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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

Converting heat into electricity with pencil and paper

The thermoelectric effect is nothing new – it was discovered almost 200 years ago by Thomas J. Seebeck. If two different metals are brought together, then an electrical voltage can develop if one metal is warmer than the other. This effect allows residual heat to be partially converted into electrical energy. Residual heat is a by-product of almost all technological and natural processes, such as in power plants and every household appliance, and the human body as well. It is one of the largest underutilised energy sources in the world – and usually goes completely unused. Tiny effect Unfortunately, as useful an effect as it is, it is extremely small in ordinary metals. This is because metals not only have high electrical conductivity, but high thermal conductivity as well, so that differences in temperature disappear immediately. Thermoelectric materials need to […]

Cancer-fighting nanorobots programmed to seek and destroy tumors

In a major advancement in nanomedicine, Arizona State University (ASU) scientists, in collaboration with researchers from the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST), of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have successfully programmed nanorobots to shrink tumors by cutting off their blood supply. “We have developed the first fully autonomous, DNA robotic system for a very precise drug design and targeted cancer therapy,” said Hao Yan, director of the ASU Biodesign Institute’s Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics and the Milton Glick Professor in the School of Molecular Sciences. “Moreover, this technology is a strategy that can be used for many types of cancer, since all solid tumor-feeding blood vessels are essentially the same,” said Yan. The successful demonstration of the technology, the first-of-its-kind study in mammals utilizing breast cancer, melanoma, ovarian and lung cancer mouse models, was published in […]

Breastfeeding reduces hypertension risk

A study published in the American Journal of Hypertension indicates that women who breastfeed more children, and for longer periods of time, are less likely to suffer from hypertension after they reach menopause. This is less true of obese women, however. Elevated blood pressure is the greatest single risk factor for disease and mortality. Evidence from epidemiologic data has also shown the beneficial effects of breastfeeding on the health of infants and their mothers. It has been well documented that long-term breastfeeding is associated with reduced children’s allergies, celiac disease, obesity, and diabetes mellitus. However, the effects of breastfeeding on maternal health have been little studied compared with the effects on the children. Several studies consistently found that absent breastfeeding or premature discontinuation was associated with increased risks of diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular diseases. However few […]