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DNA Supply Chain

Science2.0 - January 13, 2016 - 1:12am

CAMBRIDGE, MA -- Cell survival depends on having a plentiful and balanced pool of the four chemical building blocks that make up DNA -- the deoxyribonucleosides deoxyadenosine, deoxyguanosine, deoxycytidine, and thymidine, often abbreviated as A, G, C, and T. However, if too many of these components pile up, or if their usual ratio is disrupted, that can be deadly for the cell.

A new study from MIT chemists sheds light on a longstanding puzzle: how a single enzyme known as ribonucleotide reductase (RNR) generates all four of these building blocks and maintains the correct balance among them.


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Grazing Towards Sustainability

Science2.0 - January 13, 2016 - 1:12am

The first international Global Farm Platform conference hosted by the University of Bristol this week [12 to 15 January] will highlight the benefits of utilising pasture and robust cows over high-yield, intensive systems.

Research findings from data shared between Vet School researcher, Professor Michael Lee and farmer, Neil Darwent, Director of the UK's Free Range Dairy Community Interest Company (CIC), will form part of a keynote address to be given by Professor Lee tomorrow [Wednesday 13 January].

The Global Farm Platform is a multidisciplinary group of scientists working under the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) to find solutions to the major challenges facing global food security in the twenty first century.


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Ocean Current In Gulf Of Mexico Linked To Red Tide

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 11:53pm

MIAMI - A new study found that a major ocean current in the Gulf of Mexico plays an important role in sustaining Florida red tide blooms. The University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science research team suggest that the position of the Loop Current can serve as an indicator of whether the algal bloom will be sustained, and provide warning of possible hazardous red tide conditions in coastal areas.

Florida red tide is a harmful algal bloom produced by the dinoflagellate Karenia brevis that causes respiratory impairment in humans and marine life, and is responsible for shellfish poisoning.


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Clouds, Like Blankets, Trap Heat And Are Melting The Greenland Ice Sheet

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 11:53pm

MADISON, Wis. -- The Greenland Ice Sheet is the second largest ice sheet in the world and it's melting rapidly, likely driving almost a third of global sea level rise.

A new study shows clouds are playing a larger role in that process than scientists previously believed.

"Over the next 80 years, we could be dealing with another foot of sea level rise around the world," says Tristan L'Ecuyer, professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-author of the study. "Parts of Miami and New York City are less than two feet above sea level; another foot of sea level rise and suddenly you have water in the city."


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Dementia: New Insights Into Causes Of Loss Of Orientation

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 11:53pm

New research has revealed how disease-associated changes in two interlinked networks within the brain may play a key role in the development of the symptoms of dementia.

The University of Exeter Medical School led two studies, each of which moves us a step closer to understanding the onset of dementia, and potentially to paving the way for future therapies. Both studies, part-funded by Alzheimer's Research UK, are published in the Journal of Neuroscience and involved collaboration with the University of Bristol.

Both studies shed light on how two parts of the brain's 'GPS' navigation system malfunctions in dementia, and point to likely underpinning causes for loss of orientation that is commonly experienced by people living with the condition.


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Alum Can Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Chicken Coops

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 7:21pm

Now that natural gas has signaled the end of the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, coal power plants, researchers are turning to other ways to optimize so that efforts to make energy too expensive for poor people won't come into effect.

One such effort is to add alum to chicken litter, which reduces ammonia and greenhouse gas concentrations and emissions, specifically carbon dioxide, in poultry houses. 

Acid-based chemical compounds, alum and PLT - another amendment - that are added to the bedding material in poultry houses prior to the birds entering have proven to be a very effective tool in controlling ammonia emissions.


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The Long-term Benefits Of Improving Your Toddler's Memory Skills

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 7:15pm

Montreal, January 12, 2016 -- If your toddler is a Forgetful Jones, you might want to help boost his or her brainpower sooner rather than later. New research shows that preschoolers who score lower on a memory task are likely to score higher on a dropout risk scale at the age of 12.

"Identifying students who are at risk of eventually dropping out of high school is an important step in preventing this social problem," says Caroline Fitzpatrick, first author of a study recently published in Intelligence, and a researcher at Concordia's PERFORM Centre.

She and the study's other researchers, who are affiliated with the Université Sainte-Anne and Université de Montréal, have suggestions for how parents can help kids improve their memory.


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Uncovering Oxygen's Role In Enhancing Red LEDs

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 7:15pm

Oxygen is indispensable to animal and plant life, but its presence in the wrong places can feed a fire and cause iron to rust.

In the fabrication of solid state lighting devices, scientists are learning, oxygen also plays a two-edged role. While oxygen can impede the effectiveness of gallium nitride (GaN), an enabling material for LEDs, small amounts of oxygen in some cases are needed to enhance the devices' optical properties. GaN doped with europium (Eu), which could provide the red color in LEDs and other displays, is one such case.


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GMO Labeling Is A Smart Marketing Strategy

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 7:00pm

Campbell Soup Co., which makes a variety of foods including the namesake soups and Prego pasta sauce, has declared their intention to put labels on their foods noting they are “partially produced with genetic engineering.”

Some are lamenting this will be a slippery slope to process labels being used as warnings, and undermining confidence in modern agriculture, while anti-science groups are hailing it as a victory. US Right To Know, an outreach group funded by organic food corporations and aided by the partisan attack site SourceWatch, is certainly declaring this a big win for their clients.

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Fecal Transplantation: Fresh Vs. Frozen

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 5:10pm

Among adults with Clostridium difficile infection that is recurrent or not responsive to treatment, the use of frozen compared with fresh fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) did not result in a significantly lower rate of resolution of diarrhea, indicating that frozen FMT may be a reasonable treatment option for these patients. 


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Singin' In The Brain

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 5:08pm

A songbirds' vocal muscles work like those of human speakers and singers, finds a new study. The research on Bengalese finches showed that each of their vocal muscles can change its function to help produce different parameters of sounds, in a manner similar to that of a trained opera singer.

Pitch, for example, is important to songbird vocalization, but there is no single muscle devoted to controlling it. They don't just contract one muscle to change pitch, they have to activate a lot of different muscles in concert, and these changes are different for different vocalizations. Depending on what syllable the bird is singing, a particular muscle might increase pitch or decrease pitch.


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Long-term Opioid Use Associated With Increased Risk Of Depression

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 5:06pm

ST. LOUIS - Opioids may cause short-term improvement in mood, but long-term use imposes risk of new-onset depression, a Saint Louis University study shows.


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Childhood Leukemias: Different Forces Than Adults

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 12:30pm

For half a century, cancer researchers have struggled with a confusing paradox: If cancer is caused by the occurrence and accumulation of cancer-causing (oncogenic) mutations over time, young children should get less cancer since they have fewer mutations.

So why do young children have a higher incidence of leukemia than teenagers and young adults? 


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Statins May Lower Risk Of Heart Disease In People With Sleep Apnea

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 12:00pm

NEW YORK, NY (Jan. 6, 2016) -- A new study conducted at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has revealed some of the underlying mechanisms that may increase the risk of heart disease in people with sleep apnea. The study also found that statins -- the cholesterol-lowering medications commonly prescribed to combat heart disease -- may help reverse this process.

The study was published in the Jan. 6, 2016 online edition of Science Translational Medicine.


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New Type Of Antidepressant Found To Act Quickly In Mice

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 10:44am

The compound CGP3466B, already proven nontoxic for people, may effectively and rapidly treat depression, according to results of a study in mice.

The Johns Hopkins Medicine neuroscientists who conducted the research say that the compound -- previously shown to block cocaine craving in the brains of rodents -- delivers antidepressant effects to mice within hours instead of weeks or months, like currently available antidepressants. The results of the study will be summarized Jan. 12 online in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.


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Inflammation Markers Could Guide Depression Treatments

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 10:44am

Psychiatrists investigating depression have been energized in recent years by reports of rapid, successful treatment with drugs that interfere with the brain chemical glutamate, such as the anesthetic ketamine.

New research from Emory University School of Medicine is providing hints as to which forms of depression may respond best to drugs that target glutamate.

The findings are scheduled for publication online on January 12 in Molecular Psychiatry.

Depressed patients with signs of systemic inflammation have elevated levels of glutamate in regions of the brain that are important for motivation, the researchers have found.


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Hyperaged Men And The Scale Of Male Suffering

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 8:58am

Life expectancy at birth is about six years shorter for White males than White females. This gap is about eight years for Blacks. Given the close correlation between declining health and early death, older males are effectively on average several years more aged than females. The detailed shapes of statistics could conceivably not support such ‘hyper-aging’, or it could conceivably result in only a few months of hyper-aging. The ‘Hyperaged Men Description’ is however strongly confirmed by the shape of for example Europe’s population pyramid. There is no far earlier onset of males dying, or any features that could point toward more exotic, perhaps purely biological explanations.

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Roman Toilets Didn't Prevent Parasites

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 5:04am

The Romans created a clear line between Iron Age and modern sanitation and hygiene. They built public multi-seat latrines with washing facilities and sewerage systems, they piped drinking water from aqueducts and heated public baths for washing.

To augment that, they developed laws designed to keep their towns free of excrement and rubbish.


But it may not have helped when it came to putting a stop to intestinal parasites such as whipworm, roundworm and Entamoeba histolytica dysentery, according to a journal in the journal Parasitology.


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Coffee Berry Borer Consumes Enough Caffeine To Kill A Human Without Harm

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 5:04am
The coffee berry borer (Hypothenemus hampei) is a plague that affects coffee crops. It has a detoxification system based on microbial communities so it can perform its life cycle in the plant while exposed to high levels of caffeine.

In human terms, the caffeine is equivalent to 500 espressos , which would kill a person.

"The aim was to study which are they and how they are associated with the digestive tract of the insect. For the study we took samples of insects from different locations like Hawaii, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Kenya, India and Guatemala," Javier A. Ceja Navarro of Berkeley National Laboratory told Investigación y Desarrollo.

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Perhaps Rethinking Chronic Pain Can Curb The Opioid Abuse Epidemic

Science2.0 - January 12, 2016 - 5:04am

Over the last few decades, medicine has witnessed a sea change in attitudes toward chronic pain, and particularly toward opioids. While these changes were intended to bring relief to many, they have also fed an epidemic of prescription opioid and heroin abuse.

Curbing abuse is a challenge spilling over into the 2016 political campaigns. Amid calls for better addiction treatment and prescription monitoring, it might be time for doctors to rethink how to treat chronic pain.

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