Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 23, 2020
AI-designed serotonin sensor may help scientists study sleep and mental health
In an article in Cell, National Institutes of Health-funded researchers described how they used advanced genetic engineering techniques to transform a bacterial protein into a new research tool that may help monitor serotonin transmission with greater fidelity than current methods.

What does 'do not resuscitate' mean? Varying interpretations may affect patient care, reports American Journal of Nursing
When patients have a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, it means they have chosen not to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

FDA Oncology Center of Excellence during COVID-19
This Viewpoint discusses initiatives of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Oncology Center of Excellence to address COVID-19-related challenges faced by patients with cancer and the health care professionals who provide cancer treatment.

The ABCs of species evolution
Almost four decades of research have led scientists at Japan's Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) to propose that a family of transporter proteins has played an important role in species evolution.

Physician-led Spanish-speaking volunteers address health care inequities during a crisis
In a perspective published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine, experts from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Department of Medicine, Office of Equity and Inclusion and Center for Diversity and Inclusion call for a more inclusive and culturally competent approach to clinical care based on best practices developed during the COVID-19 surge in Massachusetts.

Plastic is blowing in the wind
The discovery of microplastics in the air above the ocean reveals the spread of this hazardous pollution.

Children's emotion inferences from masked faces during the COVID-19 pandemic
Children struggle to discern emotions for mask-wearing faces, though masks are ''unlikely to dramatically impair'' their everyday interactions.

Light smokers may not escape nicotine addiction, study reveals
Even people who consider themselves to be casual cigarette smokers may be addicted, according to current diagnostic criteria.

Global trial reveals life saving drug for acute myeloid leukemia
Results from a global trial across 148 sites in 23 countries, showing a 30 per cent improvement in survival in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), significantly improving survival in older patients, over the age of 55, with the disease.

Highest levels of microplastics found in molluscs, new study says
Mussels, oysters and scallops have the highest levels of microplastic contamination among seafood, a new study reveals.

Assessment of air contamination by SARS-CoV-2 in hospital settings
In this systematic review of current evidence on air contamination with SARS-CoV-2 in hospital settings, the air close to and distant from patients with COVID-19 was frequently contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 RNA; however, few of these samples contained viable viruses.

Genetic engineering without unwanted side effects helps fight parasites
Modified CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing scissors are enabling researchers at UZH to make alterations to the genetic material of single-cell organisms that are indistinguishable from natural mutations.

New research highlights the importance of a forgotten organ in ensuring healthy pregnancies
An international research team led by UBC has uncovered for the first time the importance of a small gland tucked behind the sternum that works to prevent miscarriage and diabetes in pregnant women.

Ludwig Cancer Research study reveals how ecDNA forms and drives cancer drug resistance
Researchers led by Ludwig San Diego Member Don Cleveland and Peter Campbell of the Sanger Center have solved the mystery of how free-floating circular DNA fragments, which are almost exclusively found in cancer cells, drive gene amplification to generate drug resistance in cancer.

Climate crisis is causing lakes to shrink
Climate change is impacting not only the oceans, but also large inland lakes.

Sex Differences in Death After Stroke
Women were 39% more likely to die by 1 year after a first stroke.

Scientists at Tel Aviv University develop new gene therapy for deafness
A new study from Tel Aviv University (TAU) presents an innovative treatment for deafness, based on the delivery of genetic material into the cells of the inner ear.

Are two phases of quarantine better than one?
The importance of strict quarantine has been widely debated during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Chest pain risk assessment may reduce treatment disparities
The use of a standardized tool for assessing the risk of serious outcomes in patients with chest pain was associated with women at high risk receiving comparable care to men, according to new research published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine. Care received by women at low and intermediate risk was consistent with current clinical recommendations.

Experiment takes 'snapshots' of light, stops light, uses light to change properties of matter
The team generated a movie of how light waves churn on their nanometer wavelength scale by imaging electrons that two light photons coming together cause to emit from the surface.

Molecular reporters expose the allies of the brain tumor
Until recently, it was unclear how and why cancer cells adapt to their environment.

Wistar reports new class of antibiotics active against a wide range of bacteria
Wistar Institute scientists have discovered a new class of compounds that uniquely combine direct antibiotic killing of pan drug-resistant bacterial pathogens with a simultaneous rapid immune response for combatting antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

Quantum wave in helium dimer filmed for the first time
For the first time, an international team of scientists from Goethe University and the University of Oklahoma has succeeded in filming quantum physical effects on a helium dimer as it breaks apart.

Study suggests great earthquakes as cause of Arctic warming
A researcher from MIPT has proposed a new explanation for the Arctic's rapid warming.

Remarkable new species of snake found hidden in a biodiversity collection
A graduate research assistant at the University of Kansas was intrigued by an overlooked snake in the collections of the KU Biodiversity Institute.

Neurology patients faced with rising out-of-pocket costs for tests, office visits
Just like with drug costs, the amount of money people pay out-of-pocket for diagnostic tests and office visits for neurologic conditions has risen over 15 years, according to a new study published in the December 23, 2020, online issue of issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Triple chemotherapy combination improves metastatic colorectal cancer outcomes
Researchers from SWOG Cancer Research Network, a cancer clinical trials group funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, have shown that a triple drug combination -- of irinotecan, cetuximab, and vemurafenib -- is a more powerful tumor fighter and keeps people with metastatic colon cancer disease free for a significantly longer period of time compared with patients treated with irinotecan and cetuximab.

Estonian-led international network publishes first study of growing influence of social media
The Global Digital Human Rights Network has published a study on the growing role of social media in the processing of information and the fight against misinformation related to COVID-19.

Capturing 40 years of climate change for an endangered Montana prairie
Over 40 years of monitoring, an endangered bunchgrass prairie became hotter, drier and more susceptible to fire annually--but dramatic seasonal changes (not annual climate trends) seem to be driving the biggest changes in plant production, composition, and summer senescence.

Caspian crisis: Sinking sea levels threaten biodiversity, economy and regional stability
Coastal nations are rightly worried about a sea level rise, but in the countries around the Caspian Sea over a hundred million people are facing the opposite problem: an enormous drop in sea level.

Evidence for a massive paleo-tsunami at ancient Tel Dor, Israel
Underwater excavation, borehole drilling, and modelling suggests a massive paleo-tsunami struck near the ancient settlement of Tel Dor between 9,910 to 9,290 years ago, according to a study published December 23, 2020 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Gilad Shtienberg, Richard Norris and Thomas Levy from the Scripps Center for Marine Archaeology, San Diego CA, USA, and colleagues from Utah State University and the University of Haifa.

Theory describes quantum phenomenon in nanomaterials
Theoretical physicists Yoshimichi Teratani and Akira Oguri of Osaka City University, and Rui Sakano of the University of Tokyo have developed mathematical formulas that describe a physical phenomenon happening within quantum dots and other nanosized materials.

Perfect transmission through barrier using sound
A research team led by Professor Xiang Zhang, President of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) when he was a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, (UC Berkeley) has for the first time experimentally proved a century old quantum theory that relativistic particles can pass through a barrier with 100% transmission.

Scientists discover how our brains track where we and others go
For the first time, scientists have recorded how our brains navigate physical space and keep track of others' location.

Researchers develop new way to break reciprocity law
The breakthrough makes a significant step forward in photonics and microwave technology by eliminating the need for bulky magnets.

The thymus as key to healthy pregnancies
How the immune system adapts to pregnancy has puzzled researchers for decades.

Breaking bad: how shattered chromosomes make cancer cells drug-resistant
UC San Diego and Ludwig Cancer Research scientists describe how a phenomenon known as ''chromothripsis'' breaks up chromosomes, which then reassemble in ways that ultimately promote cancer cell growth.

Cooperation with R&D organizations is significantly distinctive for advanced innovators
The innovation performance of firms depends on their ability to innovate in cooperation with external partners.

Discovery of chemical clue may lead to solving cacao's black pod rot mystery
The finding of relatively high levels of the antimicrobial compound clovamide in the leaves of a disease-resistant strain of cacao has significant implications for breeding trees that can tolerate black pod rot, according to Penn State researchers who conducted a novel study.

Scientists identify new gene involved in autism spectrum disorder
UT Southwestern scientists have adapted a classic research technique called forward genetics to identify new genes involved in autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

New mechanisms to control dental procedure spray emissions
Since the onset of COVID-19 the potential risk of dental procedure spray emissions for SARS-CoV-2 transmission has challenged care providers and policy makers alike.

New research highlights the importance of the thymus in successful pregnancies
How the immune system adapts to pregnancies has puzzled scientists for decades.

Trophoblast motility in a gelatin hydrogel
Trophoblast cells, which surround the developing blastocyst in early pregnancy, play an important role in implantation in the uterine wall.

Survival of the thickest: Big brains make mammal populations less dense
Body size and diet are known to influence mammal abundance in different areas, but brain size had not been considered previously.

New mammal reference genome helps ID genetic variants for human health
A new reference genome assembly identified more than 85 million genetic variants in the rhesus macaque, the largest database of genetic variation for any one nonhuman primate species to date.

With COVID exacerbating superbug threat, researchers ID new weapon
Researchers have discovered a compound capable of pushing through barriers used by Gram-negative bacteria to resist antibiotics, damaging the bugs and preventing them from spreading.

Weedy Seadragon genomics reveal highly distinct populations
To describe weedy seadragons as unique is an understatement. With a fused, elongated jaw, body armour, leafy appendages and no pelvic fins, these fish are like no other.

Ancient DNA retells story of Caribbean's first people, with a few plot twists
The history of the Caribbean's original islanders comes into sharper focus in a new Nature study that combines decades of archaeological work with advancements in genetic technology.

How our brains track where we and others go
As COVID cases rise, physically distancing yourself from other people has never been more important.

Understanding nanoparticle entry mechanism into tumors
Announcing a new publication for BIO Integration journal. In this commentary the authors Phei Er Saw and Sangyong Jon from Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Daejeon, Korea, consider how the entry mechanism of nanoparticles into tumors determines the future direction of nanomedicine development.

Covering faces around kids won't mask emotions
The proliferation of face coverings to keep COVID-19 in check isn't keeping kids from understanding facial expressions, according to a new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison psychologists.

Disposable surgical masks best for being heard clearly when speaking, study finds
Researcher Ryan Corey recently heard from a friend who teaches at a school where some of the students have hearing loss.

TPU chemists convert plastic bottle waste into insecticide sorbent
Scientists of Tomsk Polytechnic University proposed a method to create a sorbent for imidacloprid insecticide removal from water.

Changing the perspective on the 'Cinderella of the cytoskeleton'
SETD2, known for its involvement on gene expression, also can affect functions controlled by the cytoskeleton, such as movement, metastasis and migration, which are very important for cancer cells.

Immersive virtual reality boosts the effectiveness of spinal cord stimulation for chronic pain
For patients receiving spinal cord stimulation (SCS) for chronic pain, integration with an immersive virtual reality (VR) system - allowing patients to see as well as feel the effects of electrical stimulation on a virtual image of their own body - can enhance the pain-relieving effectiveness of SCS, reports a study in PAIN®, the official publication of the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP).

Research reveals compromised transfer of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies through placenta
Lower than expected levels of protective SARS-CoV-2 antibodies pass through the placenta from mothers who are infected in the third trimester with the virus that causes COVID-19.

Cost-effective hood reduces aerosol exposures to patients, otolaryngologists
The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to cause dramatic shifts in the practice of otolaryngology.

Turning the heat down: Catalyzing ammonia formation at lower temperatures with ruthenium
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) report that the metal ruthenium, supported with lanthanide oxyhydrides, can efficiently catalyze the synthesis of ammonia at a much lower temperature than the traditional approach.

No. 1 news release on EurekAlert!'s 2020 Trending List smashes previous all-time record for visits
The most-visited news release on EurekAlert! in 2020 racked up just under 1 million hits -- the most in the site's near 25-year history.

VR simulations shed potential light on goalkeepers' ability to stop free kicks
Virtual reality simulations of football (soccer) free kicks suggests placing a defensive wall can block a goalie's view and hamper their performance - and simulations might be useful in other sports too.

Christmas trees can be green because of a photosynthetic short-cut
How can conifers that are used for example as Christmas trees keep their green needles over the boreal winter when most trees shed their leaves?

Tracing the many paths of vision
New study decodes the molecular diversity of neurons in the zebrafish retina.

People in rural areas less likely to receive specialty care for neurologic conditions
A new study has found that while the prevalence of neurologic conditions like dementia, stroke, Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis (MS) is consistent across the U.S., the distribution of neurologists is not, and people in more rural areas may be less likely to receive specialty care for certain neurologic conditions.

Similar factors cause health disparities in cancer, COVID-19
The same societal factors that have caused worse outcomes in cancer for some minority populations are now causing disparities in COVID outcomes.

Metabolic syndrome 'interacts' with COVID-19
Announcing a new publication for BIO Integration journal. In this review article the authors Zeling Guo, Shanping Jiang, Zilun Li and Sifan Chen from Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China review how metabolic syndrome 'interacts' with COVID-19.

Astrocytes eat connections to maintain plasticity in adult brains
Developing brains constantly sprout new neuronal connections called synapses as they learn and remember.

Eavesdropping on the pH levels inside the brain
Researchers at Tohoku University have developed the first all-in-one miniature pH probe for real-time investigations of intrinsic extracellular pH dynamics in the deep brain structures.

COVID-19 severity affected by proportion of antibodies targeting crucial viral protein
COVID-19 antibodies preferentially target a different part of the virus in mild cases of COVID-19 than they do in severe cases, and wane significantly within several months of infection, according to a new study by researchers at Stanford Medicine.
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