Science:

New discovery could lead to medicine that enables the brain to heal itself

Most cells in the body can patch up damage by dividing to create new versions of themselves. But the neurons in our brain lack this ability, so once they're damaged through illness or injury, there's not much that can be done. Worse still, in an overzealous attempt to protect the injured site, glial cells form scar tissue around damaged brain regions, which can reduce what little neuron growth there might be and prevent neurons from effectively communicating with each other. The good news is scientists have found a way to reverse this process in lab conditions with the help of…

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  • New Atlas
  • Date:02/14/2019

These scientists are turning a common type of plastic waste into clean fuels

While many people like to think that recycling is the antidote to our plastic problems, the reality is that most plastic waste doesn’t get recycled. On top of that, plastics that are recycled can only be recycled a couple times before the material is rendered useless and becomes waste. Alternatives to plastic are obviously needed, but new solutions for turning plastic waste into something useful are also needed before we transition to a post-plastic world. One solution is to turn plastics into clean fuels—something that a group of scientists at Purdue University are working on. The scientists are focusing on…

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  • New Atlas
  • Date:02/12/2019

These engineers are making bricks out of your poop

The waste from your own body that you flush down the toilet goes through an extensive journey long after you’ve left the bathroom. From the toilet it descends through a series of pipes before it winds up at a waste water treatment center where it’s extracted from the water and decontaminated, leaving behind something called biosolids. You probably don’t like to think about these biosolids, but fortunately, you don’t have to. Engineers out of Australia have discovered that the nutrient-rich organic content found in biosolids is fantastic for making bricks. As it turns out, bricks made from biosolids “look the…

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  • New York Times
  • Date:02/08/2019

How the lamprey could lead to better treatments for spinal cord injuries

Time to get scientific: At the University of Chicago, researchers have been taking a close look at the eel-like lamprey, which can fully regenerate its spinal cord even after being severed—within three months the lamprey is swimming, burrowing, and flipping around again as if nothing happened. Recovering from a spinal cord injury as the lamprey does is almost unheard of in humans and other mammals, so the researchers are working on identifying the individual neurons responsible for regenerating the spinal cord. The hope is that the lamprey could lead researchers to design better strategies for treatments aimed at promoting central…

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  • Futurity
  • Date:02/07/2019

Scientists discover flying squirrels that glow pink in the dark

Imagine you were out in your backyard when suddenly, a hot-pink squirrel flew by. That’s exactly what happened to a biologist in Wisconsin when he flashed his flashlight at a southern flying squirrel, a small, furry creature. Typically it has a warm brown color, but in the beam of a flashlight, the squirrel had a neon glow similar to what you would find in a jazzercise class circa 1988. The discovery prompted researchers to examine more than 100 specimens of flying squirrels under UV light, which led to an astounding discovery: The pink is real. While ultraviolet fluorescence is common…

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  • New York Times
  • Date:02/06/2019

Scientists edge one step closer to a potential cure for type 1 diabetes

Successful treatments for type 1 diabetes are scarce. Pancreas transplants are one method for curing the disease, but they frequently fail and still require drugs that suppress your immune system. However, a new, better treatment may be on the horizon after a team of scientists out of UCSF managed to turn human stem cells into functional insulin-producing ones by jumpstarting the development of stem cells, which causes responses to blood sugar that align more with mature cells. This marks the first time that stem cells have been converted into functioning cells that produce insulin, and while the technique has only been…

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  • Engadget
  • Date:02/05/2019

Researchers are finally understanding how LSD works

Decades after it was discovered, scientists might have finally figured out how LSD interacts with our body. As part of the study, a research team administered the psychedelic drug to 25 volunteers while scanning their brains. An intriguing finding was that the LSD allowed more information to flow from the thalamus, the part of the brain that serves as an information filter,  to other parts of the brain. The discovery could play a major role in future research on psychiatric disorders and potentially help develop new medicines.

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  • Futurism
  • Date:02/01/2019

Scientists are designing AI to find treatments for individual mental illnesses

Mental health disorders haunt a sizable portion of humanity at any given time. That’s why a number of scientists and researchers are developing an algorithm that attempts to find the most effective intervention for any given mental disorder. Whether machine learning can provide a better answer to mental health issues is still not known, but in a world currently devoid of good solutions when it comes to mental health, it’s worth a shot.

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  • The Verge
  • Date:01/30/2019

The endangered angel shark seems to have found a home off the coast of Wales

The angel shark, a large flat species which resembles a shark, is listed as critically endangered and was only to be found around the Canary Islands. Now after a six month project, evidence has emerged that this rare species of shark has found a safe haven off the coast of Wales. For scientists, the unusual shark is especially valuable because it represents a completely different evolutionary process compared to other species.

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  • The Independent
  • Date:01/29/2019

Exciting breakthrough in cancer research will improve T-cell cancer therapy

Scientists have discovered a method for creating renewable cancer-killing T cells in laboratory conditions, which could be used directly in patients for cancer treatments. T cell therapies currently use a patient’s own T cells, but this costs lots of time and money to do. That’s why this scientific breakthrough is so important: it potentially makes immunotherapies cheaper and more widely available.

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  • Digital Trends
  • Date:01/25/2019
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