Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (March 2020)

Science news and science current events archive March, 2020.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from March 2020

Moderate-to-high posttraumatic stress common after exposure to trauma, violence
Over 30 percent of injury survivors who are treated in hospital emergency departments will have moderate-to-severe symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at some point in the first year following the initial incident, new research led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

Sphingotec's endothelial function biomarker bio-ADM® improves risk stratification of sepsis patients at ICUs
New study data show that monitoring blood levels of sphingotec's endothelial function biomarker bio-ADM® on top of guideline parameter lactate improves risk stratification of sepsis patients admitted to intensive care units.

Visceral fat delivers signal to the brain that hurts cognition
Excessive weight around our middle gives our brain's resident immune cells heavy exposure to a signal that turns them against us, setting in motion a crescendo of inflammation that damages cognition, scientists say.

Re-thinking 'tipping points' in ecosystems and beyond
Abrupt environmental changes, known as regime shifts, are the subject of new research in which shows how small environmental changes trigger slow evolutionary processes that eventually precipitate collapse.

To predict an epidemic, evolution can't be ignored
Whether it's coronavirus or misinformation, scientists can use mathematical models to predict how something will spread across populations. But what happens if a pathogen mutates, or information becomes modified, changing the speed at which it spreads? In a new study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of Carnegie Mellon University researchers show for the first time how important these considerations are.

New lithium batteries from used cell phones
Research from the University of Cordoba (Spain) and San Luis University (Argentina) was able to reuse graphite from cell phones to manufacture environmentally friendly batteries.

How a new quantum approach can develop faster algorithms to deduce complex networks
Complex networks are ubiquitous in the real world, from artificial to purely natural ones, and they exhibit very similar geometric properties. Algorithms based on quantum mechanics perform well on such networks, but their relationship with the geometrical characteristics of networks has remained unclear until now. Researchers from Tokyo University of Science have now shed light on these relationships, opening up new possibilities for the use of complex networks in various fields.

The case for economics -- by the numbers
In recent years, criticism has been levelled at economics for being insular and unconcerned about real-world problems. But a new study led by MIT scholars finds that the field increasingly overlaps with the work of other disciplines, and, in a related development, has become more empirical and data-driven, while producing less work of pure theory.

Mayo Clinic researchers clarify how cells defend themselves from viruses
A protein known to help cells defend against infection also regulates the form and function of mitochondria, according to a new paper in Nature Communications. The protein, one of a group called myxovirus-resistance (Mx) proteins, help cells fight infections without the use of systemic antibodies or white blood cells.

Deep-sea fish community structure strongly affected by oxygen and temperature
In a new study, researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) took advantage of the natural oceanographic gradient in the Gulf of California to study the effects of variable oxygen levels and temperatures on demersal fish communities. They determined that in regions containing very low levels of oxygen (7 μmol/kg of oxygen or less), fish diversity declined dramatically.

Artificial Intelligence to improve the precision of mammograms
The Artificial Intelligence techniques, used in combination with evaluations by expert radiologists, improve the precision in the detection of cancer through mammograms. This is one of the main conclusions of an international study, in which researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), CSIC and the Universitat de València have participated, and has been published in one of the most widely distributed medical journals, the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The complex biology behind your love (or hatred) of coffee
Why do some people feel like they need three cups of coffee just to get through the day when others are happy with only one? Why do some people abstain entirely? New research suggests that our intake of coffee -- the most popular beverage in America, above bottled water, sodas, tea, and beer -- is affected by a positive feedback loop between genetics and the environment.

Scientists identify new target for Parkinson's therapies
A master control region of a protein linked to Parkinson's disease has been identified for the first time. The finding, made by scientists from the University of Leeds' Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, provides a new target for the development of therapies to try and slow down or even prevent the disease.

New planting guidelines could boost edamame profits
Edamame may be a niche crop in the United States, but growers and processors still need the best possible information to make sound management decisions. That's why USDA Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) and University of Illinois researchers are making new plant density recommendations for machine-harvested edamame, at less than half the rate suggested by seed companies.

Parkinson's disease linked to gene targeted by blue-green algae toxin
Scientists have discovered a possible link between Parkinson's disease and a gene impacted by a neurotoxin found in blue-green algae.

A more balanced protein intake can reduce age-related muscle loss
Eating more protein at breakfast or lunchtime could help older people maintain muscle mass with advancing age -- but most people eat proteins fairly unevenly throughout the day, new research at the University of Birmingham has found.

Scientists optimize prime editing for rice and wheat
Recently, a research team led by Prof. GAO Caixia of the Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences reported the optimization of a prime editing system (PPE system) for creating desired point mutations, insertions and deletions in two major cereal crops, namely, rice and wheat. The main components of a PPE system are a Cas9 nickase-RT fusion protein and a pegRNA.

Inflammation in the brain linked to several forms of dementia
Inflammation in the brain may be more widely implicated in dementias than was previously thought, suggests new research from the University of Cambridge. The researchers say it offers hope for potential new treatments for several types of dementia.

Natural solutions to the climate crisis? One-quarter is all down to Earth...
A recent study led by scientists from The Nature Conservancy alongside Conservation International, Woods Hole Research Centre, University of Aberdeen, Yale University and the Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences (KIB/CAS), has provided a timely reminder in this critical 'super year' for nature not to neglect the power of soils and the many benefits these ecosystems can deliver for climate, wildlife and agriculture.

To reap heart benefits of a plant-based diet, avoid junk food
A new study being presented at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session Together with World Congress of Cardiology (ACC.20/WCC) suggests that people following a plant-based diet who frequently consumed less-healthful foods like sweets, refined grains and juice showed no heart health benefit compared with those who did not eat a plant-based diet.

Researchers in Singapore find common therapeutic vulnerability for a genetically diverse and deadly
Scientists and clinicians from Duke-NUS Medical School, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*STAR's) Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), and the Singapore General Hospital (SGH), have devised a novel drug combination that could treat a particularly deadly form of leukaemia, known as blast crisis (BC) chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). The team has also developed strategies that may identify patients with early stage or chronic phase (CP) CML who are at increased risk of developing BC, and potentially preventing disease progression.

Ancient fish fossil reveals evolutionary origin of the human hand
An ancient Elpistostege fish fossil found in Miguasha, Canada, has revealed new insights into how the human hand evolved from fish fins. An international team of paleontologists from Flinders University in Australia and Universite du Quebec a Rimouski in Canada have revealed the fish specimen, as described in the journal Nature, has yielded the missing evolutionary link in the fish to tetrapod transition, as fish began to foray in habitats such as shallow water and land during the Late Devonian period millions of years ago.

Step it up: Higher daily step counts linked with lower blood pressure
The smart watches seen on the wrists of roughly 1 in 5 Americans could be more than just a fun gimmick but a potentially useful research tool to track habitual physical activity levels. People who took more steps daily, as tracked by their watch, had lower blood pressure on average than those taking fewer steps in a study presented at the American College of Cardiology's Annual Scientific Session Together with World Congress of Cardiology (ACC.20/WCC).

Trauma relapse in a novel context may be preventable
Korea Brain Research Institute (KBRI, President: Pann-Ghill Suh) announced on February 10 that its research team led by Dr. Ja Wook Koo and Dr. Sukwon Lee proved that the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) of the cerebrum plays a role in fear renewal occurring in a novel context.

Open sesame: Micro RNAs regulate plant pores
Environmental cues prompt small RNA segments to regulate the development and distribution of tiny pores involved in photosynthesis in plants. The finding by DGIST researchers in Korea was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and could further efforts to improve agricultural crop productivity.

The strange orbits of 'Tatooine' planetary disks
Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have found striking orbital geometries in protoplanetary disks around binary stars. While disks orbiting the most compact binary star systems share very nearly the same plane, disks encircling wide binaries have orbital planes that are severely tilted. These systems can teach us about planet formation in complex environments.

Improving success of giraffe translocations
In two new studies, an international team of researchers identifies the ideal composition of a group of giraffes to be translocated for conservation purposes and provides guidelines for all aspects of the translocation process.

New mechanism of optical gain in two-dimensional material requires only extremely low input power
Optical gain is a prerequisite for signal amplification in an optical amplifier or laser. It typically requires high level of current injection in conventional semiconductors. By exploring an intricate balance and conversion of excitons and trions in atomically-thin two-dimensional materials, the authors found a new gain mechanism that requires input power several orders of magnitude lower than in conventional semiconductors. This new gain mechanism could potentially enable lasers to be made with extremely low input power.

Knowledge and perceptions of COVID-19 among the general public in the US, UK
Knowledge and perceptions of coronavirus disease 2019 among the general public in the United States and the United Kingdom: A cross-sectional online survey

Among wild mammals too, females live longer
In all human populations, average lifespans are longer for women than for men. But what about for other mammals, in the wild? A team led by Jean-François Lemaître, a CNRS, compiled demographic data for 134 populations of 101 mammalian species -- from bats to lions, orcas to gorillas -- making their study the widest reaching and most precise to date.

Study sheds light on fatty acid's role in 'chemobrain' and multiple sclerosis
Medical experts have always known myelin, the protective coating of nerve cells, to be metabolically inert. A study led by The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has found that myelin is surprisingly dynamic, a discovery that has implications for treatment of multiple sclerosis and a type of myelin damage caused by some chemotherapy drugs, often referred to as 'chemobrain.'

World's first ultrasound biosensor created in Australia
Most implantable monitors for drug levels and biomarkers invented so far rely on high tech and expensive detectors such as CT scans or MRI. Now Melbourne, Australia researchers have developed the first biosensor that can be used in vivo, inside a body, able to emit signals that can be detected by common ultrasound scanners.

Study challenges common view of oxygen scarcity on Earth 2 billion years ago
Geologists at University of Tartu and University of Alberta in collaboration with an international research team found evidence for elevated oxygen levels 2 billion years ago, in contradiction to previously accepted models that predict low oxygen at that time.

Weedy rice is unintended legacy of Green Revolution
Weedy rice is a feral form of rice that infests paddies worldwide and aggressively outcompetes cultivated varieties. A new study led by biologists at Washington University in St. Louis shows that weed populations have evolved multiple times from cultivated rice, and a strikingly high proportion of contemporary Asian weed strains can be traced to a few Green Revolution cultivars that were widely grown in the late 20th century.

Jumping genes help make neurons in a dish
The conversion of skin cells into brain cells relies on proper insertion of L1 elements.

New in vivo priming strategy to train stem cells can enhance cardiac repair effectiveness
A stem cell biologist from City University of Hong Kong (CityU), together with his collaborators, has developed a novel strategy, called in vivo priming, to 'train' the stem cells to stay strong after implantation to the damaged heart via the 3D-printed bandage-like patch. The positive results of the study show that an in vivo priming strategy can be an effective means to enhance cardiac repair.

Artificial intelligence can speed up the detection of stroke
Human emotion system laboratory team at the University of Turku and Turku PET Centre, Finland, introduces a fully automated method for acute ischemic lesion segmentation on brain MRIs and shows how artificial intelligence can reduce the work load of radiologists.

A 'cardiac patch with bioink' developed to repair heart
A joint research team of POSTECH, The Catholic University, and City University of Hong Kong developed an 'in vivo priming' with heart-derived bioink. Using engineered stem cells and 3D bioprinting technology, they began developing medicines for cardiovascular diseases.

'Tequila' powered biofuels more efficient than corn or sugar
Agave tequilana, the plant native to Mexico used to make tequila, could prove to be an efficient alternative to sugarcane and corn to make biofuels in semi-arid regions. This research is the first to look at the plants lifecycle and model the economics.

Irregular sleep may increase risk of cardiovascular events
A new study led by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital measured participants' sleep duration and timing, finding that over a five-year period, individuals who had the most irregular sleep experienced a two-fold increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to those with the most regular sleep patterns.

It's what's inside that matters: Locking up proteins enables cancer metastasis
Researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University (TMDU) found that internalizing claudin-1 enables cancer cells to increase cell motility and to metastasize to lymph nodes. These findings could be exploited to develop novel therapies for cancer metastasis.

Interplay between states and federal government in implementing the ACA
The fierce national debate over health care reform includes deep divisions over the appropriate roles of the federal and state governments. While Senator Sanders calls for expanding Medicare to cover all Americans, the Trump administration pushes for the states to have far greater authority. However, the ACA points towards a more effective inter-governmental partnership, one in which the states have significant policy and administrative discretion, bounded by strong national standards designed to limit unacceptable inequities.

Don't blame the messenger -- unless it's all stats and no story
In some cases of ineffective messaging, it might be appropriate, despite the aphorism to the contrary, to blame the messenger. ''Our findings suggest that telling stories when communicating can make the speaker appear more warm and trustworthy, as opposed to... providing only statistics and figures,'' says UB researcher

Experts discover toolkit to repair DNA breaks linked to aging, cancer and MND
A new 'toolkit' to repair damaged DNA that can lead to aging, cancer and motor neurone disease (MND) has been discovered by scientists at the universities of Sheffield and Oxford.

Actively engaging local people could make grizzly conservation policies more bearable
Western Canada hosts a significant portion of North America's grizzly bears, and declining bear numbers have led to various conservation efforts. However, conservation policies frequently cause controversy. A new study examining the perspectives of local officials and residents in Alberta, Canada, suggests that locals feel excluded from decision-making processes underlying conservation policy, and have practical concerns with its implementation. Involving local people in designing conservation projects could help avoid such frustrations.

How dangerous news spreads: What makes Twitter users retweet risk-related information
In Japan, a country prone to various natural and man-made calamities, users often turn to social media to spread information about risks and warnings. However, to avoid spreading rumors, it is crucial to recognize reliable sources of information. In a new study, researchers from Osaka University, Japan have revealed the mechanism by which risk-related information is disseminated on Twitter.

More genes associated with canine hip dys­plasia and os­teoarth­ritis discovered
A study encompassing over 700 German Shepherd dogs in Finland indicates that increased joint surface attrition is not the sole cause underlying the development of osteoarthritis associated with hip dysplasia.

The Lancet: Triple therapies to treat malaria are effective and safe
The first clinical trial of two triple artemisinin-based combination therapies for malaria finds that the combinations are highly efficacious with no safety concerns. Published in The Lancet, the study of 1,100 people with uncomplicated falciparum malaria from eight countries compared people receiving the current national first-line treatment combining two drugs, with two forms of triple therapy (dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine plus mefloquine and artemether-lumefantrine plus amodiaquine).

Hero proteins are here to save other proteins
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have discovered a new group of proteins, remarkable for their unusual shape and abilities to protect against protein clumps associated with neurodegenerative diseases in lab experiments. Researchers originally named the new protein using an informal Japanese word meaning weak or not rigid and the diminutive suffix attached to young boy's names, 'hero-hero kun.' Years later, researchers realized the name also fit the English meaning of 'hero,' a brave defender.

Astrophysicists wear 3D glasses to watch quasars
A team of researchers has shown a way to determine the origins and nature of quasar light by its polarization. The new approach is analogous to the way cinema glasses produce a 3D image by feeding each eye with the light of a particular polarization: either horizontal or vertical. The authors managed to distinguish between the light coming from different parts of quasars -- their disks and jets -- by discerning its distinct polarizations.

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