New blood test can predict TB up to two years in advance

A new blood test has been found to more accurately predict the development of tuberculosis up to two years before its onset in people living with someone with active TB, according to research published online in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, an American Thoracic Society journal. Those living with someone with active TB are at highest risk for developing the disease, yet only about 5-20 percent of people infected with tuberculosis actually develop TB. A blood test that predicts the development of TB without putting large numbers of lower-risk people through unnecessary preventative treatment is not currently available. In “Four-gene Pan-African Blood Signature Predicts Progression to Tuberculosis,” researchers from an international research consortium report that they developed and validated a blood test that measures the expression levels of four genes that can more accurately predict the development […]

How birds can detect the Earth’s magnetic field

he receptors that sense the Earth’s magnetic field are probably located in the birds’ eyes. Now, researchers at Lund University have studied different proteins in the eyes of zebra finches and discovered that one of them differs from the others: only the Cry4 protein maintains a constant level throughout the day and in different lighting conditions. Cry4 belongs to a group of proteins called cryptochromes. Normally they regulate the biological clock, but have also been considered significant for the magnetic sense. With this study, we now know which of the birds’ cryptochromes do what. “Cry4 is an ideal magnetoreceptor as the level of the protein in the eyes is constant. This is something we expect from a receptor that is used regardless of the time of day”, explains Atticus Pinzón-Rodríguez, one of the researchers behind the study. The conclusion is […]

A new class of antibiotics to combat drug resistance

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Nosopharm, a biotechnology company based in Lyon, France, are part of an international team reporting on the discovery of a new class of antibiotics. The antibiotic, first identified by Nosopharm, is unique and promising on two fronts: its unconventional source and its distinct way of killing bacteria, both of which suggest the compound may be effective at treating drug-resistant or hard-to-treat bacterial infections. Called odilorhabdins, or ODLs, the antibiotics are produced by symbiotic bacteria found in soil-dwelling nematode worms that colonize insects for food. The bacteria help to kill the insect and, importantly, secrete the antibiotic to keep competing bacteria away. Until now, these nematode-associated bacteria and the antibiotics they make have been largely understudied. To identify the antibiotic, the Nosopharm research team screened 80 cultured strains of the bacteria for […]

Cat-like ‘hearing’ with device tens of trillions times smaller than human eardrum

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are developing atomically thin “drumheads” able to receive and transmit signals across a radio frequency range far greater than what we can hear with the human ear. But the drumhead is tens of trillions times (10 followed by 12 zeros) smaller in volume and 100,000 times thinner than the human eardrum. The advances will likely contribute to making the next generation of ultralow-power communications and sensory devices smaller and with greater detection and tuning ranges. “Sensing and communication are key to a connected world,” said Philip Feng, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and corresponding author on a paper about the work published March 30 in the journal Science Advances. “In recent decades, we have been connected with highly miniaturized devices and systems, and we have been pursuing ever-shrinking sizes for those […]

Journal dedicated to African research launched – Scientific African

A new peer reviewed, open access inter- and multidisciplinary scientific journal to showcase African research known as Scientific African has been launched.   The journal launched at the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) in Rwanda this week (26-28 March) aims to offer African researchers and scientists the opportunity to publish and showcase their research works.   The journal, according to Benjamin Gyampoh, its Editor-in-Chief, is dedicated to expanding access to African researchers and scientists who are largely facing the problem of not having platforms to publish and showcase their research works. “This journal will front research on Africa by Africans that finds local solutions to local problems.” Ron Mobed, Elsevier The first issue of the multidisciplinary scientific journal is expected to be out in the last quarter of this year. Gyampoh speaking during the launch said that it will help build and strengthen scientific capacity in Africa and increase […]

Patients regain sight after being first to receive retinal tissue engineered from stem cells

The first patients to receive a new treatment derived from stem cells for people with wet age-related macular degeneration (AMD) have regained reading vision. The stem cell technology was developed with MRC funding. The results of this ground-breaking clinical study, published in Nature Biotechnologyopens in new window,described the implantation of a specially engineered patch of retinal pigment epithelium cells derived from stem cells to treat people with sudden severe sight loss from wet AMD. It is the first description of a complete engineered tissue that has been successfully used in this way and it’s hoped that it will also help treat dry AMD in the future. The study is a major milestone for the London Project to Cure Blindness, a partnership between Professor Pete Coffey from University College London and Professor Lyndon da Cruz, a retinal surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS […]

Portable tech for processing blood in the works

A low-cost system to separate blood into its main components without a centrifuge is being developed, and could be put to use in areas with off-grid healthcare or following natural disasters. The system is portable and would need minimal training to operate, according to a proof-of-concept study published in the journal PLoS ONE. Once blood has been donated, it is usually separated into three parts: red blood cells, plasma and platelets. This way, one donation can be used to help separate patients, who may each need just one part of the blood. It is routine to do this using a centrifuge, an expensive system which requires electricity and is normally housed in a centralised health centre. This means the process is often far less efficient in poorer regions that may lack a centrifuge or depend on off-grid clinics. Around 1 billion people in the […]

African institutions to get a year’s free R&D publicity

A global news service is due to give African peer-reviewed journals one-year free access to disseminate news about the papers they publish. News about research conducted by African researchers has been under-represented and much is needed to promote African research globally, says a statement issued this month (11 January) by the UK-headquartered AlphaGalileo, an online service that distributes press releases based on scientific research. Peter Green, managing director of AlphaGalileo, tells SciDev.Net that despite his outfit having previously reduced the annual subscription rate by half to US$550 for African institutions, getting research content from Africa is a challenge. “Where universities did register they didn’t use us,” says Green. “Media relations is not considered important by African research bodies. This is in direct contrast to scientific institutions in North America, Asia and Europe, where it is seen as essential.” Green adds that discussions are underway […]