June 24, 2019

    Short Science News, Articles And The Latest Scientific Discoveries And Research

    Ancient bones burried in water : to which humans did they belong?

    Earth | Jun 12, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    New DNA technology has shed light on the origin of ancient bones burried in water in western Finland. The DNA shows that the ancient people living here 300 – 700 AD were Sami people, who nowadays live far away from the aquatic burrial site.

    Later the Sami people were replaced by others, as seems to have occurred throughout northern countries.

    The reason why the ancient Sami burried their deads in water remains a mystery.

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


    The nervous system can transmit information across multiple generations

    Life | Jun 07, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Nematodes transmit information from the nervous system to their offspring. Image: Biosphere Science Foundation
    The nervous system can transmit information across multiple generations - life short science news

    Researchers have found that brain cells of nematodes (worms) communicate with germ cells through the release of small pieces of RNA. In this way, the information stored in the brain can be transmitted to the offspring and their descendants.

    This stunning observation was made in nematodes in which the small RNAs could not be produced anymore. These animals showed limited capacity to find food. Reintroduction of the small RNA in the nervous system of the worms not only restored the proper food seeking behavior in these nematodes, but also in that of their offspring that could not synthesize the small RNA themselves.

    It is currently not known whether the nervous system transmits information across generations in humans.

    Read the full story: Tel Aviv University
    Scientific publication: Cell


    Intestinal bacteria influence the effect of commonly used therapeutic drugs

    Health | Jun 07, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Human gut microbes metabolize over 150 therapeutic drugs, highlighting the role bacteria play in determining how well individuals respond to medications
    Intestinal bacteria influence the effect of commonly used medicines  - health short science news

    Commonly used drugs such as cancer medication, antidepressants, birth-control contraceptive pills, and those that lower blood pressure or cholesterol are converted by bacteria in the intestines in such a way that the effect in our body may change as a result. The difference in gut bacteria population between individuals may explain why the effect of medicines can differ from patient to patient.

    American scientists exposed 271 types of pills in culture dishes to 76 different common human gut bacteria and saw a change occur in two thirds of the drugs: the chemical composition of the drugs changed under the influence of at least one bacterial strain.

    This discovery may have consequences for the treatment of various diseases, and promote personalized medicine.

    Read the full story: Yale University
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Global warming speeds up early life of salmon

    Life | Jun 05, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Adult sockeye salmon returning to spawn in the lakes of Bristol Bay, Alaska. Image: Jason Ching/University of Washington
    Global warming speeds up early life of salmon - life short science news

    Higher annual temperatures in Alaska’s Bristol Bay have caused lakes and rivers to warm up earlier in spring, enhancing the growth of plankton that young sockeye salmon eat. This fattens up the young salmons much quicker than before, so that they now migrate to sea a year earlier.

    This series of events, described in a new study, does not necessarily mean that sockeyes benefit from global warming, because in the ocean they have to compete with increasing number of cultured sockeyes, making them stay in the ocean a year longer before returning to freshwater to spawn. Also, as all young fish now migrate to the sea at the same age (one year), the population is at risk if ocean conditions happen to be poor that year.

    This report shows an example of the complicated ecological effects of global warming.

    Read the full story: University of Washington
    Scientific publication: Nature Ecology & Evolution


    Complications of diabetes better understood

    Health | Jun 05, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Biochemical dysfunctions leading to complications in diabetes have been identified
    Complications of diabetes better understood - health short science news

    A new study has shown that glucose metabolism in endothelial cells lining the blood vessels is increased in high concentrations of glucose, like those seen in diabetes. This was caused by the slower degradation of a glucose-metabolizing enzyme (HK2) in these cells.

    Prolonged activity of HK2 leads to increased formation of a glucose-derived substance called methylglyoxal (MG) which damages blood cells, the kidneys, the retina and nerves in arms and legs.

    Importantly, the study describes that a novel dietary supplement called glyoxalase 1 inducer (Glo 1 inducer) could correct the dysfunctional glucose metabolism in endothelial cells in cell cultures, suggesting that Glo 1 inducer could be considered for future treatment of complications caused by diabetes.

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


    Some dinosaurs had feathers, long before birds appeared

    Life | Jun 04, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Feathers existed before birds
    Some dinosaurs had feathers, long before birds - life short science news

    After analyzing 250-million-year-old fossils from China, paleontologists have discovered that pterosaurs had feathers, long before birds had evolved.

    The function of these early feathers was probably insulation. Other functions, such as flying and courtship, came probably much later.

    As the genetic program underlying the development of scales in reptiles, feathers in birds, and hairs in mammals is essentially similar, it is indeed possible that feathers appeared before birds did.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: Trends in Ecology & Evolution


    Does CRISPR technology increase mortality?

    Life | Jun 04, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    DNA editing is still too dangerous to be used in humans
    Does CRISPR technology increase mortality? - life short science news

    You may remember that a Chinese scientist has applied a gene-editing technique called CRISPR in two human baby girls in 2018. Apart from ethical issues, there is now also concern that the genetic mutation that was introduced into the girls to protect them against HIV, is actually doing more harm than good.

    Researchers have now associated this mutation with a 21% increase in mortality later in life. This association is based on the analysis of 400,000 genomes and linked health records contained in a British database, the UK Biobank.

    Researchers conclude that CRISPR is still a far too risky technique to employ in humans, because health effects of many genes and gene mutations are largely unknown.

    Read the full story: UC Berkeley
    Scientific publication: Nature Medicine


    Tick tock goes the clock, throughout our body and not only in the brain

    Life | Jun 03, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Organs in our body can tell the difference between day and night
    Tick tock goes the clock, throughout our body and not only in the brain - life short science news

    New research has shown that organs can detect variations in light between day and night, even when they do not receive instructions anymore from the central clock in the hypothalamus of the brain.

    This remarkable finding was obtained in studies with mice in which organs could be studied independently of other organs.

    Thus, while the master clock in the brain is important for e.g. synchronization of activity of all organs, each individual organ can still function minimally (like organs preparing for the arrival of a meal) when other organs in the body have a failure.

    Read the full story: IRB Barcelona
    Scientific publication: Cell


    Neurons dump their waste to astrocytes

    Mind and Brain | Jun 03, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Human cultured astrocytes. Astrocytes protect neurons from toxic buildup. Image: Bruno Pascal [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
    Neurons dump their waste to astrocytes - brain short science news

    Neurons that are highly active damage their lipids, which can become toxic. A new study found that these neurons secrete these toxic, damaged lipids, which are then being taken up and processed by astrocytes.

    Astrocytes are helper cells in the brain, and channel the lipids from the neurons to their mitochondria to produce energy.

    Most cells of the body direct damaged lipids to their mitochondria, but neurons are apparently unusual in this, and unload their toxic lipids to neighboring astrocytes.

    Read the full story: Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Janelia Research Campus)
    Scientific publication: Cell


    A simple test developed to know if you are stressed

    Health | May 29, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    A machine in UC's Nanoelectronics Laboratory makes test strips that can measure stress biomarkers. Photo/Andrew Higley/UC Creative Services
    A simple test developed to know if you are stressed - interesting science news

    Researchers have developed a very simple test, which can easily measure the common stress hormones in sweat, blood, saliva or urine in humans. Eventually they hope that patients monitor their health using this device.

    This device uses ultraviolet light to measure the stress hormones. What is unique of this device is that it can measure not one but multiple biomarkers of stress at the same time.

    While this device is not intended to replace a full laboratory blood test, it’s a do at home system which gives us a ballpoint estimate of the patients current health status.

    Read the full story: University of Cincinnati
    Scientific publication: ACS Sensors


    Subscribe to our mailing list

    * indicates required