Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (April 2019)

Science news and science current events archive April, 2019.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from April 2019

Life on Mars?
Researchers from Hungary have discovered embedded organic material in a Martian meteorite found in the late 1970s. The scientists were able to determine the presence of organic matter in mineralized form such as different forms of bacteria within the meteorite, suggesting that life could have existed on the Red Planet.

Maintenance therapy with rucaparib shows clinical responses in a subgroup of patient with pancreatic cancer
Maintenance treatment with the PARP inhibitor rucaparib (Rubraca) was well tolerated and provided clinical responses among patients with advanced BRCA- or PALB2-mutated pancreatic cancer sensitive to platinum-based chemotherapy, according to results from an interim analysis of an ongoing phase II clinical trial presented at the AACR Annual Meeting 2019, March 29-April 3.

Lots of patients with cancer, cancer survivors use but don't report complementary/alternative medicine therapies
This study used data from a nationwide survey to estimate how many patients with cancer and cancer survivors use complementary and alternative medicines (CAMS) in addition to or instead of conventional therapies, and how many don't disclose that to their physicians.

Tipping the scales
Human cells have a sophisticated regulatory system at their disposal: labeling proteins with the small molecule ubiquitin. In a first, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has succeeded in marking proteins with ubiquitin in a targeted manner, in test tubes as well as in living cells. The procedure opens the door to exploring the inner workings of this vital regulatory system.

Insulin insights
Insulin triggers genome-wide changes in gene expression via an unexpected mechanism. The insulin receptor is transported from the cell surface to the cell nucleus, where it helps initiate the expression of thousands of genes. Targeted genes are involved in insulin-related functions and disease but surprisingly not carbohydrate metabolism. Findings outline a set of potential therapeutic targets for insulin-related diseases and establish a wide range of future avenues for the study of insulin signaling.

Microbiome science may help doctors deliver more effective, personalized treatment to children with irritable bowel syndrome
To improve the treatment of children with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), investigators have developed a sophisticated way to analyze the microbial and metabolic contents of the gut. A report in The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, published by Elsevier, describes how a new battery of tests enables researchers to distinguish patients with IBS from healthy children and identifies correlations between certain microbes and metabolites with abdominal pain. With this information, doctors envision tailoring nutritional and targeted therapies that address a child's specific gastrointestinal problems.

See and be seen
Physicists at the University of Konstanz were able to show that the formation of stable groups requires only few skills: forward visual perception over large distances and regulation of the speed according to the number of perceived individuals.

Artificial intelligence singles out neurons faster than a human can
Biomedical engineers at Duke University have developed an automated process that can track and map active neurons as accurately as a human can, but in a fraction of the time. This new technique, based on a deep learning algorithm, addresses a critical roadblock in neuron analysis, allowing researchers to rapidly gather and process neuronal signals for real-time behavioral studies.

Heads in the cloud: Scientists predict internet of thoughts 'within decades'
An international collaboration led by researchers at UC Berkeley and the US Institute for Molecular Manufacturing predicts that exponential progress in nanotechnology, nanomedicine, AI, and computation will lead this century to the development of a ''Human Brain/Cloud Interface'' (B/CI), that connects neurons and synapses in the brain to vast cloud-computing networks in real time.

Are you with me? New model explains origins of empathy
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute and the Santa Fe Institute have developed a new model to explain the evolutionary origins of empathy and other related phenomena, such as emotional contagion and contagious yawning. The model suggests that the origin of a broad range of empathetic responses lies in cognitive simulation.

Molecular target UNC45A is essential for cancer but not normal cell proliferation
Identifying a protein that plays a key role in cancer cell growth is a first step toward the development of a targeted cancer therapy. It is especially promising when this protein is dispensable for the growth of normal cells. Their discovery that UNC45A fits these criteria has researchers, led by Dr. Ahmed Chadli, of the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University, excited about potential new cancer therapeutic strategies involving the inhibition of UNC45A.

Antibiotics legitimately available in over-counter throat medications could contribute to increased antibiotic resistance
New research presented at this year's European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Amsterdam, Netherlands (April 13-16) shows that the inappropriate of use of antibiotics legitimately available in over-the-counter (OTC) throat medications could be contributing to antibiotic resistance, thereby going against World Health Organization (WHO) goals.

Neuron and synapse-mimetic spintronics devices developed
A research group from Tohoku University has developed spintronics devices which are promising for future energy-efficient and adoptive computing systems, as they behave like neurons and synapses in the human brain.

Growing a cerebral tract in a microscale brain model
An international research team led by The University of Tokyo modeled the growth of cerebral tracts. Using neurons derived from stem cells, they grew cortical-like spheroids. In a microdevice, the spheroids extended bundles of axons toward each other, forming a physical and electrical connection. Fascicles grew less efficiently when one spheroid was absent, and when a gene relevant to cerebral tract formation was knocked-down. The study further illuminates brain growth and developmental disorders.

Protein pileup affects social behaviors through altered brain signaling
Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Brain Science (CBS) have discovered that when a normal cellular cleanup process is disrupted, mice start behaving in ways that resemble human symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and schizophrenia. They found that loss of normal autophagy influences how brain cells react to inhibitory signals from each other and contributes to the behavioral changes. This intricate signaling pathway could be a new therapeutic target for neurodevelopmental and neuropsychiatric disorders.

Circadian clock plays unexpected role in neurodegenerative diseases
Northwestern University researchers induced jet lag in a fruit fly model of Huntington disease and found that jet lag protected the flies' neurons.

Dopamine conducts prefrontal cortex ensembles
New research in rodents reveals for the first time how dopamine changes the function of the brain's prefrontal cortex. In a study published today in the journal Cell Reports, researchers found that dopamine has little effect on individual cells. Instead, it generates sustained activity in the ensemble of cells in the prefrontal cortex that lasts for up to 20 minutes.

Research provides important insight on the brain-body connection
A study conducted by University of Arkansas researchers reveals that neurons in the motor cortex exhibit an unexpected division of labor, a finding that could help scientists understand how the brain controls the body and provide insight on certain neurological disorders.

Association of quitting smoking during pregnancy, risk of preterm birth
This study of more than 25 million pregnant women reports on rates of smoking cessation at the start of and during pregnancy and also examines the association of quitting cigarette smoking and the risk of preterm birth.

Green material for refrigeration identified
Researchers from the UK and Spain have identified an eco-friendly solid that could replace the inefficient and polluting gases used in most refrigerators and air conditioners.

A universal framework combining genome annotation and undergraduate education
On April 3, 2019, researchers from the Boyce Thompson Institute published a framework for using new genome sequences as a training resource for undergraduates interested in learning genome annotation. This strategy will both make the process of determining gene functions more efficient and help train the next generation of scientists in bioinformatics.

NTU scientists discover sustainable way to increase seed oil yield in crops
NTU Singapore scientists have developed a sustainable way to demonstrate a new genetic modification that can increase the yield of natural oil in seeds by up to 15% in laboratory conditions.

Late dinner and no breakfast is a killer combination
People who skip breakfast and eat dinner near bedtime have worse outcomes after a heart attack. That's the finding of research published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Parental behaviour affects the involvement of children in cyberbullying
The information analysed by this group of researchers came to another conclusion: when parenting practices are not very suitable, it seems that the probability increases that the children might be victimised or involved in the double role of aggressor/victim, while in the case of girls, when they are treated in this way, they tend to be cyber-aggressors.

Researchers report high performance solid-state sodium-ion battery
Solid-state sodium-ion batteries are far safer than conventional lithium-ion batteries, which pose a risk of fire and explosions, but their performance has been too weak to offset the safety advantages. Researchers Friday reported developing an organic cathode that dramatically improves both stability and energy density.

Anesthesia sends neurons down the wrong path in unborn rat babies
A study in Cerebral Cortex provides new insight into why -- and when -- anesthesia during pregnancy harms unborn brains. Most research into prenatal exposure to anesthesia has focused killing brain cells, this rat study showed how anesthesia disrupts the 'precisely choreographed' migration neurons make in utero, and how not 'arriving at their proper and predetermined' locations can have profound impact on brain development.

General anesthesia hijacks sleep circuitry to knock you out
In a study published online April 18 in Neuron, researchers found that general anesthesia induces unconsciousness by hijacking the neural circuitry that makes us fall sleep. They traced this neural circuitry back to a cluster of cells at the base of the brain responsible for churning out hormones to regulate bodily functions, mood, and sleep. The finding could lead to better drugs capable of putting people to sleep with fewer side effects.

Physical activity prepares neurons to regenerate in case of spinal cord injury
The influence of an active lifestyle on the regenerative capacity of the peripheral nervous system, that is, the set of cranial and spinal nerves that control motor and sensory functions, is described here for the first time, explains Ángel Barco, who has led the participation of the Institute of Neurosciences UMH-CSIC, in Alicante, in this international study.

Video plus brochure helps patients make lung cancer scan decision
A short video describing the potential benefits and risks of low-dose CT screening for lung cancer in addition to an informational brochure increased patients' knowledge and reduced conflicted feelings about whether to undergo the scan more than the informational brochure alone, according to a randomized, controlled trial published online in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

'Mindreading' neurons simulate decisions of social partners
Scientists have identified special types of brain cells that may allow us to simulate the decision-making processes of others, thereby reconstructing their state of mind and predicting their intentions. Dysfunction in these 'simulation neurons' may help explain difficulties with social interactions in conditions such as autism and social anxiety.

Commentary: Modifications to Medicare rules could support care innovation for dialysis
Public health researchers suggest adjustments to recently proposed rule changes on how Medicare pays for dialysis services.

How the brain fights off fears that return to haunt us
Neuroscientists have discovered a group of neurons that are responsible when a frightening memory re-emerges unexpectedly, like Michael Myers in every 'Halloween' movie. The finding could lead to new recommendations about when and how often certain therapies are deployed for the treatment of anxiety, phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The research of Samara scientists will help to explain how building material for planets appears in the universe
The research of samara scientists will help to explain how building material for planets appears in the universe.

Broken mitochondria use 'eat me' proteins to summon their executioners
When mitochondria become damaged, they avoid causing further problems by signaling cellular proteins to degrade them. In a paper publishing April 11, in the journal Developmental Cell, scientists in Norway report that they have discovered how the cells trigger this process, which is called mitophagy. In cells with broken mitochondria, two proteins -- NIPSNAP 1 and NIPSNAP 2 -- accumulate on the mitochondrial surface, functioning as 'eat me' signals, recruiting the cellular machinery that will destroy them.

Why is ketamine an antidepressant?
Delving deep inside the neural circuitry of 'depressed' mice, researchers have revealed how ketamine works in cells to achieve its fast-acting antidepressant effect.

Thalamus and cerebral cortex interactions influence the decision on sensory perceptions
When we receive a stimulus, sensory information is transmitted by the afferent nerves to the thalamus which in turn, like a relay, forwards the information to the sensory cortex to process it and consciously perceive the stimulus. But, does this information travel only in the thalamus-cortex direction? And, is this 'journey' a determining factor in the subsequent conscious perception of this stimulus?

Study examines privacy policies, data sharing of popular apps for depression, smoking cessation
This study looked at the privacy practices of popular apps for depression and smoking cessation. Researchers assessed the content of privacy policies and compared disclosures regarding data sharing with commercial third parties to actual behavior for 36 apps.

SRC-1 gene variants linked to human obesity
Researchers have discovered how the gene SRC-1 affects body weight control.

What happens in the bodies of ALS patients?
Lara Marrone and Jared Sterneckert from the Centre for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD) at Technische Universität Dresden (TUD), together with collaborating scientists from Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and the USA, have now discovered that interactions between RNA-binding proteins are more critical to ALS pathogenesis than previously thought.

FDA ban on menthol is likely to survive tobacco industry lawsuits
A proposed ban of menthol combustible tobacco products by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will likely be upheld in court, albeit a lengthy legal process, a Rutgers paper found.

Study finds that quitting smoking during pregnancy lowers risk of preterm births
Dartmouth-led study of more than 25 million pregnant women reports on rates of smoking cessation at the start of and during pregnancy and also examines the association of quitting cigarette smoking and the risk of preterm birth.

Artificial intelligence can diagnose PTSD by analyzing voices
A specially designed computer program can help to diagnose post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans by analyzing their voices.

Growth hormone acts to prevent weight loss
A Brazilian study shows that, like leptin, growth hormone contributes directly to energy conservation when the body loses weight.

Why lightning often strikes twice
An international research team led by the University of Groningen has used the LOFAR radio telescope to study the development of lightning flashes in unprecedented detail. Their work reveals that the negative charges inside a thundercloud are not discharged all in a single flash, but are in part stored alongside the leader channel at Interruptions, inside structures which the researchers have called needles. This may cause a repeated discharge to the ground.

Racial disparities continue for black women seeking heart health care
Postmenopausal black women with heart attack or coronary heart disease experienced significantly lower treatment rates than Hispanic or white women. Overall, treatment rates for heart attack and coronary heart disease increased over two decades but treatment rates did not significantly improve for black women.

Study shows continuing impacts of Deepwater Horizon oil spill
Nine years ago tomorrow -- April 20, 2010 -- crude oil began leaking from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig into the Gulf of Mexico in what turned out to be the largest marine oil spill in history. A long-term study suggests the oil is still affecting the salt marshes of the Gulf Coast, and reveals the key role that marsh grasses play in the overall recovery of these important coastal wetlands.

Folding revolution
A Harvard Medical School scientist has used a form of artificial intelligence known as deep learning to predict the 3D structure of effectively any protein based on its amino acid sequence. This new approach for computationally determining protein structure achieves accuracy comparable to current state-of-the-art methods but at speeds upward of a million times faster.

New UCI-led study defines best time to exercise to get the most rejuvenating results
A new study led by researchers from the University of California, Irvine finds exercising in the morning, rather than at night, may yield better results.

Scientists identify a novel target for corn straw utilization
A team of scientists led by Prof. FU Chunxiang from the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology completed the identification of bm5 mutant. This was the first time that the locus of maize bm5 mutant had been identified.

New study advances treatment options for PTSD
Dr. Stephen Maren, University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, recently published significant research on the psychological and neural basis of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

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