August 21, 2018

    Why salamanders can regrow organs and lizards cannot

    Life | Aug 18, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Lizards can regrow their tail, but the regrown tails are much simpler than the original one
    Why salamanders can regrow organs and lizards cannot - life science news

    Researchers have found that neural stem cells in the spinal cord ensure that salamanders can regrow proper tails. When transplanting these cells into lizards, that can also regenerate the tail to some extent, these animals were also able to regrow a proper tail. It appeared that the neural stem cells in the lizard can only differentiate into glial cells (cells with a supporting function), but not into neurons that should steer the whole regneration process. As lizards are the closest relatives to mammals that can regrow a part of the body, they may serve as an intermediate to study the molecular mechanisms underlying regeneration.

    Read the full story: University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA


    A clay-based platform to promote blood vessel growth

    Technology | Aug 18, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    A new platform to promote blood vessel growth. Image: Texas A&M University
    A clay-based platform to promote blood vessel growth - health technology news

    Scientists have developed a clay-based platform for the delivery of growth factors into the body to stimulate the growth of blood vessels. It makes use of a two-dimensional clay (nanosilicates) that slowly release growth factors, so that the secretion of these proteins is prolonged. This method prevents problems such as abnormal, abrupt tissue formation, and eliminates a major hurdle for efficient wound repair and tissue implants.

    Read the full story: Texas A&M University
    Scientific publication: Advanced Biosystems


    Cosmic steam jets observed in newly-forming stars

    Space | Aug 18, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Composite ALMA image of NGC 6334I, with a heavy water jet in blue, and organic molecules-rich region in orange. Image: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO): NRAO/AUI/NSF, B. Saxton
    Cosmic steam jets observed in newly-forming stars - space science news

    The ALMA telescope in Chile detected high frequencies bands in the Cat’s Paw Nebula (or NGC 6334I) that indicated jets of warm water vapor streaming away from a newly forming star. This observation was only possible because of the extreme precision and sensitivity of ALMA, and the low concentrations of water vapor in the arid Chilean desert. Also, astronomers observed glycoaldehyde, the simplest sugar-related molecule. These observations are at the limit what ground-based astronomy can reveal, and fundamentally changes our understanding of the universe.

    Read the full story: National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    Scientific publication: The Astrophysical Journal Letters


    Immune cells decide whether to display male or female sexual behavior

    Mind and Brain | Aug 15, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Inflammation of the brain during pregnancy could influence sexual behavior in the offspring
    Immune cells decide whether to display male or female sexual behavior - neuroscience news

    A surprising outcome of a recent study reveals that a certain type of immune cells, known as mast cells, play an important role in determining whether an animal will display male or female sexual behavior. When mast cells are silenced in young male rats, female sexual behavior was observed when these rats were adults. When these cells were activated in young female rats, the animals displayed male sexual behavior in adulthood. Mast cells in male rats appeared to be activated by estrogen, a hormone that drives the development of male traits. This study shows that immune cells steer the development of sexual behavior, so that it is possible that allergic reactions, injury or inflammation during pregnancy could influence sexual behavior in the offspring, probably also in humans.

    Read the full story: Ohio State University
    Scientific publication: Journal of Neuroscience


    Melting of the West-Antarctic ice sheet depends on deep ocean temperature

    Earth | Aug 13, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Melting of the West-Antarctic ice sheet is related to the deep ocean's temperature cycle
    Melting of the West-Antarctic ice sheet depends on deep ocean temperature - Earth science news

    Scientists have found that the temperature in the deep ocean is much more variable than previously thought, and shows a cycle of warming and cooling over the 16 years observation period. This cycle was found in the Amundsen Sea in West Antarctica, and appears to accelerate the melting of the West-Antarctic ice sheet during the warmer phase, while steadying it or even decreasing it during the cooler phases. The temperature cycle could be linked to El Nino in the tropical Pacific Ocean, and should be incorporated in the mathematical models that estimate how much ice will melt, and how much the sea water level will rise now that the Earth is warming up.

    Read the full story: British Antarctic Survey
    Scientific publication: Nature Geoscience


    Disrupted nitrogen metabolism plays a role in cancer

    Health | Aug 13, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Soon, blood urea measurements might predict which cancer patients will benefit from immunotherapy
    Disrupted nitrogen metabolism plays a role in cancer - health science news

    Nitrogen is a building block of proteins, RNA and DNA, and is therefore in high demand by cancer cells. Scientists have now found that disrupted nitrogen metabolism in the liver reduces the concentration of a nitrogenous waste product, urea, in certain cancers, and increases the availability of nitrogen for cancer cells. This makes the cancer cells on the one hand more aggressive, but on the other hand also more vulnerable to immunotherapy, in patients and experimental animals. It should now become possible to design a blood test to monitor urea levels in cancer patients, and predict in which of these patients immunotherapy will likely have beneficial effects, i.e. in those patients with low blood urea.

    Read the full story: Weizmann Institute
    Scientific publication: Cell


    Men take care of their spouses just as much as women do

    Life | Aug 13, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Men increased their care hours as much as women did, resulting in similar levels of care when their partner became ill. Credit: pexels.com
    Men take care of their spouses just as much as women do - science news

    A new study suggests that men respond to their spouse’s illness just as much as women do and as a result are better caregivers in later life than previous research suggests, according to a new Oxford University collaboration. This is good news for an increasingly stretched adult care services, which have become more reliant on patients’ family and spouses for support. The research sits in contrast to previous studies on spousal caregiving, which found that female caregivers tend to be more responsive. However, the new results reveal that men are just as responsive to a partner’s illness, as women.

    Read the full story: Oxford University
    Scientific publication: Journals of Gerontology, Series B


    When rude to your co-workers their children suffer

    Life | Aug 13, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Incivility in the workplace associated with more negative parenting behaviors at home, study says
    When rude to your co-workers their children suffer - science news

    According to a group of scientists, when people are rude to their co-workers or treat them badly, they don’t realize the unintended could be the coworkers’ children. Women who experience incivility in the workplace are more likely to engage in stricter, more authoritarian parenting practices that can have a negative impact on their children. Workplace incivility is any behavior that is rude, disrespectful, impolite, etc. “This research tells us much about the nature and scope of workplace incivility, specifically its detrimental impact on mothering well-being and specific negative parenting behavior”, said researcher Angela Dionisi.

    Read the full story: American Psychological Association
    Scientific publication: Annual convention of the American Psychological Association


    Rotavirus vaccine reduces death in infants by a third in Malawi

    Health | Aug 13, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Rotavirus vaccines seem to be effective in preventing death in infants and children
    Rotavirus vaccine reduces death in infants by a third in Malawi - science news

    Rotavirus remains a leading cause of severe diarrhea and death among infants in many countries from Africa and Asia. To combat the situation, many regions have added the rotavirus vaccine to their routine immunization strategy. A recent study assessed the impact of the vaccine over the last years and the results are encouraging. According to the research, the rotavirus vaccination reduced infant diarrhea deaths by 34% in rural Malawi. This is the first population-level evidence from a low-income country that rotavirus vaccination saves lives.

    Read the full story: University of Liverpool
    Scientific publication: The Lancet


    Melting ice provides oceans with precious silica nutrients

    Earth | Aug 12, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Melting ice sheets are an underestimated source of silica for the oceans
    Melting ice provides oceans with precious silica nutrients - science news

    Silica is needed by a group of microscopic marine algae called diatoms, who use it to build their glassy cell walls. But where do these essential silica nutrients come from? A new study suggests that glacial meltwater, both in the present and during past ice ages, contains silica that could be useful in sustaining the growth of diatoms in the oceans around ice sheets, which are home to economically important fisheries and marine life. The researchers show that the silica in glacial meltwaters from the Greenland Ice Sheet has a distinctive isotopic signature, different to the that found in other rivers. The study concluded that glaciers and ice sheets are an under-appreciated component of the silica cycle in nature.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Making cancer treatment less toxic with the help of machine learning

    Health | Aug 12, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Novel machine-learning techniques to improve the quality of life for patients by reducing toxic chemotherapy and radiotherapy dosing for glioblastoma
    Making cancer treatment less toxic with the help of machine learning - science news

    Cancer patients must often endure a combination of radiation therapy and multiple drugs taken every month, which leads to a variety of adverse effects. In a quest to minimize the toxic effects of cancer drugs, a team of scientists used a machine-learning algorithm in order to identify the minimum dose of drugs that is less dangerous, but still effective. In simulated trials of 50 patients, the machine-learning model designed treatment cycles that reduced the potency to a quarter or half of nearly all the doses while maintaining the same tumor-shrinking potential. Many times, it skipped doses altogether, scheduling administrations only twice a year instead of monthly.

    Read the full story: MIT


    Glaucoma may be an autoimmune disease

    Health | Aug 10, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Glaucoma might be caused by T cells attacking the retina's heat shock proteins
    Glaucoma may be an autoimmune disease - health science news

    Surprising new scientific findings suggest that glaucoma, which is characterized by retina damage and can lead to blindness, is an autoimmune disease. Experiments in mice showed that retina cells are destroyed by the body’s own T cells. These particular immune cells target heat shock proteins that protect us against stress and injury, and are probably activated by heat shock proteins from bacteria that resemble the ones found in mice. Indeed, human glaucoma patients show high levels of T cells in the eye, whereas they are completely absent in the eyes of healthy people. The study therefore suggests that it could be possible to develop new treatment strategies to replace the inefficient current treatment of lowering the pressure in the eye.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Early life onset of diabetes type 1 shortens life by 18 years for women

    Health | Aug 10, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    The moment in life when diabetes type 1 develops has a major influence on life expectancy
    Early life onset of diabetes type 1 shortens life by 18 years for women - health science news

    New research has shown that the age at which diabetes type 1 manifests itself is an important predictor of life expectancy. More specifically, development of diabetes type 1 before 10 years of age results in a loss of 18 years for women and 14 years for men. The lives of patients diagnosed with diabetes type 1 between 26 and 30 years of age shorten on average by ten years. The highest risk of mortality is the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially heart attacks in women. These rather upsetting findings highlight the need to treat young patients as effectively as possible.

    Read the full story: University of Gothenburg
    Scientific publication: The Lancet


    Pinpointing pessimism

    Mind and Brain | Aug 10, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Negative mood linked to neuropsychiatric disorders is localized in the brain's caudate nucleus
    Pinpointing pessimism - neuroscience news

    By stimulating a brain region known as the caudate nucleus, scientists found that experimental animals generate rather negative expectations. Such negative mood makes the stimulated animals focus on negative outcomes of a given situation, more than on potential benefits. By giving more weight to negative outlook, the animals make more negative decisions. The localization of negative moods to the caudate nucleus is relevant for patients with neuropsychiatric disorders such as anxiety or depression, who manifest similar negative outlooks that cloud decision-making.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Neuron


    Latest in fashion: clothing with electronic devices built right into it

    Technology | Aug 09, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    For the first time, scientists created fibers with embedded electronics that are so flexible they can be woven into soft fabrics and made into wearable clothing. Credit: the researchers / MIT
    Latest in fashion: clothing with electronic devices built right into it - science news

    Researchers managed to create textiles and fibers that incorporate high-speed optoelectronic semiconductor devices, including light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and diode photodetectors. The tiny electronic devices were embedded within the fibers that were then woven into soft, washable fabrics. As a result, “smart” clothing can be obtained that behave like communication systems. This discovery, the researchers say, could unleash a rapid development for smart fabrics. The capabilities of fibers could grow rapidly and exponentially over time, just as the capabilities of microchips have grown over decades.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Nature


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