The increase in measles, a highly contagious scourge that had been nearly eradicated in many parts of the world, is concerning health officials. In Europe, measles had reached the highest levels in two decades. Experts blame this surge in infections on a drop in the number of people being vaccinated.
COFFEE BREAK NEWS FOR LIFE SCIENTISTS
A research group from the University of California has discovered that a diet supplemented with seaweed could lessen the huge amounts of greenhouse gases emitted by cows and sheep. Even when small amounts of seaweed were added to the feed, the cows’ methane production was cut by nearly 60%. If researchers figure out how to grow enough of the red algae, an enormous change could be observed in the future.
Researchers have taken an interest in a euphorbia plant growing in Marocco as a possible painkiller. The plant’s active ingredient, resiniferatoxin (RTX), is extremely spicy, a 10,000 times hotter than the world’s hottest pepper. RTX is a potent analog of capsaicin, the active ingredient in chilli peppers, and has numerous benefits over existing painkillers. It doesn’t require frequent dosing, targets only the areas causing pain, and doesn’t produce a potentially addictive high. All this makes it a promising candidate for the clinics.
An international team of researchers detected a vast sixty-nine pharmaceutical compounds in stream insects. When these insects emerge as flying adults, they can pass these drugs further to spiders, fish, birds, bats, and other streamside foragers. This way, drug pollution moves up food webs and in some cases exposes even top predators to therapeutically-effective doses.
Air pollution has become one of the biggest threats to public health worldwide. Now, the World Health Organisation (WHO) brought together government officials and health experts in the first-ever international air pollution conference. This silent public health emergency is killing 7 million people every year and damaging the health of many more.
Researchers from McMaster University in Canada have engineered “smart” surface coatings that can repel almost everything, including bacteria, viruses, and living cells. A new feature of this technology is the possibility of modifying the coating to permit beneficial exceptions. These surfaces create the promise of safer implants and more accurate diagnostic tests.
Most people who have been to Korean restaurants will be familiar with a signature Korean dish called Kimchi. This traditional dish has been consumed for thousands of years and is made from a mixture of Chinese cabbage, herbs and spices which is then fermented by naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria. Apart from giving kimchi its distinctive taste, it turns out that these probiotic bacteria might also be good for our health.
Researchers have developed an implantable, bioabsorbable, wireless device that speeds recovery in rats by stimulating injured nerves with electricity. It accelerates the regrowth of nerves and enhances the recovery of muscle strength and control. The device, the size of a dime and thick as a paper, degrades in a few weeks. This new approach to treating peripheral nerve injury could mean a world to people with tingling, numbness, and weakness in their arms, hands, and legs.
The European Commission is about to recommend that EU member states abandon the practice of changing the clocks in spring and autumn.
Food scientists from Cornell University have developed a test for rapid detection of E. coli in drinking water using genetically-engineered bacteriophages. It can be administered locally in hard-to-reach areas around the world and provides results within hours. Obtaining quick and accurate results is a current bottleneck in preventing infection and could save many.