Health Brazil  BRASIL 05/01/2016

Study shows Zika virus is becoming more effective at infecting humans

Since 2000 the virus has undergone genetic alterations that enable it to confuse the human immune system and replicate in human cells

On its way from Africa to the Americas via Asia and the Pacific, the Zika virus (ZIKV) has adapted to the human organism by acquiring certain genetic characteristics that have made its replication in the cells of its new host increasingly efficient.

Mosquitos del género Aedes. FOTO: Wikipedia
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Nutrition Colombia  BOGOTÁ D.C. 04/01/2016

The fog fern is in critical threat of extinction

The population of the species of fern has been reduced by more than 90% and the probability of extinction in the wild is 50% within ten years or three generations

In order to find this tiny fern a Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) expedition headed by Natural Sciences Institute Professor Favio González along with two colleagues traveled the three Colombian mountain ranges with the purpose of finding Neuropterir, which in Latin means fog fern.

El helecho Neuropteris (Jamesonia) maxonii. Fotos: Favio González
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Health Brazil  BRASIL 21/12/2015

Immune systems of patients with bipolar disorder age prematurely

Damage to neurons occurs during mood swings, and the organism responds with an inflammatory reaction to rid itself of dead or dysfunctional cells

Research performed at the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) in Brazil has shown that the immune systems of individuals who suffer from bipolar disorder tend to age prematurely. According to Elisa Brietzke, who led the study, the discovery paves the way for new therapeutic approaches.

Microglias/Wikimedia Commons
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Culture Argentina  ARGENTINA 18/12/2015

A long way back home

One hundred years later, the fossils of the first marine crocodile from the Jurassic period found in South America return to the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences

Buenos Aires, 1907. Argentine naturalist and director of the Argentine Museum of Natural Sciences (MACN-CONICET), Florentino Ameghino, received the fossil of a marine crocodile of the Jurassic period – approximately 190 and 145 millions of years ago– found in the mountain range area of the province of Neuquén. As he was not an expert on that field, he decided to contact his colleague Arthur Smith Woodward, who worked at the Natural History Museum of London. Ameghino asked him if he was interested in studying them, as it was the first time a reptile like that appeared in South America and Woodward had already described similar materials of crocodiles from the Northern Hemisphere.

El Cocodrilo de Ameghino regresa al país más de 100 años después. Fotos: CONICET Fotografía.
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Nutrition Panama  PANAMÁ 17/12/2015

How much did indigenous peoples alter the Amazon forest?

The researchers conclude that pre-European land use by the native peoples in Amazonia varied widely in space and time, but that vast areas of the Amazon were hardly affected by human activity

Before Europeans arrived, indigenous peoples altered the Amazon forest--but primarily along major rivers. Their effects were almost imperceptible in rainforest areas more than a day's walk from a river, according to new research published in the Journal of Biogeography.

Selva amazónica. FOTO: STRI.
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Health Colombia  BOGOTÁ D.C. 15/12/2015

Algebra improves prostate cancer treatment

A mathematical model helps specify radiotherapy dosage treatment as well as avoid secondary effects by predicting organ (seminal vesicles, prostate, rectum and bladder) movement

“One of the most common forms of prostate cancer treatment, if not in metastasis stage yet, is radiotherapy, which consists of taking a picture of the organs involved, outlining them and proposing a dosage,” said Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Medellín and Université de Rennes 1 Energy System Engineering doctoral student Richard Ríos Patiño.

Utilizando técnicas de machine learning se reduce la incertidumbre y la dimensionalidad de las variables en cuanto al movimiento de los órganos (foto extraída de http://1.bp.blogspot.com/)
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Health Argentina  ARGENTINA 14/12/2015

Probiotics from scratch

Researchers from CONICET and INTA study the production of native bacteria cultures from spray drying, a widely installed technology in the country

Human beings have groups of microorganisms in different parts of the body. Some of them live in the bowel, which houses a population of bacteria called gut microbiota. Humans acquire it after birth and later on its composition undergoes modifications after labour, during the baby’s diet and it is also modified by maternal microbiota. One of the microorganisms that form it are the bifidobacteria, a vital genus of bacteria that help digestion, which are beneficial for treatments for diarrhea and constipation, and they also modulate immune responses, among other benefits. Besides, they can be cultivated and used to produce functional food with probiotics.

Jorge Reinheimer, investigador superior del CONICET y director del INLAIN y Gabriel Vinderola, investigador independiente. Foto: gentileza investigador.
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Health Brazil  BRASIL 11/12/2015

Researchers use nanotechnology to develop paper-based sensor that measures vitamin C

Method uses silver nanoparticles on chromatography paper to quantify ascorbic acid in samples

Researchers at Brazil’s National Nanotechnology Laboratory (LNNano) and National Synchrotron Light Laboratory (LNLS) and at the Chemistry Institutes of the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and the Catholic University of Campinas (PUCC) have developed a quick and simple method to measure the amount of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) in different samples, such as fruit extracts and industrialized drinks.

Sensor nanotecnológico de papel para medir la vitamina C. FOTO: AG�NCIA FAPESP
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Technology Spain  SALAMANCA 09/12/2015

Privacy via IT Security: Innovating Mobile App Competition is launched

The top three proposals will participate in a special Award Ceremony at CeBit Scale11 on 14 March 2016 in Hannover

A brand-new competition that gives young European innovators the chance to create or develop a contemporary app that will enhance privacy on mobile devices is underway. With a wide range of prizes awarded to the best proposals, including an amount of 20 000 EUR for the overall winner and the chance to deploy the winning app onto the market, this competition provides a great opportunity for talented individuals with inspiring ideas to get involved in online security.

Los dos jóvenes emprendedores muestran su trabajo en el ordenador.
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Social Sciences Chile  ATACAMA 09/12/2015

ALMA detects most tenuous molecular gas ever observed

Absorption systems allow researchers to investigate very tenuous gas clouds

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) discovered the most tenuous molecular gas ever observed. They detected the absorption of radio waves by gas clouds in front of bright celestial objects. This radio shadow revealed the composition and the conditions of diffuse gas in the Milky Way galaxy.

Ilustración de sistemas de absorción. Créditos: R. Ando (Universidad de Tokio), ESO/José Francisco Salgado
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Nutrition Panama  PANAMÁ 03/12/2015

Colorful caterpillar chemists may signal new useful plant compounds

“Brightly colored plant-eating insects help us to identify plants containing compounds active against important human diseases,” said Todd Capson

Scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) compared the diets of two caterpillar species, expecting the one that exclusively consumed plants containing toxic chemicals would more easily incorporate toxins into its body than the one with a broad diet. They found the opposite. The new finding, published in the Journal of Chemical Ecology, flies in the face of a long-held theory that specialist insects are better adapted to use toxic plant chemicals than non-specialists.

Oruga. FOTO: STRI.
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Nutrition Brazil  BRASIL 02/12/2015

Paleontologists describe giant amphibian that lived 260 million years ago

Brazilian group publishes detailed new analysis and description of 'Australerpeton cosgriffi', a giant relative of modern amphibians that lived 260 million years ago

A new analysis by a group of paleontologists offers a more detailed portrait of one of Brazil’s most interesting fossil species, Australerpeton cosgriffi, a giant relative of modern amphibians that lived during the Permian period 260 million years ago. Despite its link to today’s frogs and salamanders, A. cosgriffi was 2.5 m long and resembles a crocodile, with a long tapering snout and scaly body.

Australerpeton cosgriffi. Imagen: Rodolfo Nogueira/ Divulgación
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Nutrition Colombia  BOGOTÁ D.C. 01/12/2015

Bats help recover Colombian forests

An artificial shelter which attracts bats and helps direct seed rains as well as favoring reproduction is an alternative for improving and multiplying different deforested areas in Colombia

For four years and through a scientific tool based on the ecological role of frugivorous bats, researchers have been working on seed dispersion through guano, thus accelerating the ecological succession of ecosystems. According to Biological Sciences doctoral candidate and member of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Neotropical Mammal Evolution and Ecology Research Group Diego Casallas–Pabón, Colombia is second only to Indonesia in the amount of bat species in the world, with 200 species of bats.

Colombia es el segundo país del planeta más rico en murciélagos, con alrededor de 200 especies, después de Indonesia. FOTO: UN
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Nutrition Argentina  ARGENTINA 27/11/2015

Arsenic in water: an invisible foe

Two CONICET research teams study the remediation of an essential natural resource: water.

The Andes mountain range was formed 50 millions of years ago, as a result of the plate tectonic movements. This fact led to consequences that remain nowadays: during the process, great quantities of volcanic ash with high levels of (As) and fluoride. Currently, these materials are part of the loess or sediments of groundwater aquifer. The arsenic is the main natural pollutant of the groundwater, which is the only source for human consumption in a large area of our country. This problem, which produces a marked effect on the social health and economic sectors of the affected regions, involves more than eight millions of people.

Investigadores argentinos desarrollan sistemas para la remoción de arsénico en el agua subterránea. FOTO: CONICET
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Nutrition Brazil  BRASIL 26/11/2015

Elephants in Cerrado could play role once performed by mastodons

Reintroduction of large mammals into ecosystems could be an effective conservation strategy

Which of Earth’s continents has the most large animals? Africa, of course, but it has not always been so. Once upon a time, all continents were inhabited by large mammals weighing more than a ton, which biologists classify as megafauna. These mammals played a key role in the environment, spreading seeds from the flora of every ecosystem of which they were a part, as well as eating the vegetation and recycling nutrients through their droppings.

Elefante. foto: Bernard Dupond

 

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Social Sciences Chile  ATACAMA 25/11/2015

Cool, dim dwarf star is magnetic powerhouse

The team used ALMA to study the well-known red dwarf star TVLM 513-46546, which is located about 35 light-years from Earth in the constellation Boötes

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered that a dim, cool dwarf star is generating a surprisingly powerful magnetic field, one that rivals the most intense magnetic regions of our own Sun.

Representación artística de la estrella TVLM 513-46546.  Créditos: NRAO/AUI/NSF; Dana Berry / SkyWorks
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Nutrition Colombia  BOGOTÁ D.C. 20/11/2015

Fiber optic laser which improves industrial applications patented

With this light source they can etch or cut thick or robust surfaces. It is also useful in metal forming projects and in molds to perform texturized designs

This technological development had the support of the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) Deputy Rector's Office of Research and the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce who granted the patent. The device was carried out by UNal M.Sc. in Physics and Physics Engineer Jesús David Causado, along with UNal-Medellín School of Physics Professor and Founder and Director of the Photonics and Optoelectronics Research Group Pedro Ignacio Torres Trujillo.

La luz láser que dio lugar a esta patente ya no usa espejos sino fibra óptica. FOTO: UN
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Health Brazil  BRASIL 18/11/2015

Target gene identified for therapies to combat muscular dystrophy

Study published in Cell by researchers from Brazil and the United States suggests inducing overexpression of the Jagged1 gene can prevent the development of degenerative disease

Researchers at the University of São Paulo’s Bioscience Institute (IB-USP) in Brazil have shown that a gene called Jagged1, or JAG1 for short, could be a target for the development of new approaches to treat Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a genetic disorder characterized by progressive muscle degeneration.

Al inducir la sobreexpresión del gen Jagged1 se puede evitar el desarrollo de esta enfermedad degenerativa (imagen: Cell).
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Technology Spain  MADRID 17/11/2015

New Advanced Computing Systems

Scientists at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) are studying how to improve the development of advanced computing systems to create faster software

Scientists at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) are studying how to improve the development of advanced computing systems to create faster software under the auspices of RePhrase, a new research project from the European Union Horizon 2020 program. These new techniques will make it possible to improve applications such as industrial manufacturing processes and railway traffic monitoring, as well as the diagnosis of mental illnesses.

Imagen de cerebro generada a partir de resonancia magnética. Imagen: UC3M.
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Nutrition Colombia  BOGOTÁ D.C. 13/11/2015

The Orinoco crocodile returns to its natural habitat thanks to UNal

Four extinction critically endangered Crocodylus intermedius crocodiles were set free at the Sierra de La Macarena by a group of Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) experts

“Federico”, “Cristina”, “John” and “Miriam” were the names given to these crocs which with a little apprehension now call the Guayabero and Lozada River banks home. After two years of being at the UNal Roberto Franco Tropical Biological Station conservation program in Villavicencio, they grew to almost two meters long (6.5 ft.) and 150 kilos.

Cocodrilo de la especia Crocodylus intermedius. FOTO: UN
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