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

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.

New metric mapping top 10 European heat waves predicts strong increase in next 2 decades

New metric mapping top 10 European heat waves predicts strong increase in next 2 decades

Scientists have developed a new method to model heat wave magnitude that takes both the duration and the intensity of the heat wave into account.

The new metric--the Heat Wave Magnitude Index daily (HWMId)--indicates that a little-studied heat wave in Finland in 1972 had the same extent and magnitude of the 2003 European heat wave that is considered the second strongest heat wave since 1950.

The findings are published today, 27th November 2015, in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Researchers uncover essential interaction between malaria parasites and liver cells

Researchers uncover essential interaction between malaria parasites and liver cells

Scientists at the Center for Infectious Disease Research recently uncovered a critical piece in the puzzle of how malaria parasites infect their host. The work, recently published in Science Magazine, reveals the details of how the malaria parasite invades its initial target organ, the liver. Without infection of the liver, the parasites cannot multiply or spread to the blood. Infection of the blood causes illness, spread of the disease, and, ultimately, death.

Mystery of how snakes lost their legs solved by reptile fossil

Fresh analysis of a reptile fossil is helping scientists solve an evolutionary puzzle - how snakes lost their limbs.

The 90 million-year-old skull is giving researchers vital clues about how snakes evolved.

Comparisons between CT scans of the fossil and modern reptiles indicate that snakes lost their legs when their ancestors evolved to live and hunt in burrows, which many snakes still do today.

The findings show snakes did not lose their limbs in order to live in the sea, as was previously suggested.

Seizure risk of anti-shivering agent meperidine greatly overstated

Meperidine, an opioid analgesic commonly used to control shivering in accidental or therapeutic hypothermia, has been linked to increased seizure risk, but a new study finds little published evidence to support this risk. While use of meperidine for pain relief has declined, its role as an effective anti-shivering agent should continue to be explored, conclude the authors of the study "Seizures and Meperidine: Overstated and Underutilized," published in Therapeutic Hypothermia and Temperature Management.

Immune-disorder treatment in mice holds potential for multiple sclerosis patients

A University of Florida Health researcher has found a simple, rapid way to treat an immune-related disorder in mice, an approach that could eventually help multiple sclerosis patients after further research.

The process attaches disease-related protein fragments called autoantigens to spleen cells to prevent a disease known as experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, or EAE, which causes brain and spinal cord inflammation in animal models. EAE is commonly used in research because it mimics some of the traits of multiple sclerosis in humans.

Microgravity reduces regenerative potential of embryonic stem cells

A study performed on the NASA Space Shuttle Discovery showed that exposure of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) to microgravity inhibited their ability to differentiate and generate most cell lineages, needed for the development of bone, muscle, the immune system, and other organs and tissues. This inhibition of mESC differentiation could have significant implications for the field of human tissue engineering and the use of stem cells to regenerate adult tissues, as described in the study published in Stem Cells and Development.

More than 1 in 4 older Indians on low and middling incomes have midriff bulge

More than one in four middle-aged Indians on low and middling incomes now has an unhealthy midriff bulge, with women most likely to carry a spare tyre, reveal the results of a nationally representative survey, published in the online journal BMJ Open.

It means that obesity is no longer confined to the nation's prosperous elite, and has trickled down to all levels of society, fuelled,in part, by India's rapid economic growth in recent years, suggest the researchers.

Recent Western blood pressure guidelines may boost stroke risk in Asian patients

European and North American blood pressure guidelines, issued last year, may actually boost the stroke risk if used for Asian patients, particularly the elderly, suggests an expert opinion published online in the journal Heart Asia.

High blood pressure is a key risk factor for stroke, but the link between the two is much stronger in Asians than it is in Europeans or North Americans, say the experts.

A 'bottom up' approach to managing climate change

In advance of next week's United Nations climate meeting in Paris, Allen Fawcett et al. highlight the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), in which various countries have put forward their commitments toward emissions reductions. The INDCs will be discussed at the Paris meeting. During past international climate negotiations, one general approach had been to provide some global, overarching rules to limit greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and to then oblige all countries to exercise them. But, such "top down" approaches have shortcomings.