Friday, December 9, 2016

Science X Newsletter Friday, Dec 9

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Science X Newsletter for December 9, 2016:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

Encounters with 'familiar strangers' play overlooked role in human interactions

Biology, meet philology: First application of phylogenetic evolutionary framework to color naming

Monkey speak: Macaques have the anatomy, not the brain, for human speech

Research offers clues about the timing of Jupiter's formation

Climate change likely caused deadly 2016 avalanche in Tibet, researchers say

Smart contact lens is discussed at electron devices meeting

Study establishes extent of human brain excited by specific dose of electricity

Breast cancer patients could benefit from controversial hormone

Physicists find structural phase transitions in 2-D atomic materials

Researchers study astrocyte cells that may contribute to ALS and Alzheimer's

Study shows hydraulic fracturing fluids affect water chemistry from gas wells

Japan launching 'space junk' collector (Update)

SOFIA sees super-heated gas streams churning up possible storm of new stars

Male vs. female stress responses may explain sex differences in diseases

Scientists sweep stodgy stature from Saturn's C ring

Astronomy & Space news

Research offers clues about the timing of Jupiter's formation

A peculiar class of meteorites has offered scientists new clues about when the planet Jupiter took shape and wandered through the solar system.

Japan launching 'space junk' collector (Update)

Japan launched a cargo ship Friday bound for the International Space Station, carrying a 'space junk' collector that was made with the help of a fishnet company.

SOFIA sees super-heated gas streams churning up possible storm of new stars

Scientists on board NASA's flying telescope, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, caught sight of roiling material streaming from a newly formed star, which could spark the birth of a new generation of stars in the surrounding gas clouds.

Scientists sweep stodgy stature from Saturn's C ring

As a cosmic dust magnet, Saturn's C ring gives away its youth. Once thought formed in an older, primordial era, the ring may be but a mere babe – less than 100 million years old, according to Cornell-led astronomers in a study to be published Jan. 1, 2017 in the journal Icarus.

Khatyrka meteorite found to have third quasicrystal

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers from the U.S. and Italy has found evidence of a naturally formed quasicrystal in a sample obtained from the Khatyrka meteorite. In their paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, the team describes how they found the quasicrystal and offer some possible explanations on how it was formed.

Hubble catches a transformation in the Virgo constellation

The constellation of Virgo (The Virgin) is especially rich in galaxies, due in part to the presence of a massive and gravitationally-bound collection of over 1300 galaxies called the Virgo Cluster. One particular member of this cosmic community, NGC 4388, is captured in this image, as seen by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3).

Early US astronauts faced uncertainty, danger and death

John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962, but for a solid hour of that journey, NASA feared he was about to die in a blazing fireball.

Teaching an old satellite new tricks

XMM-Newton is one of Europe's longest-flying and most productive orbiting observatories, investigating the hot X-ray Universe. Thanks to teamwork and technical innovation, it's on track to keep flying for a long time yet.

Why does Siberia get all the cool meteors?

In 1908 it was Tunguska event, a meteorite exploded in mid-air, flattening 770 square miles of forest. 39 years later in 1947, 70 tons of iron meteorites pummeled the Sikhote-Alin Mountains, leaving more than 30 craters. Then a day before Valentine's Day in 2013, hundreds of dashcams recorded the fiery and explosive entry of the Chelyabinsk meteoroid, which created a shock wave strong enough to blow out thousands of glass windows and litter the snowy fields and lakes with countless fusion-crusted space rocks.

Japan launches much-needed supplies to space station

A Japanese capsule blasted off with much-needed supplies for the International Space Station on Friday, a week after a Russian shipment was destroyed shortly after liftoff.

Buzz Aldrin leaves New Zealand after South Pole evacuation

Buzz Aldrin was discharged from a New Zealand hospital on Friday and appeared to be heading home, a week after he was evacuated from the South Pole for medical reasons.

Buzz Aldrin pays tribute to 'world icon' John Glenn

Moonwalker Buzz Aldrin paid tribute Friday to pioneer astronaut John Glenn, describing the first American to orbit the Earth as a world icon.

Technology news

Smart contact lens is discussed at electron devices meeting

(Tech Xplore)—Can we look at a future smart contact lens for those with eye problems? The iris, a key part of our eyes, modulates the amount of light reaching the retina, said researchers, and an estimated 200,000 individuals worldwide suffer from iris deficiencies.

Michigan lets autonomous cars on roads without human driver

Companies can now test self-driving cars on Michigan public roads without a driver or steering wheel under new laws that could push the state to the forefront of autonomous vehicle development.

Samsung to disable Note 7 phones in recall effort

Samsung announced Friday it would disable its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones in the US market to force remaining owners to stop using the devices, which were recalled for safety reasons.

Instagram and YouTube play nice with their most popular users. Why doesn't Snapchat?

Self-described Snapchat power user Michael Platco received a neon sign bearing his name from social media rival Instagram. And a different video app emails him every week, hoping he tries their services and brings along his 500,000 Snapchat contacts.

At Boeing's 777X wing factory, robots get big jobs

As the first 110-footlong wing skin panel for Boeing's new 777X jet moved slowly across a mammoth new factory building one recent morning, a small crew walked alongside, watching for any possibility of an expensive collision.

Gov't proposal envisions phone calls on airline flights

Airlines could let passengers make in-flight phone calls using Wi-Fi under a proposal from federal regulators.

Who's listening? The ethical and legal issues of developing a health app

From large companies to tiny startups, many people are working on creating apps to monitor and improve our health. The technical skill needed is widely recognised and developers are becoming more aware of the need to involve consumers and health professionals in the design.

Visual analytics software startup could help first responders save lives

Davista Technologies LLC, a startup that licensed a Purdue University innovation, has developed a visual data analytics solutions technology that could provide real-time information to help first responders save lives.

In Denmark, Apple loses court case over refurbished phone

Apple Inc. has violated a consumer law in Denmark by giving a customer a refurbished iPhone with used components in replacement for his new one that wasn't working properly, a Danish court ruled.

Apple invests in China wind farms

Apple has struck a partnership with the world's largest wind turbine maker, the American company said, marking the tech giant's largest clean energy project to date.

Sand absorbs high-speed ballistic impact better than steel

A study led by Assistant Professor Darren Chian Siau Chen from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the National University of Singapore's Faculty of Engineering has found that when a projectile is fired at a sand block at high speed, it absorbs more than 85 per cent of the energy exerted against it. This ability to resist the impact increases with the speed of the projectile, even at high velocities.

Watson-powered robot aimed at aiding elderly and caregivers

IBM Research today announced the creation of the prototype IBM Multi-Purpose Eldercare Robot Assistant (IBM MERA) done in collaboration with Rice University. IBM MERA is a first of a kind Watson-enabled application designed to help assist the elderly and their caregivers. IBM Research also has plans to work with Sole Cooperativa, an independent healthcare provider in Italy, to instrument senior housing with sensors to monitor day-to-day activities of its residents.

Snapchat: How the vanishing-photo app managed not to fade

Snapchat has managed to build something lasting out of photos that vanished almost instantly.

What to know before buying a drone this Christmas

UN aviation officials cautioned anyone Friday who might want to leave a gift of a drone under the Christmas tree this season, to learn how to safely operate it first.

Apple chief Tim Cook picked to give MIT commencement speech

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has chosen Apple CEO Tim Cook to deliver its 2017 commencement address.

Japan doubles cost estimate for Fukushima cleanup

The estimated cost of cleaning up Japan's wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant has doubled to nearly 22 trillion yen ($190 billion), with decommissioning expenses expected to continue to increase, a government panel said Friday.

How can society offer freedom of transport in low carbon age?

In the UK, road and air transport (both overwhelmingly fossil-fuel based) use energy at a rate twice that of the average power transmission of the national grid. In 2015, road transport alone used energy at an average rate slightly more than the peak electricity demand in that year. In simple terms, if we electrify the road transport fleet we are going to need a grid – and electricity generation system – at least twice the capacity we have now. To generate this from nuclear power we would need 16.5 more Hinckley Point C power stations at a total cost of £404 billion.

Obama orders 'full review' of 2016 election cyberattacks

President Barack Obama has ordered a review of all cyberattacks that took place during the 2016 election cycle, the White House said Friday as concerns over Russian interference mount.

Medicine & Health news

Study establishes extent of human brain excited by specific dose of electricity

Until now, no quantitative relationship between the level of electricity applied to the brain and the extent of neural activity generated has been plotted in humans.

Breast cancer patients could benefit from controversial hormone

An international team of researchers involving the University of Adelaide is tackling the controversy over what some scientists consider to be a "harmful" hormone, arguing that it could be a game changer in the fight against recurring breast cancers that are resistant to standard treatments.

Researchers study astrocyte cells that may contribute to ALS and Alzheimer's

An achievement by UCLA neuroscientists could lead to a better understanding of astrocytes, a type of cell in the brain that is thought to play a role in Lou Gehrig's disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS; Alzheimer's disease; Huntington's disease; and other neurological disorders.

Magnetic stimulation may provide more precise, reliable activation of neural circuitry

Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers have developed what appears to be a significant improvement in the technology behind brain implants used to activate neural circuits responsible for vision, hearing or movement. The investigators, who are also affiliated with the Boston VA Healthcare System, describe their development of tiny magnetic coils capable of selectively activating target neurons in the Dec. 9 issue of Science Advances.

Oxytocin improves synchronization in leader-follower interaction

When standing in a crowd at a concert, clapping hands along with the music on stage, it may be that people with higher levels of oxytocin are better synchronised with the beat of the music than those with lower levels of oxytocin.

Pets offer valuable support for owners with mental health problems

Pets can help people manage their long-term mental health conditions, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Psychiatry.

Tracking breast cancer cell genetics reveals longer potential treatment window

Breast cancer cells break away and spread to other parts of the body relatively late on in breast tumour development, an international team of scientists has shown. The research, jointly led by Dr Peter Van Loo at the Francis Crick Institute, could help refine cancer therapy and is published in the journal Genome Biology.

Aggressive form of leukemia linked to defective 'protein factory'

Twenty to forty percent of the patients with the type of leukaemia known as multiple myeloma have a defect in the 'protein factory' of the cell: the ribosome. These patients have a poorer prognosis than patients with intact ribosomes. At the same time, they respond better to a drug that already exists. These are the findings of a study by the KU Leuven Laboratory for Disease Mechanisms in Cancer, led by Professor Kim De Keersmaecker.

Air pollution impairs function of blood vessels in lungs

Air pollution impairs the function of blood vessels in the lungs, according to a study in more than 16 000 patients presented today at EuroEcho-Imaging 2016.

Genetic alterations in treatment-resistant metastatic breast cancer found to be distinct from those in primary tumors

Drug-resistant, estrogen-fueled breast cancers that have spread beyond their initial site often have different genetic alterations than the original tumors, according to a large-scale tumor-tissue analysis led by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists. The discovery of these differences, which may guide the search for new drug targets and influence the treatment patients receive if their cancer metastasizes, was presented today at the 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Got the winter blues? All about seasonal affective disorder

If winter days get you down, you're not alone. You may have seasonal affective disorder, a type of depression triggered by the change of seasons. People with this disorder tend to feel depressed in the fall and winter, when there is less sunlight and the days are shorter.

The MDMA being used to treat trauma is different from the street drug Ecstasy

On Nov. 30 the FDA approved a Phase III clinical trial to confirm the effectiveness of treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with MDMA, also known as Ecstasy.

Accessible, regular leisure can boost health for combat veterans

Engagement in accessible and regular leisure pursuits can contribute to the health and well being of combat veterans, according to a Penn State study.

Intracellular dopamine receptor function may offer hope to schizophrenia patients

Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that plays an important role in controlling movement, emotion and cognition. Dopamine dysfunction is believed to be one of the causes of disorders like Schizophrenia, Tourette's syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Parkinson's disease.

New machine simulates human digestion to improve nutrition

How do humans digest food? It's a complicated question, with no easy answer. But in a food engineering lab at UC Davis, a mechanical digestive system is churning out information that may help solve the age-old mystery.

Hypnotherapy trial reduces pain and anxiety in children with burns

A world-first study has found medical hypnosis can reduce pain and anxiety in children being treated for serious burns.

Running actually lowers inflammation in knee joints

We all know that running causes a bit of inflammation and soreness, and that's just the price you pay for cardiovascular health. You know; no pain, no gain.

'Fly brain' idea explores memory, learning disabilities

They are a pesky nuisance to many. However, for one Western researcher, the thousands of fruit flies lining the shelves of his lab could reveal important secrets about memory and learning disabilities, thanks to similarities we share with the tiny insects.

Presurgery abemaciclib treatment reduces cell proliferation in (HR)-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer

Presurgery treatment with the investigational therapeutic abemaciclib, either alone or in combination with the aromatase inhibitor anastrozole, reduced levels of Ki67, a marker of cell proliferation, in hormone receptor (HR)-positive, HER2-negative breast cancer cells, compared with anastrozole alone, according to data from the neoMONARCH phase II clinical trial presented at the 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held Dec. 6–10.

Glaucoma drug may have potential to treat Alzheimer's disease

A drug which is used to treat the common eye disease glaucoma may have potential as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease, according to scientists at UCL.

Social media use found to contribute to good mental health for many

According to new research by academics from University of Melbourne and Monash University, using social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace contributes to good mental health for many users.

Keeping one step ahead of pollen triggers for thunderstorm asthma

The recent Melbourne thunderstorm asthma event has led some people to question what made this hay fever season so bad and how this tragic event occurred.

Telomere growth predicts reduced chance of death from heart disease

Short telomeres—the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes—have been previously linked to increased risk of death from heart disease. Now, research by scientists at UC San Francisco and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in San Francisco has found that change in telomere length over time is also important: heart disease patients whose telomeres shrank over time had a worse short-term prognosis than those whose telomeres stayed stable, and those whose average telomere length grew over the course of the study had a higher chance of survival.

Moderate exercise improves memory dysfunction caused by type 2 diabetes

University of Tsukuba-led researchers show that moderate exercise may improve hippocampal memory dysfunction caused by type 2 diabetes and that enhanced transport of lactate to neurons may be the underlying mechanism

Estrogen deprivation in neoadjuvant chemotherapy is not antagonistic to pathologic complete response

Neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer treatment consists of administering docetaxel, carboplatin, trastuzumab and pertuzumab (TCHP) prior to surgery and is primarily used in patients with HER2-positive breast cancers who have large tumors or evidence that the cancer has spread to underarm lymph nodes. Patients whose tumors also are hormone receptor positive, however, have a lower response rate to this treatment.

Naturally occurring symptoms may be mistaken for tamoxifen side-effects

Women taking tamoxifen to prevent breast cancer were less likely to continue taking the drug if they suffered nausea and vomiting, according to new data presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium today (Friday).

'World's heaviest woman' to fly to India for surgery

An Egyptian who is believed to be the world's heaviest woman is to fly to India for weight reduction surgery after the country's foreign minister personally intervened to secure her a visa.

Early intervention may be possible for Parkinson's disease

One of the largest post-mortem brain studies in the world has confirmed that a protein (LRRK2) associated with the development of Parkinson's disease is increased in the pre-symptom stages, leading researchers to believe they may be able to treat the disease sooner.

No benefit from presurgery aromatase inhibitor for HR-positive, HER2-positive breast cancer

Adding an aromatase inhibitor to presurgery treatment with docetaxel, carboplatin, trastuzumab (Herceptin), and pertuzumab (Perjeta) did not significantly increase or decrease the percentage of patients with hormone receptor (HR)-positive, HER2-positive breast cancer who had a pathologic complete response (pCR), according to data from a phase III clinical trial presented at the 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held Dec. 6–10.

The role of randomised trials in surgery

In medical science, as in all walks of life, we are impressed by dramatic effects.  If a new treatment seems much better than an old one initially, there is often impatience to get on and use it, and people question why one would want to conduct formal trials.

New study highlights smoking intensity in coronary heart disease risk

Increased relative risks for coronary heart disease (CHD) have long been associated with smoking, and traditionally they have been dependent on the number of cigarettes smoked a day, smoking intensities, and total exposure over time. A study published today in Nicotine & Tobacco Research suggests relative CHD risk is higher for smokers consuming cigarettes over a longer period of time than for smokers consuming the same quantity over a shorter period.

Beans and peas increase fullness more than meat

Meals based on legumes such as beans and peas are more satiating than pork and veal-based meals according to a recent study by the University of Copenhagen's Department of Nutrition, Excercise and Sports. Results suggest that sustainable eating may also help with weight loss.

Home-based rehabilitation improves daily life of people with low vision

The visual function and daily life of people whose sight can't be corrected with glasses or contact lenses can be significantly improved through home visits by rehabilitation specialists, concludes a study by Cardiff University.

Researchers examine social/behavioral interventions to uncover undiagnosed HIV

Despite some evidence that HIV incidence rates in the United States are decreasing modestly in recent years, at least 44,000 people are still infected with HIV each year. Of concern, socioeconomically disadvantaged African American/Black and Hispanic persons are disproportionately affected by HIV, and thus over-represented in the HIV epidemic in comparison to their numbers in the general population. Overall, it is estimated that some 15% of people nation-wide living with HIV remain unaware of their infection.

Never-smoking women have high prevalence of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

A new study published by University of Toronto researchers suggests that women who have never smoked are susceptible to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and that African American women are particularly vulnerable. Seven percent of never-smoking older African American women and 5.2% of White older women have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), compared to 2.9% of never-smoking older white men.

Depression drug reduces joint pain for women with early stage breast cancer

A drug typically used to treat depression and anxiety can significantly reduce joint pain in postmenopausal women being treated for early stage breast cancer, according to new SWOG research to be presented Friday at a special plenary presentation at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Researchers show how online communities bridge the rural-urban healthcare divide

Online communities are helping patients find and share information and connect with each other at unprecedented levels. But can they also create social value by helping to bridge the disparities between rural and urban health care?

New evidence shows how bacterium in undercooked chicken causes GBS

A Michigan State University research team is the first to show how a common bacterium found in improperly cooked chicken causes Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or GBS.

Study reveals drug interactions that may reduce mortality in breast cancer patients

Patient health records revealed two drug combinations that may reduce mortality rates in breast cancer patients, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Four more likely homegrown Zika cases found in Texas

State officials have announced four more cases of Zika that are believed to have been transmitted in Texas, almost two weeks after announcing the first such case.

New CDC data understate accidental shooting deaths of kids

Government statistics released this week claiming that 77 minors in the U.S. were killed by unintentional gun discharges last year significantly understate the scope of an enduring public health problem.

Scientists develop new mouse model to study Salmonella meningitis

National Institutes of Health (NIH) scientists have established in mice a way to study potentially life-threatening meningitis caused by Salmonella. Bacterial meningitis happens when bacteria infect the central nervous system (CNS), causing a serious disease that can be life-threatening and difficult to diagnose and treat. Patients who survive often have permanent brain damage.

Women sue healthcare giant Bayer over contraceptive implants

French lawyers for women who say a contraceptive implant sold by Bayer Healthcare had caused a string of medical complications launched a lawsuit against the multinational on Friday.

In Colombia, deformed babies quadrupled amid Zika crisis: CDC

Four times the number of babies born with skull deformities linked to Zika virus were reported in Colombia this year following the outbreak of the mosquito-borne infection, said a US government report Friday.

Healthy diet may mean longer life for kidney patients

(HealthDay)—A healthy diet may help people with kidney disease live longer, researchers report.

Teething tips from dental specialists

(HealthDay)—You've fed your baby, changed your baby, but the baby is still cranky. It's possible he or she is uncomfortable because tiny teeth are trying to push through the gums. What can you do to ease the pain?

Could a computer someday guide breast cancer care?

(HealthDay)—An artificially intelligent computer system is making breast cancer treatment recommendations on a par with those of cancer doctors, a new study reports.

'Cold caps' may halt hair loss in breast cancer patients: study

(HealthDay)—Cooling the scalp with a specialized cap during chemotherapy sessions could help breast cancer patients avoid treatment-related hair loss, new research suggests.

Certain breast cancer drugs tied to blood vessel damage

(HealthDay)—Women on breast cancer drugs called aromatase inhibitors may show signs of early blood vessel damage that could lead to heart disease, a small study suggests.

Strength training may prevent side effect of breast cancer surgery

(HealthDay)—Strength training might benefit breast cancer survivors who've undergone surgery, researchers suggest.

Screening cuts transfusion-transmitted babesiosis risk

(HealthDay)—Screening for Babesia microti antibodies and DNA in blood-donation samples is associated with a reduction in the risk of transfusion-transmitted babesiosis, according to a study published in the Dec. 8 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Image-guided biopsy identifies patients who achieve pathologic complete response after neoadjuvant therapy

In a pilot study conducted at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, image-guided biopsies identified select breast cancer patients who achieved pathologic complete response (pCR) after chemotherapy and/or targeted therapy, neoadjuvant systemic therapy (NST). Should the findings be replicated in future studies, this research would be the first indication that as the field moves toward more selective, personalized treatment, surgery may altogether be eliminated for a large group of patients.

Older women with breast cancer report better cosmetic satisfaction with less radiation, less surgery

In the first study evaluating patient-reported cosmetic outcomes in a population-based cohort of older women with breast cancer, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center researchers found that less radiation was associated with improved cosmetic satisfaction long-term. However, reduced radiation was also associated with a slightly increased risk of disease recurrence.

Study finds new pathways to treat non-alcoholic fatty-liver disease

Researchers from the University of South Carolina, Duke University, University of Alabama at Birmingham, and Metabolon Inc. Research Triangle Park have discovered a new pathway in the liver that opens the door to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that affects up to 25 percent of the population and may lead to cirrhosis and eventually liver cancer or failure, and likely other liver diseases.

Experts present triple-negative breast cancer immunotherapy trial

A researcher from University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center will discuss his upcoming immunotherapy clinical trial for triple-negative breast cancer at the 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. The annual symposium is the premier meeting for more than 7,500 physicians and scientists dedicated to breast cancer treatment, featuring state-of-the-art breast cancer research such as experimental biology, etiology, prevention, diagnosis, and therapy of both breast cancer and premalignant breast disease.

Anthropologist explores decline of female genital cutting

In the global campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM), many activists aggressively condemn cutting while depicting it as an intractable problem. Anthropologists have shown, however, that for many women FGM is a meaningful and valued practice.

Breast density in quantifying breast cancer risk

There is a strong connection between breast cancer and the high rate of breast density. These are cases wherein the patient has previously undergone mammography screening and been cleared as 'normal'. A subsequent diagnosis of cancer indicates the failure of mammography to detect the breast cancer.

New trial to examine use of pre-hospital blood products

University of Warwick is collaborating with researchers at the NIHR Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre (SRMRC) to support a ground-breaking new study to investigate the effectiveness of giving patients blood products immediately after a major injury or trauma - before they reach hospital.

Project to replicate brain's neural networks though 3-D nanoprinting

Aston University has launched MESO-BRAIN, a major stem cell research project which it hopes will develop three-dimensional (3D) nanoprinting techniques that can be used to replicate the brain's neural networks.

Czech lawmakers ban smoking in restaurants

Czech lawmakers voted Friday to ban smoking in cafes and restaurants starting next May, following in the footsteps of much of Europe, but the chain-smoking president still needs to sign off the decree.

Scholar's findings suggest illness-related fatalities are on the rise in U.N. peacekeeping

Illness-related fatalities among U.N. peacekeepers are growing at a significant rate, despite the fact that overall U.N. fatalities are not substantively on the rise, according to new Northwestern University research.

Linking Gaucher and Parkinson's Diseases

Gaucher (pronounced "go-shay") disease affects one in 450 Jewish people of Ashkenazi (eastern European) descent (one in 10 is a carrier), yet only 1 in 40,000 people in the general population. Of course mutations can happen in anyone, and many people are unaware of having Jewish ancestry. But this rare disease actually impacts a much more common one: being a carrier for Gaucher disease is a risk factor for Parkinson's disease (PD), increasing the likelihood of cognitive impairment.

Paternal aging and its possible link to neurodevelopmental disorders

Neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are on the rise but its underlying mechanisms are poorly understood.

Oral bacterium related esophageal cancer prognosis in Japanese patients

A type of bacterium usually found in the human mouth, Fusobacterium nucleatum (F. nucleatum), has been found to be related to the prognosis of esophageal cancer in Japanese patients by researchers from Kumamoto University, Japan. The bacteria are a causative agent of periodontal disease and though it can be found among the intestinal flora, it hasn't been the focus of much research until now.

Officials: South Beach halts Zika's spread, but risks remain

Florida declared its crisis with local transmission of Zika over for the season Friday in a welcome announcement ahead of peak tourism months, but health authorities warned that travelers would continue bringing the disease into the state.

Diet, the gut microbiome, and colorectal cancer: are they linked?

Recent evidence from animal models suggests a role for specific types of intestinal bacteria in the development of colorectal cancer (CRC). If a microbial imbalance in the gut could actively contribute to CRC in humans, dietary-based therapeutic interventions may be able to modify the composition of the gut microbiome to reduce CRC risk, as discussed in a review article published in BioResearch Open Access.

Do cannabis dispensary staff receive sufficient training?

As legalization of cannabis for medical use increases across the U.S., the training of dispensary staff, who may recommend cannabis type and concentration to patients, requires closer examination. A new study, which found that only 55% of dispensary staff reported having some formal training for their positions, is published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

Examiner: Philadelphia had 35 drug overdoses in 5 days

The Philadelphia medical examiner's office says as many as 35 fatal drug overdoses over a recent five-day period might be part of a bigger problem: the national opioid crisis.

Biology news

Biology, meet philology: First application of phylogenetic evolutionary framework to color naming

(Phys.org)—That there are universal patterns in the naming of colors across languages has long been a topic of discussion in a range of disciplines, including anthropology, cognitive science and linguistics. However, previous color term research has not applied an evolutionary framework to the analysis of these worldwide patterns. Recently, scientists at Yale University traced the history of color systems in language by applying phylogenetic methods across a large language tree. They not only validated the phylogenetic approach to culture, but also generated a precise history of color terms across a large language sample drawn from the Pama-Nyungan languages of Australia, and moreover provided evidence supporting the loss and, as had been previously known, gain of color terms in the evolutionary process.

Monkey speak: Macaques have the anatomy, not the brain, for human speech

Monkeys known as macaques possess the vocal anatomy to produce "clearly intelligible" human speech but lack the brain circuitry to do so, according to new research.

Male vs. female stress responses may explain sex differences in diseases

The differences in how male and female fruit flies resist and adapt to oxidative stress may shed new light on how age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's affect men and women differently.

Researchers calculate minimum amount of land perseveration needed to prevent extinction of giant panda

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with members from several institutions in China has calculated what they believe is the minimum amount of land preservation needed to sustain wild giant panda populations. In their paper published in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers outline how they came up with their numbers and what they believe needs to happen to ensure the survival of these unique bears.

Blueprint for shape in ancient land plants

Scientists from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge have unlocked the secrets of shape in the most ancient of land plants using time-lapse imaging, growth analysis and computer modelling.

Cow gene study shows why most clones fail

It has been 20 years since Dolly the sheep was successfully cloned in Scotland, but cloning mammals remains a challenge. A new study by researchers from the U.S. and France of gene expression in developing clones now shows why most cloned embryos likely fail.

Trapdoor spiders disappearing from Australian landscape

Recent surveys by Australian scientists have identified an apparent significant decline in the numbers of trapdoor spiders across southern Australia

Scientist pioneers novel ways to study endangered baleen whales

Although North Atlantic right whales, humpback whales and bowhead whales–all species of baleen whales–are some of the largest animals on Earth, they are also among the most critically endangered. These whales were hunted nearly to extinction over the last 300 years for their blubber, which was used to produce oil. Fortunately, these species are repopulating, but because they reproduce slowly, their numbers are more vulnerable to dangers such as collisions with ships and entanglement in fishing lines.

New tool for fighting wildlife trafficking

A new tool for fighting wildlife trafficking developed by a team led by a UC San Diego mechanical engineering alum has been selected as the overall winner of the inaugural global "Zoohackathon" sponsored by the U.S. Government's Task Force on Combating Wildlife Trafficking.

Weather radar helps researchers track bird flu

The same weather radar technology used to predict rain is now giving UC researchers the ability to track wild birds that could carry the avian influenza virus. Avian influenza, which kills chickens, turkeys and other birds, can take a significant economic toll on the poultry industry. In 2014-15, the United States experienced its worst bird flu outbreak in history, resulting in more than 48 million birds dying in 15 states, including California.

Environmental DNA effectively monitors aquatic species populations

Environmental DNA (eDNA), the nuclear or mitochondrial DNA shed from an organism into its environment, is a rapidly evolving tool for monitoring the distribution of aquatic species. A new study published in Transactions of the American Fisheries Society discusses the ability of eDNA to accurately predict the presence, relative abundance, and biomass of wild Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) populations.

The world's oldest known seabird is expecting—again

The world's oldest known seabird is expecting—again.

Canadian zoo probing penguin drowning deaths

A Canadian zoo has launched an investigation into the mysterious drowning deaths of seven Humboldt penguins.

Thai Navy shows off technology to fight fishing abuses

Thailand's navy on Friday showed off new technology to monitor fishing boats in a renewed effort to crack down on illegal fishing, forced labor and corruption in the seafood industry.

Endangered sea otters fly into France

A pair of jetlagged sea otters arrived in France on Friday after a 9,000-kilometre (5,600-mile) flight from Alaska to their new home at a sea life park.


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