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Earth Sciences - 31.12.2021
Leftovers of Earth's dramatic formation
Leftovers of Earth’s dramatic formation
Researchers have uncovered the most detail ever of the mysterious structures laying between the Earth's mantle and core, also providing the strongest evidence yet they started life as an ocean of molten magma that eventually sunk. The team of international researchers, including scientists from The Australian National University (ANU), used thousands of computer-modelled seismic waves to examine Ultra-Low Velocity Zones (ULVZs) beneath the Coral Sea between Australia and New Zealand.

Pharmacology - Life Sciences - 29.12.2021
Omicron's secrets revealed under a microscope
Omicron’s secrets revealed under a microscope
Thanks to the high-power electron microscopes at the Dubochet Center for Imaging (DCI), scientists were able to observe the configuration of the Omicron variant's spike protein at a near-atomic scale. This should provide fresh insight into the mechanisms the variant uses to evade vaccines and antibodies.

Physics - Pharmacology - 27.12.2021
Optimization of mRNA containing nanoparticles
Optimization of mRNA containing nanoparticles
The research neutron source Hein Maier-Leibnitz (FRM II) at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) is playing an important role in the investigation of mRNA nanoparticles similar to the ones used in the Covid-19 vaccines from vendors BioNTech and Pfizer. Researchers at the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Zentrum (MLZ) used the high neutron flux available in Garching to characterize various formulations for the mRNA vaccine and thus to lay the groundwork for improving the vaccine's efficacy.

Health - Life Sciences - 27.12.2021
'Battle of the sexes' begins in womb as father and mother's genes tussle over nutrition
’Battle of the sexes’ begins in womb as father and mother’s genes tussle over nutrition
Cambridge scientists have identified a key signal that the fetus uses to control its supply of nutrients from the placenta in a tug-of-war between genes inherited from the father and from the mother. The study, carried out in mice, could help explain why some babies grow poorly in the womb. The father's gene drives the fetus's demands for larger blood vessels and more nutrients, while the mother's gene in the placenta tries to control how much nourishment she provides Miguel Constância As the fetus grows, it needs to communicate its increasing needs for food to the mother.

Astronomy / Space Science - Physics - 27.12.2021
NASA’s Largest and Most Powerful Telescope Launches
On December 25, the largest and most powerful space telescope ever constructed by NASA was successfully launched from Earth. With unprecedented technology, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will peer both near and far, from the planets and bodies in our solar system to the deepest reaches of space, where the first stars and galaxies formed more than 13 billion years ago.

Health - Life Sciences - 24.12.2021
Our 10 most-read science news stories of 2021
From abdominal pain after eating certain foods to experimental hearing implants: in this overview, we present the most-read news items about research at KU Leuven in 2021. KU Leuven develops very potent antiviral against dengue 6 October Researchers have developed an inhibitor of the dengue virus. The antiviral molecule is effective against all known dengue variants and could be used for therapeutic and prevention purposes.

Materials Science - Physics - 23.12.2021
Templating approach stabilises 'ideal' material for alternative solar cells
Templating approach stabilises ’ideal’ material for alternative solar cells
Researchers have developed a method to stabilise a promising material known as perovskite for cheap solar cells, without compromising its near-perfect performance. The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, used an organic molecule as a 'template' to guide perovskite films into the desired phase as they form.

Environment - Earth Sciences - 23.12.2021
Controlled burning of natural environments could help offset our carbon emissions
Planting trees and suppressing wildfires do not necessarily maximise the carbon storage of natural ecosystems. A new study has found that prescribed burning can actually lock in or increase carbon in the soils of temperate forests, savannahs and grasslands. When managed properly, fire can be good - both for maintaining biodiversity and for carbon storage Adam Pellegrini The finding points to a new method of manipulating the world's natural capacity for carbon capture and storage, which can also help to maintain natural ecosystem processes.

Environment - Life Sciences - 23.12.2021
Protecting ecosystems is better done regionally than locally
VUB biologists find missing link between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning Biologists from VUB and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have demonstrated for the first time that it is not the local biodiversity in a specific place that is essential for maintaining a properly functioning ecosystem, but the biodiversity of the entire region.

Materials Science - Health - 23.12.2021
’Pop-up’ Electronic Sensors Could Detect When Individual Heart Cells Misbehave
Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a powerful new tool that monitors the electrical activity inside heart cells, using tiny "pop-up" sensors that poke into cells without damaging them. The device directly measures the movement and speed of electrical signals traveling within a single heart cell—a first—as well as between multiple heart cells.

Physics - Chemistry - 23.12.2021
Snapshots From the Quantum World
Snapshots From the Quantum World
12/23/2021 Researchers from Konstanz, Novosibirsk and Würzburg make it possible to read out optically indistinguishable spin states with a new spectroscopy method - published in "Science". The change between singlet and triplet states of electron pairs in charge-separated states plays an important role in nature.

Astronomy / Space Science - 23.12.2021
Wandering celestial bodies provide a glimpse into the formation of stars and planets
Wandering celestial bodies provide a glimpse into the formation of stars and planets
With observations of one of the closest star-forming regions to the sun a team of international astronomers discovered the largest population of free-floating planets. These celestial bodies do not revolve around a star and are very hard to find due to their very low brightness. The large number of planets now detected provides information about the formation process of stars and planets and important information for future research.

Physics - Chemistry - 23.12.2021
Integrated photonics meet electron microscopy
Integrated photonics meet electron microscopy
Scientists in Switzerland and Germany have achieved efficient electron-beam modulation using integrated photonics - circuits that guide light on a chip. The experiments could lead to entirely new quantum measurement schemes in electron microscopy. The transmission electron microscope (TEM) can image molecular structures at the atomic scale by using electrons instead of light, and has revolutionized materials science and structural biology.

Life Sciences - Health - 23.12.2021
Clues to treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder found in recently evolved region of the 'dark genome'
Clues to treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder found in recently evolved region of the ’dark genome’
Scientists investigating the DNA outside our genes - the 'dark genome' - have discovered recently evolved regions that code for proteins associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This opens up huge potential for new druggable targets. It's really exciting because nobody has ever looked beyond the genes for clues to understanding and treating these conditions before.

Health - Pharmacology - 23.12.2021
UBC clinical trial supports new self-administered rapid antigen test
UBC clinical trial supports new self-administered rapid antigen test
Q&As Erik Rolfsen When it comes to COVID-19, peace of mind is difficult to come by. But thanks to new research compiled with data from UBC's first on-campus clinical study, a new self-administered rapid antigen test will soon be available in Canada. It's a tool that could help combat growing uncertainty, prevent transmission and potentially save lives.

Life Sciences - 23.12.2021
Daring to leave gaps in the genome
Daring to leave gaps in the genome
Research team at Göttingen University develops new method to complete genetic data The use of genetic information is now indispensable for modern plant breeding. Even though DNA sequencing has become much cheaper since the human genome was decoded for the very first time in 2003, collecting the full genetic information still accounts for a large part of the costs in animal and plant breeding.

Pharmacology - Health - 23.12.2021
Abiraterone could halve risk of prostate cancer death for some patients
Abiraterone could halve risk of prostate cancer death for some patients
Adding abiraterone to the standard treatment for locally advanced prostate cancer, where the cancer has a high chance of spreading, could halve the risk of death from the disease, according to the results of a UCL-led trial. The researchers suggest that hormone therapy using abiraterone with prednisolone, could significantly reduce prostate cancer deaths and improve outcomes for thousands of people every year.

Health - Life Sciences - 23.12.2021
Dominant Alpha variant evolved to evade our innate immune system
Dominant Alpha variant evolved to evade our innate immune system
The SARS-CoV-2 Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant mutated to evade our 'innate immune system', helping establish it as the world's first 'Variant of Concern', finds a new study led by researchers at UCL and the Quantitative Biosciences Institute, University of California San Francisco. Published in  Nature , the study shows the Alpha variant, first identified in the UK, evolved to make more of its 'antagonism proteins' that nullify the body's first line of defence, known as the 'innate immune system'.

Astronomy / Space Science - 22.12.2021
Earth and Mars were formed from inner Solar System material
Earth and Mars were formed from inner Solar System material
Earth and Mars were formed from material that largely originated in the inner Solar System; only a few percent of the building blocks of these two planets originated beyond Jupiter's orbit. A group of researchers led by the University of Münster report these findings today in the journal "Science Advances".

Health - Pharmacology - 22.12.2021
Booster vaccination strongly enhances COVID-19 immunity in care home residents and staff - study
Booster vaccination strongly enhances COVID-19 immunity in care home residents and staff - study
A COVID-19 booster vaccination markedly increases immune response in residents and staff within care homes, making it vital that people living and working in these settings get their third 'jab', a new study reveals. Age and frailty are already recognised as major risk factors for severe COVID-19 outcomes, with elderly residents of long-term care facilities suffering much higher rates of mortality during the pandemic than the general population.
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