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  • News

    Norovirus close-ups might help fight stomach flu

    Knowing your enemy is an important principle of competition, and scientists may just have become more familiar with one nasty stomach virus.

    Closeup looks at several strains of norovirus reveal that the vomit- and diarrhea-inducing virus can come in a variety of sizes, researchers report online June 10 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Knobs studding the virus’s...

    06/17/2019 - 10:00 Microbiology, Microbes, Health
  • News

    Genealogy companies could struggle to keep clients’ data from police

    After police used DNA sleuthing techniques to arrest a teenage suspect in Utah accused of assault, a public genealogy website shut off most police access in May, following public outcry. That move by GEDMatch to protect the privacy of its users could backfire, some experts warn, creating more privacy issues, not fewer. 

    Forensic genetic genealogy — the use of genetic databases by police...

    06/10/2019 - 12:00 Genetics, Science & Society
  • News in Brief

    DNA reveals ancient Siberians who set the stage for the first Americans

    Northeastern Siberia hosted migrations of three consecutive ancient populations that created a genetic framework for Siberians and Native Americans today, scientists say.

    While each incoming population largely replaced people already living there, mating between newcomers and old-timers also occurred, conclude evolutionary geneticist Martin Sikora of the University of Copenhagen and...

    06/07/2019 - 12:00 Genetics, Human Evolution, Ancestry
  • News in Brief

    Almost all healthy people harbor patches of mutated cells

    Normal isn’t always normal. A new study finds that large groups of cells in healthy tissues carry mutations, including ones tied to cancer.

    About 95 percent of healthy people had patches of mutated cells in at least one of the 29 tissues examined, including kidney, muscle and liver, researchers report in the June 7 Science. Most of those mutations found in the 488 people in the study are...

    06/06/2019 - 14:00 Genetics, Cancer
  • News

    Gut bacteria may change the way many drugs work in the body

    Prescribing the best medication may require going with a patient’s gut — or at least, the bacteria that live there.

    Anecdotal reports have revealed that some gut-dwelling microbes chemically alter oral medications, affecting how well those drugs work (SN Online: 7/19/13). But the scope of this problem has remained unclear. Now, a sweeping survey of these interactions suggests that gut...

    06/03/2019 - 11:00 Microbiology, Biomedicine, Health
  • News in Brief

    Africa’s first herders spread pastoralism by mating with foragers

    Ancient sheep, goat and cattle herders made Africa their home by hooking up with the continent’s native hunter-gatherers, a study suggests.

    DNA analysis shows that African herders and foragers mated with each other in two phases, says a team led by archaeologist Mary Prendergast of Saint Louis University in Madrid. After entering northeastern Africa from the Middle East around 8,000...

    05/30/2019 - 14:00 Anthropology, Genetics, Human Evolution
  • News

    A fungus weaponized with a spider toxin can kill malaria mosquitoes

    A fungus engineered to produce a spider toxin could help take down insecticide-resistant mosquitoes that can spread malaria.

    In a netted, outdoor experiment in Burkina Faso, the genetically engineered fungus wiped out mosquito populations within two generations, researchers report in the May 31 Science. If the result holds up in a real-world situation, the modified fungus may one day...

    05/30/2019 - 14:00 Health, Fungi, Genetics
  • Editor's Note

    Resurgence of measles is a tale as old as human history

    Late last year, researchers reported a discovery from a 5,000-year-old mass grave in Sweden: DNA from the bacterium that causes plague. The people in that grave were probably felled by an epidemic that spread via trade routes from southeastern Europe and contributed to sharp population declines across the continent (SN: 1/19/19, p. 12), a precursor to the Black Death that wiped out up...
    05/29/2019 - 15:28 Health, Immune Science, Science & Society
  • News

    How bacteria nearly killed by antibiotics can recover — and gain resistance

    Mostly dead bacteria can sometimes be resurrected as antibiotic-resistant cells.

    A protein that pumps toxic chemicals out of E. coli bacterial cells can buy time for even nearly dead microbes to become antibiotic resistant. The protein, known as the AcrAB-TolC multidrug efflux pump, doesn’t work well enough to defeat antibiotics on its own. But it can move enough antibiotic molecules out...

    05/28/2019 - 06:00 Microbiology, Genetics, Biomedicine
  • Feature

    How the battle against measles varies around the world

    The World Health Organization’s goal was lofty but achievable: eliminate measles from five of the world’s six regions by 2020. But recent outbreaks — even in places where elimination had been achieved — are making that goal a distant dream.

    In the first four months of 2019, 179 countries reported 168,193 cases of measles. That’s almost 117,000 more cases reported during the same period...

    05/21/2019 - 06:00 Science & Society, Immune Science, Health