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December - 2015

   

First dengue fever vaccine gets green light in three countries

       When female Aedes Aegypti mosquito sups on the blood of its human victims it too often deposits the virus that causes dengue, causing as many as 400 million infections per year worldwide. Severe forms of the painful, flu-like disease can be fatal, especially among children. And until recently there has been no truly effective prevention except avoiding getting bit.

Source: Scientificamerican

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Early-life exercise alters gut microbes, promotes healthy brain and metabolism

       The human gut harbors a teeming menagerie of over 100 trillion microorganisms, and researchers have discovered that exercising early in life can alter that microbial community for the better, promoting healthier brain and metabolic activity over the course of a lifetime.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Gene behavior distinguishes viral from bacterial infections

       Coughs, fevers and green mucus can accompany an infection, but most of the time, doctors can only guess whether the culprit is bacterial or viral. A new study points out a way to identify the perp.

Source: Sciencenews

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The Most Popular Science Studies of the Year

       The 2015 science research that set the Internet abuzz included a super antibiotic, plastics pollution in the ocean, climate change, and species extinction, according to Altmetric, a start-up that analyzes online activity surrounding academic papers.

Source: Scientificamerican

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Arms race between Ebola virus and bats, waged for millions of years

       Ebola virus and bats have been waging a molecular battle for survival that may have started 25 million years ago, according to a new study. The findings shed light on the biological factors that determine which bat species may harbor the virus between outbreaks in humans and how bats may transmit the virus to people.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Cool roofs in China offer enhanced benefits during heat waves

       It is well established that white roofs can mitigate the urban heat island effect, reflecting the sun's energy back into space and reducing a city's temperature. In a new study of Guangzhou, China, researchers found that during a heat wave, the effect is significantly more pronounced. Reflective roofs, also called cool roofs, save energy by keeping buildings cooler, thus reducing the need for air conditioning.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Life exploded on Earth after slow rise of oxygen

       It took 100 million years for oxygen levels in the oceans and atmosphere to increase to the level that allowed the explosion of animal life on Earth about 600 million years ago, according to a study.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Extinction of large animals could make climate change worse

       The extinction of large animals from tropical forests could make climate change worse. New research reveals that a decline in fruit-eating animals such as large primates, tapirs and toucans could have a knock-on effect for tree species and carbon capture.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Greenhouse gas emissions from freshwater higher than thought

       The world's rivers and streams pump about 10 times more methane into our atmosphere than scientists estimated in previous studies, new research shows. Like carbon dioxide, methane is a greenhouse gas that traps heat at Earth's surface. It is less prevalent than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere but also more potent: A molecule of methane results in more warming than a molecule of carbon dioxide.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Viral infections leave a signature on human immune system, study finds

       A distinctive pattern of gene expression that distinguishes people with a viral infection from those with a bacterial infection has been identified by a team of immunologists and informatics experts. The team also identified a second pattern of gene expression that is more specific: It can distinguish the flu from other respiratory infections.

Source: Sciencedaily

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New way to make yeast hybrids may inspire new brews, biofuels

       Thanks to a new method for making interspecies yeast hybrids in the lab, the makers of beer, wine, biofuels and other products that depend on yeasts may soon have many more strains of the microorganism to work with.

Source: Sciencedaily

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The Most Important Number in Climate Change

       The furious majesty of a thunderstorm defies computer simulation. In a world divided up into 10,000 square kilometer grids to make the 510 million square kilometer Earth digestible to a computer, a thundercloud that rains over two square kilometers remains too small to properly calculate in a climate simulation—as does even a hurricane like Sandy that sprawled over 280 kilometers of ocean and land in 2012.

Source: Scientific American

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'Gene Drive' Mosquitoes Engineered to Fight Malaria

       Mutant mosquitoes engineered to resist the parasite that causes malaria could wipe out the disease in some regions—for good.
       Humans contract malaria from mosquitoes that are infected by parasites from the genus Plasmodium. Previous work had shown that mosquitoes could be engineered to rebuff the parasite P. falciparum, but researchers lacked a way to ensure that the resistance genes would spread rapidly through a wild population.

Source: Scientific American

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Earth's first ecosystems were more complex than previously thought, study finds

       Computer simulations have allowed scientists to work out how a puzzling 555-million-year-old organism with no known modern relatives fed, revealing that some of the first large, complex organisms on Earth formed ecosystems that were much more complex than previously thought.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Climate can grind mountains faster than they can be rebuilt

       For the first time, researchers have attempted to measure all the material leaving and entering a mountain range over more than a million years, and discovered that erosion caused by glaciation during ice ages can, in the right circumstances, wear down mountains faster than plate tectonics can build them.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Shining light on microbial growth and death inside our guts

       opulation growth rates of the microbes that live inside mammalian gastrointestinal tracts can now be accurately measured, according to a new method reported by a team of scientists for the first time.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Runaway ice loss in Antarctica

       By studying rocks at different elevations beside the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, scientists have concluded that a period of rapid glacier thinning occurred in the recent geological past, and persisted for several centuries.

Source: Sciencedaily

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November - 2015

   

Don't forget plankton in climate change models, says study

       Globally, phytoplankton absorb as much carbon dioxide as tropical rainforests and so understanding the way they respond to a warming climate is crucial, say scientists.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Rapid plankton growth in ocean seen as sign of carbon dioxide loading

       A microscopic marine alga is thriving in the North Atlantic to an extent that defies scientific predictions, suggesting swift environmental change as a result of increased carbon dioxide in the ocean.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Global warming will be faster than expected

       Global warming will progress faster than what was previously believed. The reason is that greenhouse gas emissions that arise naturally are also affected by increased temperatures. This has been confirmed in a new study that measures natural methane emissions.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Global growth in carbon dioxide emissions stagnates

       After a decade of rapid growth in global carbon dioxide emissions, which increased at an average annual rate of 4%, much smaller increases were registered in 2012 (0.8%), 2013 (1.5%) and 2014 (0.5%). In 2014, when the emissions growth was almost at a standstill, the world's economy continued to grow by 3%. The trend over the last three years thus sends an encouraging signal on the decoupling of carbon dioxide emissions from global economic growth. However, it is still too early to confirm a positive global trend. For instance India, with its emerging economy and large population, increased its emissions by 7.8% and became the fourth largest emitter globally.

Source: Sciencedaily

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A new green power source

       To limit climate change, experts say that we need to reach carbon neutrality by the end of this century at the latest. To achieve that goal, our dependence on fossil fuels must be reversed. But what energy source will take its place? Researchers report that they just might have the answer: blue-green algae.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Gut microbes signal to the brain when they're full

       Don't have room for dessert? The bacteria in your gut may be telling you something. Twenty minutes after a meal, gut microbes produce proteins that can suppress food intake in animals, reports a study. The researchers also show how these proteins injected into mice and rats act on the brain reducing appetite, suggesting that gut bacteria may help control when and how much we eat.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Climate study finds evidence of global shift in the 1980s

       Planet Earth experienced a global climate shift in the late 1980s on an unprecedented scale, fueled by anthropogenic warming and a volcanic eruption, according to new research. Scientists say that a major step change, or 'regime shift,' in Earth's biophysical systems, from the upper atmosphere to the depths of the ocean and from the Arctic to Antarctica, was centered around 1987, and was sparked by the El Chichón volcanic eruption in Mexico five years earlier.

Source: Sciencedaily

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No substantive evidence for 'pause' in global warming

       There is no substantive evidence for a 'pause' or 'hiatus' in global warming and the use of those terms is therefore inaccurate, new research has found.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Ancient viral molecules essential for human development

       Genetic material from ancient viral infections is critical to human development, according to researchers.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Scientists create genetically modified malaria-blocking mosquitoes

       Using a groundbreaking gene editing technique, scientists have created a strain of mosquitoes capable of rapidly introducing malaria-blocking genes into a mosquito population through its progeny, ultimately eliminating the insects' ability to transmit the disease to humans. This new model represents a notable advance in the effort to establish an antimalarial mosquito population, which with further development could help eradicate a disease that sickens millions worldwide each year.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Ebola Experience Leaves World No Less Vulnerable

       The world is no better prepared for the next global health emergency than it was when the current Ebola epidemic began nearly two years ago, an expert panel warns.

Source: Scientificamerican

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Ebola vaccine is safe, stimulates strong immune response, study shows

       A clinical trial of a new Ebola vaccine has found that it is well tolerated and stimulates strong immune responses in adults in Mali and in the US, according to a new study. The study, carried out in Mali, West Africa and Baltimore, included the first testing of this vaccine in adult health care workers and other at-risk persons in Africa.

Source: Sciencedaily

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New discovery may redefine classifications in the animal kingdom

       A close cousin of the jellyfish has evolved over time into a microscopic parasite, new research shows. The finding represents the first case of extreme evolutionary degeneration of an animal body.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Sea level rise from Antarctic collapse may be slower than suggested

       A new study by scientists in the UK and France has found that Antarctic ice sheet collapse will have serious consequences for sea level rise over the next two hundred years, though not as much as some have suggested.

Source: Sciencedaily

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FDA-approved drug protects mice from Ebola

       A new study suggests that gamma interferon, which is an FDA-approved drug, may have potential as an antiviral therapy to prevent Ebola infection when given either before or after exposure to the virus. The study found that gamma interferon, given up to 24 hours after exposure, can inhibit Ebola infection in mice and completely protect the animals from death.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Earth's climate more sensitive to carbon dioxide than previously thought

       Ancient climates on Earth may have been more sensitive to carbon dioxide than was previously thought, according to new research. Scientists examined nahcolite crystals found in Colorado's Green River Formation, formed 50 million years old during a hothouse climate. They found that carbon dioxide levels during this time may have been as low as 680 parts per million (ppm), nearly half the 1,125 ppm predicted by previous experiments. The new data suggests that past predictions significantly underestimate the impact of greenhouse warming and that Earth's climate may be more sensitive to increased carbon dioxide than was once thought.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Loss of diversity near melting coastal glaciers

       Melting glaciers are causing a loss of species diversity among benthos in the coastal waters off the Antarctic Peninsula, impacting an entire seafloor ecosystem. This has been verified in the course of repeated research dives, the results of which were recently published by experts from Argentina, Germany and Great Britain.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Worm that 'eats up' plastic discovered by scientists

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Record Levels of CO2 Herald the Future of Climate Change

       The Earth's climate has changed. After nearly two centuries of fossil fuel-burning, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have reached 400 parts per million, especially boosted by the seemingly ever-accelerating amount of combustion in the last few decades according to the World Meteorological Organization. Atmospheric CO2.

Source: Scientificamerican

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CO2 Levels Hit Record High for 30th Year in a Row

       Greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere reached a record high in 2014 and the relentless fuelling of climate change is endangering the planet for future generations, the World Meteorological Organization said on Monday.

Source: Scientificamerican

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Tapeworm Spreads Deadly Cancer to Human

       A Colombian man's lung tumors turned out to have an extremely unusual cause: The rapidly growing masses weren't actually made of human cells, but were from a tapeworm living inside him, according to a report of the case.

Source: Scientificamerican

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Newly discovered fossil sea urchin is the oldest of its kind

       A fossil sea urchin is the oldest of its kind, pushing back a fork in the sea urchin family tree by 10 million years.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Fighting Mosquitoes with Mosquitoes

       Earlier this year Los Angeles residents met about a new plan to release thousands of mosquitoes in their backyards. The bugs—all males—would not bite humans like females do, and area officials hoped these particular insects would block further reproduction of their kind. To some local residents the approach seemed a bit counterintuitive at first. Yet they were told the method would help curb pesticide use while simultaneously beating back their mosquito population.

Source: Scientificamerican

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Less ice, more water in Arctic Ocean by 2050s

       By the 2050s, parts of the Arctic Ocean once covered by sea ice much of the year will see at least 60 days a year of open water, according to a new modeling study.

Source: Sciencedaily

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90 percent of skin-based viruses represent viral 'dark matter,' scientists reveal

       Scientists in recent years have made great progress in characterizing the bacterial population that normally lives on human skin and contributes to health and disease. Now researchers have used state-of-the-art techniques to survey the skin's virus population, or "virome." The study reveals that most DNA viruses on healthy human skin are viral "dark matter" that have never been described before. The research also includes the development of a set of virome analysis tools that are now available to researchers for further investigations.

Source: Sciencedaily

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1st lab-in-a-briefcase for faster cancer detection

       Scientists have developed the world's first portable labin-a-briefcase that can operate even at high temperatures, to boost early detection of cancer in developing countries.

       Believed to be the first kit of its kind dedicated to the portable measurement of cancer biomarkers, the concept is the brainchild of Dr Nuno Reis, a lecturer at the Loughborough University in UK, who developed it keeping in mind the ack of adequate technology to support a full laboratory in deve oping countries.

Source: The Times of India

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October - 2015

   

Scientists call for national effort to understand and harness Earth's microbes

       To understand and harness the capabilities of Earth's microbial ecosystems, nearly fifty scientists propose a national effort in the US called the Unified Microbiome Initiative.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Networks Untangle Malaria's Deadly Shuffle

       You have just reenacted the process that Plasmodium falciparum uses to avoid the immune system. P. falciparum is the world’s most dangerous malaria parasite, causing 600,000 deaths every year and killing more children under the age of 5 than any other infectious disease on the planet. Larremore, an applied mathematician, was introduced to its promiscuous habits while doing postdoctoral research at what is now the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Source: Scientificamerican

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Tuberculosis Now Rivals AIDS As Leading Cause of Death, Says WHO

       For the first time, tuberculosis infections rivaled HIV/AIDS as a leading cause of death from infectious diseases, the World Health Organization said in a report released on Wednesday.

Source: Scientificamerican

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Study blocks ebola virus budding by regulating calcium signaling

       The Ebola virus acts fast. The course of infection, from exposure to recovery, or death, can take as little as two weeks. That may not leave enough time for the immune system to mount an effective response.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Intestinal worms 'talk' to gut bacteria to boost immune system

       Researchers have discovered how intestinal worm infections cross-talk with gut bacteria to help the immune system. Intestinal worms infect over 2 billion people across the world, mostly children, in areas with poor sanitation. But despite causing serious health problems, worms can actually help the immune system of its host as an indirect way of protecting themselves, say authors of the new report.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Alzheimer risk impairs 'satnav' function of the brain

       Young adults with genetically increased Alzheimer's risk have altered activation patterns in a brain region that is crucial for spatial navigation.

Source: Sciencedaily

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New methane-metabolizing organisms discovered 600 meters below sea surface

       Textbooks on methane-metabolizing organisms might have to be rewritten after researchers discovered two new organisms. These new organisms played an unknown role in greenhouse gas emissions and consumption.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Toxins remain in your clothes

       Thousands of chemicals are used in clothes manufacturing. Researchers have examined if there are chemicals in the clothes we buy as well. Several substances related to health risks were identified and not even organic cotton was a guarantee for non-toxic textiles.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Deep-sea bacteria could help neutralize greenhouse gas

       A type of bacteria plucked from the bottom of the ocean could be put to work neutralizing large amounts of industrial carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere, a group of researchers has found.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Plague in humans 'twice as old' but didn't begin as flea-borne, ancient DNA reveals

       New research dates plague back to the early Bronze Age, showing it had been endemic in humans across Eurasia for millennia prior to first recorded global outbreak, and that ancestral plague mutated into its bubonic, flea-borne form between the 2nd and 1st millennium BC.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Algae virus can jump to mammalian cells

       New research provides first direct evidence that an algae-infecting virus can invade and potentially replicate within some mammalian cells. It follows up a 2014 study that found signs of a chlorovirus in throat swabs of human participants.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Nano power grids between bacteria

       Microorganisms in the sea organize their power supply via tiny power-cables, thus oxidizing the greenhouse gas methane.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Synthetic batteries for the energy revolution

       A team of researchers made a decisive step towards a redox-flow battery which is simple to handle, safe and economical at the same time: They developed a system on the basis of organic polymers and a harmless saline solution. The new redox-flow battery can withstand up to 10,000 charging cycles without losing a crucial amount of capacity.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Biologists discover bacteria communicate like neurons in the brain

       Biologists have discovered that bacteria often viewed as lowly, solitary creatures -- are actually quite sophisticated in their social interactions and communicate with one another through similar electrical signaling mechanisms as neurons in the human brain.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Two degree Celsius warming locks in sea level rise for thousands of years

       A jump in global average temperatures of 1.5°C to 2°C will see the collapse of Antarctic ice shelves and lead to hundreds and even thousands of years of sea level rise, according to new research.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Camels test positive for respiratory virus in Kenya

       Nearly half of camels in parts of Kenya have been infected by the virus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, a new study shows, and experts have given calls now for further research into the role they might play in the transmission of this emerging disease to humans.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Sexual transmission of Ebola virus in Liberia confirmed using genomic analysis

       A suspected case of sexual transmission of Ebola virus disease in Liberia was confirmed using genomic analysis, thanks to in-country laboratory capabilities. The work provides molecular evidence of Ebola virus transmission between a disease survivor and his female partner. It also demonstrates the value of real-time genomic surveillance during an outbreak.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Antioxidant use may promote spread of cancer

       A team of scientists has made a discovery that suggests cancer cells benefit more from antioxidants than normal cells, raising concerns about the use of dietary antioxidants by patients with cancer.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Deadly bacteria stiff-arm the immune system

       The most severe strep infections are often the work of one strain known as M1T1, named for the type of tentacle-like M protein projecting from the bacterium's surface. Researchers have uncovered a new way M1 contributes to strep virulence the protein's ability to hold off antimicrobial peptides.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Study challenges scientific principle about Alzheimer protein amyloid beta

       Results of a new study challenge the findings of previous work on the initial aggregates formed by amyloid beta, a protein closely associated with the onset and development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: Sciencedaily

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U.K. Ebola “Relapse” Case Takes Virus Specialists to Uncharted Waters

       The case of Pauline Cafferkey, the first person known to have recovered from Ebola and then suffer an apparently life-threatening relapse, is taking scientists into uncharted territory.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Changing climate in the polar regions can affect rest of world far quicker than previously thought

       A new study of the relationship between ocean currents and climate change has found that they are tightly linked, and that changes in the polar regions can affect the ocean and climate on the opposite side of the world within one to two hundred years, far quicker than previously thought.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Deadly bacteria stiff-arm the immune system

       New Understanding of the M1 Protein: one of the major virulence factors of Group A Strep "The famous strep M1 protein has been shown to have numerous virulence properties that aid in bacterial colonization, fool the immune system or provoke inflammation," said senior author Victor Nizet, MD, professor of UC San Diego. "We found that a major contribution of M1 protein to severe invasive infections can be explained by its ability to inactivate antimicrobial peptides."

Source: Eurekalert

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Press statement - Intended Nationally Determined Contribution

       Gandhi Jayanti, India has submitted it’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC).The approach of India’s INDC has been anchored in the vision of equity inspired by the Father of our Nation Mahatma Gandhi's famous exhortation;“Earth has enough resources to meet people’s needs, but will never have enough to satisfy people's greed” and formulatedunder the leadership and guidance of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi who has called for ‘convenient action’ in order to deal with the ‘inconvenient truth’ of climate change.

 

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INDIA INDC to UNFCCC

       India has a long history and tradition of harmonious co-existence between man and nature. Human beings here have regarded fauna and flora as part of their family. This is part of our heritage and manifest in our lifestyle and traditional practices.

 

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Superbug" Infection Could Cost NY Giants Player His Foot

       The nasty superbug MRSA has been linked to life-threatening conditions such as body-wide inflammation and organ failure, and now the NFL reports that New York Giants player Daniel Fells may lose his foot due to complications from an MRSA infection.

Source : Scientificamerican

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Global marine analysis suggests food chain collapse

       A world-first global analysis of marine responses to climbing human carbon dioxide emissions has painted a grim picture of future fisheries and ocean ecosystems.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Melting of Antarctic ice shelves set to intensify

       New research projects a doubling of surface melting of Antarctic ice shelves by 2050 and that by 2100 melting may surpass intensities associated with ice shelf collapse, if greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel consumption continue at the present rate.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Is the eco-tourism boom putting wildlife in a new kind of danger?

       Many tourists today are drawn to the idea of vacationing in far-flung places around the globe where their dollars can make a positive impact on local people and local wildlife. But researchers writing in Trends in Ecology & Evolution on Oct. 9 say that all of those interactions between wild animals and friendly ecotourists eager to snap their pictures may inadvertently put animals at greater risk of being eaten.

Source: Sciencedaily

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How small is the smallest? New record of the tiniest free-living insect provides precision

       The long-lasting search and debate around the size and identity of the world's smallest free-living insect seems to have now ended with the precise measurement and second record of the featherwing beetle species. Described in 1999, representatives of this minute beetle have recently been retrieved once again from fungus in Colombia. The smallest individual measured the astounding 0.325 mm

Source: Sciencedaily

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Novel theoretical approach to reduce antibiotic resistance

       Researchers have developed a novel mathematical method inspired by Darwinian evolution to use current antibiotics to eliminate or reduce the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Antiviral compound provides full protection from Ebola virus in nonhuman primates

       Rhesus monkeys were completely protected from the deadly Ebola virus when treated three days after infection with a compound that blocks the virus's ability to replicate. These encouraging preclinical results suggest the compound, known as GS-5734, should be further developed as a potential treatment, according to new research findings.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Sea turtles face plastic pollution peril

       A new global review that set out to investigate the hazards of marine plastic pollution has warned that all seven species of marine turtles can ingest or become entangled in the discarded debris that currently litters the oceans.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Detecting HIV diagnostic antibodies with DNA nanomachines

       An international team of researchers have designed and synthesized a nanometer-scale DNA 'machine' whose customized modifications enable it to recognize a specific target antibody.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Zika Disease: Another Reason to Hate Mosquitoes

       By the time the 48-year-old man showed up at a clinic in New York City he had been sick for almost two weeks. A blotchy, red rash still blanketed his torso and his body ached. He had just gotten over a triple-digit fever, intense lower back pain and a painful eye infection. Five weeks earlier he had embarked on a long vacation to South America and Polynesia but during his trip he had felt fine. He had hopscotched from country to country until he capped his stint through French Polynesia with a trip to Mooréa, an island about 16 kilometers northwest of Tahiti. The South Pacific paradise was teeming with some hungry mosquitos. But he wasn’t worried about the bites. He knew he was up on all his travel vaccinations.

Source: Scientificamerican

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Discovery of DNA Repair Methods Nails 2015 Chemistry Nobel Prize

       There are three reasons we are not constantly riddled with cancer, and today the scientists who discovered those reasons—three ways that cells repair damaged DNA that can ruin bodies--won the 2015 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

Source: Scientificamerican

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Discoverers of Shape-Shifting Particles Win the Nobel Physics Prize

       Finding some of nature’s weirdest particles has won two experimenters the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics. Japanese scientist Takaaki Kajita and Canadian researcher Arthur B. McDonald will share this year’s award for the discovery that neutrinos—fundamental particles that come in three types, or flavors—can actually swap identities and change flavors as they fly through space.

Source: Scientificamerican

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Ancient alga knew how to survive on land before it left water and evolved into the first plant

       A team of scientists has solved a long-running mystery about the first stages of plant life on earth.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Bacteria in the world’s oceans produce millions of tons of hydrocarbons each year

       Scientists have calculated that millions of tons of hydrocarbons are produced annually by photosynthetic bacteria in the world's oceans.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Gut bacteria population, diversity linked to anorexia nervosa

       Studying the 'gut-brain axis,' researchers find evidence of an association between the gut microbiota and the eating disorder anorexia nervosa.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Volcanic eruptions affect flow of world's major rivers

       Major volcanic eruptions can have a significant effect on the flow of the biggest rivers around the world, research shows. In the first study of its kind, scientists sought to better understand how big volcanic eruptions, which can trigger a shortage of rainfall in many regions of the world, can impact on rivers. Their findings could help scientists predict how water availability in regions throughout the world might be affected by future eruptions.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Beating parasites wins three scientists Nobel prize for medicine

       Three scientists from Japan, China and Ireland whose discoveries led to the development of potent new drugs against parasitic diseases including malaria and elephantiasis won the Nobel Prize for Medicine. Irish-born William Campbell and Japan's Satoshi Omura won half of the prize for discovering avermectin, a derivative of which has been used to treat hundreds of millions of people with river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, or elephantiasis. China's Tu Youyou was awarded the other half of the prize for discovering artemisinin, a drug that has slashed malaria deaths and has become the mainstay of fighting the mosquito-borne disease. She is China's first Nobel laureate in medicine.

Source: Reuters

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Global warming can alter shape of the planet, as melting glaciers erode the land

       Climate change is causing more than just warmer oceans and erratic weather. According to scientists, it also has the capacity to alter the shape of the planet.

Source: Sciencedaily

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September - 2015

   

How ocean circulation changed atmospheric CO2

       Changes to overturning circulation in the Southern Ocean as a result of temperatures over Antarctica play key role in carbon uptake by the oceans.

Source: Sciencedaily

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King crabs threaten Antarctic ecosystem due to warming ocean

       King crabs may soon become high-level predators in Antarctic marine ecosystems where they haven't played a role in tens of millions of years, according to a new study.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Study sheds light on powerful process that turns food into energy

       The way in which our cells convert food into fuel is shared by almost all living things -- now scientists have discovered a likely reason why this is so widespread. Cells that have more energy can grow and renew faster, giving them -- and the organism to which they belong -- an evolutionary advantage.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Bacteria in ancient flea may be ancestor of the Black Death

       A 20-million-year-old flea, entombed in amber with tiny bacteria attached to it, provides what researchers believe may be the oldest evidence on Earth of a dreaded and historic killer -- an ancient strain of the bubonic plague.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Root microbiome engineering improves plant growth

       Humans have been breeding crops until they're bigger and more nutritious since the early days of agriculture, but genetic manipulation isn't the only way to give plants a boost. Integrative biologists now present how it is possible to engineer the plant soil microbiome to improve plant growth. These artificially selected microbiomes, which can also be selected in animals, can then be passed on from parents to offspring.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Study adds to evidence that viruses are alive

       A new analysis supports the hypothesis that viruses are living entities that share a long evolutionary history with cells. A new study offers the first reliable method for tracing viral evolution back to a time when neither viruses nor cells existed in the forms recognized today, the researchers say.

Source: Sciencedaily

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A whale of a tale: Whale microbiome shares characteristics with both ruminants, predators

       Scientists have found that the gut microbiome of right whales and other baleen species shares characteristics with both cows and meat-eating predators. The dual microbial communities allow whales to extract the most nutrition possible from their diet, digesting not only the copepods they eat, but their chitin-rich shells as well.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Earth's oceans show decline in microscopic plant life

       The world's oceans have seen significant declines in certain types of microscopic plant-life at the base of the marine food chain, according to a new NASA study. The research is the first to look at global, long-term phytoplankton community trends based on a model driven by NASA satellite data.

Source: Sciencedaily

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How flu viruses gain the ability to spread

       A new study reveals the soft palate is a key site for evolution of airborne transmissibility. Scientists made the surprising finding while examining the H1N1 flu strain, which caused a 2009 pandemic that killed more than 250,000 people.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Tiny carbon-capturing motors may help tackle rising carbon dioxide levels

       Machines that are much smaller than the width of a human hair could one day help clean up carbon dioxide pollution in the oceans. Nanoengineers have designed enzyme-functionalized micromotors that rapidly zoom around in water, remove carbon dioxide and convert it into a usable solid form.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Better trap for greenhouse gases

       Researchers around the globe are on a quest for materials capable of capturing and storing greenhouse gases. This shared goal led researchers to team up to explore the feasibility of vertically aligned carbon nanotubes to trap and store two greenhouse gases in particular: carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Flowing electrons help ocean microbes gulp methane

       Good communication is crucial to any relationship, especially when partners are separated by distance. This also holds true for microbes in the deep sea that need to work together to consume large amounts of methane released from vents on the ocean floor. Recent workhas shown that these microbial partners can still accomplish this task, even when not in direct contact with one another, by using electrons to share energy over long distances.

Source: Sciencedaily

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'Tree of life' for 2.3 million species released

       A first draft of the tree of life for all 2.3 million named species of animals, plants, fungi and microbes has been released. Thousands of smaller trees have been published over the years for select branches, but this is the first time those results have been combined into a single tree. The end result is a digital resource that is available online for anyone to use or edit, much like a 'Wikipedia' for evolutionary relationships.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Republican Candidates Questioned on Climate Change

       Marco Rubio disputed the idea that he’s a climate skeptic in the second GOP debate, asserting instead that he opposes policies to reduce emissions if they burden the U.S. economy while failing to affect global temperatures.

Source: Scientificamerican

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Antidepressant was misrepresented as safe for adolescents

       A new study has found that a psychiatric drug claimed to be a safe and effective treatment for depression in adolescents is actually ineffective and associated with serious side effects.

Source: Sciencedaily

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New catalyst yields more accurate PSA test

       Chemists have developed a catalyst that improves the sensitivity of the standard PSA test over 100-fold. The catalyst is made of palladium nanocubes coated with iridium.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Antibacterial soap no more effective than plain soap at reducing bacterial contamination

       Using antibacterial soap when hand-washing is no more effective than using plain soap, according to a new paper. The study examined the effect of triclosan (the most commonly used active antiseptic ingredient used in soap) on bacteria.

Source: Sciencedaily

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New Software and Genetic Analyses Aim to Reduce Problems with Multiple-Drug Combinations

       Tucking a spreadsheet in among the toiletries in the bathroom cabinet might seem a bit odd, but for 76-year-old Barbara Pines, it is the easiest way to keep track of all the prescription medications, over-the-counter pills and supplements that she and her husband take. The document lists 20 drugs—along with the strength, number of times taken and purpose. “I print this schedule and take it to any new doctor we go to,” she says.

Source: Scientificamerican

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How Mutant Viral Swarms Spread Disease

       Viruses exist as “mutant clouds” of closely related individuals, an insight that is helping researchers predict where disease is likely to spread.

Source: Scientificamerican

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Sensitivity of smell cilia depends on location, length in nasal cavity

       Like the hairs they resemble, cilia come in all lengths, from short to long. But unlike the hair on our heads, the length of sensory cilia on nerve cells in our noses is of far more than merely cosmetic significance. Researchers found a location-dependent pattern in cilia length in the mouse nasal cavity that affects sensitivity to odors. The discovery may also have important implications for the study of sight and touch.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Your stomach bacteria determines which diet is best for weight reduction

       New research enables "tailored" diet advice based on our personal gut microbiome for persons who want to lose weight and reduce the risk of disease. Systems biologists have, for the first time, successfully identified in detail how some of our most common intestinal bacteria interact during metabolism.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Lasker Prizes Given for Discoveries in Cancer and Genetics, and for Ebola Response

       The Lasker awards, among the most respected prizes in medicine, will go to three scientists who made groundbreaking discoveries in cancer and genetics, and to the aid group Doctors Without Borders, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced Tuesday. The award citation to Doctors Without Borders said that the group had taken on the “monumental” task of fighting Ebola in West Africa, “a duty that rightly belongs to the international community”.The epidemic is waning, but Doctors Without Borders remains in the region, building maternity and pediatric hospitals, vaccinating children, treating malaria and other local illnesses and providing mental health care. The group received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.

Source : Nytimes

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Metal-eating microbes in African lake could solve mystery of the planet's iron deposits

       An isolated, iron-rich bay in the heart of East Africa is offering scientists a rare glimpse back into Earth's primitive marine environment, and supports theories that tiny microbes created some of the world's largest ore deposits billions of years ago.

Source: Science Daily

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Govt may curb sale of antibiotics in bid to combat drug resistance

       The government may soon issue restrictions on prescription and sale of commonly used antibiotics in an attempt to avoid development of drug resistance to infectious diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, urinary tract infection and even HIV.
This means doctors and chemists will have to follow certain protocols and guidelines while prescribing antibiotics.
       For instance, chemists will have to maintain records of all kinds of antibiotics that they procure and sell along with the doctor's prescription.
       The move is part of the new global strategy , adopted by all member countries of the World Health Organization, to fight drug-resistant diseases.

Source: The Times of India

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August - 2015

   

Modified bacteria become a multicellular circuit

       Scientists create a biological circuit by programming bacteria to alter gene expression in an entire population. They have created a biological equivalent to a computer circuit that involves multiple organisms to influence a population.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Home sweet microbe: Dust in your house can predict geographic region, gender of occupants

       The humble dust collecting in the average American household harbors a teeming menagerie of bacteria and fungi, and as researchers have discovered, it may be able to predict not only the geographic region of a given home, but the gender ratio of the occupants and the presence of a pet as well.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Microbiomes of human throat may be linked to schizophrenia

       In the most comprehensive study to date, researchers have identified a potential link between microbes (viruses, bacteria and fungi) in the throat and schizophrenia. This link may offer a way to identify causes and develop treatments of the disease and lead to new diagnostic tests.

Source: Sciencedaily

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A Not So Old Chestnut, Extract Disables MRSA

       In recent years, scientists have begun to take traditional herbal remedies and local folklore a bit more seriously—especially in the wake of skyrocketing rates of microbial drug resistance. Many traditional medicine treatments are being carefully dissected to isolate specific compounds of therapeutic value.

Source: Genengnews

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The ceremonial sounds that accompanied our ancestors' funerals, 15,000 years ago

       The Natufian culture, which flourished 15,000 years ago, is well known for its complex burial customs. A new study has discovered that these ceremonies included the use of giant boulder mortars whose pounding sound informed the community that a ceremony was being held.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Greenhouse gases caused glacial retreat during last Ice Age

       A recalculation of the dates at which boulders were uncovered by melting glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age has conclusively shown that the glacial retreat was due to rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, as opposed to other types of forces. The data helps to confirm predictions of future glacial retreat, and that most of the world's glaciers may disappear in the next few centuries.

Source: Sciencedaily

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July 2015 was warmest month ever recorded for the globe

       The July average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.46°F (0.81°C) above the 20th century average. As July is climatologically the warmest month for the year, this was also the all-time highest monthly temperature in the 1880-2015 record, at 61.86°F (16.61°C), surpassing the previous record set in 1998 by 0.14°F (0.08°C).

Source: Sciencedaily

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Honey bees rapidly evolve to overcome new disease

       An international research team has some good news for the struggling honeybee, and the millions of people who depend on them to pollinate crops and other plants. These valuable pollinators have faced widespread colony losses over the past decade, largely due to the spread of a predatory mite called Varroa destructor. But the bees might not be in as dire a state as it seems, according to research.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Synthetic DNA vaccine against MERS induces immunity in animal study

       A novel synthetic DNA vaccine can, for the first time, induce protective immunity against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus in animal species. The experimental, preventive vaccine, given six weeks before exposure to the MERS virus, was found to fully protect rhesus macaques from disease.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Microbial companions of humans, animals are highly specialized

       Humans and animals are never alone. Everyone is host to over two thousand different species of microbes, of which most colonize our bodies only after we are born. One would assume that the generalists among them have an advantage. Zoologists have now shown that the opposite is the case. Microbial communities living on humans and animals are mostly dominated by specialists.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Genetically engineered yeast produces opioids

       It typically takes a year to produce hydrocodone from plants, but scientistst have now genetically modified yeast to make it in just a few days. The technique could improve access to medicines in impoverished nations, and later be used to develop treatments for other diseases.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Are marine organisms evolving to protect their young in response to ocean acidification?

       Marine organisms living in acidified waters exhibit a tendency to nurture their offspring to a greater extent than those in more regular conditions. Scientists have found that polychaete worms located around volcanic vents in the Mediterranean grow and develop their eggs within the protection of the family unit in contrast to closely-related species that release them into the water column to fend for themselves.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Isro's Bhuvan app to boost smart city plan

       Diversifying its `Bhuvan' (geospatial platform) application service which can be a key tool to implement In dia's smart city programmes the Indian Space Research Or ganization (Isro) has tied up with the Union urban develop ment ministry for mapping more than 500 towns and cities to make a base plan for better ur ban planning and management The move will help town planners prepare master plans for many fast urbanizing local bodies, keeping in view the to pography and available natural resources in the surrounding areas. The mapping is being currently done for municipal local bodies with a population of more than one lakh. The country's space agency will also map and provide management plans for heritage sites and monuments of national importance.

Source: The Times of India

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Nicotine-chomping bacteria may hold key to anti-smoking therapy

       A new study from scientists at The Scripps Research Institute explores a bacterial enzyme that might be used as a drug candidate to help people quit smoking. The enzyme NicA2 is isolated from the bacteria known as Pseudomonas putida. It turns out this bacterium — originally isolated from soil in a tobacco field — consumes nicotine as its sole source of carbon and nitrogen.

Source: BIOENGINEER.ORG

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Cosmological 'lost' lithium: Environmental solution

       In old stars there is too little Lithium -- 7, a primordial isotope which was created along with the universe in the first 3 minutes, and scientists do not know why. A team of scientists revisited this 'lithium problem.' Their results provide a new explanation that certifies the validity of the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis and calls for attention to the interaction between the stars and the environment in which the stars were formed.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Corrected sunspot history suggests climate change not due to natural solar trends

       The Sunspot Number is a crucial tool used to study the solar dynamo, space weather and climate change. It has now been recalibrated and shows a consistent history of solar activity over the past few centuries. The new record has no significant long-term upward trend in solar activity since 1700, as was previously indicated. This suggests that rising global temperatures since the industrial revolution cannot be attributed to increased solar activity.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Volcanic vents preview future ocean habitats

       A world-first underwater study of fish in their natural environment has shown how predicted ocean acidification from climate change will devastate temperate marine habitats and biodiversity.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Big data maps world's ocean floor

       The creation of the world's first digital map of the seafloor's geology is underway. It is the first time the composition of the seafloor, covering 70 percent of Earth's surface, has been mapped in 40 years; the most recent map was hand drawn in the 1970s.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Carbon dioxide-spewing volcano drives reef from coral to algae

       A dramatic shift from vibrant coral communities to carpets of algae has been documented by researchers in remote Pacific Ocean waters where an underwater volcano spews carbon dioxide

Source: Sciencedaily

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Viruses thrive in big families, in sickness and in health

       Every child puts a household at increased risk for viral infections. A new study showed that childless households had infections during 3-4 weeks of the year, while families with six children were infected for 45 weeks. But only half who tested positive reported feeling ill. These results can help families and health care providers know when illness should be cause for concern.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Five billion light years across: The largest feature in the universe

       Astronomers have found what appears to be the largest feature in the observable universe: a ring of nine gamma ray bursts -- and hence galaxies - 5 billion light years across.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Crop pests outwit climate change predictions en route to new destinations

       The dangers of relying on climate-based projections of future crop pest distributions have been highlighted by a new paper that suggests that rapid evolution can confound model results.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Daily changes in mouse gut bacteria moves with internal clock, gender

       Researchers analyzed circadian rhythms in abundance and type of microbiota in the gut and feces of mice using genetic sequencing. They found that the absolute abundance of a large group of rod-shaped bacteria common in the gut and skin of animals, and relative species make-up of the microbiome, changed over a 24-hour cycle, and this rhythmicity was more pronounced in female mice.

Source: Sciencedaily

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July - 2015

   

Ebola vaccine efficacy trial suggest vaccine provides high protection against disease

       Tests of the experimental Ebola vaccine VSV-ZEBOV in over 7500 participants in Guinea suggest that the vaccine provides high protection against the disease as early as ten days after vaccination, in adults who have potentially been exposed to the virus by coming in close contact with a recently infected person.

Source: Sciencedaily

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Super-Superbugs: Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria May Be Deadlier

       Antibiotic-resistant bacteria may be tougher superbugs than previously thought: Not only are these bacteria harder to treat, they appear to be “fitter” in general, meaning they survive better in the host and cause more deadly infections, a new study suggests.

Source :Scientificamerican

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Resolving social conflict is key to survival of bacterial communities

       Far from being selfish organisms whose sole purpose is to maximize their own reproduction, bacteria in large communities work for the greater good by resolving a social conflict among individuals to enhance the survival of their entire community.

Source :ScienceDaily

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Virus-like particle vaccine protects mice from many flu strains

       Each year, scientists create an influenza (flu) vaccine that protects against a few specific influenza strains that researchers predict are going to be the most common during that year. Now, a new study shows that scientists may be able to create a 'universal' vaccine that can provide broad protection against numerous influenza strains, including those that could cause future pandemics.

Source :ScienceDaily

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Plant defense hormones help sculpt root microbiome

       According to new research, the defense hormone salicylic acid helps select which bacteria live both inside and on the surface of a plant's roots, keeping some bacteria out and actively recruiting others.

Source :ScienceDaily

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Oceans slowed global temperature rise, until now

       A new study of ocean temperature measurements shows that in recent years, extra heat from greenhouse gases has been trapped in the subsurface waters of the Pacific and Indian oceans, thus accounting for the slowdown in the global surface temperature increase observed during the past decade, researchers say.

Source :ScienceDaily

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New antibody treats traumatic brain injury and prevents long-term neurodegeneration

       New research provides the first direct evidence linking traumatic brain injury to Alzheimer's disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and offers the potential for early intervention to prevent the development of these debilitating neurodegenerative diseases. TBI can result from repetitive contact sport injuries or from exposure to military blasts, and is one of the most significant risk factors for both Alzheimer's disease and CTE.

Source :ScienceDaily

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New report card on global HIV/AIDS epidemic

       A new 515-page report on the global HIV/AIDS epidemic celebrates the “extraordinary progress” in both treatment and prevention over the past 15 years. But “How AIDS Changed Everything” also has “heart-breaking stories about the challenges that still remain,” wrote the director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Michel Sidibé, in an introduction.

Source :News Sciencemag

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From sticks to balls: The shape of bacteria is evolving to better adapt to the throat

       It's no coincidence that the earthworm's slender shape makes it perfect for weaving through narrow tunnels. Evolution molds the shapes of living creatures according to the benefits they offer. At the microscopic level, do the various shapes of bacteria also contribute to their survival? Does a spherical bacterium (coccus) have a better chance of infecting its host than its stick-shaped neighbor (bacillus)?.

Source : ScienceDaily

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What happens when cosmic giants meet galactic dwarfs?

       According to a new study of more than 20,000 merging galaxies, when two different sized galaxies smash together, the larger galaxy stops the smaller one making new stars.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Surprisingly high geothermal heating beneath West Antarctic Ice Sheet

       The amount of heat flowing toward the base of the West Antarctic ice sheet from geothermal sources deep within the Earth is surprisingly high, according to a new study. The results provide important data for researchers trying to predict the fate of the ice sheet, which has experienced rapid melting over the past decade.

Source : ScienceDaily

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The role of the microbiota in preventing allergies

       The human body is inhabited by billions of symbiotic bacteria, carrying a diversity that is unique to each individual. The microbiota is involved in many mechanisms, including digestion, vitamin synthesis and host defense. It is well established that a loss of bacterial symbionts promotes the development of allergies. Scientists at the Institut Pasteur have succeeded in explaining this phenomenon, and demonstrate how the microbiota acts on the balance of the immune system: the presence of microbes specifically blocks the immune cells responsible for triggering allergies.

Source : Eurekalert

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Global sea levels have risen six meters or more with just slight global warming

       A new review analyzing three decades of research on the historic effects of melting polar ice sheets found that global sea levels have risen at least six meters, or about 20 feet, above present levels on multiple occasions over the past three million years. What is most concerning is that amount of melting was caused by an increase of only 1-2 degrees (Celsius) in global mean temperatures.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Buzz the alarm: Climate change puts squeeze on bumblebees

       In the most comprehensive study ever conducted of the impacts of climate change on critical pollinators, scientists have discovered that global warming is rapidly shrinking the area where bumblebees are found in both North America and Europe.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Basic computing elements created in bacteria

       Researchers unveil a series of sensors, memory switches, and circuits that can be encoded in the common human gut bacterium. These basic computing elements will allow the bacteria to sense, memorize, and respond to signals in the gut, with future applications that might include the early detection and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease or colon cancer, they say.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Volcanic eruptions slow down climate change temporarily

       Although global concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has continuously increased over the past decade, the mean global surface temperature has not followed the same path. Scientists have now found an explanation for this slowing down in global warming: the incoming solar radiation in the years 2008-2011 was twice as much reflected by volcanic aerosol particles in the lowest part of the stratosphere than previously thought.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Researchers discover how bacteria sweet-talk their way into plants

       Rhizobia bacteria infect legume roots in a symbiotic relationship that provides the plant with ammonia, converted from elemental nitrogen in the air. For the first time, researchers in Denmark have identified a cell receptor that detects benign bacteria and permits an infection. As published in Nature recently, the exopolysaccharide receptor, EPR3, directly binds to bacterial signal molecules to distinguish between compatible and incompatible bacteria.

Source : Eurekalert

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Tundra study uncovers impact of climate warming in the Arctic

       Significant changes in one of Earth's most important ecosystems are not only a symptom of climate change, but may fuel further warming, research suggests. One of the biggest studies to date of key vegetation in the Arctic tundra provides strong evidence that dramatic changes in the region are being driven by climate warming.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Do micro-organisms explain features on comets?

       Comet 67P/Churyumov--Gerasimenko, studied in detail by the European Space Agency Rosetta and Philae spacecraft since September 2014, is a body with distinct and unexpected features. Now two astronomers have a radical explanation for its properties -- micro-organisms that shape cometary activity.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Climate change is turning male dragon lizards into females

       A climate-induced change of male dragon lizards into females occurring in the wild has been confirmed for the first time, according to recent research.

Source : ScienceDaily

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The oceans can’t take any more: Fundamental change in oceans predicted

       Our oceans need an immediate and substantial reduction of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. If that doesn't happen, we could see far-reaching and largely irreversible impacts on marine ecosystems, which would especially be felt in developing countries.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Greenhouse gas emissions remain primary threat to polar bears

       Greenhouse gas emissions remain the primary threat to the preservation of polar bear populations worldwide. This conclusion holds true under both a reduced greenhouse gas emission scenario that stabilizes climate warming and another scenario where emissions and warming continue at the current pace, according to updated research models.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Surprising culinary preferences of an abyssal sea anemone

       The surprising culinary preferences of an abyssal sea anemone have been unveiled by a team of scientists.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Scientists unravel elusive structure of HIV protein

       Globally, about 35 million people are living with HIV, which constantly adapts and mutates creating challenges for researchers. Now, scientists are gaining a clearer idea of what a key protein in HIV looks like. Armed with this clearer image of the protein, researchers hope to gain a better understanding of how the body can combat the virus with the ultimate aim of producing new and more effective antiviral drugs.

Source : ScienceDaily

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June - 2015

   

Three Ebola virus variants identified in Guinea

       Sequencing the genome of Ebola virus strains circulating in Guinea has allowed scientists to retrace the spread of the virus and monitor its evolution in the country where the outbreak started. Characterization of the genetic variations of the virus is crucial to ensure the continued efficacy of diagnostic tools and for the development of effective treatments and vaccines.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Rapid Ebola diagnostic successful in field trial

       Potential game changer for treatment and containment A new test can accurately diagnose Ebola virus disease within minutes, providing clinicians with crucial information for treating patients and containing outbreaks.

Source : ScienceDaily

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'Hydrothermal siphon' drives water circulation through seafloor

       New study explains previous observations of ocean water flowing through the seafloor from one seamount to another Vast quantities of ocean water circulate through the seafloor, flowing through the volcanic rock of the upper oceanic crust. A new study explains what drives this global process and how the flow is sustained. About 25 percent of the heat that flows out of Earth's interior is transferred to the oceans through this process.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Supercomputer model shows planet making waves in nearby debris disk

       A new supercomputer simulation of the planet and debris disk around the nearby star Beta Pictoris reveals that the planet's motion drives spiral waves throughout the disk, a phenomenon that causes collisions among the orbiting debris. Patterns in the collisions and the resulting dust appear to account for many observed features that previous research has been unable to fully explain.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Will tweaked microbes make Mars Earth-like?

       US Agency Aims To Alter Climate Of Red Planet
US defence scientists are planning to use genetically engineered algae, bacteria and plants to radically transform the climate of Mars and terraform it into an Earth-like planet.

Source : Times of India

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Bloodless malaria test passes first test in humans

       A new laser test that can detect malaria in seconds with a simple skin scan is the first in-human device to diagnose the disease without drawing blood. The device works by sending a safe laser pulse through the skin to a blood vessel. Here, if present, tiny parts of malaria parasites (called hemozoin) absorb the laser light. This causes them to instantly heat up and produce a microscopic vapour ‘nanobubble’. When this transient vapour bubble bursts, it produces an acoustic ‘pop’ which is detected through the skin by a sensor, indicating the presence of malaria.

Source : Medical Research Council

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Ebola Drug Trial Terminated

       Tekmira Pharmaceutical Corp. in association with the Wellcome Trust have announced their decision to stop recruiting patients for the phase 2 trial of their Ebola treatment. The RNAi drug began phase 2 trials in March but already the data indicate that an overall therapeutic benefit is unlikely.

Source : TheScientist

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Fat, sugar cause bacterial changes that may relate to loss of cognitive function

       A study indicates that both a high-fat and a high-sugar diet, compared to a normal diet, cause changes in gut bacteria that appear related to a significant loss of 'cognitive flexibility,' or the power to adapt and adjust to changing situations. This effect was most serious on the high-sugar diet, which also showed an impairment of early learning for both long-term and short-term memory.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Scientists create synthetic membranes that grow like living cells

       Chemists and biologists have succeeded in designing and synthesizing an artificial cell membrane capable of sustaining continual growth, just like a living cell.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Antibiotic Use Can Be Cut Dramatically for Abdominal Infections, Trial Shows

       Antibiotic treatments for abdominal infections are equally effective when the duration is halved, according to recent research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine.
       The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, followed 517 patients with abdominal infections after the source of the infection was addressed. Half were treated for two additional days after the symptoms stopped while the other half were treated for an extra four. Recent guidelines have called for much shorter courses of antibiotics (4-7 days) but most doctors continue to administer antibiotics for much longer.

Source : Lab Manager

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New superbug threat on the horizon

       A new antibiotic-resistant superbug already causing problems in hospitals is set to become a whole lot more virulent, say an international team of researchers. The culprit is Klebsiella pneumoniae, one of the top five bacteria involved in hospital acquired infections, causing pneumonia, wound infections and urinary tract infections.

Source : ABC Science

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How to wipe out polio and prevent its re-emergence

       Public health officials stand poised to eliminate polio from the planet. But a new study shows that the job won't be over when the last case of the horrible paralytic disease is recorded. Using disease-transmission models, graduate researchers demonstrate that silent transmission of poliovirus could continue for more than three years with no reported cases.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Earth science: New estimates of deep carbon cycle

       Over billions of years, the total carbon content of the outer part of the Earth in its mantle lithosphere, crust, oceans, and atmospheres has gradually increased, scientists say. The new analyses that represent an important advance in refining our understanding of Earth's deep carbon cycle.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Chemists devise technology that could transform solar energy storage

       Chemists have developed a major improvement to capture and retain energy from sunlight, where the stored energy can last dramatically longer than current solar technology allows up to several weeks, instead of the microseconds found in today's rooftop solar panels.

Source : ScienceDaily

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Tracing Ebola’s Evolution

       This week in Nature, microbiologists published an evolutionary analysis of 179 Ebola genome sequences obtained from patients in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra last year. A separate team of researchers published sequences from 232 patients in Sierra Leone in Cell. Overall, the two studies indicate that the virus initially evolved rapidly but is now mutating at slower rates.

Source : TheScientist

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Quantum theory: Einstein saves the quantum cat

       Einstein's theory of time and space will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year. Even today it captures the imagination of scientists. Scientists have now discovered that this world-famous theory can explain yet another puzzling phenomenon: the transition from quantum behavior to our classical, everyday world.

Source : Sciencedaily

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Global freshwater consumption crossing its planetary boundary

       Planetary boundaries have been proposed to describe a safe operating space of humanity. Human consumption of freshwater is the used control variable for a freshwater planetary boundary. Research is now showing that global freshwater consumption has already pushed beyond its boundary.

Source : Sciencedaily

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Surprisingly few 'busy bees' make global crops grow

       Surprisingly few bee species are responsible for pollinating the planet's crops, a major international study finds. Only two percent of wild bee species pollinate 80 percent of bee-pollinated crops worldwide, the researchers suggest.

Source : Sciencedaily

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Renewable energy from evaporating water

       Scientists report the development of two novel devices that derive power directly from evaporation -- a floating, piston-driven engine that generates electricity causing a light to flash, and a rotary engine that drives a miniature car.

Source : Sciencedaily

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Scientists find methane in Mars meteorites

       The researchers examined samples from six meteorites of volcanic rock that originated on Mars. The meteorites contain gases in the same proportion and with the same isotopic composition as the Martian atmosphere. All six samples also contained methane, which was measured by crushing the rocks and running the emerging gas through a mass spectrometer. The team also examined two non-Martian meteorites, which contained lesser amounts of methane.

Source : Sciencedaily

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New drug compound may beat malaria with single $1 dose

       Scientists have discovered a new anti-malarial compound that could treat patients with a single $1 dose, including those with strains of the mosquito-borne disease that are resistant to current drugs.
Although it is still years from reaching the market, results from tests conducted on human blood in the laboratory and in live mice suggest it is highly potent, researchers reported in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

Source : REUTERS

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Biodiversity reduces human, wildlife diseases and crop pests

       With infectious diseases increasing worldwide, the need to understand how and why disease outbreaks occur is becoming increasingly important. Looking for answers, a team of biologists found broad evidence that supports the controversial 'dilution effect hypothesis,' which suggests that biodiversity limits outbreaks of disease among humans and wildlife.

Source : Sciencedaily

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Remote cave study reveals 3000 years of European climate variation

       Research on limestone formations in a remote Scottish cave has produced a unique 3000-year-long record of climatic variations that may have influenced historical events including the fall of the Roman Empire and the Viking Age of expansion. The study of five stalagmites in Roaring Cave north of Ullapool in northwest Scotland is the first to use a compilation of cave measurements to track changes in a climate phenomenon called the North Atlantic Oscillation.

Source : Sciencedaily

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Unveiling the ancient climate of Mars

       The high seas of Mars may never have existed. According to a new study that looks at two opposite climate scenarios of early Mars, a cold and icy planet billions of years ago better explains water drainage and erosion features seen on the planet today.

Source : Sciencedaily

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Newfound groups of bacteria are mixing up the tree of life

       Bacteria, one of the three major branches of the tree of life, are a fuzzy bit of foliage. While scientists know there are many unidentified species, they have not been classified or characterized because no one can culture them. Now biologists have sequenced a community of bacteria, assembled almost 800 nearly complete genomes and found that many of them represent completely new phyla: more than 35 in all.

Source : Sciencedaily

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Arctic Ocean rapidly becoming more corrosive to marine species

       New research shows that surface waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort seas could reach levels of acidity that threaten the ability of animals to build and maintain their shells by 2030, with the Bering Sea reaching this level of acidity by 2044.

Source : Sciencedaily

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Scientists develop new technique for analyzing epigenetics of bacteria

       There is a potential new tool to combat pathogens and overcome antibiotic resistance. Scientists have developed a new technique to more precisely analyze bacterial populations, to reveal epigenetic mechanisms that can drive virulence. The new methods hold the promise of a potent new tool to offset the growing challenge of antibiotic resistance by bacterial pathogens.

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First-ever observation of the native capside of a retrovirus

       For the first time ever, researchers have captured high-resolution images of the Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV) capsid protein. Their images reveal unprecedented elements of flexibility in this protein, which are key for the assembly of the infectious particle. These findings represent a major progress in understanding retrovirus biology, opening new avenues towards the development of antiretroviral therapies.

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First functional, synthetic immune organ with controllable antibodies

       Engineers have created a functional, synthetic immune organ that produces antibodies and can be controlled in the lab, completely separate from a living organism. The engineered organ has implications for everything from rapid production of immune therapies to new frontiers in cancer or infectious disease research.

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Plants may run out of time to grow under ongoing climate change

       The causes and consequences of global warming are still under debate, but what would actually happen to all the plants, essential to many aspects of our lives, if the climate in the planet does get warmer? A new study addresses just this question.

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Coral reefs defy ocean acidification odds in Palau

       Will some coral reefs be able to adapt to rapidly changing conditions in Earth's oceans? If so, what will these reefs look like in the future? As the ocean absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels, its chemistry is changing. The carbon dioxide reacts with water molecules, lowering ocean pH in a process known as ocean acidification.

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Impact of insecticides on the cognitive development of 6-year-old children

       Researchers have provided new evidence of neurotoxicity in humans from pyrethroid insecticides, which are found in a wide variety of products and uses.

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Virus evolution and human behavior shape global patterns of flu movement

       The global movement patterns of all four seasonal influenza viruses are illustrated in new research, providing a detailed account of country-to-country virus spread over the last decade and revealing unexpected differences in circulation patterns between viruses.

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'No-ink’ color printing with nanomaterials

       Researchers are giving new meaning to the term "read the fine print" with their demonstration of a color printing process using nanomaterials. In this case, the print features are very fine visible only with the aid of a high-powered electron microscope.

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Warmer, lower-oxygen oceans will shift marine habitats

       Warming temperatures and decreasing levels of dissolved oxygen will act together to create metabolic stress for marine animals. Habitats will shift to places in the ocean where the oxygen supply can meet the animals' increasing future needs.

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Your viral infection history in a single drop of blood

       New technology makes it possible to test for current and past infections with any known human virus by analyzing a single drop of a person's blood. The method, called VirScan, is an efficient alternative to existing diagnostics that test for specific viruses one at a time.

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Australian fossil forces rethink on our ancestors' emergence onto land

       A fossil's age raises the possibility that the first animals to emerge from the water to live on land were large tetrapods in Gondwana in the southern hemisphere, rather than smaller species in Europe.

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New test could reveal every virus that's ever infected you

       New technology developed by Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) researchers makes it possible to test for current and past infections with any known human virus by analyzing a single drop of a person's blood. The method, called VirScan, is an efficient alternative to existing diagnostics that test for specific viruses one at a time.

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Study pinpoints what part genes play in the age of first-time moms, family size

       Researchers have analyzed the genomes of thousands of women in the UK and the Netherlands to measure the extent to which a woman's genes play a role for when she has her first baby and how many children she will have. Significantly, they have found that some women are genetically predisposed to have children earlier than others, and conclude that they have passed down their reproductive advantage to the next generation.

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Programming DNA to reverse antibiotic resistance in bacteria

       At its annual assembly in Geneva last week, the World Health Organization approved a radical and far-reaching plan to slow the rapid, extensive spread of antibiotic resistance around the world. The plan hopes to curb the rise caused by an unchecked use of antibiotics and lack of new antibiotics on the market.

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Researchers explain mechanism that makes their mouthwash so effective against tooth decay

       Most common broad-spectrum antibiotics and conventional mouthwashes indiscriminately kill both beneficial and harmful pathogenic organisms. A new study led by Shi, chair of the section of oral biology at the UCLA School of Dentistry, explains how a specifically targeted antimicrobial peptide, known as C16G2 works to eradicate only the harmful acid-producing Streptococcus mutans bacteria, the main cause of tooth decay, without disturbing the benign and beneficial bacteria in the mouth.

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Deepest high-temperature hydrothermal vents discovered in Pacific Ocean

       Researchers have discovered a large, previously unknown field of hydrothermal vents in the Gulf of California, about 150 kilometers (100 miles) east of La Paz, Mexico. Lying more than 3,800 meters (12,500 feet) below the surface, the Pescadero Basin vents are the deepest high-temperature hydrothermal vents ever observed in or around the Pacific Ocean.

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Earth organisms survive under low-pressure Martian conditions

       Methanogens among the simplest and oldest organisms on Earth could survive on Mars, new research suggests. Methanogens, microorganisms in the domain Archaea, use hydrogen as their energy source and carbon dioxide as their carbon source, to metabolize and produce methane, also known as natural gas. Methanogens live in swamps and marshes, but can also be found in the gut of cattle, termites and other herbivores as well as in dead and decaying matter.

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A Plague on Pachyderms

       Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) has killed nearly 20% of calves born in American zoos. The virus, which is carried latently by adult elephants, can be deadly when acquired by a young calf. It's also difficult to detect. Since 2007, we have discovered an additional 5 distinct species of the virus, each with multiple strains.

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Ancient algae found deep in tropical glacier

       Researchers looking for carbon in equatorial ice cores have found diatoms, a type of algae. Their presence is evidence of what the landscape around the Andes in Peru might have been like more than a millennium ago.

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Invasive microbe protects corals from global warming, but at a cost

       An invasive species of symbiotic micro-alga has spread across the Caribbean Sea, according to an international team of researchers. These single-cell algae, which live within the cells of coral animals, are improving the resilience of coral communities to heat stress caused by global warming, but also are diminishing the abilities of corals to build reefs.

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New evidence emerges on the origins of life

       New research shows that the close linkage between the physical properties of amino acids, the genetic code, and protein folding was likely the key factor in the evolution from building blocks to organisms when Earth's first life was emerging from the primordial soup

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May - 2015

   

Viral Immunotherapy for Melanoma

       For the first time, viral-based immunotherapy has been shown to increase survival in melanoma patients. Phase 3 data from a clinical trial shows that melanoma patients injected with talimogene laherparepvec (T-vec) respond better than those injected with immune-boosting cytokine. T-vec, which received thumbs up from the USDA last month, is a modified herpes virus that targets tumour cells.

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Cold sore virus 'treats skin cancer'

       A genetically-engineered version of a virus that normally causes cold sores shows real promise for treating skin cancer, say researchers. It would also be the first melanoma treatment that uses a virus. "There is increasing excitement over the use of viral treatments like T-Vec for cancer, because they can launch a two-pronged attack on tumours - both killing cancer cells directly and marshalling the immune system against them.

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Ebola gatekeeper protein identified

       Ebola relies on a molecular “inside man” to sneak into cells. Mice lacking the virus’s accomplice, a protein called NPC1, are completely protected from Ebola infection, scientists report May 26 in mBio. Designing drugs that target NPC1 could potentially stop Ebola from breaking and entering into humans cells, suggests study coauthor Kartik Chandran and colleagues.

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Nearly indestructible virus yields tool to treat diseases

       A virus that attacks extremophiles stores its DNA in a form thought only to exist in non-biological, dehydrated samples. According to research published in Science on Friday, SIRV2 uses its capsid to force DNA into adopting the A-form conformation. A-form DNA is similar to the conventional B-DNA except that its base pairs are not perpendicular to the helix axis and there are more base pairs per rotation. The virus is thought to store its DNA this way to maintain stability in the face of extreme heat, desiccation, and radiation.

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Yeast can live with human genes

       Yeast and humans have been evolving along separate paths for 1 billion years, but there’s still a strong family resemblance, a new study demonstrates. After inserting more than 400 human genes into yeast cells one at a time, researchers found that almost 50% of the genes functioned and enabled the fungi to survive.

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Huge study of tiny plankton a 'treasure trove'

       Plankton include microscopic plants and animals, fish larvae, bacteria, viruses and other microorganisms that drift in the oceans. "Although tiny, these organisms are a vital part of the Earth's life support system, providing half of the oxygen generated each year on Earth by photosynthesis and lying at the base of marine food chains on which all other ocean life depends."

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How to Stop Dengue [Video]

       In the June issue of Scientific American, Australian entomologist Scott O’Neill writes about a novel method to control mosquito-borne disease. By infecting disease-carrying mosquitoes with a common natural bacterium called Wolbachia, his team hopes to reduce dengue (aka breakbone) fever infections in humans. Bugs infected with the microbe are unable to spread dengue, a painful disease that infects 390 million people every year.

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Vaccines developed for H5N1, H7N9 avian influenza strains

       Researchers have developed vaccines for H5N1 and H7N9, two new strains of avian influenza that can be transmitted from poultry to humans. The strains have led to the culling of millions of commercial chickens and turkeys as well as the death of hundreds of people.

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Climate change could cause cold-blooded animals' thermal tolerance to shrink

       Cold-blooded animals can tolerate body temperatures only a few degrees above their normal high temperatures before they overheat, which could be a problem as the planet itself warms, according to new research. As a result, the animals will see their 'thermal safety margins' shrink as global temperatures rise. Shifts in behavior or evolutionary changes might be the best hope for these animals to adapt to climate change, the researchers note.

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Targeting Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria with CRISPR and Phages

       Using bacteriophages to deliver a specificCRISPR/Cas system into antibiotic-resistant bacteria can sensitize the microbes to the drugs, according to a study published this week (May 18) in PNAS. The approach, developed by Udi Qimronof Tel Aviv University and his colleagues, is a modified version of phage therapy that does not require the delivery of phages to infected tissues and could help offset the pressure on bacterial populations to evolve drug resistance, according to the team.

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Breaking through the blood-brain barrier

       The bacteria that sneak past the brain's defenses to cause deadly bacterial meningitis are clever adversaries. Brandon Kim would know. The biology graduate student at San Diego State University investigates the molecular tricks bacteria use to convince their host that they are harmless and cause disease.

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INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY 22 MAY 2015

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How microbes acquire electricity in making methane

       Stanford University scientists have solved a long-standing mystery about methanogens, unique microorganisms that transform electricity and carbon dioxide into methane

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Climate scientists find warming in higher atmosphere: Elusive tropospheric hot spot located

       Researchers have published results in Environmental Research Letters confirming strong warming in the upper troposphere, known colloquially as the tropospheric hotspot. The hot has been long expected as part of global warming theory and appears in many global climate models.

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As carbon emissions climb, so too has Earth's capacity to remove CO2 from atmosphere

       A new paper, co-authored by Woods Hole Research Center Senior Scientist Richard A. Houghton, entitled, "Audit of the global carbon budget: estimate errors and their impact on uptake uncertainty," was published in the journal Biogeosciences. The paper confirms that as carbon emissions continue to climb, so too has Earth's capacity to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. About half of the emissions of CO2 each year remain in the atmosphere; the other half is taken up by the ecosystems on land and the oceans.

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The infant gut microbiome: New studies on its origins and how it's knocked out of balance

       A fecal sample analysis of 98 Swedish infants over the first year of life found a connection between the development of a child's gut microbiome and the way he or she is delivered. Babies born via C-section had gut bacteria that showed significantly less resemblance to their mothers compared to those that were delivered vaginally.

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How rivers regulate global carbon cycle

       River transport of carbon to the ocean is not on a scale that will solve our carbon dioxide problem, but we haven't known how much carbon the world's rivers routinely flush into the ocean, until now. Scientists calculated the first direct estimate of how much and in what form organic carbon is exported by rivers. The estimate will help modelers predict how this export may shift as Earth's climate changes.

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Liberia Declared Free of Ebola

       It’s been 15 months since the Ebola outbreak in West Africa began. And Liberia, one of the three countries hardest hit by the epidemic, has suffered more than 10,000 cases and more than 4,700 deaths as a result. But finally there is a ray of hope for the country. More than six weeks—twice the maximum incubation period for Ebola—have elapsed since the last person known to be infected died. On May 9, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Liberia free of Ebola.

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Breaking through the blood-brain barrier

       The bacteria that sneak past the brain's defenses to cause deadly bacterial meningitis are clever adversaries. Brandon Kim would know. The biology graduate student at San Diego State University investigates the molecular tricks bacteria use to convince their host that they are harmless and cause disease.

— Read more

 

April - 2015

   

Beyond genes: Are centrioles carriers of biological information?

       Scientists have discover that certain cell structures, the centrioles, could act as information carriers throughout cell generations. The discovery raises the possibility that transmission of biological information could involve more than just genes. Centrioles may actually be carriers of information, which holds profound implications for biology and disease treatment.

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Scientists announce final trial results of the world’s most advanced malaria vaccine

       The first malaria vaccine candidate (RTS,S/AS01) to reach phase 3 clinical testing is partially effective against clinical disease in young African children up to 4 years after vaccination, according to final trial data. The results suggest that the vaccine could prevent a substantial number of cases of clinical malaria, especially in areas of high transmission.

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California Bill Would Ban Vaccination Opt Out Based on Personal Belief

       Disney likes to remind visitors that its theme parks are where “dreams come true.” But events there this past December sparked a serious wake-up call. Lurking among the fantastical floats and rides of Disneyland was the measles virus, which ultimately infected 111 visitors. To prevent such infections in the future, California State Sen. Richard Pan (D), a pediatrician, has proposed a bill that would eliminate vaccine exemptions based on personal beliefs.

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New method to detect most common bacteria contaminating oysters

       In a major breakthrough in shellfish management and disease prevention, researchers have discovered a new method to detect a bacterium that has contaminated New England oyster beds and sickened consumers who ate the contaminated shellfish. The new patent-pending detection method which is available for immediate use to identify contaminated shellfish is a significant advance in efforts to identify shellfish harboring disease-carrying strains of Vibrio parahaemolyticus.

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New Ebola treatment effective three days after infection

       A post-exposure treatment that is effective against a specific strain of the Ebola virus that killed thousands of people in West Africa has been developed by researchers. The treatment uses a sequence specific short strand of RNA, known as siRNA, designed to target and interfere with the Ebola virus, rendering it harmless. One of the advantages of this approach is the ability to quickly modify it to different viral strains.

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First case of rabies in over a decade: Lessons for health-care personnel

       A recent case of rabies in France (the first since 2003) took 13 days to diagnose because the patient was unaware of having been bitten. During that time, 158 healthcare professionals were exposed to the patient's bodily fluids! Although rabies is incredibly rare in industrialized countries, the patient had recently returned from visit to Mali, West Africa. He presented in the ICU with a fever of nearly 101, abundant sweating, generalized pain, and a heartbeat of 40 bpm. Two days later he developed bouts of hyperactivity, disorientation, and delirium alternating with periods of drowsiness and normal behaviour. The investigators reported that "hypersalivation was remarkable and the patient occasionally spat on ICU personnel."

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Uranium isotopes carry the fingerprint of ancient bacterial activity

       The oceans contain billions of tons of dissolved uranium. Over the planet's history, some of this uranium was transformed into an insoluble form, causing it to precipitate and accumulate in sediments. This can occur through the action of live organisms or by interacting with certain minerals. Knowing which pathway was taken can provide insight into ancient bacterial activity. A team of researchers now describes a new method to distinguish between the pathways.

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Rare Microbes and Antibiotic Resistance

       When Venezuelan scientists visited an Amazonian tribe in 2009, they were the first Western people to have contact with the tribe. Many of the skin bacteria sampled from this Amazonian tribe had previously only been observed in soil samples, never in the human microbiome. More surprising was the presence of antibiotic resistance genes because the tribe had never had contact with Western medicine.

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Probiotics May One Day Be Used To Treat Depression

       A diet rich in probiotics -- which support the growth of "healthy" bacteria in the gut -- is known to boost digestive health and can even improve a person's immune system. But now an increasingly robust body of evidence suggests that gut bacteria may exert a significant effect on brain function and mental health.

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Bacterial flora of remote tribespeople carries antibiotic resistance genes

       Scientists have found antibiotic resistance genes in the bacterial flora of a South American tribe that never before had been exposed to antibiotic drugs. The findings suggest that bacteria in the human body have had the ability to resist antibiotics since long before such drugs were ever used to treat disease.

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BPA can disrupt sexual function in turtles, could be a warning for environmental health

       Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical used in food storage products and resins that line plastic beverage containers. Often, aquatic environments become reservoirs for BPA, and turtle habitats are affected. Now, a collaboration of researchers has determined that BPA can alter a turtle's sexual differentiation. Scientists are concerned findings could indicate harmful effects on environmental and human health.

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Multidrug-resistant shigellosis spreading in the United States

       International travelers are bringing a multidrug-resistant intestinal illness to the United States and spreading it to others who have not traveled, according to a new report. Shigella sonnei bacteria resistant to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin sickened 243 people in 32 states and Puerto Rico between May 2014 and February 2015. Research by the CDC found that the drug-resistant illness was being repeatedly introduced as ill travelers returned and was then infecting other people in a series of outbreaks around the country.

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March - 2015

   

New link found between neurodegenerative diseases and abnormal immune responses

       A protein associated with neurodegenerative disorders and inflammation is also integral to your body's antiviral response. These are the findings of a study on senataxin at McMaster University (Hamilton, CA) and Mount Sinai (New York) this week. Senataxin was found to suppress genes key to the antiviral response by reducing the activity of RNA polymerase II at those loci. When senataxin is absent or impaired, the body's immune response is uncontrolled, resulting in inflammation.

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Do biofuel policies seek to cut emissions by cutting food?

       A new study found that government biofuel policies rely on reductions in food consumption to generate greenhouse gas savings.

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More evidence for groundwater on Mars: Conditions would be conducive for microbial colonization if on Earth

       Scientists investigated the Equatorial Layered Deposits (ELDs) of Arabia Terra in Firsoff crater area, Mars, to understand their formation and potential habitability. On the plateau, ELDs consist of rare mounds, flat-lying deposits, and cross-bedded dune fields. They interpret the mounds as smaller spring deposits, the flat-lying deposits as playa, and the cross-bedded dune fields as aeolian. They write that groundwater fluctuations appear to be the major factor controlling ELD deposition.

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Climate change does not cause extreme winters, experts say

       An extensive study of global habitat fragmentation the division of habitats into smaller and more isolated patches points to major trouble for a number of the world's ecosystems and the plants and animals living in them.

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Antarctic ice shelves rapidly thinning

       A new study has revealed that the thickness of Antarctica's floating ice shelves has recently decreased by as much as 18 percent in certain areas over nearly two decades, providing new insights on how the Antarctic ice sheet is responding to climate change.

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Ebola whole virus vaccine shown effective, safe in primates

       An Ebola whole virus vaccine, constructed using a novel experimental platform, has been shown to effectively protect monkeys exposed to the often fatal virus. It differs from other Ebola vaccines because as an inactivated whole virus vaccine, it primes the host immune system with the full complement of Ebola viral proteins and genes, potentially conferring greater protection.

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Chemists make new silicon-based nanomaterials

       A new process uses silicon telluride to produce multilayered two-dimensional semiconductor materials in a variety of shapes and orientations.

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Common bacteria on verge of becoming antibiotic-resistant superbugs

       Antibiotic resistance is poised to spread globally among bacteria frequently implicated in respiratory and urinary infections in hospital settings, according to new research. The study shows that two genes that confer resistance against a particularly strong class of antibiotics can be shared easily among a family of bacteria responsible for a significant portion of hospital-associated infections.

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A mile deep, ocean fish facing health impacts from human pollution

       Deep-water marine fish living on the continental slopes at depths from 2,000 feet to one mile have liver pathologies, tumors and other health problems that may be linked to human-caused pollution, one of the first studies of its type has found. Fish have been found with a blend of male and female sex organs including. The findings appear to reflect general ocean conditions.

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Phase 1 trial of first Ebola vaccine based on 2014 virus strain shows vaccine is safe and provokes an immune response

       Medical researchers now have the results from the first phase 1 trial of an Ebola vaccine based on the current (2014) strain of the virus. Until now, all tested Ebola virus vaccines have been based on the virus strain from the Zaire outbreak in 1976. The results suggest that the new vaccine is safe, and provokes an immune response in recipients, although further long-term testing will be needed to establish whether it can protect against the Ebola virus.

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Fiber-Famished Gut Microbes Linked to Poor Health

       While probiotics receive more attention, key fibers remain the workhorses in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.

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Shrinking habitats have adverse effects on world ecosystems

       An extensive study of global habitat fragmentation the division of habitats into smaller and more isolated patches points to major trouble for a number of the world's ecosystems and the plants and animals living in them.

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Mechanism that helps parasites manipulate their hosts may have been discovered

       Rodents infected with a common parasite lose their fear of cats, resulting in easy meals for the felines. Now researchers have identified a new way the parasite may modify brain cells, possibly helping explain changes in the behavior of mice -- and humans.

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Parasite turns shrimp into voracious cannibals

       Parasites can play an important role in driving cannibalism, according to a new study. Researchers found a tiny parasite, Pleistophora mulleri, not only significantly increased cannibalism among the indigenous shrimp Gammarus duebeni celticus but made infected shrimp more voracious, taking much less time to consume their victims.

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East Antarctica melting could be explained by oceanic gateways

       Researchers have discovered two seafloor gateways that could allow warm ocean water to reach the base of Totten Glacier, East Antarctica's largest and most rapidly thinning glacier. The discovery probably explains the glacier's extreme thinning and raises concerns about how it will affect sea level rise.

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New clues from the dawn of the solar system

       Sulfide chondrules, a new type of building blocks discovered in meteorites left over from the solar system's infancy, provide evidence for a previously unknown region in the protoplanetary disk that gave rise to the planets including Earth.

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Oceanic microbes behave in a synchrony across ocean basins

       Researchers have found that microbial communities in different regions of the Pacific Ocean displayed strikingly similar daily rhythms in their metabolism despite inhabiting extremely different habitats -- the nutrient-rich waters off California and the nutrient-poor waters north of Hawai'i. Furthermore, in each location, the dominant photoautotrophs appear to initiate a cascade effect wherein the other major groups of microbes perform their metabolic activities in a coordinated and predictable way.

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Low vaccination rates likely fuel the 2015 measles outbreak, calculations show

       Inadequate vaccine coverage is likely a driving force behind the ongoing Disneyland measles outbreak, according to new calculations.

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DNA is packaged like a yoyo, scientists find

       DNA uncoils from the nucleosome asymmetrically (uncoiling from one end much more easily) scientists have discovered. The DNA is packaged into chromosomes, which resemble beaded bracelets. The string of DNA is coiled around beads, called histones, to create nucleosomes. These nucleosomes are braided together into beaded strings that are intricately woven into chromosomes, they report.

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Ebola Crisis Could Fuel Measles Outbreak in West Africa

       The epidemic that already killed almost 10,000 people in west Africa also upended daily life and scuttled plans to vaccinate thousands of kids against preventable diseases. As a result, an additional 100,000 children may have been left vulnerable to measles, according to new projections. If those inoculation gaps are not addressed, measles could deliver a death toll rivaling the Ebola epidemic itself, warns a new study published today in Science.

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Engineered yeast may spell end of hangovers!

       Scientists have engineered a yeast that could greatly increase the health benefits of wine while reducing the toxic byproducts that give you a hangover.
"Fermented foods - such as beer, wine, and bread - are made with polyploid strains of yeast, which means they contain multiple copies of genes in the genome," said Yong-Su Jin, a University of Illinois, associate professor of microbial genomics and principal investigator in the Energy Biosciences Institute.

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CO2 Levels for February Eclipsed Prehistoric Highs

       February is one of the first months since before months had names to boast carbon dioxide concentrations at 400 parts per million. Such CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have likely not been seen since at least the end of the Oligocene 23 million years ago, an 11-million-year-long epoch of gradual climate cooling that most likely saw CO2 concentrations drop from more than 1,000 ppm. Those of us alive today breathe air never tasted by any of our ancestors in the entire Homo genus.

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El Nino Officially Declared for 2015

       Just when everyone had pretty much written it off, the El Niño event that has been nearly a year in the offing finally emerged in February and could last through the spring and summer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday.

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Experimental herpes vaccine upends traditional approach and shows promise

       A new vaccine produced at Albert Einstein College of Medicine is the first to prevent genital herpes. Instead of attempting the same strategy pursued by many scientists in the past, the researchers, led by William Jacobs Jr., developed a live vaccine. The vaccine contains an genetically-modified HSV-2 (herpes simplex 2 virus) that lacks gD-2, a surface protein required for cell entry. Removing this protein prevents the virus from causing infection while allowing the immune system to develop antibodies against proteins that may have been blocked by gD-2.

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Melting glaciers create noisiest places in ocean, study says

       Researchers measure underwater noise in Alaskan and Antarctic fjords and find them to be the noisiest places in the ocean. This leads researchers to ask how animals such as whales and seals use the noise and what will happen to fjord ecosystems once the glaciers recede and the noise disappears.

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How drowsy microbes in Arctic tundra change to methane-makers as permafrost thaws

       As the Arctic warms, tons of carbon locked away in Arctic tundra will be transformed into the powerful greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane, but scientists know little about how that transition takes place. Scientists looking at microbes in different types of Arctic soil now have a new picture of life in permafrost that reveals entirely new species and hints that subzero microbes might be active.

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Combined Arctic ice observations show decades of loss

       Historic submarine and modern satellite records show that average ice thickness in the central Arctic Ocean dropped by 65 percent from 1975 to 2012. September ice thickness, when the ice cover is at a minimum, dropped by 85 percent.

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February - 2015

   

Asian herb holds promise as treatment for Ebola virus disease

       New research focuses on the mechanism by which Ebola virus infects a cell and the discovery of a promising drug therapy candidate. A small molecule called Tetrandrine derived from an Asian herb has shown to be a potent small molecule inhibiting infection of human white blood cells in vitro or petri dish experiments and prevented Ebola virus disease in mice.

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Widely used food additives promotes colitis, obesity and metabolic syndrome, shows study of emulsifiers

       Emulsifiers, which are added to most processed foods to aid texture and extend shelf life, can alter the gut microbiota composition and localization to induce intestinal inflammation that promotes the development of inflammatory bowel disease and metabolic syndrome, new research shows.

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Monster black hole discovered at cosmic dawn

       The discovery of the brightest quasar in the early universe, powered by the most massive black hole yet known at that time presents a puzzle to researchers: How could something so massive and luminous form so early in the universe, only 900 million years after the Big Bang?

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Agricultural insecticides pose a global risk to surface water bodies, researchers find

       Streams within approximately 40 percent of the global land surface are at risk from the application of insecticides. These were the results from the first global map to be modeled on insecticide runoff to surface waters. Streams, especially those in the Mediterranean, the United States, Central America and Southeast Asia are at risk.

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First direct observation of carbon dioxide's increasing greenhouse effect at Earth's surface

       Scientists have observed an increase in carbon dioxide's greenhouse effect at Earth's surface for the first time. The researchers, led by scientists from the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), measured atmospheric carbon dioxide's increasing capacity to absorb thermal radiation emitted from Earth's surface over an 11-year period at two locations in North America. They attributed this upward trend to rising CO2 levels from fossil fuel emissions.

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Massive amounts of Saharan dust fertilize the Amazon rainforest

       Every year, millions of tons of nutrient-rich Saharan dust cross the Atlantic Ocean, bringing vital phosphorus and other fertilizers to depleted Amazon soils. For the first time, scientists have an accurate estimate of how much phosphorus makes this trans-Atlantic journey.

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Ocean circulation change: Sea level spiked for two years along Northeastern North America

       Sea levels from New York to Newfoundland jumped up about four inches in 2009 and 2010 because ocean circulation changed. The unusual spike in sea level caused flooding along the northeast coast of North America and was independent of any hurricanes or winter storms. A new article documents that the extreme increase in sea level rise lasted two years, not just a few months.

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Great Barrier Reef corals eat plastic

       Researchers in Australia have found that corals commonly found on the Great Barrier Reef will eat micro-plastic pollution. Microplastics are tiny fragments of plastic in the environment and are a widespread contaminant in marine ecosystems, particularly in inshore coral reefs.

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Antibiotics give rise to new communities of harmful bacteria

       Most people have taken an antibiotic to treat a bacterial infection. Now researchers reveal that the way we often think about antibiotics -- as straightforward killing machines -- needs to be revised. The work not only adds a new dimension to how we treat infections, but also might change our understanding of why bacteria produce antibiotics in the first place.

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La Niña-like conditions associated with 2,500-year-long shutdown of coral reef growth

       La Niña-like conditions in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Panamá were closely associated with an abrupt shutdown in coral reef growth that lasted 2,500 years, scientists have found. The study suggests that future changes in climate similar to those in the study could cause coral reefs to collapse in the future.

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Ebola prompts foreigner ban from NKorea marathon (Video)

       North Korean authorities are barring foreigners from this year's Pyongyang marathon, a popular tourist event, due to ongoing Ebola travel restrictions.

— View

   
Bacteria Got Early Fix on Nitrogen

       Oxygen and water are crucial to most life on Earth, but what about nitrogen? It’s in every molecule of DNA in your body, and in all your proteins—you literally can’t live without it. But most of Earth’s nitrogen exists as an inert atmospheric gas that organisms can’t use.

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Study in Myanmar confirms artemisinin-resistant malaria close to border with India

       Resistance to the antimalarial drug artemisinin is established in Myanmar and has reached within 25km of the Indian border, a new study reports. Artemisinin resistance threatens to follow the same historical trajectory from Southeast Asia to the Indian subcontinent as seen in the past with other antimalarial medicines.

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Understanding forces of abrupt climate change

       Research of Africa's Lake Bosumtwi sediments provides insights into abrupt climate change, scientists say. The lake samples were obtained by drilling 1,000 feet to the lake's bottom and another 1,000 feet into the meteor impact structure. The sediments span 1-million years but the paper focused on the past 20,000 years.

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Microbes in the Gut Are Essential to Our Well-Being

       Antony van Leeuwenhoek wrote to the Royal Society of London in a letter dated September 17, 1683, describing “very little animalcules, very prettily a-moving,” which he had seen under a microscope in plaque scraped from his teeth. For more than three centuries after van Leeuwenhoek's observation, the human “microbiome”—the 100 trillion or so microbes that live in various nooks and crannies of the human body—remained largely unstudied, mainly because it is not so easy to extract and culture them in a laboratory. A decade ago the advent of sequencing technologies finally opened up this microbiological frontier. The Human Microbiome Project reference database, established in 2012, revealed in unprecedented detail the diverse microbial community that inhabits our bodies. 

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Genes and Microbes Influence One Another, Scientists Find

       The ecology of the gut microbiome may trigger or contribute to a variety of diseases, including autoimmune disorders and obesity, research suggests. Factors such as early environment, diet and antibiotic exposure have a lot to do with why people differ from one another in the composition of their microbiomes. But specific gene variants are also linked to greater risks of developing many of these diseases. Do your genes act on your microbiome, which in turn promotes disease?.

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Can a bacterial virus from Jerusalem sewage prevent root canal infections?

       A bacteriophage isolated from a sewage sample in Jerusalem is proving effective against antibiotic-resistant biofilms. According to the results, EFDG1 is capable of eradicating the V583 strain of Enterococcus faecalis, which forms self-protective biofilms. Moreover, the phage was shown to be effective at eliminating E. faecalis from root canal infections in vitro and ex vivo

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Medical Equipment May Spread Superbug

       Following an internal review at California's Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, the US FDA is warning that reuse of duodenoscopes may spread antibiotic-resistant bacteria even when cleaning protocols are properly followed.

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Needle-free vaccination: How scientists ask skin cells for help

       Research published in last month's Experimental Dermatology tests a new strategy for delivering vaccines without a needle. Cyanoacrylate skin surface stripping (CSSS) removes 30% of the stratum corneum improving delivery of test particles to the lower layers of the skin and hair follicles. The approach was found to increase the number of activated Langerhans cells (epidermal dendritic cells.

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Scientists announce anti-HIV agent so powerful it can work in a vaccine

       In a remarkable new advance against the virus that causes AIDS, scientists from the Jupiter, Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have announced the creation of a novel drug candidate that is so potent and universally effective, it might work as part of an unconventional vaccine. The study shows that the new drug candidate blocks every strain of HIV-1, HIV-2 and SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus) that has been isolated from humans or rhesus macaques, including the hardest-to-stop variants. It also protects against much-higher doses of virus than occur in most human transmission and does so for at least eight months after injection.

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Bacteria jump between species more easily than previously thought

       Bacteria may be able to jump between host species far easier than was previously thought, a new study suggests. Researchers discovered that a single genetic mutation in a strain of bacteria infectious to humans enables it jump species to also become infectious to rabbits. The discovery has major implications for how we assess the risk of bacterial diseases that can pass between humans and animals. It is well known that relatively few mutations are required to support the transmission of viruses -- such as influenza -- from one species to another. Until now it was thought that the process was likely to be far more complicated for bacteria.

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When strep throat is something else: Forgotten bacterium is cause of many severe sore throats in young adults

       New research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham suggests that Fusobacterium necrophorum more often causes severe sore throats in young adults than streptococcus—the cause of the much better known strep throat. The findings, published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine, suggest physicians should consider F. necrophorum when treating severe sore throat, known as pharyngitis, in young adults and adolescents that worsens. F. necrophorum pharyngitis is the leading cause of a rare but potentially very dangerous condition known as the Lemierre's syndrome.

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Mothers can pass traits to offspring through bacteria's DNA

       It's a firmly established fact straight from Biology 101: Traits such as eye color and height are passed from one generation to the next through the parents' DNA. But now, a new study in mice by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has shown that the DNA of bacteria that live in the body can pass a trait to offspring in a way similar to the parents' own DNA. According to the authors, the discovery means scientists need to consider a significant new factor - the DNA of microbes passed from mother to child - in their efforts to understand how genes influence illness and health.

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NTU Singapore develops new weapon in war against flu pandemics and pneumonia

       Scientists from NTU Singapore have developed an antibody which boosts the survival chances for patients suffering from influenza and pneumonia. The new antibody works by blocking ANGPTL4 which was found to be in high concentration in the tissue samples taken from patients suffering from pneumonia. "We know that ANGPTL4 usually helps to regulate blood vessel leakiness. But this is the first time we have shown that by blocking this protein, we are able to control the natural response of inflammation, which in turn reduces the damage that inflammation does to the lungs." Proven effective in lab tests, the antibody is now being made suitable for use in humans. The scientists are also using the new antibody to develop a diagnostic kit which can help doctors accurately track the recovery progress of flu and pneumonia patients.

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Scientists Call for Antibody 'Barcode’ System to Follow Human Genome Project

       More than 100 researchers from around the world have collaborated to craft a request that could fundamentally alter how the antibodies used in research are identified, a project potentially on the scale of the now-completed Human Genome Project. “We propose that antibodies be defined by their sequences, just as genes are,” said Andrew Bradbury, a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, “and they should be made recombinantly in cell lines.”

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First X-Ray Portraits of Living Bacteria Captured

       In a first step toward possible X-ray exploration of processes that are important to biology, human health and our environment, researchers have captured the first X-ray portraits of living bacteria.

The findings could lead to X-ray exploration of the molecular machinery at work in viral infections, cell division, photosynthesis and other processes.

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A world without microbes

       What would happen in a world without microbes?” ask researchers Jack Gilbert and Josh Neufeld in a December thought-experiment article in PLOS Biology. After considering the intricate interdependencies that exist among our planet’s life forms, the authors conclude that “although life would persist in the absence of microbes, both the quantity and quality of life would be reduced drastically.

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Nitrogen-Fixing Bacterium Could Cut Biofuel Costs

       Ethanol-producing Zymomonas mobilis can live on nitrogen gas, potentially cutting costs and environmental waste in biofuel production

— Read more

   
Ebola Drug Trial Canceled

       Ebola Drug Trial Canceled: As the number of Ebola cases declines, Chimerix is unable to recruit enough patients for its trial in Liberia testing the antiviral drug brincidofovir.

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Identification of much-needed drug target against MRSA, gram-positive infections

       Scientists at the University of Utah and the University of Georgia have uncovered a pharmacological target that could enable development of novel drugs against antibiotic-resistant pathogens, including Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and other infectious Gram-positive organisms such as Listeria and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The target was revealed upon discovery of a Gram-positive bacteria-specific pathway for making heme, an essential iron-carrying molecule.

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What does measles actually do?

       Measles is one of the most contagious diseases in the world, and the U.S is now experiencing what promises to be one of the worst outbreaks of measles since the virus was declared eliminated in 2000. But what does the measles virus actually do to you? And why is it back?

— Read more

 

January - 2015

   
New Blood for TB Treatment

       The same antiangiogenesis drugs that have improved treatment of some cancers could also help surmount persistent difficulties in treating tuberculosis. In their PNAS Early Edition report, Harvard Medical School investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital, working with colleagues at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), show that blood vessels supplying pulmonary granulomas—dense masses of immune cells that surround pockets of the TB bacteria in the lungs of infected patients—have the same sort of structural and functional abnormalities seen in solid tumors. Treatment with the antiangiogenesis drug bevacizumab (Avastin) significantly improved delivery of a small-molecule drug surrogate within granulomas in an animal model.

— Read more

   
Cold plasma' kills off norovirus

       Norovirus, the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the world, can be killed with "cold plasma," researchers in Germany have reported in mBio journal. Cold plasma, known as the "fourth state of matter", consists of ionized gas molecules at room temperature. A team of scientists led by Dr Birte Ahlfeld and Prof Günter Klein at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover examined the effect of cold plasma on a strain of norovirus isolated from a human faecal sample taken during an outbreak at a military base in Germany. Cold plasma treatment led to a roughly 20- to 50-fold reduction in the number of virus particles. The viruses were destroyed because cold plasma consists of highly noxious ions, called reactive nitrogen and oxygen species, which exhibit potent antimicrobial activity

— Read more

   
Breathing in Bacteria

       Microbes in the lung may be simply borrowed from the mouth, according to a study in mBio last week. The composition of bacteria in a healthy lung was consistent with a neutral distribution model designed by the researchers, suggesting that the bacteria are not under active selection.

— Read more

   
Trust your gut: E. coli may hold one of the keys to treating Parkinson's

       E. coli usually brings to mind food poisoning and beach closures, but researchers recently discovered a protein in E. coli that inhibits the accumulation of potentially toxic amyloids—a hallmark of diseases such as Parkinson's. The findings could point to a new therapeutic approach to Parkinson's disease and a method for targeting amyloids associated with such neurodegenerative diseases.

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Test developed by UAB scientists could help fight deadly infection

       Researchers from UAB have developed a tool for diagnosing bacterial meningitis that uses the same technology as a home pregnancy test. The test measures the level of certain proteins that are present in the spinal fluid of patients with bacterial meningitis. If the level is high, the test will show a positive result, and the patient will be treated for bacterial meningitis.

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Study advances knowledge of relatively unknown blood-borne bacteria

       Haemoplasmas are a group of blood borne bacteria found in a wide range of mammals, including domestic and wild cats, and can cause severe anaemia. The study led by researchers at the University of Bristol's School of Veterinary Sciences and published in the journal Clinical and Vaccine Immunology (CVI), investigated the haemoplasma Mycoplasma haemofelis.

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New salmonella serotype discovered

       A new serotype of the salmonella bacteria has been discovered by Texan researchers. Because convention calls for a new serotype to be named after the city in which it is discovered, this one will be called Salmonella Lubbock. And while Lubbock is known for many things, like being the home of Buddy Holly, this new honor will provide new avenues for research into the bacteria’s prevention, researchers suggest.

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Ancient Viruses Gain New Functions in the Brain

       If thinking about the billions of bacteriataking up residence in and on your body gives you the willies, you probably won’t find it comforting that humans are also full of viruses. These maligned microbes are actually intertwined in the very fibers of our being—about 8 percent of our genetic material is made up of absorbed forms of retroviruses, the viral family to which HIV, the pathogen that causes AIDS, belongs.

— Read more

   
Live imaging captures how blood stem cells take root in the body

       A see-through zebrafish and enhanced imaging provide the first direct glimpse of how blood stem cells take root in the body to generate blood. Researchers describe a surprisingly dynamic system that offers clues for improving bone marrow transplants, and for helping those transplants 'take.

— Read more

   
New species discovered beneath ocean crust

       Two miles below the surface of the ocean, researchers have discovered new microbes that "breathe" sulfate. The microbes, which have yet to be classified and named, exist in massive undersea aquifers -- networks of channels in porous rock beneath the ocean where water continually churns. About one-third of the Earth's biomass is thought to exist in this largely uncharted environment.

— Read more

   
Deworming programs in animal, human populations may have unwanted impacts

       According to the results of a study at Oregon State University, deworming wild herds reduces the number of deaths from bovine tuberculosis (TB) but increases transmission rates.

It was already known that the parasitic helminth worm decreases the immune response against infectious diseases such as bovine tuberculosis but its effect on transmission was surprising. Researchers attribute this relationship on the finding that a worm-free animal can survive with TB for years thus infecting more of its neighbours.

— Read more

   
   
Do viruses make us smarter?

       A new study from Lund University in Sweden indicates that inherited viruses that are millions of years old play an important role in building up the complex networks that characterise the human brain.

In the current study, Johan Jakobsson and his colleagues show that retroviruses seem to play a central role in the basic functions of the brain, more specifically in the regulation of which genes are to be expressed, and when. The findings indicate that, over the course of evolution, the viruses took an increasingly firm hold on the steering wheel in our cellular machinery.

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Unculturable Bacteria Yield Resistance-Free Antibiotic

       The screening of soil bacteria—the approach that has yielded most antibiotics—has been less and less successful, even though its rationale remains sound. Soil microbes locked in mortal combat with each other must secrete substances that keep each other in check. The problem is, few soil microbes, roughly 1%, are amenable to conventional culture techniques, and so a potentially rich source of new antibiotics remains out of reach. Alternative approaches, such as synthetic techniques, have also disappointed.

— Read more

   
New Antibiotic from Soil Bacteria

       A new antibiotic, called teixobactin, is apparently unstoppable. The Gram-positive bacteria-targeting drug was discovered in a soil sample in Maine and has so far been able to kill all bacteria it's been tested against including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

— Read more

   
Skin microbes trigger specific immune response

       TA study from NIAID (the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) indicates that immune responses are specific to various commensals on the skin. The findings, published yesterday in Nature, reveals a mechanism by which bacteria-specific immune responses are induced by dendritic cells in the skin. This research may explain how the skin is able to respond to diverse and rapidly changing microbial communities.

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Revolutionary New Antibiotic Kills Drug-Resistant Germs

       Scientists have discovered a new class of antibiotics that can kill a wide range of dangerous, drug-resistant bacteria. Moreover, in lab experiments, bacteria didn't develop resistance to the new drug, called teixobactin, and in fact may need several decades to do so because of the drug’s special mode of action, the researchers said.

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Lysosomal signaling molecules regulate longevity in Caenorhabditis elegans

       Researchers have traced a cellular pathway from fat metabolism to gene expression that leads to longer lives in worms. The pathway reveals one way that fat molecules could be related to long-term processes such as aging.

— Read more

   
Predicting superbugs' countermoves to new drugs

       Duke University researchers used software they developed to predict a constantly-evolving infectious bacterium's countermoves to one of these new drugs ahead of time, before the drug is even tested on patients.
In a study appearing in the journal PNAS, the team used their program called OSPREY to identify the genetic changes that will allow methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, to develop resistance to a class of new experimental drugs that show promise against the deadly bug. When the researchers treated live bacteria with the new drug, two of the genetic changes actually arose, just as their algorithm predicted.

— Read more

   
Fat isn't all bad: Skin adipocytes help protect against infections

       When it comes to skin infections, a healthy and robust immune response may depend greatly upon what lies beneath. In a new paper published in Science, researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report the surprising discovery that fat cells below the skin help protect us from bacteria.

— Read more

   
Killing for DNA: A predatory device in the cholera bacterium

       Cholera is caused when the bacterium Vibrio cholerae infects the small intestine. The disease is characterized by acute watery diarrhea resulting in severe dehydration. The lab of Melanie Blokesch at EPFL has uncovered how V. cholerae uses a predatory killing device to compete with surrounding bacteria and steal their DNA. This molecular killing device a spring-loaded spear that is constantly shooting out. This weapon is called the "type VI secretion system" and is known to exist in many types of bacteria. 

— Read more

   
New Type of More Problematic Mosquito-Borne Illness Detected in Brazil

       When a mosquito-borne disease first arrived in the Western Hemisphere last year, humans were relatively lucky. The disease, which causes crippling joint pain persisting for weeks or even months and for which there is no known therapy or vaccine, hopscotched from the Caribbean islands to eventually land in the U.S. and the rest of the Americas. But the type of chikungunya creeping across the region then was one that could only readily spread via Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that is uncommon in the U.S.

— Read more

     
 
 

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