December 11, 2019

    The subtle way mucus disarms microbes

    Health | Oct 15, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Mucus inhibits the growth of bacteria
    The subtle way mucus disarms microbes - interesting science news

    Mucus, which lines 200 square meter of our bodies including lungs and digestive tract is not just a physical barrier can also disarm microbes preventing them from causing infections.

    Glycans, which are found in the mucus are mainly responsible for this property. Researchers studied the effects of glycans on Pseudomonas aeruginosa and discovered that this microbe no longer produced toxins or expressed genes, which are necessary for bacterial communication.

    This newly discovered property might be useful in finding new ways to treat antibiotic resistance in addition to traditional antibiotics.

    Read the full story: MIT news
    Scientific publication: Nature Microbiology


    Veterans with PTSD have higher risk of a rare sleep disorder

    Mind and Brain | Oct 14, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Increased risk of a rare sleep disorder in veterans
    Veterans with PTSD have higher risk of a rare sleep disorder - short science news and articles

    It has been seen that military veterans with PTSD or head concussions are at a higher risk of suffering from a thrashing form of sleep disorder, which is higher than the general population.

    Normally, during REM sleep muscles of an individual are paralysed. However, people suffering from REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD), have this mechanism impaired resulting in them acting out their dreams during REM sleep which could injure their partners or themselves.

    RBD might also provide early signs of development of neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

    Read the full story: Oregon Health & Science University
    Scientific publication: Sleep


    Guess what… Even prehistoric humans stored food

    Life | Oct 14, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Cave men had their smarts to store and preserve food
    Guess what… Even prehistoric humans stored food - short science news and articles

    While they didn’t have refrigerators, prehistoric humans also went through the pains of storing food for later consumption. This can be understood from the evidence of storage and delayed consumption of animal bone marrow at the Qesem caves near Tel Aviv.

    Researchers found deer metapodials in caves covered in skin for better marrow preservation. This process apparently facilitates low rate of marrow fat degradation.

    This major discovery dating back to about 400,000 years ago offers insight in the socioeconomic dynamics of humans around that time which could provide new modes of adaptations during the Paleolithic age.

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


    Even low doses of antibiotics affect the gut bacteria

    Health | Oct 11, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Gut bacteria change even with a low dose of antibiotics
    Even low doses of antibiotics affect the gut bacteria - short science news and articles

    Gut microbes are known to be extremely sensitive to even low doses of antibiotics and such low doses are routinely found in the environment. Using three-dimensional microscopy in transparent zebrafish, researchers found that exposure to ciprofloxacin dramatically affect the gut bacteria.

    Researchers found that in presence of the antibiotic, bacteria, which are usually fast swimming, develop sluggish behaviour and form aggregates. Further, bacteria that normally, aggregate in dense colonies, end up forming even larger colonies.

    This zebrafish model could help us provide a framework to understand the effects of antibiotics in both humans as well as animals.

    Read the full story: University of Oregon (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: PNAS


    Salamander-like powers in humans to regrow cartilage

    Health | Oct 11, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Human cartilage uses the same salamander like mechanism to regenerate tissue
    Salamander-like powers in humans to regrow cartilage - short science news and articles

    While it was always thought that humans cannot regrow tissue, researchers have recently discovered that human cartilage tissue has a repair mechanism similar to that seen in salamander.

    The cartilage tissue, especially in the ankle joint uses molecules called microRNAs which are the same molecules used for tissue regeneration in organisms like salamanders, lizards and zebrafish indicating that it is evolutionarily conserved across several species.

    This could form the basis of developing novel therapies for osteoarthritis which is the most common joint disorder in the world.

    Read the full story: Duke University
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


    Lithium-ion batteries power 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

    Technology | Oct 10, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    A battery that could decrease fossil fuel use
    Lithium-ion batteries power 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry - short science news and articles

    The Lithium-ion battery, which is now a days used to power everything from cell phones to laptops as well as electric cars powered the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for this year.

    These batteries store sufficient energy from both solar and wind power making it possible to help our society to slowly move towards being fossil-fuel free.

    While Stanley Whittingham did the foundation work for these batteries in 1970, John Goodenough in 1980 increased its potential for changing the cathode used in the batteries. This spurred Akira Yoshino to release the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery in 1985. The prize was shared by the three laureates.

    Read the full story: The Nobel Prize


    Instead of buying ‘Green’, just buy Less

    Earth | Oct 09, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    When LESS is MORE
    Instead of buying ‘Green’, just buy Less - short science news and articles

    One of the leading contributors towards global climate change is human overconsumption of resources making it imperative to understand consumer choices, which could affect the planet’s health in the long run.

    Individuals who reported lesser materialistic values resorted to decreased consumption, which also was linked to higher personal well-being as well as lesser psychological distress.

    On the other hand, ‘Green Buying’ even though had small environmental implications did not reduced consumption and also did not improve consumer well being. Thus having less and buying lesser could actually help both the planet and us.

    Read the full story: The University of Arizona (via ScienceDaily)
    Scientific publication: Young Consumers


    Nobel Prize for Physics 2019: Universe evolution and exoplanet discovery

    Space | Oct 09, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Cosmology and Exoplanets
    Nobel Prize for Physics 2019: Universe evolution and exoplanet discovery - short science news and articles

    James Peebles’ contribution to understanding the physical cosmology which spurred the research of the entire field over the last 50 years earned him the Nobel Prize for Physics this year. The theoretical framework which he developed in 1960 forms the basis of our current ideas of the universe.

    His models predicted that while only 5% of the Universe is matter such as Stars, planets etc, the rest 95% is an unknown dark matter and dark energy which continues to challenge modern physics.

    The other half of the Nobel Prize for Physics this year is shared by Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz who discovered the first exoplanet (planet outside our solar system). This discovery revolutionized astronomy and since then 4000 exoplanets have been found in our Milky Way.

    Read the full story: The Nobel Prize


    Nobel prize in Physiology (2019): identifying how cells sense changes in oxygen levels

    Health | Oct 08, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Elucidating the cellular adaptions triggered by oxygen variations
    Nobel prize in Physiology (2019): identifying how cells sense changes in oxygen levels - short science news and articles

    The 2019 Nobel Prize in Physiology was awarded to Sir Peter Ratcliffe, Gregg Semenza and William Kaelin Jr, for their contributions towards identifying the molecular mechanisms involved in regulation of gene activity in response to variations in oxygen levels.

    While, Gregg Semesza studied the role of Erythropoietin, Willaim Kaelin and Peter Ratcliffe studied the role of VHL gene and Hypoxia-induced factor (HIF) and their role in response to oxygen variations.

    Their discoveries had wide effects in the field of medicine with applications found in the development of new strategies to treat anemia, cancer as well as several other conditions.

    Read the full story: The Nobel Prize


    Protecting transplanted brain cells from rejection without medication

    Mind and Brain | Oct 08, 2019 | Kshitij Jadhav

    Brain transplant cells could survive with immunosuppresion
    Protecting transplanted brain cells from rejection without medication - short science news and stories

    Researchers have developed a novel approach which bypasses the immune response to transplanted cells thereby facilitating their survival and protecting the brain tissue even without the use of immune-suppressing drugs which are routinely used after transplantation.

    Researchers blocked the stimulatory signals on the immune cells thereby eventually training the immune system to accept the transplanted cells as safe.

    While, this has been currently done in mice, a positive result gives significant hope for developing human therapies for the Pelizaeus-Merzbacher disease in which the protective covering of the neurons (myelin) is not formed.

    Read the full story: John Hopkins University
    Scientific publication: Brain


    Dead Sea Scroll made with lost ancient parchment-making technology

    Earth | Sep 11, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

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

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

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

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

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


    Breaking the defense wall of pancreatic cancer

    Health | Sep 10, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

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

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

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

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

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


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

    Health | Sep 03, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

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

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

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

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

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: The Lancet


    Bacteria convert greenhouse gases into useful products

    Technology | Aug 27, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

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

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

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

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


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

    Earth | Aug 26, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

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

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

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

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

    Read the full story:
    Scientific publication: Science Advances


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

    Earth | Jul 25, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

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

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

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

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

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

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


    Planting trees to save the climate

    Earth | Jul 05, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

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

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

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

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

    Read the full story: ETH Zürich
    Scientific publication: Science


    Where sea slugs get their toxic defense from

    Life | Jul 02, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

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

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

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

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

    Read the full story: Princeton
    Scientific publication: Science


    Keeping malaria under control with a harmless neurotoxin

    Life | Jul 01, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

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

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

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

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

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


    Ancient bones burried in water : to which humans did they belong?

    Earth | Jun 12, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    New DNA technology has shed light on the origin of ancient bones burried in water in western Finland. The DNA shows that the ancient people living here 300 – 700 AD were Sami people, who nowadays live far away from the aquatic burrial site.

    Later the Sami people were replaced by others, as seems to have occurred throughout northern countries.

    The reason why the ancient Sami burried their deads in water remains a mystery.

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


    The nervous system can transmit information across multiple generations

    Life | Jun 07, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Nematodes transmit information from the nervous system to their offspring. Image: Biosphere Science Foundation
    The nervous system can transmit information across multiple generations - life short science news

    Researchers have found that brain cells of nematodes (worms) communicate with germ cells through the release of small pieces of RNA. In this way, the information stored in the brain can be transmitted to the offspring and their descendants.

    This stunning observation was made in nematodes in which the small RNAs could not be produced anymore. These animals showed limited capacity to find food. Reintroduction of the small RNA in the nervous system of the worms not only restored the proper food seeking behavior in these nematodes, but also in that of their offspring that could not synthesize the small RNA themselves.

    It is currently not known whether the nervous system transmits information across generations in humans.

    Read the full story: Tel Aviv University
    Scientific publication: Cell


    Intestinal bacteria influence the effect of commonly used therapeutic drugs

    Health | Jun 07, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Human gut microbes metabolize over 150 therapeutic drugs, highlighting the role bacteria play in determining how well individuals respond to medications
    Intestinal bacteria influence the effect of commonly used medicines  - health short science news

    Commonly used drugs such as cancer medication, antidepressants, birth-control contraceptive pills, and those that lower blood pressure or cholesterol are converted by bacteria in the intestines in such a way that the effect in our body may change as a result. The difference in gut bacteria population between individuals may explain why the effect of medicines can differ from patient to patient.

    American scientists exposed 271 types of pills in culture dishes to 76 different common human gut bacteria and saw a change occur in two thirds of the drugs: the chemical composition of the drugs changed under the influence of at least one bacterial strain.

    This discovery may have consequences for the treatment of various diseases, and promote personalized medicine.

    Read the full story: Yale University
    Scientific publication: Nature


    Global warming speeds up early life of salmon

    Life | Jun 05, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Adult sockeye salmon returning to spawn in the lakes of Bristol Bay, Alaska. Image: Jason Ching/University of Washington
    Global warming speeds up early life of salmon - life short science news

    Higher annual temperatures in Alaska’s Bristol Bay have caused lakes and rivers to warm up earlier in spring, enhancing the growth of plankton that young sockeye salmon eat. This fattens up the young salmons much quicker than before, so that they now migrate to sea a year earlier.

    This series of events, described in a new study, does not necessarily mean that sockeyes benefit from global warming, because in the ocean they have to compete with increasing number of cultured sockeyes, making them stay in the ocean a year longer before returning to freshwater to spawn. Also, as all young fish now migrate to the sea at the same age (one year), the population is at risk if ocean conditions happen to be poor that year.

    This report shows an example of the complicated ecological effects of global warming.

    Read the full story: University of Washington
    Scientific publication: Nature Ecology & Evolution


    Complications of diabetes better understood

    Health | Jun 05, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Biochemical dysfunctions leading to complications in diabetes have been identified
    Complications of diabetes better understood - health short science news

    A new study has shown that glucose metabolism in endothelial cells lining the blood vessels is increased in high concentrations of glucose, like those seen in diabetes. This was caused by the slower degradation of a glucose-metabolizing enzyme (HK2) in these cells.

    Prolonged activity of HK2 leads to increased formation of a glucose-derived substance called methylglyoxal (MG) which damages blood cells, the kidneys, the retina and nerves in arms and legs.

    Importantly, the study describes that a novel dietary supplement called glyoxalase 1 inducer (Glo 1 inducer) could correct the dysfunctional glucose metabolism in endothelial cells in cell cultures, suggesting that Glo 1 inducer could be considered for future treatment of complications caused by diabetes.

    Read the full story: University of Warwick
    Scientific publication: Scientific Reports


    Some dinosaurs had feathers, long before birds appeared

    Life | Jun 04, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    Feathers existed before birds
    Some dinosaurs had feathers, long before birds - life short science news

    After analyzing 250-million-year-old fossils from China, paleontologists have discovered that pterosaurs had feathers, long before birds had evolved.

    The function of these early feathers was probably insulation. Other functions, such as flying and courtship, came probably much later.

    As the genetic program underlying the development of scales in reptiles, feathers in birds, and hairs in mammals is essentially similar, it is indeed possible that feathers appeared before birds did.

    Read the full story: University of Bristol
    Scientific publication: Trends in Ecology & Evolution


    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


    New insight in galaxy evolution

    Space | May 16, 2019 | Erwin van den Burg

    The irregular galaxy NGC 4485, captured by Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). Blue dots on the right: new stars, pink, nebulas. Left, intact remaining part of NGC 4485 with hints of its ancient spiral structure. Image: NASA, ESA
    New insight in galaxy evolution - space short science news

    Hubble Telescope images indicate that the irregular galaxy NGC 4485 has been sideswepped by a larger galaxy, NGC 4490. This has led to the formation of new stars, and perhaps even planets.

    This observation might serve as an example of this kind of interactions between galaxies when the universe was smaller, and galaxies were closer together, billions of years ago.

    NGC 4485, 25 million light years away from us in the northern constellation Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs) shows some aspects of the complex evolution of galaxies.

    Read the full story: NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center


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