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Health - Life Sciences - 28.06.2023
We found coronaviruses in UK bats - so far the danger’s minimal but we need to know more
Professor Francois Balloux, PhD candidate Cedric Tan and Dr Lucy van Dorp (all UCL Biosciences) share their new research in The Conversation on RNA viruses, generally considered the most worrying infectious threats, circulating in UK bats and their zoonotic potential. Most emerging infectious diseases are caused by zoonotic pathogens - viruses and bacteria which circulate in wild and domestic animals but are also capable of infecting humans.

Life Sciences - Chemistry - 28.06.2023
People with obsessive-compulsive disorder have an imbalance of brain chemicals
According to new research shared in The Conversation, Dr Marjan Biria (UCL Psychiatry) and researchers from Cambridge University have discovered an imbalance in brain chemicals in OCD that could lead to radically different and improved treatments. People often jokingly say they've "got a bit of OCD" (obsessive-compulsive disorder) if they are overly organised or tidy.

Health - Life Sciences - 28.06.2023
Key gene that blocks the ’spillover’ of avian flu to humans discovered
Understanding the genetic make-up of currently circulating avian flu strains may offer one of the best lines of defence against widespread human transmission. This is, according to new research which has found a key human gene responsible for blocking most avian flu viruses from spilling over into people Understanding the genetic make-up of currently circulating avian flu strains may offer one of the best lines of defence against widespread human transmission.

Health - Life Sciences - 27.06.2023
Monitoring British bats can help identify coronaviruses with pathogen potential
Monitoring British bats can help identify coronaviruses with pathogen potential
Researchers who found novel coronaviruses in UK bats say genetic surveys of the viruses should be regularly conducted. Working with a network of bat conservationists, a research team led by Imperial College London and University College London researchers screened faecal samples from UK bats for coronaviruses.

Life Sciences - Pharmacology - 27.06.2023
Chemical imbalance in the forebrain underpins compulsive behaviour and OCD
Chemical imbalance in the forebrain underpins compulsive behaviour and OCD
Neuroscientists say that the findings are a -major piece of the puzzle- in understanding OCD, and could open up new lines of treatment. The results suggest new strategies for medication in OCD based on available drugs that regulate glutamate Trevor Robbins Scientists at the University of Cambridge have used powerful new brain imaging techniques to reveal a neurochemical imbalance within regions of the frontal lobes in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Life Sciences - Health - 27.06.2023
Human embryo-like models created from stem cells to understand earliest stages of human development
Human embryo-like models created from stem cells to understand earliest stages of human development
Cambridge scientists have created a stem cell-derived model of the human embryo in the lab by reprogramming human stem cells. The breakthrough could help research into genetic disorders and in understanding why and how pregnancies fail.

Life Sciences - 27.06.2023
Brain mechanism that connects the past and present discovered
Brain mechanism that connects the past and present discovered
UCL researchers have uncovered the process in the brain that supports our understanding of ongoing experiences. The study, published in Nature Neuroscience, has found that daily experiences require us to process a continuous stream of information. This is shown when watching a movie, as although the film is continuous, our brains break it down into discrete events, such as scenes.

Environment - Life Sciences - 26.06.2023
Plastic pollution to be almost ubiquitous across coral reefs, mostly from fishing activities
Sea urchin, Asthenosoma varium, entangled with fishing line while camouflaging itself with a plastic bag at 130 m depth in the Philippines. Image credit: Luiz Rocha California Academy of Sciences. In the most comprehensive survey to date, researchers have revealed the scale of plastic pollution on coral reefs, even at great depths.

Paleontology - Life Sciences - 23.06.2023
New Oxford study sheds light on the origin of animals
A study led by the University of Oxford has brought us one step closer to solving a mystery that has puzzled naturalists since Charles Darwin: when did animals first appear in the history of Earth? The results have been published today in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution . Animals* first occur in the fossil record around 574 million years ago.

Life Sciences - 20.06.2023
New embryonic cell type that self-destructs to protect the developing embryo
New embryonic cell type that self-destructs to protect the developing embryo
Scientists from the Milner Centre for Evolution have uncovered a new quality control system that removes damaged cells from early developing embryos. Scientists studying gene activity data of the early human embryo have discovered an overlooked type of cell which self-destructs within days of forming, as part of a quality control process to protect the developing foetus.

Life Sciences - Health - 19.06.2023
Regular napping linked to larger brain volume
Regular napping linked to larger brain volume
Daytime napping may help to preserve brain health by slowing the rate at which our brains shrink as we age, suggests a new study led by researchers at UCL and the University of the Republic in Uruguay. The study, published in the journal Sleep Health , analysed data from people aged 40 to 69 and found a causal link between habitual napping and larger total brain volume - a marker of good brain health linked to a lower risk of dementia and other diseases.

Health - Life Sciences - 15.06.2023
Mapping the evolution of E. Coli virulence offers refined drug target
Mapping the evolution of E. Coli virulence offers refined drug target
A multi-centre team led by UCL, the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Oslo and Imperial College London have shown how targeting the bacterium's protective capsule could help to prevent and treat bloodstream infections. The new study, published in Nature Communications , is the first to map the evolutionary timeline and population distribution of Escherichia coli's protective outer capsule, which is responsible for the bacterium's virulence.

Environment - Life Sciences - 14.06.2023
Tropical butterflies’ wings could help them withstand climate change
Tropical butterflies with bigger, longer and narrower wings are better able to stay cool when temperatures get too hot. We showed that changes in size and wing shape are important for coping with temperature change. Benita Laird-Hopkins In fact, tropical species- ability to keep cool at higher air temperatures mean they are more able to -thermoregulate- and keep a balanced body temperature compared to their evolutionary cousins in milder climates.

Life Sciences - Physics - 12.06.2023
Cell 'skeletons' built with strands of DNA
Cell ’skeletons’ built with strands of DNA
The tiny tubes and thread-like structures that give cells their shape and help determine their function have been artificially re-created using strands of DNA in a study led by UCL researchers. The research, published in Nature Communications , represents a key step towards synthetic "smart cells" that could be used to sense diseases, deliver drugs or repair damaged cells inside the body.

Health - Life Sciences - 12.06.2023
New materials could lead to implantable treatments for epilepsy
The prospect of a cure for a type of epilepsy could be one step closer following breakthrough research on materials which may help new types of probes be safely implanted in the brain. Bioengineering researchers from the University of Glasgow have investigated new dissolvable coatings which could help safely guide flexible implants into brains to help regulate temporal lobe epilepsy.

Health - Life Sciences - 09.06.2023
Alcohol consumption increases the risks of over 60 diseases
Alcohol consumption increases the risks of over 60 diseases in Chinese men, including many diseases not previously linked to alcohol, according to a new study by researchers from Oxford Population Health and Peking University, published in Nature Medicine . Alcohol consumption is estimated to be responsible for about 3 million deaths worldwide each year, and it is increasing in many lowand middle-income countries such as China.

Health - Life Sciences - 09.06.2023
3D 'bio-printing' inside hydrogels could help understanding of how cancer spreads
3D ’bio-printing’ inside hydrogels could help understanding of how cancer spreads
Scientists from across UCL, Great Ormond Street Hospital and the University of Padova have shown how 3D printing can be achieved inside 'mini-organs' growing in hydrogels, which could help better understand how cancer spreads through different tissues. The new technique can help control the shape and activity of the mini-organs, and even force tissue to grow into 'moulds'.

Health - Life Sciences - 08.06.2023
DNA discovery highlights how we maintain healthy blood sugar levels after meals
DNA discovery highlights how we maintain healthy blood sugar levels after meals
A study of the DNA of more than 55,000 people worldwide has shed light on how we maintain healthy blood sugar levels after we have eaten, with implications for our understanding of how the process goes wrong in type 2 diabetes. What's exciting about this is that it shows how we can go from large scale genetic studies to understanding fundamental mechanisms of how our bodies work Alice Williamson The findings, published today in Nature Genetics , could help inform future treatments of type 2 diabetes, which affects around 4 million people in the UK and over 460 million people worldwide.

Life Sciences - 08.06.2023
Why we’re searching for the evolutionary origins of masturbation - and the results so far
Dr Matilda Brindle (UCL Anthropology) shares her new study in The Conversation on the evolutionary origins and advantages of auto sexual behaviour across the animal kingdom. "Spanking the monkey", "petting the poodle" and "pulling the python": all fitting euphemisms for masturbation, and closer to the truth than you might imagine.

Health - Life Sciences - 07.06.2023
Devastating heart condition can be reversed, study shows for the first time
Devastating heart condition can be reversed, study shows for the first time
Three men who had heart failure caused by the build-up of sticky, toxic proteins are now free of symptoms after their condition spontaneously reversed in an unprecedented case described by a team at UCL and the Royal Free Hospital. The condition, a form of amyloidosis affecting the heart, is progressive and has until now been seen as irreversible, with half of patients dying within four years of diagnosis.