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  • News

    The United States and Brazil top the list of nations with the most gun deaths

    Gun deaths occur worldwide, but a new survey reveals the hot spots for those that occur outside of war zones.

    In 2016, firearm-related homicides, suicides and accidental deaths were highly concentrated. For example, just six countries — the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Guatemala — accounted for about half of the estimated number of gun deaths unrelated to armed...

    08/28/2018 - 15:30 Health, Science & Society
  • News

    As algae blooms increase, scientists seek better ways to predict these toxic tides

    The stench of thousands of dead, bloated fish has hung over the beaches of western Florida for months — casualties of an algae bloom that revisits the coastline almost every year. This year’s bloom is particularly intense — and toxic. Called red tides due to the water’s murky reddish tint, the blooms emit a neurotoxin that kills sea creatures, including dolphins and endangered sea turtles, and...

    08/28/2018 - 09:00 Health, Agriculture, Climate
  • News

    How antibodies attack the brain and muddle memory

    Antibodies in the brain can scramble nerve cells’ connections, leading to memory problems in mice.

    In the past decade, brain-attacking antibodies have been identified as culprits in certain neurological diseases. The details of how antibodies pull off this neuronal hit job, described online August 23 in Neuron, may ultimately lead to better ways to stop the ensuing brain damage.

    ...

    08/23/2018 - 11:32 Neuroscience
  • Science Visualized

    Air pollution is shaving a year off our average life expectancy

    Breathing dirty air exacts a price — specifically, months, or even years, off of life.

    On average worldwide, air pollution shaves a year off of human life expectancy, scientists report August 22 in Environmental Science & Technology Letters. In more polluted regions of Asia and Africa, lives are shortened by 1.5 to two years on average.

    The study, using 2016 country data from...

    08/22/2018 - 13:35 Health, Pollution
  • Science Ticker

    There’s a new cervical cancer screening option

    For cervical cancer screening, there’s a new option in town.

    Women ages 30 to 65 can opt to have human papillomavirus, or HPV, testing alone every five years, according to new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

    HPV testing alone joins two other alternatives that are still endorsed: an HPV test plus a Pap test every five years, or a Pap test alone every...

    08/21/2018 - 11:00 Health, Cancer
  • News in Brief

    Cancer drugs may help the liver recover from common painkiller overdoses

    Experimental anticancer drugs may help protect against liver damage caused by acetaminophen overdoses.

    In mice poisoned with the common painkiller, the drugs prevented liver cells from entering a sort of pre-death state known as senescence. The drugs also widened the treatment window: Mice need to get the drug doctors currently use to counteract an overdose within four hours or they will...

    08/15/2018 - 14:15 Biomedicine
  • News

    A resurrected gene may protect elephants from cancer

    Elephants rarely succumb to cancer. That’s surprising given how large the animals grow and how long they can live, which should provide more opportunities for cells to morph into cancer cells. A newly described gene that was brought back from the dead may take part in protecting the animals from the disease.

    A deep dive into elephants’ evolutionary history revealed a defunct gene called...

    08/14/2018 - 14:23 Health, Genetics, Animals
  • News

    Tiny bits of RNA can trigger pain and itchiness

    Some snippets of RNA can be a real pain.

    A microRNA called miR-30c-5p contributes to nerve pain in rats and people, a new study finds. A different microRNA, miR-711, interacts with a well-known itch-inducing protein to cause itching, a second study concludes. Together, the research highlights the important role that the small pieces of genetic material can play in nerve cell function,...

    08/13/2018 - 14:06 Cells, Physiology, Neuroscience, Genetics
  • Reviews & Previews

    Strange brains offer a glimpse into the mind

    To understand the human brain, take note of the rare, the strange and the downright spooky. That’s the premise of two new books, Unthinkable by science writer Helen Thomson and The Disordered Mind by neuroscientist Eric R. Kandel.

    Both books describe people with minds that don’t work the same way as everyone else’s. These are people who are convinced that they are dead, for instance;...

    08/13/2018 - 09:00 Neuroscience, Mental Health
  • News

    The first gene-silencing drug wins FDA approval

    A Nobel Prize–winning discovery — that small double-stranded RNA molecules can silence genes by interrupting the translation of DNA’s instructions into proteins — is finally delivering on its medical promise.

    The first drug that takes advantage of this natural biological process, called RNA interference, was approved August 10 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. It targets a rare...

    08/10/2018 - 15:52 Biomedicine, Clinical Trials, Health, Genetics