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  • 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
  • News

    Pregnant women’s use of opioids is on the rise

    Pregnant women aren’t immune to the escalating opioid epidemic.

    Data on hospital deliveries in 28 U.S. states shows the rate of opioid use among pregnant women has quadrupled, from 1.5 per 1,000 women in 1999 to 6.5 per 1,000 women in 2014, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

    The highest increases in opioid use among pregnant women were in Maine, New Mexico...

    08/09/2018 - 16:00 Health, Human Development
  • News

    A newly approved drug could be a boon for treating malaria

    The first new treatment in 60 years for a particularly stubborn kind of malaria is raising hopes that it might help eradicate the disease, even though the treatment can cause a dangerous side effect.

    Called tafenoquine, the drug targets the parasite that causes relapsing malaria. Plasmodium vivax infects an estimated 8.5 million people, mainly in Asia and Latin America. Each time...

    08/09/2018 - 10:00 Health, Microbes, Genetics
  • News

    Zika may harm nearly 1 in 7 babies exposed to the virus in the womb

    Babies exposed to a Zika infection while in the womb are not out of the woods even if they look healthy at birth.

    Nearly 1 in 10 of 1,450 babies examined developed neurological or developmental problems, such as seizures, hearing loss, impaired vision or difficulty crawling, a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds. It’s the first tally of the health of...

    08/07/2018 - 17:27 Health, Development
  • News

    Football and hockey players aren’t doomed to suffer brain damage

    A career of hard hits to the head doesn’t inevitably lead to brain decline, a small study of former football and hockey pros suggests. The results counter a specter raised by other studies on pro football players’ brains after death.

    The new findings come from extensive brain scans and behavioral tests of 21 retired athletes — football players from New York’s Buffalo Bills and hockey...

    08/07/2018 - 15:00 Neuroscience
  • News

    Scientists successfully transplant lab-grown lungs into pigs

    For the first time, researchers have created lungs in the lab and successfully transplanted them into pigs.

    These bioengineered lungs, described online August 1 in Science Translational Medicine, developed healthy blood vessels that allowed pigs to live for several weeks after surgery without medical complications. That’s a significant improvement from previous efforts: Lab-grown lungs...

    08/03/2018 - 10:43 Biomedicine, Cells, Technology