February 19, 2019

    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


    Alcohol intake increases as people live in cold climates
    Living in colder climates increases alcohol consumption and liver diseases - short science news and articles

    Researchers have found out that as temperature and sunlight hours decrease the level of alcohol consumption increases. While it has been empirically known for several years now that people in colder countries drink more, it was never shown experimentally.

    Also, there is an increase in the number of alcoholic liver diseases in the colder countries as compared to their warmer counterparts. These results hold true even if the scientists controlled for religion and alcohol habits.

    Alcohol being a vasodialator gives a feeling of warmth, which could be the reason for increased alcohol consumption in colder climates.

    Read the full story: University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
    Scientific publication: Hepatology


    A protein inspired by scorpion venom could be used to transport drugs of therapeutic importance inside the brain
    Scorpion venom to deliver drugs into the brain - science news headlines in brief

    When attempting to deliver drugs into the brain one must consider the existence of the natural obstacle called the blood-brain barrier (BBB) which prevents many chemical compounds from entering the nervous system. To overcome this, a team of researchers plans to use a protein from a deadly source: the scorpion venom!

    This small protein is derived from chlorotoxin, found in the scorpion venom (Giant Yellow Israeli scorpion) and it can cross the BBB. The team managed to chemically synthesize the carrier protein. By attaching drugs to it, they can be delivered them into the body and then they can reach the brain.

    The final goal is to be able to deliver drugs to the nervous system in order to treat various diseases. The study is important since about 98% of drugs that have therapeutic potential cannot cross the blood-brain barrier by themselves.

    Read the full story: Institute for Research in Biomedicine Barcelona
    Scientific publication: Chemical Communications


    A drug with omega-3 fatty acid EPA triggered a remarkable decrease in the risk for heart attack and stroke in a clinical trial
    Fish oil-containing drug shows promise against risk of heart attack, stroke - science news

    According to a recently published study, a drug based on fish oil may reduce the probability for stroke and heart attack in high risk patients (high triglyceride levels, previous strokes or heart attacks, atherosclerosis).

    The drug, with the trade name Vascepa, contains high doses of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA. In the study, it decreased the risks by 25%. Moreover, it reduced cholesterol levels.

    The study looks very promising and the researchers believe this observation has great potential. Likely the topic will continue to be investigated, and hopefully confirmed in future clinical trials.

    Read the full story: NBC News
    Scientific publication: New England Journal of Medicine


    Defense against pathogens has a new player: the gamma delta T cell that detects and destroys foreign or cancer cells independently from the rest of the immune system
    Revolutionary immune cells with a double function - health short science news

    Immunologists have discovered that a special class of T cells, the gamma delta T cells, can be on the one hand part of the innate immune system (for defense against intruders in general), but on the other hand can be part of the adaptive immune system (for defense against specific intruders). As a consequence, they can detect and destroy foreign cells or malfunctioning cells (cancer cells, or perhaps erroneously in autoimmune diseases) independently, thus without being instructed by other cells of the immune system. This surprising observation may have huge consequences for our understanding of the immune system, and how to manipulate it to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases.

    Read the full story: The Francis Crick Institute
    Scientific publication: Nature Immunology


    Gut bacteria from healthy people could cure colitis in cancer patients undergoing immunotherapy
    Fecal transplantation to treat immunotherapy-induced colitis - health short science news

    Immunotherapy is effective to fight cancer, but often causes side-effects due to inhibition of the immune system. One of these is colitis, or inflammation of the colon. In a case study with two patients, scientists found that transplanting gut bacteria from healthy donors to the patients cures colitis. This is a very encouraging result, considering that resolution of colitis was permanent, and needed only one treatment. On top of this, treatment is cheap. More patients will have to be enrolled in the study, but, if results are confirmed, fecal transplantation could be considered as a first line therapy for immunotherapy-induced colitis.

    Read the full story: MD Anderson Cancer Center
    Scientific publication: Nature Medicine


    Genes that increase risk of cardiovascular disease also heighten the risk for Alzheimer's
    Genetic links between cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease discovered - health short science news

    In a study on the DNA of 1.5 million people, scientists have found that genes that have been associated with cardiovascular disease, especially those involved in lipid metabolism, are risk factors for the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Other genetic risk factors for cardiovascular disease that have been linked with diabetes type II or high body mass index do not contribute to elevated risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Thus, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease can co-occur because they are partially genetically linked, and drugs that target lipid metabolism might be repurposed to treat or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

    Read the full story: Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis
    Scientific publication: Acta Neuropathologica


    Our bodies burn calories differently depending on the circadian rhythm
    How many calories you burn depends on the time of day - science news headlines in short

    A new study reports a surprising fact: the number of calories burnt while at rest varies with the time of day. According to the research, people burn more calories in the late afternoon and early evening.

    This explains why irregular eating and sleeping make people more prone to gaining weight. To reach this conclusion researchers studied people in a special lab where they could not tell what time it was outside.

    So, it is not only what we eat that is important but is also when we eat! Researchers advised for regularity in eating and sleeping patterns to promote good health. Next, they plan to look at how appetite and the body's response to food varies with the time of day.

    Read the full story: Medicalxpress
    Scientific publication: Current Biology


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