Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

August 13, 2020
Syphilis may have spread through Europe before Columbus
Columbus brought syphilis to Europe -- or did he? A recent study conducted at the University of Zurich now indicates that Europeans could already have been infected with this sexually transmitted disease before the 15th century.

Systemic racism has consequences for all life in cities
Social inequalities, specifically racism and classism, are impacting the biodiversity, evolutionary shifts and ecological health of plants and animals in our cities.

Sex, flies and videotape
Researchers discover key behaviour that triggers the transition from courtship to mating in fruit flies.

People power and satellites help scientists study climate impacts on Antarctic seals
A New Zealand-led international study of the crabeater seal population in Antarctica aims to understand environmental impacts on one of the southern-most mammals in the world.

Insect diversity boosted by combination of crop diversity and semi-natural habitats
To enhance the number of beneficial insect species in agricultural land, preserving semi-natural habitats and promoting crop diversity are both needed, according to new research published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Applied of Ecology.

Independent search engines respect your privacy but give more visibility to misinformation
Anti-vaccine websites, which could play a key role in promoting public hesitancy about a potential COVID vaccine, are far more likely to be found via independent search engines than through an internet giant like Google.

Spread of monsoon circulation changes explains uncertainty in global land monsoon precipitation projection
A new study emphasizes the importance of reliable prediction of circulation changes, to ensure that future projections of global land monsoon are suitable for use by policy makers.

Study suggests new potential approach against fatal childhood brain cancer
In mouse models of DIPG, a fatal childhood brain cancer, simultaneously attacking two metabolic pathways led to significant improvements in survival.

Hubble helps uncover the mystery of the dimming of Betelgeuse
New observations by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope suggest that the unexpected dimming of the supergiant star Betelgeuse was most likely caused by an immense amount of hot material ejected into space, forming a dust cloud that blocked starlight coming from Betelgeuse's surface.

Strict diet explains metabolic effect of gastric bypass surgery
In many studies, bariatric surgery has been highlighted as an almost magical method for weight loss and reversing type 2 diabetes.

Comparing excess deaths in New York during COVID-19 with 1918 influenza pandemic
Excess deaths in New York during the peak of the 1918 influenza pandemic were compared with those during the initial period of the COVID-19 outbreak in this study.

Cover crop roots are an essential key to understanding ecosystem services
To judge the overall effectiveness of cover crops and choose those offering the most ecosystem services, agricultural scientists must consider the plants' roots as well as above-ground biomass, according to Penn State researchers who tested the characteristics of cover crop roots in three monocultures and one mixture.

Monolayer transition metal dichalcogenide lens for high resolution imaging
An ultrathin optical lens made from monolayer of two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) could pave the way for next-generation imaging devices.

Single-cell analysis provides new insights into mitochondrial diseases
Investigators led by a team at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have made discoveries at the single cell level to uncover new details concerning mitochondrial diseases-- inherited disorders that interfere with energy production in the body and currently have no cure.

Hepatitis B: Natural controllers shed light on immunity mechanisms
To improve our understanding of the antibody response conferring protection against HBV infection, scientists from the Institut Pasteur and Inserm, in collaboration with the Roche Innovation Center in Switzerland, produced and characterized human monoclonal antibodies specific to viral envelope antigens, referred as HBsAg, from blood memory B cells isolated from HBV vaccinees and natural controllers.

Busting Up the Infection Cycle of Hepatitis B
Researchers at the University of Delaware have gained new understanding of the virus that causes hepatitis B and the ''spiky ball'' that encloses its genetic blueprint.

Many medical 'rainy day' accounts aren't getting opened or filled, study finds
One-third of the people who could benefit from a special type of savings account to cushion the blow of their health plan deductible aren't doing so, a new study finds.

Artificial intelligence recognizes deteriorating photoreceptors
A software based on artificial intelligence (AI), which was developed by researchers at the Eye Clinic of the University Hospital Bonn, Stanford University and University of Utah, enables the precise assessment of the progression of geographic atrophy (GA), a disease of the light sensitive retina caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Characteristics of COVID-19 patients during initial peak and resurgence in Houston
A major Houston health care system saw a significant increase in younger and Hispanic COVID-19 patients from the first surge to the second surge after Texas phased in reopening.

Breast cancer 'ecosystem' reveals possible new targets for treatment
Garvan researchers have used cellular genomics to uncover promising therapy targets for triple negative breast cancer.

Palaeontology: 429-million-year-old eye provides a view of trilobite life
The internal structure of a 429-million-year-old fossilized trilobite eye is almost identical to that of modern bees, according to a study published in Scientific Reports.

Scientists sound the alarm: Lockdowns may escalate the obesity epidemic
Emotional stress, economic anxiety, physical inactivity and social distance - locking down society to combat COVID-19 creates psychosocial insecurity that leads to obesity, warn three Danish researchers.

Positive contact between muslims and christians in soccer league built cohesion, with limitations
According to a study that evaluated how prejudice can be reduced when rival groups come together, having Muslim teammates caused Christian players in Iraq to change their behavior for the better toward their Muslim counterparts.

COVID-19 symptom tracker ensures privacy during isolation
An online COVID-19 symptom tracking tool developed by researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center ensures a person's confidentiality while being able to actively monitor their symptoms.

Researchers design efficient low-cost system for producing power at night
Researchers have designed an off-grid, low-cost modular energy source that can efficiently produce power at night.

Diabetes, weight change and pancreatic cancer risk
Researchers investigated an association between the duration of diabetes and recent weight loss with subsequent risk of pancreatic cancer in this observational study.

The behavior of therapeutic antibodies in immunotherapy
Since the late 1990s, immunotherapy has been the frontline treatment against lymphomas where synthetic antibodies are used to stop the proliferation of cancerous white blood cells.

'Critical' questions over disease risks from ocean plastics
Key knowledge gaps exist in our understanding of how ocean microplastics transport bacteria and viruses -- and whether this affects the health of humans and animals, researchers say.

When you're smiling, the whole world really does smile with you
From Sinatra to Katy Perry, celebrities have long sung about the power of a smile -- how it picks you up, changes your outlook, and generally makes you feel better.

Food-based approach to lowering cholesterol provides significant healthcare cost savings
A new study is the first to show a food-based approach using clinically-proven diet interventions to lower cholesterol levels, such as Step One Foods®, provides significant healthcare cost savings.

UMD researchers identify structure of blue whirls
'Blue whirls' -- small, spinning blue flames that produce almost no soot when they burn -- have attracted great interest since their discovery in 2016, in part because they represent a potential new avenue for low-emission combustion.

Multiple sclerosis drug blocks HIV infection and transmission in human immune cells
An immunomodulatory drug called fingolimod, which is approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, blocks human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and transmission in human immune cells, according to a study published August 13 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by Postdoctoral Fellow Rachel Resop and Assistant Professor Alberto Bosque of The George Washington University, and colleagues.

Academia from home
As the uncertainty around reopening college and university campuses this fall continues, those who work, study, teach and conduct research are navigating the uncertain terrain of the 'new normal.' They are balancing physical distancing and other COVID-19 prevention practices with productivity, creating home workspaces and mastering communications and teamwork across time and space.

Who's your daddy? Male seahorses transport nutrients to embryos
New research by Dr Camilla Whittington and her team at the University of Sydney has found male seahorses transport nutrients to their developing babies during pregnancy.

How a protein stops cells from attacking their own DNA
Scientists at EPFL have demonstrated the mechanism that allows cells to fight off viral DNA without triggering an immune response against their own genetic material.

Evidence of direct viral damage to olfactory complex in patients testing positive for SARS-CoV-2
Researchers report the clinicopathologic and autopsy findings observed in the olfactory system of two patients with SARS-CoV-2-positive nasal swabs.

Radiotherapy, androgen deprivation timing and implications for prostate cancer treatment during COVID-19
National Cancer Database data from 2004 to 2014 were used to examine the association between overall survival and timing of radiotherapy relative to androgen deprivation therapy in patients with prostate cancer.

Researchers assemble first comprehensive list of Panama's trees with geographic ranges
In a new research paper published in Forest Ecosystems, The Morton Arboretum Center for Tree Science Research Fellow Richard Condit, PhD, provided the first comprehensive checklist of Panama's trees to include geographic ranges by using an innovative, repeatable method for assessing extinction risk of trees in poorly studied areas.

New catalyst efficiently turns carbon dioxide into useful fuels and chemicals
By efficiently converting CO2 into complex hydrocarbon products, a new catalyst developed by a team of Brown researchers could potentially aid in large-scale efforts to recycle excess carbon dioxide.

FEFU scientists propose to restore neural tissue with hydrogels based on modified pectins
Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) scientists have developed implantable hydrogels based on plant polysaccharides (pectins).

Large-scale COVID-19 vaccine production will require knowledge transfer on manufacturing
Massive, rapid production of vaccines to fight COVID-19 will require firms to share know-how not just about what to make, but how to make it, write Nicholson Price and colleagues in this Policy Forum.

Becoming a nerve cell: Timing is of the essence
A Belgian team of researchers led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen (VIB-KU Leuven) finds that mitochondria regulate a key event during brain development: how neural stem cells become nerve cells.

UChicago scientists discover way to make quantum states last 10,000 times longer
A team of scientists at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering announced the discovery of a simple modification that allows quantum systems to stay operational--or 'coherent'--10,000 times longer than before.

The larynx has evolved more rapidly in primates
The larynx is larger, more variable in size, and has undergone faster rates of evolution in primates than in carnivores, according to a study published August 11, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Daniel Bowling of Stanford University, W.

USC scientists identify the order of COVID-19's symptoms
COVID-19 has some symptoms in the upper and lower gastrointestinal tracts that may help doctors rule out flu or other illnesses and hasten treatment.

Unread second-opinion radiology reports waste health care resources
According to ARRS' American Journal of Roentgenology (AJR), 537 of 4,696 second-opinion reports--11.4%, likely underestimated, too--were not read by a clinician.

Analyzing the factors that enable fish to reproduce in the Gulf of Cadiz
The Guadalquivir estuary showed the highest density of early stages fish and also of macro-zooplankton (fish prey).

Sustainable nylon production made possible by bacteria discovery
Scientists have developed a sustainable method of making one of the most valuable industrial chemicals in the world - known as adipic acid -- which is a key component of the material.

Exercise Enhancement
Blocking the activity of a fat-regulating enzyme in the muscles of mice leads to an increased capacity for endurance exercise, according to the results of a new study.

Study focuses on a different kind of liquid biopsy to detect cancer
In a study published August 13, 2020, in Cell by a team of collaborators from Memorial Sloan Kettering and Weill Cornell Medicine, researchers report that tiny packages of materials released by tumors, called EVPs (extracellular vesicles and particles), may serve as biomarkers for detecting a number of different types of cancer in the early stages.

Flu vaccine induces short-lived bone marrow plasma cells, limiting vaccination longevity
Influenza-specific bone marrow plasma cells - responsible for maintaining the level of protective antibodies following a flu shot - are short-lived, and decline to their pre-vaccination levels within a year, researchers report.

Landmark paper calls for need to develop the world's microbiome biobanking infrastructure
A team of scientists, led by CABI's Dr Matthew Ryan, have outlined a series of challenges and opportunities presented in a necessary review of how microbiomes - biological communities including bacteria, archaea, fungi, algae, protists and viruses - can be 'banked' and preserved for generations to come.

Snowshoe hare carcasses feed more then the usual suspects, study shows
What do lynx, flying squirrels, ravens, and wolverines have in common?

Perovskite and organic solar cells prove successful on a rocket flight in space
Almost all satellites are powered by solar cells - but solar cells are heavy.

Delaying prostate cancer radiation therapy offers room for flexibility in pandemic peak
A new study by investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital found that for men with unfavorable intermediate-risk or high-risk localized prostate cancer, who are receiving radiation and hormone therapy, delaying radiation while remaining on hormone therapy is unlikely to impact survival.

Seasonal flu vaccinations don't 'stick' long-term in bone marrow
Seasonal flu vaccination does increase the number of antibody-producing cells specific for flu in the bone marrow.

NASA-NOAA satellite nighttime imagery reveals development of Tropical Storm Josephine
The tenth named tropical cyclone of the Atlantic Ocean hurricane season was named today, Aug.

Reconstructing global climate through Earth's history
Accurate temperature estimates of ancient oceans are vital because they are the best tool for reconstructing global climate conditions in the past.

Strianassa lerayi anker, new shrimp species from Panama's Coiba national park
Last year's expedition, part of the project to compare microbiomes of animals in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, resulted in the discovery of several new animal genera and a species of mud shrimp named for STRI and post-doctoral fellow, Matt Leray

Warming Greenland ice sheet passes point of no return
Nearly 40 years of satellite data from Greenland shows that glaciers on the island have shrunk so much that even if global warming were to stop today, the ice sheet would continue shrinking.

Radiology reveals alarming rise in intimate partner violence during COVID-19 pandemic
Investigators assessed the incidence, pattern and severity of injuries related to Intimate Partner Violence in patients at the Brigham during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pollution linked to antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic resistance is an increasing health problem, but new research suggests it is not only caused by the overuse of antibiotics.

WTF, when will scientists learn to use fewer acronyms?
Have you heard of DNA? It stands for Do Not Abbreviate apparently.

In Iraq, mixed-religion soccer teams helped build social cohesion, healed wounds after war
A new study in Science used sports to promote reconciliation between Christians, who were displaced and persecuted under ISIS in Iraq, and their Muslim neighbors.

Bird and reptile tears aren't so different from human tears
Vision is essential for the survival of most animal species and tears provide potentially life-saving protection for the eyes.

MS drug may be used to inhibit hiv infection and reduce latent reservoir
A multiple sclerosis drug may be used to block HIV infection and reduce the latent reservoir, according to research published in PLOS Pathogens by a team at the RGeorge Washington University.

Ancient genomes suggest woolly rhinos went extinct due to climate change, not overhunting
Although overhunting led to the demise of some prehistoric megafauna after the last ice age, a study appearing August 13 in the journal Current Biology found that the extinction of the woolly rhinoceros may have been caused by climate change.

A watershed moment for US water quality
A new federal rule that determines how the Clean Water Act is implemented leaves millions of miles of streams and acres of wetlands unprotected based on selective interpretation of case law and a distortion of scientific evidence, researchers say in a new publication.

Researchers develop cell injection technique that could help reverse vision loss
University of Toronto Engineering researchers have developed a new method of injecting healthy cells into damaged eyes.

Global deaths due to smokeless tobacco are up by a third, according to new study
The number of deaths globally due to smokeless tobacco has gone up by a third in 7 years to an estimated 350,000 people, a new study suggests.

A new neurofeedback strategy to treat pain
Researchers in Japan and Cambridge have developed a new neurofeedback strategy that might help to treat patients who suffer from chronic pain in the future.

Effective new tool created for discerning fake news
Research from the University of Texas at Austin shows platforms can reduce the extent to which their users fall for and spread fake news articles by deploying a better designed fake news flag.

New tools catch and release molecules at the flip of a light switch
A Princeton team has developed a class of light-switchable, highly adaptable molecular tools with new capabilities to control cellular activities.

EULAR: Amputations of body parts: The combination of diabetes and gout significantly increases
Compared to the average population, people suffering from both gout and diabetes have a 25 times higher risk of requiring an amputation of peripheral limbs such as feet, toes or lower legs.

Virus uses decoy strategy to evade immune system, Otago research reveals
University of Otago researchers have learnt more about how viruses operate and can evade the immune system and are now using their discovery to help learn more about COVID-19.

Child disability can reduce educational outcomes for older siblings
A recent paper published in The Economic Journal indicates that, in families with disabled children, the second born child is more adversely affected cognitively than the first-born child.

Research recommends integrated approaches to managing reniform nematodes in cotton
While there are many pests affecting cotton, the reniform nematode is one the most damaging, with the ability to cause annual losses of approximately $33 million within the Mid-Southern United States.

Employers reject transgender people
Employers in Sweden more often reject job applications from transgender people -- especially in male-dominated occupations.

Contaminants from Mount Polley tailings spill continue to affect Quesnel lake
Natural mixing of lake waters may resuspend contaminants deposited in a catastrophic mine spill six years ago, according to a new paper led by a University of Alberta scientist.

NUS research breakthrough: CircASXL1-1 regulates BAP1 deubiquitinase activity in leukemia
Researchers from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have identified covalently closed circular RNAs (circRNAs) from key genes involved in leukemia development and provided greater understanding of their roles in haematological malignancies.

Outcomes associated with kinin B2 receptor antagonist for treatment of COVID-19
The association between receipt of the bradykinin 2 (B2) receptor antagonist icatibant and improved oxygenation in patients with COVID-19 is investigated in this study.

A new, 20-minute assay for COVID-19 diagnosis
Researchers have developed a new test that can diagnose COVID-19 in just 20 minutes.

Task force examines role of mobile health technology in COVID-19 pandemic
An international task force, including two University of Massachusetts Amherst computer scientists, concludes in new research that mobile health (mHealth) technologies are a viable option to monitor COVID-19 patients at home and predict which ones will need medical intervention.

Hubble finds that Betelgeuse's mysterious dimming is due to a traumatic outburst
Observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope are showing that the unexpected dimming of the supergiant star Betelgeuse was most likely caused by an immense amount of hot material ejected into space, forming a dust cloud that blocked starlight coming from Betelgeuse's surface.

COVID-19 outcomes in french nursing homes with staff confinement
COVID-19-related outcomes in French nursing homes that implemented voluntary staff confinement with residents are investigated in this study.

Research gets to the heart of organ shape in nature
Researchers have shed fresh light on the evolution and function of the shapes we see in nature - using as a model the heart shaped fruits of the Capsella genus.

Radiation to treat pediatric cancers may have lasting impact on heart and metabolic health
Adult survivors of childhood abdominal and pelvic cancers who had been treated with radiation therapy experienced abnormalities in body composition and had worse cardiometabolic health compared with the general population.

Sufficiently distant parks and public services facilitate older adults' physical activity
Outdoor mobility facilitating parks, walking trails, and public services at greater distances increased physical activity, according to a study conducted at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences of the University of Jyväskylä.

Review: Consequences of systemic racism in urban environments
Even as studies have shown that the uneven distribution of urban heat islands, urban tree canopy cover, and urban environmental hazards, for example, are strongly dictated by structural racism and classism in cities, relatively few studies have addressed the varied contributions of social factors like race to ecological heterogeneity in cities.

Restoration helps forests recover faster
Actively restored forests recover above ground biomass faster than areas left to regenerate naturally after being logged, according to a long-term study on Borneo lowland rainforest led by the University of Dundee, Aberdeen and ETH Zurich.

Big dogs face more joint problems if neutered early
Heavier mixed-breed dogs have higher health risks if neutered or spayed early, according to a new study from researchers at the University of California, Davis.

NASA-NOAA satellite nighttime imagery helps confirm Elida now post-tropical
NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite provided a night-time image of Elida in the Eastern Pacific Ocean that helped confirm the storm had weakened to a post-tropical cyclone.

Studying how skin cancer starts
New research by Ortiz-Rodríguez and mentor Carlos Crespo, a professor and lead researcher in the The Crespo Group lab, reveals for perhaps the first time how quickly certain pre-cancerous lesions can form on the DNA of our skin when exposed to sunlight.

'Madsen' wheat as source of disease resistance
Researchers show that 'Madsen,' a commonly used wheat variety, is resistant to more pests and diseases than recently thought, making it a good source of genes for breeding better wheat.

Recalling memories from a third-person perspective changes how our brain processes them
Adopting a third-person, observer point of view when recalling your past activates different parts of your brain than recalling a memory seen through your own eyes, according to a new paper.

New type of taste cell discovered in taste buds
Our mouths may be home to a newly discovered set of multi-tasking taste cells that -- unlike most known taste cells, which detect individual tastes -- are capable of detecting sour, sweet, bitter and umami stimuli.

Pancake bonding as a new tool to construct novel metal based magnetic materials
A Canadian-Finnish collaboration has led to the discovery of a novel magnetic compound in which two magnetic dysprosium metal ions are bridged by two aromatic organic radicals forming a pancake bond.

UCalgary researchers discover the microbiome's role in attacking cancerous tumours
University of Calgary researchers have discovered which gut bacteria help our immune system battle cancerous tumours and how they do it.

Native trees thrive in teak plantations and may protect the Panama Canal
Teak often underperforms on poor soils. By planting valuable native trees in existing teak plantations, researchers will evaluate the potential increase in timber value, biodiversity value and ecosystem services provided.

Study: Medical marijuana associated with fewer hospitalizations for individuals with SCD
Individuals with sickle cell disease (SCD) who receive medical marijuana to treat pain may require fewer visits to the hospital, according to a new study in Blood Advances.

New study shows increase in domestic violence injuries during COVID-19
There was a higher incidence and severity of physical intimate partner violence (IPV) among patients seen at a large, academic medical center in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic compared with the prior three years, according to a new study.

Bacterial enzymes hijacked to create complex molecules normally made by plants
Chemists at Scripps Research have efficiently created three families of complex, oxygen-containing molecules that are normally obtainable only from plants.

To understand the machinery of life, this scientist breaks it on purpose
By tinkering with some of life's oldest components, astrobiologists hope to find clues about how life emerged.

How do we prioritize what we see?
It is known that different regions of the brain help us prioritize information so we can efficiently process visual scenes.

Waistline matters in kidney disease
Does fat matter in kidney disease? The investigators found that all measures of higher abdominal fat content (including visceral fat, liver fat, or subcutaneous fat) and slower walk times were associated with increased levels of cardiometabolic risk factors in adults with non-dialysis dependent kidney disease.

Research captures how human sperm swim in 3D
Using state-of-the-art 3D microscopy and mathematics, Dr Hermes Gadêlha from the University of Bristol, Dr Gabriel Corkidi and Dr Alberto Darszon from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, have reconstructed the movement of the sperm tail in 3D with high-precision.

Disparities in cancer outcomes due to COVID-19
This Viewpoint calls for greater attention to racial and socioeconomic health disparities affecting patients with cancer in the setting of COVID-19.

Restoring degraded tropical forests generates big carbon gains
An international team of scientists from 13 institutions has provided the first long-term comparison of aboveground carbon recovery rates between naturally regenerating and actively restored forests in Malaysian Borneo.

Study finds cancer mapping may solve puzzle of regional disease links
New statistical analysis finds cancer mapping may help question regional disease links.

Adding a meter between meals boosts vegetarian appeal -- study
Researchers have identified the optimal dish positions to help ''nudge'' diners into picking more planet-friendly meals in cafeterias.

Researchers demonstrate fundamentally new approach to ultrasound imaging
Researchers have demonstrated a new technique for creating ultrasound images.

Engineered capsids for efficient gene delivery to the eye
A rational design approach created novel variants of adeno-associated viral (AAV) capsids.

Smoking strongly linked to women's lower take up of cancer screening services
Smoking is strongly linked to lower use of cancer screening services by women, and more advanced disease once cancer is diagnosed, reveals research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Heavy class A drug use linked to heightened risk of sight loss in US military
Heavy use of class A drugs, such as heroin, methamphetamine, or cocaine is linked to a heightened risk of partial or total blindness among US military personnel, finds research published online in the journal BMJ Military Health.

​NTU Singapore scientists develop artificial intelligence system for high precision recognition of hand gestures
Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system that recognises hand gestures by combining skin-like electronics with computer vision.

Flavonoids' presence in sorghum roots may lead to frost-resistant crop
Flavonoid compounds -- produced by the roots of some sorghum plants -- positively affect soil microorganisms, according to Penn State researchers, who suggest the discovery is an early step in developing a frost-resistant line of the valuable crop for North American farmers.
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