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'Golden Parade' carries pharaohs to new home in Egyptian capital

The carriage carrying the mummy of Pharaoh Ramses II (1279–1213 BC) advances as part of the parade of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies departing from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo's Tahrir Square on April 3, 2021. Khaled Desouki / AFP.

by Emmanuel Parisse


CAIRO (AFP).- A procession of floats carried the mummified remains of 22 pharaohs, including Egypt's most powerful ancient queen, through Cairo Saturday evening, in an eye-catching parade to a new resting place. Under hefty security, the mummies were driven on floats seven kilometres (four miles) across the capital from the iconic Egyptian Museum to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilisation. Dubbed the "Pharaohs' Golden Parade", the 18 kings and four queens travelled in order, oldest first, each aboard a separate vehicle decorated in ancient Egyptian style. Both pedestrians and vehicles were barred from Tahrir Square, site of the current museum, and other sections of the route. Images of the slick parade and an equally carefully choreographed opening ceremony were broadcast live on state television, to rousing music. The mummies entered the grounds of the new museum to a 21-gun salute, after a slightly shorter than expected journey time of around half an hour. "This grandiose spectacle is fur ... More





Pfizer/BioNTech say vaccine effective against S.Africa variant   Researchers devise more efficient, enduring CAR gene therapy to combat HIV   Japan scientist given Nobel for 'revolutionary' LED lamp dies


A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus Covid-19, is prepared for waiting patients at the Ankara City Hospital in Ankara on April 2, 2021. Adem Altan / AFP.

BERLIN (AFP).- Pfizer and BioNTech said Thursday their Covid-19 vaccine was highly effective against the South African variant in the latest phase of ongoing clinical trials. No cases of the disease were observed in South Africa during the phase-three trial study among participants who had received their second dose, the companies said in a statement. Several coronavirus variants with the potential to be more transmissible have caused global concern over whether existing vaccines will still protect the world from a virus that is constantly mutating. "In South Africa, where the B.1.351 lineage is prevalent and 800 participants were enrolled, nine cases of Covid-19 were observed, all in the placebo group," the companies said. The nine strains were sequenced and six of them were confirmed to be of B.1.351 lineage, they said. "The high vaccine efficacy observed through up to six months following a second dose and against the variant prevalent in South Africa provides further confidence in our vaccine's o ... More
 

T cell infected with HIV. Image courtesy: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).

LOS ANGELES, CA.- A UCLA research team has shown that using a truncated form of the CD4 molecule as part of a gene therapy to combat HIV yielded superior and longer-lasting results in mouse models than previous similar therapies using the CD4 molecule. This new approach to CAR T gene therapy — a type of immunotherapy that involves genetically engineering the body’s own blood-forming stem cells to create HIV-fighting T cells — has the potential to not only destroy HIV-infected cells but to create “memory cells” that could provide lifelong protection from infection with the virus that causes AIDS. CAR therapies have emerged as a powerful immunotherapy for various forms of cancer and show promise for treating HIV-1, the more prevalent of the two main forms of the virus. However, current applications of these therapies may not impart long-lasting immunity. Researchers have been seeking a T cell–based therapy that can respond t ... More
 

In this file photo taken on December 10, 2014, Nobel Physics laureate Isamu Akasaki of Nagoya University poses with the Nobel Prize during the 2014 Nobel prize award ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall in Stockholm. Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP.

TOKYO (AFP).- Japanese Nobel laureate Isamu Akasaki, who won the physics prize for pioneering energy-efficient LED lighting -- a weapon against global warming and poverty -- has died aged 92, his university said Friday. Akasaki won the 2014 prize with two other scientists, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura. Together they developed the blue light-emitting diode, described as a "revolutionary" invention by the Nobel jury. He died of pneumonia on Thursday morning at a hospital in the city of Nagoya, according to a statement on the website of Meijo University, where Akasaki had been a professor. LED lamps last for tens of thousands of hours and use just a fraction of energy compared with the incandescent lightbulb pioneered by Thomas Edison in the 19th century. Red and green diodes had been around for a long time, but devising a blue LED was the holy grail, as all three colours need to be mixed to recreate ... More



Experimental therapy for parasitic heart disease may also help stop COVID-19   Century-old problem solved with first-ever 3D atomic imaging of an amorphous solid   NASA's Ingenuity helicopter dropped on Mars' surface ahead of flight


A person wearing an FFP2 face mask drives on a monowheel past a sign standing in front of the Karlskirche church in Vienna, Austria, indicating that wearing FFP2 face masks is compulsory, on April 2, 2021. Helmut Fohringer / APA / AFP.

SAN DIEGO, CA.- James McKerrow, MD, PhD, dean of the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of California San Diego, has long studied neglected tropical diseases — chronic and disabling parasitic infections that primarily affect poor and underserved communities in developing nations. They’re called “neglected” because there is little financial incentive for pharmaceutical companies to develop therapies for them. One of these neglected diseases is Chagas disease, the leading cause of heart failure in Latin America, which is spread by “kissing bugs” carrying the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. These parasites produce an enzyme called cruzain that helps them replicate and evade the human immune system. McKerrow’s research team looks for inhibitors of cruzain — small molecules that might form the basis for new anti-parasitic medicines. One particularly effective cruzain inhibitor is called K777 ... More
 

3D atomic model. UCLA-led study captures the structure of metallic glass. Image courtesy: Yao Yang and Jianwei “John” Miao/UCLA.

LOS ANGELES, CA.- Glass, rubber and plastics all belong to a class of matter called amorphous solids. And in spite of how common they are in our everyday lives, amorphous solids have long posed a challenge to scientists. Since the 1910s, scientists have been able to map in 3D the atomic structures of crystals, the other major class of solids, which has led to myriad advances in physics, chemistry, biology, materials science, geology, nanoscience, drug discovery and more. But because amorphous solids aren’t assembled in rigid, repetitive atomic structures like crystals are, they have defied researchers’ ability to determine their atomic structure with the same level of precision. Until now, that is. A UCLA-led study in the journal Nature reports on the first-ever determination of the 3D atomic structure of an amorphous solid — in this case, a material called metallic glass. “We know so much about crystals, yet most of the matter on E ... More
 

This illustration depicts Mars Helicopter Ingenuity during a test flight on Mars. Illustration courtesy: NASA, Caltech.

WASHINGTON, DC (AFP).- NASA's Ingenuity mini-helicopter has been dropped on the surface of Mars in preparation for its first flight, the US space agency said. The ultra-light aircraft had been fixed to the belly of the Perseverance rover, which touched down on the Red Planet on February 18. "MarsHelicopter touchdown confirmed!" NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory tweeted Saturday. "Its 293 million mile (471 million kilometer) journey aboard @NASAPersevere ended with the final drop of 4 inches (10 centimeter) from the rover's belly to the surface of Mars today. Next milestone? Survive the night." A photograph accompanying the tweet showed Perseverance had driven clear of the helicopter and its "airfield" after dropping to the surface. Ingenuity had been feeding off the Perseverance's power system but will now have to use its own battery to run a vital heater to protect its unshielded electrical components from freezing and cracking during the bitter Martian night. "This heater keeps the interior at about 45 degr ... More



Widespread use of control measures such as facemasks is vital to suppress the pandemic as lockdown lifts, say scientists   Distinct Parkinson's disease symptoms tied to different brain pathways   Gene therapy technique shows potential for repairing damage caused by glaucoma and dementia


A man wearing an FFP2 protective face mask looks at his cell phone as people sit in the sun on the banks of the Landwehr canal in Berlin's Kreuzberg districton April 2, 2021, amid the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. David Gannon / AFP.

CAMBRIDGE.- The model, developed by scientists at the Universities of Cambridge and Liverpool, is published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. It uses mathematical equations to provide general insights about how COVID-19 will spread under different potential control scenarios. Control measures involving facemasks, handwashing and short-scale (1-2 metre) social distancing can all limit the number of virus particles being spread between people. These are termed ‘non spatial’ measures to distinguish them from a second category of ‘spatial’ control measures that include lockdown and travel restrictions, which reduce how far virus particles can spread. The new model compares the efficacy of different combinations of measures in controlling the spread of COVID-19, and shows how non-spatial control needs to be ramped up as lockdown is lifted. “More effective use of control measures like facemasks and handwashing wou ... More
 

A three-dimensional rendering of a mouse hemisphere shows brain-wide projection patterns of GPe neurons labeled by mRuby2 (soma, axonal fibers) and eGFP (pre-synaptic sites). Image courtesy: UC San Diego.

SAN DIEGO, CA.- Parkinson’s disease (PD) is well known as a debilitating disease that gradually worsens over time. Although the disease’s progression has been largely tied to the loss of motor functions, non-motor symptoms, including the loss of cognitive abilities, often emerge early in the disease. Much less understood is the role that specific neural circuits play in these distinct motor and non-motor functions. A new study led by neurobiologists at the University of California San Diego and their colleagues found that specific, identifiable neural pathways are charged with particular functions during stages of the disease. Their findings, published recently in Nature Neuroscience, can help form the basis for improving therapeutic strategies for precise symptoms of Parkinson’s at various levels of disease progression. The researchers used a mix of approaches to shed more light on the anatomical and functional importance of a center of b ... More
 

Scientists at the University of Cambridge have shown in animal studies that gene therapy may help repair some of the damage caused in chronic neurodegenerative conditions such as glaucoma and dementia. Image: Flickr.

CAMBRIDGE.- Gene therapy – where a missing or defective gene is replaced by a healthy version – is becoming increasingly common for a number of neurological conditions including Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, Spinal Muscular Atrophy and Leber’s Hereditary Optic Neuropathy. However, each of these conditions is rare, and monogenic – that is, caused by a single defective gene. The application of gene therapy to complex polygenic conditions, which make up the majority of neurodegenerative diseases, has been limited to date. A common feature of neurodegenerative diseases is disruption of axonal transport, a cellular process responsible for movement of key molecules and cellular ‘building blocks’ including mitochondria, lipids and proteins to and from the body of a nerve cell. Axons are long fibres that transmit electrical signals, allowing nerve cells to communicate with other nerve cells and muscles. Scientists have suggested that stimulating axonal transport by enhan ... More



Infant antibiotic exposure can affect future immune responses toward allergies   What's in a name? A hurdle for human development research, experts say   Scientists zero in on the role of volcanoes in the demise of dinosaurs


Early life exposure to antibotics in utero and through mother’s milk disrupts beneficial gut bacteria, compromising T-cell development, Rutgers research shows. Image: Jonathan Borba, Unsplash.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ.- Exposure to antibiotics in utero and infancy can lead to an irreversible loss of regulatory T-cells in the colon –a valuable component of the immune system’s response toward allergens in later life – after only six months, a Rutgers researcher found. The study was published in the journal mBio. It is already known that the use of antibiotics early in life disrupts the intestinal microbiota – the trillions of beneficial microorganisms that live in and on our bodies – that play a crucial role in the healthy maturation of the immune system and the prevention of diseases, such as obesity and inflammatory bowel disease. However, less is known about how disruption of the microbiota, which produce short chain fatty acids that regulate T-cells, effects T-cells in the colon. The study, based on a mouse model, looked at fetal and newborn exposure to antibiotics through the mother in the weeks immediately preceding an ... More
 

Embryoids are stem cell-based models of human embryos that can be produced to mimic different stages of embryonic development to aid research on human development. Image courtesy: 123rf.com/Rice University.

HOUSTON, TX.- Scientists are struggling with public misconceptions on what embryoids are and what research on them entails, confusion that leads to policy decisions restricting access to important scientific exploration, according to a new paper by experts at Rice University — who blame the use of terms like synthetic or artificial embryos to describe them. Embryoids are stem cell-based models of human embryos that can be produced to mimic different stages of embryonic development to aid research on human development. The paper’s authors propose using “embryoids” as a general term and developing a new naming convention that more clearly differentiates them from human embryos, which they say could lead to more appropriate, less stringent regulations on embryoid research. “Scientists can produce embryoids in larger numbers to allow for statistical analysis, which they cannot do with embryos created via fertilization due to li ... More
 

Deccan Traps, India. Researchers have uncovered evidence suggesting that volcanic carbon emissions were not a major driver in Earth’s most recent extinction event. Image courtesy: Loc Vanderkluysen, Drexel University.

CAMBRIDGE.- Earth has experienced five major extinction events over the last 500 million years, the fifth and most recent responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago. Massive volcanic eruptions have been identified as a major driver in the environmental change which triggered at least three of these extinctions. But what dealt the final blow to the dinosaurs – whether an enormous outpouring of lava from the Deccan Traps volcanic province in India or a large asteroid impact or perhaps a combination of the two – has remained open to debate. Now, a multi-institutional research team, led by scientists from the City University of New York (CUNY), and involving the University of Cambridge, has, for the first time, accurately pinpointed the timing and amount of carbon released from Deccan Traps volcanic province. The new data means scientists can now assess the role of volcanism in climate shifts around the End-Cretaceous ma ... More



More News
Europe's heat and drought crop losses tripled in 50 years: study
PARIS (AFP).- The severity of crop losses driven by heat waves and drought have tripled in the last fifty years in Europe, according to a study that highlights the vulnerability of food systems to climate change. Research published recently in the journal Environmental Research Letters, looked at agricultural production in 28 European countries -- the current European Union and United Kingdom -- from 1961 to 2018. They compared this to data on extreme weather events -- droughts, heat waves, floods and cold snaps -- and found evidence suggesting "climate change is already driving increasing crop losses in observational records". While all four became significantly more frequent over the 50-year time period, "the severity of heatwave and drought impacts on crop production roughly tripled", from losses of 2.2 percent between 1964 and 1990 to 7.3 percent ... More

Warm Arctic seas caused 'Beast from East' snow: study
PARIS (AFP).- Ice free seas in the Arctic contribute directly to more extreme snowfall in Europe, contributing nearly 90 percent of the fresh snow that hit the continent during 2018's infamous "Beast from the East", research showed Thursday. The extreme weather event, which paralysed much of Northern Europe during February and March 2018 cost an estimated 1.17 billion euros a day in Britain alone. Now an international team of researchers says that the epic snowfall was a direct result of "anomalously warm" waters in the Barents Sea -- 60 percent of which was ice free in the weeks leading up to the Beast from the East. As the Arctic warms, the polar vortex -- an area of cold air and low pressure that typifies the poles during cold seasons -- is more likely to be displaced southwards. "What we're finding is that sea ice is effectively a lid on the oce ... More

Past ice melts may have caused seas to rise 10 times faster than today: study
LONDON (AFP).- Ice sheet melting at the end of the last ice age may have caused sea levels to rise at 10 times the current rate, a study published Thursday by a team led by scientists from Britain's Durham University said. Based on geological records, the researchers estimate that oceans worldwide rose 3.6 metres per century over a 500-year period some 14,600 years ago. The findings raise a red flag about the potential today for rapid sea level rise that could swamp coastal cities and densely populated deltas around the world. The team found that the approximately 18-metre sea level rising event may have originated primarily from melting ice sheets in the northern hemisphere and not Antarctica as previously thought. The scientists say their work could offer "vital clues" about future ice sheet melting and sea level rises due to climate change. "We ... More



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FOSSIL PLANTS found beneath MILE-DEEP GREENLAND ICE---indicating risk of rapid sea-level rise



Flashback
On a day like today, British physicist Frederick Lindemann was born
April 05, 1886. Frederick Alexander Lindemann, 1st Viscount Cherwell (5 April 1886 - 3 July 1957) was a British physicist who was prime scientific adviser to Winston Churchill in World War II. Lindemann was a brilliant but arrogant intellectual, who quarrelled sharply with many respected advisers. His contribution to Allied victory lay chiefly in logistics. He was particularly adept at converting data into clear charts to promote a strategy. But despite his credentials, his judgment about technology was often flawed. He tried to block the development of radar in favour of infra-red beams. He discounted the first reports of the enemy's V-weapons programme. He pressed the case for the strategic area bombing of cities on a false premise about the impact of such bombing on civilian morale. His abiding influence on Churchill stemmed from close personal friendship, as a member of the latter's country-house set, including Evelyn Waugh, the Mitfords and the Sitwells. In Churchill's second government, he was given a seat in the cabinet, and later created Viscount Cherwell of Oxford.



 


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