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Elein Chahoud verified badge
Intern Pharmacist
September 15, 2018 · 597 Reads

Top stories in science this week

Botanist revealed the reaction that happens when a plant gets hurt, making them more similar to animals.

In an experiment to observe the plants’ response to each kind of damage, researchers found that glutamate, an abundant chemical in cells, released from wound sites led to a quick release of calcium across the plant which in turns led to spiking up the defence hormones in distant leaves. These hormones help prepare the plant for future threats by, for example, increasing the levels of toxic chemicals to ward off predators. Therefore, plants sense local signs and communicate them throughout the plant body to rapidly initiate defence responses in intact parts without having a nervous system like in animals.

Reference: Science



Scientists discovered rare antibodies that could neutralise many types of Ebola.

Ebola virus fuses into human cells and initiates infection by fusion loop mechanism. The new research showed that antibodies bind to a site on the viral “fusion loop” can neutralise all known five members of the Ebolavirus genus. The research focused on a human antibody called ADI-15878 found in the blood of an Ebola virus survivor, and the findings could present an opportunity to develop a universal therapy for infections caused by all types of Ebola viruses.

Reference: Journal of Infectious Diseases

Scientists identified new neurons could lead to advanced therapies for hearing disorders.

In a study on mice, scientists discovered four types of nerve cells in the auditory system, three of them are new to science. The research mapped the genes expressed in these cells giving a better understanding of the auditory system. Further analysis of the study findings could lead to new therapies and hearing medical devices for various kinds of hearing disorders including age-related hearing loss.

Reference: Nature

New research showed that sugar pills could alleviate chronic pain.

In a study to determine the biological factors responsible for the analgesic effect of the sugar placebo pill, scientists discovered that patients’ response to sugar pills is dependent on their brain anatomy and psychological traits. The results showed that individuals whose pain decreased after taking the sugar pill had similar brain anatomy and psychological traits which are different from people who did not respond to the placebo. Research suggested that in the future, doctors may prescribe sugar pills for certain chronic pain patients based on their brain anatomy and psychology.

Reference: Nature

Researchers connected the dots between HPV (virus) and head and neck cancer.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes cervical cancer and around 70 % of head and neck cancer cases. To describe the response to the treatment in patients with head and neck cancer caused by HPV and those with the same type of cancer but caused by tobacco consumption, researchers mapped the interactions between HPV proteins and human proteins. By overlapping the protein interaction and genomics data, the scientists discovered that the HPV virus targets the same human proteins that are usually mutated by tobacco smoking. These proteins could be possible targets for the development of new drug therapies.

Reference: Cancer Discovery

Researchers upgraded ‘Gaia’; the famous theory of the living Earth.

In 1960’s the British scientist James Lovelock developed the original Gaia Theory. It suggested that both the organic and inorganic components of Earth emerged together as one single, self-regulating system to control global temperature and atmospheric component maintaining the planet habitability. The evolution of humans and their technology led the researchers to introduce a “fundamental new state of Gaia” which relies on our self-awareness and ability to continually monitor the state of the planet and our effects upon it. Researchers’ primary focus is to create solutions to the global changes that humans are now causing to achieve greater global sustainability.

Reference: Science

New analysis of engineered-mutation breast cancer gene will immediately benefit patients.

Genetic testing detects cancer-predisposing mutations. In breast and ovarian cancers, specific mutations in the BRCA1 gene, which suppresses tumours, are known to predispose women to these cancers. However, sometimes, the BRCA1 gene contains a variant of uncertain mutations which are not known to cause cancer, but theoretically could. In this study, scientists analysed and categorised nearly 4,000 of variants as behaving like disease mutations or not, providing valuable information for medical care decisions. These findings will be immediately useful to many patients with previously uncertain genetic test results.

Reference: Nature

Scientists identified a subtype of brain cells responsible for neuroinflammatory diseases.

Astrocytes are a type of brain cells responsible for maintaining the blood-brain barrier, repairing brain tissue and more. However, they are also involved in driving inflammation in the brain. In a study on mice, the scientists identified ie Astrocytes, a subtype of astrocyte cells, which predominantly activated at disease initiation and during progression, suggesting that they are important gatekeepers and mediators of disease.

Reference: eNeuro

Researchers developed an ultrasound patch to monitor blood pressure.

Researchers tested a new conformal ultrasound patch that could monitor blood pressure in arteries deep under the skin. The device measures central blood pressure which differs from the peripheral blood pressure that’s measured with conventional blood pressure monitoring devices. Therefore, it could provide more accurate reading and better prediction of heart disease. Also, this ultrasound patch can provide a real-time and continuous monitoring of blood pressure in critically ill patients.

Reference: Nature biomedical engineering

Engineers developed a small and wearable ultrasound transducer.

In standard ultrasound scanners, piezoelectric crystals used to create images and send them to a computer to create visual images. In the new ultrasound transducers, researchers replaced the piezoelectric crystals with small vibrating drums made of polymer resin, which are cheaper and easier to make. The new transducer needs only 10 volts to work so that a smartphone can power it. Also, it can be built into a flexible material that can be wearable for easier scanning and detailed views. This patent-pending innovation could lower the cost of ultrasound scanners to as little as $100.

Reference: Microsystems and nanoengineering

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