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2. A combination of two drugs - one of them an immunotherapy agent - could become a new standard, first-line treatment for patients with metastatic kidney cancer, results from a phase 3 clinical trial show. 'Hopefully this will lead to Food and Drug Administration approval soon,' says lead researcher.

A combination of two drugs could become a new standard treatment for patients with advanced kidney cancer, clinical trial shows. Scientists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have made what can be considered a breakthrough in advanced kidney cancer treatment. According to the American Cancer Society, kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in the country. Although the death rate for kidney cancers has gone down since the middle of the 1990s, the rate of new kidney cancers has been rising, which is part of the reason why research by the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, can be considered significant. The patients who received a combination of drugs had a significant advantage in progression-free survival compared to patients who received sunitinib only, a drug which has been the standard treatment for metastasized kidney cancer for a number of years.


3. Men Who Can Do More Than 40 Push-Ups Far Less Likely To Develop Heart Disease

Findings This longitudinal cohort study of 1104 occupationally active adult men found a significant negative association between baseline push-up capacity and incident cardiovascular disease risk across 10 years of follow-up. Objective To evaluate the association between push-up capacity and subsequent CVD event incidence in a cohort of active adult men. The results of this study support an inverse association between push-ups and CVD events among middle-aged men. Further studies are needed to examine the association between push-up capacity and CVD incidence in a more general population of middle-aged men as well as among older individuals and women. The findings suggest that being able to perform a greater number of push-ups at baseline is associated with a lower incidence of CVD events among active adult men.


4. Socially conservative politicians use less complex language, new study finds, based on analysis of average sentence length and number of syllables per word of political speeches from European countries between 1946-2017.

New research from Europe has found that culturally liberal politicians use more complex language than their socially conservative counterparts. "Many have ridiculed Donald Trump for his use of simple language with low levels of linguistic complexity. The Washington Post reported that Trump"speaks like a 5th grader", while other politicians used language as complex as that of 6th-8th grader," said study author Bert N. Bakker of the University of Amsterdam. "Beyond its headline-grabbing appeal, this finding speaks to the more general claim in political science that conservative politicians use simpler, less complex language than liberals. See for instance the intriguing work by Philip Tetlock and John Jost on the topic." "We find that speakers from culturally liberal parties use more complex language than speakers from culturally conservative parties. We find this evidence by analyzing 381,609 speeches given by politicians from five parliaments, by twelve European prime ministers, as well as speeches from party congresses over time and across countries. Our findings give clear descriptive evidence for a link between social conservatism and language complexity," Bakker told PsyPost. "This study opens up for new avenues of research. First, it would be interesting to study the differences in language complexity by politicians of the same political party. Second, future work could theorize and test why politicians differ in their language complexity. Do they do this out of strategic reasons, such as maximizing votes? Or do they do this because their language use actually reflects differences in the personality of these politicians," Bakker said.


5. Teachers’ helping behaviors leads to better student relationships and academic confidence, suggests a new study of over 330 middle school students and their math teachers, that found that students’ interest in math and their academic confidence is related to positive student-teacher bonds.

Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that when a teacher believed they had a positive association with a student, that student was likely to agree that they had a positive connection as well as a higher interest and greater confidence in mathematics. "If a student and a teacher can both agree that they have room to build a better connection, then that's an important first step in helping a student succeed." Social-emotional activities are used to emotionally support students; one example is actively listening to students who need to get something off their chest. "A student who needs a pencil and is given one by his or her math teacher feels supported. A student who struggles with his or her math homework and receives extra help feels validated. These 'small' investments in students make a difference." Keep a stash of emergency school supplies for students who might need them, or encourage students to share if they are able.


6. Drinking two or more diet beverages a day linked to high risk of stroke, heart attacks

More bad news for diet soda lovers: Drinking two or more of any kind of artificially sweetened drinks a day is linked to an increased risk of clot-based strokes, heart attacks and early death in women over 50, according to a new study by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association. After controlling for lifestyle factors, the study found that women who consumed two or more artificially sweetened beverages each day were 31% more likely to have a clot-based stroke, 29% more likely to have heart disease and 16% more likely to die from any cause than women who drank diet beverages less than once a week or not at all. "African-American women without a previous history of heart or diabetes were about four times as likely to have a clot-based stroke," Mossavar-Rahmani said, but that stroke risk didn't apply to white women. "Postmenopausal women tend to have higher risk for vascular disease because they are lacking the protective effects of natural hormones," North Carolina cardiologist Dr. Kevin Campbell said, which could contribute to increased risk for heart disease and stroke. Said Sacco, who is also chairman of neurology at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, the more studies there are coming up with the same associations, "The more you begin to question. The more you begin to feel strongly about the association being real."


7. Study finds children with autism more likely to face maltreatment. Children with ASD may be particularly vulnerable to maltreatment due to a variety of factors, including the presence of challenging behavior and complex cognitive and language impairments

A recent study by Vanderbilt researchers of 11 counties in Middle Tennessee revealed that children with autism spectrum disorder were nearly 2.5 times more likely than children without ASD to be reported to the Child Abuse Hotline by the age of 8. According to Warren, children with ASD may be particularly vulnerable to maltreatment due to a variety of factors, including the presence of challenging behavior and complex cognitive and language impairments, increased caregiver stress, lower levels of family social support and higher rates of caregiver isolation and dependence. Children with autism are also more likely to regularly work with a team of providers who may be paying closer attention than they would to children without ASD, though data from this study can't confirm or deny these hypotheses. Further information on what types of abuse are being reported, differences in clinical profiles of children along the autism spectrum, data on the rates of maltreatment of children with other types of disabilities and further evidence of gender disparities could provide a more holistic view of the factors surrounding these results. Though the number of children with ASD being referred for maltreatment is high, Warren admits the rates found through the study could be conservative, as many cases of maltreatment likely occur without being reported.


8. STEM faculty who believe ability is fixed have larger racial achievement gaps and inspire less student motivation in their classes

While these racial achievement gaps are determined by multiple factors, they may be exacerbated by subtle situational cues from STEM professors that reinforce racial stereotypes about which social groups are more or less likely to have ability in STEM.The cues hypothesis suggests that threatening situational cues in STEM settings, such as the diagnosticity of a test, can cause URM students to become concerned about being judged in terms of ability stereotypes, resulting in a loss of motivation, intellectual underperformance, and larger racial achievement gaps in STEM classes. We argue that if STEM faculty who endorse fixed mindset beliefs engender stereotype threat among URM students, we should observe lower student motivation and substantially larger racial achievement gaps in those professors' courses compared to courses taught by STEM professors who endorse growth mindset beliefs. RESULTSTo test our hypothesis, we examined the links between faculty mindset beliefs and the racial achievement gaps in those faculty members' courses across seven semesters and more than 15,000 undergraduate student records. Exploring other faculty characteristics as additional predictors of URM underperformanceDo faculty characteristics alone exacerbate or attenuate URM underperformance, and are fixed mindset beliefs more threatening when they come from faculty with certain demographic characteristics? For example, is it worse for URM students when a White professor endorses fixed mindset beliefs? Studies of students' prototypes of scientists and engineers demonstrate that students often conjure images of older white men as the gatekeepers of science; therefore, it is plausible that faculty with these characteristics may be more likely to activate stereotype threat among URM students, resulting in larger racial achievement gaps in these professors' classes. Recent research suggests that when stigmatized students expect to be stereotyped by fixed mindset institutions, they experience less belonging, less trust, and more anxiety and become less interested, suggesting that fixed mindset faculty might also engender these adverse outcomes among students.



10. Human cells reprogrammed to create insulin: Human pancreatic cells that don’t normally make insulin were reprogrammed to do so. When implanted in mice, these reprogrammed cells relieved symptoms of diabetes, raising the possibility that the method could one day be used as a treatment in people.

The results raise hopes that 'reprogrammed' insulin-producing cells could be used as treatment for diabetes, but the approach has so far only been tested with human cells in mice studies. In a study published on 13 February in Nature1, researchers report coaxing human pancreatic cells that don't normally make insulin, a hormone that regulates the amount of glucose in the blood, to change their identity and begin producing the hormone. After one week in culture, almost 40% of the human α-cells were producing insulin, whereas control cells that hadn't been reprogrammed were not. Other teams are also trying to create new insulin-producing cells in the pancreas: some have sought to generate β-cells from stem cells. Inês Cebola, an islet biologist at Imperial College London, is intrigued that pancreatic cells can be convinced to produce insulin without actually becoming proper β-cells.


11. Study: Black soldier fly maggots form “fountains” to feed more quickly

How do the larvae of black soldier flies eat so much, so fast, despite their tiny size? Scientists at Georgia Tech have been studying this "Collective feeding" behavior and found that one strategy for maximizing the larvae's feeding rate involves forming maggot "Fountains." The scientists described the results in a recent paper in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, along with an entertaining video showing a swarm of larvae consuming an entire pizza in just two hours. The lab got its black soldier fly larvae from a startup called Grubbly Farms in Atlanta that raises them as a sustainable source of chicken and fish feed. The larvae eat food waste, especially fruits and vegetables, and are capable of devouring twice their body weight every day. For the feeding experiments, the larvae were placed in a 10-gallon aquarium with cameras placed at the top and bottom to capture the feeding frenzy in action. The other hungry critters get around this behavior by generating fountain-like behavior: "New larvae crawl in from the bottom and are 'pumped' out of the top," the authors write.


12. Study is first to trace pollen contaminated with pesticide and collected by honey bees to a single plant genus

Using visual sorting by color of the pollen pellets collected in two samples from this nursery, followed by pesticide analysis of the sorted pollen and palynology to identify the plant sources of the pollen with the greatest acute toxicity of pesticide residues, we were able to associate pollen from the plant genus Spiraea L. with extraordinarily high concentrations of thiamethoxam and clothianidin, and also with high concentrations of acephate and its metabolite methamidophos. The objective of this study was to measure pesticide residues in trapped pollen from commercial nurseries in Connecticut specializing in ornamental plant production in order to determine whether levels of systemic pesticides in nursery pollen may pose a risk to honey bees and other pollinators. The summed Pollen Hazard Quotients, adding together the individual Pollen Hazard Quotients for each pesticide in a weekly pollen sample trapped from a single hive, were estimated to be below 5% of the honey bee LD50 for all the pollen samples at Nurseries M and P and most of the pollen samples from Nursery C. As shown in Fig. 1, most of the pollen samples at Nurseries M and P were below 1% of the honey bee LD50, as was also true of Nursery C. Site No. of pollen samples Mean pollen hazard quotient Median pollen hazard quotient No. of samples below 5% of honey bee LD50 No. of samples between 5 and 10% of honey bee LD50 No. of samples above 10% of honey bee LD50 M 35 397 231 35 0 0 P 31 231 36 31 0 0 C 38 3,985 71 33 2 3. We are currently analyzing the bulk trapped pollen from all three nurseries through palynology and molecular barcoding to determine the plant sources over the season, and preliminary data indicate that a substantial fraction of the pollen comes from plant genera and families not grown by the nurseries.


13. A radioactive metal may stifle the formation of water worlds

While we tend to think that Earth's oceans make it a watery planet, it's actually only a tiny fraction of a percent of water by mass. Looking out into the universe, it's clear water is more common than our own planet implies. Our own Earth keeps water trapped under its atmosphere, while Mars, farther out, lost its water. Full-size planets may be able to hang onto their water through other methods - like having an atmosphere. Red dwarfs are cool stars compared to the Sun, meaning their snow line should be quite close, allowing lots of icy material for planets to sop up as water.


14. Study finds fossil fuels are main source of carbon in the Arctic. Five years of testing at sites across the Arctic tracked seasonal fluctuations and sources of black carbon, or soot, which contributes to global warming and ice melt.

AbstractBlack carbon contributes to Arctic climate warming, yet source attributions are inaccurate due to lacking observational constraints and uncertainties in emission inventories. The consistency in seasonal source contributions of BC throughout the Arctic provides strong justification for targeted emission reductions to limit the impact of BC on climate warming in the Arctic and beyond. Source attributions are challenged both by a lack of observational constraints and by large uncertainties in emission inventories, the latter being a key element for modeling transport and climate effects of BC, specifically in the Arctic. In addition to uncertain emissions, the transport of BC into the deep Arctic is a difficult process to model because it involves complex interactions of dry deposition and precipitation scavenging as well as diabatic transport in the low sunlit Arctic with a strong surface-based inversion. The source contribution function, with units of mass per second, is a measure for the quantity of how much a source in an emission inventory grid cell would contribute to the total concentration at a receptor site.


15. Influenza binds phosphorylated glycans from human lung

Here, we report our characterization of the N-glycome from human lung tissue and our generation of the first human lung-shotgun N-glycan microarray to define the natural receptors recognized by a range of IAV. We identified a broad spectrum of both α2,3- and α2,6-linked sialylated N-glycans of various branch patterns and chain length, with and without core fucose modifications, demonstrating a multitude of potential sialylated glycan receptors for IAV. A range of avian, swine, and human IAV of various subtypes exhibited differing spectrums of binding profiles, from very broad binding to a variety of glycans to highly selective ligand specificity. These results suggest that IAV binds sialylated glycans through the canonical Sia receptor-binding site on HA. In competition experiments with 20 mM Sia on an NA-treated slide, IAV retains binding, albeit at somewhat lower RFUs, to the glycans not recognized by either MAL-I or SNA, suggesting that the binding is occurring in a Sia-independent manner and not via the RBS. When we included Man6P on a slide with the sialylated glycans intact, the hapten had no effect on binding to sialylated glycans, indicating that it is not interfering with the canonical RBS on HA. However, following desialylation of glycans on the HL-SGM, the inclusion of Man6P caused a reduction in binding to most of the glycans. Through our generation of the HL-SGM representing the human lung N-glycans, we explored more broadly the types of natural and endogenous glycans bound by IAV. Our studies led to the unexpected discovery that, in addition to binding select sialylated glycans, many IAV strains can also bind phosphorylated glycans. The development of the human lung N-glycome and generation of an HL-SGM was prompted by the fact that many previous studies on IAV binding to glycans were performed on defined glycan microarrays of limited relevance to endogenous glycans in the human lung or were performed with erythrocytes, which may not be ideal surrogates for defining IAV glycan specificity. Hapten inhibition experiments show that virus binding to sialylated glycans is inhibited by Sia and not by Man6P, whereas binding to phosphorylated structures is not inhibited by Sia but is inhibited by Man6P. These results suggest that IAV binding to phosphorylated glycans is not occurring via the canonical receptor binding site on HA and that either HA or NA may contain binding sites for the phosphorylated glycans.



17. A River of Stars: astronomers discover a nearby stellar stream using the Gaia satellite

Using the Gaia satellite astronomers from the University of Vienna have discovered a nearby river of stars - or stellar stream - containing 4000 stars, covering most of the southern sky. The paper - published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics - reveals that the stars in the stellar stream -which measures 400 parsecs in length and 50 parsecs in depth - have been moving in tandem through for roughly 1 billion years since they were formed. Even though the Milky Way contains many clusters of stars - of varying ages and sizes - this stellar stream is fairly unusual as it hasn't yet been pulled apart by tidal forces and other gravitational influences. When carefully looking at the distribution of nearby stars moving together, one particular group of stars, as yet unknown and unstudied, immediately caught their attention. The stars in the stream are displayed in red and cover almost the entire southern Galactic hemisphere, thereby crossing many well-known constellations.



19. Engaging Florida’s Youth to Increase Their Knowledge of Invasive Species and Plant Biosecurity

To inform the public about these risks, a youth outreach project was developed to deliver information on plant biosecurity and invasive species to middle and high school students throughout Florida. The students received instruction on how to define and identify plant pests; distinguish between native, non-native and invasive pests; and the importance of early detection and rapid eradication of invasive species. Following the presentation, complete understanding increased to 32.6% and the percentage of students with a moderate understanding increased to 55.8%. Furthermore, the students with a minimal understanding decreased to 9.2% and no understanding of the concept of invasive species dropped to 2.4%. Based on a paired t-test comparing the overall pre- and post-survey results for question 1, the results indicated that the outreach event significantly increased understanding of the topic of invasive species so that most students felt moderate to completely comfortable with the subject. Based on survey results, the base level of knowledge about invasive species and plant biosecurity is low for most students. The outreach presentations and associated hands-on activities significantly increased the level of knowledge about invasive species and plant biosecurity for the majority of the students.



21. High frequency of shared clonotypes in human B cell receptor repertoires

Our experiments revealed that the circulating repertoire of each individual contained between 9 and 17 million B cell clonotypes. The three individuals that we studied shared many clonotypes, including between 1 and 6% of B cell heavy-chain clonotypes shared between two subjects and 20 to 34% of or light chains shared between two subjects. Some of the B cell clonotypes had thousands of clones, or somatic variants, within the clonotype lineage. Although some of these shared lineages might be driven by exposure to common antigens, previous exposure to foreign antigens was not the only force that shaped the shared repertoires, as we also identified shared clonotypes in umbilical cord blood samples and all adult repertoires. The unexpectedly high prevalence of shared clonotypes in B cell repertoires, and identification of the sequences of these shared clonotypes, should enable better understanding of the role of B cell immune repertoires in health and disease.


22. Due to increased atmospheric CO2, North America’s oldest boreal trees use water more efficiently, but do not grow faster

A dual-isotope tree-ring analysis covering 715 y of growth of North America's oldest boreal trees revealed an unprecedented increase in iWUE that was directly linked to elevated assimilation rates of CO2. Limited nutrient availability, changes in carbon allocation strategies, and changes in stomatal density may have offset stem growth benefits awarded by the increased iWUE. Our results demonstrate that even in scenarios where a positive CO2 fertilization effect is observed, other mechanisms may prevent trees from assimilating and storing supplementary anthropogenic emissions as above-ground biomass. Short-term flux measurements and free-air CO2 enrichment experiments have shown that S1 requires a strong and active physiological response leading to the highest rates of iWUE increase, most consistent with a strong CO2 fertilization effect. Up to 1965, δ18O remains relatively constant while δ13C continually increases, suggesting that stimulation of A by increased CO2 may be responsible for the pronounced increase in iWUE during P1. After 1965 mature T. occidentalis L. probably switched from an A-dominated to a gs-dominated iWUE response. ConclusionsNorth America's oldest boreal trees exhibited an unprecedented 59% increase in iWUE since the beginning of the Industrial Era, mainly in response to rising atmospheric [CO2].


23. Neanderthal footprints found in Gibraltar

The international journal Quaternary Science Reviews has just published a paper which has involved the participation of Gibraltarian scientists from The Gibraltar National Museum alongside colleagues from Spain, Portugal and Japan. The identified footprints correspond to species which are known, from fossil material, to have inhabited Gibraltar. These findings add further international importance to the Gibraltar Pleistocene heritage, declared of World Heritage Value in 2016. The research was supported by HM Government of Gibraltar under the Gibraltar Caves Project and the annual excavations in the Gibraltar Caves, with additional support to the external scientists from the Spanish EU project MICINN-FEDER: CGL2010-15810/BTE. Minister for Heritage John Cortes MP commented, "This is extraordinary research and gives us an incredible insight into the wildlife community of Gibraltar's past. We should all take a moment to imagine the scene when these animals walked across our landscape. It helps us understand the importance of looking after our heritage. I congratulate the research team on uncovering this fascinating, hidden evidence of our Rock's past." Following the last Neanderthals: Mammal tracks in Late Pleistocene coastal dunes of Gibraltar.


24. An empty Europe: during the Aurignacian period (~42,000 to 33,000 BP) there were only between 800 and 3,300 humans in all of western and central Europe

The temporal and spatial analysis indicates an increase of the population during the Aurignacian as well as marked regional differences in population size and density. Our large-scale approach on Aurignacian population dynamics in Europe suggests that past socio-spatial organization followed socially inherent rules to establish and maintain a functioning social network of extremely low population densities. Citation: Schmidt I, Zimmermann A Population dynamics and socio-spatial organization of the Aurignacian: Scalable quantitative demographic data for western and central Europe. For the Aurignacian of western and central Europe, we estimated a population of 1,500 people, ranging from 900 to 3,800 people. The distinct bidirectional connections documented between central/south-western France and northern Spain hint at a different role of Cantabria and the Basque country within the overall population dynamics of Western Europe, likely oscillating between a viable core- and dependent satellite population or seasonal habitation, respectively.


25. Giant 'megalodon' shark extinct earlier than previously thought

Megalodon - a giant predatory shark that has inspired numerous documentaries, books and blockbuster movies - likely went extinct at least one million years earlier than previously thought, according to new research published Feb. 13 in PeerJ - the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences. Earlier research, which used a worldwide sample of fossils, suggested that the 50-foot-long, giant shark Otodus megalodon went extinct 2.6 million years ago. In the new study, the researchers reported every fossil occurrence of O. megalodon from the densely sampled rock record of California and Baja California in order to estimate the extinction. "After making extensive adjustments to this worldwide sample and statistically re-analyzing the data, we found that the extinction of O. megalodon must have happened at least one million years earlier than previously determined." "The extinction of O. megalodon was previously thought to be related to this marine mass extinction-but in reality, we now know the two are not immediately related," Boessenecker said.