Science2.0

PolQ Enzyme Action Slows BRCA Tumor Growth

Science2.0 - February 3, 2015 - 2:50pm
Inhibiting the action of a particular enzyme called polymerase theta, or PolQ, dramatically slows the growth of tumor cells tied to BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations which, in turn, are closely tied to breast and ovarian cancers, according to a new paper. 
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Life On A Chip: Transparent Shell A Step Closer To Embryo On A Chip Technology

Science2.0 - February 3, 2015 - 2:32pm
In the two decades existence of lab-on-a-chip (LOC), there have been lots of individual systems developed, ranging from lung-on-a-chip and heart-on-a-chip to the liver-on-a-chip and kidney-on-a-chip - but an ideal embryo-on-a-chip has eluded science because of the challenges in condensing so many life factors inside a conventional LOC. 

But now two scientists have developed a PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) "soft" process method to fabricate a transparent shell matching the shape and curvature of a real eggshell.

The most important feature of a conventional "Lab-on-a-chip" is its chemically based character, or its scaling down chemical tests into a miniature-size device.
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Hot Spots Mapped: Arsenic Taints Many U.S. Wells

Science2.0 - February 3, 2015 - 2:20pm

Naturally occurring arsenic in private wells threatens people in many U.S. states and parts of Canada, according to a package of a dozen scientific papers to be published next week. The studies, focused mainly on New England but applicable elsewhere, say private wells present continuing risks due to almost nonexistent regulation in most states, homeowner inaction and inadequate mitigation measures. The reports also shed new light on the geologic mechanisms behind the contamination. The studies come amid new evidence that even low doses of arsenic may reduce IQ in children, in addition to well documented risks of heart disease, cancer and reduced lung function. The reports comprise a special section in the journal Science of the Total Environment.


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Rubber Hand Illusion Aids Understanding Of Autism

Science2.0 - February 3, 2015 - 2:20pm

New research could lead to a better understanding of how the brain works in people with autism. Little is known about the cognitive processes involved.

Researchers from Monash University and Deakin University looked at new hypotheses of autism that focused on the way in which the brain combines new information from its senses with prior knowledge about the environment. Using the 'rubber-hand' illusion, the researchers examined how adults with autism experienced 'ownership' of a fake prosthetic hand.

In the 'rubber-hand' illusion, one of the subject's hands is placed out of sight, while a rubber hand sits in front of them. By stroking the fake hand at the same time as the visible real one, the subject can be convinced the fake hand is theirs.


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POC5: First Gene Responsible For Familial Scoliosis Discovered

Science2.0 - February 3, 2015 - 2:20pm

The discovery of the first gene causing familial scoliosis was announced by an international France-Canada research team today. "Mystery surrounds the cause of scoliosis, which is a three dimensional deformation of the vertebral column. Many researchers have been attempting to uncover the origins of this disease, particularly from a genetic point of view," explained leading co-author Dr Florina Moldovan of the University of Montreal and the CHU Sainte Justine research hospital. "To date, many genes have been suspected of causing scoliosis amongst different populations, but the gene that causes the familial form of the disease remained unknown.


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Wolf Prize In Physics Awarded To James Bjorken

Science2.0 - February 3, 2015 - 9:58am
James D. Bjorken, also known as "BJ" by colleagues and physicists around the world, has been awarded the prestigious 2015 Wolf prize in Physics together with cosmologist Robert Kirshner. Bjorken deserves a lot of credit for his contribution to subnuclear physics: the official motivation is 

"For predicting scaling in deep inelastic scattering, leading to identification of nucleon's pointlike constituents "

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Mary Morgan, Alice Ball And Rachel Lloyd - 3 Amazing Scientists You've Never Heard Of

Science2.0 - February 3, 2015 - 1:43am
One saved the U.S. space program, another invented a better treatment for leprosy and a third spawned an industry in the American Midwest - but you have probably never heard of these female "legends of chemistry".

Their names are Mary Sherman Morgan, Alice Ball and Rachel Lloyd and they all had amazing accomplishments in chemistry, but their work was nearly lost to history.


Mary Sherman Morgan, Alice Ball and Rachel Lloyd. Credit: The American Chemical Society

This week ACS Reactions shines the spotlight on them so they can get some proper acclaim:
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Spaceflight Ages The Immune System Prematurely

Science2.0 - February 3, 2015 - 1:33am
Mars One, a private effort to do what governments seem incapable of achieving, has believers excited about colonizing another planet, but the long-term consequences of living in low or no-gravity conditions remain unclear. 

Mice are not people but if they are an accurate model, it might not go well. A new paper in The FASEB Journal found that spaceflight may be associated with a process of accelerated aging of the immune system. Specifically, researchers found that mice in low gravity conditions experience changes in B lymphocyte production in their bone marrow similar to those observed in elderly mice living in Earth conditions. 
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Science 2.0: Public Buy-In - And Penalties For Misuse - Essential For Big Data Success

Science2.0 - February 3, 2015 - 1:00am
Public participation will have to be at the heart of big data projects in health care and biomedical research and a new report calls for greater transparency about how people's data are used.

The report warns that if people's preferences and values are not taken into account and are instead picked by government elites, projects that could deliver significant public good may continue to be challenged and fail to secure public confidence. Recent health data projects, such as care.data, 100K Genomes, UK Biobank and the Scottish Informatics Programme (SHIP) have each, in their own way, raised ethical questions surrounding the use of data.  The report recommends the introduction of criminal penalties for misuse of data. 
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Possible Cause Of IVF Failure Identified

Science2.0 - February 3, 2015 - 12:00am
A new study has linked a previously unexplored biological process to the failure of embryos to attach to the uterine wall during in vitro fertilization (IVF).

IVF only has around a 25% success rate, largely due to the high rates of failure when embryos try to implant. Some women suffer from recurrent implantation failure, where the embryo is transferred but fails to attach to the endometrium – the mucus membrane of the uterine wall. This is a significant cause of the failure of IVF as most embryo losses occur at this early stage.
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Not All Picky Eaters Are Created Equal

Science2.0 - February 3, 2015 - 12:00am
There’s no scientific definition of picky eating, but parents know it when they see it.  Sharon Donovan, a University of Illinois professor of nutrition, says that picky eaters do exhibit definable preferences and mealtime behaviors.

The analysis showed that kids deemed picky eaters by their parents did react differently to common foods and behaved differently at mealtime than kids whose parents said their kids weren’t choosy. The differences were significant and occurred across 16 assessed behaviors, according to Soo-Yeun Lee of the University of Illinois.
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Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: Active Substance Developed

Science2.0 - February 2, 2015 - 11:30pm
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a relatively rare congenital disease which causes muscle degeneration and eventual death in teenagers.  

Around 1 in 3500 newborns is affected and by approximately 10 years of age, Duchenne patients are dependent on a wheelchair and in increasing need for care. They are not expected to make it to their late 20s and often die from heart or respiratory failure.

There is no current cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy  but recently researchers from Bern, France, England and Sweden tested a promising active substance successfully.
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Teenage Smartphone Use Linked To Sleep Problems And Depression

Science2.0 - February 2, 2015 - 11:16pm
Teenagers who own smart phones spend more time online – including during the night, which may affect their sleep. A new University of Basel study on more than 300 students reports that teenagers' digital media use during the night is associated with an increased risk of sleep problems and depressive symptoms. 

Though they only became ubiquitous around 2007, most teenagers nowadays own smart phones. Due to wireless Internet connections and cheap data rates, teenagers with smart phones spend more time online and communicate with their peers for less money – for example via WhatsApp – which has changed their digital media use pattern profoundly. 
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How To Tell Good Cancer Research From Bad

Science2.0 - February 2, 2015 - 11:07pm

There are ways non-scientists can assess if the research underlying big claims about cancer cures stack up. Rafael Anderson Gonzales Mendoza/Flickr, CC BY-NC-SA

By Nial Wheate, University of Sydney

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Is It Time For The Disney Princess Archetype To Go?

Science2.0 - February 2, 2015 - 10:32pm

Women – and little girls even more so – are desperate to see images and stories that don’t actively oppress them onscreen, says Olivia Murphy. Image: Nadia Mel, CC BY-SA

By Olivia Murphy, University of Sydney

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Preventing Heart Disease With Vitamin BS

Science2.0 - February 2, 2015 - 9:54pm
Preventing heart disease with Vitamin BS

David Seres, M.D. 
Josh Bloom, Ph.D. 

It is not surprising when headlines—particularly those related to health issues—inaccurately convey the take home message from a given study. But, often it goes well beyond simple inaccuracy.  -->

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Have Warming Seas Caused Skyrocketing Sea Slug Populations?

Science2.0 - February 2, 2015 - 6:26pm

The warm ocean temperatures that brought an endangered green sea turtle to San Francisco in September have triggered a population explosion of bright pink, inch-long sea slugs in tide pools along California's central and northern coastline. The Hopkins' Rose nudibranch, while no strange sight in Southern California, is rarely spotted farther north. A team of scientists, including experts from the California Academy of Sciences, believes this far-flung Okenia rosacea bloom--along with a slew of other marine species spotted north of their typical ranges--may signal a much larger shift in ocean climate and a strong forthcoming El Niño.


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Skull Amplification: Baleen Whales Hear Through Their Bones

Science2.0 - February 2, 2015 - 6:26pm

Understanding how baleen whales hear has posed a great mystery to marine mammal researchers. New research by San Diego State University biologist Ted W. Cranford and University of California, San Diego engineer Petr Krysl reveals that the skulls of at least some baleen whales, specifically fin whales in their study, have acoustic properties that capture the energy of low frequencies and direct it to their ear bones.

Baleen whales, also known as mysticetes, are the largest animals on earth, and include blue whales, minke whales, right whales, gray whales and fin whales. These whales can emit extremely low frequency vocalizations that travel extraordinary distances underwater. The wavelengths of these calls can be longer than the bodies of the whales themselves.


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Fossil Radiation Is Probably Dust, So Doubts Remain About Gravitational Waves

Science2.0 - February 2, 2015 - 6:04pm
The third chapter in the ongoing saga of the "first direct image of gravitational waves through the primordial sky" has been written. The first chapter was in March of last year when the BICEP2 team announced that it had observed the portion of cosmic background radiation (the "fossil radiation" from the Big Bang) generated by gravitational waves. This would have been the first observation of the cosmological effects of the elusive phenomenon predicted by Einstein's theory of General Relativity. 
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Sexual Behavior Of Female College Students Has Gotten More Risky

Science2.0 - February 2, 2015 - 5:17pm
A new study indicates that sexual behavior among female university students in Sweden has changed during the last 25 years, with behavior now appearing more risky than before.

The surveys were taken as part of contraceptive counseling delivered at a Student Health Center in Sweden. 
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