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Life Sciences - 01.12.2020
Fingerprints’ moisture-regulating mechanism strengthens human touch - study
Human fingerprints have a self-regulating moisture mechanism that not only helps us to avoid dropping our smartphone, but could help scientists to develop better prosthetic limbs, robotic equipment and virtual reality environments, a new study reveals. Primates - including humans, monkeys and apes - have evolved epidermal ridges on their hands and feet with a higher density of sweat glands than elsewhere on their bodies.

Life Sciences - Environment - 30.11.2020
New aggressive alga threatening the health of Caribbean coral reefs
New aggressive alga threatening the health of Caribbean coral reefs
Hurricanes, pollution, disease, bleaching and the effects of an increasingly warmer planet are all negatively impacting the health of coral reefs around the world. However, those in the Caribbean are facing a new threat - an aggressive, golden-brown, crust-like alga that is rapidly overgrowing shallow reefs.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 26.11.2020
Ancient bird with sickle-shaped beak offers insights into evolution
A 68 million-year-old fossil of a crow-sized bird discovered in Madagascar offers new insights into the evolution of face and beak shape of modern birds' ancestors, according to a new study involving UCL researchers. The findings are helping scientists to understand convergent evolution of complex anatomy.

Health - Life Sciences - 26.11.2020
World's first research programme to identify scarring gene launched
World’s first research programme to identify scarring gene launched
A world-leading £1.5 million research programme that aims to achieve scar free healing within a generation has been launched today [26 November] by The Scar Free Foundation, the only medical research charity which focuses solely on scarring. The five-year research study led by the University of Bristol will identify the gene(s) that causes scarring and inform future treatments.

Life Sciences - 25.11.2020
Research creates hydrogen-producing living droplets, paving way for alternative future energy sources
Research creates hydrogen-producing living droplets, paving way for alternative future energy sources
Scientists have built tiny droplet-based microbial factories that produce hydrogen, instead of oxygen, when exposed to daylight in air. The findings of the international research team, led by the University of Bristol in collaboration with the Harbin Institute of Technology in China, are published today.

Life Sciences - 24.11.2020
Can drinking cocoa make you smarter?
Increased consumption of flavanols - a group of molecules which occur naturally in fruit and vegetables - can increase your mental agility, according to new research. A team at the University of Birmingham has found that people given a cocoa drink containing high levels of flavanols were able to complete certain cognitive tasks more efficiently than when drinking a non-flavanol enriched-drink.

Chemistry - Life Sciences - 20.11.2020
Biofriendly protocells pump up blood vessels
Biofriendly protocells pump up blood vessels
An international team of researchers from Bristol and China has prepared biocompatible protocells that generate nitric oxide gas - a known reagent for blood vessel dilation - that when placed inside blood vessels expand the biological tissue. In a new study published today , Professor Stephen Mann and Dr Mei Li from Bristol's School of Chemistry, together with Associate Professor Jianbo Liu and colleagues at Hunan University and Central South University in China, prepared synthetic protocells coated in red blood cell fragments for use as nitric oxide generating bio-bots within blood vessels.

Life Sciences - Environment - 20.11.2020
Firth of Clyde a 'key source' of juvenile whiting, supplying the wider Scottish west coast and Irish Sea fisheries
Firth of Clyde a ’key source’ of juvenile whiting, supplying the wider Scottish west coast and Irish Sea fisheries
Scientists have discovered that the Firth of Clyde is an important source of juvenile whiting to the wider Scottish west coast waters, in new research likely to be important for fisheries management. In a new joint study, between the University of Glasgow and Marine Scotland Science published today in Communications Biology, researchers found that as juvenile whiting grow to become adults some cross the fish stock boundary between the Irish Sea and waters to the west of Scotland.

Life Sciences - Health - 18.11.2020
Wearable imaging cap provides a window into babies’ brains
A team led by UCL researchers has demonstrated a new form of wearable, baby-friendly brain mapping technology that has important implications for understanding developmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder and cerebral palsy. The technology uses harmless levels of red and near-infrared light delivered via a wearable cap to generate detailed 3D images of babies' brain activity.

Health - Life Sciences - 17.11.2020
Hole-punching bacteria could be engineered to attack pathogens
A team led by researchers at UCL and Imperial College London have discovered how to engineer bacteria that normally attack human cells so that they kill other pathogens instead. Many pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria use specific proteins to punch holes in the cell membranes of their hosts, killing them.

Life Sciences - Health - 17.11.2020
New study could help to better predict which individuals are more susceptible to cancer-causing agents in the environment
New insights into the mechanisms behind how cancer-causing agents in the environment activate genetic recombination in DNA could help to explain some of the effects of exposure as well as predicting which individuals may be more susceptible to developing the disease, a new UK study has suggested. Everyone is exposed to low levels of carcinogens (substances or radiation that promote the formation of cancer) in the environment.

Chemistry - Life Sciences - 13.11.2020
Cysteine synthesis was a key step in the origin of life
In an important step during the early evolution of life on Earth, the formation of the amino acid cysteine delivered vital catalysts, which enabled the earliest protein molecules to form in water, according to a new study by UCL researchers. All proteins are built from the same 20 amino acids. One of these, cysteine, was assumed not to have been present at the origin of life.

Life Sciences - 13.11.2020
Learning something new in lockdown? New research shows what could be happening in the brain
A study by scientists at the University of Sussex is challenging the common understanding of how mammalian brains work. The research, published in Current Biology, suggests that neurons in the sensory cortex don't just detect sensory information, but could actually decipher meaning and regulate bodily responses too.

Psychology - Life Sciences - 13.11.2020
The future’s uncertain - but noradrenaline can help us adapt
A brain chemical called noradrenaline is responsible for our responses to uncertain situations - helping us to learn quickly and adapt our behaviour, a new study has found. We found that a brain chemical called noradrenaline plays a role in our inability to predict the future when the state of the world is volatile.

Computer Science - Life Sciences - 11.11.2020
Unravelling the secrets of spider limb regeneration to inspire new gen soft-robotics
Spider webs are engineering marvels constructed by 8 legged experts with 400 million years of accumulated know-how.  Much can be learned from the building of the spider's gossamer net and the operation of its sticky trap.  Amazingly, garden cross spiders can regenerate lost legs and use them immediately to build a web that is pitch-perfect, even though the new limb is much shorter than the one it replaced.  This phenomenon has allowed scientists to probe the rules the animal uses to build its web and how it uses its legs as measuring sticks.

Life Sciences - 10.11.2020
Urban gulls adapt foraging schedule to human activity patterns
Urban gulls adapt foraging schedule to human activity patterns
Fitting birds with GPS trackers inside mini backpacks reveals what has been long suspected: urban gulls know exactly when and where to forage for human food. If you've ever seen a seagull snatch a pasty or felt their beady eyes on your sandwich in the park, you'd be right to suspect they know exactly when to strike to increase their chances of getting a human snack.

Life Sciences - Social Sciences - 10.11.2020
Female mongooses start violent fights to mate with unrelated males
Female banded mongooses lead their groups into fights then try to mate with enemy males in the chaos of battle, new research has found. Meanwhile, males bear the costs of these fights - injuries and deaths are common.  The mortality costs involved are similar to those seen in a handful of the most warlike mammals, including lions, chimpanzees, and humans Rufus Johnstone Mongooses rarely leave the group they are born into, so members are usually genetically related.

Life Sciences - Paleontology - 06.11.2020
Earliest example of a rapid-fire tongue found in extinct amphibians
Fossils of small armoured amphibians provide the oldest evidence of a slingshot-style tongue, according to a new study co-led by a UCL researcher. The research team analysed 99-million-year-old fossils to find that the animals were sit-and-wait predators that snatched prey with a projectile firing of their tongue, as reported in the journal Science .

Health - Life Sciences - 06.11.2020
COVID-19 linked to worse stroke outcomes
People who experience strokes while infected with COVID-19 appear to be left with greater disability after the stroke, according a study led by UCL and UCLH researchers. Having COVID-19 at stroke onset was also associated with more than double the mortality rate of other stroke patients, according to the findings published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry .

Life Sciences - Health - 05.11.2020
Discovery of shape of the SARS-CoV-2 genome after infection could inform new COVID-19 treatments
Discovery of shape of the SARS-CoV-2 genome after infection could inform new COVID-19 treatments
Scientists at the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with Justus-Liebig University, Germany, have uncovered how the genome of SARS-CoV-2 - the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 - uses genome origami to infect and replicate successfully inside host cells. This could inform the development of effective drugs that target specific parts of the virus genome, in the fight against COVID-19.
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