Thursday, July 23, 2015

Υouth unemployment is still unrelenting across Europe

According to Eurostat, youth unemployment is still unrelenting across Europe. In March 2015, the most recent month where data is available for all 28 EU nations, Spain had the worst unemployment rate for people under 25 years of age, 49.9 percent. Greece was only marginally better off with 49.7 percent.

At the very opposite end of the scale, Germany and Austria had the very best youth unemployment rates with 7.2 and 9.9 percent respectively. Across all 28 countries, 4.8 million young people were unemployed in March 2015 - 20.9 percent in total.

Building your own professional website is as easy as 1.2.3
Click on photo to enlarge :

The countries that imprison the most people

Last Thursday, Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit a federal prison. His visit to the El Reno Correctional Institution was part of a week long focus on reforming the US criminal justice system and possibly reducing the country's huge prison population.

Across the world, there are approximately 10.2 million people in prison with the US accounting for a quarter of them, according to the International Centre for Prison Studies. When it comes to prisoners per 100,000 of the population, the Seychelles comes first with 868 (though it only has 786 prisoners in total). The United states has 2.2 million prisoners - 698 per 100,000 people.

Building your own professional website is as easy as 1.2.3
Click on photo to enlarge :

Countries with the highest migrant percentages worldwide

Which countries have the highest migrant percentages worldwide? FiveThirtyEight put an interesting list together using United Nations data showing that 3.2 percent of the world's population live in a country other than the one in which they were born. When protectorates and unincorporated territories like the Falkland Islands and Macau are excluded from the list, the top 10 is led by the Vatican City. Nobody is born in the the tiny city state, making it the country with the highest migrant percentage worldwide.
Building your own professional website is as easy as 1.2.3
Click on photo to enlarge :

Pregnancies that end in miscarriage or abortion do not increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer

A study coordinated by Cancer Research UK scientists and published in The Lancet1 has shown that pregnancies that end in miscarriage or abortion do not increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer later in life.
Building your own professional website is as easy as 1.2.3

An international collaboration, led by a team in Oxford, re-analysed original information from 53 epidemiological studies from 16 countries, including previously unpublished data.
The research included 44,000 breast cancer patients who took part in studies where any history of abortion had been recorded before their cancer was diagnosed.
The researchers compared the chances of developing breast cancer in women with and without any record of having had an abortion. This comparison gives the 'relative risk', where a value of 1.0 or less means no adverse effect on the risk of developing breast cancer. The relative risk of breast cancer for women who have had a miscarriage is 0.98. For women who have had an induced abortion the relative risk of breast cancer is 0.93.
Professor Valerie Beral, Director of the Cancer Research UK's Epidemiology Unit at the University of Oxford, says: "This review of the worldwide evidence has shown that pregnancies that end in an abortion do not increase a woman's chances of developing breast cancer later in life."
The group also reviewed data on a further 39,000 breast cancer patients who took part in a less reliable type of study. In these other studies women were questioned after their diagnosis of breast cancer about whether they had ever had an abortion. Their replies were then compared with those from women who did not have breast cancer.
But, it is possible that women with breast cancer would be more likely than other women to report any induced abortions that they have actually had.
For this reason such studies could, and on average did, produce misleading results that were not compatible with the other, more reliable studies.

Professor Sir Richard Peto, of Oxford University, says: "Studies can give misleading results if women are asked about previous induced abortions only after they are diagnosed with breast cancer. This may be because, on average, women with breast cancer are more likely than other women to disclose any prior abortions."
Professor Sir Richard Doll, also of the University of Oxford, says: "Some previous reviews on abortion and breast cancer have reached mistaken conclusions because they mixed together data from reliable and unreliable types of study.
"This is the first time that so much information has been brought together and the findings are more reliable than ever before."
  1. Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer "Breast cancer and abortion: collaborative reanalysis of data from 53 epidemiological studies, including 83000 women with breast cancer from 16 countries." The Lancet363 pp.1007-16

First evidence of farming in Mideast 23,000 years ago

Until now, researchers believed farming was "invented" some 12,000 years ago in the Cradle of Civilization -- Iraq, the Levant, parts of Turkey and Iran -- an area that was home to some of the earliest known human civilizations.

See how your name and birth date affects your life course 

A new discovery by an international collaboration of researchers from Tel Aviv University, Harvard University, Bar-Ilan University, and the University of Haifa offers the first evidence that trial plant cultivation began far earlier -- some 23,000 years ago.

Building your own professional website is as easy as 1.2.3

The study focuses on the discovery of the first weed species at the site of a sedentary human camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was published in PLOS ONE and led by Prof. Ehud Weiss of Bar-Ilan University in collaboration with Prof. Marcelo Sternberg of the Department of Molecular Biology and Ecology of Plants at TAU's Faculty of Life Sciences and Prof. Ofer Bar-Yosef of Harvard University, among other colleagues.

"While full-scale agriculture did not develop until much later, our study shows that trial cultivation began far earlier than previously believed, and gives us reason to rethink our ancestors' capabilities," said Prof. Sternberg. "Those early ancestors were more clever and more skilled than we knew."

Evidence among the weeds

Although weeds are considered a threat or nuisance in farming, their presence at the site of the Ohalo II people's camp revealed the earliest signs of trial plant cultivation -- some 11 millennia earlier than conventional ideas about the onset of agriculture.

The plant material was found at the site of the Ohalo II people, who were fisher hunter-gatherers and established a sedentary human camp. The site was unusually well preserved, having been charred, covered by lake sediment, and sealed in low-oxygen conditions -- ideal for the preservation of plant material. The researchers examined the weed species for morphological signs of domestic-type cereals and harvesting tools, although their very presence is evidence itself of early farming.

"This uniquely preserved site is one of the best archaeological examples worldwide of the hunter-gatherers' way of life," said Prof. Sternberg. "It was possible to recover an extensive amount of information on the site and its inhabitants."

"Because weeds thrive in cultivated fields and disturbed soils, a significant presence of weeds in archaeobotanical assemblages retrieved from Neolithic sites and settlements of later age is widely considered an indicator of systematic cultivation," according to the study.

Early gatherers

The site bears the remains of six shelters and a particularly rich assemblage of plants. Upon retrieving and examining approximately 150,000 plant specimens, the researchers determined that early humans there had gathered over 140 species of plants. These included 13 known weeds mixed with edible cereals, such as wild emmer, wild barley, and wild oats.

The researchers found a grinding slab -- a stone tool with which cereal starch granules were extracted -- as well as a distribution of seeds around this tool, reflecting that the cereal grains were processed for consumption. The large number of cereals showing specific kinds of scars on their seeds indicate the likelihood of those cereals growing in fields, and the presence of sickle blades indicates that these humans deliberately planned the harvest of cereal.

The new study offers evidence that early humans clearly functioned with a basic knowledge of agriculture and, perhaps more importantly, exhibited foresight and extensive agricultural planning far earlier than previously believed.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Mediterranean lifestyle may decrease cardiovascular disease by lowering blood triglycerides

Cardiovascular disease remains the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. Evidence suggests that elevated levels of triglycerides (fats) in the blood after meals, known as postprandial lipemia (PPL), is associated with an increased risk for hardening of the arteries -- a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Numerous population studies have associated the Mediterranean lifestyle -- marked by high intake of monounsaturated fats (MUFAs), fiber, legumes, dairy and fish; moderate alcohol intake; and increased amounts of better quality sleep -- with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Building your own professional website is as easy as 1.2.3

Now, a new review article published in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism explores the effects of the "ingredients" of Mediterranean lifestyle as a whole, specifically on PPL.

Through an extensive review of existing research on the Mediterranean lifestyle, the authors found that many of its features do contribute to positive effects on cardiovascular health. "It seems that most components of the Mediterranean lifestyle may reduce PPL, an important CVD risk factor, with the exception of wine. Although olive oil is a main component of this pattern, preliminary results of studies of several other components -- such as fish, legumes, herbs and physical activity -- are very promising," the researchers wrote. "Studies are needed in order to investigate whether the effect of the Mediterranean lifestyle and its components on PPL mediate the overall well-established protective role of this lifestyle."

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by American Physiological Society (APS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

1 in 3 women has an abortion, and 95% don't regret it

More than half of women were using contraception when they became pregnant, and 47,000 women die every year as a result of the complications of unsafe abortions where it's illegal.

See how your name and birth date affects your life course 

Women in mainland Britain have had access to safe legal abortion since the Abortion Act was introduced in 1967, yet the facts around it can remain hazy and unclear.
Discerning fact from fiction is a minefield, exacerbated by anti-choice groups who spread medically-inaccurate propaganda linking abortion to everything from breast cancer and infertilityto psychological trauma.
Stories posted on social media app Whisper are helping set the record straight, with women around the world finding the confidence to speak anonymously about their lack of regret and reaffirming their confidence in making the right decision.
A new study from the US has also shown that 95% of women don’t regret having an abortion.

Bortion in mainland Britain can be accessed for free through the NHS or paid for privately. It is carried out during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy after two doctors have signed agreeing that the case meets certain criteria, such as the risk to the physical or mental health of either the woman or the child if the pregnancy were to continue. The majority of doctors have firmly rejected any calls to reduce this 24 week limit because a number of serious abnormalities cannot be detected until the 20-week scan.
But not all women around the world enjoy the same rights and access. Even just across the water in Northern Ireland where regulation is still underpinned by the nineteenth century ‘Offences against the Person Act’, abortion outside very limited conditions, carries the harshest criminal penalty in Europe—life imprisonment for the woman and anyone assisting her.

Women have abortions for many different reasons.

The reasons women choose to have abortions vary widely and are deeply personal, as counsellors on our 24hr confidential helpline One Call (0345 300 8090) will attest. Many are already mums, some are devoutly religious and some have been advised to terminate a much-wanted pregnancy for medical reasons or severe foetal abnormalities. Sadly today, despite the fact that one in three women will have an abortion, hardly anyone talks about the issue. Instead, it is labelled as a ‘problem’ for the ‘reckless and feckless’, ignoring the fact that women having abortions are of all ages and backgrounds, and from every walk of life.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How music training alters the teenage brain

Music training, begun as late as high school, may help improve the teenage brain's responses to sound and sharpen hearing and language skills, suggests a new Northwestern University study.
The research, to be published the week of July 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), indicates that music instruction helps enhance skills that are critical for academic success.

See how your name and birth date affects your life course 

The gains were seen during group music classes included in the schools' curriculum, suggesting in-school training accelerates neurodevelopment. "While music programs are often the first to be cut when the school budget is tight, these results highlight music's place in the high school curriculum," said Nina Kraus, senior study author and director of Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at the School of Communication.

Building your own professional website is as easy as 1.2.3

"Although learning to play music does not teach skills that seem directly relevant to most careers, the results suggest that music may engender what educators refer to as 'learning to learn,'" Kraus added.
Kraus and colleagues recruited 40 Chicago-area high school freshmen in a study that began shortly before school started. They followed these children longitudinally until their senior year.

Nearly half the students had enrolled in band classes, which involved two to three hours a week of instrumental group music instruction in school. The rest had enrolled in junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC), which emphasized fitness exercises during a comparable period. Both groups attended the same schools in low-income neighborhoods.

Electrode recordings at the start of the study and three years later revealed that the music group showed more rapid maturation in the brain's response to sound. Moreover, they demonstrated prolonged heightened brain sensitivity to sound details.All participants improved in language skills tied to sound-structure awareness, but the improvement was greater for those in music classes, compared with the ROTC group.

According to the authors, high school music training -- increasingly disfavored due to funding shortfalls -- might hone brain development and improve language skills. The stable processing of sound details, important for language skills, is known to be diminished in children raised in poverty, raising the possibility that music education may offset this negative influence on sound processing.

"Our results support the notion that the adolescent brain remains receptive to training, underscoring the importance of enrichment during the teenage years," the authors wrote.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Northwestern University. The original item was written by Julie Deardorff. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

THE domain at THE price! $.99 .Com Domains from GoDaddy!

The Countries With The Biggest Nuclear Arsenals‏

According to ican, nine countries across the world possess over 15,000 nuclear weapons with both the US and Russia maintaining an estimated 1,800 of them on high-alert status. With 7,500 warheads, Russia has the biggest nuclear arsenal worldwide, followed closely by the US with 7,200.

See how your name and birth date affects your life course 

France rounds off the top three with 300 warheads. According to ican, Israel is ambiguous about its nuclear capabilities, neither confirming nor denying it possesses such weapons. However, estimates suggest it has approximately 80 warheads. North Korea is believed to have fewer than ten nuclear weapons, though it is not clear if it has developed the capability to deliver them.

Building your own professional website is as easy as 1.2.3

THE domain at THE price! $.99 .Com Domains from GoDaddy!

Monday, July 20, 2015

New Dinosaur With 'Huge Wings' Found In China

Fossil remains of a new species of feathered dinosaur that had wings "just like an eagle or a vulture" have been found in China. Palaeontologists said it was a close cousin of the Velociraptor, the dinosaur that features heavily in Jurassic Park. While larger feathered dinosaurs have been identified, none have been found to have such complicated wings, with dense feathers covering the wings and tail.

Scientists from the University of Edinburgh and the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences described the near-complete skeleton as being "remarkably well preserved".
The creature belonged to a family of feathered carnivores that lived about 125 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period. Called Zhenyuanlong suni, the species grew to more than 5ft in length and probably could not fly.

See how your name and birth date affects your life course 

Its wings were very short compared with other dinosaurs in the same family and consisted of multiple layers of large feathers that were complex structures made up of fine branches stemming from a central shaft. Dr Steve Brusatte, a co-author of the study from the University of Edinburgh, said: "This new dinosaur is one of the closest cousins of Velociraptor, but it looks just like a bird.

"It's a dinosaur with huge wings made up of quill pen feathers, just like an eagle or a vulture.
"The movies have it wrong - this is what Velociraptor would have looked like too." Study lead Professor Junchang Lu, of the Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, who led the study, said: "The western part of Liaoning Province in China is one of the most famous places in the world for finding dinosaurs.

"The first feathered dinosaurs were found here and now our discovery of Zhenyuanlong indicates that there is an even higher diversity of feathered dinosaurs than we thought.

"It's amazing that new feathered dinosaurs are still being found."

The study is published in the journal Scientific Reports.

THE domain at THE price! $.99 .Com Domains from GoDaddy!

Human heart-on-a-chip screens drugs for potential benefit, harm

A key to the researchers' technique is a miniature pattern to allow cells to relate to each other in physiologically related ways and establish heart-like interactions in culture. The team, led by Kevin Healy, Ph.D., professor of bioengineering at UC Berkeley, used stem cells generated from a human donor's skin. These adult stem cells are genetically reprogrammed to regain their capacity to become a variety of cell types.
Earlier this year, members of Healy's team reported a similar technique, but one that used already-transformed cardiac cells that mimicked beating cardiac tissue. This new study started with undifferentiated stem cells, which the researchers placed onto the patterned surface that constrained their cell colony shape. Fifteen days after being deposited onto the micro-pattern, cells at the perimeter responded to biomechanical stress and tension, and developed into myofibroblasts, a type of cell with characteristics of connective tissue and muscle. Cells in the interior became beating cardiac muscle cells. Healy and his team were surprised to observe that the stem cells had self organized.
See how your name and birth date affects your life course  "Typically, those cells stay in a 2D format or a multilayer format, but like stacked pancakes," he said. "This is totally different -- they create a microchamber." The new 3D configuration of cells organized into chambers is akin to the pump mechanism of the human heart. In contrast to the outer cells, those in the center expressed proteins for cell regulators of heart tissue development. The researchers then used the new model to assess its potential as a drug screen by exposing the cardiac tissue to thalidomide, a medication known to cause heart defects. They observed that the chamber development was impaired and that the tissue beat at a reduced rate compared with unexposed tissue. "We believe it is the first example illustrating the process of a developing human heart chamber in vitro," Healy said, adding that observations during the 15-day period of microchamber development, "could help us quickly screen for drugs likely to generate cardiac birth defects, and guide decisions about which drugs are dangerous during pregnancy." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises pregnant women to be particularly careful about weighing the risks and benefits of taking medicines, noting that not all medicines are safe to take during pregnancy. Even everyday medicines, such as some over-the-counter pain relievers, can be unhealthy for pregnant women and the fetus at certain points during a pregnancy. Women should always consult a health care professional before stopping or starting a medicine while pregnant or while trying to get pregnant. "Dr. Healey and his team have shown us a great example of the power of these microphysiological systems," said Rosemarie Hunziker, Ph.D., director of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). "By providing the essential components of what makes the tissues work, they can repeat that pattern over and over. Then they can use these similar elements to test many different drug combinations and scenarios. It's an important way to look at a large range of possible drug effects and should help streamline drug development." Their technique is not limited to heart tissue modeling and could potentially be used for other organ types. With further development, such human cell and tissue models could be a possible alternative to animal-based drug screening. Use of human cells and tissue in these micro systems would circumvent the limitations in animal drug testing posed by the biological differences between humans and animals. Healy recently received funding from the NIBIB to refine the cardiac tissue model for drug screening. His team will investigate the biophysical and biochemical conditions that act on developing cells to cause their transition into distinct cell types, such as heart-wall versus interior pulsating cells. The researchers will use healthy and diseased cardiac tissue models in their studies. "If we are successful in completing our aims, this model of early heart development could vastly improve the current approach to screening drugs for safety and pregnancy classification," Healy said. "We also anticipate it would be useful for identifying the genetic and environmental bases of cardiac diseases commonly associated with heart development." In addition to NIBIB, the researchers received funding for their study from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. The NIBIB-funded National Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis and Surface Analysis Center at the University of Washington, Seattle, performed two types of confirmatory imaging analysis of the researchers' patterned plate surfaces. Story Source:
The above post is reprinted from materials provided by National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.

A research team funded by the National Institutes of Health has generated a novel system for growing cardiac tissue from undifferentiated stem cells on a culture plate. This heart on a chip is a miniature physiologic system that could be used to model early heart development and screen drugs prescribed during pregnancy. Researchers from the University of California (UC) Berkeley; the Gladstone Institutes, in San Francisco; and UC San Francisco, reported their work in the July 14, 2015, online issue of Nature Communications.
THE domain at THE price! $.99 .Com Domains from GoDaddy!

Researchers discover a possible reason for drug resistance in breast tumors

HER2 membrane proteins play a special role in certain types of breast cancer: amplified levels of HER2 drive unrestricted cell growth. HER2-tailored antibody-based therapeutics aim to prevent cancer cell growth. However, two-thirds of HER2 positive breast cancer patients develop resistance against HER2-targeting drugs. The reason for this is not yet understood. Researchers now found out, that HER2 dimers appeared to be absent from a small sub-population of resting SKBR3 breast cancer cells. This small subpopulation may have self-renewing properties that are resistant to HER2-antibody therapy and thus able to seed new tumor growth.

For their studies researchers from the INM -- Leibniz-Institute for New Materials, Saarbrücken and from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg used a new electron microscopy method called Liquid STEM. It allows nanoscale studies of intact cells in their native liquid environment.

Build your own free professional website easy as 123 - free domain

The scientists have studied the local variations of HER2 membrane protein and of its dimers. HER2 is a member of the human epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) family. These family members trigger cell growth signals, when two of the membrane proteins are bound into a protein complex (dimerization). This happens usually after the binding of a small protein, the epidermal growth factor, which circulates in the blood stream and serves as communicator to transmit signals that regulate cell growth. HER2 is special in the sense that it does not need the growth factor protein in order to form dimers. It is thus capable of triggering cell growth without external regulation. In certain types of breast cancer, amplified levels of HER2 and its dimerization are known to drive unrestricted cell growth. HER2-tailored antibody-based therapeutics entered clinical practice more than a decade ago. These drugs aim to prevent cell growth triggered by HER2 homo- and/or heterodimerization.

"We found out, that HER2 dimers appeared to be absent from a small sub-population of resting SKBR3 cells. Could such cells survive the therapy and then develop into a drug resistant cancer at a later stage? It thus seems to be of key significance to study this sub-population of cells with exceptional phenotype," says Niels de Jonge, head of the Innovative Electron Microscopy group.

See how your name and birth date affects your life course 

HER2 dimerization processes were thus far mostly studied on the basis of cell population averages, for example, with biochemical methods using pooled cell material, and information about the localization of HER2 dimerization was lacking. Therefore, the researchers around de Jonge pioneered the electron microscopy method Liquid STEM to imaging these receptors on cancer cells. The cells were examined on a microchip placed in the electron microscope, and remained intact and in liquid. "Specimens cannot be studied in liquid with traditional electron microscopy," explains Professor de Jonge. "Cells are typically studied in dry state via thin sectioning of solid dried plastic embedded or frozen material. The role of HER proteins is a "hot" topic in cancer research but despite large research efforts using a wide range of techniques over the past decades this important information was not unveiled before. Our novel findings were obtained as a direct consequence of the high spatial resolution of Liquid STEM combined with its capability to study many intact cells in liquid," says de Jonge.

Story Source: The above post is reprinted from materials provided by INM -Leibniz Insitute for New Materials.

THE domain at THE price! $.99 .Com Domains from GoDaddy!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The U.S. Presidential Candidates Raising The Most Money‏

Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz are the three U.S. presidential candidates who raised the most money by the end of June. According to the Federal Election Commission, backers pumped $230 million into those three campaigns.

Build your own free professional website easy as 123 - free domain

The candidates with the strongest family connections to the White House are in first and second place. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush, whose father and brother are ex-presidents, comes first with $114.4 million. Former first lady Hillary Clinton is in second position, having raised $63.1 million. Ted Cruz rounds off the top three with $52.3 million.

THE domain at THE price! $.99 .Com Domains from GoDaddy!

Amateur astronomers spot one in a billion star

The Gaia satellite has discovered a unique binary system where one star is 'eating' the other, but neither star has any hydrogen, the most common element in the Universe. The system could be an important tool for understanding how binary stars might explode at the end of their lives.

An international team of researchers, with the assistance of amateur astronomers, have discovered a unique binary star system: the first known such system where one star completely eclipses the other. It is a type of two-star system known as a Cataclysmic Variable, where one super dense white dwarf star is stealing gas from its companion star, effectively 'cannibalising' it.

Build your own free professional website easy as 123 - free domain

The system could also be an important laboratory for studying ultra-bright supernova explosions, which are a vital tool for measuring the expansion of the Universe. Details of the new research will be published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

The system, named Gaia14aae, is located about 730 light years away in the Draco constellation. It was discovered by the European Space Agency's Gaia satellite in August 2014 when it suddenly became five times brighter over the course of a single day.

Astronomers led by the University of Cambridge analysed the information from Gaia and determined that the sudden outburst was due to the fact that the white dwarf -- which is so dense that a teaspoonful of material from it would weigh as much as an elephant -- is devouring its larger companion.

Additional observations of the system made by the Center for Backyard Astrophysics (CBA), a collaboration of amateur and professional astronomers, found that the system is a rare eclipsing binary, where one star passes directly in front of the other, completely blocking it out when viewed from Earth. The two stars are tightly orbiting each other, so a total eclipse occurs roughly every 50 minutes.

"It's rare to see a binary system so well-aligned" said Dr Heather Campbell of Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy, who led the follow-up campaign for Gaia14aae. "Because of this, we can measure the system with great precision in order to figure out what these systems are made of and how they evolved. It's a fascinating system -- there's a lot to be learned from it."

Using spectroscopy from the William Herschel Telescope in the Canary Islands, Campbell and her colleagues found that Gaia14aae contains large amounts of helium, but no hydrogen, which is highly unusual as hydrogen is the most common element in the Universe. The lack of hydrogen allowed them to classify Gaia14aae as a very rare type of system known as an AM Canum Venaticorum (AM CVn), a type of Cataclysmic Variable system where both stars have lost all of their hydrogen. This is the first known AM CVn system where one star totally eclipses the other.

"It's really cool that the first time that one of these systems was discovered to have one star completely eclipsing the other, that it was amateur astronomers who made the discovery and alerted us," said Campbell. "This really highlights the vital contribution that amateur astronomers make to cutting edge scientific research."

AM CVn systems consist of a small and hot white dwarf star which is devouring its larger companion. The gravitational effects from the hot and superdense white dwarf are so strong that it has forced the companion star to swell up like a massive balloon and move towards it.

The companion star is about 125 times the volume of our sun, and towers over the tiny white dwarf, which is about the size of the Earth -- this is similar to comparing a hot air balloon and a marble. However, the companion star is lightweight, weighing in at only one percent of the white dwarf's mass.

AM CVn systems are prized by astronomers, as they could hold the key to one of the greatest mysteries in modern astrophysics: what causes Ia supernova explosions? This type of supernova, which occurs in binary systems, is important in astrophysics as their extreme brightness makes them an important tool to measure the expansion of the Universe.

In the case of Gaia14aae, it's not known whether the two stars will collide and cause a supernova explosion, or whether the white dwarf will completely devour its companion first.

"Every now and then, these sorts of binary systems may explode as supernovae, so studying Gaia14aae helps us understand the brightest explosions in the Universe," said Dr Morgan Fraser of the Institute of Astronomy.

"This is an exquisite system: a very rare type of binary system in which the component stars complete orbits faster than the minute hand of a clock, oriented so that one eclipses the other," said Professor Tom Marsh of the University of Warwick. "We will be able to measure their sizes and masses to a higher accuracy than any similar system; it whets the appetite for the many new discoveries I expect from the Gaia satellite."

"This is an awesome first catch for Gaia, but we want it to be the first of many," said the Institute of Astronomy's Dr Simon Hodgkin, who is leading the search for more transients in Gaia data. "Gaia has already found hundreds of transients in its first few months of operation, and we know there are many more out there for us to find."

Gaia's mission, funded by the European Space Agency and involving scientists from across Europe, is to make the largest, most precise, three-dimensional map of the Milky Way ever attempted. During its five-year mission, which began in late 2013, Gaia's billion-pixel camera will detect and very accurately measure the motion of stars in their orbit around the centre of the galaxy. It will observe each of the billion stars about a hundred times, helping us to understand the origin and evolution of the Milky Way.

The research was supported by ESA Gaia, DPAC, and the DPAC Photometric Science Alerts Team. The DPAC is funded by national institutions, in particular the institutions participating in the Gaia Multilateral Agreement.

The follow-up campaign used several professional telescopes, including those located in the Canary Islands, where observing time was made available through the International Time Program.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Cambridge.

THE domain at THE price! $.99 .Com Domains from GoDaddy!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Exercise can improve brain function in older adults

New research conducted at the University of Kansas Medical Center indicates that older adults can improve brain function by raising their fitness level.

Jeffrey Burns, M.D., professor of neurology and co-director of the KU Alzheimer's Disease Center, led a six-month trial conducted with healthy adults ages 65 and older who showed no signs of cognitive decline. The results of the study were published on July 9 in the journal PLOS ONE.

The randomized controlled trial attempted to determine the ideal amount of exercise necessary to achieve benefits to the brain. Trial participants were placed in a control group that did not have monitored exercise, or they were put into one of three other groups. One group moderately exercised for the recommended amount of 150 minutes per week, a second exercised for 75 minutes per week, and a third group exercised for 225 minutes per week.

All groups who exercised saw some benefit, and those who exercised more saw more benefits, particularly in improved visual-spatial processing -- the ability to perceive where objects are in space and how far apart they are from each other. Participants who exercised also showed an increase in their overall attention levels and ability to focus.

"Basically, the more exercise you did, the more benefit to the brain you saw," Burns said. "Any aerobic exercise was good, and more is better."

The research indicated that the intensity of the exercise appeared to matter more than the duration.

"For improved brain function, the results suggest that it's not enough just to exercise more," said Eric Vidoni, PT, Ph.D., research associate professor of neurology at KU Medical Center and a lead author of the journal article. "You have to do it in a way that bumps up your overall fitness level."

Marjorie Troeh, of Independence, Mo., participated in the trial. Troeh, 80, was placed in the lowest level of exercise group. She said she signed up for the study in part to motivate herself to exercise more.

"I love exercising my mind, but I hate exercising my body," she said, adding that the findings about the exercise being linked to better brain function were new to her. "I knew about the evidence that said exercise was good for endurance and agility, but I really didn't make any connection with that and brain health."

Troeh, who lives an independent living facility, said she was glad to have the opportunity to contribute to the fight against Alzheimer's by participating in a trial, as she had a grandmother and an aunt who battled the disease.

"I'm surrounded by people who face memory problems," she said. "I'm really anxious to do anything I can to further knowledge in this area."

Scientists at the KU Alzheimer's Disease Center have focused on the relationship between exercise and brain metabolism for years and are conducting a number of research studies on how exercise may help prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's.

THE domain at THE price! $.99 .Com Domains from GoDaddy!

Does heart disease begin in childhood?

Are the first signs that someone is at risk of developing cardiovascular disease detectable in toddlers and preschoolers?

There's evidence that low vitamin D levels in adults are linked to cardiovascular disease, as well as other health issues such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes. But that link hadn't been studied in children. Researchers in Toronto examined vitamin D levels in children ages one to five and the non HDL- cholesterol level in their blood, a marker of cardiovascular health. (Non-HDL cholesterol is basically all of a person's cholesterol minus his or her HDL or good cholesterol.)

In a study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, they found a "statistically significant association" between higher vitamin D levels and lower non-HDL cholesterol, even after taking into account such things as Body Mass Index, consumption of cow's milk and levels pf physical activity.

Build your own free professional website easy as 123 - free domain

Maybe the factors that lead to cardiovascular disease start in early childhood," said Dr. Jonathan Maguire, an author on the paper and a pediatrician and researcher at St. Michael's Hospital. "If vitamin D is associated with cholesterol in early childhood, this may provide an opportunity for early life interventions to reduce cardiovascular risk."

For this study, researchers took blood samples from 1,961 children ages one to five years attending well-child visits. All were enrolled in the Applied Research Group for Kids (TARGet Kids!), collaboration between children's doctors and researchers from St. Michael's Hospital and The Hospital for Sick Children. The program follows children from birth with the aim of preventing common problems in the early years and understanding their impact on health and disease later in life.

Children in the study had a mean daily cow's milk intake of 452 millilitres, or just under 2 cups, -- the main dietary source of vitamin D -- and 56 per cent of them regularly consumed a vitamin D supplement.

THE domain at THE price! $.99 .Com Domains from GoDaddy!

Stem cells move one step closer to cure for genetic diseases

Healthy brain, muscle, eye and heart cells would improve the lives of tens of thousands of people around the world with debilitating mitochondrial diseases. Now, researchers at the Salk Institute have gotten one step closer to making such cures a reality: they've turned cells from patients into healthy, mutation-free stem cells that can then become any cell type. The new approach is described July 15, 2015 in Nature.

"Right now, there are no cures for mitochondrial diseases," says senior author Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, professor in Salk's Gene Expression Laboratory. "Very recently, we've developed ways to prevent these diseases, so it was natural to next ask how we could treat them."
Mitochondrial diseases are caused by any of about 200 mutations that affect the genes of mitochondria, tiny powerhouses inside nearly every cell of the body. Depending on the affected genes and cell types, the diseases can cause muscle weakness, liver disease, diabetes, seizures, developmental delays or vision problems. Existing therapies aim to ease the symptoms or slow the progression of the diseases, but can't entirely cure them.

In their new work, Belmonte and collaborators from around the world collected skin samples from patients with mitochondrial encephalomyopathy or Leigh Syndrome, both severe disorders that affect the brain and muscles.

The teams began by using current standard protocols to derive pluripotent stem cells from the skin cells, a process that resets the cells to their most basic state.

"During the process of stem cell generation, you spontaneously get different types of clones," says Alejandro Ocampo, a research associate in Izpisua Belmonte's lab and one of the authors of the new paper. If the patient cells have an initial mix of healthy and diseased mitochondria, healthy and diseased stem cells will be generated. Then, the stem cells with healthy mitochondria can be picked out.

For some patients, though, this straightforward approach doesn't work; their cells don't have enough--or any--healthy mitochondria to start with.

So the team came up with a second approach: move the nucleus of the patient's skin cells, which contains most of their genes, into a donor egg cell with healthy mitochondria. Then, use the new egg cell to generate pluripotent stem cells. When the researchers did this, they found the healthy mitochondria took over, and healthy, genetically similar cells from the patient were successfully generated.

"In either case, the idea is that we have healthy stem cells, and we know how to convert pluripotent stem cells into different cell types," says Jun Wu, an author of the paper and research associate in Izpisua Belmonte's lab. "They have the potential to give rise to every cell type in the body."

For now, that means that researchers can use the healthy cells to generate heart, brain, muscle or eye cells from the mutation-free stem cells. But methods to make those cells fully mature and functional and transplant them into patients are still under development.

The new method will also be a boon to basic research, Izpisua Belmonte adds. Scientists have long struggled to understand why different organs and tissues are affected so differently by mitochondrial mutations. By comparing stem cells with mitochondrial mutations with healthy ones, and coaxing each to develop into different cell types, they can study this aspect of mitochondrial diseases in more detail.

Other researchers on the study were Li Ma of the Salk Institute; Hong Ma, Riffat Ahmed, Eunju Kang, Yeonmi Lee, Tomonari Hayama, Ying Li Crystal Van Dyken, Nuria Marti Gutierrez, Rebecca Tippner-Hedges, Amy Koski, Nargiz Mitalipov, Paula Amato, Don P. Wolf, and Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health & Science University; Clifford D. L. Folmes, and Andre Terzic of the Mayo Clinic; Robert Morey, Sergio Mora-Castilla, and Louise C. Laurent of the University of California, San Diego; Joanna Poulton of the University of Oxford; and Xinjian Wang and Taosheng Huang of Cincinnati Children's Hospital.

The work was supported by the G. Harold and Leila Y. Mathers Charitable Foundation and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

Discovery on how HIV escapes the body's antiviral responses

A Canadian research team at the IRCM in Montreal, led by molecular virologist Eric A. Cohen, PhD, made a significant discovery on how HIV escapes the body's antiviral responses. The team uncovered how an HIV viral protein known as Vpu tricks the immune system by using its own regulatory process to evade the host's first line of defence. This breakthrough was published in the scientific journal PLOS Pathogens and will be presented at the upcoming IAS 2015 conference in Vancouver. The findings pave the way for future HIV prevention or cure strategies.

The study's goal was to determine how HIV manages to compromise antiviral responses in the initial period of infection, also called the acute infection stage, during which the virus establishes itself in the body. The acute infection is considered a critical period in determining the complexity, extent and progression of the disease. It is also during this stage that HIV establishes latent infection in long-lasting cellular reservoirs. These viral reservoirs, which harbour the virus out of sight from the immune system and antiviral drugs, represent the primary barrier to a cure.

"An important component in this process is a group of proteins collectively called type 1 Interferons, which are the immune system's first line of defence against viral infections and are known to have a beneficial role in the early stages of HIV infection," says Dr. Cohen, Director of the Human Retrovirology research unit at the IRCM. "The problem is that HIV has developed mechanisms to suppress the Interferon response and, until now, little was known about how this was achieved."

Most of the Interferon is produced by a very small population of immune cells called pDCs (plasmacytoid dendritic cells), responsible for providing immediate defence against infections. PDCs patrol the body to detect invaders and, when they recognize the presence of a pathogen, they secrete Interferon. The Interferon then triggers a large array of defence mechanisms in nearby cells, creating an antiviral state that prevents the dissemination and, ultimately, the expansion of the virus.

"When pDCs encounter HIV-infected cells, the production of Interferon is regulated by a protein located on the infected cell's surface called BST2," explains Mariana Bego, PhD, first author of the study and research associate in Dr. Cohen's laboratory. "BST2 has the ability to bind to and activate a receptor called ILT7, found on the surface of pDCs, which, in turns, sends a signal that suppresses the production of Interferon and halts its defensive functions. Interestingly, BST2 is also responsible for restricting HIV production by trapping the virus at the cell surface before it can exit infected cells and disseminate. However, HIV uses the viral protein Vpu to counteract BST2 antiviral activity."

"With this study, we uncovered a unique mechanism whereby HIV exploits the regulatory process between BST2 and ILT7 to limit the body's antiviral response, which allows the virus to spread and leads to persistent infection," adds Dr. Bego. "We found that HIV, through Vpu, takes advantage of the role played by BST2 by maintaining its ability to activate ILT7 and limit the production of Interferon, all the while counteracting its direct antiviral activity on HIV production."

"The hope for a definitive cure and an effective vaccine has been frustrated by HIV's endless propensity to subvert the host's defences and persist in small populations of long-lasting reservoirs despite antiretroviral therapy," describes Dr. Cohen, who also leads CanCURE, a team of leading Canadian researchers working towards an HIV cure. "Our findings can provide tools to enhance antiviral responses during the early stages of infection. By blocking Vpu's action, we could prevent early viral expansion and dissemination, while also allowing pDCs to trigger effective antiviral responses. We believe that such interventions during primary infection have the potential to limit the establishment and complexity of viral reservoirs, a condition that seems required to achieve a sustained HIV remission."

"The discovery by Drs. Bego and Cohen, which explains how the virus can't be held down or wiped out during early periods of infection, will bring us closer to ending HIV/AIDS," says Robert Reinhard, CanCURE Community Liaison. "By filling an important gap in knowledge, this new study will advance research for an HIV cure."

THE domain at THE price! $.99 .Com Domains from GoDaddy!

Two chemical compounds that effectively stop the growth of brain cancer cells and breast tumors

Researchers have discovered two chemical compounds that effectively stop the growth of brain cancer cells and breast tumors, opening the way for potential new drugs to be developed.

"It is particularly encouraging for brain tumor patients, who do not currently have effective treatment options besides surgery," said Dr. James Turkson, PhD, Chief Academic Lead of the University of Hawai'i Cancer Center and Director of the Natural Products and Experimental Therapeutics Program. "The targeted treatments are less toxic and therefore will give cancer patients a better quality of life when both compounds are developed as drugs."

About 15,320 people die from brain cancer each year nationwide. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women; about 40,931 die from the disease each year.

In a study published in the journal Cancer Research, Turkson and collaborator Marcus Tius, PhD, MS, Director of Cancer Biochemistry at the UH Cancer Center, examined compounds that inhibit Stat3, a protein implicated in a variety of cancers that include brain and breast cancers.

The two chemical compounds, a hydroxamic acid-based inhibitor (SH5-07), and a benzoic acid-based inhibitor (SH4-54) designed at the UH Cancer Center stopped the growth of brain and breast cancer cells by blocking a certain function of the Stat3 protein.

When the Stat3 protein, which regulates genes, goes haywire and no longer functions normally, it drives cells to continue growing and makes tumor cells multiply and spread. The two compounds stop the protein from promoting cancer cells to grow, thus stopping the tumors from growing.

"Targeted therapies are based on understanding what is driving the cancer and how new drugs are designed to attack those cancer causing pathways," said Turkson. "We would like to advance these studies to turn the chemical compounds into new anti-cancer drugs to help patients potentially have better survival chances."

THE domain at THE price! $.99 .Com Domains from GoDaddy!

Environmental changes impacting crops, pollinators could harm millions

Changing environmental conditions around the globe caused by human activity could negatively impact the health of millions of people by altering the amount and quality of key crops, according to two new studies from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. One study found that decreasing numbers of food pollinators such as bees--falling in part due to pesticide use and destruction of habitats--could lead to declines in nutrient-rich crops that have been linked with staving off disease. A second study found that increasing levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) could lead to lower levels of zinc in food and thus to greatly expanded zinc deficiency.

The study about pollinators will appear in The Lancet; the study about zinc will appear in Lancet Global Health. Both studies will be published July 16, 2015 in conjunction with the Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health report, Safeguarding Human Health in the Anthropocene Epoch, which broadly assesses the scale of the threats to health, development, and civilization posed by the multiplicity of environmental changes brought on by human activity.

"This is the first time that the global health community has come out in a concerted way to report that we are in real danger of undermining the core ecological systems that support human health," said Samuel Myers, senior research scientist in the Harvard Chan School's Department of Environmental Health, who is senior author of the pollinator study and lead author of the zinc study. Myers, a Commissioner and co-author of the report, will speak at a panel on environmental change, its drivers, and health impacts at a Planetary Health Commission launch event on July 16 at the Rockefeller Foundation in New York City.

"All of human civilization has taken place during a very stable set of biophysical conditions, but we are now changing those conditions at a rate that's never been seen before," Myers explained. "Whether we're talking about land use, deforestation, degradation of global fisheries, disruption of the climate system, biodiversity loss, appropriation of fresh water, changes to aquatic systems--all of the changes are profound and they're accelerating, and they represent a significant challenge to global health."

Pollinators and nutrient-rich crops

In the study of pollinators, Myers and his colleagues looked at people's dietary intake data for 224 types of food in 156 countries around the globe to quantify total per capita intake of vitamin A, folate, fruits, vegetables, and nuts and seeds under various pollinator decline scenarios. They then estimated the potential health impacts of declines in pollinators--mostly bees and other insects.

Pollinators play a key role in roughly 35% of global food production and are directly responsible for up to 40% of the world's supply of micronutrients such as vitamin A and folate, which are vital for children and pregnant women. Over the past decade, there have been significant declines in animal pollinators worldwide.

The researchers found that the complete loss of animal pollinators globally would push an additional 71 million people into vitamin A deficiency and 173 million more into folate deficiency, and would lead to about 1.42 million additional deaths per year from non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and malnutrition-related diseases--a 2.7% increase in total yearly deaths. A 50% loss of pollination would result in roughly half that impact, the researchers found.

Most of this burden of disease would result from reduced consumption of foods that protect against NCDs like heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers and, unlike the populations frequently impacted by environmental degradation, many of the most vulnerable populations reside in relatively developed countries. Researchers found that those most vulnerable would be in eastern Europe and in central, eastern, and Southeast Asia, where risks of NCDs are high and intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds is highly dependent on pollinators.

The study also found that most of the estimated pollinator-related disease burden had to do with locally produced crops--not imported ones. "This means that most countries can benefit greatly by managing their own pollinator populations, protecting both their public health as well as crop yields," said lead author Matthew Smith, research fellow in the Department of Environmental Health.

Increased zinc deficiency estimated

For the study on zinc, the authors modeled how much zinc would be available to people through diet in 188 countries, under both current and elevated levels of CO2. They noted that zinc is a key nutrient for maternal and child health--without enough, there is increased risk of premature delivery, reduced growth and weight gain in young children, and decreased immune function. Roughly 17% of the global population was estimated to be at risk of zinc deficiency in 2011, according to recent studies.

Citing previous research that found that elevated concentrations of atmospheric CO2 lowers the content of zinc and other nutrients in important food crops such as wheat, rice, barley, and soy, the authors estimated that CO2 emissions caused by human activity could place between 132 million and 180 million people at new risk of zinc deficiency by around 2050. Those most likely to be affected live in Africa and South Asia, and nearly 48 million people in India alone--populations already burdened with the world's highest levels of zinc deficiency, and reliant on crops for most of their dietary zinc.

The authors suggested possible interventions for those at highest risk for zinc deficiency, such as zinc supplementation, fortification of staple foods with additional zinc, the application of zinc-containing fertilizers to crops, or the development of bio-fortified strains of crops such as rice and wheat.

Other Harvard Chan School authors of the zinc study included Joel Schwartz, professor of environmental epidemiology; and Itai Kloog, former visiting scientist, and Antonella Zanobetti, senior research scientist, both in the Department of Environmental Health.

In releasing the Rockefeller Foundation-Lancet Commission on Planetary Health report, Dr. Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet and one of the report authors, said that the Commission "aims to put the health of human civilizations, and their special relationship with the larger biosphere, at the center of concerns for future planetary sustainability. Our civilization may seem strong and resilient, but history tells us that our societies are fragile and vulnerable. We hope to show how we can protect and strengthen all that we hold dear about our world."

Dr. Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, said that the Commission "has issued a dire warning: Human action is undermining the resilience of the earth's natural systems, and in so doing we are compromising our own resilience, along with our health and, frankly, our future. We are in a symbiotic relationship with our planet, and we must start to value that in very real ways. Just as Foundation leaders 100 years ago took a holistic view and launched the field of public health, the Commission's report marks a paradigm shift for a new era of global public health, one that must be integrated with broader policy decisions."