Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (October 2020)

Science news and science current events archive October, 2020.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from October 2020

Cheating birds mimic host nestlings to deceive foster parents
While common cuckoos mimic their host's eggs, new research has revealed that a group of parasitic finch species in Africa have evolved to mimic their host's chicks - and with astonishing accuracy.

Scientists find evidence of exotic state of matter in candidate material for quantum computers
Using a novel technique, scientists working at the Florida State University-headquartered National High Magnetic Field Laboratory have found evidence for a quantum spin liquid, a state of matter that is promising as a building block for the quantum computers of tomorrow.

Emerging field of integrative palliative care highlighted in journal special issue
An emerging field characterized as ''combining the natural synergy between integrative health and palliative medicine

Seagrass restoration speeds recovery of ecosystem services
The reintroduction of seagrass into Virginia's coastal bays is one of the great success stories in marine restoration. Now, a long-term monitoring study shows this success extends far beyond a single plant species, rippling out to engender substantial increases in fish and invertebrate abundance, water clarity, and the trapping of pollution-causing carbon and nitrogen.

Sensory device stimulates ears and tongue to treat tinnitus in large trial
A device that stimulates the ears and tongue substantially reduced the severity of tinnitus symptoms in 326 patients for as long as 1 year, while achieving high patient satisfaction and adherence.

Higher suicide risk among older immigrants with untreated depression
The risk of suicide is clearly elevated in the category of older women with untreated depression who were born outside the Nordic region, compared with corresponding Swedish-born women. This is shown by a study from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Setting a TRAP for pandemic-causing viruses
A new laboratory technique quickly sifts through trillions of synthetic proteins to find ones that can target viruses, helping healthcare authorities rapidly respond to evolving pandemics.

Minimizing the movement problem in single-particle cryo-EM
While single particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) has enabled access to structures of proteins that were previously intractable and, most recently, has done much to inform our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 structure, the technique still has some weaknesses.

ideas42 and University of Chicago Crime Lab challenge assumptions about missed court dates
Behavioral design nonprofit ideas42 and the University of Chicago Crime Lab announced the publication of their new joint paper, Using Behavioral Nudges to Reduce Failure to Appear in Court in Science Magazine. The paper's results demonstrate that redesigning New York City's summons form to make it simpler and clearer reduced failure to appear rates by 13%, and sending text message reminders reduced failure to appear rates by 21%.

Children with kidney disease have longer hospital stays
Children with chronic kidney disease (CKD) often require hospitalization; however, outcomes of this high risk population are unknown. The authors found that children with CKD had longer hospital stays, incurred higher health care expenses, and were at higher risk of death than children hospitalized for other chronic illnesses. This study suggests that these associations are related to the higher degree of medical complexity among children hospitalized with CKD.

Update on excess deaths from COVID-19, other causes
This study updates a previous report of the estimated number of excess deaths in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic through August 1 and describes causes of those deaths and relationships with lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

Enzyme SSH1 impairs disposal of accumulating cellular garbage, leading to brain cell death
The protein p62 plays a major role in clearing misfolded tau proteins and dysfunctional mitochondria, the energy powerhouse in all cells including neurons. Neuroscientists at the University of South Florida Health (USF Health) Byrd Alzheimer's Center report for the first time that the protein phosphatase Slingshot-1, or SSH1 for short, disrupts p62's ability to function as an efficient 'garbage collector' and thereby impairs the disposal of both damaged tau and mitochondria leaking toxins.

On the trail of novel infectious agents in wildlife
A research team led by Kristin Mühldorfer from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) and Tobias Eisenberg from the Hessian State Laboratory investigated the causes of severe respiratory disease in peccaries and taxonomically characterised a novel Streptococcus species (Streptococcus catagoni sp. nov.) based on its phenotypic properties and genetic features.

Reviving cells after a heart attack
Harvard SEAS researchers have unraveled potential mechanisms behind the healing power of extracellular vesicles and demonstrated their capacity to not only revive cells after a heart attack but keep cells functioning while deprived of oxygen during a heart attack. The researchers demonstrated this functionality in human tissue using a heart-on-a-chip with embedded sensors that continuously tracked the contractions of the tissue.

Bats save energy by reducing energetically costly immune functions during annual migration
A team of scientists led by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz-IZW) investigated whether and how the immune response changes between pre-migration and migration seasons in the Nathusius pipistrelle bat. They confirmed that migratory bats favour the energetically ''cheaper'' non-cellular (humoral) immunity during an immune challenge and selectively suppress cellular immune responses. Thereby, bats save energy much needed for their annual migration.

Results from the cobra-reduce trial reported at TCT Connect
For patients undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) that also require oral anticoagulation, treatment with a nanotechnology polymer-coated stent plus 14-day dual anti-platelet therapy (DAPT) did not reduce bleeding or establish non-inferior outcomes for thrombotic events compared with a drug-eluting stent (DES) and standard three or six-month DAPT therapy.

Natural disaster preparations may aid businesses' pandemic response
The benefits of preparing for natural disasters may extend to scenarios outside of earthquakes, hurricanes and wildfires. A new survey from NIST and NOAA shows that many small and medium businesses are finding disaster preparation measures, such as telework readiness, helpful during the pandemic.

A trillion turns of light nets terahertz polarized bytes
Nanophotonics researchers at Rice University, the Polytechnic University of Milan and the Italian Institute of Technology have demonstrated a novel technique for modulating light at terahertz frequencies with plasmonic metasurfaces.

Bronze Age herders were less mobile than previously thought
Bronze Age pastoralists in what is now southern Russia apparently covered shorter distances than previously thought. It is believed that the Indo-European languages may have originated from this region, and these findings raise new questions about how technical and agricultural innovations spread to Europe. An international research team, with the participation of the University of Basel, has published a paper on this topic.

Dual brain imaging provides insight into neural basis of patient-clinician relationship
Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital have reported on an experiment using a novel magnetic resonance imaging-based approach to track the effects of different behaviors on the brain while patients and clinicians interact with one another. Their research, published in Science Advances, suggests that mirroring in both facial expressions and brain activity can affect the patient-clinician bond and treatment. In this case, the patients were receiving treatment for pain from an acupuncturist.

DrugCell: New experimental AI platform matches tumor to best drug combo
UC San Diego researchers use experimental artificial intelligence system called DrugCell to predict the best approach to treating cancer.

Regeneration of eye cells: Warning lights discovered
Moving around in the half-light is difficult but not impossible. To help us in this undertaking we have the rods, a type of photoreceptors present in the retina of vertebrates, capable of detecting very low lights. They are the protagonists of the new study published in PNAS by a team of researchers of SISSA and CNR-Iom which reveals new and essential details of how the retina works and in particular photoreceptors.

Weight-reduction surgery for severely obese adults may prevent second heart attack, death
Adults with severe obesity (BMI >35) and a prior heart attack who undergo weight-reduction surgery may lower their risk of a second heart attack, major cardiovascular event, heart failure and death. The effect weight-reduction surgery had on the patients' weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and A1C (a Type 2 diabetes marker) seems to play a role in decreasing the risk of heart attack and death.

Shifts in flowering phases of plants due to reduced insect density
A research group of the University of Jena and the iDiv has discovered that insects have a decisive influence on the biodiversity and flowering phases of plants. If there is a lack of insects where the plants are growing, their flowering behaviour changes. This can result in the lifecycles of the insects and the flowering periods of the plants no longer coinciding. If the insects seek nectar, some plants will no longer be pollinated.

Powering the future: new insights into how alkali-metal doped flexible solar cells work
A group of scientists from Korea has discovered that the amount of alkali metal introduced into crystals of flexible thin-film solar cells influences the path that charge carriers take to traverse between electrodes, thereby affecting the light-to-electricity conversion efficiency of the solar cell. Given the immense application potential that such solar cells have today, this finding could be key to ushering in a green future.

Yeast study yields insights into longstanding evolution debate
In a study published Oct. 27 in the journal Cell Reports, Yale scientists show how epigenetic mechanisms contribute in real time to the evolution of a gene network in yeast. Specifically, through multiple generations yeast cells were found to pass on changes in gene activity induced by researchers.

Reduced flexible behavior in autistic individuals is driven by less optimal learning
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) show reduced flexible behavior on a probabilistic reversal learning task, underpinned by less optimal learning within each developmental stage, according to a study published October 27 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Daisy Crawley of King's College London and Lei Zhang of University of Vienna, and colleagues.

Secrets of 'smasher shrimp' property ladder revealed
Mantis shrimps carefully survey burrows before trying to evict rivals, new research shows.

Biophysicists modelled the effect of antiseptics on bacterial membranes
A team of biophysics from leading Russian research and educational institutions (MSU, RUDN University, and the Federal Research and Clinical Center of the Federal Medical-Biological Agency of Russia) developed a computer model that shows the effect of antiseptics on bacterial membranes. The common concepts regarding the mode of action of antiseptics turned out to be incorrect: instead of destroying bacterial membranes, they cause changes in their structure. These changes make the bacteria weaker and more susceptible to adverse external factors.

A new spin on atoms gives scientists a closer look at quantum weirdness
A team of researchers has developed a new way to control and measure atoms that are so close together no optical lens can distinguish them.

Hubble observes spectacular supernova time-lapse
The NASA/ESA's Hubble Space Telescope has tracked the fading light of a supernova in the spiral galaxy NGC 2525, located 70 million light years away. Supernovae like this one can be used as cosmic tape measures, allowing astronomers to calculate the distance to their galaxies. Hubble captured these images as part of one of its major investigations, measuring the expansion rate of the Universe, which can help answer fundamental questions about our Universe's very nature.

Surgery for benign breast disease does not impair future breastfeeding capability
Young women with benign breast conditions may undergo surgery without jeopardizing their ability to breastfeed later on.

Millimetre-precision drug delivery to the brain
Focused ultrasound waves help ETH researchers to deliver drugs to the brain with pinpoint accuracy, in other words only to where their effect is desired. This method is set to enable treatment of psychiatric and neurological disorders and tumours with fewer side effects in the future.

Muslim young adult mental health before, after presidential election
How the 2016 US presidential election was associated with changes in the mental health of Muslim college students was assessed in this study.

Neuroscientists discover a molecular mechanism that allows memories to form
Encoding memories in engram cells is controlled by large-scale remodeling of the proteins and DNA that make up cells' chromatin, according to an MIT study. This chromatin remodeling, which allows specific genes involved in storing memories to become more active, takes place in multiple stages spread out over several days.

The world's first successful identification and characterization of in vivo senescent cells
A research team led by Professor Makoto Nakanishi of the Institute of Medical Science, the University of Tokyo, generated a p16-Cre ERT2 -tdTomato mouse model to characterize in vivo p16 high cells at the single-cell level. They found tdTomato-positive p16 high cells detectable in all organs, which were enriched with age. They also found that these cells failed to proliferate and had half-lives ranging from 2.6 to 4.2 months, depending on the tissue examined.

New approach helps EMTs better assess chest pain en route to hospital
A study conducted at Wake Forest Baptist Health shows that on-scene use of a new protocol and advanced diagnostic equipment can help paramedics better identify patients at high risk for adverse cardiac events.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are a poor marker of infection, new UK population study shows
86% of UK residents who tested positive for COVID-19 during lockdown did not have the specific virus symptoms (cough, and/or fever, and/or loss of taste/smell), finds a new study by UCL researchers. The authors say a more widespread testing programme is needed to catch 'silent' transmission and reduce future outbreaks.

Blocking immune system pathway may stop COVID-19 infection, prevent severe organ damage
While the world waits eagerly for a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infections from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers also are focusing on better understanding how SARS-CoV-2 attacks the body in the search for other means of stopping its devastating impact.

Moms report mild to high levels of COVID-19 anxiety and insomnia in study by Ben-Gurion University
The results indicated that maternal clinical insomnia (Insomnia Severity Score > 15) during the COVID?19 pandemic more than doubled to 23% during the pandemic, compared with only 11% before the pandemic. Approximately 80% of mothers also reported mild?to?high levels of current COVID?19 anxiety.

New bioengineering approach to fix fetal membranes
New research led by Queen Mary University of London and UCL has shown that small bioengineered molecules can be used to repair defects in the fetal membranes that surround and protect babies developing in the womb.

A new approach to analyzing the morphology of dendritic spines
Dendritic spines are small protrusions from a neuron's dendrite membrane, where contact with neighboring axons is formed to receive synaptic input. Changes in the characteristics of the dendritic spines are associated with learning and memory and could be a feature of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease. Scientists examined a novel approach to analyzing the dendritic spine shapes.

Customers prefer partitions over mannequins in socially-distanced dining rooms
Restaurants have had to get creative to enforce social distancing guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic, including utilizing mannequins. Others were more conservative and opted to place plastic or glass partitions between tables. A researcher at the University of Houston Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management found out which socially-distanced dining room consumers prefer.

Unraveling the network of molecules that influence COVID-19 severity
Researchers from the Morgridge Institute for Research, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Albany Medical College have identified more than 200 molecular features that strongly correlate with COVID-19 severity, offering insight into potential treatment options for those with advanced disease.

Study confirms plastics threat to south pacific seabirds
Plastic gathered from remote corners of the South Pacific Ocean, including nesting areas of New Zealand albatrosses, has confirmed the global threat of plastic pollution to seabirds.

Penn Medicine researchers use artificial intelligence to 'redefine' Alzheimer's Disease
The researchers will apply advanced artificial intelligence (AI) methods to integrate and find patterns in genetic, imaging, and clinical data from over 60,000 Alzheimer's patients -- representing one of the largest and most ambitious research undertakings of its kind.

Machine learning uncovers potential new TB drugs
Using a machine-learning approach that incorporates uncertainty, MIT researchers identified several promising compounds that target a protein required for the survival of the bacteria that cause tuberculosis.

The mental health impact of pandemics for front line health care staff
New research shows the impact that pandemics have on the mental health of front-line health care staff. Researchers investigated how treating patients in past pandemics such as SARS and MERS affected the mental health of front-line staff. They found that over a third experienced anxiety or depression, almost a quarter experienced PTSD. The team hope that their work will help highlight the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic could be having on the mental health of doctors and nurses worldwide.

Drug repurposing
University of New Mexico researchers identify three existing drugs with the potential to clear SARS-CoV-2 infections.

Results from the DEFINE-FLOW study reported at TCT Connect
A new observational study of deferred lesions following combined fractional flow reserve (FFR) and coronary flow reserve (CFR) assessments found that untreated vessels with abnormal FFR but intact CFR do not have non-inferior outcomes compared to those with an FFR greater than 0.8 and a CFR greater than or equal to two when treated medically.

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