Established in 2020 Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Scientists identify cell vulnerability 'fingerprint' related to Parkinson's, Lewy body dementia

Lewy bodies are clumps of misshapen proteins that are hallmarks of Parkinson's disease and some dementias. The image depicts brain cells (yellow) with and without these problematic proteins (magenta). Courtesy of the Henderson Lab, Van Andel Institute. Image courtesy: Henderson Lab, Van Andel Institute.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI.- A new study from Van Andel Institute scientists offers a first look into the complex molecular changes that occur in brain cells with Lewy bodies, which are key pathological hallmarks of Parkinson's disease and some dementias. The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, reveal that brain cells with Lewy bodies exhibit a specific gene expression pattern akin to a disease-related fingerprint. "We've long known that Lewy bodies play a role in Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases, but there are still many unanswered questions. Why are some cells more susceptible to Lewy bodies than others? How do Lewy bodies actually affect cells?" said VAI Assistant Professor Michael Henderson, Ph.D., the study's corresponding author. "Our findings are an important starting point for better understanding how cells respond to Lewy bodies, which is an area of great potential for informing new therapies." Lewy bodies are clumps ... More

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First insights into the genetic bottleneck characterizing early sheep husbandry in the Neolithic period   A magnetic nanographene butterfly poised to advance quantum technologies   Digging up new species of Australia and New Guinea's giant fossil kangaroos

Today's descendants of the first domestic sheep of Central Anatolia. Even today, agriculture in this region is still largely based on large flocks of sheep. Image courtesy: Nadja Pöllath (SNSB-SPM).

MUNICH.- Modern Eurasian sheep predominantly belong to only two so-called genetic matrilineages inherited through the ewes, so previous research has assumed that genetic diversity must already have decreased rapidly in the early stages of domestication of wild sheep. A study of a series of complete mitogenomes from the early domestication site Asıklı Höyük in central Anatolia, which was inhabited between 10,300 and 9,300 years ago, disproves this assumption. Despite a millennium of human interference with the keeping and breeding of sheep, mitogenomic diversity remained invariably high, with five matrilineages being evidenced including one previously unknown lineage. The persistently high diversity of matrilineages observed during the 1,000 years of sheep farming was unexpected for the researchers. The study is published in the journal Science Advances. "In Aşıklı Höyük, there were both sheep raised ... More

A visual impression of the magnetic “butterfly” hosting four entangled spins on “wings”. Image courtesy: National University of Singapore.

SINGAPORE.- Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a new design concept for creating next-generation carbon-based quantum materials, in the form of a tiny magnetic nanographene with a unique butterfly-shape hosting highly correlated spins. This new design has the potential to accelerate the advancement of quantum materials which are pivotal for the development of sophisticated quantum computing technologies poised to revolutionize information processing and high density storage capabilities. The team was led by Associate Professor Lu Jiong from the NUS Department of Chemistry and Institute for Functional Intelligent Materials, together with Professor Wu Jishan who is also from the NUS Department of Chemistry, and international collaborators. The research was published inNature Chemistry. Magnetic nanographene, a tiny structure made of graphene molecules, exhibits remarkable magnetic properties due to the behavior ... More

Palaeontologist Dr. Isaac Kerr displays the fossil jaw of the giant kangaroo Protemnodon viator and the far smaller jaw of the largest living kangaroo, the red kangaroo. Image courtesy: Flinders University.

ADELAIDE.- Paleontologists from Flinders University have described three unusual new species of giant fossil kangaroo from Australia and New Guinea, finding them more diverse in shape, range and hopping method than previously thought. The three new species are of the extinct genus Protemnodon, which lived from around 5 million to 40,000 years ago—with one about double the size of the largest red kangaroo living today. The research follows the discovery of multiple complete fossil kangaroo skeletons from Lake Callabonna in arid South Australia in 2013, 2018 and 2019. These extraordinary fossils allowed lead researcher Dr. Isaac Kerr, then a Ph.D. student, to unpick a nearly 150-year-long puzzle around the identities of the species of Protemnodon. The article, "Systematics and palaeobiology of kangaroos of the late Cenozoic genus Protemnodon (Marsupialia, Macropodidae)" by Isaac AR Kerr, Aaron B Camens ... More

Research team shows island bats are valuable allies for farmers   A frustrated jet in the centre of the Milky Way   First curved data link side-steps key 6G wireless challenge

Grey long-eared bat (Plecotus austriacus). Image courtesy: Ricardo Rocha.

OXFORD.- A new study has highlighted how bats can be valuable allies for farmers, by feeding on important agricultural pests. The findings demonstrate that encouraging bat species can be a win-win for both conservation efforts and local farmers. Thanks to their ability to fly, bats have successfully colonized many different oceanic islands. The study in the Journal of Mammalogy has finally revealed what is on the menu of these secretive mammals living on the sub-tropical island of Madeira (Portugal), and it is good news for local farmers. Bats account for about one-fifth of all mammal species and are particularly important in island ecosystems, which typically have far fewer mammals than mainland areas. But up to now, the specific diets of island-dwelling bat species have been poorly studied. The new study investigated the three bat species that live on Madeira: the Madeira pipistrelle (Pipistrellus maderensis), the Madeira lesser noctule (Nyctalus leisleri verrucosus), and the grey long-eared ... More

The first image of the black hole Sagittarius A* in the center of the Milky Way, taken with the Event Horizon Telescope at a wavelength of 1.3 millimetres (colored image in the background). Image courtesy: © The EHT Collaboration.

BONN.- The Event Horizon Telescope, a network of individual radio telescopes located all over the world, has once again observed the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way. Using the polarised part of the radio light, the researchers discovered strong magnetic fields that spiral out from the edge of the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A*. The results indicate that a jet could be dormant in the centre of our galaxy, which - as models suggest - probably ejected large amounts of matter into space only a few million years ago. The first image of the black hole Sagittarius A* in the core of the Milky Way, which is around 27,000 light years away from Earth, was published in 2022. It showed that although the supermassive black hole in the Milky Way is more than a thousand times smaller and less massive than that of M87, it still looks remarkably similar. This made scientists wonder ... More

Edward Knightly is the Sheafor-Lindsay Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and professor of computer science at Rice University. Image courtesy: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University.

HOUSTON, TX.- Next-generation wireless signals will no longer emanate indiscriminately from a base station as is the case now but will likely take the form of targeted directional beams. However, any physical interference ⎯ an object or a person passing nearby, for example ⎯ could interrupt the signal, posing a literal obstacle toward the implementation of ultrafast millimeter-wave and sub-terahertz wireless networks. Researchers at Rice University and Brown University, however, have shown that data-laden curved beams can establish a link between base stations and users, effectively side-stepping intervening obstacles. In a study published in Communications Engineering, the researchers demonstrated a sub-terahertz beam that follows a curved trajectory ⎯ an achievement that could revolutionize wireless communications by making a future of wireless data networks running on sub-terahertz frequencies more feasible. “This is the w ... More

Advance in light-based computing shows capabilities for future smart cameras   Uranium-immobilizing bacteria in clay rock: Exploring how microorganisms can influence the behavior of radioactive waste   New research could enable more-and more efficient-synthesis of metastable materials

This experimental device uses a 2D semiconductor material developed by Xiangfeng Duan, UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Image courtesy: Dehui Zhang.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Researchers developing the next generation of computing technology aim to bring some light to the field—literally. Optical computing, which relies on particles of light called photons, is expected to provide alternatives to traditional electronic approaches. Such systems—or light-based components of hybrid systems that also retain electronic parts—could be faster, consume less energy and compute visual information more efficiently through simultaneous, parallel processing. To date, optical computing has faced a limitation in achieving nonlinear responses, which means producing signals not directly proportional to the input. Nonlinearity makes universal computing applications, including artificial intelligence, possible. Nonlinear materials and devices under development need a substantial amount of light to work. Previously, this required ... More

A Desulfosporosinus cell with immobilized uranium on the surface. Image courtesy: B. Schröder/HZDR.

DRESDEN.- When designing repositories for high-level radioactive waste in deep geological layers, various factors must be carefully considered to ensure their long-term safety. Among other things, natural communities of microorganisms can influence the behavior of the waste, especially when it comes into contact with water. The microorganisms interact with released radionuclides and influence their mobility. Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have taken a closer look at a microorganism that occurs in the vicinity of a potential repository. Their findings are published in the journal Science of The Total Environment. In Germany, rocks that are suitable for the permanently safe storage of highly radioactive waste in a repository—so-called host rocks—are certain clay rock formations in addition to rock salt and crystalline rock. A multi-barrier system is preferred, consisting of the waste container ... More

Asst. Prof. Chong Liu's lab. Image courtesy: UChicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering.

CHICAGO, IL.- Ion exchange is a powerful technique for converting one material to another when synthesizing new products. In this process, scientists know what reactants lead to what products, but how the process works—the exact pathway of how one material can be converted to another—has remained elusive. In a paper published in Nature Materials, a team of UChicago Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering researchers shed new light on this mystery. In researching lithium cathode materials for battery storage, a team from the Liu Lab has shown that there is a general pathway for lithium and sodium ion exchange in layered oxide cathode materials. "We systematically explored the ion exchange process in lithium and sodium," said first author Yu Han, a Ph.D. candidate at PME. "The ion exchange pathway we revealed is new." By helping explain how the ion exchange process works, this paper opens ... More

Researchers develop stretchable quantum dot display   Astrophysicists solve mystery of heart-shaped feature on the surface of Pluto   Tropical forests can't recover naturally without fruit eating birds, carbon recovery study shows

Intrinsically stretchable quantum dot light-emitting diodes. Image courtesy: Nature Electronics (2024). DOI: 10.1038/s41928-024-01152-w.

DAEJEON.- A team of South Korean scientists led by Professor KIM Dae-Hyeong of the Center for Nanoparticle Research within the Institute for Basic Science has pioneered a novel approach to stretchable displays. The team announced the first development of intrinsically stretchable quantum dot light-emitting diodes (QLEDs). The findings are published in Nature Electronics. In the rapidly evolving world of display technologies, the quest for creating intrinsically stretchable displays has been ongoing. Traditional displays, constrained by rigid and inflexible components, have struggled to evolve beyond flexible ones. There has been a clear need for novel materials and device designs that can endure significant stretching while maintaining their functionality, which is essential for applications including wearable and adaptable interfacing technologies. The majority of the flexible displays on the market employ organic light-emitting diode ( ... More

Image courtesy: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/Alex Parker.

BERN.- The mystery of how Pluto got a giant heart-shaped feature on its surface has finally been solved by an international team of astrophysicists led by the University of Bern and members of the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) PlanetS. The team is the first to successfully reproduce the unusual shape with numerical simulations, attributing it to a giant and slow oblique-angle impact. Ever since the cameras of NASA's New Horizons mission discovered a large heart-shaped structure on the surface of the dwarf planet Pluto in 2015, this "heart" has puzzled scientists because of its unique shape, geological composition, and elevation. A team of scientists from the University of Bern, including several members of the NCCR PlanetS, and the University of Arizona in Tucson have used numerical simulations to investigate the origins of Sputnik Planitia, the western teardrop-shaped part of Plutos heart surface feature. Ac ... More

The Collared Araçari (Pteroglossus torquatus) is among the few birds that can disperse plants with large seeds and play a key role in dispersal in forests in Central and South America. Image courtesy: ETH Zurich / Christian Ziegler.

ZURICH.- New research from the Crowther Lab at ETH Zurich illustrates a critical barrier to natural regeneration of tropical forests. Their models—from ground-based data gathered in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil—show that when wild tropical birds move freely across forest landscapes, they can increase the carbon storage of regenerating tropical forests by up to 38%. Fruit eating birds such as the Red-Legged Honeycreeper, Palm Tanager, or the Rufous-Bellied Thrush play a vital role in forest ecosystems by consuming, excreting, and spreading seeds as they move throughout a forested landscape. Between 70% to 90% of the tree species in tropical forests are dependent on animal seed dispersal. This initial process is essential for allowing forests to grow and function. While earlier studies have established that birds are important for forest ... More

I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them. Baruch Spinoza

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Scientists share single-cell atlas for the highly regenerative worm, Pristina leidyi
ST. LOUIS, MO.- An international team of scientists, including B. Duygu Özpolat at Washington University in St. Louis, has published the first single-cell atlas for Pristina leidyi (Pristina), the water nymph worm, a segmented annelid with extraordinary regenerative abilities that has fascinated biologists for more than a century. Annelid worms—including the most familiar among them, the earthworms—are a broadly distributed, highly diverse, economically and environmentally important group of animals. Most annelids can regenerate missing body parts, and many are able to reproduce asexually. However, the adult stem cell populations involved in these processes, as well as the diversity of cell types generated by the stem cells, have remained unknown. This particular worm, Pristina, first caught the eye of biologists in the 1800s and has remained an object of much interest. Under laboratory ... More

Advance in immune cell screening uncovers receptors that target prostate cancer
LOS ANGELES, CA.- A recent UCLA study demonstrates a new process for screening T cells, part of the body’s natural defenses, for characteristics vital to the success of cell-based treatments. The method filters T cells based on the receptor proteins found on their surface — which enable them to latch onto certain threats — and the type and amount of cell-killing or immune response-triggering molecules that they secrete. The researchers discovered three previously unidentified, naturally occurring T-cell receptors that target prostate cancer using their screening method. In validation tests, T-cell receptors associated with the highest levels of secretion were the most likely to elicit a response against cancer cells. Rate of functional T-cell receptors was around tenfold higher than using previous techniques. Immunotherapy, treatment that harnesses the body’s natural defenses, is an ever-growing subject ... More

"Nanostitches" enable lighter and tougher composite materials
CAMBRIDGE, MA.- To save on fuel and reduce aircraft emissions, engineers are looking to build lighter, stronger airplanes out of advanced composites. These engineered materials are made from high-performance fibers that are embedded in polymer sheets. The sheets can be stacked and pressed into one multilayered material and made into extremely lightweight and durable structures. But composite materials have one main vulnerability: the space between layers, which is typically filled with polymer “glue” to bond the layers together. In the event of an impact or strike, cracks can easily spread between layers and weaken the material, even though there may be no visible damage to the layers themselves. Over time, as these hidden cracks spread between layers, the composite could suddenly crumble without warning. Now, MIT engineers have shown they can prevent cracks from sprea ... More

Carbon beads help restore healthy gut microbiome and reduce liver disease progression, researchers find
LONDON.- Innovative carbon beads, invented by researchers at UCL, reduce bad bacteria and inflammation in animal models, which are linked to liver cirrhosis and other serious health issues. The study, published in Gut, found that the carbon beads, licensed to UCL-spinout Yaqrit, were effective in restoring gut health and had a positive impact on liver, kidney and brain function in rats and mice. They were also found to be safe for human use. The next step will be to see if the same benefits can be realized in humans, which would pave the way for them to be used to treat diseases linked to poor gut health. Worldwide, it is estimated that there are around 100 million people living with cirrhosis of the liver and 10 million who have cirrhosis plus an additional complication. Explaining the current clinical challenges, senior author Professor Rajiv Jalan from the UCL Institute for Liver and Digestive Health, s ... More

Targeted liver cancer treatment kills cancer cells and could cut chemo side effects
ADELAIDE.- Drug-loaded 3D printed films could change cancer treatments forever as world first research from the University of South Australia shows that new films not only kill more than 80% of liver cancer cells but could also significantly reduce recurrence rates while minimizing systematic toxicities of traditional chemotherapy. Created from gels loaded with tailored doses of anti-cancer drugs 5-fluorouracil (5FU) and cisplatin (Cis), the 3D printed films are placed at the exact surgical site where a cancer has been removed, localizing drugs to the affected area to treat possible residual cancer cells, and limit undesirable side effects of traditional chemotherapy. The work is published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics. Initially designed as an adjuvant treatment for liver cancer, the precision-cut films also have the potential to treat ovarian cancer, head and neck cancer and many other c ... More

Giant rogue waves: Southern Ocean expedition reveals wind as key cause
MELBOURNE.- A University of Melbourne expedition to the southernmost waters encircling Antarctica has discovered that wind drives the formation of colossal rogue waves, and that these unpredictable waves occur more frequently than scientists had previously thought—providing critical information to inform future rogue wave prediction models. A rogue wave is a single swell that is much higher than nearby waves, which can damage ships or coastal infrastructure. Ocean waves are among the most powerful natural forces on Earth, and as global trends suggest ocean winds will blow harder because of climate change, ocean waves could become more powerful. In a study published in Physical Review Letters, the research team led by Professor Alessandro Toffoli found that rogue waves emerge from strong wind forces and unpredictable waveform patterns, confirming an idea previously only ... More

A balanced quantum Hall resistor provides a new measurement method
WÜRZBURG.- Researchers at the University of Würzburg have developed a method that can improve the performance of quantum resistance standards. It's based on a quantum phenomenon called Quantum Anomalous Hall effect. The precise measurement of electrical resistance is essential in industrial production or electronics—for example, in the manufacture of high-tech sensors, microchips and flight controls. "Very precise measurements are essential here, as even the smallest deviations can significantly affect these complex systems," explains Professor Charles Gould, a physicist at the Institute for Topological Insulators at the University of Würzburg (JMU). "With our new measurement method, we can significantly improve the accuracy of resistance measurements, without any external magnetic field, using the quantum anomalous Hall effect (QAHE)." The research is published in the jour ... More

Newly sequenced genome reveals coffee's prehistoric origin story, and its future under climate change
BUFFALO, NY.- The key to growing coffee plants that can better resist climate change in the decades to come may lie in the ancient past. Researchers co-led by the University at Buffalo have created what they say is the highest quality reference genome to date of the world's most popular coffee species, Arabica, unearthing secrets about its lineage that span millennia and continents. Their findings, published in Nature Genetics, suggest that Coffea arabica developed more than 600,000 years ago in the forests of Ethiopia via natural mating between two other coffee species. Arabica's population waxed and waned throughout Earth's heating and cooling periods over thousands of years, the study found, before eventually being cultivated in Ethiopia and Yemen, and then spread over the globe. "We've used genomic information in plants alive today to go back in time and paint the most accurate picture possible ... More

Researchers discover previously unknown gene that indirectly promotes photosynthesis in blue-green algae
FREIBURG.- Cyanobacteria—also called blue-green algae—are known as the "plants of the ocean" because they carry out photosynthesis on a gigantic scale, produce oxygen and extract the greenhouse gas CO2 from the environment. However, to do this they need additional nutrients such as nitrogen. A team headed by biologist Prof. Dr. Wolfgang R. Hess, professor of genetics at the University of Freiburg, has discovered a previously unknown gene that plays a key role in the coordination of the nitrogen and carbohydrate metabolism. With it, cyanobacteria indirectly regulate the growth of microorganisms that promote photosynthesis. "Our work shows that there are numerous previously unknown interdependencies even between the smallest organisms in the environment and that many previously unknown genes play a part in this," says Hess. The results have been published in Nature Commun ... More

Neutron scattering study points the way to more powerful lithium batteries
OAK RIDGE, TN.- An international team of scientists has found a way to improve battery design that could produce safer, more powerful lithium batteries. The team used quasi-elastic neutron scattering at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to set the first benchmark, one-nanosecond—or one billionth of a second—for a mixture of lithium salt and an organic polymer electrolyte. The work is published in the journal Nature Materials. "It all comes down to the study of materials," said Eugene Mamontov, ORNL Chemical Spectroscopy group leader. "And polymer electrolytes won't catch fire the way liquid electrolytes do in lithium batteries." The team used the neutron technique to validate computer simulations, ending a long-standing debate about how long it takes lithium ions to break free from tiny cages created by polymer electrolytes. The rate at which ions in any battery break free from such environm ... More

Crucial connection for 'quantum internet' made for the first time
LONDON.- Researchers have produced, stored, and retrieved quantum information for the first time, a critical step in quantum networking. The ability to share quantum information is crucial for developing quantum networks for distributed computing and secure communication. Quantum computing will be useful for solving some important types of problems, such as optimizing financial risk, decrypting data, designing molecules, and studying the properties of materials. However, this development is being held up because quantum information can be lost when transmitted over long distances. One way to overcome this barrier is to divide the network into smaller segments and link them all up with a shared quantum state. To do this requires a means to store the quantum information and retrieve it again: that is, a quantum memory device. This must 'talk' to another device that allows the creation of quantum inform ... More

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On a day like today, English mathematician and theorist Augustus Edward Hough Love was born
May 17, 1863. Augustus Edward Hough Love (17 April 1863, Weston-super-Mare - 5 June 1940, Oxford), often known as A. E. H. Love, was a mathematician famous for his work on the mathematical theory of elasticity. He also worked on wave propagation and his work on the structure of the Earth in Some Problems of Geodynamics won for him the Adams prize in 1911 when he developed a mathematical model of surface waves known as Love waves. Love also contributed to the theory of tidal locking and introduced the parameters known as Love numbers, used in problems related to Earth tides, the tidal deformation of the solid Earth due to the gravitational attraction of the Moon and Sun. He authored the two volume classic, A Treatise on the Mathematical Theory of Elasticity. He was the author of several articles in the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, including Elasticity and Infinitesimal Calculus.

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