December 13, 2018

    When high school start is delayed, teenagers sleep longer in the morning
    Delayed high school start in the morning improves sleep, grades and attention in teenagers - health short science news

    Scientists have reported on the effects of delaying high school start from 7:50 am to 8:45 pm leads to increased sleep time in teenagers. Sleep measurements were done with wrist activity monitors, and not self-reports as is usually done in sleep research.

    While the teenagers did not go to bed later, but woke up later in the morning, sleep duration increased by more than half an hour (from 6 h 50 min to 7 h 24 min). This improved attention and grades at school.

    Scientists say that the new school times fit better with the biological clock of teenagers, although the teenagers still do not manage to sleep the recommended eight to ten hours each night.

    Read the full story: University of Washington – Seattle
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    A new drug to treat chronic pain
    A non-opioid to treat chronic pain? - short science news and articles

    Researchers are developing a new drug which is now in its earliest stages to treat chronic pain without the addictive properties of opioids. This drug, technically named as the ML351, inhibits the 15-Lipoxygenase-1 enzyme which is involved in the synthesis of bioactive lipids which contribute directly to chronic pain which is usually not relieved by the anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen.

    Currently available drugs like the opioids and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs help reduce pain from inflammation, but not so much for chronic pain.

    ML351 is targeting a new signaling pathway and it could be effective in treatment of chronic debilitating pain. This could also decrease the current opioid crisis.

    Read the full story: Virginia Tech
    Scientific publication: PAIN


    Circadian rhythms are guided by internal clocks in cells that enable organisms to adapt to night and day cycles
    Linking biological clocks with disease - health short science news

    Scientists have found a new biological clock in liver cells that helps sustain key organ tasks.

    Disruption of this clock, which is mediated by the nuclear receptor protein HNF4A, may lead to diseases such as diabetes and cancers.

    This new clock provides thus a biological connection between modern lifestyles, such as working nightshifts, urban dwelling and intercontinental travel, and disease.

    Read the full story: University of South Carolina
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA


    Venom of these South American wasps, Polybia paulista, has been repurposed to an antibiotic drug. Image: Wikimedia, Charles J Sharp
    Antimicrobial peptide engineered on the basis of wasp venom - health short science news

    In the quest for treatment options for antibiotic-resistant bacteria infections, scientists have repurposed the venom of South American wasps, normally toxic, to selectively kill bacteria while leaving body cells intact.

    The antimicrobial peptide was isolated and further biochemically optimized to keep its bacteria-fighting capacities while eliminating toxicity. The synthesized peptide was shown to affect human cells in culture, and could completely clear a Pseudomonas aeruginosa infection in mice.

    Thus, optimizing naturally occurring antimicrobial peptides is a promising way to develop new antibiotic drugs.

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


    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


    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


    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


    Babies can now be born from a deceased donor uterus from recipient women with uterine infertility
    Baby born following uterus transplantation from diseased donor - health short science news

    For the first time, a baby was born from a deceased donor uterus in a recipient with uterine infertility. The baby was born by Caesarean delivery, and the uterus was removed in the same surgical procedure.

    While livebirths had already been achieved with uteri from live donors, clinicians have continued to search for ways to use a uterus from a deceased donor, as there are very few uteri available for transplantation.

    The now reported successful transplantation of, and birth from, a deceased donor uterus may be a new treatment of uterine infertility without the need of living donors or live donor surgery.

    Read the full story: The Lancet
    Scientific publication: The Lancet


    A single workout can activate POMC neurons (shown in green in yellow) in mice brains for up to 2 days. These neurons are important regulators of blood glucose levels and energy balance. Image: UT Southwestern
    A single session of physical exercise stimulates metabolism for days - health short science news

    A single workout session in mice activates neurons in the brain of mice that control metabolism for two days, a new study shows.

    With more exercise this time period becomes even longer.

    These results offer new insights into the role of the brain in fitness and could thus provide a new avenue to explore for the development of treatments to improve metabolism in, for example, diabetes patients.

    Read the full story: UT Southwestern Medical Center
    Scientific publication: Molecular Metabolism


    Removing the RCAN1 gene in mice prevents obesity, even when the animals are fed a high fat diet. Image: Flinders University
    A wonder gene discovered, permitting to eat without gaining weight - health short science news

    Researchers have found that when the gene RCAN1 is knocked out in mice, the animals can eat as much as they want and do not put on weight, even when they are fed a high fat diet.

    Also, these mice lacking RCAN1 have a higher metabolic rate; they expend more calories as heat than they store as fat. For humans to prevent obesity, it will no longer be necessary to go the gym to work out to burn calories or eat less.

    Scientists are already in the process of developing drugs that make this possible by targeting the protein that RCAN1 makes.

    Read the full story: Flinders University (through Eurekalert.com)
    Scientific publication: EMBO Reports


    The human gut with a developing blood cell indicated by the white arrow. Image: Megan Sykes/Columbia University
    The gut makes ten percent of your blood cells - health short science news

    New research led to the surprising finding that about 10 per cent of our blood cells is made in the bone marrow, but in the intestines.

    This was observed in the blood of patients, who had received intestinal transplants, as it contained blood cells of the donor.

    . Importantly, the more blood cells from the donor in the recipients’ blood, the less likely the transplanted intestine was to be rejected. Thus, these cells protect against the immune system of the recipient, which could improve the life of the patients considerably.

    Read the full story: Columbia University Irving Medical Center
    Scientific publication: Cell Stem Cell


    The pathways between climate change and human health. Image: Lancet Countdown
    Climate change and fine particulate matter responsible of millions of premature deaths - health short science news

    A large international group of scientists write that there is a direct link between climate change and human health. For example, in 2015 alone, fine particulate matter caused 2.9 million premature deaths, with coal being responsible for more than 460,000, or 16%.

    The scientists, from 27 top universities, report that (1) climate change leads to an unacceptable high risk for human health, (2) there is too little progress of emission reduction, (3) the quality and quantity of efforts to halt climate change determine human health worldwide in the centuries to come, and (4) it is extremely important that everybody starts to realize that climate change is an essential threat to public health.

    Read the full story: The Lancet Countdown
    Scientific publication: The Lancet Countdown


    Knowing what exercises the elderly prefer, may help increase their engagement in physical activity
    Study identifies what physical exercises older people prefer - daily science news in brief

    A majority of the elderly are not motivated enough to engage in exercise and physical activities. A new study tried to understand what kinds of sports do older adults prefer and why some are more prone to dropping out of a training programme.

    Called “Generation 100”, the study included data from more than 1500 participants aged between 70 and 77. Walking was the most popular activity amongst the elderly. All participants preferred outdoors exercises. The researchers observed differences between genders. For example, men preferred greater intensity training, while women were more likely to choose dance and walking.

    Regarding the drop-off rates, the study concluded that adults with memory loss and lower education levels are the most likely to quit training. The results could help tailor exercise routines to appeal to the elderly in order to increase their activity levels.

    Read the full story: Norwegian University of Science and Technology
    Scientific publication: BMC Geriatrics


    While tumors tend to increase their genetic variability as a consequence of uncontrolled DNA replication and cell division, the immune system fights back and restricts such genetic variability. Researchers came to this conclusion following experiments with multicolor barcoding of a mouse lymphoma cell line. When these cells were given to male and female mice, some clones became dominant, especially in females, while others disappeared due to the action of T cells. T cells are immune cells that are activated in immunotherapy, which may thus lead to natural selection of certain cancer cell clones to dominate, or induce more genetic homogeneity of a tumor. These observations may thus be important for the treatment of cancers. In the video you can see how T cells (purple) attack and destroy cancer cells (grey).

    Read the full story: Institut Pasteur
    Scientific publication: Science Immunology


    Stress may have a stronger negative impact in the evenings due to the reduced response in our bodies
    Evening stress could be more dangerous than morning stress - science news in brief

    According to a new study, the body’s central system reacts less strongly to acute psychological stress in the evening than it does in the morning.

    The study showed that salivary cortisol levels increased significantly in the volunteers that were exposed to stress in the morning while no such response was observed in those that were stressed in the evening. The increased cortisol level triggers a series of mechanisms that help the body to face stressors.

    The reduced stress response in the evenings suggests people could be more vulnerable and defenseless against stress at this time of the day. However, this is not a general rule, as one has to consider the individual’s unique biological clock when measuring the effects of stress.

    Read the full story: Hokkaido University


    Are we close to generating the first genetically-edited babies?
    The first genetically enhanced babies on their way - latest science news - CRISPR genetically enhanced babies China

    We now have the ability to edit the genes of a human embryo in order to produce genetically-edited humans. However, most scientists believe this is too risky and many countries ban such experiments.

    But this is not the case in China. According to documents published online by the Chinese Clinical Trials Register, a team at the Southern University of Science and Technology, in Shenzhen, has been recruiting couples for a trial aiming to create the first gene-edited babies. The final aim is to eliminate one gene (CCR5) which will make the infants resistant to HIV, smallpox, and cholera.

    To modify the genes, the scientists plan to use the CRISPR method. The birth of the first genetically modified baby will be a matter of controversy, but also a significant medical achievement. The story was not yet confirmed from independent sources and there is no scientific publication behind it. Even so, it is definitely something to keep an eye on!

    Read the full story: MIT Technology Review
    Source: Chinese Clinical Trials Register


    The number of people with diabetes type II and insulin use will increase by 20% between 2018 and 2030
    Insulin use expected to increase by 20% between 2018 to 2030 - health short science news

    Using simulations and historical data, scientists estimate that the use insulin to treat diabetes type II will increase by 20% from 2018-2030 worldwide. To be precise, the number of people with diabetes type II will likely increase from 405 to 510 million in 2030, which translates into an increase of insulin use from 516 million 1000 International Unit vials per year to 633 million per year. However, many people with diabetes type II do not have access to insulin, especially in Asia and Africa, and will thus not receive insulin, unless access is improved.

    Read the full story: The Lancet
    Scientific publication: The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology


    A computer-based approach can predict which proteins could be expressed on the surface of a cell
    For the first time, scientists can describe proteins on the cell surface - latest science news

    A wide array of proteins is located on the surface of a cell. Each cell has a different repertoire of proteins on its surface (the surfaceome) and knowing exactly which proteins are where could greatly help to treat diseases.

    Now, using a machine learning approach, scientists were able to predict which proteins are expressed on the cell surface with an accuracy of 93%. In addition, the researchers were able to show that the number of surface proteins varies widely by cell type.

    “In developing new drugs, it’s crucial to know about functional units with multiple proteins and bear them in mind as potential targets,” said Professor Bernd Wollscheid, the lead author.

    Read the full story: ETH Zurich
    Scientific publication: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS)
    Scientific publication: Current Opinion in Chemical Biology


    Zinc-containing sunscreen may not be dangerous after all
    Repeated use of sunscreen not toxic - latest science news health

    Despite several reports about the potential toxicity of sunscreen, a new study provides direct evidence that zinc oxide nanoparticles used in sunscreen neither penetrate the skin nor cause cellular toxicity after repeated applications.

    The claims about sunscreen toxicity came from previous animal studies that found high skin absorption of zinc sunscreen. However, this is not the case for the human skin, according to the researchers.

    For the study, volunteers applied sunscreen every hour, for six hours, on five consecutive days. “Using superior imaging methods, we established that the nanoparticles remained within the superficial layers of the skin and did not cause any cellular damage,” said Professor Michael Roberts, the lead investigator.

    Read the full story: University of South Australia
    Scientific publication: Journal of Investigative Dermatology


    Migraine with aura linked to increased risk of a heart condition
    Vision affecting migraine linked to irregular heartbeat - short science news and articles

    Some individuals who experience migraine have a preceding visual aura just before the headache kicks in. These visual disturbances are like flashes of light, blurry visions or blind spots.

    Researchers have now found out that these individuals are also at an increased risk of an irregular heartbeat condition called atrial fibrillation. Approximately 40% increased chance atrial fibrillation was detected for people suffering from migraine with aura as compared to those who do not have an aura.

    Further, atrial fibrillation is associated with increased risk of stroke due to problems linked to control of heart and blood vessels. This is important since, atrial fibrillation is a treatable condition if detected.

    Read the full story: American Academy of Neurology
    Scientific publication: Neurology


    This new type of virus targets cancer cells using two different mechanisms
    New double-action virus kills cancer cells - daily science news headlines

    Normal cells around tumors can be tricked into shielding cancer from the immune system. Cancer treatments normally ignore these “healthy” cells, until now.

    A team of scientists developed a new virus that can target both the tumor itself and the healthy cells protecting it from the immune system. So far, the dual-action virus has been tested successfully on human cancer samples and in mice.

    If further experiments will be positive, the virus could be tested in clinical trials involving humans with carcinomas as early as next year.

    Read the full story: Medical Research Council
    Scientific publication: Cancer Research


    A violent working place can increase the chances of heart and blood vessel problems
    Workplace bullying and violence increase risk of cardiovascular disease - short science news

    People who experience violence or bullying at work are at higher risk of heart disease and cardiovascular issues, according to a new research study.

    The researchers analyzed data from 79,201 working individuals in Denmark and Sweden, aged 18 to 65, with no history of cardiovascular disease (CVD). The scientists found a strong correlation between violent episodes at work and the incidence of cardiovascular diseases.

    The study is purely observational so it doesn’t show that bullying or violence directly cause cardiovascular problems. Next, the researchers will study the biological and behavioral mechanisms behind this observation.

    Read the full story: European Society of Cardiology
    Scientific publication: European Heart Journal


    Social isolation is an easily modifiable risk factor: It could decrease risk of death
    Increased risk of death associated with social isolation - short science news and articles

    Researchers have reported that there is an increased risk of death, cancer and heart disease due to social isolation. This is true irrespective of gender or race for the 580,182 adults enrolled in this study.

    However, there was an increased risk of death in socially isolated white men and women due to cancer. Social isolation is associated with hypertension, inflammation, smoking, decreased physical activity and other health risks.

    Being married, regularly attending religious services or other group activities decreased the mortality risk over 30 years. This is important because if future studies indicate a reversal of these risks by addressing the problem of social isolation, it would be an easily modifiable risk factor.

    Read the full story: Neuroscience news
    Scientific publication: American Journal of Epidemiology


    The spined soldier bug produces thanatin which could serve as a basis for a new class of antibtiotics. Image: Wikimedia Commons
    New class of antibiotics from insects - health short science news

    In the light of increasing bacterial resistance to antibiotics, scientists search for other molecules that could help us fight bacterial infections. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now found that an antibiotic called thanatin attacks the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. Thanatin is made by the spined soldier bug Podisus maculiventris, and disrupts protein-protein interactions in bacteria, so that they cannot build their protective outer membrane and die. Therefore, thanatin could serve as a basis for the development of a new class of antibiotics.

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


    Low-gluten diets are becoming more popular even in the absence of gluten allergy
    Does a low-gluten diet improve gastrointestinal function in healthy people? - health short science news

    In a study with 60 healthy middle-aged Danish adults, scientists found that a low-gluten diet has moderate effects on the composition of the gut microbiota, reduces fasting, and improves self-reported bloating. However, these changes could be mostly attributed to the increased fiber content of the diet, rather than by reduced gluten per se. Although getting more popular amongst healthy people, for the moment there is no clear evidence that a low-gluten diet has beneficial health effects; dietary fibers may have a greater impact on intestinal comfort.

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


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