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Exoplanet discovery from next-gen Gemini Planet Imager

Exoplanet discovery from next-gen Gemini Planet Imager
2015-08-13
This news release is available in Japanese. The recently commissioned Gemini Planet Imager has made its first exoplanet discovery: what may be the lowest-mass exoplanet ever directly imaged with a space telescope instrument. Based on available data, the researchers project the planet weighs twice as much as Jupiter - far less than exoplanets directly imaged before, which weighed at least five times Jupiter's mass. The findings from the next-generation Gemini imaging tool pave the way toward a better understanding of how our solar system was formed. In ...

Methane, water enshroud nearby Jupiter-like exoplanet

Methane, water enshroud nearby Jupiter-like exoplanet
2015-08-13
The Gemini Planet Imager has discovered and photographed its first planet, a methane-enshrouded gas giant much like Jupiter that may hold the key to understanding how large planets form in the swirling accretion disks around stars. The GPI instrument, which is mounted on the 8-meter Gemini South telescope in Chile, is the size of a small car and was designed, built and optimized for imaging and analyzing the atmospheres of faint Jupiter-like planets next to bright stars, thanks to a device that masks the star's glare. In December 2104, GPI began searching hundreds of ...

Astronomers discover 'young Jupiter' exoplanet

Astronomers discover young Jupiter exoplanet
2015-08-13
A Jupiter-like planet within a young system that could serve as a decoder ring for understanding how planets formed around our Sun has been discovered by a team of astronomers from the University of Montreal's Institute of Research on Exoplanets (iREx) in collaboration with an international team of astronomers led by professor Bruce MacInstosh from Stanford University. One of the best ways to learn how our solar system evolved is in fact to look to younger star systems in the early stages of development. The new planet, called 51 Eridani b, is the first exoplanet discovered ...

Sex development disorders affect the mind as well as the body

2015-08-13
While it may not shock you to learn that children born with disorders of sex development (DSD) face challenges, Concordia University researchers have confirmed that these go far beyond the physical. In a paper published in the journal Hormone and Metabolic Research, psychology professor William M. Bukowski and his co-authors Elizabeth McCauley and Thomas Mazur examine the potential effects that these disorders can have on children's and adolescents' peer relationships. The term "disorders of sex development" covers a range of conditions, from physical malformations ...

Scientists discover what controls waking up and going to sleep

2015-08-13
Fifteen years ago, an odd mutant fruit fly caught the attention and curiosity of Dr. Ravi Allada, a circadian rhythms expert at Northwestern University, leading the neuroscientist to recently discover how an animal's biological clock wakes it up in the morning and puts it to sleep at night. The clock's mechanism, it turns out, is much like a light switch. In a study of brain circadian neurons that govern the daily sleep-wake cycle's timing, Allada and his research team found that high sodium channel activity in these neurons during the day turn the cells on and ultimately ...

When it comes to body odor, ants are connoisseurs

When it comes to body odor, ants are connoisseurs
2015-08-13
For any complex society to function properly, individuals--be they people or social insects--must reliably recognize their friends and family with whom they live and work and readily distinguish those allies from strangers. Ants and other social insects manage this feat of recognition based on chemical pheromones, which are detected via sensors in their antennae. Now researchers reporting August 13 in Cell Reports have discovered that when it comes to assessing body odors, ants really don't miss a thing. "To our surprise, these very low volatility compounds are not only ...

How the malaria parasite increases the risk of blood cancer

2015-08-13
A link between malaria and Burkitt's lymphoma was first described more than 50 years ago, but how a parasitic infection could turn immune cells cancerous has remained a mystery. Now, in the August 13 issue of Cell, researchers demonstrate in mice that B cell DNA becomes vulnerable to cancer-causing mutations during prolonged combat against the malaria-causing Plasmodium falciparum. Individuals who are chronically infected with certain pathogens are at increased risk of developing lymphomas, cancers of the antibody-producing B lymphocytes. For example, Burkitt's lymphoma, ...

Low-fat diet results in more fat loss than low-carb diet in humans

Low-fat diet results in more fat loss than low-carb diet in humans
2015-08-13
A study from the US National Institutes of Health presents some of the most precise human data yet on whether cutting carbs or fat has the most benefits for losing body fat. In a paper published August 13 in Cell Metabolism, the researchers show how, contrary to popular claims, restricting dietary fat can lead to greater body fat loss than carb restriction, even though a low-carb diet reduces insulin and increases fat burning. Since 2003, Kevin Hall, PhD--a physicist turned metabolism researcher at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases--has ...

Exercise-induced hormone irisin is not a 'myth'

2015-08-13
Irisin, a hormone linked to the positive benefits of exercise, was recently questioned to exist in humans. Two recent studies pointed to possible flaws in the methods used to identify irisin, with commercially available antibodies. In Cell Metabolism on August 13, the Harvard scientists who discovered irisin address this contentious issue by showing that human irisin circulates in the blood at nanogram levels and increases during exercise. Senior study author Bruce Spiegelman of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School says that the confusion over irisin ...

Newly discovered cells regenerate liver tissue without forming tumors

2015-08-13
The mechanisms that allow the liver to repair and regenerate itself have long been a matter of debate. Now researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered a population of liver cells that are better at regenerating liver tissue than ordinary liver cells, or hepatocytes. The study, published August 13 in Cell, is the first to identify these so-called "hybrid hepatocytes," and show that they are able to regenerate liver tissue without giving rise to cancer. While most of the work described in the study was done in mouse models, the researchers ...

Alert to biologists: Ribosomes can translate the 'untranslated region' of messenger RNA

Alert to biologists: Ribosomes can translate the untranslated region of messenger RNA
2015-08-13
In what appears to be an unexpected challenge to a long-accepted fact of biology, Johns Hopkins researchers say they have found that ribosomes -- the molecular machines in all cells that build proteins -- can sometimes do so even within the so-called untranslated regions of the ribbons of genetic material known as messenger RNA (mRNA). "This is an exciting find that generates a whole new set of questions for researchers," says Rachel Green, Ph.D., a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of molecular biology and genetics at the Johns Hopkins University ...

NIH-developed Epstein-Barr virus vaccine elicits potent neutralizing antibodies in animals

2015-08-13
Researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, and their collaborators have developed an experimental, nanoparticle-based vaccine against Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) that can induce potent neutralizing antibodies in vaccinated mice and nonhuman primates. Microscopic particles, known as nanoparticles, are being investigated as potential delivery vehicles for vaccines. The scientists' findings suggest that using a structure-based vaccine design and self-assembling nanoparticles to deliver a viral ...

NIH study finds cutting dietary fat reduces body fat more than cutting carbs

2015-08-13
In a recent study, restricting dietary fat led to body fat loss at a rate 68 percent higher than cutting the same number of carbohydrate calories when adults with obesity ate strictly controlled diets. Carb restriction lowered production of the fat-regulating hormone insulin and increased fat burning as expected, whereas fat restriction had no observed changes in insulin production or fat burning. The research was conducted at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health. Results were published ...

New technology could reduce wind energy costs

2015-08-13
Engineers from the University of Sheffield have developed a novel technique to predict when bearings inside wind turbines will fail which could make wind energy cheaper. The method, published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society A and developed by Mechanical Engineering research student Wenqu Chen, uses ultrasonic waves to measure the load transmitted through a ball bearing in a wind turbine. The stress on wind turbine is recorded and then engineers can forecast its remaining service life. When a bearing is subject to a load, its thickness is reduced by ...

Critically endangered species successfully reproduced using frozen sperm

2015-08-13
Black-footed ferrets, a critically endangered species native to North America, have renewed hope for future survival thanks to successful efforts by a coalition of conservationists, including scientists at Lincoln Park Zoo, to reproduce genetically important offspring using frozen semen from a ferret who has been dead for approximately 20 years. The sire, "Scarface," as he is affectionately called by the team, was one of the last 18 black-footed ferrets to exist in the world in the 1980s. Eight kits, including offspring of Scarface, were born recently, significantly increasing ...

Newly discovered brain network recognizes what's new, what's familiar

Newly discovered brain network recognizes whats new, whats familiar
2015-08-13
One of the more heartbreaking realities of Alzheimer's is the moment when a loved one struggling with the disease no longer fully recognizes a family member or close friend who is caring for them. Now, new research from Washington University in St. Louis has identified a novel learning and memory brain network that processes incoming information based on whether it's something we've experienced previously or is deemed to be altogether new and unknown, helping us recognize, for instance, whether the face before us is that of a familiar friend or a complete stranger. Forthcoming ...

Multigene panel testing for hereditary breast/ovarian cancer risk assessment

2015-08-13
Multigene testing of women negative for BRCA1 and BRCA2 found some of them harbored other harmful genetic mutations, most commonly moderate-risk breast and ovarian cancer genes and Lynch syndrome genes, which increase ovarian cancer risk, according to an article published online by JAMA Oncology. Multigene panel genetic tests are increasingly recommended for patients evaluated for a predisposition to hereditary breast/ovarian cancer (HBOC). However, the rapid introduction of these tests has raised concerns because many of the tested genes are low- to moderate-risk genes ...

Screening for breast/ovarian cancer risk genes other than BRCA1/2 is clinically valuable

2015-08-13
A study by researchers at three academic medical centers has shown that screening women with a suspected risk of hereditary breast or ovarian cancer for risk-associated genes other than BRCA1 and 2 provides information that can change clinical recommendations for patients and their family members. The report from a team led by a Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Cancer Center investigator is being published in the August issue of JAMA Oncology. "The traditional approach has been to test most women with suspected hereditary risk for breast and/or ovarian cancer for ...

New study examines the link between hospital care for self-harm and risk of death

2015-08-13
A University of Manchester study which followed up 38,415 people admitted to hospital with self-harm has, for the first time, investigated the association between the treatment patients receive in hospital and their subsequent risk of death. Published in the Lancet Psychiatry, the study looked at adults who had self-harmed and attended five hospital emergency departments in Manchester, Oxford and Derby between 2000 and 2010. The researchers found that within 12 months, 261 had died by suicide and a further 832 had died from other causes. The study also examined the ...

Transplant recipients more likely to develop aggressive melanoma

2015-08-13
Organ transplant recipients are twice as likely to develop melanoma as people who do not undergo a transplant, and three times more likely to die of the dangerous skin cancer, suggests new research led by a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health student. The findings, reported Aug. 13 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, suggest that the immunosuppressive medications that transplant recipients receive to keep them from rejecting their new organs -- especially the high doses administered at the time of transplant -- may make them more susceptible to later ...

Setting prices centrally, w/optimization yields higher profits than local pricing: INFORMS

2015-08-13
A study on granting local sales people pricing discretion shows that profits improve by up to 11% when local sales forces are empowered to negotiate with customers. However a centralized system that uses optimization techniques and limits local sales discretion improves profits still further, by an additional 20%. The research appears in the current issue of Management Science, a publication of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS), the leading professional association in analytics and operations research. "This hybrid approach balances ...

Surgeons refine procedure for life-threatening congenital heart defect

2015-08-13
Summary: Children born with the major congenital heart defect hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) often must undergo a series of corrective surgeries beginning at birth. While most have the standard three-stage Norwood procedure, a hybrid strategy has been introduced to offset some disadvantages associated with the Norwood surgeries. In a report in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, investigators compare whether outcomes can be improved if an arterial shunt is used as a source of pulmonary blood flow rather than the more conventional venous shunt as ...

Heavy smokers and smokers who are obese gain more weight after quitting

2015-08-13
For smokers, the number of cigarettes smoked per day and current body mass index are predictive of changes in weight after quitting smoking, according to researchers at Penn State College of Medicine. Quitting smoking may lead to some weight gain but how much weight gain depends on the individual. Previous research shows that for some it can be just a few pounds, but for others it can be more than 25 pounds. Unfortunately, factors that can help predict the amount of weight a smoker may gain are not well understood. "Many smokers are concerned about gaining weight after ...

Mayo Clinic-led study validates tool for pt. reporting side effects in cancer clinical trials

2015-08-13
PHOENIX -- A multicenter study involving Mayo Clinic researchers has found that the National Cancer Institute's Patient Reported Outcomes version of the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (PRO-CTCAE), was accurate, reliable and responsive, compared to other, established patient-reported and clinical measures. The study is published today in the journal JAMA Oncology. "In most cancer clinical trials, information on side effects is collected by providers who have limited time with their patients and current patient questionnaires are limited in scope and depth," ...

Humans responsible for demise of gigantic ancient mammals

2015-08-13
Early humans were the dominant cause of the extinction of a variety of species of giant beasts, new research has revealed. Scientists at the universities of Exeter and Cambridge claim their research settles a prolonged debate over whether mankind or climate change was the dominant cause of the demise of massive creatures in the time of the sabretooth tiger, the woolly mammoth, the woolly rhino and the giant armadillo. Known collectively as megafauna, most of the largest mammals ever to roam the earth were wiped out over the last 80,000 years, and were all extinct by ...
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