In Northern Ireland, sectarianism has become sextarianism

In Northern Ireland, sectarianism has become sextarianism

If you grew up in Northern Ireland during the 1970s and 1980s, sectarianism pervaded every aspect of your everyday life. In fact, such is the pervasiveness of sectarianism that it’s almost been normalised. These days, it’s sometimes not even recognised or regarded as a problem.

How schizophrenia risk gene DISC1 affects the brain

How schizophrenia risk gene DISC1 affects the brain

Scientists have for the first time shown how the disruption of a key gene involved in mental illness impacts on the brain. The discovery could be used in the future to help develop psychiatric drugs.

The DISC1 gene is a risk factor for a number of major mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder.

Neurons in pink and blue. Credit: Dawson original

Robot masters new skills through trial and error

Robot masters new skills through trial and error

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have developed algorithms that enable robots to learn motor tasks through trial and error using a process that more closely approximates the way humans learn, marking a major milestone in the field of artificial intelligence.

They demonstrated their technique, a type of reinforcement learning, by having a robot complete various tasks -- putting a clothes hanger on a rack, assembling a toy plane, screwing a cap on a water bottle, and more -- without pre-programmed details about its surroundings.

Mental 'map' and 'compass' are two separate systems

Mental 'map' and 'compass' are two separate systems

If you have a map, you can know where you are without knowing which way you are facing. If you have a compass, you can know which way you're facing without knowing where you are. Animals from ants to mice to humans use both kinds of information to reorient themselves in familiar places, but how they determine this information from environmental cues is not well understood.

Vaccines developed for H5N1, H7N9 avian influenza strains

A recent study with Kansas State University researchers details vaccine development for 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.

The new vaccine development method is expected to help researchers make vaccines for emerging strains of avian influenza more quickly. This could reduce the number and intensity of large-scale outbreaks at poultry farms as well as curb human transmission.

European Medicines Agency recommends full approval of ibrutinib to treat Waldenstrom's Macroglobulinemia

The Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) issued a positive opinion recommending a change to the terms of the marketing authorization for IMBRUVICA (ibrutinib) in the European Union to indicate the treatment of adult patients with Waldenström's macroglobulinemia (WM) who have received at least one prior therapy, or in first line treatment for patients unsuitable for chemo-immunotherapy.

RegeneRx Phase II Dry Eye Trial results

Results of the 72-patient, placebo-controlled Phase II study evaluating RGN-259 (RegeneRx preservative-free eye drops) for the treatment of dry eye patients using Ora Inc.'s controlled adverse environment (CAE) model have been published and identify the key efficacy targets for a larger, multi-center, Phase IIb/III U.S. clinical trial targeted for later this year. The trial will be sponsored by ReGenTree, LLC, a U.S. joint venture owned by RegeneRx and G-treeBNT.

Subconscious learning shapes pain responses

In a new study led from Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, researchers report that people can be conditioned to associate images with particular pain responses - such as improved tolerance to pain - even when they are not consciously aware of the images. The findings are being published in the journal PNAS.

Breastfeeding protects against environmental pollution

Aitana Lertxundi has conducted her research work within the framework of the INma (Childhood and Environment) programme led by Jesús Ibarluzea of the Department of Health of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community (region). The aim is to assess how exposure to environmental pollution during pregnancy affects health and also to examine the role of diet in physical and neurobehavioural development in infancy. Lertxundi's study focusses on the repercussions on motor and mental development during the first years of life caused by exposure to the PM2.5 and NO2 atmospheric pollutants.

Study uses farm data to aid in slowing evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds

The widespread evolution of herbicide-resistant weeds is costing farmers, especially through decreases in productivity and profitability. Although researchers and industry personnel have made recommendations to slow this evolution, an understanding of the patterns and causes of the resistance has been limited.