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Researchers develop online support for people with Bipolar Disorder

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An online relapse prevention tool for Bipolar Disorder offers a “cheap accessible option” for people seeking support following treatment, say researchers. Bipolar Disorder (BD) is a lifelong mental health condition characterised by depression and mania. It affects one per cent of adults worldwide and costs an estimated £5.2 billion annually in England alone. It is treated with medication, yet many people continue to experience relapses. Enhanced Relapse Prevention (ERPonline) is a psychological approach developed by the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research. It teaches people with Bipolar Disorder (BD) to recognise and respond to early warning signs of relapse. Lead researcher Professor Fiona Lobban from the Spectrum Centre for Mental Health Research at Lancaster University said: “The key elements are identifying your individual triggers and early warning signs for both mania and depression, and developing coping strategies to manage mood changes in everyday life.”


Why is Herpes Simplex Virus Disease Risk So Much Greater for Newborns?

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Interferon is a crucial component of the human immune system's response to infection by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), but how important a role it plays in determining the severity of disease and explaining why newborns are so much more susceptible to HSV-1 infection than adults remains unclear. A comprehensive review of the contribution of type I interferon (IFN) to controlling HSV-1 infection is presented in an article published in DNA and Cell Biology, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the DNA and Cell Biology website until May 19, 2017. In the article entitled "The Type I Interferon Response and Age-Dependent Susceptibility to Herpes Simplex Virus Infection," Daniel Giraldo, Douglas Wilcox, and Richard Longnecker, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, provide an in-depth look at the IFN response to HSV-1 infection. The authors examine the factors that may explain why newborns infected with HSV-1 are at greater risk for serious and potentially life-threatening diseases such as herpes simplex encephalitis, whereas in adults orolabial lesions are the more likely result of HSV-1 infection.


Storm ahead – how to prepare Europe for extreme weather

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River floods are expected to become more frequent by mid-century, and rainstorms and coastal flooding by the end of the century. From storms to flash floods, extreme weather events are becoming more common in Europe, and can wreak havoc on infrastructure such as transport, telecoms and energy systems. Policy makers, infrastructure owners and local authorities need data and decision-making tools to deal with extreme weather and its effects. The European project called RAIN, which is drawing to a close after 3 years, has designed such tools by bringing together meteorologists, engineers and sociologists to tackle the problem. The consortium recently presented its findings at a public event in Dublin, Ireland. As in all battles, knowing your enemy is key to success. The European Severe Storms Laboratory (ESSL) in Wessling, Germany, has coordinated the analysis of extreme weather events. A team of experts from the Free University of Berlin, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the Technical University of Delft modelled the occurrence of extreme events such as snowstorms, high winds, coastal flooding and wildfires.


Scoperto nuovo gene per sclerosi multipla e Lupus

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Il lavoro, condotto dall’Irgb-Cnr e Università di Sassari e cofinanziato dalla Fism, è pubblicato su New England Journal of Medicine e svela per la prima volta un importante meccanismo biologico che predispone a queste malattie, gettando le basi per nuove terapie personalizzate e per lo sviluppo di nuovi farmaci. L’individuazione di un nesso di causa-effetto diretto come quello tra una particolare forma di Tnfsf13B e il rischio di sviluppare le due patologie è un evento rarissimo in studi di questo genere. All’origine del rischio di sviluppare sclerosi multipla (Sm) e lupus eritematoso sistemico, malattie autoimmuni a carico rispettivamente della mielina del sistema nervoso centrale e di pelle, reni e altri organi, vi sarebbe anche una particolare forma di Tnfsf13B, un gene che presiede alla sintesi di una proteina con importanti funzioni immunologiche: la citochina Baff. A rivelarlo su New England Journal of Medicine, la più antica e prestigiosa rivista di medicina al mondo, uno studio di un gruppo internazionale di ricercatori cofinanziato dalla Fondazione italiana sclerosi multipla (Fism) e coordinato da Francesco Cucca, direttore dell’Istituto di ricerca genetica e biomedica del Consiglio nazionale delle ricerche (Irgb-Cnr) e professore di genetica medica dell’Università di Sassari. Alla pubblicazione italiana la rivista americana dedica anche un editoriale.


Looking to the Moon to better measure climate change on Earth

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The moon appears in an image captured by the SEVIRI instrument on a EUMETSAT Meteosat Second Generation satellite.

When American astronaut Alfred Worden, who was the command module pilot for the Apollo 15 lunar mission in 1971, was asked what he was feeling at that time, he replied: “Now I know why I’m here. Not for a closer look at the moon, but to look back at our home, the Earth.” Those words have an interesting parallel to work being carried out today, as scientists look to the Moon to help gain an accurate understanding of the weather and climate on Earth.


A material inspired by a sea worm changes according to the environment

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Photo caption: The Nereis virens worm inspired new research out of the MIT Laboratory for Atomistic and Molecular Mechanics. Its jaw is made of soft organic material, but is as strong as harder materials such as human dentin. / Alexander Semenov / Wikimedia Commons


The gelatinous jaw of a sea worm, which becomes hard or flexible depending on the environment around it, has inspired researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to develop a new material that can be applied to soft robotics. Despite having the texture of a gel, this compound is endowed with great mechanical resistance and consistency, and is able to adapt to changing environments. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have looked at a sea worm called Nereis virens in order to create a changing material, which has the ability to be flexible or rigid at convenience. The jaw of this worm has a texture similar to gelatin, but if the environment varies, the material may adopt the hardness of dentin or human bones.


A new study revises the development and evolutionary origin of the vertebrate brain

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A study recently published in PLOS Biology provides information that substantially changes the prevailing idea about the brain formation process in vertebrates and sheds some light on how it might have evolved. The findings show that the interpretation maintained hitherto regarding the principal regions formed at the beginning of vertebrate brain development is not correct. This research was led jointly by the researchers José Luis Ferran and Luis Puelles of the Department of Human Anatomy and Psychobiology of the UMU; Manuel Irimia of the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), and Jordi García Fernández of the Genetics Department of the University of Barcelona. The brain of an invertebrate organism, amphioxus (a fish-like marine chordate), whose place in the evolutionary tree is very close to the origin of the vertebrates, was used for the research.


Così la materia soffice ‘si rilassa’

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Da destra a sinistra, due immagini separate da un intervallo di tempo di 10 secondi, e il differential frame, risultante dalla sottrazione delle prime due. Le particelle che si sono mosse significativamente durante questo tempo producono nel differential frame spot accoppiati di alta (rosso) e bassa (blu) intensità, come idenziato dallo zoom. Il sistema studiato è un modello paradigmatico di materiale soffice: una densa sospensione colloidale di particelle micrometriche (sfere dure) in acqua.

Da una collaborazione tra il Cnr e il gruppo Procter and Gamble (P&G) nasce una tecnica innovativa per studiare il comportamento di una vasta categoria di materiali, dai tessuti biologici a prodotti di largo consumo come detergenti e alimenti. Prodotti di uso quotidiano come shampoo e dentifrici, alimenti come yogurt e maionese e ancora tessuti biologici, come quelli epiteliali, sono esempi di ‘materiali soffici’, con proprietà intermedie tra lo stato liquido e quello solido . Una tecnica innovativa, messa a punto tra Napoli e Cincinnati (Ohio, USA) da una collaborazione tra ricercatori dell’Istituto superconduttori, materiali innovativi e dispositivi (Spin) del Cnr di Napoli, il gruppo Procter&Gamble, l’Università Federico II di Napoli e la University of Cincinnati aiuta a comprendere come si muovono e si organizzano nel tempo le particelle che compongono questi materiali: si tratta della Differential Variance Analysis (DVA), una tecnica che consente di misurare e visualizzare l’evoluzione della microstruttura nel tempo.


Studio FBK sul virus Zika pubblicato dalla rivista internazionale PNAS

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Nel lavoro si dimostra che l’andamento dell’epidemia è stato determinato principalmente da fattori climatici e legati alla mobilità umana ​. Altro importante riconoscimento internazionale per la Fondazione Bruno Kessler nell’ambito degli studi sulla diffusione dei virus. I risultati di un lavoro scientifico sul virus Zika condotto dai ricercatori FBK Stefano Merler e Piero Poletti, in collaborazione con la Fondazione ISI di Torino, l’Università Northeastern di Boston, l’Università della Florida e l’Università di Washington, sono stati pubblicati sull’ultimo numero della rivista PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), una delle più citate al mondo nel campo della ricerca. Il virus Zika è trasmesso principalmente dalle zanzare Aedes. L’infezione nell’uomo si manifesta generalmente con sintomi molto blandi, come febbre leggera, rash cutaneo o congiuntivite, ed è completamente asintomatica in circa l’80% dei casi. Ciò nonostante, ha generato molto allarme l’associazione tra virus Zika e casi di microcefalia osservati in neonati da madri infette durante la recente epidemia del 2015-2016 in Sudamerica.


Some cows may be predisposed to subacute ruminal acidosis

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Some cows are more at risk for SARA than others


Cattle with subacute ruminal acidosis suffer from a number of low-level ailments that affect productivity. A research team led by University of Illinois scientists has documented changes in pH, microbiome, and rumen epithelial cells in SARA-affected cows. Results indicate that some animals may be predisposed to SARA because of an overabundance of certain bacteria. Scientists are not sure why some cows develop the condition known as subacute ruminal acidosis, or SARA, but producers know it causes a number of minor symptoms that add up to major problems over time. “Subacute ruminal acidosis is what happens when the pH of the rumen – the large compartment of a cow’s stomach – gets too low. It’s not severe, but it’s lower than ideal. It’s difficult to detect. Because of that, we don’t have a great understanding of how it happens and what are the contributing factors,” says assistant professor of animal sciences Josh McCann.


Geophagy: Eating soil could harm babies

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Excessive lead concentration: nearly 5x the levels found in newborns in Austria


Up to 80% of people in Africa, especially women, regularly eat clayey soil – this habit is known as geophagy. A previous study conducted at MedUni Vienna has already shown that it is a form of craving. Now researchers from the Center for Public Health and the Institute of Medical Genetics at MedUni Vienna have shown that this practice can also be detrimental to health: pregnant women who consume particular types of soil display higher levels of lead contamination – as do their babies. That is the finding of a study that was produced for the dissertations of two students (Rosina Glaunach and Coloman Deweis) of MedUni Vienna and that has now been published in "Environmental Research".


Movie research results: Multitasking overloads the brain

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The subjects’ brain areas functioned more smoothly when they watched the films in longer segments. Image: Juha Lahnakoski


The brain works most efficiently when it can focus on a single task for a longer period of time. Previous research shows that multitasking, which means performing several tasks at the same time, reduces productivity by as much as 40%. Now a group of researchers specialising in brain imaging has found that changing tasks too frequently interferes with brain activity. This may explain why the end result is worse than when a person focuses on one task at a time. ‘We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure different brain areas of our research subjects while they watched short segments of the Star Wars, Indiana Jones and James Bond movies,’ explains Aalto University Associate Professor Iiro Jääskeläinen.



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