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Science is Cool!
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Animal vision evolved 700 million years ago

Animal vision evolved 700 million years ago | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it

Gaze deep into any animal eye and you will find opsin, the protein through which we see the world. Every ray of light that you perceive was caught by an opsin first. Without opsin there would be no blue, no red, no green. The entire visible spectrum would be.. just another spectrum.

 

But opsins haven’t always been the sensitive light detectors that they are today. There is one critter, obscure and small, carries opsins that are blind to light. These opsins aren’t broken, like they are in some cave dwelling species. They never worked to begin with. They are the relics of a distant past, a time in which our ancestors still dwelt in darkness.

 

Opsin is a member of large family of detector proteins, called the ‘G-protein coupled receptors’ (GPCRs). Like a needle and thread, all GPCRs wind themselves through the outer membrane of the cell seven times. Halfway between cell and outside world, these tiny sensors are perfectly positioned to monitor the surroundings of the cell. Most GPCRs detect the presence of certain molecules. When a certain hormone or neurotransmitter docks their outward facing side they become activated and release signalling molecules on the inside of the cell. But opsin is different. It doesn’t bind molecules physically. Instead, it senses the presence of a more delicate and ephemeral particle: the photon itself, the particles (and waves) that light is made of.

Opsins trap photons with a small molecule in the heart of their architecture, called retinal. In its resting state retinal has a bent and twisted tail. But as soon as light strikes retinal, its tail unbends. This molecular stretching exercise forces the opsin to change shape as well. The opsin is now activated and eventually will cause a nearby nerve to fire, which will relay its message to the brain: light!.


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Linguist makes sensational claim: English is a Scandinavian language

"Have you considered how easy it is for us Norwegians to learn English?" asks Jan Terje Faarlund, professor of linguistics at the University of Oslo. "Obviously there are many English words that resemble ours.

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Musicians' Brains Sync Up During Duet

Musicians' Brains Sync Up During Duet | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it
The brain waves of two musicians synchronize when they are performing duet, a new study found.

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Lake life survives in total isolation for 3000 years - good news for extraterrestrial life

Lake life survives in total isolation for 3000 years - good news for extraterrestrial life | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it

It is seven times as salty as the sea, pitch dark and 13 degrees below freezing. Lake Vida in East Antarctica has been buried for 2800 years under 20 metres of ice, but teems with life.

 

The discovery of strange, abundant bacteria in a completely sealed, icebound lake strengthens the possibility that extraterrestrial life might exist on planets such as Mars and moons such as Jupiter's Europa.

 

"Lake Vida is a model of what happens when you try to freeze a lake solid, and this is the same fate that any lakes on Mars would have gone through as the planet turned colder from a watery past," says Peter Doran of the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is co-leader of a team working in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica where Vida is situated. "Any Martian water bodies that did form would have gone through this Vida stage before freezing solid, entombing the evidence of the past ecosystem."

 

The Vida bacteria, brought to the surface in cores drilled 27 metres down, belong to previously unknown species. They probably survive by metabolising the abundant quantities of hydrogen and oxides of nitrogen that Vida's salty, oxygen-free water has been found to contain.

 

Co-research leader Alison Murray of the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada, is now investigating this further by growing some of the extracted cells in the lab. Murray and her colleagues were surprised to find so much hydrogen, nitrous oxide and carbon in the water. They speculate that these substances might originate from reactions between salt and nitrogen-containing minerals in the surrounding rock. Over the centuries, bacteria denied sunlight may have evolved to be completely reliant on these substances for energy. "I think the unusual conditions found in the lake have likely played a significant role in shaping the diversity and capabilities of life we found," she says.

 

But the existence of life in Lake Vida does not necessarily increase the likelihood that life exists in much older, deeper lakes under investigation in Antarctica, most notably Vostok and Ellsworth, which are 3 kilometres down and have been isolated for millions rather than thousands of years. "It doesn't give us clues about whether there's life in Vostok or Ellsworth, but it says that under these super-salty conditions, life does OK," says Martin Siegert of the University of Bristol, UK, and leader of an expedition to Ellsworth which set off on 25 November. "We'll be drilling down 3 kilometres into the lake," he says.


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Hubble Space Telescope Directly Observes Exoplanet

Hubblecast: 40 Videos

 

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has discovered an extrasolar planet, for the first time using direct visible-light imaging. The strange world is far-flung from its parent star, is surrounded by a colossal belt of gas and dust, and may even have rings more impressive than Saturn's.


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ESA’s Planck Space Telescope Discovers Huge Gas Filament Connecting Two Galaxy Clusters

ESA’s Planck Space Telescope Discovers Huge Gas Filament Connecting Two Galaxy Clusters | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it
European astronomers using ESA’s Planck Space Telescope have detected a 10 million light-years long bridge of hot gas connecting a pair of galaxy clusters, Abell 399 and Abell 401.

 

Planck’s primary task is to capture the most ancient light of the cosmos. If this faint light interacts with the hot gas permeating different types of space structures including galaxies and galaxy clusters, its energy distribution is modified in a characteristic way, a phenomenon known as the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich (SZ) effect.

 

Astronomers have already used the SZ effect to detect galaxy clusters themselves, but it also provides a way to detect faint filaments of gas that might connect one cluster to another.

 

The presence of hot gas between the billion-light-year-distant clusters Abell 399 and Abell 401 was first hinted at in X-ray data from ESA’s XMM-Newton, and the new data from Planck confirm the observation.

 

By combining the Planck data with archival X-ray observations from the German satellite Rosat, the astronomers have found temperature of the gas in the bridge to be similar to the temperature of the gas in the two clusters – on the order of 80 million degrees Celsius.


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Mood Music: Music May Physically Block Out Pain

Mood Music: Music May Physically Block Out Pain | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it
Not to be outdone by "runner's high", music has been found to increase endorphins and increase a body's threshold for pain.

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Lonely Planet Lost in Space: A Starless Planet Floating Alone

Lonely Planet Lost in Space: A Starless Planet Floating Alone | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it

A strange, free-range world is found. Just 20 years ago, astronomers imagined that planets beyond the Solar System would be more or less like the ones we know: small, rocky worlds like Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars orbiting relatively close to their stars, and big, gassy ones like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, farther away. (Even then, Pluto was recognized as an oddball, though it hadn’t been demoted yet.) Then the first actual exoplanet was discovered, and it turned out to be a big, gaseous world orbiting ridiculously close to its star. Dozens of others very much like it soon turned up, and the astronomers’ preconceptions were abruptly laid to rest. But at least these so-called “hot Jupiters” actually orbited a star. Not so for a new planet just reported in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. The object, known only as CFBDSIR2149, appears to be a planet from four to seven times as massive as Jupiter, floating along with a cluster of stars known as the AB Doradus Moving Group — but tethered to no one star in particular.

 

That’s the only reason the planet was spotted at all, in fact. If it were orbiting a star, the parent sun’s bright glare would make even a huge planet tough to discern. It would be like trying to see a candle sitting next to a searchlight. The team of French and Canadian astronomers who made the discovery weren’t looking for planets in any case. They were looking for brown dwarfs, objects too big to be classified as planets, but too small to ignite the nuclear reactions that would qualify them as full-blown stars.

 

But when CFBDSIR2149 showed up in the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope on Mauna Kea, says co-discoverer Etienne Artigau, of the University of Montreal, “we saw that it was very red compared with the typical brown dwarf.” That meant it was relatively cool. It could still be a brown dwarf, but it would have to be billions of years old to have lost so much of its internal heat. If the object were very young, its temperature ruled it out as a brown dwarf at all. In general, says Artigau, “it would not be a trivial thing to distinguish an old, massive object from a young, small one.”

 

In this case, however, there was an extra clue: careful measurements with the European Southern Observatory’s New Technology Telescope showed that CFBDSIR2149 is moving across the sky in the same direction and speed as the AB Doradus group of stars. It’s possible that this is pure coincidence. The odds are 87%, however, that it is indeed part of the group. And since astronomers know the group itself is between 50 and 120 million years old, that means CFBDSIR2149 is a young planet.

 

It’s not the first free-floating planet ever found, the scientists hasten to make clear. Astronomers have found indirect hints that many more may be roaming the galaxy, and theorists have no trouble explaining how such a thing could happen. CFBDSIR2149 might have formed originally as part of a solar system and then been sling-shotted out in a close encounter with another massive planet. Or it might have formed directly from a small collapsing cloud of gas and dust.


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NATURE: New Photo Snapshots Reveal Einstein’s Unusual Brain

NATURE: New Photo Snapshots Reveal Einstein’s Unusual Brain | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it

Albert Einstein is considered to be one of the most intelligent people that ever lived, so researchers are naturally curious about what made his brain tick. Photographs taken shortly after his death, but never before analysed in detail, have now revealed that Einstein’s brain had several unusual features, providing tantalizing clues about the neural basis of his extraordinary mental abilities. While doing Einstein's autopsy, the pathologist Thomas Harvey removed the physicist's brain and preserved it in formalin. He then took dozens of black and white photographs of it before it was cut up into 240 blocks. He then took tissue samples from each block, mounted them onto microscope slides and distributed the slides to some of the world’s best neuropathologists. The autopsy revealed that Einstein’s brain was smaller than average and subsequent analyses showed all the changes that normally occur with ageing. Nothing more was analysed, however. Harvey stored the brain fragments in a formalin-filled jar in a cider box kept under a beer cooler in his office. Decades later, several researchers asked Harvey for some samples, and noticed some unusual features when analysing them. A study done in 1985 showed that two parts of his brain contained an unusually large number of non-neuronal cells called glia for every neuron. And one published more than a decade later showed that the parietal lobe lacks a furrow and a structure called the operculum. The missing furrow may have enhanced the connections in this region, which is thought to be involved in visuo-spatial functions and mathematical skills such as arithmetic.

 

Now, anthropologist Dean Falk of Florida State University in Tallahassee and her colleagues have obtained 12 of Harvey’s original photographs from the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland, analyzed them and compared the patterns of convoluted ridges and furrows with those of 85 brains described in other studies. Many of the photographs were taken from unusual angles, and show structures that were not visible in photographs that have been analysed previously. The most striking observation, says Falk, was “the complexity and pattern of convolutions on certain parts of Einstein's cerebral cortex”, especially in the prefrontal cortex, and also parietal lobes and visual cortex. The prefrontal cortex is important for the kind of abstract thinking that Einstein would have needed for his famous thought experiments on the nature of space and time, such as imagining riding alongside a beam of light. The unusually complex pattern of convolutions there probably gave the region and unusually large surface area, which may have contributed to his remarkable abilities.

 

Falk and her colleagues also noticed an unusual feature in the right somatosensory cortex, which receives sensory information from the body. In this part of Einstein’s brain, the region corresponding to the left hand is expanded, and the researchers suggest that this may have contributed to his accomplished violin playing. According to Sandra Witelson, a behavioural neuroscientist at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, who discovered that the parietal operculum is missing from Einstein’s brain, the study’s biggest contribution may be in encouraging further studies. “It makes clear the location and accessibility of photographs and slides of Einstein's brain,” she says. “This may serve as an incentive for other investigations of Einstein's brain, and ultimately of any consequences of its anatomical variations.”


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Scientists Hope Cloning Will Save Endangered Animals

Scientists Hope Cloning Will Save Endangered Animals | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it

want to use cloning to save endangered species, but they are having only limited success. A number of times each week, Martha Gómez creates new life. Today, she has set out to produce a South African black-footed cat. Using a razor-thin hollow needle under a microscope, the veterinarian injects a body cell from the endangered species into an enucleated egg cell taken from a house cat. Then she applies an electric current. Scientists like Gómez are hoping for a new era of wildlife conservation. In a bid to save endangered species, they tear down biological barriers and create embryos that contain cell material from two different species of mammals. Iberian lynxes, tigers, Ethiopian wolves and panda bears could all soon be carried to term by related surrogate mothers, and thus saved for future generations.

 

The world's first surrogate mother of a cloned animal from another species had udders and was named Bessie. In early 2001, the cow delivered a gaur via cesarean section in the United States. The endangered wild ox calf, native to Southeast Asia, had been cloned by the US company Advanced Cell Technology. But the gaur lived only briefly, dying of common dysentery within 48 hours of birth. Since then, researchers have made dozens of attempts at interspecies cloning -- but with limited success. Whenever animals were brought into the world alive, they usually died shortly thereafter.

 

In 2009, for instance, biotechnicians managed to clone a Pyrenean ibex. The egg was donated by a common domesticated goat. After the birth, the kid desperately gasped for air. Seven minutes later, it was dead.

 

Many cloning experiments end this way. Geneticists have so far only been able to speculate on the reasons, but the string of failures actually tends to spur researchers to continue. Gómez, for instance, has specialized in cloning wildcats -- and has been quite successful. Cloned African wildcats Ditteaux, Miles and Otis are living in enclosures at the Audubon Center animal facility, and snarl at anyone who approaches them. "They are doing perfectly fine," says Gómez.

 

Gómez admits that there are problems. Fusing cells from two different species often leads to huge mix-ups. Genes are activated or deactivated at the wrong time, and developmental stages become delayed. In the case of the black-footed cat, for instance, Gómez has so far had no success. "We were able to insert embryos into the uterus of a house cat," she says. "But unfortunately, they didn't develop."

 

But the researcher remains optimistic. She hopes that she will soon be able to transform body cells from her wildcats into pluripotent stem cells. Cells of this type could considerably simplify the cloning process because they can be used to create any type of body cell and can be easily multiplied. Other researchers have already succeeded in producing such stem cells from snow leopards and northern white rhinoceroses, which are both endangered species.

 

There are in fact virtually no limits to the creative experimentation of today's biotechnicians. Chinese researchers have fused body cells from panda bears with eggs cells taken from rabbits. But the resulting embryos died shortly thereafter -- in the uteruses of house cats. Meanwhile, Japanese researchers have implanted skin cells from an unborn baby sei whale in enucleated egg cells taken from cattle and pigs.

 

Other Japanese scientists are even trying to clone the woolly mammoth. Three years ago, cell nuclei from these hairy, tusked ice-age beasts were discovered in mammoth legs that have been frozen in the permafrost of Northeast Siberia for the past 15,000 years.

In the laboratory, a team led by geneticist Akira Iritani injected cell nuclei from the prehistoric animal into enucleated egg cells from mice. The cell constructs only survived for a few hours, but Iritani remains optimistic that an elephant surrogate mother will soon bring to term the first mammoth clone. "From a scientific point of view it is possible," says geneticist Gómez. But is there any point in doing it? The 51-year-old professor hesitates briefly. "I wouldn't do it," she admits. "I would prefer spending all the money on those species that haven't completely vanished from the earth."


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Uranus has a bizarre weather pattern

Uranus has a bizarre weather pattern | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it

Uranus has a thick, tempestuous atmosphere with winds blowing at a clip of 900 km/h (560 mph); massive storms that would engulf continents here on Earth, and temperatures in the -220 C (-360 degree F) range. Sounds like a cold type of hell, but this is the picture emerging of the planet Uranus, revealed by new high-resolution infrared images from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, exposing in incredible detail the bizarre weather of a planet that was once thought to be rather placid. The images reveal an astonishing amount of complexity in Uranus’ atmosphere. Until now much of the activity was masked by noise in the data.

 

With its beautiful blue atmosphere, Uranus can seem rather tranquil at first glance. Even the flyby of Voyager 2 in 1986 revealed a rather “bland” blue ball. But coming into focus now with the new are large weather systems, and even though they are probably much less violent than storms on Earth, the weather on Uranus is just…bizarre.

 

“Some of these weather systems,” said Larry Sromovsky, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison who led the new study using the Keck II telescope, “stay at fixed latitudes and undergo large variations in activity. Others are seen to drift toward the planet’s equator while undergoing great changes in size and shape. Better measures of the wind fields that surround these massive weather systems are the key to unraveling their mysteries.”



 


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New Stanford analysis provides fuller picture of human expansion from Africa

New Stanford analysis provides fuller picture of human expansion from Africa | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it
A comprehensive analysis of the anthropological and genetic history of humans' expansion out of Africa could lead to medical advances.

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Most powerful black hole blast discovered - 100 times the energy of whole Milky Way ejected

Most powerful black hole blast discovered - 100 times the energy of whole Milky Way ejected | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it

Astronomers analysed the energy being carried away from a huge quasar – the bright centres of distant galaxies which are powered by supermassive black holes and spew out vast amounts of matter.

 

Scientists have long claimed that extraordinarily powerful quasars must exist and play a key role in the formation of new galaxies, but until now none had been discovered which came close to their predictions.


Now measurements of a quasar known as SDSS J1106+1939 have established that it releases energy with about two million million times the power output of the Sun – the type of very high energy proposed by theorists. The team of scientists, who made their observations using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT), calculated that a mass equivalent to 400 Suns is given off by the quasar each year, at a speed of 800km per second. Dr. Nahum Arav of Virginia Tech University, who led the study, said: “We have discovered the most energetic quasar outflow known to date ... I’ve been looking for something like this for a decade, so it’s thrilling to finally find one of the monster outflows that have been predicted."


Theorists claim that the existence of quasars with such a powerful outflow of energy could solve a number of unanswered questions in cosmology, such as how the central black hole mass of galaxies helps determine the overall mass of the galaxy, and why the universe has so few very large galaxies.


Until now it was unclear whether quasars were powerful enough to produce such vast galaxies as some seen in the distant universe, but the researchers established that both SDSS J1106+1939 and one other quasar each have tremendous outflows.

 

They are now studying a further 12 similar quasars to determine whether the same is true of other luminous quasars spread across the universe.


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It's Official! Water Ice Discovered on Mercury

It's Official! Water Ice Discovered on Mercury | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it
Vast supplies of water ice and organic material on Mercury were found by NASA's Messenger probe.

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Physicists Find Evidence That The Universe Is A 'Giant Brain'

Physicists Find Evidence That The Universe Is A 'Giant Brain' | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it
The idea of the universe as a 'giant brain' has been proposed by scientists - and science fiction writers - for decades. But now physicists say there may be some evidence that it's actually true.

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Who are the doctors most trusted by doctors? Big data can tell you

Who are the doctors most trusted by doctors? Big data can tell you | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it

ZocDoc, Healthgrades, Vitals, Yelp and other sites can tell you what patients think of their doctors. But finding out in any aggregate way what doctors think of their peers has been much harder, if not near impossible, for patients — up until now. By accessing information in government databases through FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests, healthcare innovators are now able to share connections between doctors that are based on millions of physician referrals — a valuable indicator of who doctors hold in esteem.

 

Last month, Fred Trotter, a self-identified “hacktivist,” revealed that he had obtained a dataset of Medicare physician referrals through a FOIA request and was making the initial data available to those who supported a Medstartr crowdfunding campaign meant to build out his “DocGraph” and make it freely available. This week, he announced that he not only blew past his $15,000 funding goal, but was launching a second campaign to integrate his current data with an additional dataset.

 

The new tool, which reflects 25 million doctor referral connections, enables patients to see how many doctors are linked to a particular doctor, as well as their locations. As patients search for new physicians and specialists, being able to see who their current doctors are linked with could help them decide who to visit. It also gives doctors an opportunity to build online networks that reflect their offline networks, Gutman said. In a post about his “DocGraph” project, Trotter said that his data wasn’t strictly a “referral” data set because, in some cases, doctors might be linked through a patient they both happened to see at the same time, not through an active referral. But Gutman emphasized that HealthTap’s DOConnect considered more than Medicare referrals in mapping connections between doctors.


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Puts it all in perspective » Interactive Graphics: Magnifying the Universe

Puts it all in perspective » Interactive Graphics: Magnifying the Universe | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it

A joint project of Killer Infographics and Mandril Design. Interactivity creates greater reader engagement, which, in turn, generates interest and educates a wide spectrum of people. This particular interactive infographic was picked up by hundreds of websites, including National Geographic!

 

The precision of the interactive scalability highlight the importance of accuracy in successful infographics - Killer Infographics will never publish any data they won't stand behind!


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Szabolcs Kósa's comment, November 24, 2012 9:19 PM
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New Zealand's 'Lord of the Rings' Volcano Erupts : Discovery News

A New Zealand volcano used as a backdrop to "The Lord of the Rings" films erupted on Wednesday, spewing a column of ash three kilometers (1.9 miles) above the...
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Oldest Fossils of Panda Bear Discovered in Spain

Oldest Fossils of Panda Bear Discovered in Spain | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it
Website of the Latin American News Agency Prensa Latina with the head office in Havana, Cuba, and 28 bureaus worldwide.

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Misfolded protein transmits Parkinson’s from cell to cell

Misfolded protein transmits Parkinson’s from cell to cell | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it
Link between cell death and protein clumps opens pathway to possible treatment.

 

The catastrophic damage wreaked by a rogue protein involved in Parkinsons' disease has been tracked by researchers, in work that might help to reinvigorate an old treatment strategy to slow the condition.

 

A team led by Virginia Lee, a neurobiologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, injected a misfolded synthetic version of the protein α-synuclein into the brains of normal mice and saw the key characteristics of Parkinson’s disease develop and progressively worsen. The study suggests that the disease is spread from one nerve cell to another by the malformed protein, rather than arising spontaneously in the cells.

 

The finding raises the possibility that an antibody that binds the misfolded α-synuclein could be used to intercept the protein as it passes between nerve cells. “It’s very hard to ask antibodies not only to get inside the brain, but to get inside cells,” says Lee. “But now you have the possibility of stopping the spreading. And if you stop the spreading, perhaps you can slow the progression of the disease.” The idea that Parkinson’s might be spread from neuron to neuron by a rogue protein took off in 2008, when transplants of fetal nerve tissue given to patients with the disease developed the characteristic clumps associated with the condition. This indicated that the nearby diseased cells had somehow infected the transplanted tissue. Subsequent studies showed that misfolded α-synuclein can spread between neighbouring cells and can cause cell death.

 

But the question remained as to whether the misfolded α-synuclein was responsible for the cascade of damage seen in Parkinson’s. Lee says that her team has now captured the full consequences of runaway α-synuclein in the brain.

 

Parkinson’s disease has two distinct features: clumps of protein called Lewy bodies and a dramatic loss of nerve cells that produce the chemical messenger dopamine. When Lee’s team injected the misfolded α-synuclein into a part of the mouse brain rich in dopamine-producing cells, Lewy bodies began to form. This was followed by the death of dopamine neurons. Nerve cells that linked to those near the injection site also developed Lewy bodies, a sign that cell-to-cell transmission was taking place, say the researchers.

 

“It’s really pretty extraordinary,” says Eliezer Masliah, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego. “We have been trying that experiment for a long time in the lab and we have not seen such dramatic effects.” The study lends theoretical support to the handful of biotechnology companies that are sponsoring clinical trials of α-synuclein antibodies for Parksinson’s, Masliah says. It should also spur research on how the protein gets in and out of cells, he adds.

 

At least one mystery still remains: why do the Lewy bodies appear in the first place? “Parkinson’s disease is not a disorder in which somebody injects synuclein into your brain,” notes Ted Dawson, director of the Institute for Cell Engineering at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. “So what sets it in motion?”


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'Orphan' Alien Planet Found Nearby Without Parent Star

'Orphan' Alien Planet Found Nearby Without Parent Star | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it
The massive exoplanet is just 100 light-years from Earth.

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World's most northerly lake comes back to life after 2,400 years

World's most northerly lake comes back to life after 2,400 years | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it

Kaffeklubben Sø, the world's most northerly lake, was entombed beneath a near-permanent layer of ice some 2400 years ago. Now it is beginning to thaw – and some of the organisms that disappeared from its waters are beginning to return. The finding is the latest evidence that warmer temperatures in polar regions can result in rapid ecological changes.

 

Located at 83° 37' north, on the coastal plain of northern Greenland, the 48-hectare Kaffeklubben Sø looks out over the Arctic Sea. "It's kind of the end of the earth," says Bianca Perren of the University of Franche-Comté in Besançon, France. One to two metres of ice cover the lake year-round, but a "moat" of water forms around the edge of the lake in summer when average temperatures rise to 1.6 °C.

 

The lake formed about 3500 years ago when local precipitation increased, says Perren. A few species of silica-shelled algae called diatoms lived in the young lake, but their populations declined as regional temperatures cooled, and they vanished entirely 2400 years ago. All that survived under the ice were hardy cyanobacteria, which require little light and can survive even under several metres of ice.

 

A couple of brief summer thaws allowed diatoms to return briefly, but the lake remained nearly barren until around 1960, when the first diatom species returned. The latest water samples, collected by Perren and her colleagues, contain some 20 species.


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Extra chromosome 21 removed from Down syndrome (trisomy 21) cell line

Extra chromosome 21 removed from Down syndrome (trisomy 21) cell line | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it

University of Washington scientists have succeeded in removing the extra copy of chromosome 21 in cell cultures derived from a person with Down syndrome, a condition in which the body’s cells contain three copies of chromosome 21 rather than the usual pair. A triplicate of any chromosome is a serious genetic abnormality called a trisomy. Trisomies account for almost one-quarter of pregnancy loss from spontaneous miscarriages, according to the research team. Besides Down syndrome (trisomy 21), some other human trisomies are extra Y or X chromosomes, and Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18) and Patau syndrome (trisomy 13), both of which have extremely high newborn fatality rates.

 

The targeted removal of a human trisomy, they noted, could have both clinical and research applications. In live births, Down syndrome is the most frequent trisomy. The condition has characteristic eye, facial and hand features, and can cause many medical problems, including heart defects, impaired intellect, premature aging and dementia, and certain forms of leukemia, a type of blood cancer.


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Rescooped by Rene Thompson from Science News
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The Toll Social Rejection Takes On The Body

The Toll Social Rejection Takes On The Body | Science is Cool! | Scoop.it
We all know that rejection seriously hurts -- and now a new study shows how it could actually be bad for our health.

Via Sakis Koukouvis
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