September 25, 2018

    Gene drive technique eradicates malaria mosquito population in the laboratory

    Life | Sep 25, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Anopheles gambiae mosquito, the vector of malaria parasites, feeding. Image: CDC/ James Gathany / Public Health Image Library
    Gene drive technique eradicates malaria mosquito population in the laboratory - biotechnology science news

    Scientists are well on their way to specifically change the genome of malaria mosquitos to bring about their extinction. By introducing a mutation by the CRISPR – Cas9 gene drive technique in a part of the gene that determines that is responsible for female development, mosquitos showed both male and female characteristics, failed to bite and did not lay eggs. After eight generations in the laboratory, no more females were produced, and the population collapsed as no reproduction could occur anymore. Thus, although more experiments are needed, it seems that molecular biology could be an efficient tool to eliminate mosquitos that carry malaria, probably in five to ten years from now, researchers think.

    Read the full story: Imperial College London
    Scientific publication: Nature Biotechnology


    Glyphosate, a common herbicide, contributes to the dying of bees

    Life | Sep 25, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Glyphosate kills microbiota in the bee's intestines, leading to bee death following pathogen infection
    Glyphosate, a common herbicide, contributes to the dying of bees - life science news

    The commonly used herbicide glyphosate has been found in a new study to have a profound effect on the microbiota living the intestines of honeybees. At least four out of eight common bacteria species are severely affected. These bacteria are important for digestion, and defense against pathogens. Indeed, of the bees that have been exposed to glyphosate, only 10% survives infection with the common pathogen Serratia marcescens, whereas this is 50% for bees that have not been in contact with glyphosate. Thus, this study shows that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, contributes to the decline in bee populations, and gives reason to reconsider legislation concerning glyphosate use.

    Read the full story: University of Texas at Austin
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA


    New study explains how the Martian moon Phobos was formed

    Space | Sep 25, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Phobos, the larger of Mars' two tiny satellites, pictured near the limb of Mars by the robot spacecraft Mars Express in 2010. Image: G. Neukum (FU Berlin) et al., Mars Express, DLR, ESA; Acknowledgement: Peter Masek
    New study explains how the Martian moon Phobos was formed - space science news

    By comparing mid-infrared spectra from Phobos (that had been collected already in 1998 by the Mars Global Surveyor) with those of an asteroid found near Tagish Lake in British Columbia, scientists believe that Phobos is not an asteroid captured by the gravity of Mars, as had been argued before, but has formed after a huge impact during early Martian history. The spectra have no similarity with the asteroid, and revealed that Phobos is made of basalt. Basalt is volcanic rock, and one of the major components of the surface of Mars. Thus, scientists have found evidence for the origin of Phobos that might be further confirmed once the Martian Moon eXploration spacecraft and the OSIRIS-Rex and Hayabusa2 asteroid explorers complete their missions to collect samples and return them to Earth for analysis.

    Read the full story: AGU 100
    Scientific publication: Journal of Geophysical Research – Planets


    Light pollution makes fish more courageous during the day

    Life | Sep 24, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Nocturnal light pollution makes guppies more courageous during the day
    Light pollution makes fish more courageous during the day - life short science news

    Artificial light at night alters the behavior of fish (guppies) during the day, a new study shows. Fish leave their shelter faster, and spend more time in open, potentially dangerous, waters. It thus seems that fish are taking more risk, exposing themselves more to predators. Researchers think that increased risk taking is caused by the stress that is imposed by light pollution at night.

    Read the full story: IGB - Berlin
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Why immunotherapy rarely stops cancer

    Health | Sep 24, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    News about cancer: cancer cells can hide from the immune system so that immunotherapy stops working
    Why immunotherapy rarely stops cancer - cancer short science news

    Scientists have found out why immunotherapy to fight a cancer initially shrinks a tumor, but cannot turn this into long-term silencing or destruction of cancer cells. Cancer cells can apparently hide themselves from the immune cells (known as T cells) that stimulated by immunotherapy to kill them. Cancer cells can stop displaying molecules on their membranes that T cells need to recognize and then attack them. Fortunately, the researchers found that two already existing medications for the treatment of some cancers, could stop the cancer cells from ceasing the expression of the marker molecules. Thus, this study explains why immunotherapies do not have a long lasting effect, and indicates how immunotherapies might be improved for more effective treatment.

    Read the full story: Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Children more likely to try marijuana younger if their mothers smoke it

    Life | Sep 24, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Maternal use of marijuana leads to children starting smoking themselves at a younger age
    Children more likely to try marijuana younger if their mothers smoke it - science news

    A new study showed a correlation between mothers using marijuana during the first 12 years of their child's life and the age at which the children start using cannabis themselves. Maternal marihuana use was associated with children trying it at an earlier age. "Early initiation is one of the strongest predictors of the likelihood of experiencing health consequences from marijuana use”, said lead author Natasha A. Sokol. Although marijuana is generally considered less dangerous than other drugs, the risk of getting health problems is linked to the age of initiation. Earlier initiation is associated with increased risk of anxiety and depressive disorders.

    Read the full story: Brown School of Public Health
    Scientific publication: American Journal of Preventive Medicine


    Regular sleep hours promote good health

    Health | Sep 24, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Sleep at regular hours and you will be healthier
    Regular sleep hours promote good health - science news daily in short

    Parents struggle to offer regular sleep hours for their children, often neglecting to do the same for themselves. A new study shows that adults can also benefit from regular sleep hours. After following almost 2,000 adults, researchers concluded that people with irregular sleep hours had higher blood sugar, weighed more, had higher blood pressure and increased the risk of having a heart attack or stroke. The study suggests, therefore an association between sleep irregularity and heart and metabolic diseases (but not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship). The authors plan to expand the present study in the future to understand better the connections between sleep patterns and health.

    Read the full story: Duke University
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    New therapy for HIV passed Phase 1 clinical trial

    Health | Sep 24, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Scientists multiply immune cells from HIV-infected patients and then place them back in the body to fight the virus
    New therapy for HIV passed Phase 1 clinical trial - science news in short - HIV

    A new therapy for HIV is now tested in humans and it successfully passed the phase I clinical trial. The therapy involves collecting T cells (immune cells) from a patient, multiplying them in the laboratory and then giving them back to the patient to help the body fight disease. Basically, the body’s immune system is helped and “re-educated” to better fight HIV viruses. The primary goal of the study was to show that the therapy is safe and the results are encouraging. The therapy is still to be further tested in future clinical trials.

    Read the full story: ScienceDaily
    Scientific publication: Molecular Therapy


    Coastal wetlands need inland space to survive rising sea water

    Earth | Sep 21, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Dikes prevent inland migration of coastal wetlands
    Coastal wetlands need inland space to survive rising sea water - ecosystem short science news

    A global study has shown that for coastal wetlands to survive, more room to move inland (accommodation space) is necessary. In Europe and China, most of inland migration of marshes is strongly impaired by dikes, whereas in the US dikes are less common and marshes can move. Scientists argue that accommodation space should be expanded by using “natural and nature-based features”, meaning the replacement of dikes and the creation of nature reserves buffers in upland areas surrounding coastal wetlands. Protection of wetlands is important, as they are form one of the best defenses against hurricane’s and storm’s waves, and high sea water levels.

    Read the full story: Virginia Institute of Marine Science
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Oldest animal identified

    Earth | Sep 21, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    This is a fossil of Dickinsonia, the oldest known animal to live on Earth 558 million years ago. Image: The Australian National University (ANU)
    Oldest animal identified - paleontology short science news

    Is it a lichen, a giant single-celled amoebe, or an animal? Now, paleontologists have found the answer of what a bizarre fossil of 558 million years old really is: the earliest known animal to live on the Earth, named Dickinsonia. In an extremely well preserved fossil of Dickinsonia, scientists found cholesterol molecules, a hallmark of animal life. Thus, Dickinsonia, that could grow up to 1.4 meters in length, was a primitive animal that lived before what is known as the Cambrian explosion, when animal life became abundant and diverse 500 million years ago.

    Read the full story: Australian National University
    Scientific publication: Science


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