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Life Sciences - Environment - 16.01.2020
Scientists uncover how an explosion of new genes explain the origin of land plants
Scientists have made a significant discovery about the genetic origins of how plants evolved from living in water to land 470 million years ago. The new study, led by scientists from the universities of Bristol and Essex and published today [16 January] in Current Biology , challenge the established view of the origin of plants on land, and reveal that compared to the origin of animals, plants are better at inventing new genes during periods of evolution.

Life Sciences - Computer Science / Telecom - 16.01.2020
Artificial intelligence used to predict 3D structure of proteins
A deep learning system can predict the structure of a protein using its genetic sequence more accurately than any previous modelling system, according to a study by researchers at DeepMind and UCL. Nearly every function our body performs relies on proteins. Predicting the intricate 3D structure of a protein is important because its structure largely determines its function and, once the structure is known, scientists can develop drugs that target this unique shape.

Pharmacology - Life Sciences - 16.01.2020
Probiotic drink could offer new way to combat antibiotic resistance
A probiotic drink could become a promising new weapon in the battle against antibiotic resistant bacteria, after a team of scientists at the University of Birmingham engineered and patented a key genetic element that can tackle the genetic basis of resistance. The team is now seeking funding for a clinical trial for the drink which has potential to work against many resistant bacteria commonly found in the human gut including E. coli, Salmonella and Klebsiella pneumoniae.

Life Sciences - 15.01.2020
Analysis: Women who have more sex may enter the menopause later
Megan Arnot (UCL Anthropology) discusses a new study conducted with Professor Ruth Mace (UCL Anthropology) which found that women's sexual behaviour is connected with menopause timing. Globally, on average, women experience the menopause at around the age of 50. But there's a great deal of variation in this age both within and between countries.

Life Sciences - 15.01.2020
Women who have less sex enter the menopause earlier
Megan Arnot (UCL Anthropology) discusses a new study conducted with Professor Ruth Mace (UCL Anthropology) which found that women's sexual behaviour is connected with menopause timing. Globally, on average, women experience the menopause at around the age of 50. But there's a great deal of variation in this age both within and between countries.

Life Sciences - 15.01.2020
Animals reduce the symmetry of their markings to improve camouflage
Animals reduce the symmetry of their markings to improve camouflage
Some forms of camouflage have evolved in animals to exploit a loophole in the way predators perceive their symmetrical markings. The University of Bristol findings, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B today [15 Jan], describe how animals have evolved to mitigate this defensive disadvantage in their colouration.

Life Sciences - 15.01.2020
Animals should use short, fast movements to avoid being located
Most animals need to move, whether this is to seek out food, shelter or a mate. New research has shown that movement doesn't always break camouflage and if an animal needs to move, animals that are unpatterned and use short, fast movements are less likely to be located by predators. In most cases, most of the visual field of a predator does not fall within a high-resolution area and so, when an undetected prey moves, that motion will often be in peripheral vision.

Health - Life Sciences - 15.01.2020
Into leading cause of stillbirth awarded 2.4 million funding
Researchers have been awarded over £2.4 million to investigate the best technique to manage poor growth in babies during the later stages of pregnancy Fetal growth restriction (FGR) can lead to stillbirth, accounting for half of the cases of stillbirth in the UK. The new international study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), will investigate the best time to deliver babies who are diagnosed with FGR in late preterm pregnancy.

Life Sciences - 15.01.2020
Having less sex linked to earlier menopause
Having less sex linked to earlier menopause
Women who engage in sexual activity weekly or monthly have a lower risk of entering menopause early relative to those who report having some form of sex less than monthly, according to a new UCL study. The researchers observed that women, who reported engaging in sexual activity weekly, were 28% less likely to have experienced menopause at any given age than women who engaged in sexual activity less than monthly.

Health - Life Sciences - 14.01.2020
HIV ’hotspots’ not necessarily major drivers of new infections
Areas of high HIV prevalence, known as 'hotspots', do not necessarily fuel the epidemic in the wider population, say researchers. Hotspots are often targeted for intense HIV control interventions, including treatment and prevention, to maximise their effect and reach the people in greatest need first.

Life Sciences - Health - 14.01.2020
Brain blood flow sensor discovery could aid treatments for dementia
Researchers at UCL have discovered the mechanism that allows the brain to monitor its own blood supply, a finding in rats which may help to find new treatments for conditions including hypertension (high blood pressure) and dementia. For decades, scientists have suspected that the brain had a way of monitoring and regulating its own blood flow separate from the body-wide blood pressure control system, but until now no one had proven this.

Life Sciences - Health - 14.01.2020
Malnutrition linked with increased risk of Zika birth defects
The severity of Zika virus-related deformations in babies has been shown to be affected by environmental factors such as maternal nutrition. Environmental factors, such as the diets of pregnant women, have been shown to have an effect on the extent and severity of developmental malformations in babies associated with Zika virus (ZIKV) congenital infection.

Life Sciences - Health - 14.01.2020
Lack of key protein reduces brain connections in schizophrenia
Lack of key protein reduces brain connections in schizophrenia
Brain scans have revealed for the first time how people with schizophrenia have reduced levels of a key protein which helps brain cells to communicate The findings, published today , have shown a lack of a protein called SV2A in the brains of those with schizophrenia, compared to those without. According to the researchers who carried out the study, the findings suggest the protein could provide a new target for research into potential treatments.

Life Sciences - 14.01.2020
Researchers partner with BBC to test the nation's intelligence
Researchers partner with BBC to test the nation’s intelligence
How clever are you? Can you train yourself to be smarter? And is your reliance on your smartphone making you more stressed or less able to think? These are just a few of the questions researchers hope to help answer as part of a new BBC television programme. The Great British Intelligence Test aims to gauge how the nation fairs when it comes to using our brainpower and could provide new insight into how human intelligence works.

Health - Life Sciences - 14.01.2020
Long-term skin irritation linked to increased risk of tumour growth
Long-term skin irritation linked to increased risk of tumour growth
An antibody that usually helps defend the skin against harmful substances or infections may promote tumour growth during chronic tissue inflammation. One of the skin's defences against environmental assault can help tumours to grow when skin is exposed to chronic inflammation, finds a study in mice published today in eLife.

Environment - Life Sciences - 13.01.2020
Global database of all bird species shows how body shape predicts lifestyle
A database of 10,000 bird species shows how measurements of wings, beaks and tails can predict a species' role in an ecosystem. Given that many bird species perform important ecological functions, such as pollinating plants, spreading seeds, or controlling pests, the database may help scientists to understand and predict how the loss of species will affect ecosystem health.

Environment - Life Sciences - 13.01.2020
Global database of bird species shows how body shape predicts lifestyle
A database of 10,000 bird species shows how measurements of wings, beaks and tails can predict a species' role in an ecosystem, according to a study led by UCL and Imperial College London. Given that many bird species perform important ecological functions, such as pollinating plants, spreading seeds, or controlling pests, the database may help scientists to understand and predict how the loss of species will affect ecosystem health.

Life Sciences - Health - 13.01.2020
Researchers identify new genetic link to schizophrenia
Researchers identify new genetic link to schizophrenia
Cardiff University researchers have identified new mutations in a gene that provides novel insights into the biological causes of schizophrenia. Dr Elliott Rees, a research fellow at the Medical Research Council Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics, analysed genetic data from 3,444 families affected by schizophrenia, in the largest study of its kind.

Environment - Life Sciences - 13.01.2020
Researcher unites with global scientists to compile insect recovery action plan
Researcher unites with global scientists to compile insect recovery action plan
A Cardiff University scientist has joined forces with more than 70 other experts from around the world to create an action plan aimed at halting the dramatic decline of insects. Dr Hefin Jones, from Cardiff University's School of Biosciences, is among the experts who have collaborated on the roadmap for insect conservation and recovery.

Chemistry - Life Sciences - 13.01.2020
Accelerated speed of discovery could lead to more effective smoking cessation aids
Accelerated speed of discovery could lead to more effective smoking cessation aids
As smokers know all too well, nicotine is highly addictive. It's hard to quit smoking, a habit that claims the lives of more than seven million people each year. Smoking tobacco delivers nicotine to the neuroreceptors responsible for addiction, affecting the nervous system and causing addiction. A new study, led by scientists from the University of Bristol, into the molecular interactions involved has revealed how these neuroreceptors respond to nicotine.

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