Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (February 2019)

Science news and science current events archive February, 2019.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from February 2019

Micromotors deliver oral vaccines
Vaccines have saved millions of lives, but nobody likes getting a shot. That's why scientists are trying to develop oral vaccines for infectious diseases. But to be effective, the vaccine must survive digestion and reach immune cells within the intestinal wall. Now, researchers reporting in the ACS journal Nano Letters have developed oral vaccines powered by micromotors that target the mucus layer of the intestine.

Electronic tool has potential to improve asthma care, study finds
A new electronic decision support tool for managing asthma has the potential to improve the quality of asthma care in primary care settings, suggests a study led by St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

Gummy-like robots that could help prevent disease
EPFL scientists have developed microscopic, hydrogel-based muscles that can manipulate and mechanically stimulate biological tissue. These soft, biocompatible robots could be used for targeted therapy and to help diagnose and prevent disease.

A simulator allows patients to experiment how their vision will improve before surgery
For the first time, patients will be able to experience how their vision will improve after a cataract surgery just before being operated. Thanks to a new wearable visual simulator developed by scientists from the National Research Council (CSIC), patients and surgeons are able to see the effects of an intraocular multifocal lens -- which allows seeing at different distances -- in a realistic way before being implanted.

Computer simulators show how to reduce damage to lungs of children in intensive care
Changing the ventilation settings for children on life support can reduce the risk of damage to their lungs, researchers at the University of Warwick and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have found on computer simulated patients.

Palm oil not the only driver of forest loss in Indonesia
Large-scale agriculture, primarily for growing oil palms, remains a major cause of deforestation in Indonesia but its impact has diminished in recent years as other natural and human causes emerge, a Duke University study finds. These causes, which vary by location and over time, include the conversion of forests to grasslands by El NiƱo-fueled wildfires; small-scale farming; and mining. Policymakers and conservationists need to address these varied causes when devising new programs and practices.

Study: Much of the surface ocean will shift in color by end of 21st century
Climate change is causing significant changes to phytoplankton in the world's oceans, and a new MIT study finds that over the coming decades these changes will affect the ocean's color, intensifying its blue regions and its green ones. Satellites should detect these changes in hue, providing early warning of wide-scale changes to marine ecosystems.

Exceptional new titanosaur from middle Cretaceous Tanzania: Mnyamawamtuka
An exceptional sauropod dinosaur specimen from the middle Cretaceous of Tanzania represents a unique species and provides new insights into sauropod evolution, according to a study published Feb. 13, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Eric Gorscak of Midwestern University, Illinois, and Patrick O'Connor of Ohio University, USA.

The future of minority health and health disparities research is here
Thirty specific research strategies were identified across the three pillars that guided the science visioning: methods and measurement, etiology, and interventions.

Faster than allowed by quantum computing?
Quantum computers are more powerful than classical computers since they work with coherent ''quantum bits'' instead of ordinary zeroes and ones. But could there be even more efficient ''science fiction computers''? Researchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the University of Vienna have now shown that this is not possible.

Squid could provide an eco-friendly alternative to plastics
The remarkable properties of a recently-discovered squid protein could revolutionize materials in a way that would be unattainable with conventional plastic. Originating in the ringed teeth of a squid's predatory arms, this protein can be processed into fibers and films with applications ranging from health-monitoring 'smart' clothes to self-healing recyclable fabrics that reduce microplastic pollution. Materials made from this protein are eco-friendly and biodegradable, with sustainable large-scale production achieved using laboratory culture methods.

Lettuce show you how to restore oil-soaked soil
Rice University engineers have fine-tuned a method to restore oil-soaked soil to fertility while eliminating toxic hydrocarbons.

Political corruption scars young voters forever, new research finds
New research by Bocconi University, Milan, finds that political corruption has a long-term scarring effect on trust in democratic institutions and on voters' behavior and that such an effect differs according to one's age cohort, with first-time voters at the time of corruption revelation still being affected 25 years later.

New method identifies which asthma patients respond to systemic corticosteroids
Physicians will be able to predict which of their patients with severe asthma are likely to benefit from treatment with systemic corticosteroids -- and which might only suffer their side effects -- with help from a dozen clinical variables researchers have identified using machine learning techniques, say researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Scientists discover potential way to treat and prevent cancer in children (neuroblastoma)
The MYCN oncogene is known to be a key cause of a number of deadly solid tumour cancers, including neuroblastoma which claims more lives of children under 5 than any other cancer. In new research, a team led by Professor Michelle Haber AM, Executive Director, and Professor Murray Norris AM, Deputy Director, Children's Cancer Institute, Australia, has uncovered a previously unknown crucial link between polyamines and MYCN, offering a new way to target childhood cancers.

Study finds a dearth of mental health interventions for ethnic minority youth in the US
A research team from Arizona State University, DePaul University and the University of Southern California analyzed how effective evidence-based mental health intervention programs were for ethnic minority youth in the United States. Four treatment programs met the criteria of 'well-established.' These treatments addressed substance abuse, disruptive behavior and anxiety in Hispanic/Latino and African-American youth. Native-American and Asian-American youth were underrepresented or absent from research studies on mental health intervention programs.

Fruit and vegetables may be important for mental as well as physical well-being
Researchers at the universities of Leeds and York analysed data from more than 40,000 people in the UK, and found that changes in fruit and vegetable consumption are correlated with changes in mental well-being.

Some primary care doctors not prepared to help with cancer treatment decisions
Research has shown patients are discussing initial cancer treatment options with their primary care doctors. And now a new study finds that a significant number of these physicians report notable gaps in their knowledge of cancer treatment options.

Enzyme warps space to break the cell's speed limit
Johns Hopkins researchers have found that rhomboid enzymes, which are special proteins that cut other proteins, are able to break the 'cellular speed limit' as they move through the cell membrane.

Shedding light on the science of auroral breakups
Japanese scientists have quantitatively confirmed how energetic an auroral breakup can be. Using a combination of cutting-edge ground-based technology and new space-borne observations, they have demonstrated the essential role of an auroral breakup in ionizing the deep atmosphere. The research furthers our understanding of one of the most visually stunning natural phenomena.

Healthy diet can ease symptoms of depression
An analysis of data from almost 46,000 people has found that weight loss, nutrient boosting and fat reduction diets can all reduce the symptoms of depression. Dr Joseph Firth, an Honorary Research fellow at The University of Manchester and Research Fellow at NICM Health Research Institute at Western Sydney University, says existing research has been unable to definitively establish if dietary improvement could benefit mental health.

Kazan University puts forth ideas on the nature of dark matter
As we currently know, dark energy and dark matter comprise 96 percent of the total mass of the Universe. Two main hypotheses about the nature of dark matter are presently debated. One of them posits that dark matter consists of massive compact halo objects, the other ascribes this property to weakly interacting mass particles.

Shorter course of radiation therapy effective in treating men with prostate cancer
A new UCLA-led study shows that men with low- or intermediate-risk prostate cancer can safely undergo higher doses of radiation over a significantly shorter period of time and still have the same, successful outcomes as from a much longer course of treatment.

Antarctic meltwater streams shed light on longstanding hydrological mystery
In one of the coldest, driest places on Earth, CU Boulder scientists have developed a possible answer to a longstanding mystery about the chemistry of streamflow, which may have broad implications for watersheds and water quality around the world.

No sweat? That's an issue for home-schooled children
Children schooled at home may not get enough exercise even if they participate in organized sports and physical activities, according to researchers at Rice University.

Graphene biosensor could provide early lung cancer diagnosis, research shows
The wonder-material graphene could hold the key to unlocking the next generation of advanced, early stage lung cancer diagnosis.

Dengue virus infection may cause severe outcomes following Zika virus infection during pregnancy
This study is the first to report a possible mechanism for the enhancement of Zika virus progression during pregnancy in an animal model.

The dangers of hidden fat: Exercise is your best defense against deep abdominal fat
Researchers analyzed two types of interventions -- lifestyle modification (exercise) and pharmacological (medicine) -- to learn how best to defeat fat lying deep in the belly.

Planning ahead: A new robust approach for minimizing costs in power-distribution networks
Scientists at Tokyo Tech have developed a new method for scheduling the turning on and off of power generators that minimizes costs and ensures reliability while addressing the issues prevalent in multiple previous methods.

Women's hormones play role in drug addiction, higher relapse rates
Female-specific interventions are needed, but in the meantime, treatment centers could use this study to educate women about their stronger mental connections to places and objects.

Psychology: Robot saved, people take the hit
To what extent are people prepared to show consideration for robots? A new study suggests that, under certain circumstances, some people are willing to endanger human lives -- out of concern for robots.

Researchers develop prostate cancer prediction tool that has unmatched accuracy
Researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California have developed a novel machine-learning framework that distinguishes between low- and high-risk prostate cancer with more precision than ever before. The framework, described in a Scientific Reports paper published today, is intended to help physicians -- in particular, radiologists -- more accurately identify treatment options for prostate cancer patients, lessening the chance of unnecessary clinical intervention.

ATS publishes new clinical guideline on home oxygen for children
The American Thoracic Society has developed a new clinical practice guideline for home oxygen therapy for children. The guideline appears in the Feb. 1 edition of the Society's American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

A new protocol for Hepatitis A vaccination to prevent a vaccine-resistant virus
Researchers of the University of Barcelona (UB) have analysed, with massive sequencing techniques for the first time, the evolution of the Hepatitis A virus with samples from patients. The results, published in the journal EBioMedicine, show the presence of variants of the virus that could escape the effects of the vaccine.

Gene therapy cassettes improved for muscular dystrophy
Experimental gene therapy cassettes for Duchenne muscular dystrophy have been modified to deliver better performance. The cassettes, which carry the therapy into muscle cells, contain newer versions of a miniaturized treatment gene. Earlier versions of the treatment cassettes did significantly enhance muscle function in previous lab studies, but did so incompletely. That's partly because the huge dystrophin gene has to be condensed to fit inside the transport virus.

New treatment offers potentially promising results for the possibility of slowing, stopping, or even reversing Parkinson's disease
A pioneering clinical trials program that delivered an experimental treatment directly to the brain offers hope that it may be possible to restore the cells damaged in Parkinson's disease. The study investigated whether boosting the levels of a naturally-occurring growth factor, Glial Cell Line Derived Neurotrophic Factor (GDNF), can regenerate dying dopamine brain cells in patients with Parkinson's and reverse their condition, something no existing treatment can do.

The Caucasus: Complex interplay of genes and cultures
In the Bronze Age, the Caucasus Mountains region was a cultural and genetic contact zone. Here, cultures that originated in Mesopotamia interacted with local hunter-gatherers, Anatolian farmers, and steppe populations from just north of the mountain ranges. Here, pastoralism was developed and technologies such as the wheeled wagon and advanced metal weapons were spread to neighbouring cultures. A new study, examines new genetic evidence in concert with archaeological evidence to paint a more complete picture of the region.

Time parents spend with children key to academic success
The time parents spend with their children has a powerful effect on their educational achievement, according to a large study with a novel approach. Researchers analyzed data on children in Israel who lost a parent through death or divorce.

Famous 'sandpile model' shown to move like a traveling sand dune
The so-called Abelian sandpile model has been studied by scientists for more than 30 years. Even though the sandpile model serves as the archetypical model to study self-organized criticality, questions about its characteristics are still open and remain an active field of research. Researchers at IST Austria have now discovered a new property of this mathematical model: they managed to induce dynamics in the self-similar fractal patterns reminiscent of sand dunes in the desert.

New diagnostic technique reveals a protein biomarker that accurately differentiates bladder cancer from benign inflammation
Label-free digital pathology using infrared (IR) imaging with subsequent proteomic analysis for bladder cancer (BC) has revealed the first protein biomarker (AHNAK2) for BC. AHNAK2 differentiates between chronic cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) and a non-muscle invasive-type BC (carcinoma in situ) which is challenging to diagnose. A report in The American Journal of Pathology describes this new diagnostic procedure, which is label-free, automated, observer-independent, and as sensitive and specific as established histopathological methods.

Investigating cell stress for better health -- and better beer
Human beings are not the only ones who suffer from stress -- even microorganisms can be affected. Now, researchers from Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, have devised a new method to study how single biological cells react to stressful situations. Understanding these responses could help develop more effective drugs for serious diseases. As well as that, the research could even help to brew better beer.

New research suggests a simple blood test could improve the early detection of lung cancer
New research led by scientists at the MRC Toxicology Unit suggests that by analysing levels of DNA in the blood, the early detection of lung cancer could be improved. The study, published in the journal Disease Models and Mechanisms, found that in preliminary tests using mice, a blood test could measure the circulating levels of DNA in the blood which cancer cells shed as they grow and multiply, and could even predict the presence of tumours in the lungs before they became cancerous.

Open-science model for drug discovery expands to neurodegenerative diseases
Parkinson's disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis are the newest frontiers for open science drug discovery, a global movement led by academic scientists in Toronto that puts knowledge sharing and medication affordability ahead of patents and profits.

A new toolkit for studying how 'PARP' activity boosts cancers
A new method developed by scientists at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is likely to speed the study of an important biological process called ADP-ribosylation.

New UC study may help guide treatment of pediatric anxiety
Researchers from the University of Cincinnati looked at common medications prescribed for children and adolescents with anxiety disorders, to determine the most effective and best-tolerated. This study revealed that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) performed best overall. The results, available online in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, include the largest amount of data to date for analyses of pediatric anxiety disorder treatments.

Fungus from the intestinal mucosa can affect lung health
Writing in the journal Cell, a research team from Cologne and Kiel describes the mechanism of 'immune cross-reactivity'. The immune system's reaction to Candida albicans in the intestine seems to amplify pathogenic immune processes in the lungs. In consequence, immune-compromised individuals may be at higher risk of health deterioration.

Scientists image conducting edges in a promising 2D material
A research team comprised of scientists at the University of California, Riverside, and the University of Washington has for the first time directly imaged 'edge conduction' in monolayer tungsten ditelluride, or WTe2, a newly discovered 2D topological insulator and quantum material. The research makes it possible to exploit this edge conduction feature to build more energy-efficient electronic devices.

Study identifies new target to prevent, treat alcoholism
New research conducted at OHSU in Portland, Oregon, identifies a gene that could provide a new target for developing medication to prevent and treat alcoholism. Researchers unraveled a link between alcohol and how it modulates the levels of activity of this particular gene. Researchers discovered that when they increased the levels of the gene-encoded protein in mice, they reduced alcohol consumption by almost 50 percent without affecting the total amount of fluid consumed or their overall well-being.

Site of care may affect patients' access to palliative treatment
Studies have found that racial and ethnic minorities are less likely to receive end-of-life palliative care than their counterparts. A new study conducted by investigators at Brigham and Women's Hospital set out to understand why and has revealed that site of care may be a key contributing factor to this difference among patients with advanced, metastatic cancer.

New World Health Organization strategy aims to halve the global impact of snakebite
New strategy aims to ensure safe, effective and affordable treatment for all; empower communities at all levels to take proactive action; strengthen health systems to deliver better outcomes; build a global coalition of partners to coordinate action and mobilise resources.

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