Earth

KANSAS CITY, MO -- Researchers from the Stowers Institute for Medical Research and collaborators have identified a way to expand blood-forming, adult stem cells from human umbilical cord blood (hUCB). This development could make these cells available to more people, and be more readily accepted in those who undergo adult stem cell treatments for conditions such as leukemia, blood disorders, immune system diseases, and other types of cancers, but who do not have an appropriate available bone marrow match.

Researchers have found that people exposed to air pollution levels well within UK guidelines have changes in the structure of the heart, similar to those seen in the early stages of heart failure. The research was part-funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and is published in the journal Circulation. [1]

A study from the Faculty of Biology and the Biodiversity Research Institute of the University of Barcelona (IRBio-UB) analysed how water macroinvertebrate species, such as beetles, mosquitos and dragonflies, evolved and diversified since their beginnings. With the analysis of the ecological features of about 6,600 European species, researchers rebuilt the functional space they occupy.

Henipaviruses are among the deadliest viruses known to man and have no effective treatments. The viruses include Hendra, lethal to humans and horses, and the Nipah virus, a serious threat in East and Southeast Asia. They are on the World Health Organization Blueprint list of priority diseases needing urgent research and development action.

Boston, MA - Pregnant women who had low plasma levels of long chain n-3 fatty acids in their first and second trimesters were at a significantly higher risk of early preterm birth when compared with women who had higher levels of these fatty acids, according to new research from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in collaboration with Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen. The study suggests that low concentrations of certain long chain fatty acids--eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA+DHA)--may be a strong risk factor for preterm birth.

New Orleans, LA - Research led by Rinku Majumder, PhD, Associate Professor of Biochemistry at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine, has found how hypoxia (a low concentration of oxygen) decreases Protein S, a natural anticoagulant, resulting in an increased risk for the development of potentially life-threatening blood clots (thrombosis). Although hypoxia has been associated with an increased risk for thrombosis, this research showed for the first time a molecular cause. The work is published in the current issue of Blood, available online here.

A study led by experts from the University of Barcelona's Faculty of Biology and Institute for Research on Biodiversity (IRBio) have identified a disease that is affecting the starfish Odontaster validus, one of the most common species on the Antarctic sea floor. The disease, which is the first to be described in an echinoderm in Antarctica's marine environment, has afflicted up to 10% of the populations of the species, which is the most important benthic predator in the coastal communities of Deception Island and other marine regions in Antarctic latitudes.

The vast reservoir of carbon stored beneath our feet is entering Earth's atmosphere at an increasing rate, most likely as a result of warming temperatures, suggest observations collected from a variety of the Earth's many ecosystems.

Blame microbes and how they react to warmer temperatures. Their food of choice - nature's detritus like dead leaves and fallen trees - contains carbon. When bacteria chew on decaying leaves and fungi chow down on dead plants, they convert that storehouse of carbon into carbon dioxide that enters the atmosphere.

Tsukuba, Japan - Placodes and neural crests are defining features of vertebrates (animals with a spinal cord surrounded by cartilage or bone). Placodes are embryonic structures that develop into sensory organs such as ear, nose, and lens cells, while neural crests develop into various cell lineages such as bone, craniofacial cartilage, and epidermal sensory neurons.

When scientists discovered the gene that causes cystic fibrosis in 1989, they were optimistic that a cure was on the horizon. As the years rolled by, hundreds of mutations were identified in the gene, but new treatments were slow to emerge and a cure has yet to materialize. One major reason for the delay is that scientists have had trouble figuring out precisely where the gene is active. Now they know.