean

New research led by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and partner organizations yielded the first comprehensive global biodiversity map documenting the distribution of life both on land and in the ocean.

Bumblebees carry heavy loads in economy mode

Bumblebees are the big lifters of the insect world, able to fly back to the hive with almost their own bodyweight in nectar on board. A study published Feb. 5 in Science Advances shows how they do it—and that bees can show more flexibility in behavior than you might expect from a bumbling insect.

Bumble bees prefer a low-fat diet

Bees are an important factor for our environment and our sustenance. Without insect pollination, many plant species—including various crops—cannot reproduce. "Bee mortality therefore affects food supply for human beings," said Professor Sara Leonhardt, who specializes in plant-insect interactions. All of the worldwide more than 20,000 bee species need to be considered. Among these, bumble bees are of particular importance besides the famous honey bee.

Primate venom sheds light on why so many people suffer cat allergies

Research into the toxin of the world's only venomous primate, the slow loris, is shedding light on the potential origins of the allergic qualities of cats.

Save the giants, save the planet

Habitat loss, hunting, logging and climate change have put many of the world's most charismatic species at risk. A new study, led by the University of Arizona, has found that not only are larger plants and animals at higher risk of extinction, but their loss would fundamentally degrade life on earth.

Penguin calls found to conform to human linguistic laws

A team of researchers from France and Italy has found that African penguin calls conform to linguistic laws used by humans. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the group describes their study of penguin vocal recordings and what they learned from them.

Origin of ambergris verified through DNA analyses

A team of researchers from Denmark, the U.K. and Ireland has identified the origin of ambergris. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the group describes analyzing DNA sequences from ambergris samples found on beaches in New Zealand and Sri Lanka, and what they learned.

Rewilding can mitigate climate change, researchers report after global assessment

A new study has shown that rewilding can help to mitigate climate change, delivering a diverse range of benefits to the environment with varied regional impacts.

Diet found to contribute to urban-induced alterations in bird gut microbiota

A team of researchers from Ghent University, the University of Antwerp and UMR 5174 CNRS-Université Paul Sabatier-IRD has found that diet location can contribute to urban-induced alterations in bird gut microbiota. In their paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group describes their study of urban and rural house sparrow eating habits and what they learned.

Scientists sequence the genome of basmati rice

Using an innovative genome sequencing technology, researchers assembled the complete genetic blueprint of two basmati rice varieties, including one that is drought-tolerant and resistant to bacterial disease. The findings, published in Genome Biology, also show that basmati rice is a hybrid of two other rice groups.

Why males pack a powerful punch

Elk have antlers. Rams have horns. In the animal kingdom, males develop specialized weapons for competition when winning a fight is critical. Humans do too, according to new research from the University of Utah. Males' upper bodies are built for more powerful punches than females', says the study, published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, suggesting that fighting may have long been a part of our evolutionary history.

New metadata database for terrestrial metagenomes: Helping discover the diversity in soil

Microbiological communities, which include bacteria, single-celled organisms and nematodes, reveal a great deal of information about the state of soils. All around the world, a lot of research is being performed on this biodiversity at a genetic level, but third parties are not always able to put these research results to the best possible use. The reason is that he information recorded in databases varies in terms of quality. UFZ researchers have now built up a new metadata database for terrestrial metagenomes with over 15,000 datasets, which is intended to make work easier for scientists. This was published in the scientific journal Nucleic Acids Research.

New roles for DNA-packaging proteins

How can human cells pack 3-meter-long DNA into their tiny nuclei and unpack it only where and when it is needed? This fascinating process is far from being completely understood.

Fruit flies respond to rapid changes in the visual environment thanks to luminance-sensitive lamina neurons

Vision is fundamentally based on the perception of contrast. When light conditions change, the eye needs a certain period of time to adapt and restore its ability to estimate contrast correctly. These processes are relatively well understood. However, researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have now discovered a mechanism employed by the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster that broadens our understanding of visual perception. Their results explain why the eye can correctly evaluate contrast, even in suddenly changing light conditions. "Fruit flies can do this because they have nerve cells in their visual system that react to luminance. These nerve cells make it possible for the flies to adjust their behavior when visual stimuli dynamically change," explained Professor Marion Silies, head of the research project at JGU.

After a fire, some plants—even weeds—can be better than none

The Invasive Species Council and other observers have argued for weed control as a major priority following bushfires, to promote the recovery of wildlife and damaged ecosystems. The time is right, some say, to wage a serious offensive against weeds before they re-establish and this opportunity is lost.

Putting a finger on plant stress response

Post-translational modification is the process whereby proteins are modified after their initial biosynthesis. Modification can take many forms, including enzymatic cleavage of the protein or the addition of sugars, lipids, or small chemical groups. Amongst other things, post-translational modification enhances protein stability, mediates interactions between proteins, and can be used to mark proteins for transport or degradation.

Red and grey squirrel genomes could hold the key to the survival of reds in Britain and Ireland

New hope for the preservation of red squirrels in Britain and Ireland is on the horizon, after the completion of the red and grey squirrel reference genomes by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and their collaborators. The genomes may hold clues to why grey squirrels are immune to squirrel pox, a disease that is fatal to most red squirrels.

Africa should ban neonicotinoid insecticides, too

First marketed in the late 1990s, neonicotinoid insecticides have become the world's most widely used group of insecticides. They offer lower toxicity to mammals than the insecticides they replaced. But their systemic nature means that all parts of the plant become toxic to insect pests. Even just a coating around seeds offers weeks of protection to a growing crop.

Faster than a speeding bullet: Asian hornet invasion spreads to Northern Germany

In early September 2019, an Asian hornet (Vespa velutina nigrithorax) was collected alive in Hamburg, Germany, representing the northernmost find of the species so far in Europe and indicating its further spread to the north. The paper by the research group from Hamburg, which also serves to update the occurrence of the dangerous invader, was published in the open access journal Evolutionary Systematics.

Colossal oysters have disappeared from Florida's 'most pristine' coastlines

Hundreds of years ago, colossal oysters were commonplace across much of Florida's northern Gulf Coast. Today, those oysters have disappeared, leaving behind a new generation roughly a third smaller—a massive decline that continues to have both economic and environmental impacts on a region considered by many to be the last remaining unspoiled coastlines in the Gulf.

Scientists document collapse of key Central American forest engineer

White-lipped peccaries have declined by as much as 87% to 90% from their historical range in Central America, signaling a population collapse of a key species in the region, according to a study published recently in the journal Biological Conservation. The research was conducted by a team of 50 scientists from 30 organizations including Washington State University, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and El Colegio de Frontera Sur.

The invisibility cloak of a fungus

While viruses and bacteria regularly manage to infect the human organism, fungi only very rarely succeed. The reason for this is that the human immune system can recognize them very easily because their cells are surrounded by a solid cell wall of chitin and other complex sugars. Chitin is, so to speak, the alarm signal for our immune system, to which it reacts with a whole arsenal of defensive weapons. Some fungi, however, have apparently learned to avoid this fatal recognition: They possess one or more enzymes called chitin deacetylase, which they use to alter some of the chitin building blocks. This produces a chitosan, which is invisible to the immune system.

African swine fever kills hundreds of pigs in Bali

Hundreds of pigs have died from African swine fever in Bali, authorities said Wednesday, marking the Indonesian holiday island's first recorded outbreak and after the virus claimed some 30,000 hogs in Sumatra.

Landscape-level surveys are necessary to address large-scale wildlife losses from poaching

Widespread poaching in tropical biodiversity hotspots is causing unprecedented declines in wildlife populations, known as defaunation. A new study published in the journal Diversity & Distributions, provides evidence that large-scale systematic surveys and novel methods of data collection and analysis, are necessary to assess the extent and distribution of poaching and its impact on biodiversity in forest exposed to severe defaunation. Mapping biodiversity in this way will provide information critical to protecting rare species that may still exist in these landscapes. The research was conducted in the Annamite mountains on the border of Laos and Vietnam, an area with an exceptionally high occurrence of endemic species that is threatened by illegal poaching through the setting of wire snares. The research team, led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW), comprised scientists, conservationists and government counterparts, including representatives from WWF-Vietnam and WWF-Laos.

Waterbug from European rivers found in the Iberian Peninsula

Aphelocheirus aestivalis, a waterbug found in mid and high sections of well-oxygenated and preserved rivers in the European continent, has been found for the first time in Catalonia (Spain), specifically in the rivers Ter and Llobregat, according to an article published in the journal Limnetica. This discovery confirms the presence of this insect from the Aphelocheiridae family in the Iberian Peninsula and enables the incorporation of a new family of Heteroptera in Catalan fauna.

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