July 19, 2018

    New molecular DNA shield discovered with major implications for cancer treatment

    Health | Jul 19, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Broken DNA is repaired with the aid of the Shieldin protein complex
    New molecular DNA shield discovered with major implications for cancer treatment - health science news

    Why do some breast cancer patients not respond to PARP-inhibitors or platinum-based chemotherapy? The answer lies in the newly discovered protein complex, called “Shieldin”, that shields damaged DNA, so that the broken strands of DNA can be repaired. It attaches to the broken ends of the DNA, so that the blunt ends of the DNA pieces are stuck back together. A messy but fast way to repair DNA, and used by immune cells to produce antibodies during immune responses. Importantly, cancer cells also use Shieldin, and when Shieldin is intact, PARP-inhibitors and platinum-based chemotherapy is effective. When Shieldin is mutated, the cancer cells make use of another method to repair DNA, and this sort of chemotherapy is no longer effective. The discovery of Shieldin will thus have a major impact on the treatment of breast cancers.

    Read the full story: University of Toronto
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Where is the missing matter in the universe?

    Space | Jul 19, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    HaloSat’s launch for the study of the halo of gas around the Milky Way as part of the search for the universe's missing matter. Image: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
    Where is the missing matter in the universe? - space science news

    A new NASA-sponsored CubeSat mission, deployed from the International Space Station on July 13, will help astronomers to detect where thus far undetected matter is in the universe. Scientists estimate that this amounts to 50% of all the matter that has formed in the early years of the universe. Half of the matter has formed gas, dust, planets, etc, but what happened to the other half is still unknown. With the new mission, astronomers will look for the missing matter in the space between galaxies or in galactic halos that surround galaxies. Scientists suspect that the missing matter is hidden in the gas in these structures of two million degrees Celcius (3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit).

    Read the full story: NASA


    Mother plants steer development of the embryo by the hormone auxin

    Life | Jul 19, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Auxin (here visualized in green) is produced and accumulates in the maternal tissue close to the young embryo. Image: Chulmin Park.
    Mother plants steer development of the embryo by the hormone auxin - life science news

    Just as mammalian embryos develop on the basis of a whole battery of signals from the mother, plant embryos need a hormone, called auxin, to develop properly, a new study found. When researchers blocked the synthesis of auxin in the mother, the embryo did not develop properly. Also, when only the embryo could make auxin, but not the mother, the embryo had the same malformations, proving that auxin that controls plant embryo development comes from the mother. This study has resolved a question that had been outstanding for decades.

    Read the full story: Institute of Science and Technology Austria
    Scientific publication: Nature Plants


    Risk for autism influenced by the mother’s microbiome

    Health | Jul 18, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    The bacteria living in the mother's intestines determine the risk for autism in the unborn child
    Risk for autism influenced by the mother’s microbiome - health science news

    A new study shows that the microbiome of the mother during pregnancy determines the risk for autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders in the child. It appears that the mother’s microbiome is extremely important for determining how the child’s immune system will react to injury and stress. If the mother’s microbiome is not healthy, the unborn child becomes more susceptible to neurodevelopmental disorders, in which the immune signalling molecule interleukin-17a plays a central role. In mice, this molecule is a key contributor to the development of autism-like symptoms. On the other hand, an unhealthy microbiome can easily be corrected, so that diminishing the risk for autism could be achieved very simply by changing nutrion, probiotic supplements or fecal transplant.

    Read the full story: University of Virginia
    Scientific publication: Journal of Immunology


    Artificial Intelligence for protection of water supplies

    Technology | Jul 18, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Running water depends on proper water supplies. AI may help to protect their quality.
    Artificial Intelligence for protection of water supplies - technology science news

    Artificial Intelligence software combined with microscopy makes it possible to do a rapid and inexpensive automatic analysis of the presence of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, in about two hours, scientist report. Sudden growth of cyanobacteria threatens water supplies, and quick and constant monitoring is therefore essential to protect water supplies. The newly presented method is fast and cheap, and can be used commercially in three to four years according to the latest estimates.

    Read the full story: University of Waterloo
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Pollen carry bacteria that cause respiratory problems

    Health | Jul 18, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    Pollen of the mugwort plant carry bacteria that amplify hay fever
    Pollen carry bacteria that cause respiratory problems - health science news

    Pollen of the very common plant Artemisia vulgaris (mugwort in english) can cause hay fever, but when they carry bacteria, especially Pseudomonas luteola, they get even more aggressive, a new study reports. The endotoxins (toxic chemicals) on the surface of the bacteria can trigger inflammation and present a real problem for allergy and asthma sufferers. Thus, as the bacteria amplify the effects of pollen, it is important to develop models of pollen counts to estimate the presence of endotoxins in the air, researchers say.

    Read the full story: Technical University of Munich
    Scientific publication: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology


    Measuring the carbon cycle from space is necessary to better predict climate changes

    Earth | Jul 17, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    The carbon cycle will be closely monitored from space to better estimate climate changes
    Measuring the carbon cycle from space is necessary to better predict climate changes - climate science news

    Monitoring the carbon cycle from space will not only provide us with vital information about the effects of greenhouse gas emission on climate, but also with insight in how climate events, such as El Nino, influence atmospheric carbon dioxide, researchers argue. Such feedback from climate events needs to be taken into account for the estimation of human greenhouse gas emissions will change the climate. The balance between gas emissions and feedback together determine the carbon cycle, including the amount of carbon that is absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial plants (currently about 50% of atmospheric carbon dioxide). This, in total, will ultimately determine what climate will look like in the decades to come. For these reasons, the major space agencies will launch new greenhouse gas monitoring missions in the coming years to find out more about the carbon cycle and climate.

    Read the full story: NASA
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA


    Where is the error? The parietal cortex knows!

    Mind and Brain | Jul 17, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    The parietal cortex detects and corrects errors in this aspiring tennis player
    Where is the error? The parietal cortex knows! - neuroscience news

    Practice is needed to acquire new skills. One would for instance need to learn to control one’s own movements, as well as those of a moving target, like when you want to hit a tennis ball. A miss can be caused by your own, untrained, motor system or by an unexpected curve of the tennis ball. As these two errors mean different things to learn, neuroscientists have sought, and found, the brain region that may differentiate between one’s own motor errors and prediction errors imposed by the target. It turned out that Brodmann area 5 in the parietal cortex detects movement errors and provides signals for correction, whereas the neighboring Brodmann area 7 detect target errors. These findings give insight in learning on the basis of correction of errors, and might be used to improve learning methods for robots.

    Read the full story: Osaka University
    Scientific publication: Current Biology


    Twelve new moons around Jupiter discovered

    Space | Jul 17, 2018 | Erwin van den Burg

    The moon Io has the company of 78 other moons orbiting Jupiter, and twelve of them have now been discovered
    Twelve new moons around Jupiter discovered - space science news

    While trying to find planet X, that scientists suspect to be located behind Pluto, astronomers have accidentally observed 12 new moons that are circling Jupiter. Two of those orbit in the prograde, or in the same direction as Jupiter itself. Nine others are located further away and orbit in the retrograde, or opposite to, the direction of the planet. One is circling in Jupiter’s direction, but will cross the orbits of the nine outer moons, making a head-to-head collision more likely to happen in the future. All in all, there are now 79 known moons orbiting Jupiter, and the 12 newly discovered ones are amongst the smallest, with diameters ranging from 1 to 3 kilometers.

    Read the full story: Carnegie Science


    Neutrinos behave just as Einstein’s theory of special relativity predicts

    Space | Jul 16, 2018 | Alexandru Ciobanu

    Even small objects such as subatomic particles obey the Lorentz symmetry, a component of the theory of relativity
    Neutrinos behave just as Einstein’s theory of special relativity predicts - science news in short

    The theory of special relativity states that the universe is a predictably symmetrical place, a principle known as the Lorentz symmetry. Basically, everyone should observe the same laws of physics in any direction, regardless of one’s frame of reference, as long as that object is moving at a constant speed. However, it is not clear if this principle is valid for very small objects, such as neutrino particles. Now, a new study provides convincing evidence that most likely neutrinos follow Einstein’s predictions and they are not excepted from the theory of relativity. The results provide, once again, a confirmation that Einstein was right in his theory.

    Read the full story: MIT
    Scientific publication: Nature Physics


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