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19th February 2020
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News

Arginine and arthritis

Anthony King, 19/02/2020

Restricting the amount of the amino acid arginine reduces the formation of harmful, disease-promoting cells in rheumatoid arthritis, researchers have found (Nature Commun., 2020, 11, 431).

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Battling locusts

Shem Oirere, 19/02/2020

Kenya has become the latest Eastern African country to be invaded by the desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria), one of the most dangerous migratory pest species that has been ravaging Ethiopia and Somalia.

Cool mobile phones

Maria Burke, 19/02/2020

Chinese researchers have devised a way to prevent electronic devices, such as mobile phones, from over-heating. It involves a coating that releases water vapour and allows heat to dissipate.

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Coronavirus vaccine race

Anthony King, 19/02/2020

In early January 2020, Chinese scientists released genetic information on the coronavirus causing an outbreak of SARS-like illness in Wuhan, China. The Vaccine Research Institute at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) immediately began development of a new vaccine.

Emissions trading rise

Maria Burke, 19/02/2020

Turnover in global emissions trading rose for the third year in a row in 2019, reaching record highs largely due to price rises in Europe following stricter emissions regulations.

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Engineered moth trial

Cath O’Driscoll, 19/02/2020

Researchers in the US have conducted an open field trial of a genetically engineered (GE) diamond-back moth that promises to slash losses of brassica crops impacted by this pervasive pest species.

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Environment matters

Kathryn Roberts, 19/02/2020

For the first time in its 14-year history, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global risks report, published in January 2020, finds that environmental factors are the main threats to world stability in the next 10 years. In the shorter term, geopolitical and economic turmoil and cyberattacks also pose a threat.

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Fighting Lassa Fever

Shem Oirere, 19/02/2020

Nigeria is set to commence epidemiological studies on Lassa fever in order to generate much needed data to support ongoing research towards a vaccine for the deadly viral haemorrhagic illness. A fresh Lassa fever outbreak reported in six of Nigeria’s 36 states has so far killed 24 people, with 163 cases confirmed in January 2020 – higher than the 141 confirmed cases for a similar period in 2019.

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French glyphosate furore

Maria Burke, 19/02/2020

French plans to ban the herbicide glyphosate for most uses by the end of 2020 have been undermined by figures that show its usage in the country grew by 10% in 2018.

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Heart attacks and pollution

Anthony King, 19/02/2020

Short-term exposure to air pollution is linked to a rise in heart attacks, according to the findings of a nationwide survey in Japan (Lancet Planetary Health, 2020, 4: e15).

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Li for Alzheimer’s

Anthony King, 19/02/2020

Lithium can halt the signs of Alzheimer’s disease in rats, according to a new study. The dose administered was up to 400 times lower than what is presently prescribed to patients for mood disorders.

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Machine for liver repair

Anthony King, 19/02/2020

A machine that repairs injured livers could reduce waiting times and save the lives of more patients awaiting transplant surgery. The perfusion system kept alive six out of ten poor-quality human livers that had been declined for transplantation in Europe and restored them to full function (Nature Biotechn., doi: 10.1038/s41587-019-0374-x).

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Plastic road trial

Maria Burke, 19/02/2020

Rome’s Fiumicino airport is to test a new tarmac on one of its runways for a year. The material contains graphene and waste plastic and is claimed to have cost and environmental benefits.

Probiotic hope for PD

Cath O’Driscoll, 19/02/2020

A type of bacteria already in use as a probiotic supplement could slow – and even reverse – the build-up of a protein associated with Parkinson’s Disease (PD), new research suggests. The work paves the way for studies into the effectiveness of probiotics in PD, the second most prevalent neurological disorder.

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Science briefs

19/02/2020

A US-based research team at Northwestern University has discovered a new approach to conducting chemical reactions without requiring direct contact with a catalyst.

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Surprise jump in GG emissions

Anthony King, 19/02/2020

Emissions of the potent greenhouse gas HFC-23 have been rising at record levels, according to new research. The findings seem to contradict claims by India and China that they had almost eliminated HFC-23 emissions.

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Thiacloprid verdict

Maria Burke, 19/02/2020

The European Commission has decided not to renew the approval of Bayer’s pesticide thiacloprid, effectively banning the chemical from use in Europe.

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Whose water is it?

Sarah Houlton, 19/02/2020

The rollback of the Obama era environmental protection measures continues in the US. The 2015 Waters of the US Rule (Wotus), aka the Clean Water Rule, has been repealed, with the wording that it replaced being, essentially, restored.