390 articles from THURSDAY 14.1.2021

About the Pandemic Technology Project

As covid-19 began spreading around the world, an avalanche of new digital services and data-driven approaches has emerged to aid pandemic response. From smartphone exposure notifications to vaccine allocation algorithms, these systems have been developed under the watch of politicians, public health officials, scientists and businesses. They have also faced many challenges. The Pandemic...

The role of T cells in fighting cancer

Why do some hosts' immune systems reject tumors easily, while others have a harder time doing so? It depends on the types of the immune cells known as CD8 T cells and how a host's specific T cells match up with the neoantigens present in the tumor.

Metformin use reduces risk of death for patients with COVID-19 and diabetes, study finds

Use of the diabetes drug metformin -- before a diagnosis of COVID-19 -- is associated with a threefold decrease in mortality in COVID-19 patients with Type 2 diabetes, according to a new study. Diabetes is a significant comorbidity for COVID-19. This beneficial effect remained, even after correcting for age, sex, race, obesity, and hypertension or chronic kidney disease and heart failure.

Research breaks new ground in understanding how a molecular motor generates force

A team of biophysicists set out to tackle the long-standing question about the nature of force generation by myosin, the molecular motor responsible for muscle contraction. The key question they addressed - one of the most controversial topics in the field - was: how does myosin convert chemical energy, in the form of ATP, into mechanical work? The answer revealed new details into how myosin, the...

Researchers discover new inhibitor drug combination for rare form of cancer

Researchers took the novel approach of targeting specific cell proteins that control DNA information using inhibitors, or drugs, that were effective in reducing the growth of the Waldenström macroglobulinemia cancer cells and when combined with a third drug were even more successful in killing the WM cancer cells which could lead to more treatment options.

How plants produce defensive toxins without harming themselves

Scientists describe the biosynthesis and exact mode of action of diterpene glycosides in wild tobacco. These antiherbivory compounds attack the cell membrane. To protect themselves from their own toxins, tobacco plants store them in a non-toxic form. Autotoxicity and the protection against it seem to play a greater role in the evolution of plant defenses than previously thought.

Scientists discover electric eels hunting in a group

Deep in the Brazilian Amazon River basin, scientists discovered a small, river-fed lake filled with more than 100 adult electric eels. Researchers witnessed the electric eels working together to herd small fish into tightly packed balls. Groups of up to 10 eels periodically split off to form cooperative hunting parties. Those smaller groups then surrounded the prey and launched simultaneous...

Model analyzes how viruses escape the immune system

MIT researchers have devised a way to computationally model viral escape, using models that were originally developed to model language. The model can predict which sections of viral surface proteins, including those of influenza, HIV, and SARS-CoV-2, are more likely to mutate in a way that allows the virus to evade the human immune system. It can also identify sections that are less likely to...

Not as simple as thought: How bacteria form membrane vesicles

Researchers have identified a novel mechanism by which bacteria form membrane vesicles, which bacteria employ to communicate with each other or to defend themselves against antibiotics. By studying mycolic acid-containing bacteria (MCB), which also includes tuberculosis-causing bacteria, the researchers demonstrated that environmental stimuli dictate the route by which the MCB form membrane...

Measuring the belowground world

Life above ground depends on the soil and its countless inhabitants. Yet, global strategies to protect biodiversity have so far paid little attention to this habitat. Researchers call for greater consideration of soils in international biodiversity strategies, far beyond agriculture. The researchers explain their plan for systematic recording to enable comprehensive policy advisory.

Greenland melting likely increased by bacteria in sediment

Bacteria are likely triggering greater melting on the Greenland ice sheet, possibly increasing the island's contribution to sea-level rise, according to scientists. That's because the microbes cause sunlight-absorbing sediment to clump together and accumulate in the meltwater streams, according to new study. The findings can be incorporated in climate models, leading to more accurate predictions...