Culture

Hershey, Pa. -- Financial instability, lack of infrastructure, a deteriorating sense of community and family fragmentation are key contributors to diseases of despair in Pennsylvania communities, according to Penn State College of Medicine and Highmark Health researchers. The researchers conducted four focus groups in Pennsylvania communities identified as having high rates of despair-related illnesses.

University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers have discovered a previously unknown repair process in the brain that they hope could be harnessed and enhanced to treat seizure-related brain injuries.

Common seizure-preventing drugs do not work for approximately a third of epilepsy patients, so new and better treatments for such brain injuries are much needed. UVA's discovery identifies a potential avenue, one inspired by the brain's natural immune response.

Many disease-causing bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa crawl on surfaces through a walk-like motility known as "twitching". Nanometers-wide filaments called type IV pili are known to power twitching, but scientists ignore which sensory signals coordinate the microbes' movements.

How does a view of nature gain its gloss of beauty? We know that the sight of beautiful landscapes engages the brain's reward systems. But how does the brain transform visual signals into aesthetic ones? Why do we perceive a mountain vista or passing clouds as beautiful? A research team from the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics has taken up this question and investigated how our brains proceed from merely seeing a landscape to feeling its aesthetic impact.

Alexandria, Va., USA - Ruth Lipman, American Dental Association (ADA) Science and Research Institute, Chicago, Ill., U.S., presented the poster "Strategies for Disseminating Guidance to Dentists during the COVID-19 Pandemic" at the virtual 99th General Session & Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research (IADR), held in conjunction with the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) and the 45th Annual Meeting of the Canadian Association for Dental Research (CADR), on July 21-24, 2021.

A new optogenetic tool, a protein that can be controlled by light, has been characterized by researchers at Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB). They used an opsin - a protein that occurs in the brain and eyes - from zebrafish and introduced it into the brain of mice. Unlike other optogenetic tools, this opsin is not switched on but rather switched off by light. Experiments also showed that the tool could be suitable for investigating changes in the brain that are responsible for the development of epilepsy.

As the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 continues to evolve, immunologists and infectious diseases experts are eager to know whether new variants are resistant to the human antibodies that recognized initial versions of the virus. Vaccines against COVID-19, which were developed based on the chemistry and genetic code of this initial virus, may confer less protection if the antibodies they help people produce do not fend off new viral strains.

The body's first encounter with SARS-CoV-2, the virus behind COVID-19, happens in the nose and throat, or nasopharynx. A new study in the journal Cell suggests that the first responses in this battleground help determine who will develop severe disease and who will get through with mild or no illness.

Coffee shops and casual restaurants are an important part of American life. Even beyond the food and drinks they sell, they offer us a place to use the restroom or rest our feet while we're out and about, and they provide internet access to those on the go, those in need of a temporary office, or those who don't have an internet connection at home. Many of us take for granted that a nearby Starbucks or McDonald's can offer us a little respite, even if we don't always make a purchase.

Rainforests are a powerful, natural solution to combat climate change -- providing water filtration, capturing carbon and regulating global temperatures. But major threats like large-scale land use changes, including agricultural expansion and clearcutting, have turned these biodiversity havens into one of the most endangered habitats on our planet.

Attitudes toward diversity vary, and its meaning can often be difficult to find consensus about in an increasingly diverse but politically polarized nation such as the United States.

In a report published by Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, University of Illinois Chicago researchers detail findings from three studies that explore the connection between political ideology, attitudes, and beliefs toward diversity.

Small and seemingly specialized, the brain's locus coeruleus (LC) region has been stereotyped for its outsized export of the arousal-stimulating neuromodulator norepinephrine. In a new paper and with a new grant from the National Institutes of Health, an MIT neuroscience lab is making the case that the LC is not just an alarm button but has a more nuanced and multifaceted impact on learning, behavior and mental health than it has been given credit for.

At a glance:

Researchers studied cells collected by nasal swabs at the moment of diagnosis for both mild and severe COVID-19 patients

Cells taken from patients who went on to develop severe disease had a muted antiviral response compared to those who went on to develop mild disease

This suggests that it may be possible to develop early interventions that prevent severe COVID-19 from developing

CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina--Researchers at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center demonstrated in a clinical trial in Malawi that a five-drug combination chemotherapy provided curative benefit compared to current standard-of care-therapy in people diagnosed with lymphoma, and now they have determined this option is also cost-effective. The economic finding appeared July 22, 2021, in Lancet Global Health.

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A new study by Fergus Couch, Ph.D., of Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, along with collaborators from the CARRIERS consortium, suggests that most women with breast cancer diagnosed over 65 should be offered hereditary cancer genetic testing. The study was published Thursday, July 22, in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Dr. Couch says that women over 65 rarely qualify for hereditary cancer genetic testing based on current testing guidelines because they are thought to exhibit low rates of genetic mutations in breast cancer genes.