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1. A Harvard Medical School scientist has used end-to-end differentiable deep learning to predict the 3D structure of effectively any protein based on its amino acid sequence. He achieved accuracy comparable to current state-of-the-art methods but at speeds upward of a million times faster.

Because a protein's shape determines its function and the extent of its dysfunction in disease, efforts to illuminate protein structures are central to all of molecular biology-and in particular, therapeutic science and the development of lifesaving and life-altering medicines. Now, a Harvard Medical School scientist has used a form of artificial intelligence known as deep learning to predict the 3D structure of effectively any protein based on its amino acid sequence. "A protein starts off as an unstructured string that has to take on a 3D shape, and the possible sets of shapes that a string can fold into is huge. Many proteins are thousands of amino acids long, and the complexity quickly exceeds the capacity of human intuition or even the most powerful computers." Once the entire structure is completed, the model checks the accuracy of its prediction by comparing it against the "Ground truth" structure of the protein. The new model is not immediately ready for use in, say, drug discovery or design, AlQuraishi said, because its accuracy currently falls somewhere around 6 angstroms-still some distance away from the 1 to 2 angstroms needed to resolve the full atomic structure of a protein.


2. After 50 years of searching, astronomers have finally made the first unequivocal discovery of helium hydride (the first molecule to form after the Big Bang) in space.

As the first compound created in the universe, you'd expect there to be traces of it throughout the universe - but astronomers couldn't find it. Just as researchers wondered if they might've gotten things wrong about the early universe, fortune smiled on them: A paper today in Nature describes the first unequivocal discovery of the HeH+ molecule in space. SOFIA So Fine Ever since the 1970s, astronomers had been looking for HeH+ molecules in the hazy collections of gas and dust known as nebulas. Part of the problem was that the kind of light the molecule gives off is easily absorbed by Earth's atmosphere. Molecule Manhunt The finding opens a window into the behavior of planetary nebulas, and into this specific molecule.


3. Cannabidiol could help deliver medications to the brain - CBD, a non-psychoactive compound in cannabis, could have a different use as a “Trojan horse”: helping slip medications across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and into mouse brains, and in experiments with human brain cells that mimic the BBB.

Although much more research is needed to verify these claims, scientists have now shown that CBD could have a different use as a "Trojan horse": helping slip medications across the blood-brain barrier and into mouse brains. The BBB consists of a layer of tightly linked cells that line capillaries in the brain, preventing substances from exiting the blood and entering the brain. A class of neurotransmitters called endocannabinoids bind to proteins called cannabinoid receptors in the BBB, and the receptors help transport the molecules across the barrier and into the brain. In experiments with human brain cells that mimic the BBB, the researchers showed that the CBD-displaying nanocarriers caused more of the fluorescent molecule to pass through the cells than nanocarriers of equal size that lacked CBD. Similarly, when injected into healthy mice, the CBD-nanocapsules targeted about 2.5 times more of the fluorescent molecule to the animals' brains. The authors acknowledge funding from the Complutense University Research Fund, the Santander-UCM Research Group Parenteral Administration of Drugs and the Spanish Ministry of Education.


4. The heaviest drinking 10% of Australians consume over half of the alcohol in Australia

Implications for public health: Public health interventions that reduce drinking among the heaviest 10% of drinkers in Australia have the potential to markedly reduce per‐capita consumption and reduce alcohol‐related harm. To assess how key drinking and risk behaviours differ for these heaviest drinkers compared to other Australian drinkers. Key characteristics of the heaviest drinking 10% of the Australian population, compared with other drinkers, 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey. Heavy drinkers were also more likely to report drinking in their own home, at pubs and clubs, raves and dance parties, at work and in public places like parks. The heaviest 10% of drinkers were more likely to report drinking at home, drinking at raves or dance parties, drinking in pubs or bars, drinking at work and drinking in public places.


5. Astronomers spot two neutron stars smash together in a galaxy 6 billion light-years away, forming a rapidly spinning and highly magnetic star called a "magnetar"

Now, an X-ray signal dubbed XT2 from a galaxy 6.6 billion light-years away has revealed another neutron star merger, which left behind a single, heavier neutron star with an incredibly powerful magnetic field: a magnetar. "We've found a completely new way to spot a neutron star merger," said Yongquan Xue of the University of Science and Technology of China in a press release. Signals of a merger When neutron stars spiral together and merge, the event sends out signals across the electromagnetic spectrum, as well as gravitational waves. Depending on how the merger is oriented with respect to Earth, we might observe different types of light in the afterglow, such as gamma rays or X-rays. Based on the X-rays observed, the team believes after the merger, the newly created fast-spinning magnetar briefly flared up and shone constantly in X-rays for about 30 minutes.


6. Artificial intelligence accelerates efforts to develop clean, virtually limitless fusion energy, with scientists using deep learning for the first time to forecast sudden disruptions that can halt fusion reactions, in a new study published in the journal Nature.

Artificial intelligence, a branch of computer science that is transforming scientific inquiry and industry, could now speed the development of safe, clean and virtually limitless fusion energy for generating electricity. "Artificial intelligence is exploding across the sciences and now it's beginning to contribute to the worldwide quest for fusion power." Crucial to demonstrating the ability of deep learning to forecast disruptions - the sudden loss of confinement of plasma particles and energy - has been access to huge databases provided by two major fusion facilities: the DIII-D National Fusion Facility that General Atomics operates for the DOE in California, the largest facility in the United States, and the Joint European Torus in the United Kingdom, the largest facility in the world, which is managed by EUROfusion, the European Consortium for the Development of Fusion Energy. "Artificial intelligence is the most intriguing area of scientific growth right now, and to marry it to fusion science is very exciting," said Bill Tang, a principal research physicist at PPPL, coauthor of the paper and lecturer with the rank and title of professor in the Princeton University Department of Astrophysical Sciences who supervises the AI project. The authors wish to acknowledge assistance with high-performance supercomputing from Bill Wichser and Curt Hillegas at PICSciE; Jack Wells at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility; Satoshi Matsuoka and Rio Yokata at the Tokyo Institute of Technology; and Tom Gibbs at NVIDIA Corp. PPPL, on Princeton University's Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas - ultra-hot, charged gases - and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy.



8. The first randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled microdose trial concluded that microdoses of LSD appreciably altered subjects’ sense of time, allowing them to more accurately reproduce lapsed spans of time, which may explain how microdoses of LSD could lead to more creativity and focus.

The study concluded that microdoses of LSD appreciably altered subjects' sense of time, allowing them to more accurately reproduce lapsed spans of time. While it doesn't prove that microdoses act as a novel cognitive enhancer, the study starts to piece together a compelling story on how LSD alters the brain's perceptive and cognitive systems in a way that could lead to more creativity and focus. Terhune recruited volunteers who hadn't used LSD in the preceding 5 years and randomly assigned them into placebo or LSD microdose groups. Terhune first addressed a simple, but actually elusive question: are you supposed to feel a microdose of LSD? Many online resources describe microdoses as "Sub-perceptual." In other words, no, you're not supposed to feel the drug take effect. This makes LSD microdoses closer to an antidepressant like Prozac than a truly psychoactive substance like caffeine or marijuana.


9. Advanced pancreatic cancer is often symptomless, leading to late diagnosis only after metastases have spread throughout the body. Now, researchers have uncovered the role of a signaling protein, called LIF, that may be the Achilles' heel of pancreatic cancer.

Distinct populations of cancer stem cells determine tumor growth and metastatic activity in human pancreatic cancer. I, Double immunofluorescence staining of nucleus-localized proteins Ki67 and PDX1, and quantification of proliferating cancer cell frequency as the fraction of proliferating cancer cells over total cancer cells. E, Multiplex immunofluorescence staining of nuclear proteins ZEB1 and PDX1 and quantification of mesenchymal cancer cell frequency as the fraction of ZEB1+PDX1+DAPI+ cancer cells over PDX1+DAPI+ total cancer cells. G-i, Histological characterization of tumour tissues from the maintenance study and representative images of AB-PAS staining for well-differentiated cancer cells with acidic and neutral mucin stained in blue and magenta, respectively, multiplex immunofluorescence of ZEB1 and PDX1 proteins for the mesenchymal cancer cell frequency quantification and EMT, and of cleaved caspase-3 immunohistochemistry analysis for apoptosis. P, q, Immunoblot analysis of pSTAT3 activation in indicated human pancreatic cancer cell lines in response to stimulation with 1 ng ml−1 recombinant human IL-6 or LIF or by hPSC-conditioned medium with or without immune inactivation of LIF and/or IL-6 using neutralizing antibodies.


10. Low income women with high-deductible ($1000+) health plans had delays of 1.6 months to first breast imaging, 2.7 months to first biopsy, 6.6 months to incident early-stage breast cancer diagnosis, and 8.7 months to first chemotherapy.

16,17.We therefore hypothesized that after mandatory transitions to HDHPs, breast cancer diagnostic testing, diagnosis, and treatment would be delayed among vulnerable women, such as those with low incomes, but not among less vulnerable women. DiscussionThis study found that both vulnerable and less vulnerable women experienced delays in breast cancer diagnostic testing, early-stage diagnosis, and chemotherapy initiation following an employer-mandated switch to high-deductible health plans. These results suggest that HDHP-associated delays in breast cancer care are only partially related to patients' sociodemographic characteristics and that women across the income spectrum might experience high out-of-pocket spending obligations as a barrier to breast cancer care. High-income women have greater ability to afford out-of-pocket expenses than low-income women do, so our finding that high-income women experienced substantial delays in breast cancer care was unexpected. ConclusionBoth vulnerable and less vulnerable women who were switched to high-deductible health plans experienced delays in breast cancer diagnostic testing, early-stage diagnosis, and chemotherapy initiation, compared to women remaining in low-deductible health plans.


11. Snoring is harmless. Five hours of sleep is enough. Alcohol before bed helps. These are all sleep myths debunked as false in a new study published in the National Sleep Foundation's journal Sleep Health.

These are all sleep myths debunked as false in a peer-reviewed study published Tuesday in National Sleep Foundation's journal Sleep Health. After reviewing more than 8,000 websites, researchers at New York University School of Medicine identified 20 sleep myths and debunked them using a "Falseness" scale and a panel of sleep experts. "Dispelling myths about sleep promotes healthier sleep habits which, in turn, promote overall better health." Myths spanned sleep duration, sleep timing, behaviors during sleep, daytime behaviors related to sleep, pre-sleep behaviors and brain function and sleep. Alcohol shouldn't be viewed as a sleeping aide, as researchers said it often causes sleep disturbances in the second half of the night and can negatively impact REM sleep.


12. Just like adults, children by the age of 5 make rapid and consistent character judgements of others based on facial features, such as the tilt of the mouth or the distance between the eyes. Those facial features also shape how children behave toward others, according to research

WASHINGTON - Just like adults, children by the age of 5 make rapid and consistent character judgements of others based on facial features, such as the tilt of the mouth or the distance between the eyes. "What is surprising is that children, from such a young age, are also swayed by relatively arbitrary facial features in their consequential judgments and behaviors." Previous research has found that children as young as 3 make decisions about a person's character traits, such as trustworthiness, dominance and competence, by looking at their facial features, according to Charlesworth. "Our study showed that children from age 5, but not younger, appear to consistently use facial features in deciding how they should behave toward a person as well as their expectations of the other person's behavior," she said. A second set of experiments examined how children would behave toward people based on facial appearance.


13. The more people watch, listen or scroll through hours of news coverage of events such as terrorist attacks, the more likely they are to develop stress symptoms that in turn increase their media consumption during the next mass violence event, according to a nationwide study.

The more people watch, listen or scroll through hours of news coverage of events such as terrorist attacks, the more likely they are to develop stress symptoms that in turn increase their media consumption during the next mass violence event, according to a nationwide study. Study participants who reported increased media exposure following the Boston bombing were more likely to experience stress symptoms - such as intrusive thoughts about the event, feeling numb and feeling hypervigilant or irritated - six months later, according to University of California, Irvine psychology professor Roxane Silver and her colleagues. Trauma-related media coverage can lead to a cycle of high distress and high media use, the researchers concluded. The more they consumed, the more likely they were to develop the stress symptoms that led to the cycle of increased worry and media consumption. Media organizations can reduce the potentially stressful impacts of their coverage by focusing less on the "Sensationalistic aspects" of a mass violent event - such as showing graphic images of injuries - and more on informational accounts of the events, the researchers recommend in their paper.


14. Archaeologists unearth largest Mayan figurine factory to date. The workshop, buried for more than 1000 years, made intricate, mass-produced figurines that likely figured heavily in Mayan political customs.

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO-Archaeologists working in Guatemala have discovered the largest known figurine workshop in the Mayan world, they announced at the Society for American Archaeology meeting here last week. The workshop, buried for more than 1000 years, made intricate, mass-produced figurines that likely figured heavily in Mayan political customs. Although the workshop was destroyed by the construction, archaeologists were able to recover more than 400 fragments of figurines and the molds for making them, as well as thousands of ceramic pieces-more than at any other known Mayan workshop. These figurines played a key role in Mayan politics and economics; it's thought that leaders gave them to allies and subjects to strengthen and publicize important relationships. The Aragón workshop was likely active from about 750 C.E. to 900 C.E., long before archaeologists thought there was an important city in the region.


15. How superstitions spread Even seemingly irrational beliefs can become ensconced in the social norms of a society; research by theoretical biologists at the University of Pennsylvania shows how

In a new analysis driven by game theory, two theoretical biologists devised a model that shows how superstitious beliefs can become established in a society's social norms. Their work, which appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, demonstrates how groups of individuals, each starting with distinct belief systems, can evolve a coordinated set of behaviors that are enforced by a set of consistent social norms. If people could pay attention to a variety of other signals that could direct their actions, and their beliefs were transmitted according to the success of their actions, would coordinated behaviors arise? In other words, can evolution act as a "Blind choreographer?". In their model, Morsky and Akçay assume that individuals are rational, in that they do not follow a norm blindly, but only do so when their beliefs make it seem beneficial. To further explore their findings, the researchers hope to engage in social experiments to see whether individuals might start devising their own superstitions or beliefs when none are provided.


16. Crusader armies were remarkably genetically diverse, study finds

Crusader armies were made up of people from remarkably genetically diverse backgrounds, hailing not just from western Europe but also much further east, according to a new study that gives unprecedented insight into the fighters' lives. While experts say it is well known that high-ranking crusaders entered into marriages with Armenians to shore up political allegiances, the study adds to evidence that footsoldiers were also striking up relationships as they headed east. The remains, dating from the 13th century, suggest violent deaths and were found in a mass burial pit near a crusader castle in Sidon - a coastal port city in what is now Lebanon, but was once part of the crusaders' kingdom of Jerusalem. "We suggest they were fighting with them, not against them, because we know from history that the Arab armies that were fighting against the Crusaders came from places like Syria, Turkey, Iraq or Egypt, where the people genetically are different from the near-eastern individuals we found in this pit," said Haber. The researchers also looked at whether traces of the crusaders could been seen in the genetics of modern Lebanese people, but concluded that any traces they left had been diluted over the generations - something they say highlights the importance of studying ancient DNA. Prof Jonathan Phillips, from Royal Holloway, University of London, the author of Holy Warriors: A Modern History of the Crusades, said the findings backed up documentary evidence of crusaders and other western Europeans who settled in the crusader states engaging with the local population.


17. Study identifies key factors that influenced whether transitioning transgender youth pursued fertility preservation. Findings highlight the need for better training for primary care doctors when counseling transgender patients as they consider medical/surgical gender transition.

Transitioning transgender adolescents are forced to consider whether to preserve their sperm or eggs at a young age. Whether or not they pursue fertility preservation is influenced by certain key factors, such as their family values, gender dysphoria, the cost of the procedure or not feeling ready to make such an important, lifelong decision at their age, reports a new study from Northwestern Medicine and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. It is the first study to use in-depth interviews rather than retrospective chart reviews to explore factors that impact fertility preservation decisions in transgender adolescents and young adults. Fertility preservation only recently became an elective option for transgender youth. "Potentially compromised fertility should not be a reason to prevent transgender adolescents from transitioning with hormones, but we should be taking steps to train doctors on how to talk to transgender youth about options for fertility presentation and support them in making these decisions," Chen said.


18. Scientists develop a new platform that recreates cancer in a dish to quickly determine the best bacterial therapy

Engineering bacteria to intelligently sense and respond to disease states, from infections to cancer, has become a promising focus of synthetic biology. Engineered bacteria invade a tumor spheroid in a dish. Findings from this new study were published recently in PNAS through an article titled "Rapid screening of engineered microbial therapies in a 3D multicellular model." As proof of concept, the research team focused on testing programmed antitumor bacteria using mini-tumors called tumor spheroids. The Columbia researchers knew that while many bacteria can grow inside a tumor because of the reduced immune system there, bacteria are killed outside the tumor where the body's immune system is active. The 3D spheroid provides bacteria with enough space to live in its core, in much the same way that bacteria colonize tumors in the body, also something we can't do in the 2D monolayer culture. Plus, it's simple to make large numbers of 3D spheroids and adapt them for high-throughput screening."


19. Engineers create ‘lifelike’ material with artificial metabolism: Cornell engineers constructed a DNA material with capabilities of metabolism, in addition to self-assembly and organization – three key traits of life.

Using what they call DASH materials, Cornell engineers constructed a DNA material with capabilities of metabolism, in addition to self-assembly and organization - three key traits of life. "We are introducing a brand-new, lifelike material concept powered by its very own artificial metabolism. We are not making something that's alive, but we are creating materials that are much more lifelike than have ever been seen before," said Dan Luo, professor of biological and environmental engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. As the flow washed over the material, the DNA synthesized its own new strands, with the front end of the material growing and the tail end degrading in optimized balance. The engineers are currently exploring ways to have the material recognize stimuli and autonomously be able to seek it out in the case of light or food, or avoid it if it's harmful. The programmed metabolism embedded into DNA materials is the key innovation.


20. Lunar cycle in homicides: a population-based time series study in Finland. Contrary to current scientific opinion, an association exists between moon phases and homicides, and contrary to what has been previously assumed, homicides declined during the full moon, especially in earlier decades.

The link function used was logarithmic, and the results were expressed as rate ratios and their 95% CIs.The lunar association of homicides was also examined by regressing daily homicides on linear splines of lunar synodic days, using midpoints of moon phases as knots. 6 14 20 The present study based on a time series of 19 723 days and 668 lunar cycles found an unequivocal lunar pattern in homicides that was not confounded by sex, age, secular trend, distance from the moon, seasons, weekdays, holidays or temperature, and the finding was consistent across relevant subgroups. 32.Limitations of this study include the fact that homicides were assigned to moon phases using the day of death, while factors decreasing homicides during the full moon would start to influence some time before that. This decrease, applied to all moon phases, would imply a decrease of approximately 20 homicides in an average year, that is, a decrease of 0.38 homicides per 100 000 person-years, compared with the average of 2.54/100 000 during the entire study period. In any case, the finding challenges the current scientific opinion that the lunar cycle and homicides are unrelated, and it questions the widely held belief that the full moon may provoke violent behaviour.



22. Clinical trials: Researchers successfully treat babies with 'bubble boy' disease using gene therapy and no complications found.

Researchers from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have cured babies with "Bubble boy" disease through gene therapy involving a re-engineered virus, according to a newly published study. St. Jude and UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco treated the children enrolled in the clinical trial with gene therapy developed by St. Jude's Brian Sorrentino, the study's senior author, who led groundbreaking gene therapy research before his death in November at 60 years old. "This disease is called bubble boy disease because babies had to be kept in special plastic chambers to protect them from infections," said first and corresponding author Ewelina Mamcarz of the St. Jude Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy. The gene therapy works like this: A deactivated virus is inserted into the patient's bone marrow, which delivers the correct gene copy into blood stem cells, replacing the defective one. The gene therapy developed and produced at St. Jude differs from previous gene replacement efforts in part by not activating adjacent genes that could cause leukemia.


23. Scientists discover first proof of universe’s most ancient molecule. A team of scientists has finally discovered proof that helium hydride can indeed be found in space.

With their higher ionization potentials, the helium ions He2+ and He+ were the first to combine with free electrons, forming the first neutral atoms; the recombination of hydrogen followed. In this metal-free and low-density environment, neutral helium atoms formed the Universe's first molecular bond in the helium hydride ion HeH+ through radiative association with protons. Despite its unquestioned importance in the evolution of the early Universe, the HeH+ ion has so far eluded unequivocal detection in interstellar space. In the laboratory the ion was discovered3 as long ago as 1925, but only in the late 1970s was the possibility that HeH+ might exist in local astrophysical plasmas discussed4,5,6,7. Dissociative recombination measurements of HCl+ using an ion storage ring.


24. 'Giant lion' fossil found in museum drawer

AFP A new species of giant mammal has been identified after researchers investigated bones that had been kept for decades in a Kenyan museum drawer. Hyaenodonts - so called because their teeth resemble those of a modern hyena - were dominant carnivores more than 20 million years ago, National Geographic reports. "Based on its massive teeth, Simbakubwa was a specialised hyper-carnivore that was significantly larger than the modern lion and possibly larger than a polar bear," researcher Matthew Borths is quoted by AFP news agency as saying. In 2013 he was doing research at the Nairobi National Museum when he asked to look at the contents of a collection labelled "Hyenas", National Geographic says. The creature's jaw and other bones and teeth had been put there after being found at a dig in western Kenya in the late 1970s.


25. Fundamentally new MRI method developed to measure brain function in milliseconds

The speed at which we can noninvasively follow brain function using an MRI is not as impressive. Investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital, in collaboration with colleagues at King's College London and INSERM-Paris, have discovered a fundamentally new way to measure brain function using a technology known as magnetic resonance elastography, an approach that creates maps of tissue stiffness using an MRI scanner. In a paper published in Science Advances, the team presents data from preclinical studies indicating that the technique can track brain function activity on a time scale of 100 milliseconds. The team's approach leverages novel hardware to induce vibrations in the brain - an essential part to measure brain stiffness via MRI. Patz likens the elastography apparatus to holding an electric toothbrush against one's head in order to create tiny mechanical waves that travel through the brain. Standard MRE methodology was used to measure the waves as they travel through the brain but a new mathematical approach by the Sinkus group was implemented to create the elastograms from the raw data.