Sunday, May 31, 2020
Research teams around the world are taking advantage of dogs’ remarkable sense of smell to train them to detect the presence of the coronavirus. At the University of Helsinki, researchers believe that the sniffer dogs Kössi and Lucky may prove to be faster and more accurate detectors of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, than any other currently available method. Using urine samples collected from patients across Finland, the research team has trained the dogs to differentiate between positive and negative samples. More encouragingly, the dogs also appear to be able to detect the presence of COVID-19 before patients display any signs of illness.
Friday, May 29, 2020
COVID-19:A close relative of SARS-CoV-2 found in bats offers more evidence it evolved naturally.There is ongoing debate among policymakers and the general public about where SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, came from. While researchers consider bats the most likely natural hosts for SARS-CoV-2, the origins of the virus are still unclear. On May 10 in the journal Current Biology, researchers describe a recently identified bat coronavirus that is SARS-CoV-2's closest relative in some regions of the genome and which contains insertions of amino acids at the junction of the S1 and S2 subunits of the virus's spike protein in a manner similar to SAR-CoV-2. While it's not a direct evolutionary precursor of SARS-CoV-2, this new virus, RmYN02, suggests that these types of seemingly unusual insertion events can occur naturally in coronavirus evolution, the researchers say.
Thursday, May 28, 2020
AGRIBUSINESS:Global food production to be transformed using new technology.The world's growing population will necessitate a 30-70% increase in food production over the next 3 decades. If we are to succeed, it will require a complete overhaul of the way we produce food. Researchers have now created an overview of solutions that include a number of new technologies that can collectively address this global challenge.Together with an array of leading researchers from the 'Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization' and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, Svend Christensen has identified a number of new and upcoming technologies that together, and each with their own approach, will be able to solve this global challenge for society. Most of these technologies are fully developed, while others are just a few steps away.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
COVID: 19: Can You Catch COVID-19 Through Your Eyes? You can catch COVID-19 if an infected person coughs or sneezes and contagious droplets enter your nose or mouth. But can you become ill if the virus lands in your eyes? Virologist Joseph Fair, PhD, an NBC News contributor, raised that concern when he became critically ill with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. From a hospital bed in his hometown of New Orleans, he told the network that he had flown on a crowded plane where flight attendants weren’t wearing masks. He wore a mask and gloves, but no eye protection. “My best guess,” he told the interviewer, “was that it came through the eye route.” Asked if people should start wearing eye protection, Fair replied, “In my opinion, yes.” The clear tissue that covers the white of the eye and lines the inside of the eyelid, known as the conjunctiva, “can be infected by other viruses, such as adenoviruses associated with the common cold and the herpes simplex virus.There’s the same chance of infection with SARS-CoV-2, says Duh. “If there are droplets that an infected individual is producing by coughing or sneezing or even speaking, then the front of the eyes are directly exposed, just like the nasal passages are exposed. In addition, people rub and touch their eyes a lot. So there’s certainly already the vulnerability.
Saturday, February 16, 2019
VETERINARY MEDICINE: How sea snakes, surrounded by salt water, quench their thirst.Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Such is the lot in life for thirsty sea snakes—and yet they’ve found a way to thrive. Most yellow-bellied sea snakes spend their entire lives at sea. They rarely end up on land and are vulnerable there, since their paddle-shaped tails and keeled undersides make crawling difficult. Armed with potent venom, they drift in a vast territory that encompasses much of the world’s oceans, riding the currents and hunting fish near the sea surface. Like other reptiles, these creatures need to drink water to survive. How does an animal surrounded by saltwater quench its thirst? It used to be thought that these serpents drank from their salty surroundings. “Previous textbook dogma was that sea snakes drank seawater and excreted the excess salts using their sublingual salt glands,” explains Harvey Lillywhite, a biologist at the University of Florida. Recent work has proven that false—and a new study suggests that yellow-bellied sea snakes (Hydrophis platurus) rehydrate at sea by drinking rainwater that collects on the ocean surface.
Friday, February 15, 2019
RESEARCH:Group trains pupils in malaria prevention. A humanitarian organisation, Mace Club of Nigeria, has trained some secondary school pupils in Ogun State on ways to prevent Malaria, as part of its effort to eradicate deadly diseases in the state. The training, held at the Abeokuta Grammar School, Idi-Aba, had in attendance pupils from the six schools that qualified for the grand finale of the organisation’s debate and quiz competition.
Friday, February 8, 2019
RESEARCH: CASSAVA AND FERTILITY.The Cassava plant contains a chemical that causes hyper-ovulation. Cassava works by the same method as prescription fertility drugs, without the side effects. Natural hormones called GnRH released by Cassava fool the brain into thinking there is insufficient estrogen, causing the brain to naturally release more of a hormone called gonadotropin, and dramatically increases the ovulation rate. Cassava is known world wide for its effects on fertility. It helps with increasing the chance of twins, but also with overall fertility. Many women use this supplement to increase fertility even when they’re not trying for twins.
RESEARCH : Animal health = human health.RESEARCH: Newly discovered gene governs need for slumber when sick. Humans spend nearly one-third of their lives in slumber, yet sleep is still one of biology's most enduring mysteries. Little is known about what genetic or molecular forces drive the need to sleep -- until now. In a study of over 12,000 lines of fruit flies, researchers have found a single gene, called nemuri, that increases the need for sleep. The NEMURI protein fights germs with its inherent antimicrobial activity and it is secreted by cells in the brain to drive prolonged, deep sleep after an infection.
RESEARCH: Third hand smoke residue exposes children to chemicals.Researchers find that indoor smoking bans may not fully protect children.The harmful effects of exposure to tobacco smoke have been known for many years. Cigarette and cigar smokers are at significantly higher risk of contracting all sorts of respiratory maladies, and research linking secondhand smoke to cancer goes back nearly three decades. But what about the chemicals that stain the walls, ceilings, carpet and upholstery in rooms in which tobacco has been smoked? What about the lingering nicotine on the fingers of smokers? Is there something dangerous in the residue that lingers long. READ: How smoking affects children. Environmental tobacco smoke and children's health Researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and the University of Cincinnati have found more evidence of the potentially harmful effects of exposure to the residue and particles left behind by tobacco smoke. In "Nicotine on Children's Hands:
RESEARCH:Fasting ramps up human metabolism. Research uncovers previously unknown effects of fasting, including notably increased metabolic activity and possible anti-aging effects. Fasting may help people lose weight, but new research suggests going without food may also boost human metabolic activity, generate antioxidants, and help reverse some effects of aging. Scientists at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) and Kyoto University identified 30 previously-unreported substances whose quantity increases during fasting and indicate a variety of health benefits. The study, published January 29, 2019 in Scientific Reports, presents an analysis of whole human blood, plasma, and red blood cells drawn from four fasting individuals. The researchers monitored changing levels of metabolites -- substances formed during the chemical processes that grant organisms energy and allow them to grow. The results revealed 44 metabolites, including 30 that were previously unrecognized, that increased universally among subjects between 1.5- to 60-fold within just 58 hours of fasting. Research, agribusiness, fasting, lose weight.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Veterinary Medicine: How to feed a cat: Consensus statement to the veterinary community.The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) released the AAFP Consensus Statement, "Feline Feeding Programs: Addressing Behavioral Needs to Improve Feline Health and Wellbeing" and accompanying client brochure to the veterinary community. The Consensus Statement, published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery, explores the medical, social, and emotional problems that can result from the manner in which most cats are currently fed. This statement focuses on "how to feed" because an often-overlooked aspect of feline health is how cats are fed. This Consensus Statement identifies normal feeding behaviors in cats. It provides strategies to allow these normal feline feeding behaviors, such as hunting and foraging, and eating frequent small meals in a solitary fashion, to occur in the home environment -- even in a multi-pet home. Allowing cats to exhibit these normal feeding behaviors regularly, can help alleviate or prevent stress-related issues such as cystitis, and/or obesity-related problems such as inactivity and overeating. Reducing stress with appropriate feeding programs can also help anxious cats, who in an attempt to avoid other pets in the household, may not access the food frequently enough and lose weight. Currently, most pet cats are fed in one location ad libitum, or receive one or two large and usually quite palatable meals daily. In addition, many indoor cats have little environmental stimulation, and eating can become an activity in and of itself as this current type of feeding process does not address the behavioral needs of cats.Appropriate feeding programs need to be customized for each household, and should incorporate the needs of all cats for play, predation, and a location to eat and drink where they feel safe. The Consensus Statement also highlights the importance of feeding programs, which should be designed to consider whether they are indoor-only or have outdoor access, live in multi-pet households, or are aged or debilitated.These feeding programs in many cases include offering frequent small meals using appropriate puzzle feeders, forage feeding (putting food in different locations), multiple food and water stations, and in some instances, automatic feeders.
Agribusiness:How to get small piglets to eat more feed.What influences feed intake of small piglets? Researchers from the Netherlands looked at the effects on feed intake and feeding behaviour of many aspects of feed in more detail. The scientists, attached to Wageningen University and Research, published about the research in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science. They describe a trial that tested the feeding behaviour of suckling piglets when different diets were supplied to them. The hypothesis of the study was that presentation of the feed in a more diverse form, by varying multiple sensory properties of the feed, stimulates pre-weaning feed intake. Stimulating solid feed intake in suckling piglets is important to facilitate the weaning transition, exemplified by the positive correlation between pre- and post-weaning feed intake. 2 different diets tested by piglets Piglets received ad libitum feed from 2 days of age in 2 feeders per pen (choice feeding set-up).Feed A was an experimental diet from the university’s Animal Nutrition Group. Extruder settings intendedly varied during production, resulting in differences in pellet texture, length and hardness to create diversity within feed A. Feed B is a commercial diet, called Baby Big XL, from Coppens Diervoeding in the Netherlands. Feed B was a 14-mm diameter pellet, with a length of 10-20 mm and a hardness of 6.8 kg.Feeding behaviour was studied by weighing feed remains and by live observations. Observations were also used to discriminate ‘eaters’ from ‘non-eaters’. In addition, eaters were grouped into different eater classes (i.e. good, moderate and bad). Provision of feed A and B increased pre-weaning feed intake by 50% compared to provision of feed A only (with and without additional flavours). Piglets receiving feed A and B had no overall preference in terms of feed intake for either feed A or B, indicating pre-weaning feed intake increased by an enhanced intake of both feeds. These results supported the researchers’ hypothesis that the more diverse the feeds provided in terms of sensory properties (e.g. ingredient composition, texture), the greater the intake will be. The reason for this is expected to be sensory-specific satiety and/or piglets’ intrinsic motivation to explore.
AGRIBUSINESS: Hens that lay human proteins in eggs offer future therapy hope.Chickens that are genetically modified to produce human proteins in their eggs can offer a cost-effective method of producing certain types of drugs, research suggests. The study -- which has initially focused on producing high quality proteins for use in scientific research -- found the drugs work at least as well as the same proteins produced using existing methods. High quantities of the proteins can be recovered from each egg using a simple purification system and there are no adverse effects on the chickens themselves, which lay eggs as normal. Researchers say the findings provide sound evidence for using chickens as a cheap method of producing high quality drugs for use in research studies and, potentially one day, in patients. Eggs are already used for growing viruses that are used as vaccines, such as the flu jab. This new approach is different because the therapeutic proteins are encoded in the chicken's DNA and produced as part of the egg white.
RESEARCH: New skin test detects prion infection before symptoms appear. Prions can infect both humans and animals, causing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in humans, mad cow disease in cattle, and chronic wasting disease in elk and deer. The infectious, misfolded protein particles often go undetected as they destroy brain tissue, causing memory loss, mobility issues, and ultimately death. Preclinical detection of prions has proven difficult, but new research suggests skin samples hold early signs of prion disease that precede neurologic symptoms. Currently, a definitive diagnosis of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is dependent on the examination of diseased brain tissue obtained at biopsy or autopsy. It has been impossible to detect at the early preclinical stage," said Wenquan Zou, MD, PhD, associate professor of pathology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. In a ground-breaking study published in Nature Communications, Zou and an international team of researchers successfully used two methods to detect prions in skin samples collected from inoculated rodents. The study provides the first proof-of-concept evidence that readily accessible skin samples could be used to detect prion disease early -- before clinical symptoms appear. In the new study, Zou and colleagues successfully detected prions in rodent skin samples as early as two weeks post-infection. They also detected prions in the skin of uninoculated rodents that were housed alongside inoculated cage mates, demonstrating that prion transmission can occur between cohabiting rodents.
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
RESEARCH: Eyes of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease patients show evidence of prions. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare, degenerative, fatal brain disorder. It affects about one person in every one million per year worldwide; in the United States there are about 350 cases per year. CJD belongs to a family of human and animal diseases known as the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) or prion diseases. A prion—derived from “protein” and “infectious”—causes CJD in people and TSEs in animals. Spongiform refers to the characteristic appearance of infected brains, which become filled with holes until they resemble sponges when examined under a microscope. CJD is the most common of the known human TSEs. CJD usually appears in later life and runs a rapid course. The typical onset of symptoms occurs at about age 60, and about 70 percent of individuals die within one year. In the early stages of the disease, people may have failing memory, behavioral changes, lack of coordination, and visual disturbances. As the illness progresses, mental deterioration becomes pronounced and involuntary movements, blindness, weakness of extremities, and coma may occur. There are three major categories of CJD. 1)In sporadic (sCJD), the disease appears even though the person has no known risk factors for the disease. This is by far the most common type of CJD and accounts for at least 85 percent of cases. 2)In hereditary CJD, the person may have a family history of the disease and test positive for a genetic mutation associated with CJD. About 10 to 15 percent of cases of CJD in the United States are hereditary. 3) in acquired CJD, the disease is transmitted by exposure to brain or nervous system tissue, usually through certain medical procedures. There is no evidence that CJD is contagious through casual contact with someone who has CJD. Since CJD was first described in 1920, fewer than one percent of cases have been acquired CJD. A type of CJD called variant CJD (or vCJD) can be acquired by eating meat from cattle affected by a disease similar to CJD called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or, commonly, “mad cow” disease. A new study, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine with colleagues at the National Institutes of Health and UC San Francisco, report finding tell-tale evidence of the condition's infectious agent in the eyes of deceased sCJD patients, making the eye a potential source for both early CJD detection and prevention of disease transmission. In the November 20 issue of the journal mBio, co-corresponding author Christina J. Sigurdson, DVM, PhD, professor of pathology at UC San Diego and UC Davis, and colleagues discovered high levels of prions in the eyes of 11 deceased patients, all with confirmed sCJD. Almost half of sCJD patients develop visual disturbances, and its a known fact that the disease can be unknowingly transmitted through corneal graft transplantation.
Sunday, January 27, 2019
RESEARCH: Ebola virus found in bat in West Africa for the first time.The Ebola virus has been found in a bat in Liberia, the country’s government and scientists with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health announced this week. The discovery marks the first time the virus has ever been found in a bat in West Africa, though it has previously been found in bats in Central Africa, according to the Tech Times. The university's Mailman School of Public Health said in a statement Thursday that scientists found “genetic material from the virus and ebolavirus antibodies” in a greater long-fingered bat located in the Nimna District of Liberia. Preliminary testing indicates a specific strain of the virus — Zaire ebolavirus — may have been found in the bat. Zaire ebolavirus is “responsible for causing the West African Ebola epidemic which infected nearly 30,000 people between 2013 and 2016,” according to the Mailman School of Public Health's statement.
Friday, January 25, 2019
RESEARCH: Dry-cured ham bones -- a source of heart-healthy peptides.Drinking bone broth is a recent diet fad that proponents claim fights inflammation, eases joint pain and promotes gut health. Simmering animal bones in water releases collagen and other proteins into the broth that may have health benefits, although more research is needed to validate these claims. Now, a new study in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry has shown that ham bones contain peptides that could have cardioprotective effects. During cooking and digestion, proteins from animal bones can be broken down into smaller pieces, or peptides, that have different properties than the intact protein. For example, some peptides from collagen act as antioxidants or inhibitors of disease-related enzymes. To see if Spanish dry-cured ham bones could be a source of beneficial peptides, Leticia Mora and colleagues ground up the bones and simulated conditions of cooking and human digestion. Then, they examined whether the bone samples could block the activities of several enzymes involved in cardiovascular disease. The researchers found that the bone peptides, most of which were derived from collagen and hemoglobin proteins, inhibited the enzymes even after heating and simulated digestion. In fact, these treatments released additional bioactive peptides, suggesting that the use of ham bones to make broths and stews could have a positive impact on cardiovascular health. RESEARCH: Dry-cured ham bones -- a source of heart-healthy peptides.
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
AGRIBUSINESS: Rising temperatures may safeguard crop nutrition as climate changes.Hotter temperatures may offset the negative effects of higher carbon dioxide levels on seed quality.Recent research has shown that rising carbon dioxide levels will likely boost yields, but at the cost of nutrition. A new study in Plant Journal from the University of Illinois, U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS), and Donald Danforth Plant Science Center suggests that this is an incomplete picture of the complex environmental interactions that will affect crops in the future -- and rising temperatures may actually benefit nutrition but at the expense of lower yields. Two years of field trials show that increasing temperatures by about 3 degrees Celsius may help preserve seed quality, offsetting the effects of carbon dioxide that make food less nutritious. In soybeans, elevated carbon dioxide levels decreased the amount of iron and zinc in the seed by about 8 to 9 percent, but increased temperatures had the opposite effect.Iron and zinc are essential for both plant and human health.
RESEARCH :HOW PLANTS SMELL.Plants don't need noses to smell. The ability is in their genes. Researchers have discovered the first steps of how information from odor molecules changes gene expression in plants. Manipulating plants' odor detection systems may lead to new ways of influencing plant behavior. Plants detect a class of odor molecules known as volatile organic compounds, which are essential for many plant survival strategies, including attracting birds and bees, deterring pests, and reacting to disease in nearby plants. These compounds also give essential oils their distinctive scents.
AGRIBUSINESS: Body-painting protects against bloodsucking insects. A study by researchers from Sweden and Hungary shows that white, painted stripes on the body protect skin from insect bites. It is the first time researchers have successfully shown that body-painting has this effect. Among indigenous peoples who wear body-paint, the markings thus provide a certain protection against insect-borne diseases. Most of the indigenous communities who paint their bodies live in areas where there is an abundance of bloodsucking horseflies, mosquitoes or tsetse flies. When these insects bite people there is a risk of bacteria, parasites and other pathogens being transferred. The study shows that body-painting provides protection against the insects. A brown plastic model of a human attracted ten times as many horseflies as a dark model painted with white stripes. The researchers also found that a beige-coloured plastic figure used as a control model attracted twice as many bloodsuckers as the striped model.