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United Academics
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  • December 24, 2015
  • 06:12 AM

Science Frauds II – Haruko Obokata

by Rita dos Santos Silva in United Academics

Data falsification occurs rather frequently. What makes scientists lie about their results? Haruko Obokata was a young female researcher, breaking into a predominantly male-dominated stem-cell research field...... Read more »

Obokata, H., Wakayama, T., Sasai, Y., Kojima, K., Vacanti, M., Niwa, H., Yamato, M., & Vacanti, C. (2014) Stimulus-triggered fate conversion of somatic cells into pluripotency. Nature, 505(7485), 641-647. DOI: 10.1038/nature12968  

  • December 22, 2015
  • 06:39 AM

Science Frauds – Publishing Pressure or Lust for Fame?

by Rita dos Santos Silva in United Academics

Almost every year, a new case of science fraud gets major attention in the media and threatens to compromise science’s credibility in the eyes of citizens. What makes scientists lose their professional integrity? Part 1 of a three-part article: four examples.... Read more »

  • December 21, 2015
  • 09:51 AM

Humans vs Superbugs: Are We Losing The Battle?

by Elisabeth Buhl Thubron in United Academics

Bacteria are gaining resistance to our last-resort group of antibiotics. Agriculture and ignorance. If we are playing the blame game then those two factors are key players.... Read more »

  • December 14, 2015
  • 06:24 AM

Black Holes Can Over-Eat, Too.

by Jeffrey Daniels in United Academics

Once upon a time, it was thought that black holes could ‘eat-up’ accreted matter. That is: gas, dust, and other such things that have been pulled into the black hole’s gravity field, usually forming a disk of rotating material. The black holes would pull the matter into infinity, with no limit to how large a black hole could become in this manner.... Read more »

Andrew King. (2015) How Big Can a Black Hole Grow?. MNRAS Letters. arXiv: 1511.08502v2

  • December 11, 2015
  • 06:12 AM

Why Discussions About Global Warming Are So Boring

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

If you have ever had a laugh or enjoyed a talk about climate change, this was probably Obama’s speech at the 2015 White House Correspondents’ Dinner. And you are not alone; just to give you some key facts:... Read more »

  • December 7, 2015
  • 05:51 AM

What Is The Healthiest Diet? It’s Personal

by Gunnar De Winter in United Academics

A recent study spearheaded by researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel followed 800 eaters to see how their blood sugar levels responded to their meals. It turns out that everybody processes food in her or his unique way.... Read more »

Katz, D., & Meller, S. (2014) Can We Say What Diet Is Best for Health?. Annual Review of Public Health, 35(1), 83-103. DOI: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-032013-182351  

Zeevi, D., Korem, T., Zmora, N., Israeli, D., Rothschild, D., Weinberger, A., Ben-Yacov, O., Lador, D., Avnit-Sagi, T., Lotan-Pompan, M.... (2015) Personalized Nutrition by Prediction of Glycemic Responses. Cell, 163(5), 1079-1094. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.11.001  

  • December 2, 2015
  • 06:17 AM

Trust Issues? Listen To Your Heart

by Kate Blanchfield in United Academics

Research shows that our hearts beat in sync when we think about trusting each other.

trust, heart, heartbeat, synchronisation, public goods game

Trust is a crucial part of society, building complicated links between individuals, companies and even nations, but behavioural scientists have struggled to find a way to measure the physiological signs of trust. A new study suggests that our hearts might hold a clue: the heart rates of people who think about trusting one another start to beat in sync.

Researchers from Aarhus University in Denmark studied the heartbeats of 37 pairs of participants as they solved four building tasks using Lego toys. The researchers then studied the heartbeats of a further 20 pairs of participants as they solved the same four building tasks, with an additional ‘trust-building’ game between each task. The researchers found that the heartbeats of these pairs sped up and were more strongly synchronised compared to the heartbeats of pairs who did not play the trust game.

“This is the first time that anyone has shown that trust between two people can be seen in heart rhythms and we have no idea why it happens,” said Panagiotis Mitkidis, co-author of the study and assistant professor at the Centre for Interacting Minds at Aarhus University.... Read more »

  • November 24, 2015
  • 06:04 AM

Pinocchio and Captain Hook: Suffering from Tinnitus?

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

You might be wondering what Pinocchio and Captain Hook have in common. Well, they are both from children’s stories, they both have prosthetics, they have issues with being honest, and they both experience interesting maritime adventures. But there is something else too: they are both annoyed by a continuous ticking sound that follows them everywhere. For Pinocchio it is Jiminy Cricket who bothers him while for Hook the crocodile is ticking merrily away. I can hear you saying: “So? What’s the point? These are fairy tales. We are grownups, we live in the real world!” Right, so let’s look at the real world equivalent to these bothersome sounds.... Read more »

  • November 11, 2015
  • 11:50 AM

A New Boost for Cancer Stem Cell Therapies

by Rita dos Santos Silva in United Academics

Patent for Bozepinib approved by scientists of University of Granada

Researchers at the University of Granada, Spain, have patented Bozepinib, a drug that inhibits the growth of cancer stem cells in breast, colon and melanoma cancers.

The mechanisms of action of Bozepinib were first described in an article published in the Open Access journal Oncotarget back in 2014. The team showed that Bozepinib was able to inhibit growth and metastasis of tumors in mice without inducing toxicity. Follow-up studies have proved that the drug was able to reduce tumor activity by 50% after forty-one days of treatment.

Bozepinib’s powerful anti-tumorigenic properties are mainly due to the inhibition of HER-2 signaling pathways. In normal cells HER-2 protein is associated with survival, growth and proliferation. However, HER-2 is over-expressed in cancer cells, ultimately leading to a poor prognosis and decreased overall patient survival rate. This makes HER-2 one exciting target for anti-cancer therapies. The ability to target cancer stem cells is one of the aspects that makes Bozepinib a promising drug in cancer treatment.... Read more »

Ramírez A, Boulaiz H, Morata-Tarifa C, Perán M, Jiménez G, Picon-Ruiz M, Agil A, Cruz-López O, Conejo-García A, Campos JM.... (2014) HER2-signaling pathway, JNK and ERKs kinases, and cancer stem-like cells are targets of Bozepinib small compound. Oncotarget, 5(11), 3590-606. PMID: 24946763  

  • November 11, 2015
  • 06:22 AM

The Dangers of Galactic Cosmic Rays

by Agnese Mariotti in United Academics

Eager to travel to Mars? Think twice!

NASA, galactic cosmic rays, mars, space travel

Explorations of Mars with probes and spacecraft are revealing intriguing features of the Red Planet. The most recent discovery by the NASA spacecraft Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, that liquid water very likely flows on Mars, has stirred enthusiasm among scientists who have been looking for signs of “life-as-we-know-it” on the planet for the last twenty years.

One of the major future goals of both the European and American space agencies, ESA and NASA, is to send human explorers to Mars to carry out investigations that cannot be performed by robots.

But aside from the technical challenges, how safe is it for the human body to travel in the cosmos under a shower of galactic cosmic rays?... Read more »

Parihar, V., Allen, B., Tran, K., Macaraeg, T., Chu, E., Kwok, S., Chmielewski, N., Craver, B., Baulch, J., Acharya, M.... (2015) What happens to your brain on the way to Mars. Science Advances, 1(4). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400256  

  • November 10, 2015
  • 06:10 AM

Novel Strategies for Eliminating HIV

by Shefali Sabharanjak in United Academics

Using special antibodies to attack HIV

HIV, AIDS, ART, treatment, therapy, health

More than thirty-five million people in the world today are living with HIV/AIDS. In the last few decades there have been concerted, large-scale efforts worldwide to contain the spread of this pandemic and to help infected people survive the virus and live with it.

At the forefront of anti-HIV therapy stands a class of drugs known as anti-retroviral therapy or ART. These drugs are able to reduce the numbers of virus-infected immune cells in blood circulation but are unable to eliminate it completely. One of the major challenges of HIV research is to find ways to eliminate host cells that are infected but are dormant. Once patients stop taking ART, production of viruses from infected reserves of dormant T-cells resumes and the disease progresses anew.

In two recently published papers, scientists from two different labs have achieved some success in activating the virus in dormant T-cells and simultaneously getting the body’s T-cells to target such reactivated cells.... Read more »

Pegu, A., Asokan, M., Wu, L., Wang, K., Hataye, J., Casazza, J., Guo, X., Shi, W., Georgiev, I., Zhou, T.... (2015) Activation and lysis of human CD4 cells latently infected with HIV-1. Nature Communications, 8447. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms9447  

Sung, J., Pickeral, J., Liu, L., Stanfield-Oakley, S., Lam, C., Garrido, C., Pollara, J., LaBranche, C., Bonsignori, M., Moody, M.... (2015) Dual-Affinity Re-Targeting proteins direct T cell–mediated cytolysis of latently HIV-infected cells. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 125(11), 4077-4090. DOI: 10.1172/JCI82314  

  • November 9, 2015
  • 07:10 AM

The Future of Micro Pigs

by Rita dos Santos Silva in United Academics

Different colors and flavors of pig?

pig, micro pig, genetics, gene editing, agriculture, pets

The Chinese genomics institute BGI (Beijing Genomics Institute) has announced that tiny pigs, created through genetic-editing techniques, are now being sold as pets. The profits generated through revenue will be used to further develop research in this area.

Demand for pigs as pets has been growing, especially among the U.S public. Yong Li, director of BGI believes that in the future gene-editing techniques will allow the company to offer pigs with different colors and patterns, he told the Nature journal.... Read more »

  • November 6, 2015
  • 06:32 AM

Death Will Come and Will Have Your Eyes

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

Once upon a time there was a high school student who was struggling to write a literature essay. The student couldn’t find anything good about the writer she had to discuss; he simply looked like a depressed misogynist, unable to even properly commit suicide at the first try. There is no need to write and publish a poem called “Death Will Come and Will Have Your Eyes” just because a woman broke up with you (not that the student would blame her), right?

The student grew up, forgetting about the high school essay, and entered the academic world, until one day a colleague invited her to read a research article…... Read more »

  • November 5, 2015
  • 07:38 AM

Preventing Peanut Allergies: Consumption or Avoidance?

by Pieter Carriere in United Academics

Prevention of peanut allergies is a controversial issue, leaving society uncertain whether children should eat or avoid peanuts. Recent scientific studies show...... Read more »

Du Toit G, Katz Y, Sasieni P, Mesher D, Maleki SJ, Fisher HR, Fox AT, Turcanu V, Amir T, Zadik-Mnuhin G.... (2008) Early consumption of peanuts in infancy is associated with a low prevalence of peanut allergy. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 122(5), 984-91. PMID: 19000582  

Du Toit G, Roberts G, Sayre PH, Bahnson HT, Radulovic S, Santos AF, Brough HA, Phippard D, Basting M, Feeney M.... (2015) Randomized trial of peanut consumption in infants at risk for peanut allergy. The New England journal of medicine, 372(9), 803-13. PMID: 25705822  

Fleischer DM, Sicherer S, Greenhawt M, Campbell D, Chan E, Muraro A, Halken S, Katz Y, Ebisawa M, Eichenfield L.... (2015) Consensus Communication on Early Peanut Introduction and Prevention of Peanut Allergy in High-Risk Infants. Pediatric dermatology. PMID: 26354148  

Gupta R, Holdford D, Bilaver L, Dyer A, Holl JL, & Meltzer D. (2013) The economic impact of childhood food allergy in the United States. JAMA pediatrics, 167(11), 1026-31. PMID: 24042236  

  • November 4, 2015
  • 06:13 AM

The Cyberspace Evolution of Beauty

by Gunnar De Winter in United Academics

The cyberspace evolution of beauty
Researchers using CGI images found that beauty evolves in two steps.

beauty, cyberspace, CGI, women, female, attraction, attractive

Explaining attractiveness

Symmetrical faces and bodies are nice to look at. Men prefer a specific waist-to-hip ratio. People with a Body Mass Index within a certain range are more often perceived as beautiful, and tall people are generally judged as being more attractive.

Explanations of beauty abound. Yet, all of the above examples focus on a single trait. Human bodies, and what it is that makes them beautiful, are more complicated than that. It’s a puzzle of traits, all fitting together to make a unique person.

So, is there one factor that determines what makes a body beautiful, or do several of them work together to forge the Venuses among us?... Read more »

Germine L, Russell R, Bronstad PM, Blokland GA, Smoller JW, Kwok H, Anthony SE, Nakayama K, Rhodes G, & Wilmer JB. (2015) Individual Aesthetic Preferences for Faces Are Shaped Mostly by Environments, Not Genes. Current biology : CB, 25(20), 2684-2689. PMID: 26441352  

  • October 9, 2015
  • 07:14 AM

Open Access vs Predator

by Nesru Koroso in United Academics

Predatory Open Access publishers on the rise

open access, publishing, open access publishing, predators, predatory publishing, articles, peer review

The increase in so-called “predatory” Open Access publishers is posing a threat to the integrity of Open Access publishing. Predatory Open Access publishers charge authors high publishing fees without providing proper editorial and peer review services. They are abusing the opportunity created by the Gold Open Access publishing model which requires authors to pay article processing charges.... Read more »

  • October 1, 2015
  • 06:52 AM

It’s A Water Full World: World Water Week 2015

by Kate Blanchfield in United Academics

Three big ideas from World Water Week 2015

World Water Week is an annual conference organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute that discusses global issues concerning water. Held in August 2015, World Water Week attracted over 3,000 participants, including government ministers, scientists and economists, from 130 different countries. To celebrate its 25th anniversary this year, here are 3 big ideas from World Water Week 2015.... Read more »

World Energy Outlook. (2012) World Energy Outlook 2012. International Energy Agency. DOI: 10.1787/weo-2012-en  

  • September 18, 2015
  • 05:34 AM

What Do Bats and Plants Have in Common? High-pitched Screaming!

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

Polyglot like a pitcher plant or cryptolectic like a sperm whale?

A: “Pitcher Tower, this is Bat K hardwickii, established ILS 16. Do you copy me?”
B: “Bat K hardwickii, clear to land. Please confirm: are you ready to discharge the cargo?”
A: “Roger. Affirmative.”

This is how I imagined a conversation between the tropical carnivorous pitcher plant Nepenthes hemsleyana and the bat Kerivoula hardwickii would go. No, I am not on drugs; bats and plants can communicate with each other, as a study from Michael and Caroline Schöner together with other researchers (2015) just confirmed.... Read more »

Cantor M, Shoemaker LG, Cabral RB, Flores CO, Varga M, & Whitehead H. (2015) Multilevel animal societies can emerge from cultural transmission. Nature communications, 8091. PMID: 26348688  

Schöner MG, Schöner CR, Simon R, Grafe TU, Puechmaille SJ, Ji LL, & Kerth G. (2015) Bats Are Acoustically Attracted to Mutualistic Carnivorous Plants. Current biology : CB, 25(14), 1911-6. PMID: 26166777  

  • September 15, 2015
  • 06:03 AM

Busting The Myth: Do Cats Cause Schizophrenia?

by Chiara Civardi in United Academics

Don’t be so quick to throw out your feline companions


I have to admit that as an animal lover, I was biased when I approached this research. A post titled “Cats = Schizophrenia” appeared on my Facebook page and my first though was “Bollocks! What is the science behind this?!” My search began.... Read more »

Calcaterra V, Veggiotti P, Palestrini C, De Giorgis V, Raschetti R, Tumminelli M, Mencherini S, Papotti F, Klersy C, Albertini R.... (2015) Post-operative benefits of animal-assisted therapy in pediatric surgery: a randomised study. PloS one, 10(6). PMID: 26039494  

  • September 8, 2015
  • 10:40 AM

Spiders Sailing The Seven Seas

by Gunnar De Winter in United Academics

Spiders Sailing The Seven Seas
Discovery of a new type of behaviour shows that some spiders are really good sailors.
With the exception of the coldest places on our planet, spiders are almost everywhere. From giant bird-eating tarantulas to pin-prick-sized web-builders, from solitary hunters to social colonies, spiders are versatile in more ways than one.
Some of our eight-legged friends on the smaller side of the size/weight scale even know how to fly! ... Read more »

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