Life Sciences

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Life Sciences - Chemistry - 18.04.2019
Genetic defect causing intellectual disability discovered by Sussex scientists
Researchers at the University of Sussex have discovered a new genetic defect which causes a form of intellectual disability; a finding that will improve screening programmes and help to end a ‘diagnostic odyssey' for families across the globe. ‘X-linked syndromal intellectual disability' (XLID) affects around 3% of the global population with underlying genetic mutations being carried and passed on by unaffected females via their X-chromosome (human females possess two copies of the X chromosome, while males only have one).

Life Sciences - Health - 17.04.2019
Mystery arthritis-linked knee bone three times more common than 100 years ago
Mystery arthritis-linked knee bone three times more common than 100 years ago
The fabella, a small bone in the knee once lost to human evolution, has made a surprising resurgence over the last century. We are taught the human skeleton contains 206 bones, but our study challenges this. Dr Michael Berthaume Department of Bioengineering The new findings could help clinicians treating patients with knee issues and provide insight into human evolution over the past 100 years.

Life Sciences - 15.04.2019
Computer games for fish uncover why some prey lead and others follow
Computer games for fish uncover why some prey lead and others follow
For the first time, researchers have shed new light on the evolution of different social roles within animal groups by exploring how fish predators target and attack groups of virtual prey. The study, led by the universities of Bristol and Oxford and published today [Monday 15 April] in the journal PNAS, found leaders in groups of animals are more vulnerable to attack from predators.

Life Sciences - Health - 15.04.2019
Gut bacteria work to keep us healthy
An international team of scientists, led by the University of Glasgow, have announced a new advance in our understanding of how bacteria in our gut can provide positive health benefits. The breakthrough findings, published today , provide evidence that it may be possible to design drugs that will mimic these positive health benefits in a way that might be used to treat diseases such as type II diabetes.

Life Sciences - 12.04.2019
Interdisciplinary and international research encouraged with prestigious grants
Three researchers from Imperial College London have been awarded prestigious and highly competitive Human Frontier Science Program Grants. Research into bony lizard tissues, the evolution of shared behaviours in animals and the physics of cell membranes have all won funding. The Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) is an international programme of research support, funding research on the complex mechanisms of living organisms.

Health - Life Sciences - 11.04.2019
Investigating police decision making under stress using EEG in virtual reality
An investigation into how authorised firearms police officers (AFOs) make decisions in high stress situations is being carried out by researchers from the University of Nottingham and Aston University in partnership with Durham Constabulary and Cleveland Police. The investigation is using EEG equipment and high stress scenarios in Virtual Reality to test the brain activity of police officers when having to make decisions around using tasers and firearms.

Pharmacology - Life Sciences - 10.04.2019
Active lifestyles may help nerves to heal after spinal injuries
Active lifestyles may help nerves to heal after spinal injuries
Leading an active lifestyle may increase the likelihood of damaged nerves regenerating after a spinal cord injury. The early-stage findings , published in the journal Science Translational Medicine , come from studies in mice and rats with spinal cord injuries, in which scientists uncovered a mechanism for nerve fibres repairing after they had been damaged.

Life Sciences - Pharmacology - 04.04.2019
Scientists fine-tune signalling pathways to tweak responses to stimuli in yeast
Scientists fine-tune signalling pathways to tweak responses to stimuli in yeast
Imperial academics have streamlined a signalling pathway in yeast to understand how cell sensing can be tuned by changing protein levels. The research , published in Cell , could eventually help us understand drug side effects in humans, and has immediate implications for biotechnology research. G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) are proteins which let cells detect chemical substances like hormones, poisons, and drugs in their environment.

Life Sciences - Health - 02.04.2019
Living in a stressful neighbourhood is biologically ageing
Living in a stressful neighbourhood is related to ageing faster, according to new research using telomeres as a marker for biological ageing. Telomeres are part of people's DNA which give a measure of ‘miles on the clock,' or biological age. The study, published today in PLoS One, combined population health and molecular biology research and found that people who reported problems in their local area - such as assaults, burglaries, litter and vandalism - had shorter telomere lengths, and the effect was more marked among women.

Environment - Life Sciences - 01.04.2019
Marine heatwave proves devastating to Shark Bay and dolphins
Marine heatwave proves devastating to Shark Bay and dolphins
Dolphin survival and reproductive rates suffered a significant decline following a 2011 marine heatwave affecting around 1,000km of Western Australia's coastline. The findings, published in Current Biology and representing an international collaboration of researchers and universities, including Zurich and Bristol, have important implications for marine conservation and mitigating the effects of climate change.

Health - Life Sciences - 01.04.2019
Tumour-targeting viruses hold hope for incurable brain cancers
Using bacteria-killing viruses to deliver cancer therapies could help to tackle deadly brain cancers, according to new early-stage research. The approach is being explored by researchers to treat glioblastoma, an aggressive, incurable form of brain cancer which kills many patients within the first year following diagnosis.

Palaeontology - Life Sciences - 29.03.2019
Untangling the evolution of feeding strategies in ancient crocodiles
Untangling the evolution of feeding strategies in ancient crocodiles
Ancient aquatic crocodiles fed on softer and smaller prey than their modern counterparts and the evolution of skull shape and function allowed them to spread into new habitats, reveal paleobiology researchers from the University of Bristol and UCL. For the study, published today in Paleontology , the team digitally reconstructed the skull of an extinct species of marine crocodile and compared it to similar living species to gain new insights into the diet of ancient crocodiles and their role in ecosystems around 230 million years ago.

Environment - Life Sciences - 28.03.2019
Serengeti-Mara squeeze - one of the world’s most iconic ecosystems under pressure
Increased human activity around one of Africa's most iconic ecosystems is “squeezing the wildlife in its core”, damaging habitation and disrupting the migration routes of wildebeest, zebra and gazelle, an international study has concluded. ‌ The Serengeti-Mara ecosystem is one of the largest and most protected ecosystems on Earth, spanning 40,000 square kilometres and taking in the Serengeti National Park and Maasai Mara National Reserve in East Africa.

Environment - Life Sciences - 28.03.2019
New, more efficient way to reduce water use and improve plant growth
A team of scientists has revealed a new, sustainable way for plants to increase carbon dioxide (CO2) uptake for photosynthesis while reducing water usage. The breakthrough was led by a team of plant scientists at the University of Glasgow and is published today . The researchers used a new, synthetic light-activated ion channel, engineered from plant and algal virus proteins, to speed up the opening and closing of the stomata - pores in the leaves of plants - through which carbon dioxide (CO2) enters for photosynthesis.

Life Sciences - 27.03.2019
‘Nightmarish' antlions' spiral digging techniques create effective and deadly traps
‘Nightmarish’ antlions’ spiral digging techniques create effective and deadly traps
A team of biologists and physicists, led by the University of Bristol, have uncovered new insights into how antlions - one of the fiercest and most terrifying predators in the insect kingdom - build their deadly pit traps. Antlions - with their nightmarish fish-hook sharp jaws which can drain the bodily fluids of its victims within minutes - are iconic within entomology and they have been studied for 200 years.

Life Sciences - 27.03.2019
Antlions create effective and deadly traps using sophisticated techniques
A team of biologists and physicists have discovered how antlions optimise the creation of their deadly pits to draw prey into their jaws. Antlions are small insects with fish-hook sharp jaws that can drain the bodily fluids of their victims within minutes. They build pits lined with fine sand grains that create a slippery surface for prey - typically ants - tumbling them towards the antlion's jaws.

Pharmacology - Life Sciences - 26.03.2019
New 'pulsing' ultrasound technique improves drug delivery to brains of mice
New ’pulsing’ ultrasound technique improves drug delivery to brains of mice
Using rapid short-pulse sequences of ultrasound helps drugs reach the brains of mice, according to new Imperial College London research. Scientists currently use long-wave pulses of ultrasound to deliver drugs, which can cause side effects. Now, these new findings from Imperial on shorter-wave pulses could change how drugs are used to help patients of Alzheimer's and other neurological diseases.

Life Sciences - 21.03.2019
Half a billion-year-old fossil reveals the origins of comb jellies
Half a billion-year-old fossil reveals the origins of comb jellies
One of the ocean's little known carnivores has been allocated a new place in the evolutionary tree of life after scientists discovered its unmistakable resemblance with other sea-floor dwelling creatures. Comb jellies occupy a pivotal place in the history of animal evolution with some arguing that they were among the first animals to evolve.

Life Sciences - 19.03.2019
Starving bacteria can eject their tails to save energy and stay alive
When nutrients are dangerously low, a group of bacteria have been found to take the drastic measure of getting rid of their tails. Some bacteria use tails, or flagella, to swim through liquids - including those in our bodies. However, new research published today in PLOS Biology reveals a surprisingly drastic measure taken by some bacteria when facing starvation: they eject their flagella, leaving themselves paralyzed, but conserving energy so they can stay alive.

Life Sciences - 14.03.2019
Research leads to new discoveries about the Mary Rose
A Cardiff University archaeologist has revealed new insights into the origins of the crew on board the Mary Rose, the flagship of Henry VIII's navy. The scientific findings of Dr Richard Madgwick, Lecturer in Archaeological Science, suggest that crew members on the Tudor warship, which sank in 1545, may have come from as far away as southern Europe and perhaps even Africa.
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