Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (April 2017)

Science news and science current events archive April, 2017.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from April 2017

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past
Ice cores drilled from a glacier in a cave in Transylvania offer new evidence of how Europe's winter weather and climate patterns fluctuated during the last 10,000 years, known as the Holocene period.

Analysis: Gender differences in depression appear at age 12
An analysis just published online has broken new ground by finding gender differences in both symptoms and diagnoses of depression appearing at age 12.

Bare bones: Making bones transparent
A new bone clearing technique is a breakthrough for testing osteoporosis drugs.

TGen-HonorHealth study: High rate of tumor shrinkage among pancreatic cancer patients
Adding cisplatin to standard gemcitabine/nab-paclitaxel drug treatment provided a very high rate of tumor shrinkage for patients with advanced pancreatic cancer, according to the results of a pilot clinical trial conducted by the HonorHealth Research Institute and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). These statistically significant and clinically meaningful improvements in overall response and survival rates resulted from a phase Ib/II clinical study performed at the HonorHealth Research Institute, a partnership of HonorHealth and TGen.

Extinction risk for many species vastly underestimated, study suggests
A new study indicates that the number of plant and animal species at risk of extinction may be considerably higher than previously thought. A team of researchers, however, believe they've come up with a formula that will help paint a more accurate picture.

Chemotherapy drug may increase vulnerability to depression
A chemotherapy drug used to treat brain cancer may increase vulnerability to depression by stopping new brain cells from growing, according to a new King's College London study out today in Translational Psychiatry.

Growing body of evidence supports use of mind-body therapies in breast cancer treatment
In newly updated clinical guidelines from the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO), researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and colleagues analyzed which integrative treatments are most effective and safe for patients with breast cancer. This systematic review adds to the growing literature on integrative therapies for patients with breast cancer and other cancer populations.

By listening to optical 'noise,' researchers discover new way to track hidden objects
Researchers have developed a new solution to tracking objects hidden behind scattering media by analyzing the fluctuations in optical 'noise' created by their movement. The approach could help fill in the gaps where LIDAR and other line-of-sight based methods fall short, advancing remote sensing and biomedical applications.

Children at greater risk for complications from brown recluse spider bites
Medical complications of brown recluse spider bites are uncommon but they can be severe, particularly in children, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) reported today.

High-speed images capture archer fish's rocket-like launch
MIT engineers have detailed the hydrodynamics of the archer fish's rocket-like jumping behavior in a paper published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Researchers unlock an immunity 'black box'
Mapping the biological machinery of the inflammatory skin disease neutrophilic dermatosis offers multiple targets for treating inflammatory disorders.

Zinc supply affects cardiac health
In addition to essential metabolic functions, the level of zinc in the body also affects the heart muscle. When oxidative stress occurs, it may be due to a shortage of zinc, which can be determined by examining the heart muscle. A study by the Technical University of Munich (TUM) shows the relationship between the total amount of zinc in the body and cardiac function.

Nuclease-resistant hybrid nanoflowers
An eco-friendly method to synthesize DNA-copper nanoflowers with high load efficiencies, low cytotoxicity, and strong resistance against nucleases has been developed by Professor Hyun Gyu Park in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and his collaborators.

Defects in epithelial tissue organization -- A question of life or death
Researchers from the Mechanobiology Institute, Singapore at the National University of Singapore have discovered the primary mechanism driving the extrusion of dying cells from epithelial monolayers.

US streams carry surprisingly extensive mixture of pollutants
Many US waterways carry a variety of pollutants, but not much is known about the composition or health effects of these chemical combinations. A new in-depth study, however, is providing insight as it shows the mixtures are more complex than expected and contain compounds that could potentially harm aquatic species. They say the findings, reported this week in Environmental Science & Technology, could have implications for human health.

Precision chronology sheds new light on the origins of Mongolia's nomadic horse culture
According to new research, nomadic horse culture -- famously associated with Genghis Khan and his Mongol hordes -- can trace its roots back more than 3,000 years in the eastern Eurasian Steppes, in the territory of modern Mongolia.

Different breast cancer treatment options vary widely in their cost-effectiveness
A new study published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute indicates that different therapies for early-stage breast cancer have very different relative values. Some therapies may have fewer complications and be much less expensive than others. Women may be making treatment decisions based on factors other than medical value.

DNA misspelling correction method is very accurate
IBS scientists prove that a gene editing technique used for substituting a single nucleotide in the genome is highly accurate.

Diamonds coupled using quantum physics
Researchers at TU Wien have succeeded in coupling the specific defects in two such diamonds with one another. This is an important prerequisite for the development of new applications, such as highly sensitive sensors and switches for quantum computers.

Performance of the RegCM4 regional climate model over China
The RegCM series of models are widely used throughout the world and in China. Applications range from paleo and present-day climate simulation, to mechanistic analyses, studies of atmospheric chemistry and aerosols, and climate change projections. Recently, a long-term simulation was conducted with the corporation of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the National Climate Center of the China Meteorological Administration, and other institutes, to evaluate its performances in China.

Moderate changes in Indian diets could benefit both health and the environment
Moderate changes to typical Indian diets could help to 'future proof' the Indian food system against the predicted decline in availability of groundwater over the coming decades, according to new research.

New rice fights off drought
Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science (CSRS) have developed strains of rice that are resistant to drought in real-world situations. Published in Plant Biotechnology Journal, the study reports that transgenic rice modified with a gene from the Arabidopsis plant yield more rice than unmodified rice when subjected to stress brought by natural drought.

Robot epigenetics: Adding complexity to embodied robot evolution
For the first time, researchers in the field of evolutionary robotics have used physically embodied robots to study epigenetic effects on robot evolution. The study confirms the great importance of taking epigenetic factors into account and provides a conceptual and physical methodology for this type of research.

What do electrolytes actually do? (video)
Sports drink commercials love talking about them, but what are electrolytes and what happens if we don't have enough? Electrolytes are salts that we need in our body. They help control the movement of water in our cells along with vital nerve pulses. Sweating is one way you lose electrolytes. This video reveals the ins and outs of electrolytes and whether you should reach for a sports drink after running around the block. Find out in the latest Reactions video.

Earth's little garbage people? (video)
If you're enjoying some tasty food today you probably owe a little thanks to earthworms. How is it that these detritivores help make beloved compost? Like when we digest food, it's all chemistry, but earthworms have an extra enzyme that means they can eat materials not found in human diets. Yet all this powerful chemistry means not everyone sees earthworms as the greatest creature to crawl -- find out all the dirt in the latest Reactions video here: https://youtu.be/2Pa1FwmKZcQ.

Gunshot injuries occur primarily in Miami-Dade's poor, black neighborhoods
Gunshot wound injuries in Miami-Dade County are clustered in predominantly poor, black neighborhoods, according to a new study from the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

Study on impact of climate change on snowpack loss in Western US
An international team of scientists, including one from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, has found that up to 20 percent loss in the annual maximum amount of water contained in the Western United States' mountain snowpack in the last three decades is due to human influences.

Termite gut holds a secret to breaking down plant biomass
In the Microbial Sciences Building at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the incredibly efficient eating habits of a fungus-cultivating termite are surprising even to those well acquainted with the insect's natural gift for turning wood to dust.

3-D-printed model of stenotic intracranial artery enables vessel-wall MRI standardization
A phantom of a stenotic artery 3-D-printed by the University of Massachusetts using imaging sequences from a patient at the Medical University of South Carolina is enabling a global collaborative of US, Canadian and Chinese researchers to standardize high-resolution MRI protocols for intracranial atherosclerotic disease, the number one cause of stroke worldwide. This work sets the stage for using high-resolution MRI to assess stroke risk and for conducting multisite clinical trials of new therapies.

Suppressing single protein greatly extends life span of mice with form of ALS, study shows
A study led by researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine has revealed a possible new therapeutic approach for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease.

Algal residue -- an alternative carbon resource for pharmaceuticals and polyesters
Researchers at Tokyo Institute of Technology found that algal residue, the leftover material after extracting oil from algae for biofuel, can be used to produce key industrial chemicals.

Florida manatees likely to persist for at least 100 years -- US Geological Survey
Florida's manatee population is highly likely to endure for the next 100 years, a study by the US Geological Survey and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute has found.

Environmental DNA helps protect great crested newts
Research by the University of Kent has revealed how tiny amounts of DNA (eDNA) released into water by great crested newts can be used to monitor the species. This can bring benefits for its conservation, and help protect great crested newts from major construction projects. It has also revealed, for the first time, how great crested newt eDNA varies throughout the year in relation to population size and environmental factors.

Two new species of orchids discovered in Okinawa
Two new species of parasitic plants have been discovered on the main island of Okinawa, Japan, and named Gastrodia nipponicoides and Gastrodia okinawensis. Details of these findings were published online in Phytotaxa on April 7.

Exploring association between reduced HPV infection and genetic variations in Western Asia
New research provides an insight into why cervical cancer is less common in certain regions of the world even though they may have limited screening and fewer or no prevention programs. Though the preliminary findings, published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, don't rule out a cultural explanation or other reasons, they explore how genetic factors may also help explain this trend.

Food webs entangle humans in complex relationships with animals, crops and the environment
Reconstructed food webs from the Ancestral Puebloan southwestern United States show the complexity and interconnectedness of humans, other animals, crops and the environment, in an area of uncertain climate and resources, according to researchers, who think climate change and human decisions then, may shed light on future human choices.

Homing system delivers drugs to specific neurons
Biomedical engineers have developed a way to deliver drugs to specific types of neurons in the brain, providing an unprecedented ability to study neurological diseases while promising a more targeted way to treat them.

Physicists develop ultrathin superconducting film
Experimental physicists in the research group led by Professor Uwe Hartmann at Saarland University have developed a thin nanomaterial with superconducting properties. Below about -200 °C these materials conduct electricity without loss, levitate magnets and can screen magnetic fields. The particularly interesting aspect of this work is that the research team has succeeded in creating superconducting nanowires that can be woven into an ultra-thin film that is as flexible as cling film.

UN-backed report: Record new renewable power capacity added worldwide at lower cost
As clean technology costs continue to fall, the world added record levels of renewable energy capacity in 2016, at an investment level 23 percent lower than 2015, new UN-backed research shows. Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2017 finds that wind, solar and other renewables added 138GW to global power capacity in 2016, up 8 percent from 2015. The added capacity roughly equals that of the world's 16 largest existing power producing facilities combined.

'Dose sparing' flu vaccine could boost productivity and vaccine availability
The currently licensed seasonal trivalent influenza vaccines contain 15 micrograms of viral hemagglutinin protein per strain for adults, and up to 60 micrograms for elderly individuals; however, due to recent shortages, reducing these doses would be highly desirable. A recent study has found that significant dose sparing is possible with the use of whole virion vaccines and aluminum adjuvants, without compromising safety.

Sex obsession a killer for male snakes
Snake orgy research by an international team of scientists led from Sydney has confirmed a frenzied approach to the mating season is resulting in males ageing faster and dying earlier and in worse condition than their female counterparts, who prioritize body maintenance over short-term reproductive success.

Cow's milk interferes with absorption of thyroid supplement levothyroxine
Taking the common oral thyroid hormone medication levothyroxine with a glass of cow's milk significantly decreases the body's ability to absorb the drug, a preliminary study finds. Results will be presented Sunday at ENDO 2017, the Endocrine Society's 99th annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Study examines state of social, personality psychology research
University of Illinois at Chicago researchers conducted two studies to examine the state and quality of social and personality research and how practices have changed, if at all.

Bullies and their victims more likely to want plastic surgery
11.5 percent of bullying victims have extreme desire to have cosmetic surgery, as well as 3.4 percent of bullies and 8.8 percent of teenagers who both bully and are bullied -- compared with less than 1 percent of those who are unaffected by bullying.

Seabird parents compensate for struggling partners
For species where both parents work together to raise their offspring, cooperation is key -- it's as true for birds as it is for us! A new study from The Auk: Ornithological Advances shows how pairs of Common Murres update each other on their condition so that when one partner needs a break, the other can pick up the slack.

Revolutionary method reveals impact of short circuits on battery safety
How lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries behave under short-circuit conditions can now be examined using a new approach developed by a UCL-led team to help improve reliability and safety.

Children conceived after fertility treatments are at increased risk for pediatric cancers
'The research concludes that the association between IVF and total pediatric neoplasms and malignancies is significant,' Prof. Sheiner says. 'With increasing numbers of offspring conceived after fertility treatments, it is important to follow up on their health.'

A CSIC scientist discovers that wax worms eat plastic
A research scientist at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), Federica Bertocchini, has discovered that wax worms (Galleria mellonella), which usually feed on honey and wax from the honeycombs of bees, are capable of degrading plastic. The discovery has been patented by the research scientists. The CSIC scientist worked on this research with Paolo Bombelli and Chris Howe from the University of Cambridge. The paper will be published in the next issue of Current Biology.

NASA satellite animation shows Tropical Storm Arlene 'eaten' by weather system
An animation created by NASA using imagery from NOAA's GOES-East satellite shows the North Atlantic Ocean's first tropical storm of the season being

Totally bizarre facts about the star-nosed mole
In a new synthesis of anatomy research, scientists showcase the surprising, record-breaking and just plain weird adaptations of the star-nosed mole. The animal eats faster and sports a more sensitive touch organ than any other mammal, is the first mammal known to smell underwater and offers fascinating insights about the brain-body interface.

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