Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (2020)

Science news and science current events archive 2020.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from 2020

Tokyo's voluntary standstill may have stopped COVID-19 in its tracks
Research shows that Japan's noncompulsory state of emergency generally succeeded in reducing human movement. A study from The University of Tokyo Institute of Industrial Science used mobile phone location data for January-April 2020 to record and plot movement of people in metro Tokyo during the emergence and first wave of COVID-19. They found a movement reduction of over 50%, which in turn limited social contact and slowed infection spread.

Study reveals strategy to create COVID-19 drugs to inhibit virus's entry and replication
A new study offers insight into designing antiviral drugs against COVID-19 by showing that some existing compounds can inhibit both the main protease (Mpro), a key viral protein required for SARS-CoV-2 replication inside human cells, and the lysosomal protease cathepsin L, a human protein important for viral entry into host cells.

People of Black and Asian ethnicity up to twice as likely to be infected with COVID-19 as those of White ethnicity
People of Black ethnicity are twice as likely to be infected with COVID-19 compared to those of White ethnicity. People from Asian backgrounds are 1.5 times more likely to become infected with the virus compared to White individuals. Those of Asian ethnicities may be at higher risk of admission to an intensive therapy unit (ITU) and death.

UMD researchers use artificial intelligence language tools to decode molecular movements
University of Maryland researchers used language processing AI to turn molecular movements into stories that reveal what forms a protein can take and how and when it changes form--key information for understanding disease and developing targeted therapeutics. This research appears in the October 09, 2020, issue of Nature Communications.

Do neural networks dream visual illusions?
This is the question studied by researchers at the Department of Information and Communication Technologies, led by Marcelo Bertalmío together with Jesús Malo, a researcher at the University of Valencia. The results of their research are published in the advanced online edition Vision Research.

Minority patients with rheumatic diseases have worse COVID-19 outcomes
New research at ACR Convergence, the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting, reveals that people of color with rheumatic disease have worse health outcomes from COVID-19 infection, are more likely to be hospitalized to treat their coronavirus infection, and are more likely to require invasive ventilator treatment.

Study shows disadvantaged communities may get overlooked for climate adaptation funding
While extreme heat threatens the wellbeing of people all over the world, a new study from scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science found that some disadvantaged communities in California could be overlooked for state climate adaptation funds.

A better test for the tumor-targeting of CAR-T therapies
Ludwig Cancer Research scientists have developed a method to significantly improve the preclinical evaluation of chimeric antigen-receptor (CAR) T cell therapies, in which the immune system's T cells are extracted from a patient, engineered to target a specific tumor-associated molecule and then grown and reinfused for cancer treatment.

Paleogenomics -- the prehistory of modern dogs
An international team of scientists has used ancient DNA samples to elucidate the population history of dogs. The results show that dogs had already diverged into at least five distinct lineages by about 11,000 years ago and that their early population history only partially reflects that of human groups.

Optimizing the design of new materials
A new approach developed by Professors James Rondinelli and Wei Chen combines statistical inference, optimization theory, and computational materials physics to design new materials without large amounts of existing data.

Machine learning model helps characterize compounds for drug discovery
Purdue University innovators have created a new method of applying machine learning concepts to the tandem mass spectrometry process to improve the flow of information in the development of new drugs.

Seeing dark matter in a new light
A small team of astronomers have found a new way to 'see' the elusive dark matter haloes that surround galaxies, with a new technique 10 times more precise than the previous-best method. The work is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Study dives into genetic risk of Alzheimer's and dementia for diverse Latinx groups
To better understand the association of the APOE gene with cognitive decline in Latinx populations, researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital and collaborators analyzed metrics of cognitive decline in six diverse Latinx populations: those of Cuban, Central American, Dominican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and South American backgrounds. They found that the APOE-ε4 genetic variant was associated with risk of cognitive decline in Latinx populations, with the strongest effect among those of Cuban backgrounds.

Final dance of unequal black hole partners
Lousto and James Healy (both of Rochester Institute of Technology) used the Frontera supercomputer to model for the first time a black hole merger of two black holes with very different sizes (128:1). The research required seven months of constant computation. The results, published in Physical Review Letters, predicts the gravitational waves such a merger would produce, as well as characteristics of the resulting merged black hole.

Years of life lost associated with school closures during COVID-19
Potential years of life lost among U.S. primary school-age children associated with school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic are estimated in this decision analytical model.

Steroid injections do not hasten the need for knee replacement
New research shows that corticosteroid injections for knee OA treatment do not hasten a patient's progression to a total knee replacement when compared with hyaluronic acid injections. Details of this study was presented at ACR Convergence, the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting.

Conversation quickly spreads droplets inside buildings
With implications for the transmission of diseases like COVID-19, researchers have found that ordinary conversation creates a conical 'jet-like' airflow that quickly carries a spray of tiny droplets from a speaker's mouth across meters of an interior space.

Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy may increase blood pressure in early life
Researchers study the impact on childhood blood pressure of pre- and post-natal exposure to environmental factors such as pollution, noise, and a dense built environment.

Photopharmacology -- light-gated control of the cytoskeleton
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet (LMU) in Munich researchers have developed photoresponsive derivatives of the anticancer drug Taxol®, which allow light-based control of cytoskeleton dynamics in neurons. The agents can optically pattern cell division and may elucidate how Taxol acts.

New insights into 3D printing of spacers and membranes
To also address the controversies on the feasibility of 3D printing for membranes, researchers from SUTD and NTU have coined a new term 'hybrid additive manufacturing' for the water treatment industry.

Two-birds-one-stone strategy shows promise in RNA-repeat expansion diseases
A new strategy for treating a variety of diseases known as RNA-repeat expansion disorders, which affect millions of people, has shown promise in proof-of-principle tests conducted by scientists at Scripps Research.

In mice, cadmium exposure during pregnancy linked to obesity in female offspring
In a mouse study aimed at modeling human exposure to the toxic metal cadmium, researchers found that female offspring of mice exposed to cadmium during pregnancy became obese in adulthood, developed fatty livers and could not process glucose normally. Male offspring were not affected in the same way. The study also sheds light on how cadmium exposure could affect mitochondrial function and developmental signaling pathways in the liver.

Early-life events linked to lung health in young adulthood
Early-life events, such as the exposure to air pollutants, increases the risk of chronic lung disease in young adulthood, according to new results by researchers at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, published in the European Respiratory Journal and Thorax. The studies add to the growing evidence that chronic lung disease in adulthood can be traced back to childhood.

Investigating optical activity under an external magnetic field
A new study published in EPJ B by Chengping Yin, Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Quantum Engineering and Quantum Materials, South China, aims to derive an analytical model of optical activity in black phosphorous under an external magnetic field.

Children with Kawasaki Disease at higher risk for heart problems 10 years later
New research shows that children with Kawasaki Disease remain at an increased risk for cardiovascular events more than 10 years after hospitalization for their condition, highlighting the need for long-term heart disease surveillance and risk reduction strategies for these young patients. Details of the study was presented at ACR Convergence, the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting .

Therapeutic drug monitoring does not improve remission for patients starting infliximab
New research presented at ACR Convergence, the American College Rheumatology's annual meeting, showed that patients with rheumatic diseases whose infliximab treatment was individually assessed and adjusted with a new strategy called therapeutic drug monitoring did not achieve remission at higher rates compared to those who received standard care.

Social distancing may have saved more than 59,000 u.s. Lives if implemented two weeks earlier
Implementing social distancing, business closures, and other non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) in the U.S. two weeks sooner, during the earliest stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, may have

Telemedicine reduces cancellations for care during COVID in large Ohio heath center
New research shows that expanded use of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic improved cancellation rates in one large Ohio health system.

Osteoporosis is underdiagnosed and undertreated in older men
A new study reveals that many older men who experience a fracture are still underdiagnosed with and undertreated for osteoporosis. Details of the study was presented at ACR Convergence, the American College Rheumatology's annual meeting.

Personalized drug screens could guide treatment for children with brain cancer
Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Hopp Children's Cancer Center Heidelberg (KiTZ) have demonstrated that personalized drug screens can be used to identify new therapeutic candidates for medulloblastoma. The approach measures the effectiveness of therapeutics using tumor cells obtained from a biopsy and can be performed in a few days--making it one of the quickest sources of information used in clinical decision-making.

Reducing dementia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis
The incidence of dementia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis is lower in patients receiving biologic or targeted synthetic disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) than in patients who receive conventional synthetic DMARDs, according to a new study. The study was presented at the virtual annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.

A new candidate material for quantum spin liquids
Using a unique material, EPFL scientists have been able to design and study an unusual state of matter, the Quantum Spin Liquid. The work has significant implications for future technologies, from quantum computing to superconductivity and spintronics.

New RA guideline emphasizes maximizing methotrexate and biologics, minimizing steroids
The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) will preview its 2020 Guideline for the Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) at ACR Convergence, the ACR's annual meeting.

New juvenile idiopathic arthritis guideline emphasizes disease-modifying treatments
The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) will preview the 2021 Guideline for the Treatment of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis at ACR Convergence, the ACR's annual meeting.

Safe pregnancy is possible for women with interstitial lung disease
A new study shows that women with interstitial lung disease (ILD) related to autoimmune disease may not need to terminate their pregnancies--despite the increased risk of adverse outcomes--provided they have close monitoring from their team of multidisciplinary physicians before, during and after pregnancy. Results of the research was presented at ACR Convergence, the American College of Rheumatology's annual meeting.

Changes in birth rates after elimination of cost sharing for contraception
Researchers assessed changes in birth rates by income level among commercially insured women before and after the elimination of cost sharing for contraception under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Why consumers think pretty food is healthier
People tend to think that pretty-looking food is healthier (e.g., more nutrients, less fat) and more natural (e.g., purer, less processed) than ugly-looking versions of the same food.

Cancer researchers train white blood cells to attacks tumor cells
Scientists at the National Center for Tumor Diseases Dresden (NCT/UCC) and Dresden University Medicine, together with an international team of researchers, were able to demonstrate that certain white blood cells, so-called neutrophil granulocytes, can potentially - after completing a special training program -- be utilized for the treatment of tumors. The scientists published their results in the renowned specialist journal Cell.

Game 'pre-bunks' political misinformation by letting players undermine democracy
An online game helps ''inoculate'' players against fake news by showing them how political misinformation is created and circulated. Launched today, Harmony Square has been created by Cambridge University psychologists with support from US Department of Homeland Security. Accompanying study shows that a single play reduces the perceived reliability of misinformation in users.

Invisible threat: Listeria in smoked fish
Fish should be a regular component of our diets. It is an important source of biologically high-quality and easily digestible protein, minerals and vitamins. However, raw, smoked and cured fish products also often contain pathogenic germs, notably listeria. People can become infected by eating contaminated food and become ill with listeriosis.

Global food production poses an increasing climate threat
According to the authors of a new study published in Nature, rising nitrous oxide emissions are putting reaching climate goals and the objectives of the Paris Agreement in jeopardy.

Study projects more rainfall in Florida during flooding season
A new study by researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science projects an increase in Florida's late summertime rainfall with rising Atlantic Ocean temperatures.

Plastics and rising CO2 levels could pose combined threat to marine environment
An international team of scientists found that after three weeks of being submerged in the ocean, the bacterial diversity on plastic bottles was twice as great as on samples collected from the surrounding seawater

Researchers simulate privacy leaks in functional genomics studies
In a study publishing November 12 in the journal Cell, a team of investigators demonstrates that it's possible to de-identify raw functional genomics data to ensure patient privacy. They also demonstrate how these raw data could be linked back to specific individuals through their gene variants by something as simple as an abandoned coffee cup if these sanitation measures are not put in place.

Researchers find connection between household chemicals and gut microbiome
A team of researchers for the first time has found a correlation between the levels of bacteria and fungi in the gastrointestinal tract of children and the amount of common chemicals found in their home environment. The work, published this month in Environmental Science and Technology Letters, could lead to better understanding of how these semi-volatile organic compounds may affect human health.

These spiders can hear
Ogre-faced spiders hide during the day and hunt by night, dangling from palm fronds and casting nets on insects. Researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology on October 29 have discovered that they can hear their predators and prey, using specialized receptors to pick up sounds from at least 2 meters away. The results suggest that spiders can hear low frequency sounds from insect prey as well as higher frequency sounds from bird predators.

Brain metastases cause severe brain damage that can be inhibited by treatment
By using a specific treatment to override this activation, the researchers were able to return cerebrovascular flow to healthy levels. This improvement in blood flow around the metastases can limit the neurological deterioration associated with the progression of this disease and improve the otherwise poor life expectancy of these patients.

New maps document big-game migrations across the western United States
For the first time, state and federal wildlife biologists have come together to map the migrations of ungulates across America's West. The maps will help land managers and conservationists pinpoint actions necessary to keep migration routes open and functional to sustain healthy big-game populations.

'Electronic skin' promises cheap and recyclable alternative to wearable devices
Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder are developing a wearable electronic device that's 'really wearable'--a stretchy and fully-recyclable circuit board that's inspired by, and sticks onto, human skin.

Rapid changes in biomarker of inflammation may be a key predictor of COVID-19 outcomes
Brigham and Women's Hospital researchers analyzed patients' levels of inflammation, known to be associated with severity of illness, by looking at C-reactive protein (CRP) trends in 100 COVID-19 patients admitted to the hospital. They found that a rapid rise in CRP levels during the first 48-to-72 hours of hospitalization was predictive of subsequent respiratory deterioration and intubation, while steadier CRP levels were observed in patients whose condition remained stable.

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