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Today's Top Science News

Today's Top Science News

New Parkinson's disease therapeutics discovered by Ben-Gurion U researchers
Dr. Claude Brodski, M.D., head of the BGU's Laboratory for Molecular Neuroscience, discovered that BMP5/7 signaling in neurons was significantly reduced in dopamine-producing brain cells, which could contribute to Parkinson's disease advancement.

Breakthrough in understanding 'tummy bug' bacteria
Scientists have discovered how bacteria commonly responsible for seafood-related stomach upsets can go dormant and then "wake up".

Stealing the spotlight in the field and kitchen
New dry beans from UC Davis combine desirable qualities for both farmers and consumers

Designer DNA therapeutic wipes out cancer stem cells, treats multiple myeloma in mice
UC San Diego study supports launch of Phase I clinical trial to test a designer DNA agent -- an antisense oligonucleotide that targets a gene called IRF4 -- in patients with multiple myeloma.

Making microwaves safer for children
Researchers at Rush University Medical Center and other leaders of the campaign, worked diligently to document the frequency and severity of burn injuries resulting from removing hot contents from the microwave and young children's vulnerability to them, published the results of their efforts in The Journal of Pediatrics on Jan. 20.

Association of social, economic inequality with COVID-19 across US counties
This investigation analyzed U.S. county-level associations of income inequality, racial/ethnic composition and political attributes with COVID-19 cases and mortality.

Factors associated with US public motivation to use, distribute COVID-19 self-tests
Researchers examined individuals' motivation to self-test and to distribute self-test kits given the urgent need to increase COVID-19 testing coverage and contact tracing.

Stanford study reveals immune driver of brain aging
Stanford scientists have identified a key factor in mental aging and shown that it might be prevented or reversed by fixing a glitch in the immune system's frontline soldiers.

Associations of government-mandated closures, restrictions with mobility, SARS-CoV-2 infections in Nigeria
This observational study examined how COVID-19-related government-mandated closures and restrictions were associated with changes in mobility and the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria.

Severe menopause symptoms often accompany premature ovarian insufficiency
Hot flashes, insomnia, and vaginal dryness are commonly reported symptoms that accompany the menopause transition. A new study suggests that such symptoms--especially psychological and sexual problems--are worse for women who have premature ovarian insufficiency (POI) than for women undergoing natural menopause. Study results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS).

Study shows how network of marine protected areas could help safeguard Antarctic penguins
New research led by BirdLife International, the University of East Anglia (UEA) and British Antarctic Survey highlights how a proposed network of marine protected areas could help safeguard some of the most important areas at sea for breeding Antarctic penguins.

New metamaterial offers reprogrammable properties
EPFL scientists have developed a metamaterial whose mechanical properties can be reprogrammed on demand and whose internal structure can be modified by applying a magnetic field.

Diabetes powerfully associated with premature coronary heart disease in women
To understand what factors put younger individuals at higher risk of premature coronary heart disease, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Mayo Clinic analyzed more than 50 risk factors in 28,024 women who participated in the decades-long Women's Health Study. Notably, women under 55 with type-2 diabetes had a tenfold greater risk of having CHD over the next two decades, with lipoprotein insulin resistance proving to be a strong, predictive biomarker as well.

Mayo Clinic study indicates age influences sex-related outcomes after heart attack
Approximately 1.5 million heart attacks and strokes occur every year in men and women in the US Sex and age play a large part in who experiences a heart attack, the methods used to treat these heart attacks, and the eventual post hospital outcomes of the people who experience heart attacks. Mayo Clinic researchers discuss these sex and age differences in study findings published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Methamphetamine overdose deaths rise sharply nationwide
Methamphetamine overdose deaths surged in an eight-year period in the United States, according to a study published today in JAMA Psychiatry. The analysis revealed rapid rises across all racial and ethnic groups, but American Indians and Alaska Natives had the highest death rates overall. The research was conducted at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health.

An anode-free zinc battery that could someday store renewable energy
Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, could help decrease the world's reliance on fossil fuels. But first, power companies need a safe, cost-effective way to store the energy for later use. Massive lithium-ion batteries can do the job, but they suffer from safety issues and limited lithium availability. Now, researchers reporting in ACS' Nano Letters have made a prototype of an anode-free, zinc-based battery that uses low-cost, naturally abundant materials.

New antifungal compound from ant farms
Attine ants are farmers, and they grow fungus as food. Pseudonocardia and Streptomyces bacteria are their farmhands, producing metabolites that protect the crop from pathogens. Surprisingly, these metabolites lack common structural features across bacteria from different geographic locations, even though the ants share a common ancestor. Now, researchers report in ACS Central Science they have identified the first shared antifungal compound among many of these bacteria across Brazil. The compound could someday have medical applications.

Rush researchers demonstrate success with new therapy for COVID-19
A new therapy developed by researchers at Rush University Medical Center is showing success as a way to prevent COVID-19 symptoms in mice.

Exploration of toxic Tiger Rattlesnake venom advances use of genetic science techniques
A team of researchers led by the University of South Florida has decoded the genome of the Tiger Rattlesnake, which has venom 40 times more toxic than that of Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes, the largest venomous snake in North America.

Protected areas vulnerable to growing emphasis on food security
New study shows croplands are prevalent in protected areas, challenging their efficacy in meeting conservation goals.

Appearance, social norms keep students off Zoom cameras
University researchers surveyed the 312 students found that while some students had concerns about the lack of privacy or their home environment, 41% of the 276 respondents cited their appearance, as their reason not to switch on their cameras on zoom.

Genome editing to treat human retinal degeneration
Gene editing therapies, including CRISPR-Cas systems, offer the potential to correct mutations causing inherited retinal degenerations, a leading cause of blindness. Technological advances in gene editing, continuing safety concerns, and strategies to overcome these challenges

Do simulations represent the real world at the atomic scale?
A multidisciplinary research team has developed a strategy to validate computer simulations of oxide/water interfaces at the atomic scale using X-ray reflectivity experiments. Such interfaces are key in many energy applications.

Constructing termite turrets without a blueprint
Following a series of studies on termite mound physiology and morphogenesis over the past decade, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have now developed a mathematical model to help explain how termites construct their intricate mounds.

How to train a robot (using AI and supercomputers)
Computer scientists from UT Arlington developed a deep learning method to create realistic objects for virtual environments that can be used to train robots. The researchers used TACC's Maverick2 supercomputer to train the generative adversarial network. The network is the first that can produce colored point clouds with fine details at multiple resolutions. The team presented their results at the International Conference on 3D Vision (3DV) in Nov. 2020.

Worker safety goes beyond human error
Disasters in high-risk industries can have catastrophic environmental, financial and human safety consequences. One way these industries help prevent and mitigate disasters is formal procedures designed to standardize how work is done. These procedures typically come in the form of a written document workers use while performing a task.

Unlocking 'the shape of water' in mechanisms of antibiotic resistance
Researchers captured and comparted hi-res images of ribosome structures from sensitive and resistant bacteria and report that a water molecule needed for antibiotic binding was not present in the ribosomes from the drug-resistant bugs.

Astronomers dissect the anatomy of planetary nebulae using Hubble Space Telescope images
Images of two iconic planetary nebulae taken by the Hubble Space Telescope are revealing new information about how they develop their dramatic features. Researchers from Rochester Institute of Technology and Green Bank Observatory presented new findings about the Butterfly Nebula (NGC 6302) and the Jewel Bug Nebula (NGC 7027) at the 237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021.

NASA explores solar wind with new view of small sun structures
Scientists have combined NASA data and cutting-edge image processing to gain new insight into the solar structures that create the Sun's flow of high-speed solar wind, detailed in new research published today in The Astrophysical Journal. This first look at relatively small features, dubbed "plumelets," could help scientists understand how and why disturbances form in the solar wind.

Even a small amount of gender bias in hiring can be costly to employers
Tiny amounts of gender bias in employee hiring decisions contribute to concerning rates of discrimination and productivity losses that together represent significant costs, financial and otherwise, for employers.

Land deals meant to improve food security may have hurt
Large-scale land acquisitions by foreign investors, intended to improve global food security, had little to no benefit, increasing crop production in some areas while simultaneously threatening local food security in others, according to Notre Dame researchers who studied their effects.

Individual and organizational capacity to change can reduce health care workforce burnout
New George Mason University Study finds that health care professionals with a greater personal ability to respond to change experienced lower rates of burnout when their work environments offered strong communication, teamwork, and leadership support. This is one of the first studies to explore the effect of individual and organizational capacity for change on burnout among health care professionals.

Fastener with microscopic mushroom design holds promise
A fastener with a microscopic design that looks like tiny mushrooms could mean advances for everyday consumers and scientific fields. Currently available fasteners are called hook and loop fasteners and require harder, stiff material. In Biointerphases, researchers describe a design that can use softer materials and still be strong. The team believes a 3D mushroom design can be made with softer, more flexible materials and provide sufficient interlocking force on the fabric and hold strong.

New COVID-19 model shows little benefit in vaccinating high-risk individuals first
Maurizio Porfiri, Institute Professor at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, led a team that developed a novel theory and simulation platform for modeling COVID spread over the entire town of New Rochelle, located in Westchester County in New York State. The paper, "High-Resolution Agent-Based Modeling of COVID-19 Spreading in a Small Town," published in Advanced Theory and Simulations, details the findings.

Light-controlled Higgs modes found in superconductors; potential sensor, computing uses
Iowa State University's Jigang Wang and a team of researchers have discovered a short-lived form of the famous Higgs boson -- subject of a groundbreaking search at the Large Hadron Collider -- within an iron-based superconductor. This Higgs mode can be accessed and controlled by laser light flashing on the superconductor at trillions of pulses per second.

Brain cell network supplies neurons with energy
Until recently, oligodendrocytes were primarily thought to be a kind of cellular insulating tape that accelerates the transmission of electrical signals in the brain. A study by the University of Bonn (Germany) now shows that they are also important for the energy supply of neurons in some brain regions. The findings are published in the journal Cell Reports.

5G doesn't cause COVID-19, but the rumor it does spread like a virus
Research team investigated how COVID-19 misinformation proliferated using the same epidemiological techniques for modeling disease transmission.

Counting elephants from space
For the first time, scientists have successfully used satellite cameras coupled with deep learning to count animals in complex geographical landscapes, taking conservationists an important step forward in monitoring populations of endangered species.

Where do our minds wander? Brain waves can point the way
Anyone who has tried and failed to meditate knows that our minds are rarely still. But where do they roam? New research led by the University of California, Berkeley, has come up with a way to track the flow of our internal thought processes and signal whether our minds are focused, fixated or wandering.

Disease threatens to decimate western bats
A four-year study recently published in Ecology and Evolution concludes that the fungal disease, white-nose syndrome, poses a severe threat to many western North American bats.

Researchers discover mechanism behind most severe cases of a common blood disorder
G6PD deficiency affects about 400M people worldwide and can pose serious health risks. Now, researchers think they've found the cause of the most severe cases, which could finally lead to treatments.

Fatty acid may help combat multiple sclerosis
The abnormal immune system response that causes multiple sclerosis (MS) by attacking and damaging the central nervous system can be triggered by the lack of a specific fatty acid in fat tissue, according to a new Yale study. The finding suggests that dietary change might help treat some people with the autoimmune disease.

New clues help explain why PFAS chemicals resist remediation
Chemicals used in firefighting foam and other products can last for decades in the environment, resisting efforts to remove them. New research suggest why that happens and new avenues for remediation.

Research news tip sheet: Story ideas from Johns Hopkins Medicine
In a study in mice and human cells, Johns Hopkins Medicine researchers say that they have developed a tiny, yet effective method for preventing premature birth. The vaginally delivered treatment contains nanosized (billionth of a meter) particles of drugs that easily penetrate the vaginal wall to reach the uterine muscles and prevent them from contracting. If proven effective in humans, the treatment could be one of the only clinical options available to prevent preterm labor. The FDA has recommended removing Makena (17-hydroxyprogesterone caproate), the only approved medicine for this purpose, from the market.

Study in twins identifies fecal microbiome differences in food allergies
A new study out of the University of Chicago and Stanford University on pairs of twins with and without food allergies has identified potential microbial players in this condition.

Canadian researchers create new form of cultivated meat
Researchers at Canada's McMaster University have developed a new form of cultivated meat using a method that promises more natural flavour and texture than other alternatives to traditional meat from animals.

Set clear rules for vaccinating health care workers against SARS-CoV-2
Provincial and territorial governments should set clear rules for vaccinating health care workers against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in public and private settings, and should not leave this task to employers, according to an analysis in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) https://www.cmaj.ca/content/cmaj/early/2021/01/19/cmaj.202755.full.pdf.

Scientists reveal structure of plants' energy generators
Researchers have revealed the first atomic structures of the respiratory apparatus that plants use to generate energy, according to a study published today in eLife.

New research finds connection: Inflammation, metabolism and scleroderma scarring
Study finds NAD+ break down leads to multi organ scarring, providing now a previously undiscovered pathogenic role of the enzyme CD38 in disease scarring.

A little friction goes a long way toward stronger nanotube fibers
Carbon nanotube fibers are not nearly as strong as the nanotubes they contain, but Rice University researchers are working to close the gap with a computational model that shows nanotube length and the friction between them are equal contributors.

Study finds COVID-19 attack on brain, not lungs, triggers severe disease in mice
Georgia State University biology researchers have found that infecting the nasal passages of mice with the virus that causes COVID-19 led to a rapid, escalating attack on the brain that triggered severe illness, even after the lungs were successfully clearing themselves of the virus.

Study identifies a nonhuman primate model that mimics severe COVID-19 similar to humans
Aged, wild-caught African green monkeys exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with clinical symptoms similar to those observed in the most serious human cases of COVID-19, report researchers in The American Journal of Pathology, published by Elsevier. This is the first study to show that African green monkeys can develop severe clinical disease after SARS-CoV-2 infection, suggesting that they may be useful models for the study of COVID-19 in humans.

With a little help from their friends, older birds breed successfully
The offspring of older animals often have a lower chance of survival because the parents are unable to take care of their young as well as they should. The Seychelles warbler is a cooperatively breeding bird species, meaning that parents often receive help when raising their offspring. A study led by biologists from the University of Groningen shows that the offspring of older females have better prospects when they are surrounded by helpers.

State responses, not federal, influenced rise in unemployment claims early in the pandemic
Early in the U.S. COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment claims were largely driven by state shutdown orders and the nature of a state's economy and not by the virus, according a new article by Georgia State University economists.

Mystery of Martian glaciers revealed
On Earth, glaciers covered wide swaths of the planet during the last Ice Age, which reached its peak about 20,000 years ago, before receding to the poles and leaving behind the rocks they pushed behind. On Mars, however, the glaciers never left, remaining frozen on the Red Planet's cold surface for more than 300 million years, covered in debris.

Moffitt researchers identify how cancer cells adapt to survive harsh tumor microenvironments
To better understand the conditions that select for the Warburg Effect and the mechanisms where cells can express this metabolic adaptation, Moffitt researchers subjected nonmalignant cells to the harsh tumor microenvironment that is present during early carcinogenesis, known as ductal carcinoma in situ. In a new research article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Moffitt team shows that these conditions select for cells to express a Warburg Effect.

A new carbon budget framework provides a clearer view of our climate deadlines
Nature's Communications Earth and Environment just published a paper by a group of researchers led by Damon Matthews in which they present a new framework for calculating the remaining carbon budget that is able to generate a much narrower estimate and its uncertainty. The researchers estimate that between 230 and 440 billion more tonnes of CO2 from 2020 onwards can be emitted into the atmosphere and still provide a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

Lack of physical exercise during COVID-19 confinement may lead to a rise in mortality
In a review article published in Frontiers of Endocrinology, Brazilian researchers estimate a reduction of 35% in levels of physical activity and a rise of 28% in sedentary behavior in the initial months of confinement imposed by the pandemic.

Research finds tiny bubbles tell tales of big volcanic eruptions
Microscopic bubbles can tell stories about Earth's biggest volcanic eruptions and geoscientists from Rice University and the University of Texas at Austin have discovered some of those stories are written in nanoparticles.

Scientists to global policymakers: Treat fish as food to help solve world hunger
Fish provide 17% of the animal protein consumed globally and are rich in micronutrients and essential fatty acids. In Ambio experts argue seeing fish in a food system perspective.

Routine thoracic surgery safe during COVID-19 pandemic
A study in the Journal of Thoracic Oncology (JTO) comparing surgeries performed at one Chinese hospital in 2019 with a similar date range during the COVID-19 pandemic found that routine thoracic surgery and invasive examinations were performed safely. The JTO is the official journal of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer.

Spike proteins of SARS-CoV-2 relatives can evolve against immune responses
Scientists have shown that two species of seasonal human coronavirus related to SARS-CoV-2 can evolve in certain proteins to escape recognition by the immune system, according to a study published today in eLife.

Light-induced twisting of Weyl nodes switches on giant electron current
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory and collaborators at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the University of Alabama at Birmingham have discovered a new light-induced switch that twists the crystal lattice of the material, switching on a giant electron current that appears to be nearly dissipationless.

Acidification impedes shell development of plankton off the US West Coast
Results from a 2016 research cruise show ocean acidification has interfered with shell development of zooplankton that are a critical part of the marine food web.

Specific genes increase the risk of bedwetting
In a large-scale study of Danish children and young people, researchers from Aarhus University have for the first time found genetic variants that increase the risk of nocturnal enuresis - commonly known as bedwetting or nighttime incontinence. The findings provide completely new insights into the processes in the body causing this widespread phenomenon.

Loss of smell is the best sign of COVID-19
Two international studies confirm that for the majority of patients with respiratory infections who lose the sense of smell, this is due to COVID-19. The disease also often results in both loss of taste and the other senses in the mouth. A researcher from Aarhus University has contributed to the new results.

Decoding breast milk to make better baby formula (video)
What makes breast milk so good for babies? In this episode of Reactions, our host, Sam, chats with chemist Steven Townsend, Ph.D., who's trying to figure out which sugar molecules in breast milk make it so unique and difficult to mimic.

Alcohols exhibit quantum effects
Skoltech scientists and their colleagues from the Russian Quantum Center revealed a significant role of nuclear quantum effects in the polarization of alcohol in an external electric field. The new research provides insight into the properties of liquid dielectrics. The core assumption of the model pertains to a novel understanding of dielectric polarization phenomena in polar liquids by means of nuclear quantum effects.

Dartmouth researchers pilot FLASH radiotherapy beam development for treatment of cancer
A team of researchers led by Dartmouth's and Dartmouth-Hitchcock's Norris Cotton Cancer Center has produced a 'FLASH' ultra-high-dose rate radiation therapy beam, demonstrating that such a beam can be achieved reversibly on a clinical linear accelerator and delivered to the patient treatment site. FLASH beam radiotherapy improves patient safety by protecting normal tissues from excess damage while still having the same treatment effect on tumor tissues.

How dietary choice influences lifespan in fruit flies
Having a choice of foods may accelerate aging and shorten the lifespan of fruit flies, according to a study published today in the open-access eLife journal.

Russian chemists developed polymer cathodes for ultrafast batteries
Russian researchers have synthesized and tested new polymer-based cathode materials for lithium dual-ion batteries. The tests showed that the new cathodes withstand up to 25,000 operating cycles and charge in a matter of seconds, thus outperforming lithium-ion batteries. The cathodes can also be used to produce less expensive potassium dual-ion batteries.

Fishing out the bad apples: Novel quantitative method to assess the safety of food
Histamine is a dangerous compound that occurs in spoiled food, such as mackerel, left at room temperature for too long. Unfortunately, existing histamine detection methods are inconvenient and expensive. To tackle this issue, a team of scientists from Chung-Ang University, Korea, has developed a novel histamine quantification strategy based on fluorescent carbon nanoparticles and histamine-binding peptides. Their approach is simple and inexpensive and allows one to efficiently assess food safety.

Loneliness hits young people harder during lockdown
People under 30 and people with a history of mental illness experience the highest levels of loneliness and anxiety during COVID-19 lockdown. Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and their international collaborators investigate how mental health is affected by the pandemic across Europe.

Geisinger research identifies genetic risk factor for stroke
A team of Geisinger researchers has identified a common genetic variant as a risk factor for stroke, especially in patients older than 65.

New biomaterials can be 'fine-tuned' for medical applications
Researchers in the UK and the United States have succeeded in 'fine tuning' a new thermoplastic biomaterial to enable both the rate at which it degrades in the body and its mechanical properties to be controlled independently.

Benvitimod cream: a new topical treatment for plaque psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition characterized by skin plaques and itching. Currently, the most common topical treatments for psoriasis are corticosteroids and vitamin D3 analogs. But these drugs have various side-effects. A recent phase III clinical trial of the novel non-steroidal compound benvitimod in China, published in Chinese Medical Journal, shows that it is safe and effective and could be a promising new topical treatment for psoriasis.

Report shows alcohol consumption linked to portion of cancer incidence and mortality
A new study finds that alcohol consumption accounts for a considerable portion of cancer incidence and mortality in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Genetic rewiring behind spectacular evolutionary explosion in East Africa
Genetic rewiring could have driven an evolutionary explosion in the shapes, sizes and adaptations of cichlid fish, in East Africa's answer to Darwin's Galapagos finches.

Drinking during COVID-19 up among people with anxiety and depression
People with anxiety and depression are more likely to report an increase in drinking during the COVID-19 pandemic than those without mental health issues, according to a new study by researchers at NYU School of Global Public Health.

Geisinger researchers find sex is not an independent risk factor for stroke mortality
An analysis of data collected from patients treated for ischemic stroke at Geisinger shows no disparity in outcomes based solely on sex.

Blockchain technology to optimize P2P energy trading
A research team of Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, has developed a new technology an original blockchain technology that can optimize peer-to-peer (P2P) energy trading. The technology is expected to contribute to more effective use of surplus electricity from renewable energy by creating trading environments that flexibly respond to shared trading needs, particularly to maximize the amount of surplus electricity available in the market at any given time.

Experimental evidence of an intermediate state of matter between a crystal and a liquid
Scientists from the Joint Institute for High Temperatures Russian Academy of Sciences (JIHT RAS) and Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) have experimentally confirmed the presence of an intermediate phase between the crystalline and liquid states in a monolayer dusty plasma system.

New study shows correlation between teen obesity and mental health issues
Half of all young people treated for severe obesity have neuropsychiatric problems, according to a new study by researchers from Lund University and Gothenburg, Sweden, among others. Two thirds of the teens suffered from some type of mental health problem, as reported by themselves or their parents.

Story tips: Volcanic microbes, unbreakable bonds and flood mapping
ORNL story tips: Volcanic microbes, unbreakable bonds and flood mapping

Improving long-term climate calculations
Climate researchers have found a simple but efficient way to improve estimations of ultimate global warming from complex climate models. The finding is relevant for the evaluation and comparison of climate models and thus for accurate projections of future climate change - especially beyond the year 2100.

Psychological well-being declined during second wave of the pandemic - especially for men
Our psychological well-being follows the rise and fall of the infection rate, but whereas psychological well-being fell most for women during the spring lockdown, it is men who are hardest hit during the second wave. This is shown by a new study from Aarhus University, Denmark.

Aphids suck: Invasive aphid found on Danish apple trees
The spirea aphid, Aphis spiraecola, an invasive pest, has been discovered for the first time in Denmark by University of Copenhagen researchers. The extent of its current distribution remains unknown, but in time, it could prove to be a troublesome pest for Danish apple growers.

Rescuers at risk: emergency personnel face trauma and post traumatic stress symptoms
Researchers at the University of Bern's Hospital of Psychiatry have for the first time, demonstrated varying levels of post-traumatic stress symptoms (PTSS) in emergency personnel and rescue workers, with emergency department and psychiatry department staff demonstrating the highest levels of PTSS, suicidal thoughts and dysfunctional coping strategies. The study highlights the urgent need for job-specific training to improve emergency workers' quality of life and ability to cope with work-related trauma.

A sea of rubbish: ocean floor landfills
The Messina Strait, a submarine bridge separating the island of Sicily from the Italian Peninsula, is the area with the largest marine litter density worldwide -more than a million objects per square kilometre in some parts-, as reported in a new review paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

New method heals skeletal injuries with synthetic bone
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden, in collaboration with colleagues in Dresden, Germany, have developed a way of combining a bone substitute and drugs to regenerate bone and heal severe fractures in the thigh or shin bone. The study, published in the research journal Science Advances, was conducted on rats, but the researchers think that the method in various combinations will soon be commonplace in clinical settings.

Clocking electron movements inside an atom
Hard X-ray free-electron lasers (XFELs) have delivered intense, ultrashort X-ray pulses for over a decade. One of the most promising applications of XFELs is in biology, where researchers can capture images down to the atomic scale even before the radiation damage destroys the sample. In physics and chemistry, these X-rays can also shed light on the fastest processes occurring in nature with a shutter speed lasting only one femtosecond - equivalent to a millionth of a billionth of a second.

New biodegradable polyurethane foams are developed from wheat straw
The polyurethane foams have several industrial uses. Now, a new paper, published on the front page of Polymers, was able to obtain them from biomass in order to avoid using petroleum by-products in their manufacturing

Solar activity reconstructed over a millennium
An international team of researchers led by ETH Zurich has reconstructed solar activity back to the year 969 using measurements of radioactive carbon in tree rings. Those results help scientists to better understand the dynamics of the sun and allow more precise dating of organic materials using the C14 method.

How drain flies dodge a washout
Shower spray is like water off a duck's back to bathroom flies.

Ultra-small nanomedicines which stably deliver oligonucleotides to refractory cancers
Ultra-small nanomedicines with a size of ca. 18 nm were fabricated by dynamic ion-pairing between Y-shaped block copolymers and oligonucleotide drugs. Chemically modified and double-stranded oligonucleotides dramatically enhanced the stability of the ultra-small nanomedicines in the bloodstream. The size allows for high permeability in cancer tissues by slipping through the cracks in tumor vasculatures and stromal tissues. Clinical trials and preclinical studies using the developed ultra-small nanomedicines are proceeding for refractory cancer therapies.

Prenatal BPA exposure may contribute to the male bias of autism spectrum disorder
Autism has a higher prevalence in males than females. Bisphenol A (BPA) is a common chemical found in plastics, our food, and even the human placenta. Higher prenatal exposure to BPA is thought to increase the risk of autism. Researchers have, for the first time, identified autism candidate genes that may be responsible for the sex-specific effects of BPA.

Single-cell test can reveal precisely how drugs kill cancer cells
Researchers from the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have developed a method named D2O-probed CANcer Susceptibility Test Ramanometry (D2O-CANST-R) to see, at single-cell/organelle level, how pharmaceuticals induce cancer cell death and how cancer cells adapt.

Online courses reinforce inequalities
With the global student community taking online courses, a study (UNIGE) reveals that online courses deepen inequalities between gifted and less gifted students by 5%. The results of the study, which was based on data collected in 2016-2017 prior to the anti-Covid lockdown initiatives. They indicate that this learning gap between different student profiles is mainly due to their behaviour and motivation.

ALS study reveals a unique population
The secrets long hidden in the DNA of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) living in Malta have been unlocked, according to a new study in the European Journal of Human Genetics by an international team of researchers led by the University of Malta.

Mental health conditions alarmingly high among children with autism
Nearly 78 per cent of children with autism have at least one mental health condition and nearly half have more than that. Mental health conditions were present in 44.8 per cent of pre-school age children with autism--a group among which prevalence had not previously been established using a large, population-based sample. Only 14.1 per cent of children without autism (ages 3-17) had mental health conditions.

 

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