Stephen Hawking Dies at age 76

Tributes poured in on Wednesday to Stephen Hawking, the brightest star in the firmament of science, whose insights shaped modern cosmology and inspired global audiences in the millions. He died at the age of 76 in the early hours of Wednesday morning. In a statement that confirmed his death at home in Cambridge, Hawking’s children said: “We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years. His courage and persistence with his brilliance and humour inspired people across the world. “He once said: ‘It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.’ We will miss him for ever.” For fellow scientists and loved ones, it was Hawking’s intuition and wicked sense of humour […]

Malaria Test in 2minutes Without Blood

Magnetism and light have been combined in a test that can diagnose malaria in under two minutes without the need to take blood. The new test, which has yet to undergo clinical trials, won a prize for entrepreneurs hosted by Britain’s Prince Andrew last week (28 February). “What we’re trying to do is to bridge the gap between local communities and effective diagnosis,” Shafik Sekitto, an engineer from Uganda and co-founder of the device, told SciDev.Net in an interview. Pitch@Palace Africa 2.0, an event hosted by The Duke of York in partnership with the Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize, was launched in 2014 to help connect entrepreneurs who use technology and engineering with potential supporters such as CEOs, mentors and business partners.   During the award event at St. James’s Palace in London, 15 innovators from across the continent each had three minutes to […]

Beneficial skin bacteria protect against skin cancer

Science continues to peel away layers of the skin microbiome to reveal its protective properties. In a study published in Science Advances on February 28, University of California San Diego School of Medicine researchers report a potential new role for some bacteria on the skin: protecting against cancer. “We have identified a strain of Staphylococcus epidermidis, common on healthy human skin, that exerts a selective ability to inhibit the growth of some cancers,” said Richard Gallo, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Dermatology at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “This unique strain of skin bacteria produces a chemical that kills several types of cancer cells but does not appear to be toxic to normal cells.” The team discovered the S. epidermidis strain produces the chemical compound 6-N-hydroxyaminopurine (6-HAP). Mice with S. epidermidis on their skin that did not make 6-HAP had many […]

Holding hands can sync brainwaves, ease pain, study shows

Reach for the hand of a loved one in pain and not only will your breathing and heart rate synchronize with theirs, your brain wave patterns will couple up too, according to a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The study, by researchers with the University of Colorado Boulder and University of Haifa, also found that the more empathy a comforting partner feels for a partner in pain, the more their brainwaves fall into sync. And the more those brain waves sync, the more the pain goes away. “We have developed a lot of ways to communicate in the modern world and we have fewer physical interactions,” said lead author Pavel Goldstein, a postdoctoral pain researcher in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at CU Boulder. “This paper illustrates the power and importance […]

Graphene Invention Makes Seawater Drinkable in One Simple Step

Using a type of graphene called Graphair, scientists from Australia have created a water filter that can make highly polluted seawater drinkable after just one pass. The technology could be used to cheaply provide safe drinking water to regions of the world without access to it. “Almost a third of the world’s population, some 2.1 billion people, don’t have clean and safe drinking water,” said lead author Dong Han Seo. “As a result, millions – mostly children – die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene every year. In Graphair we’ve found a perfect filter for water purification. “It can replace the complex, time consuming and multi-stage processes currently needed with a single step.” Developed by researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Graphair is a form of graphene made out of soybean oil. […]

An Improved Anti-Addiction Medication is Being Developed

Drug addiction continues to plague vast numbers of people across the world, destroying and ending lives, while attempts to develop more effective pharmaceutical addiction treatments continue. Scientists now report in the Journal of the American Chemical Society the development of a potent new medicine to fight addiction, which might also be an effective treatment for epilepsy and other conditions. Vigabatrin is an anti-epilepsy medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration that has also been shown to be effective against addiction to cocaine, nicotine, methamphetamine, heroin and alcohol in animal models. In humans, vigabatrin eliminates cocaine addiction in 28 percent of patients. It works by blocking an enzyme, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) aminotransferase, which breaks down GABA. The result is higher levels of this neurotransmitter in the brain and diminished narcotic-activated release of dopamine. Long-term vigabatrin therapy can have serious side […]

We Might Finally Know Why The Blood of Young People Can Rejuvenate Old Brains

Scientists have been rejuvenating old mice with infusions of not just the blood of younger mice, but even blood from teenage human beings – and we finally have our first clues on why this strange technique works. Researchers have discovered an enzyme that helps rescue ageing brains from cognitive decline. So far it’s only been shown in mice, but if the same mechanisms are found in humans, it could lead to a new class of anti-ageing therapies. Four years ago, a team of researchers led by neurobiologist Saul Villeda from the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that giving older mice infusions of blood from younger mice improved their memory and learning by improving connections in the hippocampus. By the same token, they also found that giving the younger mice ‘old blood’ led to an increase in cognitive aging. Ever since, Villeda’s lab has […]

Alzheimer’s disease reversed in mouse model

A team of researchers from the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute have found that gradually depleting an enzyme called BACE1 completely reverses the formation of amyloid plaques in the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s disease, thereby improving the animals’ cognitive function. The study, which will be published February 14 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine, raises hopes that drugs targeting this enzyme will be able to successfully treat Alzheimer’s disease in humans. One of the earliest events in Alzheimer’s disease is an abnormal buildup of beta-amyloid peptide, which can form large, amyloid plaques in the brain and disrupt the function of neuronal synapses. Also known as beta-secretase, BACE1 helps produce beta-amyloid peptide by cleaving amyloid precursor protein (APP). Drugs that inhibit BACE1 are therefore being developed as potential Alzheimer’s disease treatments but, because BACE1 controls many important processes by cleaving proteins […]