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  • News in Brief

    Secondhand smoke exposure in womb linked to eczema in childhood

    HOUSTON — Children born to mothers who were exposed to secondhand tobacco smoke during pregnancy face an elevated risk of eczema and other skin problems in childhood.Elementary school children exposed to smoke in the womb were 50 percent more likely to have any history of atopic dermatitis than unexposed kids, scientists in South Korea found using blood tests and questionnaires about prenatal...
    03/01/2015 - 08:00 Health, Immune Science, Human Development
  • News in Brief

    Breast-feeding newborns might limit their allergy to pets later

    HOUSTON — Early breast-feeding accompanies a lower risk of pet allergy, possibly because of the way breast milk steers the composition of an infant’s gut microbe mix.Scientists find that formula-fed newborns have a kind of gut bacterium at levels typically not seen until later in babyhood. These kids also had more signs of pet allergy years later than did breast-fed children, researchers...
    02/27/2015 - 15:26 Human Development, Health, Immune Science
  • Science Ticker

    Superfast evolution observed in soil bacteria

    You can take the flagella out of the bacteria, but you can’t take the flagella out of the bacteria’s genetic arsenal.By deleting a gene that controls flagella growth, Tiffany Taylor of the University of Reading in England and colleagues engineered the soil bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens so they lacked their tiny tails. Bacteria that can move around and find food are more likely to...
    02/27/2015 - 09:00 Evolution, Microbiology
  • News in Brief

    Wheat reached England before farming

    Hunter-gatherers living on England’s southern coast imported wheat 2,000 years before agriculture sprouted in the British Isles, a new study suggests.This trading among hunter-gatherers and farmers laid the groundwork for agriculture’s spread across Northwest Europe, propose archaeogeneticist Oliver Smith of the University...
    02/26/2015 - 14:00 Anthropology, Genetics
  • News

    Genetic tweaks built humans’ bigger brains

    Human brains ballooned to about triple the size of their ancestors’ thanks to just a few genetic tweaks, new research suggests.When scientists inject a gene found only in humans into the brains of mouse embryos, the normally smooth mouse brain develops the crinkles and folds reminiscent of wrinkly human brains, scientists ...
    02/26/2015 - 14:00 Human Evolution, Molecular Evolution, Neuroscience
  • Mystery Solved

    Chili peppers’ pain-relieving secrets uncovered

    Capsaicin, the chemical that makes chili peppers spicy, has long been an ingredient in pain-relief creams, but scientists have only just discovered how the fiery molecule quiets sore nerves, muscles and joints.Capsaicin turns on a protein that senses heat and starts an unexpected chain reaction that inhibits proteins that detect stretching of cell membranes, Tibor Rohacs of Rutgers New Jersey...
    02/26/2015 - 09:00 Cells, Physiology
  • News

    Additives that keep foods fresh may sour in the gut

    Food additives may keep snacks fresh and tasty looking, but they can wreak havoc on the gut. These additives disrupt the intestine’s protection from bacteria and boost inflammation in mice, scientists report online February 25 in Nature.The new research “underscores the fact that a lot of things we eat … may not be as safe as we think...
    02/25/2015 - 13:00 Health, Microbiology, Immune Science
  • Science Ticker

    Stem cells from wisdom teeth could help repair corneas

    Stem cells inside your teeth could one day help repair eye scratches that cause blindness, scientists report February 23 in Stem Cells Translational Medicine.  The cornea is a thin outer layer of tissue that protects human eyes and helps focus light on the retina. Deep scratches can...
    02/24/2015 - 12:55 Biomedicine, Cells
  • Feature

    For athletes, antioxidant pills may not help performance

    In the fickle world of sports nutrition fads, few trends have shown the staying power of antioxidants. For more than three decades, athletes have remained devoted fans of supplements; the American College of Sports Medicine estimates that around half of elite athletes take vitamins in hopes of keeping...
    02/24/2015 - 12:00 Health, Physiology, Nutrition
  • News in Brief

    Gene study digs into partnership between fungi and plants

    Dig beneath a plant and you’ll probably find an army of fungi.Living amid plant roots, most of these mycorrhizal fungi get plant sugars in exchange for providing minerals harvested from soil. Long before the fungi engaged in trade with their plant hosts, though, their fungal ancestors primarily were decomposers, breaking down wood from dead trees. So how did this mutually beneficial relationship...
    02/23/2015 - 17:07 Fungi, Genetics, Evolution