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Scientists discover a highly potent antibody against SARS-CoV-2

Broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies, binding antibodies that target multiple conserved sites on the spike (S) protein.

LAUSANNE.- The newly identified antibody was isolated using lymphocytes from COVID-19 patients enrolled in the ImmunoCoV study being carried out by CHUV’s Service of Immunology and Allergy. This antibody is one of the most powerful identified so far against SARS-CoV-2. Structural characterization of the antibody indicates that it binds to an area that is not subjected to mutations of the spike protein. Through this tight interaction, the antibody blocks the spike protein from binding to cells expressing the ACE2 receptor, which is the receptor the virus uses to enter and infect lung cells. That means the antibody halts the viral replication process, enabling a patient’s immune system to eliminate SARS-CoV-2 from the body. This protective mechanism was proven through in vivo tests on hamsters; specimens that were administered the antibody were protected against infection even after receiving a highly infectious dose. In addition to its antiviral properties, the new antibody is designed t ... More

Genetic study explores how human pregnancy is unique   Chemists discover faster-acting forms of insecticide imidacloprid   Researchers say fossil shows humans, dogs lived in C. America in 10,000 BC

Katelyn Mika. The study identified hundreds of genes that gained or lost uterine expression in the human lineage, focusing on the first trimester of pregnancy. Image courtesy: Cassie Scott.

BUFFALO, NY.- A new study delves into the evolutionary history of pregnancy, identifying hundreds of genes that evolved to be turned on or off in the uterus of humans during the early part of pregnancy, in contrast to a range of other animals. The suite of genes identified includes ones that are thought to contribute to cell-to-cell communication, regulation of the immune response and inflammation, and the ability of the human placenta to burrow deeply into the uterine wall. Such functions are important to the health of a pregnancy, in which the mother must host and co-exist with a fetus containing foreign cells. The findings help to illuminate what makes human pregnancy uniquely human—an intriguing question, as human pregnancy is quite unusual compared to pregnancy in many other animals, says Vincent Lynch, Ph.D., associate professor of biological sciences in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences, and the paper's ... More

NYU chemists developed new crystal forms of imidacloprid, one of the world’s most widely used insecticides, in an effort to sharply reduce its environmental impact. Image courtesy: Xiaolong Zhu.

NEW YORK, NY.- Scientists have developed seven crystal forms of imidacloprid—one of the world's most widely used insecticides—in an effort to sharply reduce its environmental impact, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The new forms work up to nine times faster than the original version, meaning a smaller amount can be used to control insects like infectious disease-transmitting mosquitoes, while reducing the chance of harm to other organisms, such as bees. "By using modified forms of imidacloprid, we may have a sustainable strategy for improving the insecticide's ability to control mosquito disease vectors while lessening the quantity needed," said Bart Kahr, a professor of chemistry at NYU who studies crystal growth, and who led this research. "This provides a pathway to minimize exposure and harm to other organisms, as well as delay the onset of the development of resistance by mosquitoes, an u ... More

Researchers believe this fossil of a jaw bone found in Costa Rica belongs to a dog that lived 12,000 years ago. Proyecto Xulo/AFP.

SAN JOSÉ (AFP).- The fossil of a jaw bone could prove that domesticated dogs lived in Central America as far back as 12,000 years ago, according to a study by Latin American scientists. The dogs, and their masters, potentially lived alongside giant animals, researchers say. A 1978 dig in Nacaome, northeast Costa Rica, found bone remains from the Late Pleistocene. Excavations began in the 1990s and produced the remains of a giant horse, Equus sp, a glyptodon (a large armadillo), a mastodon (an ancestor of the modern elephant) and a piece of jaw from what was originally thought to be a coyote skull. "We thought it was very strange to have a coyote in the Pleistocene, that is to say 12,000 years ago," Costa Rican researcher Guillermo Vargas told AFP. "When we started looking at the bone fragments, we started to see characteristics that could have been from a dog. "So we kept looking, we scanned it... and it showed that it was a dog living with humans 12,000 years ago in Costa Rica." The presence of dogs i ... More

Antiviral compound blocks SARS-CoV-2 from entering cells   Researchers identify universal laws in the turbulent behavior of active fluids   Brain damage caused by long stays in space

People walk in a shopping mall as retail businesses reopen to the public after a 106-day lockdown against the Covid-19 coronavirus, in Sydney on October 12, 2021. Saeed Khan / AFP.

ST. LOUIS, MO.- Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a chemical compound that interferes with a key feature of many viruses that allows the viruses to invade human cells. The compound, called MM3122, was studied in cells and mice and holds promise as a new way to prevent infection or reduce the severity of COVID-19 if given early in the course of an infection, according to the researchers. In an interesting twist, the compound targets a key human protein called transmembrane serine protease 2 (TMPRSS2) that coronaviruses harness to enter and infect human cells. The study was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Great vaccines are now available for SARS-CoV-2, but we still need effective antiviral medications to help curb the severity of this pandemic," said senior author James W. Janetka, Ph.D., a professor of biochemistry & molecular biophysics. "The compound we ... More

Due to their visual resemblance to ordinary turbulence, chaotic flows in active fluids have been called active turbulence.

BARCELONA.- Certain groupings of bacteria or cellular tissues form systems that are called active fluids. These can flow spontaneously without having to be forced from the outside, since their components are able to generate forces and move autonomously. When the activity is high enough, the spontaneous flows become chaotic, like those observed in the turbulence of ordinary fluids. University of Barcelona researchers have identified universal laws in this turbulent behavior of active fluids. The results of their work were published in the journal Physical Review X. Due to their visual resemblance to ordinary turbulence, chaotic flows in active fluids have been called active turbulence. The study of this phenomenon is significant for the design of nanomotors and can explain complex flows observed in living systems, such as those that occur during a wound closure. According to the UB researchers, the results of their work "are relevant ... More

The negative changes include atrophic muscles, decreasing bone mass, deteriorating vision and altered bacterial flora in the gut. Image: Edgar Moran, Unsplash.

GOTHENBURG.- Spending a long time in space appears to cause brain damage. This is shown by a study of five Russian cosmonauts who had stayed on the International Space Station (ISS). Researchers at the University of Gothenburg are among those now presenting the results. The study was published in the scientific journal JAMA Neurology. Its co-authors at the University, scientists from the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology at Sahlgrenska Academy, wrote it jointly with colleagues in Moscow and Munich. The scientists followed five male Russian cosmonauts working on the permanently manned International Space Station (ISS), which is in orbit 400 km from Earth's surface. The adverse effects on the body of long periods in space have been known for some time. The negative changes include atrophic muscles, decreasing bone mass, deteriorating vision and altered bacterial flora in the gut. Blood samples were taken from the cosmonauts 20 days before thei ... More

Study explores adaptation in island, mainland anoles   ESO images some of the biggest asteroids in our Solar System   Power walk: Engineers develop powered exoskeleton to help amputees walk with less effort

Anolis occultus, a twig anole, is a Caribbean lizard species that was included in the new study led by Jonathan Losos at Washington University in St. Louis. Image courtesy: Day’s Edge Productions.

ST. LOUIS, MO.- Islands are hot spots of evolutionary adaptation that can also advantage species returning to the mainland, according to a study published the week of Oct. 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Islands are well known locations of adaptive radiation, where species diversify to fill empty niches. In contrast, species that evolved on islands are thought to be evolutionarily disadvantaged when attempting to recolonize the mainland. Jonathan B. Losos, the William H. Danforth Distinguished University Professor, professor of biology in Arts & Sciences and director of the Living Earth Collaborative at Washington University in St. Louis, is senior author of the new study. Losos and his colleagues used a time-calibrated phylogeny and measurements of relevant ecological and morphological traits of neotropical anoles (Anolis spp.) to explore the collision of island and mainland adaptive radiations. Anolis lizards originated in S ... More

The images of the asteroids have been captured with the Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch (SPHERE) instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Image: ESO/M. Kornmesser/Vernazza et al./MISTRAL algorithm (ONERA/CNRS).

GARCHING BEI MÜNCHEN.- The detailed images of these 42 objects are a leap forward in exploring asteroids, made possible thanks to ground-based telescopes, and contribute to answering the ultimate question of life, the Universe, and everything. "Only three large main belt asteroids, Ceres, Vesta and Lutetia, have been imaged with a high level of detail so far, as they were visited by the space missions Dawn and Rosetta of NASA and the European Space Agency, respectively," explains Pierre Vernazza, from the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille in France, who led the asteroid study published in Astronomy & Astrophysics. "Our ESO observations have provided sharp images for many more targets, 42 in total." The previously small number of detailed observations of asteroids meant that, until now, key characteristics such as their 3-D shape or density had remained largely unknown. Between 2017 and 2019, Vernazza and his team set out to fill this gap by con ... More

University of Utah mechanical engineering assistant professor Tommaso Lenzi (left), helps Alec McMorris put on an experimental exoskeleton that Lenzi has developed for lower-limb amputees. Image: Dan Hixson/University of Utah College of Engineering.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT.- Stan Schaar, who lost his left leg in an accident while helping a neighbor, never thought he would again feel the sensation of effortlessly walking with two healthy legs. Then he slipped on a new experimental exoskeleton developed by mechanical engineers at the University of Utah's Bionic Engineering Lab. "It just felt like a big wind was behind me, pushing me down the road," the 74-year-old Salt Lake County, Utah, man says about using the new device. Schaar was one of a half-dozen lower-limb amputees who tested the new exoskeleton designed by a team of University of Utah researchers led by mechanical engineering assistant professor Tommaso Lenzi. The exoskeleton, which wraps around the wearer's waist and leg, uses battery-powered electric motors and embedded microprocessors enabling an amputee to walk with much less effort. The group's research was documented in a new paper published in the journal Nature Medicine. In addition ... More

New scientific resource will help uncover the genetic underpinnings of type 2 diabetes   Lightning strikes may trigger short-term thinning in the ozone layer   Few adverse health effects in wildlife exposed to low levels of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear accident

The research required collecting and examining an enormous amount of information, which was made possible through the use of supercomputing resources and new statistical methods. Image: Unsplash.

BOSTON, MASS.- Many variants in the human genome have been linked to type 2 diabetes, but because most do not lie within genes that code for proteins, it's unclear how they might cause disease. Now an international team, including investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital, has developed a resource to help uncover the impact of these genetic variants. The work, which is described in Cell Reports, relies on the knolwedge that abnormalities in groups of pancreatic cells called islets, which produce and release hormones that regulate blood sugar levels, drive the development of type 2 diabetes. Unfortunately, however, it's very difficult to obtain samples of human islets. To overcome this challenge, scientists from Spain, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Finland, the UK, and the US banded together to obtain more than 500 human islet samples from patients with and without type 2 diabetes and to extract genomic and gene expression data from these samp ... More

A new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder suggests that these powerful events may also alter the chemistry of Earth’s atmosphere, even affecting Earth’s all-important ozone layer. Image: Chu Son, Unsplash.

BOULDER, CO.- Crack! Lightning strikes are bright and loud—violent enough to shake your bones and light up the sky. Now, a new study led by the University of Colorado Boulder suggests that these powerful events may also alter the chemistry of Earth’s atmosphere, even affecting Earth’s all-important ozone layer. The results, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, shed new light on what it means to live on a planet rife with lightning. “You have about 1,800 active thunderstorms across the globe at any given time, generating about 50 flashes per second,” said Robert Marshall, a coauthor of the new study and assistant professor in the Ann and H.J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences. All that flashing may have a broader impact on the atmosphere than scientists once thought, he said. The research hinges on a complicated phenomenon called lightning-induced electron precipitation, or LEP. ... More

This media shows the nature reserve in Vienna with the ID 1. Image courtesy: Valentin Panzirsch.

FORT COLLINS, CO.- More than 10 years ago, the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, resulting in a massive release of radioactive material into the environment. Radiation dose rates led to the evacuation of over 150,000 residents from an area estimated at 444 square miles. Although people were evacuated, wildlife remained within the Fukushima Exclusion Zone, as it is sometimes called, and generations of animals have since been exposed to radiation levels above the safety threshold for human occupancy. Colorado State University and the University of Georgia launched graduate student programs in collaboration with Fukushima University's Institute of Environmental Radioactivity to conduct research on the effects of life-long radiation exposures to wildlife. Their most recent results were published online in Environment International and appears in the October issue of the journal. Between 2016 and ... More

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Teaching ancient brains new tricks: New research shows how modern physicists think
PITTSBURGH, PA.- The science of physics has strived to find the best possible explanations for understanding matter and energy in the physical world across all scales of space and time. Modern physics is filled with complex concepts and ideas that have revolutionized the way we see (and don't see) the universe. The mysteries of the physical world are increasingly being revealed by physicists who delve into non-intuitive, unseen worlds, involving the subatomic, quantum and cosmological realms. But how do the brains of advanced physicists manage this feat, of thinking about worlds that can't be experienced? In a recently published paper in npj Science of Learning, researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have found a way to decode the brain activity associated with individual abstract scientific concepts pertaining ... More

Precision medicine data dive shows water pill may be viable to test as Alzheimer's treatment
BETHESDA, MD.- A commonly available oral diuretic pill approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration may be a potential candidate for an Alzheimer's disease treatment for those who are at genetic risk, according to findings published in Nature Aging. The research included analysis showing that those who took bumetanide—a commonly used and potent diuretic—had a significantly lower prevalence of Alzheimer's disease compared to those not taking the drug. The study, funded by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health, advances a precision medicine approach for individuals at greater risk of the disease because of their genetic makeup. The research team analyzed information in databases of brain tissue samples and FDA-approved drugs, performed mouse and human cell experiments, a ... More

Research points to a strategy for overcoming colorectal cancers' immunotherapy resistance
BOSTON, MASS.- Immune checkpoint inhibitors, which unleash the immune response against tumor cells, have revolutionized cancer treatment; however, the medications aren't effective in a large number of patients, including those with colorectal cancer. New research published in PNAS that was led by investigators at Massachusetts General Hospital and the University of Geneva (UNIGE) provides insights on why some types of colorectal cancer don't respond to immune checkpoint inhibitors and offers a strategy to overcome their resistance. "Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States and worldwide," says senior and co–corresponding author Rakesh K. Jain, Ph.D., director of the E.L. Steele Laboratories for Tumor Biology at MGH and the Andrew Werk Cook Prof ... More

To probe an unexplored space of hard problems, researchers play the devil's advocate
SANTA FE, NM.- In computer science, the graph coloring problem is a classic. Inspired by the map-coloring problem, it asks: Given a network of nodes connected by links, what's the minimum number of colors you need to color each node so that no links connect two of the same color? For small numbers of colors and links, looking for a solution is straightforward: Just try all possible combinations. But as links increase, the problem becomes more constrained—until, if there are too many links and not enough colors, no solution may exist at all. "Then there are these fascinating middle zones where there probably is a solution, but it's very difficult to find—and another where there probably isn't, but it's hard to prove that there isn't," says polymath Cris Moore, a resident professor at SFI. That means conventional problem-solving algorithms c ... More

Study sheds light on photosynthesis in iron-low leaves
HANOVER, NH.- Researchers have identified how iron-deficient plants optimize photosynthesis to protect themselves from absorbing too much light, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research comes as the globe considers the effects of climate change on how food is grown. "This study adds to what we know about how plants respond to environmental change at a critical time for our human food supply," says Mary Lou Guerinot, professor of biological sciences and senior researcher of the study. Iron is central to photosynthesis, the process that converts light energy into chemical energy in plants. Since people obtain a majority of their calories and nutrients from plants, it is important that researchers understand how plants process the mineral. The research focuses on activ ... More

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Flash Joule heating by Rice lab recovers precious metals from electronic waste in seconds

On a day like today, Canadian geologist John William Dawson was born
October 13, 1820. Sir John William Dawson (1820 - 1899) was a Canadian geologist and university administrator. In 1859 he published a seminal paper describing the first fossil plant found in rocks of Devonian origin. Although his discovery did not have the impact that might have been expected at the time, he is now considered one of the founders of the science of palaeobotany. He later described the fossil plants of the Silurian, Devonian and Carboniferous rocks of Canada for the Geological Survey of Canada (1871 - 1873). Sir William Dawson's name is especially associated with Eozoon canadense, which in 1865 he described as an organism having the structure of a foraminifer. It was found in the Laurentian rocks, regarded as the oldest known geological system. His views on the subject were contested at the time, and have since been disproven, the so-called organism being now regarded as a mineral structure.


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