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Life Sciences - 12.12.2019
Parakeet ’crime map’ busts Bogart and Hendrix myths
Using geographic profiling to map half a century of ring-necked parakeet sightings, a research team involving UCL has found no evidence to support any of the colourful legends surrounding the birds' origins in the UK. Stories have circulated in recent years that seek to explain how the non-native bright green birds ( Psittacula krameri ) started breeding and spread to become one of Britain's most successful alien species.

Health - Life Sciences - 11.12.2019
Chimpanzees may have evolved resistance to HIV precursor
Simian immunodeficiency virus, the monkeyand ape-infecting virus that HIV originated from, may have influenced the genetics of chimpanzees, finds a new UCL-led study. The virus is a leading contributor to differences between chimpanzee subspecies, according to the findings published in  PLOS Genetics .

Health - Life Sciences - 09.12.2019
Probiotics and prebiotics work differently in girls and boys according to piglet study
The team from the Universities of Bristol and Reading found that 28-day old piglets produced very different levels of immune cells, antibodies and other immune-associated molecules depending on their sex, contradicting previous evidence suggesting that the difference in immunity begins during puberty.

Environment - Life Sciences - 05.12.2019
Wildlife in tropics hardest hit by forests being broken up
Wildlife in tropics hardest hit by forests being broken up
Tropical species are six times more sensitive to forests being broken up for logging or farming than temperate species, says new research. A team led by Oregon State University and including Imperial College London scientists found that sensitivity to forest fragmentation - the breakup of forests by human activities like logging or farming - increased six-fold at low versus high latitudes, putting tropical species at greater risk of extinction.

Life Sciences - Social Sciences - 05.12.2019
Social influencers: what can we learn from animals?
Research from Oxford University calls us to reconsider how behaviours may spread through societies of wild animals, and how this might provide new insights into human social networks. Our social connections to one another, whether it be online or in real life, give rise to our 'social networks'. Previously, it has often been assumed that the individuals with the most social connections are the primary 'social influencers' and most likely to acquire, and spread, new behaviours.

Health - Life Sciences - 05.12.2019
Being active reduces risk of prostate cancer
This new study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology today [5 December], was led by the University of Bristol and co-funded by World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and Cancer Research UK (CRUK). It found that people with the variation in their DNA sequence that makes them more likely to be active, had a 51 per cent reduced risk of prostate cancer than people who did not have this particular variation.

Life Sciences - Health - 03.12.2019
World first as artificial neurons developed to cure chronic diseases
Artificial neurons on silicon chips that behave just like the real thing have been invented by scientists - a first-of-its-kind achievement with enormous scope for medical devices to cure chronic diseases, such as heart failure, Alzheimer's, and other diseases of neuronal degeneration. Critically the artificial neurons not only behave just like biological neurons but only need one billionth the power of a microprocessor, making them ideally suited for use in medical implants and other bio-electronic devices.

Environment - Life Sciences - 02.12.2019
Reveals climate change impact on Antarctic penguins | University of Oxford
Reveals climate change impact on Antarctic penguins | University of Oxford
Antarctic penguins have been on the forefront of climate change, experiencing massive changes to their natural habitat as the world's temperatures and human activity in the region have increased. Now, new research has revealed how penguins have dealt with more than a century of human impacts in Antarctica and why some species are winners or losers in this rapidly changing ecosystem.

Life Sciences - History / Archeology - 02.12.2019
1940s blood samples reveal historical spread of malaria
DNA from 75-year old eradicated European malaria parasites uncovers the historical spread of one of the two most common forms of the disease, Plasmodium vivax, from Europe to the Americas during the colonial period, finds a new study co-led by UCL. The research published in Molecular Biology and Evolution reports the genome sequence of a malaria parasite sourced from blood-stained medical microscope slides used in 1944 in Spain, one of the last footholds of malaria in Europe.

Life Sciences - Health - 28.11.2019
Placenta changes could mean male offspring of older mums more likely to develop heart problems in later life, rat study finds
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Life Sciences - Palaeontology - 27.11.2019
Animal embryos evolved before animals
Animal embryos evolved before animals
Animals evolved from single-celled ancestors, before diversifying into 30 or 40 distinct anatomical designs. When and how animal ancestors made the transition from single-celled microbes to complex multicellular organisms has been the focus of intense debate.

Life Sciences - Earth Sciences - 25.11.2019
Changes in oxygen concentrations in our ocean can disrupt fundamental biological cycles
Changes in oxygen concentrations in our ocean can disrupt fundamental biological cycles
The nitrogen cycle is essential to all forms of life on Earth - nitrogen is a basic building block of DNA. The marine nitrogen cycle is strongly controlled by biology and small changes in the marine nitrogen cycle have major implications on life. It is thought that the marine nitrogen cycle has stayed relatively stable over geological time due to a range of different feedback mechanisms.

Health - Life Sciences - 25.11.2019
Air pollution linked to higher glaucoma risk
Living in a more polluted area is associated with a greater likelihood of having glaucoma, a debilitating eye condition that can cause blindness, finds a new UCL-led study in the UK. People in neighbourhoods with higher amounts of fine particulate matter pollution were at least 6% more likely to report having glaucoma than those in the least-polluted areas, according to the findings published in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science .

Life Sciences - Academic Rankings - 19.11.2019
UCL academics named in global list of influential researchers
Forty-four academics are included in Clarivate's 'Highly Cited Researchers 2019' list, which recognises authors of the most influential research papers around the world. The results are comparable with university peers such as Oxford (55 researchers recognised), Cambridge (53) and Imperial College London (34) and represent an increase since last year, when 41 UCL researchers were recognised.

Life Sciences - Pharmacology - 19.11.2019
Ayahuasca compound changes brainwaves to vivid 'waking-dream' state
Ayahuasca compound changes brainwaves to vivid ’waking-dream’ state
Scientists have peered inside the brain to show how taking DMT affects human consciousness by significantly altering the brain's electrical activity. DMT (or dimethyltryptamine) is one of the main psychoactive constituents in ayahuasca, the psychedelic brew traditionally made from vines and leaves of the Amazon rainforest.

Health - Life Sciences - 18.11.2019
Body's protection shield
Body’s protection shield
Scientists have discovered a way to manipulate the body's own immune response to help boost tissue repair. The findings, published in Current Biology today [18 Nov], reveal a new network of protective factors to shield cells against damage. This discovery, made by University of Bristol researchers, could significantly benefit patients undergoing surgery by speeding recovery times and lowering the risk of complication.

Life Sciences - Health - 15.11.2019
Researchers take first step towards genetic test for childhood short-sightedness
Researchers from the Universities of Cardiff and Bristol have devised a test that could in future help to identify children at risk of developing a very common eye condition. Short-sightedness, or myopia, usually develops during childhood and is thought to affect up to one in three people in the UK.

Environment - Life Sciences - 14.11.2019
Evolution can reconfigure gene networks to deal with environmental change
Scientists at the University of Birmingham have unravelled the genetic mechanisms behind tiny waterfleas' ability to adapt to increased levels of phosphorus pollution in lakes. By mapping networks of genes to the physiological responses of ancient and modern waterfleas (Daphnia), the researchers, based in the University's School of Biosciences , were able to show that a cluster of over 800 genes, many of them involved in metabolic processes, evolved to become "plastic", or flexible.

Life Sciences - Health - 12.11.2019
Newborn baby hiccups could be key to brain development
Each time a newborn baby hiccups, it triggers a large wave of brain signals which could help the baby learn how to regulate their breathing, finds a new UCL-led study. The study, published in Clinical Neurophysiology , was based on brain scans of newborn infants. "The reasons for why we hiccup are not entirely clear, but there may be a developmental reason, given that foetuses and newborn babies hiccup so frequently," said the study's lead author, research associate Kimberley Whitehead (UCL Neuroscience, Physiology & Pharmacology).

Environment - Life Sciences - 12.11.2019
Bacteria may contribute more to climate change as planet heats up
Bacteria may contribute more to climate change as planet heats up
As bacteria adapt to hotter temperatures, they speed up their respiration rate and release more carbon, potentially accelerating climate change. By releasing more carbon as global temperatures rise, bacteria and related organisms called archaea could increase climate warming at a faster rate than current models suggest.
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