blog posts New imaging, machine-learning methods speed effort to reduce crops' need for water Aug 24, 2021 8:00 am1438 views Scientists have developed and deployed a series of new imaging and machine-learning tools to discover attributes that contribute to water-use efficiency in crop plants during photosynthesis and to reveal the genetic basis of variation in those traits. Light can trigger key signaling pathway for embryonic development, cancer Aug 17, 2021 12:45 pm3829 views Blue light is illuminating new understanding of a key signaling pathway in embryo development, tissue maintenance and cancer genesis. Illinois researchers developed a method that makes membrane-bound receptors reactive to light, triggering the Wnt pathway. Team develops bioprocess for converting plant materials into valuable chemicals Aug 17, 2021 9:00 am1356 views A team of scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign developed a bioprocess using engineered yeast that completely and efficiently converted plant matter consisting of acetate and xylose into high-value chemicals. Study: Domestic control of COVID-19 takes priority over international travel bans Aug 11, 2021 8:00 am840 views A new paper co-written by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign economist Yilan Xu says taming domestic transmission of COVID-19 ought to be prioritized over international travel bans. Study identifies molecule that stimulates muscle-building Aug 9, 2021 8:00 am3145 views In a randomized control study of 10 healthy young men, researchers compared how consuming the single amino acid leucine or its two-molecule equivalent, dileucine, influenced muscle-building and breakdown. They found that dileucine boosts the metabolic processes that drive muscle growth 42% more than free leucine does. Study offers insight into underlying causes of seizure disorder in babies Aug 3, 2021 7:00 am791 views Researchers report that infantile spasms, a rare but serious seizure disorder in babies, appear to be the result of a molecular pathway gone awry. In their study of a mouse model of the disorder, the researchers discovered that genetic mutations associated with the disease impair a pathway that is involved in building new synapses in the hippocampus, a brain region essential to learning and memory. What impact do the Olympics and mass-sporting events have on public health? Aug 2, 2021 8:15 am2253 views Attending high-profile and mass-participation sporting events may increase individuals’ physical activity levels and enhance their emotional well-being, according to Mikihiro Sato, a professor of recreation, sport and tourism. Paper: Some birds steal hair from living mammals Jul 29, 2021 6:15 pm1752 views A new paper in the journal Ecology documents an unusual behavior among titmice, chickadees and tits: A bird will land on an unsuspecting mammal and, cautiously and stealthily, pluck out some of its hair. Should the government implement a vaccine passport system? Jul 29, 2021 8:00 am2135 views Vaccine passports strike the right balance between letting life go on for the vaccinated while still being realistic about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, said Jacob S. Sherkow, a professor of law at Illinois and bioethics expert. Study tests microplasma against middle-ear infections Jul 29, 2021 8:00 am494 views In a new study, researchers explore the use of microplasma – a highly focused stream of chemically excited ions and molecules – as a noninvasive method for attacking the bacterial biofilms that resist antibiotic treatment in the middle ear. New approach eradicates breast cancer in mice Jul 21, 2021 1:00 pm24815 views A new approach to treating breast cancer kills 95-100% of cancer cells in mouse models of human estrogen-receptor-positive breast cancers and their metastases in bone, brain, liver and lungs. The newly developed drug, called ErSO, quickly shrinks even large tumors to undetectable levels. How can the world prevent emerging infectious diseases, protect food security? Jul 20, 2021 8:45 am1210 views According to a new report co-written by Illinois Natural History Survey postdoctoral researcher Valeria Trivellone, climate change, poverty, urbanization, land-use change and the exploitation of wildlife all contribute to the emergence of new infectious diseases, which, in turn, threaten global food security. Trivellone spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about how global authorities can tackle these intertwined challenges. 2020 deadlier than previous five years, even with COVID-19 numbers removed, study finds Jul 19, 2021 1:30 pm1979 views An upswing in death rates from non-COVID-19 causes in 2020 hit hard for men ages 15-64, according to a new study by computer science professor Sheldon H. Jacobson and internal medicine professor Janet Jokela. Frequent COVID-19 testing key to efficient, early detection, study finds Jun 30, 2021 8:30 am2419 views The chance of detecting the virus that causes COVID-19 increases with more frequent testing, no matter the type of test, a new study found. Both polymerase chain reaction and antigen tests, paired with rapid results reporting, can achieve 98% sensitivity if deployed at least every three days. How do July 4 celebrations affect wildlife? Jun 30, 2021 8:00 am3226 views Celebrating the nation’s Independence Day with fireworks is an enduring tradition, but fireworks can be a source of distress and danger to wildlife. Dr. Sam Sander, a clinical professor of zoo and wildlife medicine at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, spoke with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates about how fireworks affect wildlife and the environment, and how to minimize the risks. Consistent bedtime routines in infancy improve children's sleep habits through age 2 Jun 29, 2021 1:45 pm646 views Consistent bedtime routines and activities such as reading books beginning when infants are 3 months old promote better sleep habits through age 2, according to a study by researchers at the Family Resiliency Center. DNAzymes could outperform protein enzymes for genetic engineering Jun 24, 2021 8:15 am1446 views Move over, gene-editing proteins – there’s a smaller, cheaper, more specific genetic engineering tool on the block: DNAzymes – small DNA molecules that can function like protein enzymes. Researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have developed a technique that, for the first time, allows DNAzymes to target and cut double-stranded DNA, overcoming a significant limitation of the technology. Cancer survivors' tongues less sensitive to tastes than those of healthy peers Jun 23, 2021 9:15 am1311 views Head and neck cancer survivors' tongues are less sensitive to bitter, salty and sweet tastes, and this taste dysfunction lasts for years, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign scientists found in a new study. Combining three techniques boosts brain-imaging precision Jun 23, 2021 7:00 am1049 views Researchers have developed a method to combine three brain-imaging techniques to more precisely capture the timing and location of brain responses to a stimulus. Cholesterol metabolite induces production of cancer-promoting vesicles Jun 9, 2021 8:00 am770 views Scientists report that a byproduct of cholesterol metabolism causes some cells to send out cancer-promoting signals to other cells. These signals are packaged in membrane-bound compartments called extracellular vesicles. Beneficial arthropods find winter sanctuary in uncultivated field edges, study finds Jun 3, 2021 8:00 am1103 views Many species of ground-dwelling beetles, ladybugs, hoverflies, damsel bugs, spiders and parasitic wasps kill and eat pest species that routinely plague farmers, including aphids and corn rootworm larvae and adults. But the beneficial arthropods that live in or near cropped lands also are susceptible to insecticides and other farming practices that erase biodiversity on the landscape. A new study reveals that beneficial arthropods are nearly twice as abundant and diverse in uncultivated field edges in the spring as they are in areas that are cropped – if those field edges are rich in an array of flowers and other broad-leaved plants and not just mowed grass. Geology helps map kidney stone formation from tiny to troublesome May 25, 2021 1:00 pm1825 views Advanced microscope technology and cutting-edge geological science are giving new perspectives to an old medical mystery: How do kidney stones form, why are some people more susceptible to them and can they be prevented? Study: Fluorescent light clarifies relationship between heat stress and crop yield May 24, 2021 9:15 am1014 views Scientists report that it is possible to detect and predict heat damage in crops by measuring the fluorescent light signature of plant leaves experiencing heat stress. If collected via satellite, this fluorescent signal could support widespread monitoring of growth and crop yield under the heat stress of climate change, the researchers say. Portable, affordable, accurate, fast: Team invents new COVID-19 test May 18, 2021 4:00 am2192 views A new coronavirus test can get accurate results from a saliva sample in less than 30 minutes, researchers report in the journal Nature Communications. Many of the components of the hand-held device used in this technology can be 3D-printed, and the test can detect as little as one viral particle per 1-microliter drop of fluid. Intoxication brings strangers physically closer, study finds May 10, 2021 2:00 pm975 views In a study with pandemic-related implications, researchers report that strangers who consume alcohol together may keep their distance initially – but draw physically closer as they become intoxicated. No previous studies have tested the effects of alcohol consumption on social distance, the researchers say. They report the new findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Team builds better tool for assessing infant brain health Apr 29, 2021 12:00 am709 views Researchers have created a new, open-access tool that allows doctors and scientists to evaluate infant brain health by assessing the concentration of various chemical markers, called metabolites, in the brain. The tool compiled data from 140 infants to determine normal ranges for these metabolites. Spring forest flowers likely a key to bumble bee survival, Illinois study finds Apr 28, 2021 8:00 am3507 views Losses of springtime flowers in wooded landscapes likely undermine bumble bee health and survival, researchers report. Geographies of death: Study maps COVID-19 health disparities in Greater Santiago Apr 27, 2021 9:00 am428 views People up to age 40 living in economically depressed municipalities in the Greater Santiago, Chile, metropolitan area were three times more likely to die as a result of the infection than their counterparts in wealthier areas, researchers report in the journal Science. Young adults may provide care for older relatives much more frequently than thought Apr 12, 2021 9:30 am743 views Young adults and teens may provide care for adult relatives much more often than previously thought, according to a new study, though they worry about detriments to educational or career goals and would like more training and support. Team cracks eggs for science Apr 8, 2021 8:00 am541 views Avian brood parasites lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species, forcing the hosts to do the hard work of raising the unrelated young. A team of scientists wanted to simulate the task of piercing an egg – a tactic that only a minority of host birds use to help grasp and eject the foreign eggs. Published in the Journal of Experimental Biology, the study offers insight into some of the physical challenges the discriminating host birds face. Study links prenatal phthalate exposure to altered information processing in infants Apr 6, 2021 7:30 am19147 views Researchers have found evidence linking pregnant women’s exposure to phthalates to altered cognitive outcomes in their infants. More protein doesn't mean more strength in resistance-trained middle-aged adults Mar 25, 2021 7:30 am3579 views A 10-week muscle-building and dietary program involving 50 middle-aged adults found no evidence that eating a high-protein diet increased strength or muscle mass more than consuming a moderate amount of protein while training. The intervention involved a standard strength-training protocol with sessions three times per week. None of the participants had previous weightlifting experience. Microscope that detects individual viruses could power rapid diagnostics Mar 19, 2021 11:30 am1351 views A fast, low-cost technique to see and count viruses or proteins from a sample in real time, without any chemicals or dyes, could underpin a new class of devices for rapid diagnostics and viral load monitoring, including HIV and the virus that causes COVID-19. Study: Black bears are eating pumas' lunch Mar 19, 2021 8:00 am1991 views A camera-trap study in the Mendocino National Forest in Northern California reveals that black bears are adept at finding and stealing the remains of adult deer killed by pumas. This “kleptoparasitism” by bears, as scientists call it, reduces the calories pumas consume in seasons when the bears are most active. Perhaps in response to this shortage, the pumas hunt more often and eat more small game when the bears are not in hibernation. Not just CO2: Rising temperatures also alter photosynthesis in a changing climate Mar 16, 2021 8:00 am2940 views A new review explores how increasing temperatures influence plant growth and viability despite the higher concentrations of atmospheric CO2. 'Hunker down' stress genes boosted in women who live in violent neighborhoods Mar 11, 2021 9:00 am1170 views The chronic stress of living in neighborhoods with high rates of violence and poverty alters gene activity in immune cells, according to a new study of low-income single Black mothers on the South Side of Chicago. The changes in stress-related gene expression reflect the body’s “hunker down” response to long-term threat. This has implications for health outcomes in communities of color and other marginalized populations, said researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and collaborators. Study compares discrimination claims of younger and older Americans with cancer Mar 10, 2021 8:00 am583 views Researchers assessed the employment discrimination claims made by younger and older American adults with cancer and found substantial differences in the nature – and outcomes – of their claims. Veterans see positive changes in emotional resilience after intervention Mar 8, 2021 11:00 pm513 views A six-week training program designed to strengthen resilience against emotional distress in military veterans was associated with positive changes in brain function and increased confidence in their ability to regulate emotions, researchers report. Division of labor within regenerating liver maintains metabolism, mouse study finds Mar 1, 2021 2:00 pm672 views The liver has a rare superpower among body organs – the ability to regenerate, even if 70% of its mass is removed. It also keeps up its metabolic and toxin-removing work during the process of regeneration, thanks to a subset of cells that expand their workload while the rest focus on multiplication, a new study in mice found. Online edition of Insect Fear Film Festival to feature pandemic vectors: fleas Feb 19, 2021 11:45 am852 views The Insect Fear Film Festival Featuring Fleas will look at the insects as entertainment in the form of flea circuses, as pests and as vectors of disease. Study: Preschoolers with higher cardiorespiratory fitness do better on cognitive tests Feb 18, 2021 8:15 am2019 views Researchers report that 4-6-year-old children who walk further than their peers during a timed test – a method used to estimate cardiorespiratory health – also do better on cognitive tests and other measures of brain function. Published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine, the study suggests that the link between cardiorespiratory fitness and cognitive health is evident even earlier in life than previously appreciated. 3D microscopy clarifies understanding of body's immune response to obesity Feb 17, 2021 1:00 pm1187 views Researchers who focus on fat know that some adipose tissue is more prone to inflammation-related comorbidities than others, but the reasons why are not well understood. Thanks to a new analytical technique, scientists are getting a clearer view of the microenvironments found within adipose tissue associated with obesity. This advance may illuminate why some adipose tissues are more prone to inflammation – leading to diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disorders – and help direct future drug therapies to treat obesity. Study links prolonged sedentary time to distractibility in adults with obesity or overweight Feb 17, 2021 8:15 am608 views Scientists used accelerometers to track daily activity levels for a week in 89 adults with obesity or overweight and, in a series of tests, measured their ability to multitask and maintain their attention despite distractions. The study revealed that individuals who spent more sedentary time in bouts lasting 20 minutes or more were less able to overcome distractions. Are science laboratories truly inclusive if not accessible to service-dog handlers? Feb 16, 2021 8:15 am3815 views According to a new commentary in Disability and Health Journal, people with disabilities who rely on service dogs often are prohibited from bringing their working dogs into teaching and research laboratories. This one barrier can stop them from pursuing careers in science, says Joey Ramp, a researcher in the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology and lead author of the commentary. Ramp spoke about the issue with News Bureau life sciences editor Diana Yates. Lipid epoxides target pain, inflammatory pathways in neurons Feb 10, 2021 4:00 am1812 views A process known as epoxidation converts two naturally occurring lipids into potent agents that target multiple cannabinoid receptors in neurons, interrupting pathways that promote pain and inflammation, researchers report in a new study. The findings open a new avenue of research in the effort to find alternatives to potentially addictive opioid pain killers. Ngumbi receives AAAS award for public engagement with science Feb 4, 2021 9:00 am1855 views University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign entomology professor Esther Ngumbi is the 2021 recipient of the Mani L. Bhaumik Award for Public Engagement with Science, an annual award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science presented to scientists and engineers in recognition of their contributions to public engagement with science. Childhood trauma could affect development, treatment of multiple sclerosis, mouse study finds Jan 29, 2021 8:30 am3032 views Childhood trauma could affect the trajectory of multiple sclerosis development and response to treatment in adulthood, a new study in mice found. Mice that had experienced stress when young were more likely to develop the autoimmune disorder and less likely to respond to a common treatment, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign found. However, treatment that activated an immune-cell receptor mitigated the effects of childhood stress in the mice. Culture shapes willingness to share personal data to reduce COVID-19 spread Jan 27, 2021 8:00 am1138 views Culture, civic-mindedness and privacy concerns influence how willing people are to share personal location information to help stem the transmission of COVID-19 in their communities, a new study finds. Such sharing includes giving public health authorities access to their geographic information via data gathered from phone calls, mobile apps, credit card purchases, wristband trackers or other technologies. Genome-editing tool TALEN outperforms CRISPR-Cas9 in tightly packed DNA Jan 27, 2021 4:00 am2264 views Researchers used single-molecule imaging to compare the genome-editing tools CRISPR-Cas9 and TALEN. Their experiments revealed that TALEN is up to five times more efficient than CRISPR-Cas9 in parts of the genome, called heterochromatin, that are densely packed. Fragile X syndrome, sickle cell anemia, beta-thalassemia and other diseases are the result of genetic defects in the heterochromatin. Medicaid expansion helps uncover undiagnosed HIV infections Jan 26, 2021 8:00 am747 views The Medicaid expansion facilitated by the Affordable Care Act led to a 13.9% increase in the identification of undiagnosed HIV infections, says research co-written by a team of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign experts who study health care and public policy.