December 18, 2018

    Bacteria persister cells escape from antibiotics and weaken the immune system

    Health | Dec 10, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Bacterial persister cells manipulate our immune system from the inside
    Bacteria persister cells escape from antibiotics and weaken the immune system - health short science news

    During an infection, some bacteria go into an inactive “stand-by” mode, and are then swallowed by macrophages, cells of our immune system. Now, researchers have found that these bacterial “persister” cells are not inactive after all, but actually change the macrophages from an inflammatory to a non-inflammatory cell.

    This weakens the defense against the bacteria when they spring back to life, and against new invading bacteria.

    This mechanism explains why sometimes infections reappear after antibiotics treatment, from which the persister cells escape by hiding in the cells that should kill them.

    Read the full story: Imperial College London
    Scientific publication: Science


    Bacteria show slower evolution when facing two stressors at the same time

    Life | Dec 10, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Bacterial resistance to antibiotics might develop slower when the bacteria are exposed to a stressor at the same time
    Bacteria show slower evolution when facing two stressors at the same time - life short science news

    Bacteria can adapt relatively quickly to altered living conditions, but they are much less efficient in doing so when they are facing two stressors at the same time. New research has shown that predator stress and antibiotics applied together slowed the development of protection and resistance.

    Genetic analyses revealed that predation and antibiotics each induced a unique set of mutations when applied alone, but when combined, also mutate other genes and thus slow down adaptation processes.

    Such slower bacterial evolution when two stressors are presented might lead to strategies to interfere with the development of antibiotics resistance, which represents a growing problem in human health care.

    Read the full story: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
    Scientific publication: Nature Ecology and Evolution


    Regular flu vaccination may save lives of heart failure patients

    Health | Dec 10, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    For individuals with heart failure, getting regular flu shots increases the lifespan
    Regular flu vaccination may save lives of heart failure patients - daily short science news headlines

    According to a recent study, regular flu shots can significantly reduce the risk of premature death for patients diagnosed with heart failure. For them, influenza infections can be very threatening, even fatal.

    In the study, 134,048 patients with newly diagnosed heart failure were studied over 12 years. Interestingly, flu vaccination was associated with an 18% decrease in the risk of premature death, even after accounting for other variables.

    The frequency of vaccination was an important parameter. Moreover, the timing had a strong impact: there was a greater reduction in deaths when vaccination occurred earlier in the flu season (September-October).

    Read the full story: American Heart Association
    Scientific publication: Circulation


    Nanowires used to create artificial synapses

    Technology | Dec 07, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    A technology that can potentially mimic the human brain
    Nanowires used to create artificial synapses - short science news and articles

    In a major breakthrough, scientists have produced a memristive element from nanowire which functions similar to a neuron. This element can both process and save information and also receive several signals in parallel.

    These elements are made of a single zinc oxide nanowire, which is approximately a thousand times thinner than a human hair. This nanowire is attached to silver and platinum metals which function as electrodes that can release ions at an appropriate current.

    This paves the way to develop neuromorphic chips which can imitate the human brain functioning, at the same time being small and energy efficient

    Read the full story: Forschungszentrum Juelich
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Cognitive training beneficial for schizophrenia patients

    Mind and Brain | Dec 07, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Specially designed computerized brain games can benefit chronic schizophrenia patients
    Cognitive training beneficial for schizophrenia patients - daily short science news headlines

    Cognitive training has long been around and has been advertised as a way to boost the powers of the brain, however science has shown the real benefits are limited or absent for healthy individuals.

    However, a new study shows that in the case of patients with severe schizophrenia, targeted cognitive training (TCT) can have a positive impact. TCT uses computerized training, such as brain games, to target specific neural pathways, in order to beneficially alter the way they process information. The study involved 46 patients recruited from a community-based residential treatment program, each following acute hospitalization.

    It was shown previously that CTC can improve symptoms of patients with mild to moderate forms of schizophrenia, but this is the first time the approach is shown to be useful also for chronic, refractory schizophrenia applied to patients from rehabilitation centers.

    Read the full story: University of California San Diego
    Scientific publication: Schizophrenia Research


    AI to deliver audio news feed

    Technology | Dec 07, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Artificial Intelligence used now to curate and deliver audio news on mobile phones and speakers
    AI to deliver audio news feed - daily short science news headlines

    Google has just announced the launch of its Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven audio news feed. The service is similar to radio news journals; however, the content will be personalized by AI algorithms.

    The news feed will be managed and personalized by Google Assistant, the AI program developed by the company. The project is part of the efforts to deliver content through Google’s speakers and smartphones.

    The service will first be available to a small number of people in the United States. It will be interesting to see if this way of following the news will be embraced by the public.

    Read the full story: TechXplore


    3D-printed glucose biosensors as a replacement for finger pricking

    Technology | Dec 07, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Finger pricking for glucose monitoring might be a thing of the past soon
    3D-printed glucose biosensors as a replacement for finger pricking - health technology short science news

    Scientists have succeeded to make a glucose biosensor by 3D printing that can be used in wearable monitors.

    While alternatives for glucose meters that require constant finger printing already exist, the new device is cheaper, uses less material, is much more stable and is much more sensitive. Also, 3D-printing offers the possibility to adapt the biosensor to the biology of each individual for optimal results.

    For large-scale use, the new biosensor has to be integrated with electronic components on a wearable platform. Thus, the 3-D printed glucose biosensor might be a replacement for finger pricking in the not too distant future.

    Read the full story: Washington State University
    Scientific publication: Analytica Chimica Acta


    Biggest mass extinction caused by global warming: oceans did not contain enough oxygen

    Earth | Dec 07, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Diagram depicting the percentage of animals that went extinct at the end of the Permian era some 252 million years ago, according to fossil records (blue dots) and a computer model (black line). Image: Justin Penn and Curtis Deutsch/University of Washington
    Biggest mass extinction caused by global warming: oceans did not contain enough oxygen - climate short science news

    During the largest extinction on Earth some 252 million years ago, oceans warmed up, thus increasing the metabolism of marine animals. The warmer ocean water did not hold enough oxygen to accommodate the increased need of the animals, so that 96% of all marine species were wiped out.

    These conclusions were reached on the basis of modeling of ocean conditions and animal metabolism, combined with analyses of published lab data and fossil records. The model and fossil records agreed that most animal species died out at the poles, where warming of ocean water was more important than in the tropics.

    If greenhouse gas emissions remain at the same level as they are today, by 2100 warming in the upper ocean will have approached 20 percent of warming that caused mass extinction, increasing to 35 – 50 percent by the year 2300. This study thus highlights the possibility of mass extinction under the current, anthropogenic, climate change.

    Read the full story: University of Washington
    Scientific publication: Science


    Helium found in the atmosphere of an exoplanet

    Space | Dec 07, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Artist's impression of the exoplanet HAT-P-11b with its extended helium atmosphere blown away by the star, an orange dwarf star smaller, but more active, than the Sun. Image : Denis Bajram
    Helium found in the atmosphere of an exoplanet - space short science news

    An international team of researchers has detected helium in the atmosphere of exoplanet HAT-P-11b, located 124 light years away from Earth. Helium was found to escape from the planet’s atmosphere at high speed, at over 10,000 km an hour as it is blown away from the day side of the planet to its night side.

    As helium is a very light gas, it can escape easily from the attraction of the exoplanet and forms a cloud around it. That is why HAT-P-11b has an inflated shape.

    These breakthrough observations of helium in a planet’s atmosphere has become possible only through the recent development of the high-precision infrared spectrograph called Carmenes that is installed on the 4-meter telescope at Calar Alto in Spain. This study shows that the observation of extreme atmospheres of explanets is possible from the ground with the right instrumentation, and not necessarily from space.

    Read the full story: Universities of Geneva and Exeter
    Scientific publication: Science


    Higher risk of mental illness linked to childhood infections

    Mind and Brain | Dec 06, 2018 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Childhood infections increase the risk of mental illness in children
    Higher risk of mental illness linked to childhood infections - short science news and articles

    Throat infections, fever and infections during childhood are also a risk for developing mental disorders during infancy or in adolescence. The study finds that children who have been hospitalized with an infection have an 84% increased risk of suffering from mental disorders and a 42% higher risk of being prescribed medicines to treat mental disorders.

    The increased risk was associated with psychotic disorders, personality disorders, ADHD, autism and OCDs. Further, there was a 5.66 times higher chance of a new newly diagnosed mental disorder within the first 3 months after contact with a hospital due to an infection.

    This shows that the immune system plays a role in adolescent mental illnesses.

    Read the full story: Aarhus University
    Scientific publication: JAMA Psychiatry


    Growing blood vessels in the laboratory has seen a breakthrough

    Health | Dec 06, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Blood vessels can now be grown to structures of centimeters in length, necessary for the generation and transplantation of human organs
    Growing blood vessels in the laboratory has seen a breakthrough - health technology short science news

    While previous attempts to grow blood vessels in a dish yielded fragments of only a few millimeters in length, a new procedure has drastically improved this and produced blood vessels of a few centimeters long.

    The new procedure makes use of a collagen gel in which blood vessel cells can move and communicate. The precise density of the gel turned out to be the key parameter.

    This is an important develop for the generation and transplantation of human organs that need blood vessels for their oxygen supply.

    Read the full story: University of Delaware
    Scientific publication: Biomaterials


    Sources of polluting ammonia emission identified from space

    Earth | Dec 06, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Map of atmospheric ammonia fluxes, showing 241 hot spots, surrounded by black circles, and 178 wider emission zones, framed by white rectangles. Image: Martin Van Damme and Lieven Clarisse / ULB
    Sources of polluting ammonia emission identified from space - Earth short science news

    Scientists have prepared the first world map of atmospheric ammonia by analyzing satellite measurements between 2008-2016. The map shows 241 point sources of ammonia emissions due to human activities like intensive animal farming and industry.

    The study furthers reveals that previous estimations about atmospheric ammonia concentrations were far too low.

    Improved management of ammonia pollution is thus required to prevent the degradation of the quality of the air we breathe.

    Read the full story: Centre National de Recherche Scientifique
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Experimental hybridization created new sex chromosome in swordtail fish

    Life | Dec 06, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Scientists obtained a new sex chromosome in fish. Credit: the researchers via the University of Konstanz
    Experimental hybridization created a new sex chromosome in swordtail fish - science news headlines

    Fishes, unlike mammals that use the standard XX, XY chromosomal mechanism, have a wide variety of sex determination systems. Why this is the case, is currently unknown.

    The better understand sex chromosomes in fish, scientists performed hybridization experiments with swordtail fish with different sex chromosome systems. After more than 100 generations of fish, spanning over 30 years, an evolutionary new sex chromosome was obtained.

    The work shows that hybridization can speed up the evolution of sex chromosomes. Moreover, the study offers new insights into the genomic consequences of the long-term experimental hybridization in fish.

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


    Tech entrepreneurs have their own unique political views

    Technology | Dec 06, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Influential tech people might have different political views compare to other elites. Credit: Brian Solis [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    Tech entrepreneurs have their own unique political views  - science news

    A new study suggests tech entrepreneurs have different political views compared to other mainstream economic categories.

    Technology innovators tend to support liberal social and redistributive policies, but they have a more conservative approach when it comes to regulation and labor unions. Technology entrepreneurs scored low on measures of authoritarianism and racial resentment, but high on cosmopolitanism.

    As previous generations of economic elites did, it is likely that tech entrepreneurs will try to use their power to influence political decisions. Therefore, this study is important because it allows us to get insight into what the entrepreneurs might actually want to change.

    Read the full story: PsyPost
    Scientific publication: American Journal of Political Science


    A rich ecosystem of microorganisms found in old painting

    Life | Dec 06, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Scientists scrutinized the painting “Incoronazione della Virgine
    A rich ecosystem of microorganisms found in old painting - science news

    A painting completed in 1620 was analyzed by scientists looking to understand what microorganisms live in such an environment. Using microscopy and microbiology techniques, the researchers concluded that a wide range of bacteria and fungi may live on old paintings.

    Interestingly, while some of them incur damage to the painting, other microorganisms may be used to protect the artwork. The study tested a decontamination formula containing spores of three Bacillus bacteria. It was found to be effective, inhibiting the growth of both the bacteria and the fungi found on the painting.

    It is important to classify the microorganisms involved in biodeterioration of art pieces. Moreover, it is interesting that the study showed that some microorganisms can actually protect paintings.

    Read the full story: ScienceDaily
    Scientific publication: PLOS One


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