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  • Science Stats

    Air pollution is triggering diabetes in 3.2 million people each year

    Air pollution caused 3.2 million new cases of diabetes worldwide in 2016, according to a new estimate.

    Fine particulate matter, belched out by cars and factories and generated through chemical reactions in the atmosphere, hang around as haze and make air hard to breathe. Air pollution has been linked to chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes (SN: 9/30/17, p. 18), but this...

    07/09/2018 - 17:11 Health, Pollution
  • News in Brief

    Vaginal microbes in mice transfer stress to their pups

    Mouse mothers can transmit stress signals to offspring, changing the way the pups’ bodies and brains develop. Some of these stress messages get delivered during birth, scientists suggest July 9 in Nature Neuroscience.

    Researchers suspected that vaginal microbes from stressed-out moms could affect male pups in ways that leave them vulnerable to stress later in life (SN: 12/14/2013, p. 13...

    07/09/2018 - 14:56 Neuroscience
  • News

    Nerve cells that help control hunger have been ID’d in mice

    Newly identified nerve cells deep in the brains of mice compel them to eat. Similar cells exist in people, too, and may ultimately represent a new way to target eating disorders and obesity.

    These neurons, described in the July 6 Science, are not the first discovered to control appetite. But because of the mysterious brain region where they are found and the potential relevance to people...

    07/05/2018 - 15:43 Neuroscience
  • News

    Evidence grows that an HPV screen beats a Pap test at preventing cancer

    Evidence continues to grow that screening for human papillomavirus infection bests a Pap test when it comes to catching early signs of cervical cancer.

    In a large clinical trial of Canadian women, pap tests more often missed warning signs of abnormal cell growth in the cervix than did HPV tests, researchers report July 3 in JAMA.  As a result, at the end of a four-year period,...

    07/03/2018 - 11:58 Health, Clinical Trials, Cancer
  • Mystery Solved

    Finally, there’s a way to keep syphilis growing in the lab

    For more than a century, scientists have tried to grow Treponema pallidum, the corkscrew-shaped bacterium that causes syphilis. But the stubborn spirochete has refused to thrive any place outside of a human or rabbit for more than 18 days. That doesn’t give researchers much time to study it.

    “I’ve basically spent my entire career watching these organisms die,” says microbiologist Steven...

    07/02/2018 - 07:00 Health, Microbiology, Microbes
  • Reviews & Previews

    The study of human heredity got its start in insane asylums

    Genetics in the MadhouseTheodore M. PorterPrinceton Univ., $35

    England’s King George III descended into mental chaos, or what at the time was called madness, in 1789. Physicians could not say whether he would recover or if a replacement should assume the throne. That political crisis jump-started the study of human heredity.

    Using archival records, science historian Theodore M...

    07/01/2018 - 08:00 Genetics, History of Science, Mental Health, Numbers
  • News

    Leprosy lurks in armadillos in Brazil’s Amazon

    Brazilians who hunt or eat armadillos are at a higher risk of catching leprosy than people who don’t interact with the animals, a new study finds.

    More than 60 percent of armadillos tested in Brazil’s Amazonian state of Pará carry the leprosy bacterium Mycobacterium leprae. And about 63 percent of people tested in two villages in the region have antibodies against the bacterium,...

    06/28/2018 - 14:00 Microbiology, Animals, Health
  • News

    A brain chemical tied to narcolepsy may play a role in opioid addiction

    Using opioids gives some brain cells a call to action.

    Opioid addicts’ brains, examined after death, contain about 50 percent more nerve cells that release a molecule called hypocretin, compared with people who didn’t use the drugs, a new study finds. Giving the opiate morphine to mice also induced similar changes in their brains. But the increase didn’t come from new nerve cells, or...

    06/27/2018 - 14:00 Neuroscience, Health
  • Feature

    How to make CAR-T cell therapies for cancer safer and more effective

    This wasn’t 15-year-old Connor McMahon’s first time in the hospital. But the 107° fever he’d been running for three days had his dad frightened. The teen was hallucinating, talking gibberish and spouting curses.

    “I thought he was going to die,” says Connor’s father, Don McMahon, who stayed close as his son received and recovered from an experimental treatment for leukemia. “It was really...

    06/27/2018 - 09:00 Cancer, Health, Clinical Trials
  • Editor's Note

    Medical breakthroughs come with a human cost

    Medical innovations can be risky, as this issue’s cover story on new CAR-T cell therapies for cancer reveals. The treatments, which tailor a patient’s own immune system cells to attack cancer, can be astonishingly successful. But CAR-T therapy can also be an untamed beast, unleashing a ferocious immune response that indiscriminately attacks the body. The challenge scientists face now...
    06/27/2018 - 07:00 Health, Cancer, History of Science