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Environment - Life Sciences - 10.09.2020
Global wildlife populations declined by two-thirds since 1970
Global animal populations have on average declined by two-thirds in less than half a century, according to the WWF's Living Planet Report 2020 involving UCL researchers, released today. The Living Planet Index (LPI), provided by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), shows that factors believed to increase the planet's vulnerability to pandemics such as COVID-19 - including land-use change and the use and trade of wildlife - were also some of the drivers behind the 68% average decline in global mammal, bird, amphibian, reptile and fish populations between 1970 and 2016.

Health - Life Sciences - 10.09.2020
Previously unknown ’genetic vulnerability’ in breast cancer cells target of research
The study, published in the scientific journalá Nature , has uncovered a genetic vulnerability present in nearly 10% percent of all breast cancers tumours, and found a way to target this vulnerability and selectively kill cancer cells. Each year, over five thousand newly diagnosed cases of breast cancer in the UK alone will carry this particular genetic fault, a proportion roughly double that driven by hereditary mutations such as those in the well-known BRCA genes.

Life Sciences - 10.09.2020
Binge-drinkers’ brains have to work harder to feel empathy for others
People who binge-drink show more extensive dysfunction across their brains than previously realised, a new study from the University of Sussex has shown. The research shows that binge-drinkers' brains have to put more effort into trying to feel empathy for other people in pain. The paper "Differential brain responses for perception of pain during empathic response in binge drinkers compared to non-binge drinkers? is published in the October 2020 edition of the Neuroimage: Clinical journal.

Health - Life Sciences - 07.09.2020
New model predicts oesophageal cancer eight years early for half of all patients
DNA from tissue biopsies taken from patients with Barrett's oesophagus - a risk factor for oesophageal cancer - could show which patients are most likely to develop the disease eight years before diagnosis, suggests a study led by researchers at the University of Cambridge and EMBL's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI).

Life Sciences - Health - 07.09.2020
Research unravels what makes memories so detailed and enduring
In years to come, personal memories of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to be etched in our minds with precision and clarity, distinct from other memories of 2020. The process which makes this possible has eluded scientists for many decades, but research led by the University of Bristol has made a breakthrough in understanding how memories can be so distinct and long-lasting without getting muddled up.

Life Sciences - Health - 07.09.2020
Raised blood pressure and diabetes alter brain structure to slow thinking speed and memory
In a new study, neuroscientists at Oxford University have found that raised blood pressure and diabetes in mid-life alter brain structure to slow thinking speed and memory. Looking at results from 22,000 volunteers in the UK Biobank who underwent brain scanning, the scientists found that raised blood pressure and diabetes significantly impaired the brain's cognitive functions, specifically the performance of thinking speed and short-term memory.

Life Sciences - Pharmacology - 04.09.2020
Genetic links to drug and alcohol use among young people
Young people who are genetically predisposed to risk-taking, low extraversion and schizophrenia are more likely to use alcohol, cigarettes, cannabis, or other illicit drugs, according to a new UCL-led study. The researchers say that the findings, published in Addiction Biology , are in line with the notion that people who are more vulnerable to psychopathology or certain personality traits are more inclined to try several types of drugs or use them to 'self-medicate'.

Life Sciences - 03.09.2020
Contribute to apple database and identify what type of tree is growing in your garden
Scientists from the University of Bristol are asking people in the local area who have -unknown- varieties of apple trees in their garden, allotment or neighbourhood to collect a few leaves and send them in to them. It's all part of ongoing research carried out by Professor Keith Edwards and his team from the University's School of Biological Sciences which has developed a genotyping system - similar to human DNA fingerprinting - which can rapidly and easily identify apple varieties.

Life Sciences - 03.09.2020
True size of prehistoric mega-shark finally revealed
To date only the length of the legendary giant shark Megalodon had been estimated but now, a new study led by the University of Bristol and Swansea University has revealed the size of the rest of its body, including fins that are as large as an adult human. There is a grim fascination in determining the size of the largest sharks, but this can be difficult for fossil forms where teeth are often all that remain.

Environment - Life Sciences - 28.08.2020
Understanding past warming can limit climate change effects
Evidence from Earth's past warming events should be built into forecasts showing how today's climate change could affect different species and ecosystems. Durham's bioscientists were part of an international team of researchers that identified and examined past increases in temperature similar to those anticipated in the coming decades.

Life Sciences - 26.08.2020
How effective are primate conservation measures?
With about 60 per cent of the world's primate species threatened with extinction, conservation efforts are now more important than ever. However, research by a team of world-renowned experts in 21 countries including one of our anthropology experts at Durham, has found that conservation measures are hardly ever evaluated, meaning we rarely know which ones work and which ones don't.

Life Sciences - 25.08.2020
Understand what works when trying to protect monkeys and apes, say scientists
Despite significant protection efforts, global populations of monkeys and apes are declining dramatically. A new study has found that the effectiveness of protection measures is rarely evaluated, and calls for an evidence-based approach to future conservation efforts to prevent imminent extinctions. Our findings imply that many primate conservation activities are carried out without demonstrably knowing if they have worked or not in other similar situations.

Life Sciences - Health - 21.08.2020
Genetic study points to cells responsible for Parkinson’s disease
Scientists have uncovered new insights into the origins of Parkinson's disease. The team, from the UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff University and the Oxford Parkinson's Disease Centre, University of Oxford, studied the genes of more than 6,000 cells from a region deep in the middle of the brain called the substantia nigra, which is where many neurological diseases begin.

Health - Life Sciences - 18.08.2020
Ageing heart cells offer clues to susceptibility of older people to severe COVID-19
Genes that play an important role in allowing SARS-CoV-2 to invade heart cells become more active with age, according to research published today in the Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology .

Health - Life Sciences - 18.08.2020
Differences in blood biomarkers in people with genetic risk of Alzheimer’s
Researchers at the University of Glasgow have conducted the largest study to date on a wide range of common blood biomarkers and show clear differences in people at genetic risk of Alzheimer's disease. The research - published today in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and using data from nearly 400,000 people in the UK Biobank - found relatively-large associations of neuro-inflammatory and cholesterol biomarkers, such as low-density lipoprotein levels, in people with a genetically-high risk of Alzheimer's disease.

Life Sciences - 12.08.2020
TV-watching snackers beware: you won’t notice you’re full if your attention is elsewhere
Eating while doing something perceptually-demanding makes it more difficult to notice when you feel full, shows new research from the University of Sussex. Professor Martin Yeomans , Dr Sophie Forster and colleagues found that when your senses are taken up by an engaging task, you are less likely to be able to adjust how much extra food or drink you consume.

Health - Life Sciences - 11.08.2020
Enzyme discovered in the gut could lead to new disease biomarker
Enzymes used by bacteria to break down mucus in the gut could provide a useful biomarker for intestinal diseases, according to new research published. Researchers at the University of Birmingham and Newcastle University have successfully identified and characterised one of the key enzymes involved in this process.

Life Sciences - 10.08.2020
Metallic blue fruits use fat to produce colour and signal a treat for birds
Researchers have found a common plant owes the dazzling blue colour of its fruit to fat in its cellular structure, the first time this type of colour production has been observed in nature. The plant, Viburnum tinus , is an evergreen shrub widespread across the UK and the rest of Europe, which produces metallic blue fruits that are rich in fat.

Health - Life Sciences - 09.08.2020
Cannabidiol improves blood flow to brain’s hippocampus
A single dose of cannabidiol (CBD) helped increase blood flow to the hippocampus, an important area of the brain associated with memory and emotion, finds a new study led by UCL researchers. Researchers say the findings could be an important discovery for conditions which affect memory, such as Alzheimer's disease and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and could help better target therapies.

Pharmacology - Life Sciences - 07.08.2020
A novel strategy for using compounds as ’anti-evolution’ drugs to combat antibiotic resistance
The rise of antibiotic resistance in many pathogens has been driven by the spread of a small number of strains, suggesting that some bacteria may be genetically pre-disposed to evolving resistance. Researchers at Oxford University have tested this hypothesis by quantifying differences in evolvability between pathogen strains and by searching for 'potentiator' genes that accelerate the evolution of resistance.