Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Science X Newsletter Wednesday, Aug 24

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Spotlight Stories Headlines

Rocky planet found orbiting habitable zone of nearest star

Humans have caused climate change for 180 years: study

No batteries required: The first autonomous, entirely soft robot

Can one cosmic enigma help solve another? Astrophysicists argue fast radio bursts could provide clues to dark matter

Modelling water uptake in wood opens up new design framework

China unveils 2020 Mars rover concept: report

Engineers discover a high-speed nano-avalanche

Bags don't fly free: Charges have boosted airlines' departure performances, study finds

Nutrition matters: Stress from migratory beekeeping may be eased by access to food

In some genetic cases of microcephaly, stem cells fail to launch

A new path for killing pathogenic bacteria

Selecting the right house plant could improve indoor air

LiH mediates low-temperature ammonia synthesis

Funneling fundamental particles

Miniaturised clinical testing for fast detection of antibiotic resistance

Astronomy & Space news

Rocky planet found orbiting habitable zone of nearest star

An international team of astronomers including Carnegie's Paul Butler has found clear evidence of a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our Solar System. The new world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface, if it were present. This rocky world is a little more massive than the Earth and is the closest exoplanet to us; it may even be the closest possible abode for life beyond our own Sun. A paper describing this milestone finding is published by Nature.

China unveils 2020 Mars rover concept: report

China has unveiled illustrations of a Mars probe and rover it aims to send to the Red Planet at the end of the decade in a mission that faces "unprecedented" challenges, state media said on Wednesday.

Test for damp ground at Mars streaks finds none

Seasonal dark streaks on Mars that have become one of the hottest topics in interplanetary research don't hold much water, according to the latest findings from a NASA spacecraft orbiting Mars.

Astronaut breaks US record: 521 days in space and counting

Astronaut Jeffrey Williams has a new record for NASA under his space belt.

Cosmic neighbors inhibit star formation, even in the early-universe

The international University of California, Riverside-led SpARCS collaboration has discovered four of the most distant clusters of galaxies ever found, as they appeared when the universe was only 4 billion years old. Clusters are rare regions of the universe consisting of hundreds of galaxies containing trillions of stars, as well as hot gas and mysterious dark matter. Spectroscopic observations from the ground using the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii and the Very Large Telescope in Chile confirmed the four candidates to be massive clusters. This sample is now providing the best measurement yet of when and how fast galaxy clusters stop forming stars in the early Universe.

A better way to learn if alien planets have the right stuff

A new method for analyzing the chemical composition of stars may help scientists winnow the search for Earth 2.0.

WISE, Fermi missions reveal a surprising blazar connection

Astronomers studying distant galaxies powered by monster black holes have uncovered an unexpected link between two very different wavelengths of the light they emit, the mid-infrared and gamma rays. The discovery, which was accomplished by comparing data from NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, has enabled the researchers to uncover dozens of new blazar candidates.

Image: Spacewalkers successfully install new docking adapter for commercial crew flights

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams (shown here) and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA successfully installed the first of two international docking adapters (IDAs) Friday Aug. 19, 2016, during a five hour and 58-minute spacewalk.

Exoplanets 101: Looking for life beyond our Solar System

An Earth-like planet orbiting the star closest to our Sun, revealed Wednesday, is the most recent—and among the most stunning—in a string exoplanet discoveries going back 20 years.

Technology news

No batteries required: The first autonomous, entirely soft robot

A team of Harvard University researchers with expertise in 3D printing, mechanical engineering, and microfluidics has demonstrated the first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft robot. This small, 3D-printed robot—nicknamed the octobot—could pave the way for a new generation of completely soft, autonomous machines.

Bags don't fly free: Charges have boosted airlines' departure performances, study finds

When most major airlines began charging flyers for checked bags in 2008, travelers grumbled. Southwest Airlines—one of the most successfully run airlines in history—even resisted and seized a new marketing slogan "bags fly free."

Going beyond 3-D printing to add a new dimension for additive manufacturing

A team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers has demonstrated the 3-D printing of shape-shifting structures that can fold or unfold to reshape themselves when exposed to heat or electricity. The micro-architected structures were fabricated from a conductive, environmentally responsive polymer ink developed at the Lab.

China sets sights on new global export: nuclear energy

On a seaside field south of Shanghai, workers are constructing a nuclear reactor that is the flagship for Beijing's ambition to compete with the United States, France and Russia as an exporter of atomic power technology.

World's largest aircraft damaged on 2nd test flight

The developer of the world's largest aircraft says the blimp-shaped airship sustained damage after it made a bumpy landing Wednesday on its second test flight in eastern England.

Exploration and collaboration are taking gaming to the next level

Two of the most unique—and potentially revolutionary—games of all-time were released this summer. The first was "Pokémon Go," the augmented reality game for the iOS and Android operating systems in which players use their mobile device's GPS capability to locate, capture, and then train the virtual creatures. The second, "No Man's Sky," the action-adventure game for the PC and PlayStation 4, allows players to travel through a massive world comprising 18 quintillion procedurally generated planets. The game is built on four primary actions—explore, fight, trade, survive—with a particular focus on collecting resources, defeating alien creatures, and cataloguing discoveries en route from one planet to the next.

A new class of collaborative robots may be the future of industrial remanufacturing

By 2030 more than half of the world's jobs could be performed by machines. But far from a dystopian vision of humans being forced from employment by the rise of the machines, Tijo Thayil, section manager for robotics development at the A*STAR Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre, believes this labor shift could be a positive development.

How Isaac Newton could help you beat the casino at roulette

Imagine walking into a casino with a computer strapped to your chest. Solenoid electromagnets thump against your body telling you where to place your bet on the roulette table. Suddenly, you start getting electric shocks. You rush to the toilet to undertake emergency repairs, hoping that the casino staff do not realise what is happening.

Designer's 3-D prosthesis makes waves

For his Master's research, Stuart focused on restoring balance for trans-tibial amputees while swimming—a solution that would improve accessibility and enjoyment, and make it easier for those with below-the-knee amputations to exercise.

Technique to grade multiple-choice exams with any optical scanner

What if there were a faster, easier way to grade exams? A DMZ-based startup has perfected the technology: Akindi, a browser-based system that allows professors to quickly scan and grade multiple-choice exams.

Researchers work to predict the future of transit

Haris N. Koutsopoulos believes that our ability to predict the future has the potential to enable various innovations in public transit. The short-term future, that is.

Post-disaster optimization technique capable of analyzing entire cities

Some problems, says Paolo Bocchini, cannot be solved through intuition.

Median installed price of solar in the United States fell by 5-12 percent in 2015

Solar energy system pricing is at an all-time low, according to the latest editions of two recurring "state of the market" reports released today by the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

Reward your ears: Five gadgets to liven up your music

Open your ears. What do you hear?

Lyft CEO Logan Green has a plan that's far bigger than ride-hailing

Logan Green applied for his first job out of college by submitting a resume and a document titled "Logan's Life Plan."

Augmented reality offers new way to shop for furniture

Close your eyes. Can you picture that sofa you're coveting in your living room? Now, open your eyes and pull out your phone - because edgy furniture stores are giving you a tool that's more accurate than imagination.

Bay Area startups developing the high-tech way to make a baby

As Silicon Valley technophiles use devices to collect data on everything from how many calories they burn to their fluctuating stress levels and their posture, a group of entrepreneurs is bringing that technology somewhere new - into the bedroom.

Silicon Valley's power brain food: Crickets

For Bay Area techies attuned to the latest trends, kale is no longer cutting it and quinoa is passe. Instead, many are opting for a six-legged snack.

Fugitive tech CEO expected to plead guilty in fraud case

A fugitive former technology company CEO who frustrated federal authorities by living comfortably in exile in southwest Africa for the past 10 years has agreed to return to the United States to face charges he hatched a scheme to pocket millions of dollars by secretly manipulating stock options and is expected to plead guilty, prosecutors revealed on Tuesday.

Refugee who made it returns with drone to halt drownings

Standing on a pebbled beach on the Greek island of Lesbos, Mehdi Salehi searches for a good spot to set his drone loose.

System might detect doctored images and videos for the military

Purdue University is leading part of an international effort to develop a system for the military that would detect doctored images and video and determine specifically how they were manipulated.

US Treasury blasts European tax probe of multinationals

U.S. officials are publicly criticizing Europe's investigations into favorable tax arrangements that Apple and other multinational companies have reached with Ireland and a few other countries.

Medicine & Health news

In some genetic cases of microcephaly, stem cells fail to launch

In a very severe, genetic form of microcephaly, stem cells in the brain fail to divide, according to a new Columbia University Medical Center study that may provide important clues to understanding how the Zika virus affects the developing brain.

Marijuana makes rats lazy, less willing to try cognitively demanding tasks

New research from the University of British Columbia suggests there may be some truth to the belief that marijuana use causes laziness— at least in rats.

Scientists use ultrasound to jump-start a man's brain after coma

A 25-year-old man recovering from a coma has made remarkable progress following a treatment at UCLA to jump-start his brain using ultrasound. The technique uses sonic stimulation to excite the neurons in the thalamus, an egg-shaped structure that serves as the brain's central hub for processing information.

How do antidepressants trigger fear and anxiety?

More than 100 million people worldwide take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac and Zoloft, to treat depression, anxiety and related conditions, but these drugs have a common and mysterious side effect: they can worsen anxiety in the first few weeks of use, which leads many patients to stop treatment. Scientists at the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine have mapped out a serotonin-driven anxiety circuit that may explain this side effect and lead to treatments to eliminate it.

Breast cancer cells found to switch molecular characteristics

A study led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators reveals how spontaneous changes in the molecular characteristics of tumors can lead to tumors with a mixed population of cells requiring treatment with several types of therapeutic drugs. In their report in the Sept. 1 issue of Nature, the research team describes finding a mixture of HER2-positive and HER2-negative circulating tumors cells (CTCs) in blood samples from patients who developed metastatic disease after originally being diagnosed with estrogen-receptor (ER)-positive/HER2-negative breast cancer.

New class of molecules play key role in influencing the immune system

In a study published online this week in Science Translational Medicine, investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Santa Lucia Foundation in Rome report that resolvins and maresins, molecules produced in the body naturally from certain omega-3 fatty acids, regulate subsets of white blood cells that play a central role in inflammation and the immune system. The new findings suggest that resolvins and maresins are part of a new class of molecules that may be useful for treating chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

Scientists track metabolic pathways to find drug combination for pancreatic cancer

Cancer researchers have long observed the value of treating patients with combinations of anti-cancer drugs that work better than single drug treatments. Now, in a new study using laboratory-grown cells and mice, Johns Hopkins scientists report that a method they used to track metabolic pathways heavily favored by cancer cells provides scientific evidence for combining anti-cancer drugs, including one in a nanoparticle format developed at Johns Hopkins, that specifically target those pathways.

In unstable times, the brain reduces cell production to help cope

People who experience job loss, divorce, death of a loved one or any number of life's upheavals often adopt coping mechanisms to make the situation less traumatic.

Scientists identify spark plug that ignites nerve cell demise in ALS

Scientists from Harvard Medical School have identified a key instigator of nerve cell damage in people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, a progressive and incurable neurodegenerative disorder.

First randomized trial shows IVF culture media affect the outcomes of embryos and babies

Fertility experts are calling on the companies who make the solutions in which embryos are cultured during in vitro fertilisation (IVF) to give a clear list of ingredients following publication of a trial that shows that the composition of these laboratory cultures affects the outcomes of the resulting embryos and babies.

New surgical option for breast cancer comes to the US

Breast cancer patients in the U.S. will have a new surgical option that eliminates exposure to radioactive materials and offers a less invasive, more flexible alternative for cancer detection. Receiving FDA approval in April and a distribution deal this month, the new device will be used to locate early stage tumors that cannot yet be felt.

Simplify and standardize health insurance plans, advise CMU behavioral economists

Choosing a health insurance plan - whether through an employer, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Medicare - is complicated and stressful and often leads to consumers making costly mistakes.

Insulin pill could make diabetes treatment 'ouchless'

Every day, millions of Americans with diabetes have to inject themselves with insulin to manage their blood-sugar levels. But less painful alternatives are emerging. Scientists are developing a new way of administering the medicine orally with tiny vesicles that can deliver insulin where it needs to go without a shot. Today, they share their in vivo testing results.

Injected mix of bone-augmenting agents causes new bone growth in mouse jaws

The part of the jawbone containing the tooth sockets is known as alveolar bone, and its loss over time or following dental disease may ultimately result in tooth loss. While dentures can be used as a tooth replacement, the mechanical stimuli under the dentures causes further bone loss. Health professionals therefore seek an alternative and more permanent solution. Recombinant human bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP-2) has been used to stimulate osteogenesis (bone formation) in humans, but high levels can cause inflammation and tumor development. Therefore, agents such as peptide drugs for accelerating bone augmentation need to be developed, even in the presence of lower levels of BMP-2. Additionally, there are no known means of stimulating local bone augmentation without performing surgery.

Major breakthrough identifies cause and treatment of fatal autoimmune disease

The cause of a potentially fatal inherited autoimmune disease has been identified for the first time. The disease, now named OTULIN-related autoinflammatory syndrome (ORAS), was discovered by doctors treating patients who developed symptoms such as rashes, fever, and diarrhoea shortly after birth. The immune system of these patients spontaneously activates and starts to attack the patient's own body leading to the described symptoms and eventually to the child's death. Doctors performed extensive investigations describing the symptoms and analysing patients, but the origin of the disease remained obscure for years. Now, as a result of collaborative research involving the groups of David Komander and Andrew McKenzie in the LMB's PNAC Division, Professor Eamonn Maher's group in the Department of Medical Genetics, University of Cambridge and colleagues at the University of Birmingham, the cause of this disease has been discovered.

Soda tax linked to drop in sugary beverage drinking in low-income Berkeley neighborhoods

In an encouraging sign in the fight against obesity, a new UC Berkeley study shows a 21 percent drop in the drinking of soda and other sugary beverages in Berkeley's low-income neighborhoods after the city levied a penny-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

Couples HIV testing, counseling prevents more than 70 percent of new infections in Rwanda

A 30-year HIV prevention and research initiative in Rwanda has resulted in the prevention of more than 70 percent of new HIV infections in that country. Rwanda is the first African country to implement Couples' Voluntary HIV Counseling and Testing (CVCT) as a nationwide intervention and a social norm. The program includes the Rwanda Ministry of Health, Emory University, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Study shows parental training helps parents cope with stress

A project which was funded by Save The Children Hong Kong has revealed that parents from families with low monthly household income are more likely to have higher parental stress and lower parental self-efficacy.

Domestic violence significantly impacts on children's health outcomes, says new study

Growing up in a family in which the mother is victim of domestic violence has negative effects on a child's health, according to a new study from academics at City University London.

Research tests how people make moral decisions using classic dilemmas

Is it acceptable and moral to sacrifice a few people's lives to save many others? An academic at City University London has developed a new model with colleagues to test in an unbiased way how people make such decisions using the classic trolley and footbridge dilemmas.

The immune system-body weight connection

A primary role of the immune system is fighting off harmful bacteria and viruses. However, recent studies have revealed additional roles of immune cells in other important host functions, such as controlling body weight.

Genetic mutation during embryonic development could hold the key to a lifetime living with diabetes

Personalized treatment for people with diabetes could be a step closer after researchers discovered how a single gene mutation fundamentally alters pancreatic development.

Immune system B cells play a role in tackling liver cancer and provide a marker for patient prognosis

Immunotherapy—developing treatments by boosting natural immune system responses—holds much potential in the fight against serious diseases. Now, A*STAR researchers have determined how one group of immune cells called tumor-infiltrating B cells (TiBs) can fight liver cancer. Their results could inform future treatments.

Infiltrating self-defense cells provoke kidney failure in a chronic autoimmune disease

The crucial role of dendritic cells in a fatal renal condition of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has been exposed by A*STAR researchers. "Our studies show that these cells switch mild autoimmune phenotypes to severe kidney disease," says Anna-Marie Fairhurst at the A*STAR Singapore Immunology Network, who led the study.

How advertisers seduce our subconscious

In 1957 Vance Packard's book The Hidden Persuaders shocked the world by revealing that messages exposed subliminally, below our level of perception, were able to increase sales of ice cream and Coke. The experiment he cited was later shown to be a hoax, but one of Packard's other assertions, that advertising can influence us below our level of awareness, is absolutely true.

Fighting the stigma of albinism

People with albinism face major health problems, including skin cancer, involuntary eye movements, and poor eyesight. According to a new study in the journal Anthropology & Medicine, many of them also suffer severe discrimination and social stigmatization.

Psychologists see humor as a character strength

Humor is observed in all cultures and at all ages. But only in recent decades has experimental psychology respected it as an essential, fundamental human behavior.

Using cold adaptation to produce safe inactivated polio vaccine candidates

Poliomyelitis, or polio, is a debilitating childhood disease caused by poliovirus. It has been eliminated from most parts of the world thanks to the extensive use of polio vaccines. However, there are concerns that current vaccines could lead to the reemergence of poliovirus in a polio-free world. It is important to safeguard this eradication by developing safer and more effective strains of polio for use in future vaccine preparations. Earlier this year, PLOS Pathogens published a study in which the authors used cold-adapted virus attenuation (CAVA) to develop temperature-sensitive poliovirus strains, which can be used to produce the next generation of vaccines. While CAVA has been used for other vaccines, it has not been used as a successful tool for poliovirus to date.

Early death in female popular musicians

In her 2005 memoir Pleasure and Pain: My Life, singer Chrissie Amphlett reflected on the "the dreadful scenes, the despair and remorse, the damage I did to my mind and body, and to others' minds and bodies" during her time with the influential 1980s rock band, The Divinyls.

Link between schizophrenia and sleep apnoea

New University of Adelaide research at the Lyell McEwin Hospital has shown that people with schizophrenia are 3.4 times more likely to have severe obstructive sleep apnoea than people without.

Thousands of algorithms trained for predicting the treatment efficacy of rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. Anti-TNF treatment is a widely used treatment blocking the inflammatory cytokine, but it fails in approximately 1/3 of the patients.

Virus spread can be blocked by attacking Ebola's Achilles' heel

Scientists have found Ebola's Achilles' heel: a new kind of chemical compound can block the protein Ebola uses to break out of cells and infect new cells. The compounds, revealed in a new paper in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, could potentially be used to treat the disease after infection.

Progress in vaccination against vespid venom

Especially in late summer, apprehension about wasp stings increases amongst allergy sufferers. So-called hyposensibilisation therapy can help, but it is linked to a heavy burden on patients and health insurers. Researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University Munich have now presented a method in the journal Allergy, which facilitates a personalised procedure.

Discovery could provide new prevention, treatment option for organ transplant rejection

An international team led by researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine found that targeting certain donor cells lowered the risk of organ rejection in mice that underwent kidney and heart transplants. The study results, published today in Nature Communications, could lead to new ways of preventing or treating organ transplant rejection in humans.

Acupuncture may yield pain relief for children who have complex medical conditions

It appears that acupuncture may be a viable option for pain management when it comes to pediatric patients who have complex medical conditions, according to new research published by Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minnesota. The study found that a significant portion of children who have chronic care conditions - many of whom are already on numerous medications - might benefit from the use of the low-risk and non-toxic benefits of acupuncture. The study was published in a recent edition of Medical Acupuncture.

India moves to ban booming commercial surrogacy business

India's government Wednesday approved plans to ban the booming commercial surrogacy industry, a move that would block thousands of foreign couples who flock to centres to have a baby.

Amyloid-related heart failure now detectable with imaging test

A type of heart failure caused by a build-up of amyloid can be accurately diagnosed and prognosticated with an imaging technique, eliminating the need for a biopsy, according to a multicenter study led by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC).

Comparing coronary artery calcium scores in patients with psoriasis, diabetes

Assessing coronary artery calcium (CAC) is a measure of the severity of atherosclerosis (clogged arteries) and a cornerstone for screening for risk of future cardiac events. The inflammatory skin condition psoriasis has been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Type 2 diabetes is a high-risk disease associated with increased cardiovascular risk.

HIV-infected adults with depression have increased risk for heart attack

Among more than 26,000 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected adults, those with major depressive disorder (MDD) were more likely to experience a heart attack than those without MDD, according to a study published online by JAMA Cardiology.

Study shows diabetes treatment helps reduce weight in children with autism

A new study shows significant evidence that a common drug used to treat type2 diabetes - metformin - is also effective in helping overweight children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who take antipsychotic medications maintain or reduce their body mass index (BMI).

Graying but grinning: Despite physical ailments, older adults happier

While even the best wines eventually peak and turn to vinegar, a new study by researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine suggests a paradoxical trend in the mental health of aging adults: They seem to consistently get better over time.

Asthma risk increases when child had bronchiolitis

Results of a study published in PLOS ONE show that asthma risk increased 17 times when children who had bronchiolitis in the first two years of life also had a common variation of the Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) gene. Similarly, children with this genetic variation were 12 times more likely to develop asthma after any lower respiratory tract infections requiring medical contact early in life (including those which were potentially less severe).

Heroic firefighter who underwent most extensive face transplant is thriving

The severely burned Mississippi firefighter, who captivated the world when he successfully underwent the most extensive face transplant ever performed, is thriving one year after his historic surgery, according to his medical team at NYU Langone Medical Center. Among his many milestones, he has never had an incident in which his body has attempted to reject his new face - an unprecedented achievement among those who have had the procedure.

A brain circuit to push past nutritional stress

When we go hungry, we have the ability to ignore the urge to eat such that we can carry out the task at hand. It has long been known that the brain is involved in such decisions. But how the brain coordinates the response to nutritional stress so that the body can function normally is not understood very well. Now, researchers from the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), Bangalore, have discovered a brain circuit that allows fruit flies to take a major developmental step in their lives despite nutritional stress.

Donor fecal microbiota transplant effective for C. difficile infection

(HealthDay)—For patients with recurrent Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), donor fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is safe and more efficacious than autologous FMT, according to a study published online Aug. 23 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Success, safety up for ART with elective single embryo transfer

(HealthDay)—An updated Committee Opinion urges providers of assisted reproductive technology (ART) to do everything possible to reduce the likelihood of a multifetal pregnancy. The report is published in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Mental stress may cause reduced blood flow in hearts of young women with heart disease

Younger women with coronary heart disease and mental stress are more susceptible to myocardial ischemia (reduced blood flow to the heart muscle, which can lead to a heart attack), compared to men and older patients, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Late-onset asthma linked to increased heart disease, stroke risk

People who develop asthma as adults (late onset asthma) may also be at greater risk of developing heart disease and having a stroke, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Biomarkers may help better predict who will have a stroke

People with high levels of four biomarkers in the blood may be more likely to develop a stroke than people with low levels of the biomarkers, according to a study published in the August 24, 2016, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Excess weight linked to eight more cancer types

There's yet another reason to maintain a healthy weight as we age. An international team of researchers has identified eight additional types of cancer linked to excess weight and obesity: stomach, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, ovary, meningioma (a type of brain tumor), thyroid cancer and the blood cancer multiple myeloma.

UCF technology for killing metastatic breast cancer cells discovered, licensed

A University of Central Florida cancer researcher has discovered a way to kill spreading breast cancer cells and her new technology has generated a licensing agreement that will accelerate the therapy's path to clinical trials.

Study strengthens evidence that cognitive activity can reduce dementia risk

Are there any ways of preventing or delaying the development of Alzheimer's disease or other forms of age-associated dementia? While several previously published studies have suggested a protective effect for cognitive activities such as reading, playing games or attending cultural events, questions have been raised about whether these studies reveal a real cause-and-effect relationship or if the associations could result from unmeasured factors. To address this question, a Boston-based research team conducted a formal bias analysis and concluded that, while potentially confounding factors might have affected previous studies' results, it is doubtful that such factors totally account for observed associations between cognitive activities and a reduced risk of dementia.

Disruptions to sleep patterns lead to an increased risk of suicides

The link between sleep problems and suicidal thoughts and behaviours is made starkly clear in new research from The University of Manchester, published in the BMJ Open.

How parents cope with stress of the NICU affects family dynamics

Understanding how parents cope while their child is in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) could lead to better support for the family and a more successful transition to home when the baby is healthy, according to Penn State College of Medicine and Penn State Harrisburg researchers. Parental use of religious and secular coping strategies while their prematurely born baby receives intensive medical care may affect the family's interactions.

Lymph node stage may have clinical significance among NSCLC patients with stage IV M1a

Analysis of a large non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patient cohort with stage IV M1a disease identified lymph node staging as having clinical significance and an impact on prognosis.

50 years after the release of the film 'Fantastic Voyage,' science upstages fiction

Fifty years to the day after the film Fantastic Voyage was first shown in theatres, the Polytechnique Montréal Nanorobotics Laboratory is unveiling a unique medical interventional infrastructure devoted to the fight against cancer. The outcome of 15 years of research conducted by Professor Sylvain Martel and his team, it enables microscopic nanorobotic agents to be guided through the vascular systems of living bodies, delivering drugs to targeted areas.

Gut bacteria could tip balance in developing celiac disease or staying healthy

About 40 per cent of the population have a genetic disposition to celiac disease, but only about one per cent develop the autoimmune condition when exposed to gluten, and this could be promoted by the type of bacteria present in the gut.

UNC cardiologist examines training, staffing, research in cardiac intensive care

Jason Katz, MD, MHS, associate professor of medicine at UNC School of Medicine and medical director of the cardiac intensive care unit, was the lead author of a recently published manuscript in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that examined the early growth and maturation of critical care cardiology, and the challenges and uncertainties that threaten to stymie the growth of this fledgling discipline.

How long do you want to live? Your expectations for old age matter

Why do some people want to live a very long time, while others would prefer to die relatively young? In a latest study, a team of researchers including Vegard Skirbekk, PhD, at the Robert N. Butler Columbia Aging Center, investigated how long young and middle-aged adults in the United States say they want to live in relation to a number of personal characteristics. The results showed that more than one out of six people would prefer to die younger than age 80, before reaching average life expectancy. There was no indication that the relationship between preferring a life shorter or longer than average life expectancy depended on age, gender or education.

New research shows impact of Crohn's disease on brain function

New research published in the UEG Journal1 has found that Crohn's disease sufferers experience slower response times than matched individuals that do not have the disease.

Majority of US doctors discussing electronic cigarettes with their patients

A new survey of US doctors reveals they are frequently discussing electronic cigarettes (e-cigs) with patients in a clinical setting. A substantial proportion of physicians also recommend e-cigs to their patients who smoke despite some controversy around the devices.

Barcodes show the blood family tree

By assigning a barcode to stem cells, researchers at Lund University in Sweden have made it possible to monitor large blood cell populations as well as individual blood cells, and study the changes over time. Among other things, they discovered that stem cells go through different stages where their ability to restore immune cells varies. The new findings provide important information for the research and treatment of leukaemia and autoimmune diseases.

Enigmatic molecules maintain equilibrium between fighting infection, inflammatory havoc

Special RNA molecules called long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are key controllers for maintaining immune health when fighting infection or preventing inflammatory disorders, according to research led by Jorge Henao-Mejia, MD, PhD, an assistant professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. The discovery offers a potential drug target for several inflammatory disorders characterized by an abnormal lifespan in a group of white blood cells, which can lead to organ damage.

Researchers measure emotional flexibility in mother-daughter dyads

Queen's University researchers Tom Hollenstein and Jessica Lougheed have published new research on the emotional bonds between mothers and adolescent daughters. The study examined how well mother-daughter pairs were able to manage rapid transitions between emotional states and the so-called "emotional rollercoaster" of adolescence.

Study takes a step back to look at use of restraints in hospitals

The use of belts, bedrails and other devices to prevent patients from hurting themselves has increasingly come under fire. Within a hospital setting, the use of such restraints may be reduced by ensuring that the nursing staff includes a sufficient number of registered nurses, says Vincent Staggs of Children's Mercy Hospital and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the US. He led a study which appears in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Team discovers how Zika virus causes fetal brain damage

Infection by the Zika virus diverts a key protein necessary for neural cell division in the developing human fetus, thereby causing the birth defect microcephaly, a team of Yale scientists reported Aug. 24 in the journal Cell Reports.

Diets avoiding dry-cooked foods can protect against diabetes

Simple changes in how we cook could go a long way towards preventing diabetes, say researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. A new randomized controlled trial, published online July 29 in the journal Diabetologia, found that obese individuals with signs of insulin resistance showed improvement simply by avoiding the intake of advanced glycation endproducts, or AGEs, a byproduct of cooking found most commonly in dry heat-cooked or heat-processed foods.

Scientists uncover the way a common cell enzyme alerts the body to invading bacteria

Biomedical investigators at Cedars-Sinai have identified an enzyme found in all human cells that alerts the body to invading bacteria and jump-starts the immune system.

Zika virus detected in newborn until two months after birth

Physicians at the Santa Casa de Misericordia and researchers from the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at University of São Paulo describe the case of a baby born with Zika infection in January 2016, who remained infected by the virus even two months and one week after birth.

Conflicts subverting improved health conditions in Eastern Mediterranean Region

Improved health conditions and life expectancy over the past 20 years in the Eastern Mediterranean Region are being subverted by wars and civil unrest, according to a new scientific study.

Senior years may truly be golden for happiness

(HealthDay)—In a culture that values youth, aging can seem like a dismal prospect. But a new study suggests that older adults are generally less stressed and happier with their lives than younger people are.

Cancer on course to become top killer of Americans

(HealthDay)—Cancer is on track to become the leading cause of death in the United States, closing in on heart disease as America's number one killer, a new government study shows.

Season of conception may affect fetal brain growth

(HealthDay)—Children conceived during the winter are more likely to have learning disabilities, and a mother's exposure to sunlight may play a role, a new study suggests.

Two variants ID cardiovascular effect of intensive glycemic Tx

(HealthDay)—Two genetic variants predict the cardiovascular effect of intensive glycemic control in the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) trial, according to research published online Aug. 15 in Diabetes Care.

For those with T1D, more former smokers in U.S. than Europe

(HealthDay)—Among patients with type 1 diabetes (T1D), there are more former smokers in the United States than in Europe, according to research published online Aug. 16 in Diabetes Care.

Review: Frailty status may predict outcome after cardiac surgery

(HealthDay)—Frailty status may be able to predict outcome in older adults undergoing cardiac surgical procedures, although the quality of evidence is variable, according to a review published online Aug. 23 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Medication-assisted treatment underused in teen opioid addicts

(HealthDay)—Resources should be increased to promote use of medication-assisted treatment of opioid addicted adolescents and young adults, according to a policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published online Aug. 22 in Pediatrics.

Favorable outcomes for vitiligo in nivolumab-treated melanoma

(HealthDay)—For patients with advanced melanoma, vitiligo occurrence is associated with favorable clinical outcome during nivolumab treatment, according to a study published online Aug. 11 in the Journal of Dermatology.

CDC urges prevention, early recognition of sepsis

(HealthDay)—Many cases of life-threatening sepsis could be recognized and treated long before they cause severe illness or death, according to an Aug. 23 Vital Signs report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A-fib tied to adverse outcomes in patients undergoing PCI

(HealthDay)—For patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI), atrial fibrillation (AF) is associated with in-hospital adverse outcomes, according to a study published in the Aug. 30 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

ACOG addresses thrombocytopenia in pregnancy

(HealthDay)—Thrombocytopenia is common in pregnancy and can have causes that are serious medical disorders, with potential for maternal and fetal morbidity, according to a Practice Bulletin published in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Seniors with more continuity of care use the ER less

Seniors with traditional Medicare coverage who have more continuity of care - defined as consistently seeing the same physician in an outpatient setting - have lower chances of visiting an emergency department, according to the results of a study published online earlier this month in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

New report: Rate of uninsured young adults drops by more than one-third in Texas

The percentage of young adults ages 18 to 34 in Texas without health insurance has dropped by 35 percent since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) went into effect, according to a new report released today by Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Episcopal Health Foundation.

Direct and active parent involvement key to healthy living for kids

Parents who directly and actively engage their children in healthy living behaviour - instead of passively 'supporting' the behaviour - are significantly more likely to see their kids meet Canadian guidelines when it comes to physical activity, healthy eating and screen time, new research from Public Health Ontario (PHO) has found.

Venezuelan hospitals lack 80% of medicines, supplies

Hospitals in crisis-hit Venezuela are facing shortages of about eight in 10 medications and medical supplies needed to treat patients, according to a study published Tuesday.

Opinion: What's ailing the ACA—insurers or Congress?

Since the Affordable Care Act – or what many call Obamacare – has been labeled a failure since the day it started, according to some political types, it's difficult to know if the recent defections by large insurance companies are really a death knell or just growing pains.

Video: What if there was an alternative to IVF?

For those facing infertility, IVF has long been the established option to have a baby.

Summit focuses on coordinating efforts to fight drug abuse

State Supreme Court justices and other high-ranking officials huddled Wednesday to discuss ways to coordinate efforts to battle the drug abuse epidemic in a judicial summit involving some of the hardest-hit states.

AstraZeneca to sell molecule antibiotics business to Pfizer

Pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca plans to sell its molecule antibiotics business to Pfizer in a deal that will be valued in excess of $1.5 billion when rights, royalties and other payments are included.

Could physical activity be good for alcohol and substance use disorders?

A team of researchers from Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, has received funding of £154,000 from the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) programme, to carry out a systematic review of research to see if and how physical activity and exercise could help those with alcohol and substance use disorders.

Conjoined newborn Syrian twins die: Red Crescent

One-month-old conjoined twins evacuated from a besieged area near Damascus died Wednesday in the capital, despite a campaign to send them abroad for surgery, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent said.

Top US medical group blasts EpiPen's 'exorbitant' costs

The American Medical Association urged the maker of the EpiPen, a life-saving device that counteracts severe allergies, to drop its price Wednesday as public outrage mounted over a soaring cost hike.

Biology news

Nutrition matters: Stress from migratory beekeeping may be eased by access to food

In the first large-scale and comprehensive study on the impacts of transporting honey bees to pollinate various crops, research from North Carolina State University shows that travel can adversely affect bee health and lifespan. Some of these negative impacts may be reduced by moving bee colonies into patches with readily available food or by providing supplemental nutrition when there are few flowers for honey bees to visit, the researchers say.

A new path for killing pathogenic bacteria

Bacteria that cause tuberculosis, leprosy and other diseases, survive by switching between two different types of metabolism. EPFL scientists have now discovered that this switch is controlled by a mechanism that constantly adapts to meet the bacterium's survival needs, like a home's thermostat reacting to changes in temperature.

Cuttlefish found to have number sense and state-dependent valuation

(—A pair of researchers with National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan has found that cuttlefish have both number sense and state-dependent valuation. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Tsang-I Yang and Chuan-Chin Chiao describe a series of experiments they carried out with cuttlefish and what they learned about the cephalopods.

Scientists develop new techniques to track how cells develop

Understanding how various cell types differentiate themselves during development is one of the fundamental questions in developmental biology. Using genome-editing tools, Harvard scientists are getting closer to finding answers.

Carp demonstrate rapid de-evolution to get their scales back

(—A team of researchers with members from France, Hungary and Madagascar has found that a type of carp bred to have fewer scales and subsequently released into the wild in Madagascar a century ago has devolved to get its scales back. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the team describes how they collected large numbers of specimens to study their scales and to look at their DNA and what they found.

Genetic study of skinks suggests extreme matrotrophy evolved only once in Africa

(—A team of researchers with Villanova University in the U.S. and associates from South Africa, Germany and Switzerland has found via genetic study that extreme matrotrophy evolved just once in African mabuyine skink. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the researchers describe how they ventured to Zambia and Angola to obtain skink samples and then conducted DNA tests on them to create family trees which allowed them to learn more about the evolutionary history of matrotrophy in skinks.

Mutually helpful species become competitors in benign environments

Nature abounds with examples of mutualistic relationships. Think of bees pollinating flowers whose nectar nourishes the bees, or clownfish that fight off predators of anemones that in turn provide habitats for the clownfish. Each species benefits the other, and together their chances of survival are better than if they lived apart.

Whiskers help animals sense the direction of the wind

Many animals appear to have an impressive ability to follow the wind to find food, avoid predators, and connect with potential mates. Until now, however, no study had examined how land mammals know the direction of the wind. New research finds that an important part of this ability lies in an animal's whiskers. The work could pave the way for the design of novel airflow measurement devices that imitate these biological sensors.

African bird shows signs of evil stepdad behavior

An African desert-dwelling male bird favours his biological sons and alienates his stepsons, suggests research published today in Biological Letters.

Myanmar's peacock: a national symbol dying off in the wild

Embraced by kings and freedom fighters alike, Myanmar's peacocks have long been a national symbol of pride and resistance—but they are becoming ever harder to spot in the wild.

Rare endangered primate spotted in Vietnam

A new group of critically endangered primates has been spotted in Vietnam, raising hopes the rare creatures may not be wiped out in the next decade as scientists had feared.

Recordings of tiger sounds aim to help save wild population

Tigers use a grunt-like snort called chuffing as a greeting, short roars for intimidation and long roars to find mates.

Genome mapped in battle to beat superbugs

A Queensland scientist has completed the world's first gene decoding of a superbug bacteria resistant to all commercially-available antibiotics.

Seagrass restoration threatened by fungi

Dutch biologists have discovered that seagrass seed is killed by waterborne fungi that are related to the well-known potato blight. These fungi, which have not previously been found in seawater, hinder seed germination and thus prevent the restoration of seagrass. The biologists, including Laura Govers of Radboud University, published their results on August 24 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

China's honey bee losses are low compared with West

Since concern about widespread honey bee colony losses began 10 years ago, there have been surveys carried out to assess winter losses in North America and many European countries. So far, the picture in China, the largest beekeeping country in the world, has been unclear. Now for the first time, information about winter losses from a large-scale survey carried out from 2010-13 has been published.

Biological invasions threaten biodiversity, economy and human livelihood in developing countries

Invasions from alien species such as Japanese Knotweed and grey squirrels threaten the economies and livelihoods of residents of some of the world's poorest nations, new University of Exeter research shows.

Golden eagles may be more abundant in undeveloped, elevated landscapes

Golden eagles may be more abundant in elevated, undeveloped landscapes with high wind speeds, according to a study published August 24, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Ryan Nielson from Western EcoSystems Technology, Inc., USA, and colleagues.

Interactive, open source visualizations of nocturnal bird migrations in near real-time

New flow visualizations using data from weather radar networks depict nocturnal bird migrations, according to a study published August 24, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Judy Shamoun-Baranes from University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues.

Ocean acidification threatens cod recruitment in the Atlantic

Increasing ocean acidification could double the mortality of newly-hatched cod larvae. This would put populations of this economically important fish species more and more under pressure if exploitation remains unchanged. For the first time ever, members of the German research network BIOACID have quantified mortality rates of cod in the western Baltic Sea and the Barents Sea under more acidified conditions which the fish may experience towards the end of the century. They integrated their results of two several-weeks long experiments in model calculations on stock dynamics. The various model scenarios showed that the recruitment could decrease to levels of one quarter to one twelfth of the recruitment of the last decades - a strong call for action for fisheries management.

Video: Empowering Maine's mightiest pollinators

For the last 30 years, Drummond, professor of insect ecology at the University of Maine, has studied the biology, ecology, disease susceptibility and pesticide exposure of Maine's 275 native species of bees, as well as the millions of commercial honey bees annually trucked into the state to aid in crop pollination.

Algae as vessels for synthetic biology

Algae (a term used to group many photosynthetic organisms into a rather heterologous mash-up) do not have a kind place in the public imagination. Take for example the following passage from Stephen King's Pet Semetary:

'Citizen science' pollen monitoring service

"Citizen science" is one of the latest trends in science – it is a scientific method whereby projects are carried out with considerable input from interested parties and affected laypeople. The Austrian Pollen Monitoring service at MedUni Vienna's Department of Ear, Nose and Throat Diseases is a prime example of this.

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