news 2020



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Life Sciences - Health - 26.11.2020
Foreign vs own DNA: How an innate immune sensor tells the difference
Scientists at EPFL and the Friedrich Miescher Institute have used cryo-electron microscopy to explain how a DNA-sensing biomolecule that is key to our innate immunity response is inactivated when it comes in contact with the cell's own DNA. A biomolecule that gained considerable attention over the past few years is cGAS, a "DNA sensor" that is involved in kickstarting immune responses in the body.

Health - Physics - 25.11.2020
Detecting bacteria with fluorescent nanosensors
Detecting bacteria with fluorescent nanosensors
Luminous carbon nanotubes detect pathogens - and are quick and easy to use. Researchers from Bochum, Göttingen, Duisburg and Cologne have developed a new method for detecting bacteria and infections. They use fluorescent nanosensors to track down pathogens faster and more easily than with established methods.

Health - Pharmacology - 25.11.2020
New immunotherapy shows promise against rare childhood cancer
A novel CAR T-cell therapy developed by researchers at UCL and designed to target cancerous tumours, has shown promising early results in children with neuroblastoma, a rare form of childhood cancer. For this proof-of-principle study, researchers at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute for Child Health (GOS ICH) and the UCL Cancer Institute modified the patient's own T-cells (a type of immune cell), equipping them to recognise and kill neuroblastoma tumour cells.

Health - Physics - 25.11.2020
Quantum nanodiamonds may help detect disease earlier
The quantum sensing abilities of nanodiamonds can be used to improve the sensitivity of paper-based diagnostic tests, potentially allowing for earlier detection of diseases such as HIV, according to a study led by UCL researchers in the i-sense McKendry group. Paper-based lateral flow tests work the same way as a pregnancy test in that a strip of paper is soaked in a fluid sample and a change in colour - or fluorescent signal - indicates a positive result and the detection of virus proteins or DNA.

Pharmacology - Health - 25.11.2020
New breakthrough in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis
People with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) could soon benefit from a new drug treatment that not only suppresses inflammation but also significantly reduces patient reported pain scores. Otilimab is a monoclonal antibody, biologic drug, which targets and suppresses the inflammatory cytokine GM-CSF. In a multicentre, dose-ranging trial, led by Professor Chris Buckley at the Universities of Oxford and Birmingham, and sponsored by the Pharmaceutical company GSK, researchers explored the clinical effects of otilimab to prevent inflammation, tissue damage and pain in people with RA.

Health - Pharmacology - 25.11.2020
Iron Infusion Proves Effective to Treat Anaemia in Rural Africa
Iron Infusion Proves Effective to Treat Anaemia in Rural Africa
Iron-deficiency anaemia is a major concern in low-income settings, especially for women. In a new study by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH) and partners published yesterday in The Lancet Global Health, researchers found that iron infusion was feasible, safe and in contrast to the standard iron-deficiency anaemia treatment of oral iron tablets, highly effective in Tanzania.

Life Sciences - Health - 25.11.2020
Study identifies new functions in the gene that causes Machado-Joseph disease
Rods (type of photoreceptor) isolated from the retina of a control mouse (Atxn3 +/+) and a mouse with the silenced gene Atxn3 (Atxn3-/-). We can see the elongation of the external segment or neurosensorial cilium (OS plus CC) when there is no ATXN3 protein. For more than twenty years, the UB team has conducted research on the genetic causes of the retina hereditary diseases.

Health - Pharmacology - 24.11.2020
Rhythm and bleughs: how changes in our stomach’s rhythms steer us away from disgusting sights
Does the sight of maggots squirming in rotten food make you look away in disgust? The phrase 'makes my stomach turn' takes on a new meaning today as researchers at the University of Cambridge reveal that changes in the rhythm of our stomachs prompt us to look away from disgusting images.

Health - Psychology - 24.11.2020
Young people’s anxiety levels doubled during first COVID-19 lockdown, says study, but easing of restrictions unlikely to bring any improvement to mental health
The number of young people with anxiety doubled from 13% to 24%, during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown 1, according to new research from the University of Bristol. The study, using Bristol's Children of the 90s questionnaire data, showed that young people (27-29 years) reported higher levels of anxiety during the early phases of the pandemic in the first national lockdown and this was higher than their parents.

Health - Chemistry - 24.11.2020
Five UChicago scientists named 2020 AAAS fellows
Five University of Chicago researchers were named 2020 fellows of the  American Association for the Advancement of Science  on Nov. 24 for their distinguished contributions to the sciences. Their work has shaped our understanding of the early universe; given scientists innovative tools to peer at the inner workings of cells; shaped the field of quantum chemistry; furthered breakthroughs in immunology and organ transplants; and helped fight the disease toxoplasmosis.

Health - Life Sciences - 24.11.2020
Four UW faculty members named AAAS fellows for 2020
The American Association for the Advancement of Science has named four University of Washington faculty members as AAAS Fellows, according to a Nov. 24 announcement from the organization.

Health - Environment - 24.11.2020
COVID-19: Air quality influences the pandemic
COVID-19: Air quality influences the pandemic
Temperature inversions or Saharan dust intrusions can favor the presence of fine particles in the air. Their high concentration can aggravate the consequences of COVID-19. The correlation between the high concentration of fine particles and the severity of influenza waves is well known to epidemiologists.

Health - 24.11.2020
Schools play limited role in spread of Covid-19
The school holidays had no significant impact on the spread of Covid-19 in Germany, according to a new study by UCL researchers. The research, published as a Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) working paper, found that school closures for the summer and fall holidays did not reduce the number of infection cases, while the return to full schooling after the summer holidays similarly did not lead to an increase in the number of infection cases - neither among children nor among adults.

Life Sciences - Health - 24.11.2020
AI helps scientists understand brain activity behind thoughts
AI helps scientists understand brain activity behind thoughts
A team led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Rice University has developed artificial intelligence models that help them better understand the brain computations that underlie thoughts. This is new, because until now there has been no method to measure thoughts. The researchers first developed a new model that can estimate thoughts by evaluating behavior, and then tested their model on a trained artificial brain where they found neural activity associated with those estimates of thoughts.

Health - Environment - 23.11.2020
Big cats and small dogs: solving the mystery of canine distemper in wild tigers
If you think getting your cat to the veterinarian is tricky, a new study - led by Cornell Wildlife Health Center, the University of Glasgow and the Wildlife Conservation Society; and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - has revealed that vaccination of endangered Amur (Siberian) tigers is the only practical strategy to protect them from a dangerous disease in their natural habitat in the Russian Far East.

Health - Chemistry - 23.11.2020
Helicates meet Rotaxanes to create promise for future disease treatment
A new approach to treating cancers and other diseases that uses a mechanically interlocked molecule as a 'magic bullet' has been designed by researchers at the University of Birmingham. Called rotaxanes, the molecules are tiny nanoscale structures that resemble a dumbbell with a ring trapped around the central post.

Agronomy / Food Science - Health - 23.11.2020
Most popular American movies depict an unhealthy diet
Stanford researchers examined the 250 top-grossing American movies of recent decades and found the on-screen foods and beverages largely failed U.S. government nutrition recommendations and U.K. youth advertising standards. It's no surprise that most people in the U.S. don't follow a healthy diet.

Health - Physics - 23.11.2020
Magnetic brain waves to detect injury and disease
Scientists at the University of Birmingham have developed a new sensor to measure weak magnetic signals in the brain, which has the potential to increase understanding of connectivity in the brain, and detect signs of traumatic brain injury, dementia and schizophrenia. Magnetic signals in the brain are measured by magnetoencephalography (MEG).

Health - Computer Science - 23.11.2020
Virtual reality helps measure vulnerability to stress
Behavioral scientists at EPFL have developed a virtual reality test that assesses a person's vulnerability to stress while exploring immersive environments. The resulting model offers the field of stress research one of the first such tools that does not rely on subjective evaluations. We all react to stress in different ways.

Health - Pharmacology - 23.11.2020
New nanotechology design provides hope for personalized ’vaccination’ to treat cancer
One of the key challenges in developing effective cancer treatments is how different cancer cells are. This variation makes it difficult for the immune system to recognize and actively fight against tumors. Now, however, new advances in nanotechnology are making it possible to deliver targeted, personalized "vaccines" to treat cancer.
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