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CSI Singapore researchers uncover potential novel therapeutic targets against natural killer/T-cell lymphoma

Potential new therapeutic targets in NKTL. Illustration courtesy: Dr Jianbiao Zhou.

SINGAPORE.- A team of researchers from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has discovered that a transcription factor, TOX2, was aberrantly increased in patients with Natural killer/T-cell lymphoma (NKTL). The increased TOX2 level leads to the growth and spread of NKTL, as well as the overproduction of PRL-3 – an oncogenic phosphatase that is a known key player in the survival and metastasis of several other types of cancers. This breakthrough discovery presents a potential novel therapeutic target to treat NKTL. NKTL is an Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) associated, aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) with very poor treatment outcomes in the advanced stages. It is prevalent in Asia and Latin America but rare in Europe and North America. Combined radiation therapy and chemotherapy is the consensus standard therapy for NKTL patients, however, they are also often associat ... More

Super low-cost smartphone attachment brings blood pressure monitoring to your fingertips   Pan-cancer T cell atlas reveals new details of tumor microenvironment   Researchers achieve record 19.31% efficiency with organic solar cells

Edward Wang. Image courtesy: Digital Health Lab / UC San Diego.

SAN DIEGO, CA.- Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a simple, low-cost clip that uses a smartphone's camera and flash to monitor blood pressure at the user’s fingertip. The clip works with a custom smartphone app and currently costs about 80 cents to make. The researchers estimate that the cost could be as low as 10 cents apiece when manufactured at scale. The technology was published May 29 in Scientific Reports. Researchers say it could help make regular blood pressure monitoring easy, affordable and accessible to people in resource-poor communities. It could benefit older adults and pregnant women, for example, in managing conditions such as hypertension. “We’ve created an inexpensive solution to lower the barrier to blood pressure monitoring,” said study first author Yinan (Tom) Xuan, an electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego. “Because of their low cost, these ... More

High-resolution spatial profiling image showing stressed T cells within the tumor microenvironment. Image courtesy: Yunhe Liu, Ph.D., The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

HOUSTON, TX.- A new study led by researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, published in Nature Medicine, provides a deeper understanding of the vast diversity of T cell states as well as their relationships and roles within the complex tumor microenvironment, bringing a fresh perspective to understanding immunotherapy efficacy in cancer. This new pan-cancer single-cell T cell atlas integrates 27 single-cell RNA sequencing datasets, including nine unique datasets from MD Anderson, covering 16 cancer types. It is the most detailed picture to date of the heterogeneity of T cells present within the tumor microenvironment and shows how their phenotypic states, as well as the relative proportions of each state, play a crucial role in determining the effectiveness of immunotherapy and the likelihood of potential ... More

Prof. Li Gang invented a novel technique to achieve a breakthrough efficiency with organic solar cell. Image courtesy: Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

HONG KONG.- Researchers from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University have achieved a breakthrough power-conversion efficiency (PCE) of 19.31% with organic solar cells (OSCs), also known as polymer solar cells. This remarkable binary OSC efficiency will help enhance applications of these advanced solar energy devices. The PCE, a measure of the power generated from a given solar irradiation, is considered a significant benchmark for the performance of photovoltaics (PVs), or solar panels, in power generation. The improved efficiency of more than 19% that was achieved by the PolyU researchers constitutes a record for binary OSCs, which have one donor and one acceptor in the photo-active layer. Led by Prof. Li Gang, Chair Professor of Energy Conversion Technology and Sir Sze-Yen Chung Endowed Professor in Renewable Energy at PolyU, the research team invented ... More

New-look infrared lens shines a light on future technology and manufacturing   Researchers shed further light onto zinc homeostasis in cells   Juice's final deployments complete: Ready for study of Jupiter

A) Top and side view of 0.8-mm thick 67-poly(S-r-CPD) polymer sheet. B) 3D-printed protective casing for FLIR camera. Image courtesy: Advanced Optical Materials (2023). DOI: 10.1002/adom.202300058.

ADELAIDE.- Researchers at Flinders University have discovered a new low-cost material that can be made into lenses for thermal imaging—pointing to new advanced manufacturing applications for this powerful technology. Thermal and infrared imaging are used in many industries including defense, security and surveillance, medicine, electrical engineering, space exploration and autonomous vehicle operation—but the materials required are expensive and becoming more difficult to find. Lower cost alternatives are needed so a multi-disciplinary team in chemistry and physics at Flinders University have developed a solution in an entirely new polymer material made from sulfur and cyclopentadiene. They say the high-performance polymers have the unique ability to transmit infrared light. "The material combines high performance, low cost and efficient manufacturing," says Ph.D ... More

A fluorescence image of the ER and Golgi apparatus. Image courtesy: Tohoku University.

SENDAI.- A research group has unearthed how zinc transporter complexes regulate zinc ion (Zn2+) concentrations in different areas of the Golgi apparatus and revealed that this mechanism finely tunes the chaperone protein ERp44. The findings, which were reported in the journal Nature Communications on May 9, 2023, reveal the crucial chemical and cellular biological mechanism at play behind zinc homeostasis, something necessary for avoiding fatal diseases such as diabetes, cancers, growth failures, and immunodeficiency. As a trace element, zinc is essential for our health. Zn2+ are vital for enzyme catalysis, protein folding, DNA binding, and regulating gene expression, with nearly 10% of human proteome binding Zn2+ for their structural maturation and function. Secretory proteins like hormones, immunoglobulins, and blood clotting factors are synthesized and folded in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), a complex membrane network of tubules. Subsequently ... More

Juice comes to life (artist’s impression). Image courtesy: ESA, ATG Medialab.

PARIS.- Flight controllers at ESA's mission control center in Germany have been busy this week, working with instrument teams on the final deployments to prepare ESA's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (Juice) for exploring Jupiter. It has been six weeks since Juice began its journey, and in that time the Flight Control Team have deployed all the solar panels, antennas, probes and booms that were tucked away safely during launch. The last step has been the swinging out and locking into place of the probes and antennas that make up Juice's Radio & Plasma Wave Investigation (RPWI). "It's been an exhausting but very exciting six weeks," says Angela Dietz, deputy spacecraft operations manager for the mission. "We have faced and overcome various challenges to get Juice into the right shape for getting the best science out of its trip to Jupiter." We've had regular snapshots of the entire deployment process thanks to Juice's two onboard monitoring cameras, ... More

Bacteria are vital for the diversity and survival of insects   Examining the role of Hadley cells in ongoing climate change   New DNA testing technology shows majority of wild dingoes are pure, not hybrids

A weevil. Insects have become so dependent on bacteria that they have developed new organelles to house them – so called bacteria factories. Image: Pixabay.

LUND.- Insects heavily rely on bacteria for essential nutrients that are lacking in their diet. This has allowed insects to access a wide variety of food, leading to remarkable species diversification in some cases, according to a new study from Lund University in Sweden. Insects are crucial for biodiversity and among the most successful species on the planet. However, until now, it has been unclear how they could exploit such a diversity of food sources. According to a recent study published in the scientific journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, bacteria have played a crucial role. "Insect diets range from human blood, in the case of mosquitoes, to the wood used to build our houses, in the case of termites. The common denominator is bacteria. Our findings show that bacteria play a crucial role in providing insects with the nutrients they need to survive and thrive," says Charlie Cornwallis, biology researcher at Lund University ... More

A band of clouds above the equator, created by the rise of air within the Hadley cell and responsible for heavy rainfall in this region. Image courtesy: Weizmann Institute of Science.

REHOVOT.- In the tropics, above the equatorial rainforests and oceans, the strong solar radiation hitting Earth propels a stream of warm, moist air far upward. Once reaching the upper atmosphere, this stream moves in both hemispheres toward the poles; it then descends in the subtropical regions at around 20 to 30 degrees latitude, contributing to the creation of massive deserts like the Sahara in northern Africa. From there, the stream—known as the Hadley cell—returns to the equator, where it heats up and rises again, embarking on its circular journey anew. The two Hadley cells—the northern and the southern—circulate most of the heat and humidity across low latitudes, greatly affecting the global distribution of climate regions. When the warm, moist air rises, it cools down, allowing water vapor to condense, which leads to heavy rainfall deep in the tropics. In contrast, the streams of air that descend toward the Earth in subtropical region ... More

Genetic analysis shows dingo populations have significantly less dog ancestry than previously thought. Image: Anthony Rae, Unsplash.

SYDNEY.- Wild dingo populations have less dog lineage, with a significantly greater proportion of pure dingoes than previously thought, according to new research, challenging the view that pure dingoes are on the decline due to crossbreeding. The findings, published in Molecular Ecology, suggest previous studies significantly overestimated the prevalence of dingo-dog mixes in the wild and that lethal methods to control ‘wild dogs’ target pure dingoes. Dingoes are genetically distinct from domestic dogs but can interbreed. Cross-species breeding, or hybridisation, can threaten pure species, which may become vulnerable to extinction by genetic dilution. “For decades, there was fear that dingoes were breeding themselves into extinction. But our findings suggest this isn’t the case, and dingoes are largely maintaining their identity, which has implications for their management and conservation,” says Dr Kylie Cairns, a conservation biologist from ... More

How forest fragmentation affects birds depends on their wings   Microorganisms are key to storing carbon in soils, shows new study   Teenage orcas could be roughhousing with boats off the coast of Spain

Birds at low latitudes live in more stable climates and therefore appear to be adapted to a highly sedentary lifestyle, often defending their territories all year round, with no need to migrate. Image: Pixabay.

LONDON.- A new study shows why tropical birds are likely to be more vulnerable to forest fragmentation, and suggests conservation policies need to take into account the role of climate in determining the ability of animals to move across fragmented landscapes. As logging and agricultural expansion break up forests around the world, some animals will be badly affected while others are able to adapt. However, how each species responds varies depending on a wide range of factors, such as their diet, the local environment, and how easy it is for them to cross gaps between the remaining patches of natural habitat. Researchers have previously observed that sensitivity of birds to forest fragmentation varies by latitude, with those at higher latitudes better able to cope. The leading theory for this was that higher-latitude forests have gone through ... More

Agricultural soils in southern Europe. Image courtesy: Antonio Jordán,

JENA.- According to a study recently published in Nature, microorganisms play a key role in soil carbon storage. The study, conducted by an international team of scientists including researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry in Jena, reveals that microbial carbon use efficiency is at least four times more influential than other biological or environmental factors when it comes to global soil carbon storage and distribution. The study's result has implications for improving soil health and mitigating climate change. Soils serve as crucial carbon sinks in the battle against climate change, storing more carbon than any other terrestrial ecosystem and three times more than the atmosphere. However, the processes involved in soil carbon storage have not been well understood. While microorganisms have long been recognized as important contributors to the accumulation and loss of soil organic carbon (SOC), the specific c ... More

A killer whale off the coast of Iceland. Iberian killer whales have been sinking boats off the coast of Spain. Image: Unsplash.

VANCOUVER.- Killer whales are in the news for sinking boats off the coast of Spain. The reason is a mystery, but one theory is that teenage bad behaviour is to blame, according to UBC researchers Dr. Andrew Trites, Taryn Scarff and Josh McInnes. Orcas from two families have been bumping boats with their bodies and pulling rudders off. Since May 2020, three boats have sunk. The orcas are generally juveniles, with two adult females. Researchers don’t know. One theory is that the killer whales are roughhousing with the vessels for the tactile sensations involved, rubbing or bumping against the boats to push, turn or stop the craft. This may have become an orca trend, says Scarff, and their comparative size means their rough play could seem like aggression. “It’s not uncommon to hear of killer whales swimming very close to boats to put their ‘noses’ almost into the propellers, as though ... More

More News
Mapping the conflict between farming and biodiversity
TRONDHEIM.- It's well known that producing foods such as beef can have an outsized footprint when it comes to carbon emissions. But a new study shows that some of these same staples can have an equally huge effect when it comes to biodiversity losses. One of the main problems, the study found, results when food production overlaps with areas that have been identified as having the highest conservation priority. The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Food production remains the main cause of biodiversity loss," said Keiichiro Kanemoto, an associate professor at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN) in Kyoto, Japan and one of the paper's senior authors. "However, there is a painful lack of systematic data on which products and which ... More

T helper cells determine the course of disease in viral infections such as COVID-19: Study
BERLIN.- People around the world have been infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus for more than three years. It quickly became apparent that killer T cells play a crucial role in fighting the virus in the body by killing off infected cells. However, it was not entirely clear how the immune system manages to activate the defenses in a targeted manner and then calm them down again once the job is done. An international team, including scientists from the Berlin Institute of Health at Charité (BIH) and the Charité—Universitätsmedizin Berlin, has now come a decisive step closer to understanding this phenomenon. The researchers have published their findings in the current issue of the journal Nature Immunology. T-killer cells, also called CD8+ T cells because of their surface molecule, play a crucial rol ... More

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On a day like today, Nobel Prize laureate Hannes Alfvén was born
May 30, 1908. Hannes Olof Gösta Alfvén (30 May 1908 - 2 April 1995[2]) was a Swedish electrical engineer, plasma physicist and winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on magnetohydrodynamics (MHD). He described the class of MHD waves now known as Alfvén waves. He was originally trained as an electrical power engineer and later moved to research and teaching in the fields of plasma physics and electrical engineering. Alfvén made many contributions to plasma physics, including theories describing the behavior of aurorae, the Van Allen radiation belts, the effect of magnetic storms on the Earth's magnetic field, the terrestrial magnetosphere, and the dynamics of plasmas in the Milky Way galaxy. His theoretical work on field-aligned electric currents in the aurora (based on earlier work by Kristian Birkeland) was confirmed in 1967, these currents now being known as Birkeland currents.


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