April 26, 2019

    Sea anemones: complex genome outside the nucleus

    Life | Apr 24, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    This Isarachnanthus nocturnus tube anemone has the largest animal mitochondrial genome reported to date. Image: Sergio Stampar
    Sea anemones: complex genome outside the nucleus - life short science news

    While most of the genetic information (DNA) is packed in a cell’s nucleus, some DNA is found in mitochondria, the cell’s power plants that generate energy.

    Sea anemones have now been found to have the largest mitochondrial collection of DNA of all species analyzed, containing 81,000 base pairs (the basic units of genetic information). For comparison, the human mitochondrial genome contains 17,000 base pairs.

    It is not quite known why such apparently simple animals have such large mitochondrial genomes that are furthermore organized in a linear instead of the normal circular way.

    Read the full story: Ohio State University
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Americans sit too much

    Health | Apr 24, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Sitting down and watching movies: putting your health at risk
    Americans sit too much - health short science news

    A large study including over 50,000 participants has revealed that Americans have not reduced the time they spend sitting in the period from 2001 through 2016.

    The habit of sitting behind computers, watching television or videos is apparently difficult to change, in spite of the many health warnings that have been broadcasted during this period.

    Thus Americans sit too much, although they have been informed about the health risk (obesity, diabetes, some cancers) this carries.

    Read the full story: Washington University School Of Medicine in St. Louis
    Scientific publication: JAMA


    Happy spouse = longer life

    Health | Apr 23, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    People with happy partners live longer
    Happy spouse = longer life - interesting science news

    While previous research has shown that having a happy spouse leads to a longer marriage, now there is evidence it is also associated with a longer life. Interestingly, spousal life satisfaction was an even better predictor of participant’s mortality as compared to his or her own life satisfaction.

    Researchers state that life satisfaction is associated with healthy behaviours like good diet and exercise and this could result in the individuals also adopting these habits like their partner.

    This data comes from a national representative population of 4400 couples in the USA over the age of 50 years. Also, most of the couples surveyed were heterosexual couples and we don’t know if this applies to same-gender couples too.

    Read the full story: Association of Psychological Science
    Scientific publication: Psychological Science


    Playing video games is not harmful for boy’s social development

    Health | Apr 23, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Playing video games does not impair social development of children, especially in boys
    Playing video games is not harmful for boy’s social development - health short science news

    To address the concern that playing video games impairs social development of children, a large Norwegian study has been undertaken with children between 6 and 12 years of age.

    It turned out that playing video games is essentially without effect on social development of boys. However, girls who play video games at the age of ten show less social competence two years later than girls who did not play video games at the same age.

    Researchers conclude that playing video games is in general not harmful for social development, but that for girls it is not clear whether social insecurity promotes playing, or that playing retards social development.

    Read the full story: Society for Research in Child Development
    Scientific publication: Child Development


    Antibody suppresses HIV for 4 months

    Health | Apr 23, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Microscopic image of an HIV-infected T cell. Credit: NIAID
    Antibody suppresses HIV for 4 months - interesting science news

    In patients who undergo a short pause in the anti-retroviral therapy (ART), regular dose of an antibody, which prevents HIV from binding on the human immune cells, has shown to suppress HIV levels for up to 4 months.

    The antibody known as UB-421 showed these results in a phase 2 clinical trial and encouragingly did not induce antibody resistant HIV.

    These results are also encouraging since previously tried antibodies which target proteins on the virus directly increase the mutation rate in the virus inducing resistance to the treatment.

    Read the full story: NIAID (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: NEJM


    Emergence of a new gene seen for the first time in the lab

    Life | Apr 23, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    New genes can be formed following gene duplication and editing; an underlying molecular mechanism of evolution
    Emergence of a new gene seen for the first time in the lab - life short science news

    For the very first time, biotechnologists have witnessed the emergence of a completely new gene.

    By forcing the yeast species Saccharomyces pastorianus to eat complex sugars, the cells started to form a new sort of “mouth” by recombining parts of already existing genes into a new gene.

    This spectacular observation confirms what biotechnologists had suspected for decades: living things can make new genes by copying and then editing them, which is a driving force of evolution.

    Read the full story: TU Delft
    Scientific publication: PLoS Genetics


    Cooling without energy consumption?

    Technology | Apr 22, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Theoretically, this experimental device could turn boiling water to ice, without using any energy. (Andreas Schilling, UZH)
    Cooling without energy consumption? - interesting science news

    Physicists are always up to something weird. Now they have developed a simple device that facilitates heat to flow temporarily from a cold to a warm object without an external power supply. Surprisingly, at first sight this might contradict some fundamental laws of physics.

    To do this, researchers used a Peltier element which is usually used to cool minibars in hotels. This element can convert electric current to temperature differences. This element creates thermal oscillating circuits, in which an oscillating heat current flows between two bodies perpetually changing directions. So, heat also temporarily flows from colder to warmer objects cooling the cold object further.

    However, rest assured that this does not contradict the laws of physics since the scientists have shown that entropy of the whole system increases with time in full compliance with the law of thermodynamics.

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


    Want a stable society? Keep the beer flowing

    Earth | Apr 22, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    A steady flow of beer could keep a civilization alive.
    Want a stable society? Keep the beer flowing- intersting science news

    Archeologists are studying the Wari culture which lasted for 500 years from 600-11100 AD and this is a pretty long time for an empire to stay intact. A recently published study argues that one important factor that might have helped is a steady supply of beer.

    Studying an ancient Wari brewery tells us that the beer called ‘chicha’ used to be produced there but it could remain good for just a week and hence people had to come to the brewery to drink it. These festivals were central to the Wari culture and around 200 local political elites would attend. People would come to this site and to reaffirm their affiliation to the lords would bring tributes and pledge loyalty to Wari.

    The scientists state that this steady supply of beer kept the Wari society stable and engendered unity amongst all these populations.

    Read the full story: Field museum
    Scientific publication: Sustainability


    Brain function partially restored in pig after death

    Mind and Brain | Apr 18, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Certain brain function restored in pig hours after death.
    Brain function partially restored in pig after death - interesting science news

    Immediately after death, once the oxygen and blood supply is cut off, the electrical brain activity disappears immediately, while the energy stores get depleted within minutes. This has always lead to believe that brain functions end after death irreversibly.

    Now, researchers restored the circulation and cellular activity in the pig’s brain 4 hours after its death. The circulated a uniquely formulated solution specially made to preserve brain tissue and found that neural cell integrity was preserved and certain neuronal functions were restored.

    While this technique does not have any immediate application, it could be used in future to salvage brain function in stroke patients and test new drugs for brain cellular recovery after injury.

    Read the full story: Yale University
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Immunity of kids restored by gene therapy

    Health | Apr 18, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Gene therapy could help cure X-SCID
    Immunity of kids restored by gene therapy - interesting science news

    Scientists have used gene therapy to restore immunity in infants with X-SCID, which is a life-threatening inherited disorder in which the immune cells do not develop correctly. This makes the infants highly susceptible to infections.

    The researchers inserted a normal copy of the IL2RG gene in the normal blood-forming stem cells of these infants. A lentivirus was used to deliver the gene which by itself isn’t infectious to the patient.

    Within 3-4 months of the therapy the infants were able to to produce normal number of several immune cells such as T cells, B cells and natural killer cells. This was a small clinical trial and hence will be replicated with a larger sample size in the future.

    Read the full story: NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
    Scientific publication: NEJM


    Hurricane Maria: Blame climate change

    Earth | Apr 17, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Hurricanes will increase in frequency due to climate change
    Hurricane Maria: Blame climate change - interesting science news

    Hurricane Maria released more rain on Puerto Rico than any recorded 129 storms that have hit the island since 1956. Now, new research finds that this is mostly due to the human caused climate warming.

    Researchers found that the peak rainfalls seen due to Maria (41 inches in a day), are more likely in the climates of 2017 than the early 50s. While storms like Maria could have happened once in 300 years earlier, their likelihood has increased to once every 100 years.

    With so much damage being done, it needs to be emphasized that we need to wake up to the effects of climate change.

    Read the full story: American Geophysical Union
    Scientific publication: Geophysical Research Letters


    Water from moon released due to meteoroid strike

    Space | Apr 17, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Moon releases water on meteoroid strikes
    Water from moon released due to meteoroid strike - interesting science news

    Researchers have found that striking of meteoroids on the Moon releases water vapour for a short time into its atmosphere. While previous models had predicted this, the phenomenon was observed for the first time. To release this water the meteoroids have to penetrate atleast 3 inches below the surface.

    While the Moon doesn’t have significant amount water in the atmosphere, there is evidence that it has water (H2O) and hydroxyl (OH) which is the more reactive species of water.

    This new evidence could explain why there are ice deposits at the poles of the Moon. These results are significant since this water could be potential source for sustaining long-term exploration of the Moon and the deep space.

    Read the full story: NASA
    Scientific publication: Nature Geoscience


    Where do angry dreams arise in the brain?

    Mind and Brain | Apr 16, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Anger experienced in dreams originates in the frontal cortex
    Where do angry dreams arise in the brain? - interesting science news

    In a new study conducted in healthy adults, researchers have identified a pattern of brain activity which can predict anger experienced during dreams.

    Researchers collected EEG recordings from heathy study participants during sleep studies on two separate nights. Immediately after a five minute bout of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is associated with dreams, the study participants were woken up and inquired about their dream. It was found that those individuals who displayed greater alpha band brain activity in the right frontal cortex and not the left, both during evening wakefulness and REM sleep experienced more anger in their sleep.

    This neural signature called frontal alpha asymmetry (FAA) might be the universal indicator of emotional regulation and studying this could be important since it could give us insights into nightmares which are common in several mental and sleep disorders.

    Read the full story: Society for Neuroscience (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: Journal of Neuroscience


    3D printed heart… How cool is that

    Technology | Apr 16, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    A 3D-printed, small-scaled human heart engineered from the patient's own materials and cells. Credit: Advanced Science. © 2019 The Authors.
    3D printed heart… How cool is that - interesting science news

    In a first, researchers have 3D printed the world’s first engineered heart using patients own cells and other biological materials. The first heart with cells, blood vessels, all the chambers and everything else together.

    Until now researchers in regenerative medicine had only printed simple tissues without any blood vessels. The new 3D printed heart is made from human cells and biological materials made of sugars and proteins which serve as biolink while printing the tissue.

    With heart disease as the leading cause of death and heart transplantation being the only definitive treatment for end stage heart failure, this new technology could help millions if scientists are able to scale it to human size.

    Read the full story: American Friends of Tel Aviv University
    Scientific publication: Advanced Science


    How to change your brain: Train it

    Mind and Brain | Apr 15, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Neurofeedback increases brain connections quickly
    How to change your brain: Train it - interesting science news

    Researchers have found out that even 1 hour of brain training exercises using neurofeedback can increase the strength of neuronal connections and improved communication between different brain regions.

    Individuals who were trained on neurofeedback and then scanned in a MRI machine showed a positive impact on the default mode network, which is the brain network, impaired after stroke, Parkinson’s disease and depression.

    This shows that neurofeedback could be a powerful way to induce brain changes quickly and hence it would be next tested in patients with neurological disorders.

    Read the full story: D’Or Institute for Research and Education (via NeuroscienceNews)
    Scientific publication: NeuroImage


    Where are the superbugs: On patients’ hands

    Health | Apr 15, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Antibiotic resistant bacteria are on patients and could be transmitted to others
    Where are the superbugs: On patients’ hands - interesting science news

    Multidrug resistant organisms or MDROs were found in 14% of patients on their hands and nostrils when tested for antibiotic resistant drugs.

    Certain patients developed infections of MRSA when in hospital and all these patients were positive for MRSA on their hands as well as hospital room surfaces. Surprisingly, this happened to be seen very early in their hospital stay indicating that transmission to room surfaces is very rapid.

    With the current practice of encouraging hospital patients to move about in the halls as a part of recovery, increases the risk of these bugs being transmitted to other hospital areas.

    Read the full story: Michigan Medicine - University of Michigan (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: Clinical Infectious Diseases


    Homo luzonensis: A new human species discovered

    Life | Apr 12, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    A new species added to the human evolution
    Homo luzonensis: A new human species discovered - interesting science news

    A team of International scientists have uncovered the mortal remains of a new human species in Philippines, which indicates that this region played an important role in the human evolution. These fossil remains were found in the Luzon island and are 50,000 years old at the Callao Caves.

    The bones found were adult finger and toes bones as well as teeth. The size of the teeth are usually indicative of the overall size of the mammal and since the teeth discovered were very small, the scientists predict that Homo luzonensis was a small being.

    They also found evidence of a butchered rhinoceros and stone tools dating 700,000 years old but it still remains to be established if these were used by Homo luzonensis.

    Read the full story: Australian National University
    Scientific publication: Nature


    NFL players have higher abnormal proteins in the brain

    Mind and Brain | Apr 12, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Earlier detection of CTE could be possible with this new PET scan
    NFL players have higher abnormal proteins in the brain - interesting science news

    Scientists conducted a PET scan in living National Football League (NFL) players who displayed certain cognitive and behavioural symptoms. They found that these players had abnormal levels of tau protein in the brain regions which are usually affected by Chronic Traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

    Further, there was a significant positive correlation between more years spent playing tackle football and the levels of the tau proteins.

    Currently, CTE can be diagnosed only post mortem and this is the first study, which shows that it can be detected even before death. CTE is associated with progressive neuronal loss and this study could help us catch it earlier.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: Boston Medical Center (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: NEJM


    Little health effects after a year in space

    Space | Apr 12, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    NASA's twin study has revealed that a year in space in the International Space Station has little effects on human health
    Little health effects after a year in space - space short science news

    In a twin study carried out by NASA, no or only minor, mostly reversable, effects have been observed on a whole battery of physiological parameters in an astronaut who spent one year in ISS, and his twin brother, also an astronaut but remaining on Earth.

    For example, some minor changes were found in the gut microbiome, but these reversed to normal within a short period of time. Some effects could be attributed to the return to Earth, such as increased inflammation markers and cognitive performance. Some gene expression changes and DNA damage had not normalized until six months after return to Earth.

    Thus, one year in space does not seem to harm astronaut’s health, but the persistent molecular changes should be subject of future studies, scientists say.

    Read the full story: University of Illinois at Chicago
    Scientific publication: Science


    After 2020, a better convention is needed to preserve biodiversity

    Life | Apr 12, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    To secure the future of this young elephant, better protection of its habitat is needed
    Stopping the loss of biodiversity by defining a new target for protected areas - life short science news

    Scientists argue that the current international target for the protected area estate, accepted by 190 nations, is failing.

    The use of simple percentage targets has proven not to be effective for conservation of nature. For example, areas of low biodiversity value have been protected, whereas the regions rich in biodiversity have been destroyed or left unprotected. On top of this, protected areas are often not well-managed, partly due to insufficient funds.

    A new target to be adopted in a new convention in 2020, when the current target expires, should take global significance for biodiversity into account, so that the most important areas for biodiversity can be protected, restored, and properly managed, scientists say.

    Read the full story: Wildlife Conservation Society
    Scientific publication: Science


    Four million new cases of childhood asthma per year caused by traffic-related air pollution

    Health | Apr 11, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    NO2 coming out of car exhausts is a major risk for childhood onset asthma
    Four million new cases of childhood asthma per year caused by traffic-related air pollution - health short science news

    Globally, there are an estimated 170 new cases of childhood asthma, caused by traffic-related air pollution, per 100,000 children per year, representing 13% of all annual childhood asthma cases worldwide.

    Problems are most severe in the big Chinese cities, Seoul, and Moscow.

    Pollution, especially NO2, in these cities is below the maximal recommended levels, and researchers therefore propose to re-evaluate those levels to reduce the number of children with asthma.

    Read the full story: The Lancet Planetary Health


    New early human species found in the Philippines

    Earth | Apr 11, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Prof. Piper (ANU) examining the third metatarsal of a new hominin species, named Homo luzonensis. Image: Lannon Harley, ANU
    New early human species found in the Philippines - human history short science news

    An international team of researchers have found the remains of a new early human species on Luzon Island in the Philippines. The new species has been named Homo luzonensis.

    The fossils that have been found include adult finger and toe bones, teeth, and a child’s femur, and are dated to 67,000 years ago.

    This discovery shows that the island region in southeast Asia, including the Philippines, has played an important role in the history of hominin evolution.

    Read the full story: Australian National University
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Alps could lose 90% of ice by 2100

    Earth | Apr 10, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Global warming could lead to Alps losing their ice cover
    Alps could lose 90% of ice by 2100 - interesting science news

    Researchers from Switzerland indicate that between 2017 and 2050, 50% of the glacier volume will completely disappear. The sad part is, this will occur independently whether we cut our green house gas emissions or not.

    The scientists used new computer algorithms and recently observed data, which included ice-flow and melt processes of the Alpine glaciers.

    Under limited warming conditions, which mean keeping temperature rises to below 2 degrees since industrial age, the Alps will lose more than 66% of ice. However, if we continue the global warming at the same pace as today, the Alps will lose 90%of ice in total.

    Read the full story: European Geosciences Union
    Scientific publication: The Cryosphere


    Spectacular breakthrough in space research: the first image of a black hole

    Space | Apr 10, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Using the Event Horizon Telescope, scientists obtained an image of the black hole at the center of galaxy M87, outlined by emission from hot gas swirling around it under the influence of strong gravity near its event horizon. Image: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration
    Spectacular breakthrough in space research: the first image of a black hole - space short science news

    Astronomers have captured an image of a black hole for the first time, using the Event Horizon Telescope (EVT). The black hole is at the center of galaxy Messier 87 some 55 million light-years away.

    While the black hole cannot be seen itself (its gravity is so strong that even light cannot escape), the material around it can be seen with the EVT.

    This spectacular new observation is the beginning of a new era in space research, in which the secrets of black holes, the existence of which was only theory until now, will be revealed.

    Read the full story: National Science Foundation


    Fecal transplantation reduces symptoms of autism

    Health | Apr 10, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Improving the microbiome might be a way to treat autism symptoms. Image: Shireen Dooling
    Fecal transplantation reduces symptoms of autism by 50% after two years - health short science news

    While it becomes increasingly known that the microbiome (the bacteria population living in the gut) is important for neurological health and proper neuronal communication, new research has further confirmed the importance of a healthy gut microbiome in autism.

    Eighteen autistic children who had received a fecal transplantation two years earlier showed a much-improved microbiome, and strongly diminished (50% reduction) symptoms of autism (language, social interaction and behavior).

    These results indicate that fecal transplantation is safe, and its beneficial effects in autistic children should be confirmed in a larger study.

    Read the full story: Arizona State University
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Just like humans, birds have different personalities which determine when breeding starts

    Life | Apr 09, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Personality of birds promotes adaptability of behavior
    Just like humans, birds have different personalities which determine when breeding starts - life short science news

    Studies in great tit (Parus major) have shown that breeding behavior changes under predation threat.

    Aggressive and exploring birds, normally starting the laying of eggs late in the breeding season, shifted their breeding forwards, whereas more passive birds showed exactly the opposite.

    Thus, breeding start is flexible, and depends on personality and external influences such as predation risk. Breeding success is not affected by personality. Together, this study shows the importance of different personalities within a population, so that survival of a species is more likely when external conditions change.

    Read the full story: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    An exoplanet with 13 times the mass of Jupiter

    Space | Apr 09, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    The first evidence has been obtained for the existence of a giant object in the Cygnus constellation orbiting a binary system of a live star and a white dwarf. Image: Leandro Almeida
    An exoplanet with 13 times the mass of Jupiter - space short science news

    Astronomers have discovered a giant exoplanet in the Cygnus constellation that has a mass 13 times that of Jupiter.

    It is orbiting an old binary system, in which one star is dead (a white dwarf) and the other being a live star (i.e. magnetically active) with small mass (a red dwarf).

    While most exoplanets have been observed in young binaries, consisting of two live stars, the current observations provide the first evidence for a similar organization in an old binary system.

    Read the full story: Fundacao de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Sao Paulo
    Scientific publication: The Astronomical Journal


    Unprecedented changes in the Arctic with far-reaching consequences

    Earth | Apr 08, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    The Yukon River winds through western interior Alaska in early April. Image: Todd Paris, UAF
    Unprecedented changes in the Arctic with far-reaching consequences - climate change short science news

    Climate change in the Arctic is unfolding at such a fast pace, that it is changing to an area completely different from the Arctic as seen in the 20th century, a new study shows.

    Data collected as from 1971 until now show that ice melting at unprecedented speed, and the Arctic is getting greener and wetter. Also, plants start to flower earlier, when insects are not yet around to pollinate them.

    The changes in the Arctic may have important consequences in other regions on Earth because of changed rainfall patterns and rising sea water levels.

    Read the full story: University of Alaska Fairbanks
    Scientific publication: Environmental Research Letters


    Social insecurity causes stress

    Life | Apr 08, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    To avoid escalation of conflicts and to promote group cohesion male chimpanzees reduce aggressive interactions in times of social instability. Image: Anna Preis
    Social insecurity causes stress - life short science news

    A new study found that social insecurity increases stress in chimpanzees, and that the amount of urinary cortisol (a stress hormone) did not correlate with hierarchy in the group.

    Also, during times of social insecurity, like observed in intense male-male competition, aggression rates were lower, probably to avoid injuries and improve group cohesion.

    This study shows that, unlike previously thought, dominant and recessive members of a group have similar stress levels caused by instable social structure, and that proper conflict management strategies improve the wellbeing of the group.

    Read the full story: Max-Planck-Gesellschaft – Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
    Scientific publication: Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution


    Planet surviving the death of a star

    Space | Apr 05, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    A planetary fragment orbits the white dwarf, leaving a tail of gas in its wake, caused by collisions with debris. Image: University of Warwick/Mark Garlick
    Planet surviving the death of a star - space short science news

    For the first time, astronomers have obtained direct evidence that a planet has survived the destructive forces of a dying star. The planet’s survival might be linked to it being composed of iron and nickle.

    The planet did not survive unharmed, and researchers believe that the planet as has been seen now is only a fragment of the original planet. The planet is situated in a big disk of debris, probably from other planets, surrounding the star.

    The dead star (white dwarf) was of similar size of our Sun, which makes this discovery even more interesting, as it might help to understand what will happen to Earth when the Sun dies some six billion years from now.

    Read the full story: Warwick University
    Scientific publication: Science


    Poverty impacts our genes too

    Health | Apr 05, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Poverty has a powerful impact on our genes
    Poverty impacts our genes too - interesting science news

    Several lines of previous research have shown that socioeconomic status (SES) influences both human health and disease. Now researchers have shown that poverty is associated with changes in DNA methylation which is an epigenetic marker that influences gene expression across 1500 genes.

    This shows that individual experiences over the course of lifetime get embodied in the genes and can literally influence the function of these genes. This indicates that poverty has long lasting impact on a host of physiological systems and processes.

    Further research needs to be done to ascertain whether these epigenetic changes have an impact on immune responses to infections, neurological development and overall health of a person.

    Read the full story: Northwestern University (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: American Journal of Physical Anthropology


    More insight into Parkinson’s disease

    Mind and Brain | Apr 05, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    A zebrafish brain, with dopamine-producing nerve cells in red and the stem cells that produce them in green. Thomas Becker, The University of Edinburgh
    More insight into Parkinson’s disease - brain short science news

    Brain cells that produce dopamine are the ones that are lost in Parkinson’s disease patients.

    A new study has found that these cells regenerate constantly from a pool of specialized stem cells in the brains of zebrafish, and that the immune system plays a key role in this.

    Understanding how the immune system does this precisely could lead to novel treatment options for Parkinson’s disease patients.

    Read the full story: University of Edingburgh
    Scientific publication: Journal of Neuroscience


    Cognition restored in old mice by blocking a protein

    Mind and Brain | Apr 05, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Blocking the CD22 protein could be our answer to Alzheimer's disease
    Cognition restored in old mice by blocking a protein - interesting science news

    Microglia, the garbage collecting cells in the brain have several genes which are linked to Alzheimer’s disease and these genes are active only in the microglia. These genes show abnormal activity patterns in Parkinson’s disease and ALS too.

    Researchers selected 3000 genes which are responsible for encoding proteins in these microglia and selectively blocked one gene at a time. Surprisingly, only one gene which encodes CD22 found in both humans and mice was substantially upregulated in old mice.

    Blocking the protein produced by this gene in the hippocampus of the brain of old mice resulted in old mice outperforming normal mice in various tasks associated with learning and memory indicating that the cognitive ability of these mice was improved.

    Read the full story: Stanford University
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Go take a walk in the forest to reduce stress

    Health | Apr 04, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Destressing in nature works
    Go take a walk in the forest to reduce stress - interesting science news

    In this recently published study, participants were asked to take a stroll in nature for 10 minutes or more for at least 3 times per week. The levels of cortisol as measured saliva samples both before and after the nature exposure was also done to study its impact.

    Even taking a 20-minute break in nature will significantly reduce your stress hormones. Researchers have for the first time found the most effective dose of urban nature experience.

    These ‘nature pills’ could be a low-cost solution to negate the health effects of increased urbanization and indoor lifestyles which is linked to several disease conditions.

    Read the full story: Frontiers (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: Frontiers in Psychology


    20% of death linked to poor diet

    Health | Apr 04, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Unhealthy diet accounts for more deaths than previously thought
    20% of death linked to poor diet - interesting science news

    The Global Burden of Disease study tracked 15 dietary factors between 1990-2017 of 195 countries and estimated that 1 in 5 deaths that occur globally are linked to poor diet or diets which contribute to chronic diseases. That’s an astonishing 11 million deaths.

    Of the 11 million deaths, a staggering 10 million were due to cardiovascular diseases, 913,000 due to cancer and 339,000 associated with type 2 diabetes. Also, these 11 million deaths is an increase from the 8 million deaths linked to diet in 1990.

    Further, the study found that in 2017, more deaths were associated with low amounts of food like whole grains, fruits and nuts as compared to deaths due to high levels of trans fats, sugary drinks and red meat.

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


    Reintroducing top predators: does it bring back historic ecosystems?

    Earth | Apr 04, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Wolves face off with cow elk in the Lamar Valley of Yellowstone National Park. While wolf reintroduction in the mid-1990s resulted in a drop in Yellowstone elk numbers, it didn't necessarily restore the ecosystem to historical conditions, according to new research. Image: Daniel Stahler
    Reintroducing top predators: does it bring back historic ecosystems? - Biology short science news

    While it is generally believed that reintroducing top predators such as wolves brings an ecosystem back to natural conditions, this might not be necessarily the case. Indeed, the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park has decreased the numbers of elk, and improved vegetation, but has the Park returned to how it was before the wolves had disappeared in the 1920s?

    Researchers are now beginning to address this question, and the first results indicate that it is hard to predict what will happen exactly when the top predators return. The only consistent effect they found is that the number of small predators increased.

    Thus, more research is necessary to be able to predict how reintroduction programs of top predators will play out in an ecosystem.

    Read the full story: University of Wyoming
    Scientific publication: Biological Conservation


    The future of agriculture: Cyber agriculture

    Technology | Apr 04, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    The taste of basil has been enhanced using algorithms that determine optimal growth conditions
    The future of agriculture: Cyber agriculture - technology short science news

    Researchers are in the process of growing crops that taste good, without genetic modifications. To this end, they use computer algorithms to determine optimal growing conditions to obtain the best concentration that give the plants flavor.

    The first plants to have been cultured with artificial intelligence is basil, but it is envisaged that this is only the first of many.

    Researchers believe that such “Cyber agriculture”, as they call it, may play an important role in growing crops, not only to improve taste but also to make plants more resistant to disease or to study how crops grow with changing climate conditions.

    Read the full story: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scientific publication: PLoS ONE


    Worldwide survey: almost 5 million premature deaths because of air pollution

    Health | Apr 03, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Smog awaits these ships making port in Shanghai
    Worldwide survey: almost 5 million premature deaths because of air pollution - health short science news

    In 2017, close to 5 million people died as a consequence of air pollution, according to today’s (April 3, 2019) State of Global Air report 2019.

    Most deaths, 2.9 million, occurred because of exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2,5), and 1.6 million people died from air pollution due to cooking with contaminating fuels. Ozone was the cause of another 0.5 million premature deaths.

    Breathing in polluted air increases the risk for cardiovascular diseases, respiration diseases, infections of the lungs, and cancer. Air pollution is the fifth most important cause of premature deaths worldwide, topping e.g. alcohol, malnutrition, drugs, or traffic accidents. Air pollution reduces the average life expectancy of newborns by 20 months.

    Read the full story: Health Effects Institute and Institute of Health Metrics


    Digital multitasking linked to obesity

    Mind and Brain | Apr 03, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Excessive multimedia use linked to obesity
    Digital multitasking linked to obesity - interesting science news

    Researchers have found out that mindlessly switching between several digital devices is associated with increased susceptibility to food temptations and lower self-control which could ultimately lead to weight gain.

    The scientists used the Media Multitasking Revised scale which measures compulsive behavior like urge to check the phone for messages while interacting with someone else and passive behaviors like media distracting us from work. The higher score on this scale was associated with higher BMI as well as higher body fat.

    Further, certain participants then underwent a functional MRI scan and it was observed that people with higher BMI and body fat showed increased activity in the brain regions associated with food temptation on exposure to food photos.

    Read the full story: Rice university
    Scientific publication: Brain Imagaing and Behavior


    Diabetes and heart risk increased due to shift work

    Health | Apr 03, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Night shift increases the risk of poorer health
    Diabetes and heart risk increased due to shift work - interesting science news

    Atleast 20% of the population works in night shifts, especially in the healthcare and transportation sector. This is a major healthcare problem which isn’t getting its due attention for several years now.

    Now, researchers have found out that shift work negatively impacts the way triglycerides are metabolized in the body as well as the way sugars are used. The study compared those who regularly did night shifts and those who didn’t and found that the former had higher levels of blood sugar and triglyceride levels.

    This study shows the long term impact of shift work and its impact on hart disease, diabetes and obesity in the future.

    Read the full story: The Physiological Society (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: Experimental Physiology


    Subscribe to our mailing list

    * indicates required