August 25, 2019

    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


    Does CRISPR technology increase mortality?

    Life | Jun 04, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Life | Jun 03, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

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

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

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

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

    Read the full story: IRB Barcelona
    Scientific publication: Cell


    Neurons dump their waste to astrocytes

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

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

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

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

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

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


    A simple test developed to know if you are stressed

    Health | May 29, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

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

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

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

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

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


    Making Oxygen from CO2

    Technology | May 29, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    In Giapis's reactor, carbon dioxide is converted into molecular oxygen. Credit: Caltech
    Making Oxygen from CO2  - interesting science news

    Exploring space with all its complexities has one big issue; we as humans need oxygen and hence we need to carry our own oxygen wherever we go into space.

    Scientists have now demonstrated a new chemical reaction for generating oxygen which could not only help us explore the universe but also fight climate change on Earth. They found that CO2 on collision with the comet surface effectively splitting it such that O2 gets released from the same CO2 molecule.

    The researchers used a gold foil to mimic the comet surface in their experiments. The basic requirements are that the surface and CO2 should crash each other at a very high speed like in a comet. While the current efficacy is very low (2 O2 molecules from 100 CO2 molecules), further refinement is being done right now.

    Read the full story: Caltech
    Scientific publication: Nature Communication


    Bacteria in fermented food signal to the immune system

    Life | May 27, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    D-phenyllactic acid is absorbed from lactic acid bacteria fermented food and induces HCA3-dependent migration in human monocytes (immune cells). Image: Claudia Stäubert
    Bacteria in fermented food signal to the immune system - life short science news

    Lactic acid bacteria, which convert cabbage into sauerkraut and milk into yoghurt, have been found to secrete a substance (D-phenyllactic acid) that binds to a particular receptor on immune cells unique to apes and humans.

    D-phenyllactic acid signals to the immune system and to fat cells that that both foreign substances and energy have entered the body.

    This signaling pathway from gut bacteria to cells in the body may be at the basis of the beneficial effects of eating fermented food (yoghurt, sauerkraut) on human health.

    Read the full story: Universität Leipzig
    Scientific publication: PLoS Genetics


    Genetic mutation protects against dementia

    Mind and Brain | May 27, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    A genetic mutation in the immune system of the brain protects against various forms of dementia
    Genetic mutation protects against dementia - brain short science news

    A mutation in the PLCG2 gene protects against various forms of dementia. Carriers of this mutation have a greatly increased chance of turning 100 without dementia. This finding is the result of genetic research conducted with no less than half a million of hundred-year-olds worldwide.

    PLCG2 is part of the immune system in the brain, suggesting that dementia is a result of faulty immune function in patients.

    Researchers now try to determine why PLCG2 protects against dementia, so that this effect might be mimicked by medication in the future.

    Read the full story: Amsterdam UMC (in Dutch)
    Scientific publication: Acta Neuropathologica


    How Moon helped bring water to Earth

    Earth | May 27, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Moon creation brought water to Earth
    How Moon helped bring water to Earth - interesting science news

    Earth is a pretty unique planet in our solar system since it is the only one with a large amount of water and also a relatively large moon. Now researchers claim that water came to earth due to formation of the moon.

    Earlier studies tell us that 4.5 billion years ago when the solar system was formed, the ‘dry’ material (which formed the Earth) was separated from the ‘wet’ material, the later being rich in water (which were the meteorites).

    Now scientists used the Molybdenum isotope to distinguish between dry and wet materials and found that the entire water on Earth came from the collision of the protoplanet Theia who’s collision on Earth 4.4 billion years ago formed the Moon. So, there would be no water if there would be no Moon.

    Read the full story: University of Münster
    Scientific publication: Nature Astronomy


    Gene targeting could help in treatment for Down’s syndrome

    Health | May 27, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Gene therapy could help in treating Down syndrome
    Gene targeting could help in treatment for Down’s syndrome - interesting science news

    Researchers have shown that targeting specific genes before birth might help in treatment of Down’s syndrome by reversing the brain maldevelopment and also improving the cognitive functioning.

    The scientists developed two experimental models and used stem cells, which are cells that can turn into other cells in the brain. They found that inhibitory neurons were overproduced in these models of Down’s syndrome.

    The gene targeted was the OLIG2 gene, which helped in rebalancing the excitatory-inhibitory balance towards a more healthy setting. Someday this approach could be used for treatment in humans.

    Read the full story: Rutgers University
    Scientific publication: Cell Stem Cell


    Billion-year-old fossil of a fungus found in Canada

    Life | May 23, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Fungi such as these mushrooms have an evolutionary tree that goes back one billion years in time
    Billion-year-old fossil of a fungus found in Canada - life short science news

    Numerous microfossils of fungi have been found in Canada, which are up to one billion years old. This find pushes the age of fungi back by 450 million years.

    Fungi play an important role in ecosystems, as they break down organic material. This has led the discoverers of these old fungi to speculate that also other simple life must have existed at that time, although the oldest fossils of simple animals date back to “only” 635 million years ago.

    The newly discovered fungus, likely an ancestor of modern fungi, contained chitin, a fibrous component that forms fungi cell walls, making this the oldest record of chitin as well.

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


    Artificial photosynthesis for green energy advances

    Technology | May 23, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Under green light and assisted by an ionic liquid, gold nanoparticles, bottom, lend electrons to convert CO2 molecules, the red and grey spheres in the center, to more complex hydrocarbon fuel molecules. Image: Sungju Yu, Jain Lab at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Artificial photosynthesis for green energy advances - green technology short science news

    Researchers have succeeded to produce fuel from water, carbon dioxide, and sunlight, in a process that is similar to what plants use to generate energy from light (photosynthesis).

    By converting carbon dioxide into more complex organic molecules like propane, with the aid of gold as a catalyst in the chemical reactions, they have come closer to using excess carbon dioxide to store solar energy.

    While this artificial from of photosynthesis is not as efficient yet as natural photosynthesis in plants, the storing capacity of energy in the form of chemical bonds inn liquid fuel might be a strategy to be adopted in the future for the development of green energy.

    Read the full story: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    Scientific publication: Nature Communications


    Dead cells modulate how immune cells function

    Life | May 22, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Macrophages at a wound. Image: Dr Iwan Evans, University of Sheffield
    Dead cells modulate how immune cells function - life short science news

    Immune cells prioritize removal of dead cells over fighting infections and healing wounds, a new study found.

    While clearance of dead cells is important, during times of injury immune cells are needed at the wound to prevent infections and aid healing processess. Also, these cells can worsen many human conditions if they are at the wrong site or overactive.

    Researchers found that the protein Simu is needed to keep macorphages at wound sites in fruit flies, so that targeting this protein in humans might provide new possibilities for improved wound healing and less infections in the future.

    Read the full story: University of Sheffield
    Scientific publication: PLoS Biology


    Evolution of color revealed in fossilized mouse

    Life | May 22, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    A color pigment scan of a fossilised, three million old mouse. Image: University of Manchester
    Evolution of color revealed in fossilized mouse - life short science news

    Scientists have found red pigmet in the fur of a three million year old fossilized mouse.

    The chemistry of the pigment shows that the trace metals of the pigment in the mouse fur are bonded to organic chemicals, just like they are in modern day animals with red fur such as foxes.

    The combination of techniques used in this study have made it possible to study unstable pigments in fossils, revealing secrets of color evolution, and teaching us how animals have used color for their behavior in the past.

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


    Aluminium discovered around a young star

    Space | May 17, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Protostar Orion KL Source I, where aluminium has been discovered. The star is in the center of the image, surrounded by a gas disk (red). Image: ALMA (ESO / NAOJ / NRAO), Hirota et al.
    Aluminium discovered around a young star - space short science news

    Researchers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) discovered for the first time an aluminium-bearing molecule around a young star.

    Aluminium is part of the oldest objects formed in our Solar System, but until now it was not known how aluminium-rich materials contributed to star and planet formation.

    The discovery of aluminium oxide around a young star offers new possibilities to study early phases of meteorite and planet formation, researchers say.

    Read the full story: ALMA
    Scientific publication: The Astrophysical Journal Letters


    24% of West Antarctic ice has become unstable

    Earth | May 17, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Loss of Antarctic ice has raised global sea level by 4.6 mm since 1992
    24% of West Antarctic ice has become unstable - climate short science news

    In only 25 years, ice thinning has spread across West Antarctica so rapidly that now 24% of its glacier ice has become unstable, a new study found.

    By analysing satellite images taken between 1992 and 2017, which include over 800 million measurements of the Antarctic ice sheet height, it appeared that snowfall changed ice thickness only to a small extent, and that the most pronounced changes in ice thickness are the result of longer term changes in climate, such as increasing ocean temperatures.

    The loss of Antarctic ice has raised the global sea level by 4.6 mm since 1992.

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


    One in 7 children born with a low birthweight

    Health | May 16, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Low birthweight is more common in low- and middle-income countries, and reflects poorer maternal or fetal health
    One in 7 children born with a low birthweight - health short science news

    The scientific journal The Lancet reports that 20.5 million babies were born with a low birthweight, i.e. under 2500 g or 5.5 pounds in 2015. Most of these, over 90%, were born in low- and middle-income countries.

    While all 195 member states of the WHO committed to a 30% reduction in low birthweight prevalence by 2025, the current numbers indicate that progress is slow, and that efforts have to be doubled to meet this goal.

    Low birthweight is indicative of reduced maternal or fetal health, and predicts mortality, stunting, and adult-onset chronic conditions.

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: The Lancet – Global Health


    Plastic pollution harms the bacteria that help us breathe

    Earth | May 15, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Plastics in the sea harm oxygen-producing bacteria
    Plastic pollution harms the bacteria that help us breathe - Earth short science news

    Plastic pollution in the oceans has been found not only to harm fish and marine mammals, but also the tiniest of organisms, bacteria.

    In particular, chemicals leaching from plastics reduce the growth, and impair the photosynthesis and hence oxygen production of Prochlorococcus, the ocean’s most abundant photosynthetic bacteria. It has been estimated that these bacteria alone acount for 10% of the total oxygen production on Earth.

    Thus, plastic pollution threatens to reduce the oxygen that we breathe each and every day.

    Read the full story: Macquarie University
    Scientific publication: Communications Biology


    Kids who watch more TV sleep less

    Mind and Brain | May 15, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Nighttime TV in chidlren affects sleep patterns
    Kids who watch more TV sleep less - interesting science news

    Approximately 35% of 3-5 year old kids have TV in their bedrooms and atleast a third of them fall asleep with the TV on mostly watching violent stimulating videos. Now, researchers have shown that this affects the quality as well as duration of sleep in these kids.

    Further, it was seen that daytime napping as increased in these children but it did not fully compensate for the lost night sleep. While several parents believe TV helps kids fall to sleep, the current research bust this myth.

    The current recommended guidelines is that children between 2-4 years shouldn’t have more than one hour of sedentary screen time and it should be accompanied by parents watching the TV with the kids.

    Read the full story: University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    Scientific publication: Sleep Health


    Regular coffee drinkers are better to catch a whiff of it

    Mind and Brain | May 15, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Ability to detect small traces of coffee increases with higher craving
    Regular coffee drinkers are better to catch a whiff of it - interesting science news

    Researchers have shown that regular coffee drinkers can sniff out even trace amounts of coffee as well as faster at recognizing its aroma as compared to non-coffee drinkers.

    High caffeine consumers were able to detect even heavily diluted coffee and this ability increased as the level of craving also increased. This shows that even with mildly addictive drugs, craving increases the ability to detect that substance.

    This study points out that ability to detect the smell of a drug could be a useful index of drug dependence and open new ways to treat addictions.

    Read the full story: University of Portsmouth
    Scientific publication: Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology


    What we can learn from algae to improve photovoltaic cells

    Life | May 15, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Red algae are amongst the most efficient converters of sunlight into energy. Image: Johnmartindavies [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]
    What we can learn from algae to improve photovoltaic cells - life short science news

    As algae manage to use and store solar energy more efficiently than any other organism (up to 98%), biochemists have set out to determine how algae do this precisely.

    They found that algae have many protrusions (antennae) on their surface, that are made up of stacks of tiny disks. Inside each disk there is a gamma building block that passes light efficiently into the light harvesting system. The efficiency may further be enhanced by the presence of at least four different gamma blocks, making it possible to capture light under all circumstances.

    Perhaps that the light capture system of algae could be used as a blueprint for the next generation of photovoltaic cells.

    Read the full story: Utrecht University
    Scientific publication: Chem


    Titanium in food affects the gut bacteria

    Health | May 14, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Titanium in food affects the gut bacteria
    Titanium in food affects the gut bacteria - interesting science news

    Researchers studied the impact of the food additive E171 (titanium dioxide nanoparticles) which is present in high quantities in food and medicine as a whitening agent. E171 is present in everything from chewing gum to mayonnaise and is consumed in high quantities by the general population.

    It is observed that in mice consuming E171, the gut bacteria are adversely affected triggering inflammation in the gut. This could lead to diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and even colorectal cancer.

    Also, increased incidence of dementia, auto-immune diseases and asthma is also linked to these titanium nanoparticles and this calls for strict regulation of food industry.

    Read the full story: University of Sydney
    Scientific publication: Frontiers in Nutrition


    Key brain protein involved in food intake discovered

    Mind and Brain | May 14, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Obesity is linked to a ACBP protein synthesized by astrocytes in the hypothalamus
    Key brain protein involved in food intake discovered - interesting science news

    This might come as a shock; however researchers have revealed that controlling your weight might be dependent on a brain protein regardless of the amount of exercise or diet you could be doing. The protein in question is acyl-CoA-binding protein (ACBP).

    ACBP is produced by astrocytes, which are cells which usually support the neurons. Researchers have shown that the proopiomelanocortin neurons which reduce our food intake are in close communication with the astrocytes that produce ACBP in a specific brain region called the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus.

    This brain region is the feeding center of the brain and controls both food intake and energy expenditure. Absence of the ACBP gene in astrocytes in this brain region promotes obesity which indicates that it is involved in weight control.

    Read the full story: University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM)
    Scientific publication: Journal of Clinical Investigation


    How much is too much coffee?

    Health | May 13, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Too much coffee can increase the risk of heart diseases
    How much is too much coffee? - interesting science news

    A morning coffee is sometimes the essential kick required by several people to begin their day. However, the question of how much is too much has always generated too much debate.

    Adding to this debate is the latest research which indicates that 6 or more coffees a day can be detrimental to your health and it could increase the risk of heart disease by 22%. This research confirms that excess coffee can trigger high blood pressure which is a precursor to heart diseases.

    The study used the data from UK Biobank which included approximately 350,000 participants in the age range of 37-73 years to come to this conclusion. So, coffee is moderation is absolutely fine and do not overindulge it.

    Read the full story: University of South Australia
    Scientific publication: The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition


    Climate change triggering growth in old trees

    Earth | May 10, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Tree rings collected from old-growth Dahurian larch trees. Trees grow one ring per year. Credit: Xianliang Zhang.
    Climate change triggering growth in old trees - interesting science news

    Larch trees, the northernmost tree species on Earth have grown more between 2005 and 2014 as compared to the previous 40 years and scientists put this on climate change.

    Further, it has been seen that the oldest trees have shown the biggest growth spurt i.e. trees older than 400 years have shown the most rapid growth.

    It has been seen that the soil warming due to global warming is behind this teenage like growth spurt in old trees. While this is good in the short term, it could spell a disaster in the long term, because slow-growing trees will ultimately degrade due to raising soil temperatures.

    Read the full story: American Geophysical Union
    Scientific publication: Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences


    The afternoon siesta-suppressing gene discovered

    Health | May 10, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    The 'daywake' gene is linked to afternoon naps in flies
    The afternoon siesta-suppressing gene discovered - interesting science news

    Researchers working on fruit flies have identified a siesta-suppressing gene which could inform us on the biology that helps several organisms including humans to balance the benefits of a good afternoon nap vs. getting important things done.

    The afternoon naps which occur more on intense warm days were probably evolved as a protection against exposure to hot temperatures in the afternoon. However, certain fruit flies have a gene called ‘daywake’, which suppresses this activity especially when the temperatures cool down to increase the time spent seeking mates or food.

    Interestingly, the ‘daywake’ gene is adjacent to the ‘period’ gene which controls the circardian rhythm or the sleep-wake cycle of these flies.

    Read the full story: Rutgers University
    Scientific publication: Current Biology


    Bad news: Salmonella carries a newly discovered antibiotic resistance gene

    Life | May 08, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    This is the protein encoded by the mcr-9 gene that renders bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Image: Ahmed Gaballa, Cornell University
    Bad news: Salmonella carries a newly discovered antibiotic resistance gene - life short science news

    When scientists analyzed the genome of Salmonella bacteria, they discovered a gene, named mcr-9, that renders bacteria resistant to the last resort antibiotic colistin.

    Colistin has been designated a highest priority antibiotic by the World Health Organization, and is given when other antibiotics are without effect.

    As mcr-9 can jump from bacteria species to species, this gene may impose problems for our health as more bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics, even to colistin.

    Read the full story: Cornell University
    Scientific publication: mBio


    Plastic gets its much-needed makeover

    Technology | May 08, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Unlike conventional plastics, the monomers of PDK plastic could be recovered and freed from any compounded additives simply by dunking the material in a highly acidic solution. (Credit: Peter Christensen et al./Berkeley Lab)
    Plastic gets its much-needed makeover - interesting science news

    Like a Lego set, researchers have designed a recyclable plastic which can be broken down into its individual parts at the molecular level and the it can be put back together into any other shape, texture and color multiple time. All this without a loss of performance or quality.

    The new material is called polydiketoenamine (PDK). Unlike the conventional plastic currently used, PDK can be broken down into its individual components by simply putting it in a highly acidic solution. This acid also separates PDK from the chemical additives which gives it a brand fresh look.

    This take recycling to the next level because the current plastic’s most recyclable component PET is only recycled at the rate of 20-30% and the rest of it goes into landfills to lie around for hundreds of years.

    Read the full story: DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
    Scientific publication: Nature Chemistry


    Gut bacteria and depression?

    Mind and Brain | May 08, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Gut bacteria linked to depression
    Gut bacteria and depression? - interesting science news

    Gut microbiome has been the center of the new wave of research over the last couple of years. In a recent study, researchers have shown that gut bacteria altered depression linked behavior as well as gut inflammation signs in rodents.

    Researchers found that stress altered the gut bacteria population in certain rodents which then went on to show depressive behavior. Then, they transplanted gut bacteria of stress vulnerable rats into to stress resilient rats and the later showed signs of depression too.

    The vulnerable rats had higher proportion of bacteria named Clostridia which could be at the center of this storm. Finding novel therapies some being based in gut bacterial transplants could be important for treating psychiatric conditions like depression.

    Read the full story: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
    Scientific publication: Molecular Psychiatry


    Looking a fish in the mouth: a new species of parasite found

    Life | May 08, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Egg-carrying female of the new to science species Elthusa xena. Image: Serita van der Wal (under CC-BY 4.0 license)
    Looking a fish in the mouth: a new species of parasite found - life short science news

    Researchers from the North-West University in South Africa have discovered a new parasite of fish.

    They are crustaceans (like crabs and shrimps), and attach themselves to the gills of especially klipfish (genus Clinus).

    The new species has been baptized Elthusa Xena, named after the warrior princess Xena (from the American fantasy television series), as the females appear particularly tough with their elongated and ovioid bodies.

    Read the full story: North West University South Africa
    Scientific publication: Zookeys


    Why immunotherapy does not cure half of cancer patients

    Health | May 07, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Mismatch repair deficiency refers to a characteristic of some cancer cells that create a large number of changes in the DNA, leading to new products that can be attacked by the immune system during immunotherapy. Image: Andrew H. Lee
    Why immunotherapy does not cure half of cancer patients - cancer short science news

    Scientists have discovered why cancers in about half of the cancer patients do not respond to immunotherapy. Analysis of tumors in mice and humans revealed that those cancers that do respond have a higher degree of microsatellite instability (MSI) than those with a lower MSI.

    This means that the DNA of cancers with high MSI is changed considerably. This may give rise to new proteins in cancer cells that the immune system can attack.

    Thus, the level of MSI can now be used as a biomarker, like a crystal ball, to predict which patient will benefit from immunotherapy and which patient will not.

    Read the full story: Johns Hopkins
    Scientific publication: Science


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