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Science News and Current Events for June 21, 2016


Nearly 10 million adults found to be severely nearsighted in the United States
About 9.6 million US adults are severely nearsighted, a new study shows.
Chemists find new way to recycle plastic waste into fuel
A new way of recycling millions of tons of plastic garbage into liquid fuel has been devised by researchers from the University of California, Irvine and the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry in China.
Vanderbilt, human vaccines project launch studies to decode human immune system
Researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center this month began recruiting volunteers to participate in a clinical trial aimed at decoding the human 'immunome,' the genetic underpinnings of the immune system.
Overweight and obese type 2 patients show improvements with structured nutrition therapy
Researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center have announced the results of a study that may change how nutrition therapy is delivered to overweight and obese patients with type 2 diabetes.
Caribbean Sea acts like a whistle and can be 'heard' from space
A study of the Caribbean Sea by University of Liverpool scientists has revealed that, in the midst of all the noise of the ocean, this region behaves like a whistle, which blows so loudly that it can be 'heard' from space in the form of oscillations of the Earth's gravity field.
Highly efficient agent against Wilson disease
In the Journal of Clinical Investigation, scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München describe a small peptide that very efficiently binds excess copper from liver cells.
Itchy inflammation of mosquito bites helps viruses replicate
University of Leeds study has found that inflammation where a mosquito has bitten not only helps a virus such as Zika or dengue establish an infection in the body more quickly, but that it also helps it to spread around the body, increasing the likelihood of severe illness.
Green still a dream, petrol tipped to drive Australian car market in 2030
Petrol-powered vehicles are predicted to dominate the Australian car market in the year 2030 despite the growing concern of carbon emissions and its impact on the environment, a QUT-led study has found.
£4.5m 'Lab in a bubble' project could improve cancer care
A £4.5million University of Strathclyde project to produce bubble-sized 'laboratories' could boost cancer treatment, medical imaging and industrial processes.
How squash agriculture spread bees in pre-Columbian North America
Using genetic markers, researchers have for the first time shown how cultivating a specific crop led to the expansion of a pollinator species.
Tracking the aluminum used to purify tap water
A Kobe University research group have developed a new analysis method that uses magnetic fields to quickly and accurately measure the concentration of aluminum used to purify tap water.
Mapping the subway's microbiome
Barcelona takes part in the international research project Metasub, which aims to map the microbiome of public transit systems in 54 cities worldwide, including New York, Hong Kong, Paris or Sydney.
Protein-based risk score may help predict CV events among patients with heart disease
In a study appearing in the June 21 issue of JAMA, Peter Ganz, M.D., of the University of California-San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a study to develop and validate a score to predict risk of cardiovascular outcomes among patients with coronary heart disease using analysis of circulating proteins.
Certain leisure activities may reduce post-surgical delirium among older adults
Researchers reported that each additional day of participation in a leisure activity reduced post-operative delirium by 8 percent.
Significant humus loss in forests of the Bavarian Alps
Alpine forests will be at great risk should weather phenomena such as droughts and torrential rain become more frequent.
Existing diabetes drug shows effectiveness against chronic liver disease
Researchers have found that an existing diabetes drug can be used to halt progression of another disease that is a leading cause of liver transplants.
New link found between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease
Drugs used to treat diabetes could also be used to treat Alzheimer's disease, and vice versa, according to new research from the University of Aberdeen, published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes).
Core proteins exert control over DNA function
Histone proteins at the core of nucleosomes and their tails exert control over the exposure of genes for binding, as demonstrated in simulations by Rice University researchers.
Important milestone reached on road to a redefined kilogram
The instrument likely to set the future mass standard for the US takes its first full measurements.
Some women's retirement plan: Rely on Prince Charming
Women believe that somehow, Prince Charming will arrange for their financial security in their Golden Years.
Male general practitioners more likely to consider heart disease a 'man's issue'
Male general practitioners are more likely to consider heart disease a 'man's issue' and neglect to assess cardiovascular risk in female patients, reports a study of 52 GPs and more than 2,200 patients published today in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology.
NIH launches large study of pregnant women in areas affected by Zika virus
NIH and Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz-Fiocruz (Fiocruz), a national scientific research organization linked to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, have begun a multi-country study to evaluate the magnitude of health risks that Zika virus infection poses to pregnant women and their developing fetuses and infants.
Assisted dying for psychiatric disorders: Serious public health impact
Offering medical assistance in dying to people in Canada on the basis of psychiatric illnesses could put vulnerable people at risk, argues a commentary in Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Announcing Laureates of the 2016 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists
Three young scientists are being recognized for discovering novel ways to fight the most challenging human diseases and explore the depths of space with today's announcement of the winners of the 2016 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists.
Better material insights with gentle e-beams
There are several ways to change a molecule, chemically or physically.
Internists testify about rising prescription drug prices and their impact on patients
The American College of Physicians today provided physician perspective on the escalating cost of prescription drugs, the impact of the costs on internal medicine physicians and their patients, and support for the intent of the bipartisan Creating and Restoring Equal Access to Equivalent Samples Act of 2016 to reduce anti-competitive practices.
Coexistence of superconductivity and charge density waves observed
Physicists at BESSY II of Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin studied an artificial structure composed of alternating layers of ferromagnetic and superconducting materials.
Primary care physicians primed to help patients be more active
Exercise plays a crucial role in being healthy and preventing disease.
Reforming clinical research to reduce waste
Many billions of dollars are spent on clinical research every year, yet much of the knowledge produced is not useful for guiding clinical decision making.
New study finds link between omega-3 supplementation and reduced hospital stays
A new meta-analysis published in Clinical Nutrition found that cardiac surgery patients who received omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in advance of surgery experienced reduced postoperative cardiac arrhythmias and reduced the length of stay in the hospital by up to 2.4 days.
Diamond-based resonators might become highly sensitive detectors
A comprehensive study of acoustic waves in piezoelectric layered structures has led to a number of interesting discoveries.
New model predicts complication risks in surgery for spinal cord compression
A simple model consisting of four risk factors can help surgeons to predict the risk of complications after surgery for cervical spondylotic myelopathy -- a common condition causing compression of the spinal cord in the neck, reports a study in the July issue of Neurosurgery, official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, published by Wolters Kluwer.
Drones could be cheaper alternative to delivering vaccines in developing world
Using unmanned drones to deliver vaccines in low- and middle-income countries may save money and improve vaccination rates, new research led by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center suggests.
Medicare ACOs have achieved savings in providing care to patients with multiple conditions
There are now over 700 Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) in place across the country, making them one of the largest health care payment and delivery reforms underway in the United States.
Versatile method yields synthetic biology building blocks
In synthetic biology, scientists routinely create micro-compartments, so called vesicles, such as liposomes and polymersomes.
Ultra-thin slices of diamonds reveal geological processes
By using ultra-thin slices of diamonds, Dorrit E. Jacob and her colleagues from the Macquarie University in Australia and the University of Sydney found the first direct evidence for the formation of diamonds by a process known as redox freezing.
'Get children playing outdoors' to improve academic success and reduce obesity
Campaigns to promote physical activity and reduce obesity among children should focus more on active outdoor play, according to a study led at the University of Strathclyde.
Iraqi Kurdistan site reveals evolution towards the first cities of Mesopotamia
A Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) campaign at the site of Gird Lashkir, in Iraq, reveals the evolution from the first farming societies to the consolidation of the first cities of Mesopotamia.
Researchers explore epigenetic influences of chronic pain
New research shows how the DNA-binding protein MeCP2 can regulate the expression of a large number of genes that modulate pain.
Is 'when we eat' as important as 'what we eat'?
In a review of research on the effect of meal patterns on health, the few studies available suggest that eating irregularly is linked to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity).
Computer watches human camera operators to improve automated sports broadcasts
An automated camera system was able to learn how to better film basketball and soccer games -- and smoothly recover from mistakes -- by watching human camera operators, scientists at Disney Research report.
Fish out of water are more common than thought
Fish have evolved the ability to live on land many times, challenging the perception that this extreme lifestyle shift was likely to have been a rare occurrence in ancient times.
Strong global economic engagement is essential for US prosperity, RAND study says
The United States stands to gain more from both strengthening global institutions and rules, such as those governing trade, direct investment, and development assistance as well as engaging with the world's rising powers than from pulling back, a new RAND Corporation study argues.
Understanding rogue ocean waves may be simple after all
An international team of scientists has developed a relatively simple mathematical explanation for the rogue ocean waves that can develop seemingly out of nowhere to sink ships and overwhelm oil platforms with walls of water as much as 25 meters high.
The clean dozen: 12 techs near commercial use
A dozen clean energy technologies that enable everything from lightweight, fuel-sipping cars to the expansion of renewable energy and cleaner fossil fuel use are getting a boost at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, thanks to $4.4 million from the Department of Energy's Technology Commercialization Fund.
Pipeline device can treat challenging 'distal anterior' brain aneurysms
A recently introduced technology called the Pipeline Embolization Device can provide a less-invasive approach for difficult-to-treat aneurysms of the arteries supplying blood to the front of the brain, reports a study in the July issue of Neurosurgery, official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, published by Wolters Kluwer.
Astronomers find the first 'wind nebula' around a magnetar
Astronomers have discovered a vast cloud of high-energy particles called a wind nebula around a rare ultra-magnetic neutron star, or magnetar, for the first time.
Gamble on your opponent's gaze if you want to win
Blackjack players who hold high-value cards tend to glance fleetingly to the right, whereas those with a lower-value hand do so spontaneously to the left.
Better soil data key for future food security
Future food security depends on a variety of factors -- but better soil data could substantially help improve projections of future crop yields, shows new research from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.
Fighting experience makes beetles better mothers, study shows
Female beetles that are seasoned fighters put more effort into raising their offspring than mothers with no conflict experience, a study suggests.
Elevated CRP may be response, not cause of disease
Genetically raised levels of C-reactive protein (CRP, an inflammatory protein) are associated with protection against schizophrenia, according to a Mendelian randomization study published this week in PLOS Medicine.
More pills for the young'uns
More prescriptions for psychotropic drugs in children and adolescents in Germany have been issued than in the past.
Diet high in fiber and vitamin A key to preventing allergies to peanuts and other triggers
Eating a diet rich in fiber can actually shape the immune system to reduce allergies to substances such as peanuts, new research shows.
UNC scientist receives global award for stem cell research
Li Qian, Ph.D., a University of North Carolina School of Medicine scientist has been awarded an inaugural global award from Science and Science Translational Medicine and Boyalife for her research in healing damaged heart muscle.
Study: Mandatory treatment not effective at reducing drug use, violates human rights
In an analysis recently published in BMJ, which coincided with the UN High Level Meeting on HIV in New York, Boston Medical Center clinician researchers assessed current global evidence and found that mandatory treatment for people with substance use disorders is not effective in reducing their drug use.
Low breast density worsens prognosis in breast cancer
Even though dense breast tissue is a risk factor for breast cancer, very low mammographic breast density is associated with a worse prognosis in breast cancer patients.
'Global City Sampling Day' to launch Weill Cornell Medicine-led study
Weill Cornell Medicine is kicking off its groundbreaking international study of antimicrobial resistance with an event called Global City Sampling Day.
New view of brain development: Striking differences between adult and newborn mouse brain
Spikes in neuronal activity in young mice do not spur corresponding boosts in blood flow -- a discovery that stands in stark contrast to the adult mouse brain.
AMDIS and OpenNotes announce partnership to empower patients
The Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS) and OpenNotes have announced a partnership to advance transparency in health care and enhance patient and clinician communication by inviting patients to read and engage with the contents of their medical records.
'Coral zombies' may spell doom for coral reefs around world
Scientists have known for a while that coral reefs around the world are dying, and in a worst-case scenario they were counting on large, healthy-looking corals to repopulate.
Scorpions have similar tastes in burrow architecture
New research on the burrows of scorpions in diverse environments finds that these predatory arachnids build strikingly similar architectural features in their homes.
Pollen allergies have increased among Swedish adults
The prevalence of pollen allergies among adults in Sweden has increased.
Study finds decrease in uninsured hospital patients, increase in those with Medicaid
In a study appearing in the June 21 issue of JAMA, Matthew M.
Pilot study successfully uses DNA sequencing to diagnose brain infections
In a proof-of-principle study, a team of physicians and bioinformatics experts at Johns Hopkins reports they were able to diagnose or rule out suspected brain infections using so called next-generation genetic sequencing of brain tissue samples.
How chameleons capture their prey
The mucus secreted at the tip of a chameleon's tongue has a viscosity 400 times larger than the one of human saliva.
CAR T cell therapy can now target solid tumors: Mouse study
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, which edits a cancer patient's T cells to recognize their tumors, has successfully helped patients with blood cancers but has yet to show the ability to treat solid tumors.
Mice fed more fiber have less severe food allergies
The development of food allergies in mice can be linked to what their gut bacteria are being fed, reports a study in Cell Reports.
Research bolsters case for a present-day subsurface ocean on Pluto
An updated thermal model for Pluto suggests that a liquid water ocean beneath the dwarf planet's ice shell is a fairly likely scenario, and that the ocean is probably still there today.
$1.3 million grant to predict fluid behavior, enhance oil recovery
In the US, approximately 60 percent of oil underground is inaccessible through conventional recovery methods, but through a new $1.3 million grant from Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Russell Johns, professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering, is developing improved methods to free the once-trapped fossil fuel.
Measuring Planck's constant, NIST's watt balance brings world closer to new kilogram
A high-tech version of a balance scale has just brought scientists a critical step closer toward a new and improved definition of the kilogram.
New research details how big game follow spring green-up
While biologists long have thought that animals essentially 'surf the green wave' of new plant growth from low-elevation winter range to high-elevation summer range, the new research has measured how precisely the animal movements are aligned with the green-up.
Clemson professors honored for product that can extend pet food shelf life
Two Clemson professors have won a national award for an innovative natural product they have created that can extend the shelf life of pet food.
New statistical approach will help researchers better determine cause-effect
Researchers have developed a new statistical technique that can help scientists determine causation of effects they are studying.
Loyola study reveals how HIV enters cell nucleus
Loyola University Chicago scientists have solved a mystery that has long baffled HIV researchers: How does HIV manage to enter the nucleus of immune system cells?
In doctors we trust -- especially when they admit to bias
A doctor's guidance may reassure us more than we realize --especially if she says she is likely to recommend treatment in her field of expertise, known as 'specialty bias.'
The world's most delicious chemical reaction (video)
Why does fresh, hot toast have a more complex flavor than plain bread?
Insulin-sensitive fat leads to obesity
SORLA is a protein that influences the balance of metabolic processes in adipose tissue, a particular form of fat.
Hibernation study yields insights about organ protection
Novel adaptations discovered in hibernating animals may reveal ways to mitigate injuries associated with strokes, heart attacks and organ transplants, according to researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Duke University.
Fossil fuel combustion endangers children's health in two significant ways: A scientist reviews the evidence
Writing in a commentary in Environmental Health Perspectives, Frederica Perera, director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH), identifies fossil fuel combustion and associated air pollution and carbon dioxide (CO2) as the root cause of much of the ill health of children today.
Microwave imaging expert at Sandia Labs honored as SPIE fellow for radar work
Sandia National Laboratories researcher Armin Doerry has been named a SPIE fellow for his technical achievements in imaging microwave radar technology development, design and analysis.
Research shows how visual perception slows with age
When older adults tell stories, they often go off on tangents because they have trouble inhibiting other thoughts.
Sweden's 100 percent carbon-free emissions challenge
The Swedish power supply is largely free of carbon emissions.
Odors can be measured by analytical chemistry
For the first time scientists have developed a convincing model able to measure odors from pig farms by means of precise measurements of the content of odorants in the atmosphere.
Compiler for analog computers enhances biological modeling
Last week, at the Association for Computing Machinery's conference on Programming Language Design and Implementation, researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and Dartmouth College presented a new compiler for analog computers, a program that translates between high-level instructions written in a language intelligible to humans and the low-level specifications of circuit connections in an analog computer.
The sound of music: How the songbird learns its melody
In zebra finches, the neurons associated with the memory of the father bird's song have been pinpointed.
The benefits of friending a grownup
When teen and adult worlds collide on social media it can be weird and awkward at times, but research from Drexel University suggests these socially messy interactions can turn out to be valuable life experiences.
Immense species richness of bacterial-eating microorganisms discovered in soil
Millions of microorganisms play a major role in the decomposition of soil matter.
Eliminating blood test may increase availability of donor hearts
A blood test that results in donor hearts being rejected may be unnecessary in predicting the success or failure of heart transplants.
Perot Museum's research on massive vertebrae sheds new light on Alamosaurus sanjuanensis
The discovery nearly two decades ago of nine beautifully articulated vertebrae at Big Bend National Park sheds new light on a 66 million-year-old sauropod dinosaur native to Texas and the North American southwest called Alamosaurus sanjuanensis.
UNC researchers help create key diagnostic measures for gastrointestinal disorders
UNC School of Medicine faculty members took on critical roles in amending diagnostic criteria questionnaires for functional GI disorders, which affect millions of people worldwide.
New CAR T cell therapy using double target aimed at solid tumors
Chimeric antigen receptors engineered from a patient's own immune cells, have been successful for treating blood cancers, but using CARs for solid tumors has been limited by side effects to normal tissues containing the protein targeted by the engineered cells.
Making computers reason and learn by analogy
Using the power of analogy, Northwestern University professor Ken Forbus's structure-mapping engine gives computers the ability to reason like humans and even solve moral dilemmas.
New evidence links exclusive breastfeeding, early play/stimulation to children's later success
A pair of new studies further strengthen scientific understanding of the links between what a child experiences in the first years of life and later childhood behavior and abilities.
Why planes freeze
Shanghai Jiao Tong University researchers have learned more about the role of droplet size impact in aircraft icing to improved safety.
On 9/11, America's Dunkirk
On 9/11, World Trade Center office workers who escaped the wreckage of the initial attacks fled in desperation.
Frontier research boosted by international commitment to top science
At the Intergovernmental Conference hosted by the Medical Research Council of the UK in London, on June 10th, representatives from the governments that support the Human Frontier Science Program came together to confirm a financial framework of the Program from 2017-2019.
Taking notes boosts memory of jurors, new study finds
Jurors who are allowed to take and review notes during court trials are less likely to forget critical evidence, a new University of Liverpool study has found.
Inflammation from mosquito bites may enhance viral infection
The itchy, red welts that appear after being bitten by a mosquito may help any viruses the insect is carrying pass on to a new host.
Medicaid expansion brought across-the-board relief for Michigan hospitals, study finds
It happened fast. It happened in nearly every hospital in the state.
Some plant-based therapies associated with modest improvement in menopausal symptoms
An analysis of more than 60 studies suggests that some plant-based therapies are associated with modest reductions in the frequency of hot flashes and vaginal dryness but no significant reduction in night sweats, according to a study appearing in the June 21 issue of JAMA.
Estuaries like Chesapeake Bay could contribute more to global warming than once thought
Estuaries and coastal systems are thought to be a relatively small source of atmospheric methane, as little as 3 percent.
The healing powers of music: Mozart and Strauss for treating hypertension
The music of Mozart and Strauss is able to lower blood lipid concentrations and the heart rate.
Mayo Clinic introduces precision medicine in psychiatry
Mayo Clinic is highlighting the potential merits of using precision medicine in prescribing antidepressants.
Improvement seen in US diet
In nationally representative surveys conducted between 1999 and 2012, several improvements in self-reported dietary habits were identified, such as increased consumption of whole grains, with additional findings suggesting persistent or worsening disparities based on race/ethnicity and education and income level, according to a study appearing in the June 21 issue of JAMA.
NEJM Group launches NEJM Resident 360 to best serve the needs of medical residents
NEJM Group announces the launch of NEJM Resident 360, a website and discussion platform that supports medical residents with the essential information they need to successfully and confidently navigate residency and beyond.
NASA analyzes short-lived Tropical Storm Danielle
Tropical Storm Danielle formed on June 20 and by June 21 the storm had dissipated over eastern Mexico.
UW-led team awarded $1 million bioelectronics innovation prize
An international team led by researchers at the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering based at the University of Washington is one of three finalists in a race to produce an implantable wireless device that can assess, stimulate and block the activity of nerves that control organs.
Solving science questions by playing games
Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute are creating a new portal designed to unite the fragmented landscape of virtual citizen science opportunities so that gamers and citizen scientists will have a single entry point to explore them all.
Experts take strong stance on testosterone deficiency and treatment
In an effort to address widespread concerns related to testosterone deficiency (TD) and its treatment with testosterone therapy, a group of international experts has developed a set of resolutions and conclusions to provide clarity for physicians and patients.
First international mathematics research institute launched in Australia
World leaders in the mathematical sciences are visiting Melbourne for a series of research programs at Australia's first international research institute for mathematics and statistics.
American Epilepsy Society supports next generation researchers with early career funding
At a time when funding for medical researchers early in their careers is scarce, the American Epilepsy Society is leading the effort with other epilepsy organizations to fund 19 early career fellowships and research grants.
Children's nutrition influenced by local neighborhoods
In an innovative study, Dr. Gilliland and his team used GPS technology to provide evidence that adolescents' exposure to junk food outlets during trips to and from school affects their likelihood of making a junk food purchase.
How water droplets freeze: The physics of ice and snow
A team of Chinese researchers use computer simulations to provide new answers to a long-standing dispute in the field of material and chemical physics field regarding how water droplets freeze.
Does oral cannabidiol convert to THC, a psychoactive form of cannabinoid, in the stomach?
A new study demonstrating the conversion of oral cannabidiol (CBD) to the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the presence of gastric fluids could explain why children given CBD to treat epilepsy had an unexpectedly high rate of adverse effects such as sleepiness and fatigue.
UMMS scientists use CRISPR to discover Zika and dengue weaknesses
Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Medical School (UMMS) have performed the first CRISPR/Cas9 screen to discover human proteins that Zika virus needs for replication.
Young children learn to take turns for mutual gain
It takes children until they are about 5 years old to learn to take turns with others, while the social skill seems to elude chimpanzees, according to new findings published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.
Sierra Nevada snowpack not likely to recover from drought until 2019
Even with this winter's strong El Niño, the Sierra Nevada snowpack will likely take until 2019 to return to pre-drought levels, according to a new analysis led by UCLA hydrology researchers.
Patients with inflammation more likely to develop diabetes after transplant
Up to 30 percent of people who receive organ transplants will develop diabetes, but researchers are unsure why.
EARTH: Dating of landslides around Oso reveals recurring patterns
The soil deposits, topographical relief and climate present a well-known hazard to Stillaguamish, Wash., region, but the devastating Oso landslide made determining how many others had occurred in the past in the valley imperative.
Endangered Boreal felt lichen set to decline 50 percent in 25 years despite conservation efforts
Erioderma pedicellatum, commonly known as the Boreal felt lichen, grows on trees in the damp boreal forests along the Atlantic coast.
NYSCF and CMTA announce largest-ever research resource for neuropathy disorders
The New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute and the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (CMTA) today announced that the stem cell lines resulting from their pathbreaking collaboration beginning in 2014 will now be available for use by other researchers in the largest and first ever initiative of its kind.

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