10 Science News Roundup #8

Here are 10 science news that I find interesting and important to take note.

How fever in early pregnancy causes heart, facial birth defects – Duke researchers now have evidence indicating that the fever itself, not its root source, is what interferes with the development of the heart and jaw during the first three to eight weeks of pregnancy. Science Daily

When the brain’s wiring breaks – Among all the bad things that can happen to the brain when it is severely jolted — in a car accident, for example — one of the most common and worrisome is axon damage. Axons are the long stalks that grow out of the bodies of neurons and carry signals to other neurons. They are part of the brain’s “wiring,” and they sometimes grow to amazing lengths — from the brain all the way down to the spinal cord. But axons are thin and fragile. When the brain receives a strong blow, axons are often stressed past their structural limits. They either break or swiftly degenerate. Science Daily

Superbugs may meet their match in these nanoparticles – Antibiotics may have a new teammate in the fight against drug-resistant infections. Researchers have engineered nanoparticles to produce chemicals that render bacteria more vulnerable to antibiotics. These quantum dots, described online October 4 in Science Advances, could help combat pathogens that have developed resistance to antibiotics (SN: 10/15/16, p. 11).

Secret Supereruption That Once Changed The World Found In North America – Yellowstone’s supervolcano gets all the attention these days, but it’s not the only vessel of apocalyptic eruptions. Today, there are several spots around the world that could bring about a game-changing eruption, and volcanologists are always on the hunt for ancient ones that until now have slipped beneath the radar.

Turns Out The Great Barrier Reef Can Actually Heal Itself, But We Have to Help It – he Great Barrier Reef is suffering from recent unprecedented coral bleaching events. But the answer to part of its recovery could lie in the reef itself, with a little help. In our recent article published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, we argue that at least two potential interventions show promise as means to boost climate resilience and tolerance in the reef’s corals: assisted gene flow and assisted evolution.

Bright light therapy at midday helped patients with bipolar depression – Daily exposure to bright white light at midday significantly decreased symptoms of depression and increased functioning in people with bipolar disorder, a recent Northwestern Medicine study found. Science Daily

NASA Is Running Out of The Most Precious Ingredient Needed For Future Space Missions – Classroom models lie – our Solar System isn’t a bunch of bright, closely nestled orbs. Instead, other planets are separated from Earth by unfathomable distances – and are often too cold, dim, and remote for any spacecraft to explore on solar power alone. Science Alert

EPA Says “The War on Coal Is Over” in Major Reversal of Obama’s Clean Power Plan – The Trump administration has formally announced its plan to repeal the Clean Power Plan – President Obama’s key policy to cut greenhouse gas emissions produced by power plants. Science Alert

This Is How Online Dating Has Changed The Very Fabric of Society – Digital match-making services have done more than just change how we find our perfect squeeze; they’re changing the fundamental nature of our social networks. According to a pair of researchers investigating online dating, the way we’re looking for love (and lust) is connecting communities in completely novel ways, breaking down boundaries and possibly even making for stronger long-term relationships. Science Alert

How to make the cosmic web give up the matter it’s hiding – Evidence is piling up that much of the universe’s missing matter is lurking along the strands of a vast cosmic web. A pair of papers report some of the best signs yet of hot gas in the spaces between galaxy clusters, possibly enough to represent the half of all ordinary matter previously unaccounted for. Previous studies have hinted at this missing matter, but a new search technique is helping to fill in the gaps in the cosmic census where other efforts fell short. The papers were published online at arXiv.org on September 15 and September 29. Science News

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Latest Science Tidbits #2

Bacteria have baggage and that may be a key to fighting superbugs

Dated: 8 August 2017

Read More: Even bacteria have baggage, and understanding that is key to fighting superbugs

Reference Material (if any):

  1. History of antibiotic adaptation influences microbial evolutionary dynamics during subsequent treatment
Summary:

Bacteria are able to adapt, survive and grow in the presence of antibiotics. This is well understood and many studies have looked into how bacteria evolve to single drug. But new research showed that how different adaptation history to antibiotic resistance lead to unique evolutionary dynamics of multi-drug resistance.

Researchers Yen and Papin demonstrated using populations of the human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa where adaptation to one drug, followed by adaptation to a different drug, lead different final resistance level compared to the reverse order.

The experiments were done in the test tube-like setting, and further work and clinical studies will be needed to test the clinical applicability of these history-decedent effects.

In this era where new antibiotics are rare, exploiting the bacteria’s past may be a major breakthrough.

Author’s Take:

I myself is pretty concern with the rise of antibiotic resistance and tend to get pretty upset when I see people abuse antibiotics. I see it as because of their irresponsibility, the rest of humanity suffers, myself included.

Brains of adult mice restored with youthful plasticity

Dated: 8 August 2017

Read More: Youthful plasticity restored to brains of adult mice

Reference Material (if any):

  1. Arc restores juvenile plasticity in adult mouse visual cortex
Summary:

The brain ages like the rest of the organs in the body, impacting its ability to learn, remember, and adapt.

Scientists from University of Utah Health reported that they are able to rejuvenate the plasticity of visual cortex of the mouse brain, increasing its ability to change in response to experience by augmenting the expression of neuronal protein, Arc.

However, further research are needed to understand precisely how manipulating Arc books plasticity. More tests will also be needed to see if Arc is involved in regulating the plasticity of other neurological functions mediated by other brain structures such as learning, memory, or repair.

Author’s Take:

I am personally is interested in this research as I myself is getting older with each passing day and I still want to maintain my mental sharpness and cognitive capabilities.

Single touch heals organs with breakthrough device

Dated: 7 August 2017

Read More: Breakthrough device heals organs with a single touch

Original Source (if any): Researchers Develop Regenerative Medicine Breakthrough

Reference Material:

  1. Topical tissue nano-transfection mediates non-viral stroma reprogramming and rescue
Summary:

Researchers from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Ohio State’s College of Engineering have developed a new technology called Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT). This technology allows the generation of any cell type for use in treatment of injured tissue, or restore function of aging tissues.

The technology relies on two major components. The first is a nanotechnology-based chip designed to deliver cargo to the cells. The second is the design of specific biological cargo for the cell conversation.

Mice and pigs were used in these experiments where the researchers were able to reprogram skin cells to become vascular cells in badly injured legs that lacked blood flow. Active blood vessels appeared in the injured leg within a week and the leg was saved by the second week.

According to Dr. Chandan Sen, who is the director of Ohio State’s Center for Regenerative Medicine & Cell Based Therapies and also the executive director of Ohio State’s Comprehensive Wound Center, “This is difficult to imagine, but it is achievable, successfully working about 98 percent of the time. With this technology, we can convert skin cells into elements of any organ with just one touch. This process only takes less than a second and is non-invasive, and then you’re off. The chip does not stay with you, and the reprogramming of the cell starts. Our technology keeps the cells in the body under immune surveillance, so immune suppression is not necessary.”

As TNT does not need any laboratory-based procedures, may be implemented at the point of care, and is non-invasive, clinical trials are planned to start next year to test the technology in humans.

Author’s Take:

This is definitely very exciting. However, like all sudden new breakthrough, more research is needed. I think I am concern about the potential for mistakes during the treatment. Here is a video from OSU Wexner Medical Center: Breakthrough Device Heals Organs with a Single Touch

Latest News in Brain Science

New Substance improves brain function of Alzheimer’s disease

Dated: 28 July 2017

Read More: Dementia: new substance improves brain function

Summary:

Alzheimer’s disease is at this moment an incurable disease and affects 50 million people worldwide. Amyloid beta, which are chunks of organic compounds, that is responsible for Alzheimers. These organic compounds, simply put, are leftovers from when the Amyloid precursor protein is broken down by two enzymes known as Beta-secretase 1 (BACE) and Gamma Secretase.

Recently, scientists from the Technical University of Munich discovered that a substance which inhibit the enzyme, BACE, improves the memory performance and restore normal function of nerve cells in animal models, and that the substance must be given as early as possible. A clinical trial is being planned with 1000 participant and the scientists are hoping that the discoveries found in animal models is also applicable in humans.

New drug found to provide longer relief for Parkinson’s disease sufferers

Dated: 31 July 2017

Read More: New drug may treat and limit progression of Parkinson’s disease

Summary:

Like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease is also an incurable disease. The only difference is that it comes on slowly over time and is manageable through drugs and surgery until the patients develop dementia. As of 2015, it affects 6.2 million people and caused 117,400 deaths globally 1.

Currently, the drugs given to Parkinson’s sufferers are intended to help manage the condition rather than cure. Sufferers need to take multiple medication, multiple times a day.

Researchers at Binghamton University developed a new drug called D-512, which is currently in pre-clinical phase. The new drug has fewer side effects than current drugs such as ropinirole, and last longer when providing relief. The drug itself is also an antioxidant which is important since oxidative stress is a major cause of Parkinson’s disease.

Autistic people are less likely to be surprised by the unexpected

Dated: 31 July 2017

Read More: People with autism are less surprised by the unexpected

Summary:

Normal people tends to get surprised by the unexpected due to their expectations. However, researchers found that autistic people, especially those with more pronounced symptoms, were less surprised when dealing with sudden changes.

Paraphrasing Dr. Lawson, “When we are uncertain about our own beliefs, we are driven more by our senses rather than prior expectations. People with autism may be expecting more volatility and thus it may be the reason why they tend to suffer from sensory overload, and their enhanced perceptual functioning and context insensitivity.”

The study also found that the ability to form expectations was related to the severity of communication problem in autistic people.