Around 100,000 Austrians suffer from Alzheimer's disease and 16,000 from Parkinson’s. Experts estimate that, in view of the ageing population, these numbers are set to triple over the next 30 years. Both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases are progressive degenerative diseases of the brain, which start up to 30 years before the onset of symptoms. Early diagnosis would be a huge help in combating the disease. However, the early detection tests that are available do not provide any reliable prediction about the further course of the disease and also carry the risk of producing a false positive result. “Neurology researchers throughout the world are therefore on the hunt for a specific biomarker signal for Alzheimer's," explains Peter Dal-Bianco, Alzheimer's expert from MedUni Vienna. Dal-Bianco is convinced: "There is a specific biomarker – we just haven't found it yet." The 13th International Conference on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases will take place in the Vienna Exhibition Center from Wednesday 29 March to Sunday 2 April (www.adpd2017.kenes.com). Dal-Bianco is on the local organising committee.
Moisture derived from underground water sources sustains one of world's oldest and most biologically diverse deserts
Fog, seen here receding in the morning, comes and goes quietly in the Namib Desert. The ocean is not the sole source of the fog that sustains life for numerous plants and animals living in Africa's coastal Namib Desert. The fog also comes from groundwater and other sources, report ecohydrologists supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and affiliated with Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). The scientists conducted the research in one of the world's oldest and most biologically diverse deserts. Their results are published today in the journal Science Advances. Today on World Water Day -- and in fact every day -- water sources are an important consideration for society. To develop ecological models of arid environments, scientists say they must deepen their understanding of water sources. That knowledge can help them assess how plants and animals function in current and possible future climates.
Various theories of religion hypothesize a connection between death anxiety and religiosity. In particular, Terror Management Theory’s worldview defence hypothesis predicts that death anxiety is lowest among very religious and irreligious individuals, and highest among uncertain individuals. Likewise, the supposition that death anxiety motivates religious belief, which in turn mitigates death anxiety, predicts that religiosity increases with death anxiety among non-believers, and that death anxiety decreases as religiosity increases among believers. In both cases, a curvilinear relationship – specifically, an inverted-U curve – is predicted. We extracted 202 effect sizes from 100 studies for an “omnibus” religiosity meta-analysis, and six meta-analyses that examine particular dimensions of religiosity. We found high heterogeneity and a weak negative association between death anxiety and religiosity. A closer examination revealed that 10 of the 11 studies that directly tested for curvilinearity provided some support for an inverted-U pattern. The curvilinearity hypothesis cannot be ruled out, but more evidence – particularly on non-religious individuals, and in non-Western, non-Abrahamic contexts – is needed.
Independent research, initiated and carried out by Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) interdisciplinary migration research cluster shows that introduction of Euro in Lithuania coincides with the fourth wave of emigration. In 2015, more than 40 thousand people left Lithuania, and in 2016 – around 50 thousand. This number comprises the population of a small Lithuanian town, such as Marijampolė or Mažeikiai. In October 2016 the data from the 4 136 emigrants representing all four waves of emigration, aged 19–65+ were collected. 811 of the respondents emigrated from Lithuania in 2015 or later. According to Professor Vilmante Kumpikaite-Valiuniene (KTU School of Economics and Business), the first wave of emigration started just after the restoration of Lithuanian independence, when the State borders opened. The second wave was related to Lithuania joining the EU in 2004. In 2008, the third emigration wave was caused by Lithuania joining Schengen Area and the global economic crisis, which contributed to unemployment and financial instability.
The striking North Face of the Bernese Alps is the result of a steep rise of rocks from the depths following a collision of two tectonic plates. This steep rise gives new insight into the final stage of mountain building and provides important knowledge with regard to active natural hazards and geothermal energy. The results from researchers at the University of Bern and ETH Zürich are being published in the «Scientific Reports» specialist journal. Mountains often emerge when two tectonic plates converge, where the denser oceanic plate subducts beneath the lighter continental plate into the earth’s mantle according to standard models. But what happens if two continental plates of the same density collide, as was the case in the area of the Central Alps during the collision between Africa and Europe?
Growth of colorectal cancer cells can be inhibited with the odorant troenan. This is reported by the research team headed by Prof Dr Dr Dr habil. Hanns Hatt and Dr Lea Weber from Ruhr-Universität Bochum in the journal “PLOS One”. The researchers detected the olfactory receptor OR51B4 in tumour cells taken from the rectum and colon cancer cell lines. They analysed which odorant activates the receptor and in what way the activation affects the cells. For the purpose of the study, the team from the Department for Cellphysiology in Bochum collaborated with the Department of Molecular GI-Oncology at Ruhr-Universität, headed by Prof Dr Stephan Hahn. The necessary gene sequencing was carried out by the team from the Cologne Center for Genomics.
Algae and plants form the basis of nearly all natural food webs and ecosystems
A research project conducted at the University of Cologne’s Zoological Institute reveals important findings on the interaction between nutrient availability and the diversity of consumer species in freshwater environments. A better understanding of this interaction will contribute to developing possibilities to maintain biodiversity in all kinds of ecosystems. In the past decades, we have seen a dramatic decline in biodiversity around the world. Every day, species are irrecoverably lost on an unprecedented scale. This also has an impact on the stability and productivity of ecosystems. Hence it is indispensable to understand the mechanisms that impact biodiversity, particularly in the case of primary producers such as algae and plants that form the basis of nearly all natural food webs and ecosystems.
The common frog (Rana temporaria)
Researchers at Lancaster University have found a way to detect subtle early warning signs that reveal a frog population is at risk from pollution. Worldwide, amphibian populations are declining due to habitat loss, disease and pollution which is cited as a major threat to their survival. Scientists publishing in Scientific Report, have found evidence of stress in tadpoles taken from ponds most impacted by pollution caused by nutrients and pesticides. They say the technique they used to spot these changes could offer an early warning system for populations at risk.
Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute scientists and their collaborators at the University of Cambridge have created a new technique that simplifies the production of human brain and muscle cells - allowing millions of functional cells to be generated in just a few days. The results published today (23 March) in Stem Cell Reports open the door to producing a diversity of new cell types that could not be made before in order to study disease. Human pluripotent stem cells offer the ability to create any tissue, including those which are typically hard to access, such as brain cells. They hold huge potential for studying human development and the impact of diseases, including cancer, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, and heart disease.