Health Spain  MADRID 18/01/2021

A mathematical study describes how metastasis starts

Research by the UC3M and UCM

A scientific study carried out by the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) has produced a mathematical description of the way in which a tumor invades the epithelial cells and automatically quantifies the progression of the tumor and the remaining cell islands after its progression. The model developed by these researchers could be used to better understand the biophysical characteristics of the cells involved when developing new treatments for wound healing, organ regeneration, or cancer progression.

 
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Environment Panama  PANAMÁ 08/01/2021

Male bats with high testosterone levels have large forearm crusts

Male Fringe-Lipped bats smear a sticky, odorous substance on their forearms. When this was discovered, researchers guessed that it might play a role in mating

Males may put a lot of effort into attracting females. Male peacocks flaunt eye-catching trains, but male bats, because they are active at night, may rely on females’ sense of smell to draw them in. Three years ago, Victoria Flores, a predoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama, discovered that male fringed-lipped bats often have a sweet-smelling, crusty substance on their forearms. Because only males had crusts and primarily exhibited these crusts during the putative reproductive season, Flores speculated that crusts might play a role in mating. Now Mariana Muñoz-Romo, postdoctoral fellow at STRI and National Geographic Explorer, and her colleagues have evidence to prove it.

 
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Environment Panama  PANAMÁ 28/12/2020

Sea urchins are stuck belly up in low-oxygen hot water

As oceans warm and become more acidic and oxygen-poor, Smithsonian researchers asked how marine life on a Caribbean coral reef copes with changing conditions

“During my study, water temperatures on reefs in Bocas del Toro, Panama, reached an alarming high of almost 33 degrees C (or 91 degrees F), temperatures that would make most of us sweat or look for air conditioning—options not available to reef inhabitants,” said Noelle Lucey, post-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI).

 
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Technology Spain  MADRID 18/12/2020

The CoronaSurveys Project, among the finalists for the COVID-19 Symptom Data Challenge

Recognition of months of work studying the prevalence of coronavirus in real time

Over 150 researchers and 50 organisations participated in the call for proposals entitled the COVID-19 Symptom Data Challenge, sponsored by Facebook Data for Good, with the participation of Delphi Group-Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the Joint Program on Survey Methodology-University of Maryland (UMD), the Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy, and Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative by Vital Strategies.


Organised by Catalyst @Health 2.0, on Wednesday the 16th the announcement was made that the award went to the project DeepOutbreak (Georgia Tech), during a ceremony which saw the participation of renowned people including Dr Tom Frieden (President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives); Dr Mark McClellan (Director of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy); Farzad Mostashari, CEO of Aledade; Kang-Xing Jin, Head of Health at Facebook, and specialist health and technology journalist Christina Farr (NBC). During the event, the finalists pointed out the most noteworthy issues from their research studies.


CoronaSurveys won 5000 dollars in recognition of its status as a finalist, thanks to the results obtained in recent months for the real-time collection, via simple anonymous surveys, of the number of COVID-19 cases in the world and innovations like collecting data on vaccination. Great collaborative work based on an indirect reporting method called Network Scale-up, which leads to extremely precise estimates from a moderate number of responses. The survey is available in 60 languages from countries round the world (150 of them regional), with data and estimates available for use by political leaders and the scientific community.


As pointed out by Antonio Fernández Anta, Research Professor at IMDEA Networks and project promoter since March 2020, along with an extensive team of university researchers and research centres: ‘Participation in Data Challenge has been a unique experience. On the one hand, it has obligated the CoronaSurveys team to start up a working line on prediction and early warning, which we hope will be extremely useful. On the other, it has let us give widespread visibility to the combination of obtaining indirect information and applying the Network Scale-up Method as a technique with many advantages for its application to public health.’

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Technology Spain  MADRID 17/12/2020

Big Data will analyse the mystery of Beethoven’s metronome

Data science and physics research has analysed a centuries-old controversy over Beethoven’s annotations about the tempo (the playing speed) of his works

Data science and physics research at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid and UNED has analysed a centuries-old controversy over Beethoven’s annotations about the tempo (the playing speed) of his works, which is considered to be too fast based on these marks. In this study, published in the PLOS ONE journal, it is noted that this deviation could be explained by the composer reading the metronome incorrectly when using it to measure the beat of his symphonies.

 
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Health Portugal  PORTUGAL 17/12/2020

A matter of balance: asymmetric divisions are crucial to form a functional retina

Study published in the scientific journal 'eLife' opens new paths for understanding how the complex brain develops its architecture and function

Researchers at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência and the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, Germany, have discovered that in the developing retina, and important part of the central nervous system, the divisions leading to the first differentiating neurons are asymmetric and that this asymmetry is necessary to generate the correct types of neurons in the right numbers and proportions. The study, published in the scientific journal eLife, is the first to report this asymmetry and the molecular processes underlying it, opening new paths for understanding how the complex brain develops its architecture and function.

 
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Environment Panama  PANAMÁ 16/12/2020

Smithsonian scientist clears up Panamanian urban legend

How did canal grass arrive in Panama? STRI staff scientist Kristin Saltonstall compared the DNA of sugar cane relatives from around the world to find out

Urban legends about the origins of canal grass in Panama abound, but the Smithsonian has new evidence that puts the question to rest. Canal grass is an invasive weed, native to Asia. Because its tiny seeds blow in the wind, it readily invades clearings and spreads to form impenetrable stands by budding from tillers and rhizomes. Once established, canal grass is challenging to eliminate. Fire burns the tops and stimulates the roots. Glassy hairs edging its leaf blades cut skin and dull machetes.

 
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Social Sciences Brazil  ACRE 04/12/2020

Early human landscape modifications discovered in Amazonia

No evidence of extensive savannah formations during the current Holocene period

In 2002 Professor Alceu Ranzi (Federal University of Acre) and Prof. Martti Parssinen (University of Helsinki) decided to form an international research team to study large geometric earthworks, called geoglyphs, at the Brazilian state of Acre in South-western Amazonia. Soon it appeared that a pre-colonial civilization unknown to international scholars built there geometric ceremonial centers and sophisticated road systems. This civilization flourished in the rainforest 2,000 years ago. The discovery supported Prof. William Balee´s (Tulane University) theory of early human impacts on the current Amazonian tropical forest composition that radically altered the notion of the pristine Amazon rainforest.

 
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Technology Portugal  PORTUGAL 30/11/2020

A new mathematical front to understand species coexistence

Researchers propose new model for host colonization by different microbial species, providing fundamental advances for the understanding of biodiversity

In an effort to understand how different species coexist, researchers develop a mathematical model that establishes interactions in co-colonization as the key. The study, published in the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology, links epidemiology, ecology and evolution and models host colonization by different microbial species, providing fundamental advances for the analysis of species coexistence and the understanding of biodiversity.

 
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Social Sciences Guatemala  GUATEMALA 23/11/2020

The ritual significance of a classic Maya sweat bath in Guatemala

An unusual offering in an abandoned and unique-looking structure revealed new evidence of the role it played in the community

Sweat baths have a long history of use in Mesoamerica. Commonly used by midwives in postpartum and perinatal care in contemporary Maya communities, these structures are viewed as grandmother figures, a pattern that can also be traced to earlier periods of history. At the site of Xultun, Guatemala, a Classic Maya sweat bath with an unusual collection of artifacts led archaeologists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), the Archaeology Program at Boston University and other collaborating institutions to gather new evidence of these beliefs and an early example of the related ritual practices.

 
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Technology Spain  MADRID 20/11/2020

Arturo Azcorra, recipient of the Reginald Fessenden Award

The director of the IMDEA Networks Institute has been recognised for his contribution to the development of 5G technology

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Technology Spain  MADRID 19/11/2020

Artificial Intelligence to increase air safety in the face of storms

New algorithms allow air traffic networks to be optimised during storms

The European research project START, coordinated by the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and with the participation of important actors in the aeronautical scene, combines Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to develop algorithms that allow air traffic networks to be optimised during storms. This would improve the safety and timeliness of flights and reduce economic losses associated with delays and cancellations.

 
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Environment Panama  PANAMÁ 09/11/2020

DNA in fringe-lipped bat poop reveals unexpected eating habits

The poop of 'Trachops cirrhosus' revealed surprising results about its foraging abilities and prey preferences

Poop is full of secrets. For scientists, digging into feces provides insights into animal diets and is particularly useful for understanding nocturnal or rare species. When animals eat, prey DNA travels all the way through animal digestive tracts and comes out again. Poop contains very precise information about the prey species consumed. At the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), a team explored the eating habits of the fringe-lipped bat (Trachops cirrhosus) by examining its poop.

 
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Environment Panama  PANAMÁ 30/10/2020

How the ability to clone itself may empower a mystery globetrotter

It always pays to think outside of the box. Rachel Collin decided to look further afield to find the adult form that matched a larvae from a plankton sample in Panama and was surprised by the result

For decades biologists have captured tiny sea star larvae in their nets that did not match with the adults of any known species. A Smithsonian team just discovered what these larvae grow up to be and how a special superpower may help them move around the world. Their results are published online in the Biological Bulletin.

 
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Space Chile  ATACAMA 22/10/2020

ALMA shows volcanic impact on Io’s atmosphere

Io is the most volcanically active moon in our solar system. It hosts more than 400 active volcanoes

New radio images from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) show for the first time the direct effect of volcanic activity on the atmosphere of Jupiter’s moon Io.

 
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Social Sciences Panama  PANAMÁ 21/10/2020

Unequal migration across the land-bridge millions of years ago

The disproportionate extinction of South American mammals when the Americas collided is still evident today

 

When the Isthmus of Panama rose from the sea to connect North and South America millions of years ago, mammals could cross the bridge in both directions. But the result of this massive migration—a large proportion of mammals with North American origins in South America, but not the other way around—has long puzzled paleontologists. To explore the origins of this drastic asymmetry, researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI), the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre and collaborating institutions analyzed fossil data from the two continents.

 
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Health Brazil  BRASIL 20/10/2020

Immunity induced by other coronaviruses may not protect older people against COVID-19

Study led by researchers at Oxford University suggests that after successive infections by the coronaviruses that cause common colds throughout life the defense system becomes specialized and cannot recognize emergent varieties such as SARS-CoV-2

An international research group led by scientists at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom have developed a mathematical model that may explain why children are less susceptible to COVID-19 while older people frequently become critically ill when infected by the novel coronavirus.

 
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Health Portugal  PORTUGAL 15/10/2020

New tricks for old antibiotics

Researchers uncovered that a group of antibiotics confers protection against sepsis, beyond their ability to directly control the infection

The study led by Luís Ferreira Moita, principal investigator at Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, and published in the journal Immunity, reveals that tetracyclines (broad spectre antibiotics), by partially inhibiting cell mitochondria activity, induce a compensatory response on the organism that decreases tissue damage caused during infection. This finding opens new doors in the field of disease tolerance and positions this group of antibiotics as potential adjuvant treatment for sepsis, due to their effects that go beyond the control of bacterial burden.

 
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Technology Spain  ESPAÑA 14/10/2020

Over 150 million websites among a billion tested include sensitive (and tracked) content

Privacy law is made for use by humans… how can we teach this law to machines? Nikolaos Laoutaris, Research Professor at IMDEA Networks Institute, participates in the biggest study about tracking of sensitive topics on the web

The European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) includes specific clauses that put restrictions on the collection and processing of sensitive personal data, defined as any data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, also genetic data, biometric data for the purpose of uniquely identifying a natural person, data concerning health or data concerning a natural person’s sex life or sexual orientation…

 
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Environment Panama  PANAMÁ 24/09/2020

How do Giraffes and Elephants alter the african savanna landscape?

Through their foraging behavior across the diverse topography of the African savanna, megaherbivores may be unknowingly influencing the growth and survival of vegetation on valleys and plateaus

As they roam around the African savanna in search for food, giraffes and elephants alter the diversity and richness of its vegetation. By studying the foraging patterns of these megaherbivores across different terrains in a savanna in Kenya, scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and collaborating institutions discovered that these large mammals prefer to eat their meals on flat ground, potentially impacting the growth and survival of plant species on even savanna landscapes, such as valleys and plateaus.

 
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