ScienceDaily: Health - October 12, 2023
Top health research news
Scientists have uncovered why night shift work is associated with changes in appetite in a new study. The findings could help the millions of people that work through the night and struggle with weight gain.
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have become ubiquitous throughout the environment, and increasing evidence has demonstrated their deleterious effects. A group of smaller, fluorinated compounds are becoming replacements for these 'forever chemicals,' though research suggests the smaller versions could also be harmful. Now, a study reports that the levels of these substances in many indoor and human samples are similar to or higher than those of legacy PFAS.
Under normal conditions, the floating macroalgae Sargassum spp. provide habitat for hundreds of types of organisms. However, the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt (GASB) that emerged in 2011 has since then caused unprecedented inundations of this brown seaweed on Caribbean coastlines, with harmful effects on ecosystems while posing challenges to regional economies and tourism, and concerns for respiratory and other human health issues.
EVEscape predicts future viral mutations, new variants using evolutionary, biological information.
A massive computational analysis of microbiome datasets has more than doubled the number of known protein families. This is the first time protein structures have been used to help characterize the vast array of microbial 'dark matter.'
What type of brain tumor does this patient have? AI technology helps to determine this as early as during surgery, within 1.5 hours. This process normally takes a week. The new technology allows neurosurgeons to adjust their surgical strategies on the spot.
Fragile X syndrome, the most common form of inherited intellectual disability, may be unfolding in brain cells even before birth, despite typically going undiagnosed until age 3 or later. A new study showed that FMRP, a protein deficient in individuals with fragile X syndrome, has a role in the function of mitochondria, part of a cell that produces energy, during prenatal development.
Can plant-derived nutrients alter gut bacteria to affect brain function? Scientists investigated this question in a study of overweight adults. Their findings suggest that dietary fiber can exert influence on both the composition of gut bacteria and the reward signals in the brain and associated food decision-making.
Twelve people crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a rowing boat. One of them was Ciara Burns, a scientist, who monitored her own heartbeat. Now the data was analyzed and the results were published: It turns out that the variability of the heart rate provides a lot of information about physical and mental wellbeing.
A team found a way to deliver clear pictures of anyone's internal anatomy, no matter their skin tone.
Synthetic anion binders could one day help treat the chronic lung disease.
Generating specific cell lineages from induced pluripotent stem cells and embryonic stem cells is the holy grail of regenerative medicine. Guiding iPSCs toward a target cell line has garnered much attention, but the process remains challenging. Now, researchers from Japan have discovered that an anti-nucleolin DNA aptamer, iSN04, can determine a cell’s lineage during differentiation. By demonstrating the generation of cardiomyocytes from murine pluripotent stem cells, their concept shows promise as a regenerative therapy.
A team has demonstrated in theory that a protein antigen from a childhood vaccine can be delivered into the cells of a malignant tumor to refocus the body's immune system against the cancer, effectively halting it and preventing its recurrence.
In our increasingly polarized society, more people may find themselves in a workplace where they are one of the few conservatives or few liberals around. A new study found that those whose values -- political or otherwise -- don't match the majority in their organization felt they received less respect and as a result were less engaged at work. Moreover, their co-workers noticed their lack of engagement.
Understanding the interplay between consciousness, energy and matter could bring important insights to our fundamental understanding of reality.
Pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and gestational diabetes have recently been associated with a higher risk of developing heart disease later in life. But a new study has found obesity before or during pregnancy is the actual root cause of future cardiovascular disease. “We demonstrate, for the first time, that adverse pregnancy outcomes are primarily indicators — and not the root cause — of future heart health,” said corresponding author Dr. Sadiya Khan. “This means that pregnancy just reveals the risk for heart disease that is already there.” This large, multi-center and diverse study is one of the only studies to follow its participants — about half of whom were overweight or had obesity — from the beginning of their first pregnancy through several years postpartum.
Scientists have published an analysis with a timely and controversial recommendation: It's time for an international shift in the way we think about ultra-processed food and its addictive properties.
Models built on machine learning in health care can be victims of their own success, according to researchers. Their study assessed the impact of implementing predictive models on the subsequent performance of those and other models.
New analysis of the remains of victims of the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, contradicts the widespread belief the flu disproportionately impacted healthy young adults.
A new study indicates a strong connection between early parent-child relationships and the likelihood that children will grow up to display socially-desirable characteristics like kindness and empathy. Using data from 10,000 people in the UK, researchers found that children who have a warm and loving bond with their parents at age three are not only less prone to mental health difficulties, but display heightened ‘prosociality’ by the time they reach adolescence. This refers to socially-desirable behaviors such as kindness, empathy, helpfulness, generosity and volunteering. Conversely, children whose early relationships with their parents were difficult or abusive were less likely to develop prosocial habits. The researchers argue that this strengthens the case for developing targeted policies to support young families within which it may be difficult to establish close early parent-child relationships.
In cases where standard therapies fail, a medication called XEN1101 reduces seizure frequency by more than 50% in some patients and sometimes eliminates them altogether, a new study shows. Unlike several treatments that must be started at low doses and slowly ramped up, the new drug can safety be taken at its most effective dose from the start, the authors say.
Liquid biopsies are blood tests that can serially measure circulating tumor DNA (cell-free DNA that is shed into the bloodstream by dying cancer cells). When used in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer undergoing immunotherapy, they may identify patients who could benefit from treatment with additional drugs, according to a phase 2 clinical trial in the U.S. and Canada.
In the game of soccer (association football), goalkeepers have a unique role. To do the job well, they must be ready to make split-second decisions based on incomplete information to stop their opponents from scoring a goal. Now researchers have some of the first solid scientific evidence that goalkeepers show fundamental differences in the way they perceive the world and process multi-sensory information.
Cancers that have a deletion in the 9p21 section of their genomes tend to have worse outcomes for patients and increased resistance to immunotherapy. A new, bio-inspired drug restores the effectiveness of immune cells in fighting cancer. In mouse models of melanoma, bladder cancer, leukemia and colon cancer, the drug slows the growth of tumors, extends lifespan and boosts the efficacy of immunotherapy.
A study found that a new combination of treatments safely decreased growth of pancreatic cancer in mice by preventing cancer cells from scavenging for fuel.
Researchers have unveiled a new mechanism for regulating mitochondrial function. The findings reveal the critical role played by the enzymatic activity of the lysine acetyltransferase MOF in maintaining mitochondrial integrity and function through acetylation of mitochondrial electron transport chain component COX17. Cells lacking MOF-mediated COX17 acetylation exhibit dramatic mitochondrial defects and impaired ability to produce energy. Underscoring the clinical relevance of these findings, the team also showed that cells from human patients with a developmental disorder caused by mutations in MOF also exhibited respiratory defects that could be ameliorated by interventions such as acetylation-mimetic COX17 or mitochondrially targeted MOF.
If global temperatures increase by 1 degree Celsius (C) or more than current levels, each year billions of people will be exposed to heat and humidity so extreme they will be unable to naturally cool themselves, according to interdisciplinary research. Results indicated that warming of the planet beyond 1.5 C above preindustrial levels will be increasingly devastating for human health across the planet.
Individual species of very different plant families produce special indole-derived defense compounds called benzoxazinoids. However, the biosynthetic pathway of these compounds was so far only known for grasses such as maize. A team has now been able to show, by studying two distantly related plant species, the golden dead-nettle and zebra plant, that completely different enzymes are responsible for the formation of these special defense compounds. Hence, plants evolved the biosynthetic pathway for the same compounds several times independently.
Scientists have developed new tools, based on AI language models, that can characterize subtle signatures in the speech of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia.
Once thought to be the trash can of the cell, a little bubble of cellular stuff called the midbody remnant is actually packing working genetic material with the power to change the fate of other cells — including turning them into cancer.
Men who have been on parental leave have a significantly reduced risk of being hospitalized due to alcohol consumption, according to a new study from Sweden.
A new study has found that people may experience long-term symptoms -- or 'long colds' -- after acute respiratory infections that test negative for COVID-19.
Structural patterns can be created due to the chasing interactions between two bacterial species. In a new model, scientists describe how interactions on the individual level can result in a global self-organization of species. Their findings provide insights into general mechanisms of collective behavior.
It is generally believed that the adaptability of the adult brain mainly takes place in the cortex. However, a new study shows that the thalamus, a relay station for incoming motor and sensory information, plays an unexpectedly important role in this process.
Researchers have discovered the master regulator responsible for balancing the expression of X chromosome genes between males and females in the malaria mosquito. This discovery helps scientists better understand the evolution of the epigenetic mechanisms responsible for equalizing gene expression between the sexes. The findings may contribute to the development of new ways to prevent the spread of malaria.
A team of neuroscientists has now identified a class of neurons--what it calls 'prediction-error neurons'--that are not responsive to sounds in general, but only respond when sounds violate expectations, thereby sending a message that a mistake has been made.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common type of dementia, a disorder of progressively worsening memory and other thinking abilities. It rose up in the ranks of leading causes of death over the past several decades. It can also limit the duration of a working career, create uncertainty in the financial planning for retirement and rob patients of enjoyment and happiness in the final years. An effective treatment against this disease could give back to the patient the decision when to retire and improve quality of life in advanced age. Now, scientists are on the trail of a promising new therapeutic target – ABCA7, a protein known to protect from Alzheimer’s disease. The study uncovers new information about the relationship between ABCA7, cholesterol, and inflammation in human brain cells.
When women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) plan to become pregnant, many anguish over whether to stop their medications, risking a flareup in their disease, or continue with medication and risk possible harm to the baby. About 50% to 75% will see their disease naturally improve during pregnancy for not-yet-known reasons, while others may see a worsening of their RA. But they have had no way of knowing which would happen to them. Now, scientists have identified, for the first time, genetic markers before pregnancy that could predict who will improve and who will worsen.
Combining precise genome engineering and protein activity profiling to methodically study thousands of cancer genes, scientists were able to pinpoint promising cancer drug targets.
Researchers have identified a 'guard mechanism' for a protein which attacks microbes in infected cells, opening the possibility of new treatments for Toxoplasma, Chlamydia, Tuberculosis and even cancer.
Researchers found that pre-existing immunity to Cytomegalovirus (CMV) can limit its transmission during pregnancy and protect against associated birth defects. The study marks an important step toward the development of a vaccine to protect mothers and their babies against the virus, which is a leading cause of miscarriage and birth defects.
Researchers have shown that pregnancy hormones ‘rewire’ the brain to prepare mice for motherhood. The findings show that both estrogen and progesterone act on a small population of neurons in the brain to switch on parental behavior even before offspring arrive. These adaptations resulted in stronger and more selective responses to pups.
When we’re married or in a long-term romantic relationship, we may eventually come to take each other for granted and forget to show appreciation. A new study finds that it doesn’t have to stay this way. The study examined why perceived gratitude from a spouse or romantic partner changes over time, and whether it can be improved through relationship intervention programs.
Imagine a life form that doesn't resemble any of the organisms found on the tree of life. One that has its own unique control system, and that a doctor would want to send into your body. It sounds like a science fiction movie, but according to nanoscientists, it can—and should—happen in the future.
Researchers play ultra-brief tones to stimulate the brain during deep sleep. This stimulation improves cardiac output and relaxation of the left ventricle. Such technology to improve cardiovascular function could be relevant both in disease treatment and competitive sports.
As we age, many of us will eventually need hearing aids. In some cases, the reason for this may be a signaling pathway that controls auditory sensory cell function and is downregulated with age.
Psychologists have revealed a profound connection between the spirituality of science and positive wellbeing, much like the benefits traditionally associated with religion.
One treatment each of two psychedelic drugs lowered depression and anxiety and improved cognitive functioning in a sample of U.S. special operations forces veterans who sought care at a clinic in Mexico, according to a new analysis. The treatment included a combination of ibogaine hydrochloride, derived from the West African shrub iboga, and a psychedelic substance secreted by the Colorado River toad.
Young female chess players often face gender bias both in the male-dominated chess world and among parents and mentors who believe girls have less potential to succeed in chess than boys, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.
Scholars have discovered evidence of a sixth basic taste. The tongue responds to ammonium chloride, a popular ingredient in some Scandinavian candies. The OTOP1 protein receptor, previously linked to sour taste, is activated by ammonium chloride. The ability to taste ammonium chloride may have evolved to help organisms avoid harmful substances.
A new study may offer a strategy that mitigates negative side effects associated with intravenous injection of nanoparticles commonly used in medicine.