Life Sciences

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Life Sciences - History / Archeology - 14.02.2019
Explains how rabbits adapted to survive myxomatosis
An unprecedented study of rabbit DNA spanning 150 years and thousands of miles has revealed the genetic basis for the animal's fightback - and ultimate triumph, against the deadly myxoma virus. The revelation of how rabbits evolved genetic resistance to myxomatosis through natural selection, comes as part of an international research collaboration, nearly seventy years after the lethal disease decimated species' populations of Australia, Britain and France.

Health - Life Sciences - 14.02.2019
Cannabis use in teens raises risk of depression in young adults
Cannabis use in teens raises risk of depression in young adults
Cannabis use among adolescents is found to be associated with increased risk of depression and anxiety in adulthood. Cannabis is the most commonly used recreational drug by teenagers worldwide. In Canada, among youth aged 15 to 19 years, the rate of past-year cannabis use is 20.6%, while in England, 4% of adolescents aged 11 to 15 years used cannabis in the last month.

Life Sciences - 13.02.2019
Movement impairments in autism could be reversible
Researchers from Cardiff University have established a link between a genetic mutation and developmental movement impairments in autism . The study, which found that the mutation of the CYFIP1 gene leads to changes in the development of brain cells, leading to the motor issues, also suggests that motor learning difficulties occur at a young age and can be reversed through behavioural training.

Life Sciences - Health - 12.02.2019
Experts call for caution on reporting long-term effects of head injuries in sports
A group of over 60 leading international neuroscientists have called for caution when reporting on the potential late effects of head injuries in sport. In correspondence, published today in The Lancet Neurology, experts in research and clinical practice in brain injury from around the world have asked for balance when reporting on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Health - Life Sciences - 12.02.2019
New technique to analyse cancer cells’ life history could help provide personalised cancer treatment
A team of researchers from the Medical Research Council (MRC) Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine at Oxford University has developed a new technique that allows scientists to reliably track genetic errors in individual cancer cells, and find out how these might lead to uncontrollable growth. Despite recognising that cancer cell diversity underlies treatment resistance and recurrence of cancer, previous attempts to track errors in individual cancer cells were very inaccurate, or could only track a few cells at a time.

Palaeontology - Life Sciences - 11.02.2019
Oldest evidence of mobility on Earth
Ancient fossils of the first ever organisms to exhibit movement have been discovered by an international team of scientists. Discovered in rocks in Gabon and dating back approximately 2.1 billion years, the fossils suggest the existence of a cluster of single cells that came together to form a slug-like multicellular organism that moved through the mud in search of a more favourable environment.

Life Sciences - 08.02.2019
Butterflies are genetically wired to choose a mate that looks just like them
Butterflies are genetically wired to choose a mate that looks just like them
Male butterflies have genes which give them a sexual preference for a partner with a similar appearance to themselves, according to new research. There's a small region of the genome that has some very big effects Chris Jiggins A team of academics from the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama, observed the courtship rituals and sequenced the DNA from nearly 300 butterflies to find out how much of the genome was responsible for their mating behaviour.

Life Sciences - Health - 08.02.2019
Scientists catch heartbeat ’molecular switch’ in action
Oxford University Radcliffe Department of Medicine researchers have developed a new method that uses a protein originally found in marine corals to visualise the flow of calcium that makes the heart beat. In a paper published in the journal Circulation Research , they used this technique to uncover the effects of genetic errors that contribute to a heart condition that is the leading killer of healthy people between the ages of 20 and 40 in the UK.

Environment - Life Sciences - 06.02.2019
Species 'hotspots' created by immigrant influx or evolutionary speed depending on climate
Species ’hotspots’ created by immigrant influx or evolutionary speed depending on climate
New research reveals that biodiversity 'hotspots' in the tropics produced new species at faster rates over the last 25 million years, but those in temperate regions are instead full of migrant species that likely sought refuge from shifting and cooling climates. Many of these hotspot regions have species found nowhere else on Earth, yet face devastating levels of habitat loss Andrew Tanentzap Some corners of the world teem with an extraordinary variety of life.

Environment - Life Sciences - 05.02.2019
’Eavesdropping’ technology used to protect one of New Zealand’s rarest birds
Remote recording devices have been used for the first time to track the reintroduction of a rare species back into its native habitat. The New Zealand hihi bird is classed as locally extinct across much of its natural habitat, but conservation efforts have reintroduced populations of the bird back into these areas.

Life Sciences - 04.02.2019
Centuries-old population movements revealed in fine-scale genetic map of the Iberian peninsula
A new study into the genetic makeup of over 1,400 individuals from across Spain has shown that the genetic patterns in modern individuals were shaped by population movements over the past 1,000 years. It also showed that in some regions, there are discernible patterns of genetic differences even between individuals living as close as 10km apart.

Life Sciences - 31.01.2019
MRI scans reveal how brain protects memories
Two distinct parts of the human brain - the neocortex and the hippocampus (a part of the brain involved in higher-order brain functions) - have been shown to help protect our memories from interfering with one another. Researchers from the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging at the University of Oxford have shed light on the exact neural mechanisms that make precise memory recall possible.

History / Archeology - Life Sciences - 31.01.2019
Fresh clues to the life and times of the first known humans
Oxford University scientists have played a key role in new research identifying the earliest evidence of some of the first known humans - Denisovans and Neanderthals, in Southern Siberia. Professor Tom Higham and his team at the Oxford Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit at the University of Oxford worked in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary team from the UK, Russia, Australia, Canada and Germany, on the detailed investigation over the course of five years, to date the archaeological site of Denisova cave.

Life Sciences - Health - 30.01.2019
Skin colour and neurodevelopment are not linked
The latest findings from the international INTERGROWTH-21st Project, that has monitored healthy, urban children from educated families across four continents from early pregnancy to 2 years of age, show that human neurodevelopment is not influenced by the colour of an individual's skin.

Life Sciences - History / Archeology - 30.01.2019
Ancient Mongolian skull is the earliest modern human yet found in the region
A much debated ancient human skull from Mongolia has been dated and genetically analysed, showing that it is the earliest modern human yet found in the region, according to new research from the University of Oxford. The study published used Radiocarbon dating and DNA analysis and revealed that the only Pleistocene hominin fossil discovered in Mongolia, initially called Mongolanthropus, is in reality a modern human who lived approximately 34 - 35 thousand years ago.

Life Sciences - Physics - 29.01.2019
’Light tweezers’ can move, melt, and scatter mysterious biological ’icebergs’
For the first time, scientists have used light beams to manipulate lipid rafts in artificial cell membranes. Lipid rafts are domains, or areas, of protein and lipid (fats) which float freely in cell membranes - the protein and lipid layer that surrounds a cell. These structures, which float in the membranes like icebergs, play important but mysterious roles in cellular signalling that aren't yet fully explained.

Life Sciences - Environment - 25.01.2019
'Noisy' gene atlas to help explain how plants survive environmental change
’Noisy’ gene atlas to help explain how plants survive environmental change
As parents of identical twins will tell you, they are never actually identical, even though they have the same genes. This is also true in the plant world. Now, new research by the University of Cambridge is helping to explain why 'twin' plants, with identical genes, grown in identical environments continue to display unique characteristics all of their own.

Life Sciences - Health - 24.01.2019
Slim people have a genetic advantage when it comes to maintaining their weight
Slim people have a genetic advantage when it comes to maintaining their weight
In the largest study of its kind to date, Cambridge researchers have looked at why some people manage to stay thin while others gain weight easily. They have found that the genetic dice are loaded in favour of thin people and against those at the obese end of the spectrum. It's easy to rush to judgement and criticise people for their weight, but the science shows that things are far more complex Sadaf Farooqi More than six in ten adults in the UK are overweight, and one in four adults is obese.

Health - Life Sciences - 22.01.2019
Heart disease risk begins in the womb, study in sheep suggests
Heart disease risk begins in the womb, study in sheep suggests
Offspring whose mothers had a complicated pregnancy may be at greater risk of heart disease in later life, according to a new study in sheep. The research, led by a team at the University of Cambridge, suggests that our cards may be marked even before we are born.

Life Sciences - 22.01.2019
Bird beaks did not adapt to food types as previously thought
Bird beaks did not adapt to food types as previously thought
A study, led by the University of Bristol, has shed some new light on how the beaks of birds have adapted over time. The observation that Galapagos finch species possessed different beak shapes to obtain different foods was central to the theory of evolution by natural selection, and it has been assumed that this form-function relationship holds true across all species of bird.
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