Scientists make cells that enable the sense of touch

Researchers at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA have, for the first time, coaxed human stem cells to become sensory interneurons — the cells that give us our sense of touch. The new protocol could be a step toward stem cell-based therapies to restore sensation in paralyzed people who have lost feeling in parts of their body. The study, which was led by Samantha Butler, a UCLA associate professor of neurobiology and member of the Broad Stem Cell Research Center, was published today in the journal Stem Cell Reports. Sensory interneurons, a class of neurons in the spinal cord, are responsible for relaying information from throughout the body to the central nervous system, which enables the sense of touch. The lack of a sense of touch greatly affects people who are paralyzed. […]

UK-born Ghanaian, Sam Gyimah is UK’s Universities & Science Minister

UK born Ghanaian, Sam Gyimah, has been made Universities and Science Minister of England replacing Jo Johnson in Theresa May’s government reshuffle. Mr Sam Gyimah, the former prisons minister, took on the role spanning the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy after Mr Johnson was appointed transport minister and minister for London. Mr Sam Gyimah, the MP for East Surrey since 2010, is no stranger to the Department for Education, having served as a parliamentary under-secretary of state in the department between 2015 and 2016. He supported Remain in the run-up to the referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. A former Goldman Sachs investment banker, Mr Sam Gyimah read politics, philosophy and economics at the University of Oxford, where he was president of the Oxford Union. Dame Janet Beer, president of Universities UK […]

Proper exercise can reverse damage to aging hearts

Exercise can reverse damage to  aging hearts and help prevent risk of future heart failure — if it’s enough exercise, and if it’s begun in time, according to a new study by cardiologists at UT Southwestern and Texas Health Resources. To reap the most benefit, the exercise regimen should begin by late middle age (before age 65), when the heart apparently retains some plasticity and ability to remodel itself, according to the findings by researchers at the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine (IEEM), which is a collaboration between UT Southwestern Medical Center and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. And the exercise needs to be performed four to five times a week. Two to three times a week was not enough, the researchers found in an earlier study. “Based on a series of studies performed by our team over the […]

Multiple Sites Found Rich in Water Ice on Mars

Erosion is exposing deposits of water ice on Mars, starting at depths as shallow as one to two meters below the surface and extending 100 meters or more. The ice is a critical target for science and exploration: it affects modern geomorphology, is expected to preserve a record of climate history, influences the planet’s habitability, and may be a potential resource for future exploration. Whilst water ice is known to be present in some locations on Mars, many questions remain about its layering, thickness, purity, and extent. Now, Colin Dundas and colleagues have pinpointed eight locations, using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), where steep, pole-facing slopes created by erosion expose substantial quantities of sub-surface ice. The fractures and steep angles indicate that the ice is cohesive and strong, the authors say. What’s more, bands and variations in color suggest that […]

Online interest in sex rises at Christmas, with more births nine months later

It’s often wryly observed that birth rates peak in September, with many studies citing seasonal changes in human biology to explain this post-holiday “baby boom.” But new research from scientists at Indiana University and the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Portugal finds that spikes in pregnancies are actually rooted in society, not biology. The evidence was discovered in the online interest in sex or “collective unconscious” of web searches and Twitter posts that researchers now use to reveal our hidden desires and motivations. “The rise of the web and social media provides the unprecedented power to analyze changes in people’s collective mood and behavior on a massive scale,” said Luis M. Rocha, a professor in the IU School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, who co-led the study. “This study is the first ‘planetary-level’ look at human reproduction as it relates […]