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Mar 21, 2019

“Escaping the Milky Way” –Ghostly Neutron Star Racing Through Galaxy at 2.5 Million MPH

Posted by in categories: cosmology, particle physics

Astronomers observed a ghostly pulsar, a superdense, rapidly spinning neutron star exploded from a supernova 10,000 years ago, racing through space at nearly 2.5 million miles an hour—so fast it could travel the distance between Earth and the Moon in just 6 minutes. The discovery was made using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA).

The pulsar lies about 53 light-years from the center of a supernova remnant called CTB 1. Its rapid motion through interstellar gas results in shock waves that produce the tail of magnetic energy and accelerated particles detected at radio wavelengths using the VLA. The tail extends 13 light-years and clearly points back to the center of CTB 1.

This one, dubbed PSR J0002+6216 (J0002 for short), sports a radio-emitting tail pointing directly toward the expanding debris of a recent supernova explosion. “Thanks to its narrow dart-like tail and a fortuitous viewing angle, we can trace this pulsar straight back to its birthplace,” said Frank Schinzel, a scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, New Mexico. “Further study of this object will help us better understand how these explosions are able to ‘kick’ neutron stars to such high speed.”

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Mar 21, 2019

Childhood trauma scars the brain and boosts depression risk

Posted by in categories: health, neuroscience

Childhood trauma such as neglectful parenting causes physical scarring to the brain and increases the risk of severe depression, a new study has found.

For the first time, scientists have linked changes in the structure of the brain both to traumatic early-years experiences and poor mental health in later life.

Published in the Lancet, the study found a “significant” link between adults who had experienced maltreatment as children with a smaller insular cortex, part of the brain believed to help regulate emotion.

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Mar 21, 2019

Philosophers and neuroscientists join forces to see whether science can solve the mystery of free will

Posted by in categories: neuroscience, science

Newly funded 4-year program aims to better define research questions about free will and bring more rigor to its study.

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Mar 21, 2019

VA to Offer New Ketamine-Based Nasal Spray for Depression

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, neuroscience

The newest FDA-approved medication to treat severe depression, a nasal spray based on the anesthetic (and misused hallucinogenic party drug) ketamine, will soon be available to veterans treated within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In a move that may help thousands of former service members with depression that has not improved with other treatments, VA officials announced Tuesday that the department’s doctors are now authorized to prescribe Spravato, the brand name for esketamine, a molecular variation of ketamine.

The decision to offer a drug hailed by many as a breakthrough in treatment for its speedy results — often relieving symptoms in hours and days, not weeks — shows the VA’s “commitment to seek new ways to provide the best health care available for our nation’s veterans,” Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a release.

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Mar 21, 2019

Scientists Reveal Ancient Social Networks Using AI—and X-Rays

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Historians are using data science to unearth overlooked female power brokers, imperial influencers, and other figures hidden in ancient texts.

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Mar 21, 2019

Blue Origin studying repurposing of New Glenn upper stages

Posted by in categories: government, habitats, space travel

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Blue Origin has studied repurposing upper stages of its future New Glenn launch vehicle to serve as habitats or for other applications as part of a series of NASA-funded commercialization studies.

Brett Alexander, vice president of government sales and strategy at Blue Origin, said the company looked at ways it could make use of the second stage of New Glenn rather than simply deorbiting the stage at the end of each launch, but emphasized the company currently had no firm plans to reuse those stages at this time.

That study was part of a series of study contracts awarded by NASA last August to study future concepts to support commercial human spaceflight in low Earth orbit. “We focused there on the reuse of the second stage of New Glenn and what we might be able to do with that volume and capacity once we’re on orbit,” he said during a panel discussion about low Earth orbit commercialization at the American Astronautical Society’s Goddard Memorial Symposium here March 20.

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Mar 21, 2019

With Launch Of New CRISPR Company, Competition Extends To Diagnostics

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, space

The gene editing technology CRISPR, which has spawned several startups aiming to use the tool to develop new therapies, is now the inspiration for a new company in a less-crowded space: diagnostic testing.

Sherlock Biosciences is launching in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with $35 million in funding. That includes $17.5 million in the form of a non-dilutive grant from the Open Philanthropy Project, an organization primarily funded by Dustin Moskovitz, the billionaire cofounder of Facebook and Asana, and his spouse, Cari Tuna. The Open Philanthropy Project is also making a separate investment in Sherlock, along with other undisclosed investors. CEO Rahul Dhanda says he’s still raising more funding for the company’s Series A.

One of Sherlock Biosciences’ key technologies comes from the Broad Institute lab of Feng Zhang, who did some of the early work elucidating the DNA-modifying potential of CRISPR and its associated enzymes after their discovery in bacteria.

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Mar 21, 2019

New technique could help regrow tissue lost to periodontal disease

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, neuroscience

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of all Americans will have periodontal disease at some point in their lives. Characterized by inflamed gums and bone loss around teeth, the condition can cause bad breath, toothache, tender gums and, in severe cases, tooth loss. Now, in ACS Nano, researchers report development of a membrane that helps periodontal tissue regenerate when implanted into the gums of rats.

To regrow lost gum tissue and bone, scientists have tried implanting pieces of polymers that form a protected niche near the root of a tooth, recruiting nearby stem cells and helping them differentiate into new gum and bone cells. However, a second surgery is usually required to remove the polymeric , which can get in the way of the healing process. Although researchers have developed biodegradable membranes, these materials don’t tend to work as well for re-growing periodontal tissue. Alireza Moshaverinia, Paul Weiss and colleagues wanted to develop a membrane that would enhance periodontal tissue regeneration and then be absorbed by the body when healing was complete.

The researchers made nanofibrous membranes of poly(ε-caprolactone), a biocompatible polymer already approved for medical applications. They then coated the membrane with polydopamine (PDA), a synthetic polymer that mimics the sticky protein that mussels use to attach to wet surfaces. In the lab, dental-derived stem cells adhered to the membrane and differentiated. The PDA coating also attracted calcium and phosphate ions, leading to early bone mineralization. When the researchers implanted the membranes into the gums of rats with periodontal defects, at the defect sites regenerated to normal levels within eight weeks. By this time, the membranes had degraded and were absorbed by the rats.

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Mar 21, 2019

Sounds and vibrations are quite similar for the brain, finds new study

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, mobile phones, neuroscience

We all know the feeling of a mobile phone vibrating in our hands when announcing an incoming call. If we perceive these vibrations so clearly, it is due to specialized receptors that transduce them into neural signals sent to our brain. But how does the latter encode their physical characteristics? To understand this, neuroscientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) have observed what happens in the brains of mice whose forepaws perceive vibrations. They discovered that neurons in the somatosensory cortex are activated in a manner similar to those in the sound-reactive auditory cortex. These results, published in the journal Nature, suggest that feeling a phone vibrate or hearing it ring is ultimately based on the same brain codes.

If you place a glass of water on your desk, you can probably see on its surface the concentric oscillatory motions created by the small movements that occur nearby. These oscillations are caused by vibrations that propagate through the floor, desk, glass and all other solid surfaces. These vibrations are also important sensory stimuli that we use to detect, for example, an approaching train or to identify the familiar step of our office neighbor. «We live surrounded by vibrations that are extremely important in how we perceive the world,» explains Daniel Huber at the Department of Basic Neurosciences at the UNIGE Faculty of Medicine, who led this work. «So we wanted to know how the brain perceives and represents them.».

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Mar 21, 2019

With single gene insertion, blind mice regain sight

Posted by in category: biotech/medical

People left blind by retinal degeneration have one option: electronic eye implants. Neuroscientists have now developed an alternative: gene therapy that, in tests, restored vision in blind mice. A gene for green opsin delivered via virus gave blind mice enough sight to discern patterns on an iPad at a resolution sufficient for humans to read. Given existing AAV eye therapies already approved, this new therapy could be ready for clinical trials in three years.

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