news 2021


Life Sciences

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Life Sciences - 15.09.2021
Primate mothers may carry infants after death as a way of grieving
Some primate species may express grief over the death of their infant by carrying the corpse with them, sometimes for months, according to a new UCL-led study - with implications for our understanding of how non-human animals experience emotion. Published today in Proceedings of the Royal Society B , the researchers compiled data from anecdotes reported in 126 publications on primate behaviour.

Life Sciences - Health - 15.09.2021
Fixing protein production errors lengthens lifespan
Reducing naturally occurring errors in protein synthesis (production) improves both health and lifespan, finds a new study in simple model organisms led by researchers at UCL and MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences. The novel findings, published in Cell Metabolism , are the first to demonstrate a direct link between fewer protein mistakes and longevity.

Health - Life Sciences - 07.09.2021
Opinion: Multiple sclerosis linked to infection in adolescence - new study
Infections of the central nervous system and respiratory system in youth have been found to increase the risk of MS significantly, says Professor Scott Montgomery (UCL Institute of Epidemiology & Health). Multiple sclerosis (MS) is most often diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50. Certain genes put a person at greater risk of getting this disease of the central nervous system, but scientists are still trying to understand the triggers.

Life Sciences - Environment - 06.09.2021
Newly developed evolved enzymes produce renewable isobutene
New research published today details a breakthrough in the creation of evolved enzymes to support a renewable process to make one of the key building blocks of the chemical industry used in everything from beauty products to fuel. The newly published findings are the result of collaborative work between Global Bioenergies and the team of Dr. David Leys at The University of Manchester, and have been published today .

Life Sciences - Health - 06.09.2021
Researchers get to the heart of fish health with new diagnostic tool
A group of aquaculture researchers in Scotland is aiming to develop a simple and cost-effective mass testing tool that could significantly enhance fish health and wellbeing, by quickly and proactively detecting and differentiating between a range of cardiac conditions in salmon. The consortium will seek to better screen and characterise the heart health of salmon by studying specific blood biomarkers that indicate the presence of cardiomyopathies such as heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMI), cardiomyopathy syndrome (CMS), and pancreas disease (PD).

Life Sciences - Health - 01.09.2021
New mechanism preventing toxic DNA lesions opens up therapeutic avenues for Huntington's disease
New mechanism preventing toxic DNA lesions opens up therapeutic avenues for Huntington’s disease
A new mechanism that stops the progression of Huntington's disease in cells has been identified by scientists at the University of Cambridge and UCL, as part of their research groups at the UK Dementia Research Institute. There are currently more than fifty CAG repeat expansion disorders that are incurable.

Life Sciences - Environment - 26.08.2021
Plants evolved ability to actively control water-loss earlier than previously thought
New research has shed light on when plants first evolved the ability to respond to changing humidity in the air around them, and was probably a feature of a common ancestor of both flowering plants and ferns. Key to the regulation mechanism are tiny holes, or pores, on the surface of leaves, called stomata.

Life Sciences - Health - 26.08.2021
Researchers identify genetic cause of endometriosis and potential drug target
Endometriosis is a painful, chronic condition in which tissue from the uterus inappropriately grows outside the uterus.  Current treatments are limited and include surgery and hormone therapy, which can involve unwanted side effects. New research conducted by the University of Oxford, Baylor College of Medicine, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Bayer AG, offers new insight into how to treat this debilitating disease.

Life Sciences - Health - 25.08.2021
Mutation rate of Covid19 virus is at least 50 per cent higher than previously thought
Mutation rate of Covid19 virus is at least 50 per cent higher than previously thought
New study from the Milner Centre for Evolution shows the virus that causes Covid19 mutates almost once a week. Last updated on Friday 10 September 2021 The virus that causes Covid19 mutates almost once a week - significantly higher than the rate estimated previously - according to a new study by scientists from the Universities of Bath and Edinburgh.

Health - Life Sciences - 24.08.2021
Farmed carnivores may become 'disease reservoirs' posing human health risk
Farmed carnivores may become ’disease reservoirs’ posing human health risk
Carnivorous animals lack key genes needed to detect and respond to infection by pathogens, a study has found. We've found that a whole cohort of inflammatory genes is missing in carnivores Clare Bryant Farming large numbers of carnivores, like mink, could allow the formation of undetected 'disease reservoirs', in which a pathogen could spread to many animals and mutate to become a risk to human health.

Life Sciences - 23.08.2021
’Vegetarian’ giant tortoise filmed attacking and eating seabird
Researchers have captured on film the moment when a Seychelles giant tortoise, Aldabrachelys gigantea , attacked and ate a tern chick. This is the first documentation of deliberate hunting in any wild tortoise species. The whole interaction took seven minutes and was quite horrifying Justin Gerlach The hunting tortoise was seen in July 2020 on Frégate Island, a privately owned island in the Seychelles group managed for ecotourism, where around 3,000 tortoises live.

Sport - Life Sciences - 23.08.2021
Mathematical model predicts best way to build muscle
Mathematical model predicts best way to build muscle
Researchers have developed a mathematical model that can predict the optimum exercise regime for building muscle. Surprisingly, not very much is known about why or how exercise builds muscles: there's a lot of anecdotal knowledge and acquired wisdom, but very little in the way of hard or proven data Eugene Terentjev The researchers, from the University of Cambridge, used methods of theoretical biophysics to construct the model, which can tell how much a specific amount of exertion will cause a muscle to grow and how long it will take.

Life Sciences - 18.08.2021
Ageing cuttlefish can remember the details of last week's dinner
Ageing cuttlefish can remember the details of last week’s dinner
Cuttlefish can remember what, where, and when specific things happened - right up to their last few days of life, researchers have found. The old cuttlefish were just as good as the younger ones in the memory task Alexandra Schnell The results, published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B , are the first evidence of an animal whose memory of specific events does not deteriorate with age.

Health - Life Sciences - 17.08.2021
Researchers confirm speed, simplicity and sensitivity for new COVID-19 test
Researchers from the University of Birmingham have confirmed the speed, accuracy and simplicity of a novel, highly sensitive testing method for COVID-19 that can be deployed at entertainment venues, airport arrival terminals, and in remote settings where clinical testing laboratories are not available.

Life Sciences - 17.08.2021
AI used to decode brain signals and predict behaviour
An artificial neural network (AI) designed by an international team involving UCL can translate raw data from brain activity, paving the way for new discoveries and a closer integration between technology and the brain. The new method could accelerate discoveries of how brain activities relate to behaviours.

Life Sciences - Environment - 16.08.2021
Restoring farmland ponds can help save our declining pollinators
Pollinating insects such as bees, butterflies, hoverflies and wasps, interact more with plants at well-managed farmland ponds than those that are severely overgrown by trees, finds a new study led by UCL researchers. The study, published in Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment , has been undertaken by the UCL Pond Restoration Group; since 2014 the research team has been working with the Norfolk Ponds Project, helping put pond restoration into practice, with the aim of showing how conservation and farming can work together.

Health - Life Sciences - 12.08.2021
Discovery of origin of oesophageal cancer cells highlights importance of screening for pre-cancerous Barrett’s oesophagus
Abnormal cells that go on develop into oesophageal cancer - cancer that affects the tube connecting the mouth and stomach - start life as cells of the stomach, according to scientists at the University of Cambridge. The techniques we used have shown us the internal processes that happen in the stomach cells when they become Barrett's.

Life Sciences - Health - 06.08.2021
Scientists reverse a key hallmark of motor neurone disease in the laboratory
Scientists at UCL and the Francis Crick Institute have studied how proteins accumulate in the wrong parts of brain cells in motor neurone disease, and have demonstrated how it might be possible, in some cases, to reverse this. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as motor neurone disease, is a progressive fatal disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control, with patients become increasingly paralysed and losing the ability to speak, eat and breathe.

Life Sciences - Health - 05.08.2021
Food or sex? Fruit flies give insight into decision-making
Food or sex? Fruit flies give insight into decision-making
Individuals are likely to prioritise food over sex after being deprived of both, according to researchers at the University of Birmingham, who studied this behavioural conflict in fruit flies. A new study, published in Current Biology , pinpointed the precise neuronal impulses triggered in flies' brains when faced with the critical choices of feeding or mating.

Life Sciences - Environment - 04.08.2021
Ancient human adaptation to agriculture and climate change in Middle East
Ancient human adaptation to agriculture and climate change in Middle East
The most comprehensive study so far of genetic diversity in the Middle East has given a glimpse into the lives of ancient humans who lived through such seismic events as the development of agriculture and the formation of the Arabian Desert. Researchers at the University of Birmingham and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, along with their international collaborators, have uncovered signals in DNA that indicate a population boom in the Levant coinciding with the transition to agriculture and a population crash in Arabia as the region dried up.
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