December 11, 2019

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

    Dead Sea Scroll made with lost ancient parchment-making technology

    Earth | Sep 11, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    High-resolution mapping of the distribution of elements in a sample from the 2000-year-old Temple Scroll, as shown by the colors at the right of this image, is providing valuable insight into its ancient fabrication methods and modern conservation strategies. Image: James Weaver
    Dead Sea Scroll made with lost ancient parchment-making technology - history short science news

    The Temple Scroll is one of 900 historic and theological invaluable documents written on parchment over 2,000 years ago and found in 1947 in caves in the Judea desert near the Dead Sea in Israel.

    New research methodology has now revealed that the parchment has been manufactured by using a particular type of salt that contains sulphate. This method was only used in antiquity, as one of several different technologies.

    The salt used to manufacture the parchment is not found in the Dead Sea, raising questions as to the location where the Scrolls were actually written. Also the results can be applied directly to optimize the storage conditions of the Scrolls.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    Breaking the defense wall of pancreatic cancer

    Health | Sep 10, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    New treatment option of pancreatic cancer is possibly on the horizon. Image: Scienific Animations Inc under Creative Commons License 4.0
    Breaking the defense wall of pancreatic cancer - cancer short science news

    Weakening the defensive wall around a tumor so that chemomedicines can reach cancer cells better: if that approach proves to be effective in humans, that would offer prospects for pancreatic cancer, the form of cancer with the worst chance of survival.

    The wall consists of cells that stretch and contract and produce thick layers of proteins, creating a fibrous network in which the blood vessels that run to the tumor are squeezed and close. As a result, chemomedication does not end up properly in the cancer cells.

    Researchers have now found a protein, AV3, that can affect the cells that form the wall. As a result, the wall weakens and blood vessels open. The combination of AV3 and chemotherapy reduces tumors in human pancreatic tissue that had been implanted in mice. While this is hopeful, more clinical research is necessary to translate these results to an effective treatment option of patients.

    Read the full story: University of Twente
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    Cancer is now the leading death cause in high-income countries

    Health | Sep 03, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Cancer is the main cause of death in high-income countries. Image: The Lancet
    Cancer is now the leading death cause in high-income countries - health short science news

    The results of studies reported in the scientific journal “The Lancet” show that cancer is now the most common cause of death worldwide, but especially so in developed countries. Cardiovascular disease remains the most important death cause in middle- and low-income countries.

    World-wide, cancer was the cause of mortality in 26% of the cases in 2017, but as mortality due to cardiovascular disease in high-income countries continues to drop, the share of cancer is likely to increase. Differences between low-income and high-income countries are explained by the lower quality of health care in low-income countries, and successful management and prevention of cardiovascular disease in high-income countries.

    Researchers argue that governments of low-income countries should invest more in management and prevention of cardiovascular disease, rather than focusing largely on infectious diseases.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: The Lancet


    Bacteria convert greenhouse gases into useful products

    Technology | Aug 27, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Emitted greenhouse gases could be used for the synthesis of useful products by modified E. coli bacteria
    Bacteria convert greenhouse gases into useful products - climate change short science news

    A new study reports that E. coli bacteria (normally found in our intestines) can be transformed with a manipulated form of a human gene to convert greenhouse gases into useful products. The gene encodes an enzyme that in its manipulated form can couple carbon molecules (such as found in carbon dioxide) into more complex structures. These structures, which are currently produced from oil, can be used in for example cosmetics and in plastics.

    Thus, this new technique can be beneficial for our combat against global warming. On the one hand, it might capture greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to synthesize useful polymers, and on the other hand reduces the need for oil.

    Read the full story: University of South Florida
    Scientific publication: Nature Chemical Biology


    Dry air inhibits greening of the earth; the world is getting browner

    Earth | Aug 26, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    The atmosphere now has a water-deficit: more evaporation and less water available to plants
    Dry air inhibits greening of the earth; the world is getting browner - climate change short science news

    A period in which the earth became increasingly green seems to have come to an end. The cause is the dry air, says an international research team led by Chinese scientists.

    In the 1980s, satellite images showed that the earth became greener - more plants, more trees. The greening was related to the increased CO2 emissions, which stimulate the growth of plants. Climate skeptics often use it as an argument to put the adverse effects of this greenhouse gas in perspective.

    A trend break occurred at the end of the 1990s, the new study reports. Satellite measurements show that since then large parts of the world have slowed down the growth of plants, that more trees are dying than before and that the canopy has become thinner. The world is getting browner, and this is caused by the increasing difference between the actual amount of water vapor in the atmosphere and the amount of water vapor that the atmosphere can contain. This increased "atmospheric drought" makes more water evaporating from the soil, leaving less water for plants to grow.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    Current global warming is unique in history, and parallels greenhouse gas emissions

    Earth | Jul 25, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    For the first time in history, warming of the Earth is global, excessive, and linked to greenhouse gas emissions
    Current global warming is unique in history, and parallels greenhouse gas emissions - global warming short science news

    The average temperature on earth has risen faster than ever in the last 150 years. This is apparent from three new studies, recently published in the scientific journals Nature Geoscience and Nature. The researchers call the current warming unusual.

    The scientists reconstructed the climate of the last 2000 years. The data showed that the average temperature on earth increased by 1 degree since 1850.

    For the reconstruction all available climate data were collected from the beginning of our era to the present. The researchers used not only direct measurements for this, but also corals, old ice layers, shells, annual rings and sediment. On the basis of tree growth rings, for example, you can also see whether a certain period has been dry, hot, wet or cold.

    Before 1850, cold and warm peaks were mainly at the regional level. But the new research shows that the temperature rise has since 1850 applies to 98 percent of the world. It is for the first time in history that it is getting warmer almost everywhere.

    Read the full story: Sciencebriefss
    Scientific publication: Nature Geoscience
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Planting trees to save the climate

    Earth | Jul 05, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Total land available that can support trees across the globe (total of current forested areas and forest cover potential available for restoration). Image: ETH Zurich / Crowther Lab
    Planting trees to save the climate - climate change short science news

    Researchers have calculated that 0.9 billion hectares of land worldwide could be used for reforestation to capture two thirds of human-made carbone missions. This would make reforestation the most effecive method in the battle against climate change.

    Most of the land suitable for reforestation are found in Russia, the US, Canada, Australia, Brazil and China.

    Reforestation should commence as soon as possible according to the researchers, as it takes decades for the forests to mature and capture enough carbon dioxide.

    Read the full story: ETH Zürich
    Scientific publication: Science


    Where sea slugs get their toxic defense from

    Life | Jul 02, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Sea slugs acquire toxins from the bacteria that live within the food they eat
    Where sea slugs get their toxic defense from - life short science news

    Sea slugs acquire bacterial toxins that live inside algae, the food source of sea slugs, a new study shows.

    Thus, this three-way symbiotic relationship between slugs, algae and bacteria provide the snails with toxins to fight off predators.

    These complicated interactions illustrate the importance of understanding how organisms live together, and how molecules might travel in the food chain.

    Read the full story: Princeton
    Scientific publication: Science


    Keeping malaria under control with a harmless neurotoxin

    Life | Jul 01, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Female Anopheles stephensi is a transmitter of malaria. Image: Jim Gathany/CDC
    Keeping malaria under control with a harmless neurotoxin - life short science news

    Scientists have discovered a unique neurotoxin that kills Anopheles mosquitoes that carries malaria. The neurotoxin is harmless for humans, vertebrate animals and even other insects.

    It is produced by a particular strain of bacteria that likely have coevolved with the Anopheles mosquitos.

    The neurotoxin is apparently safe and could replace the chemical insecticides that are currently being used to control the mosquito populations.

    Read the full story: University of California – Riverside
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    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


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