blog postsStudy: Kidney stones have distinct geological historiesSep 13, 2018 4:00 am759 views A geologist, a microscopist and a doctor walk into a lab and, with their colleagues from across the nation, make a discovery that overturns centuries of thought about the nature and composition of kidney stones. The team’s key insight, reported in the journal Scientific Reports, is that kidney stones are built up in calcium-rich layers that resemble other mineralizations in nature, such as those forming coral reefs or arising in hot springs, Roman aqueducts or subsurface oil fields.Study: Large-scale wind and solar farms in the Sahara would increase heat, rain, vegetationSep 6, 2018 9:45 am1504 views Wind and solar farms are known to have local effects on heat, humidity and other factors that may be beneficial – or detrimental – to the regions in which they are situated. A new climate-modeling study finds that a massive wind and solar installation in the Sahara Desert and neighboring Sahel would increase local temperature, precipitation and vegetation. Overall, the researchers report, the effects would likely benefit the region.Our brains process irony in emojis, words in the same waySep 5, 2018 12:45 pm898 views The brain processes ironic or sarcastic emojis in the same way it does ironic or sarcastic words.Discovery: Mechanical properties of viral DNA determine the course of infectionSep 4, 2018 8:00 am1367 views A new study reveals a previously unknown mechanism that governs whether viruses that infect bacteria will quickly kill their hosts or remain latent inside the cell. The discovery, reported in the journal eLife, also may apply to viruses that infect humans and other animals, the researcher said.Infants can distinguish between leaders and bullies, study findsSep 3, 2018 2:00 pm745 views A new study finds that 21-month-old infants can distinguish between respect-based power asserted by a leader and fear-based power wielded by a bully.Color-changing sensor detects signs of eye damage in tearsAug 31, 2018 8:00 am1546 views A new point-of-care rapid-sensing device can detect a key marker of eye injury in minutes – a time frame crucial to treating eye trauma. University of Illinois researchers developed a gel laden with gold nanoparticles that changes color when it reacts with a teardrop containing ascorbic acid, released from a wound to the eye. In a new study published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics, the researchers used the sensor, called OjoGel, to measure ascorbic acid levels in artificial tears and in clinical samples of fluid from patients’ eyes. Ancient African herders had lasting ecological impact on grazed landsAug 29, 2018 12:00 pm344 views Ancient animal herders added to the ecological richness and diversity of the African savanna thousands of years ago – an effect that persists to the present day, a new study finds. The herders’ practice of penning their cattle, goats and sheep at night created nutrient-rich grassy glades, called hotspots, that still attract wildlife and have increased habitat diversity in the region, researchers report in the journal Nature.Post-workout muscle building and repair blunted in obese adults, study findsAug 28, 2018 8:30 am974 views Obesity is associated with a host of health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. According to a new study reported in the Journal of Physiology, obesity also diminishes a person’s ability to build muscle after engaging in resistance exercise.Connectivity explains ecosystem responses to rainfall, droughtAug 27, 2018 2:00 pm403 views In a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers reveal techniques – inspired by the study of information theory – to track how changes in precipitation alter interactions between the atmosphere, vegetation and soil at two National Science Foundation Critical Zone Observatory sites in the western United States.A professor not afraid to cross academic boundariesAug 23, 2018 11:30 am623 views Illinois professor Ruby Mendenhall is focused on issues of poverty, inequality and violence, but crosses many academic boundaries in search of answers.Pointy eggs more likely to stay put in birds’ cliffside nests, study findsAug 22, 2018 9:00 am352 views Natural selection – that merciless weeder-outer of biological designs that are out of step with the times – also is a wily shaper of traits. Exhibit A is the pointy murre egg, according to new research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.New CRISPR technique skips over portions of genes that can cause diseaseAug 16, 2018 11:30 am4368 views In a new study in cells, University of Illinois researchers have adapted CRISPR gene-editing technology to cause the cell’s internal machinery to skip over a small portion of a gene when transcribing it into a template for protein building. This gives researchers a way not only to eliminate a mutated gene sequence, but to influence how the gene is expressed and regulated. Such targeted editing could one day be useful for treating genetic diseases caused by mutations in the genome, such as Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s disease or some cancers.Study: Human wastewater valuable to global agriculture, economicsAug 15, 2018 12:45 pm1096 views It may seem off-putting to some, but human waste is full of nutrients that can be recycled into valuable products that could promote agricultural sustainability and better economic independence for some developing countries.For now, Illinois’ imperiled eastern massasauga rattlesnakes retain their genetic diversityAug 13, 2018 8:30 am709 views A long-term study of eastern massasauga rattlesnakes in Illinois reveals that – despite their alarming decline in numbers – the few remaining populations have retained a surprising amount of genetic diversity.Genomic study ties insect evolution to the ability to detect airborne odorsAug 2, 2018 8:15 am443 views A new study reveals that all insects use specialized odorant receptors that enable them to detect and pursue mates, identify enemies, find food and – unfortunately for humans – spread disease. This puts to rest a recent hypothesis that only some insects evolved the ability to detect airborne odors as an adaptation to flight, the researchers said.Nowhere to hide: Molecular probe illuminates elusive cancer stem cells in live miceAug 1, 2018 9:00 am1386 views After a primary tumor is treated, cancer stem cells may still lurk in the body, ready to metastasize and cause a recurrence of the cancer in a form that’s more aggressive and resistant to treatment. University of Illinois researchers have developed a molecular probe that seeks out these elusive cells and lights them up so they can be identified, tracked and studied not only in cell cultures, but in their native environment: the body. In a paper published in the journal ACS Central Science, the researchers described the probe’s effectiveness in identifying cancer stem cells in cultures of multiple human cancer cell lines as well as in live mice.Study: In darters, male competition drives evolution of flashy fins, bodiesAug 1, 2018 8:00 am268 views Scientists once thought that female mate choice alone accounted for the eye-catching color patterns seen in some male fish. But for orangethroat darters, male-to-male competition is the real force behind the flash, a new study finds.Chemicals that keep drinking water flowing may also cause foulingJul 25, 2018 7:30 am1538 views Many city drinking water systems add softening agents to keep plumbing free of pipe-clogging mineral buildup. According to new research, these additives may amplify the risk of pathogen release into drinking water by weakening the grip that bacteria – like those responsible for Legionnaires’ disease – have on pipe interiors. Study explores risk factors linked to chikungunya and dengue outbreaksJul 24, 2018 8:15 am697 views In one of the largest studies of its kind, researchers analyzed chikungunya and dengue outbreak data from 76 countries over a period of 50 years, focusing on regions across the Indian Ocean that are hard hit by these and other mosquito-borne infectious diseases.In rats, perinatal exposure to phthalates impairs brain structure and functionJul 18, 2018 1:00 pm820 views Male and female rats exposed in the womb and during lactation to plasticizing chemicals known as phthalates had significantly fewer neurons and synapses than those that were not exposed, researchers report in a new study. The phthalate-exposed rats had reductions in the size of their medial prefrontal cortex, a brain region that regulates behavior, and showed deficits in cognitive flexibility. Using an electronic device counteracts benefits of taking a break in nature, researchers findJul 18, 2018 8:45 am1793 views Using a laptop negates the benefits that nature offers in recovering from mental fatigue, according to research from the University of Illinois.Study: Protein found to be key component in irregularly excited brain cellsJul 17, 2018 8:30 am597 views Researchers discovered that the tumor suppressor protein p53 is involved in the irregular brain cell activity seen in autism spectrum disorders and epilepsy.Products of omega-3 fatty acid metabolism may have anticancer effects, study showsJul 12, 2018 9:30 am2779 views A class of molecules formed when the body metabolizes omega-3 fatty acids could inhibit cancer’s growth and spread, University of Illinois researchers report in a new study in mice.First dogs in the Americas arrived from Siberia, disappeared after European contactJul 5, 2018 1:00 pm2969 views A study reported in the journal Science offers an enhanced view of the origins and ultimate fate of the first dogs in the Americas. The dogs were not domesticated North American wolves, as some have speculated, but likely followed their human counterparts over a land bridge that once connected North Asia and the Americas, the study found.Should we worry about ticks this summer?Jun 27, 2018 9:30 am1470 views Editor’s note: The number of tick-borne illnesses diagnosed annually in the United States doubled between 2004 and 2016, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Summer is prime tick season, and people spending time outdoors should be vigilant, says University of Illinois entomology professor Brian F. Allan. An expert in the spread of insect- and tick-borne diseases, Allan discussed ticks in Illinois, how to prevent bites and when to seek medical attention in an interview with News Bureau biomedical sciences editor Liz Ahlberg Touchstone.DNA enzyme shuffles cell membranes a thousand times faster than its natural counterpartJun 21, 2018 4:00 am1721 views A new synthetic enzyme, crafted from DNA rather than protein, flips lipid molecules within the cell membrane, triggering a signal pathway that could be harnessed to induce cell death in cancer cells. It is the first such synthetic enzyme to outperform its natural counterparts.New tissue-imaging technology could enable real-time diagnostics, map cancer progressionJun 20, 2018 8:00 am2992 views A new microscope system can image living tissue in real time and in molecular detail, without any chemicals or dyes, report researchers at the University of Illinois.Long-term estrogen therapy changes microbial activity in the gut, study findsJun 19, 2018 1:15 pm732 views Long-term therapy with estrogen and bazedoxifene changes the microbial composition and activity in the gut, affecting how estrogen is metabolized, University of Illinois researchers found in a new mouse study.When emotional memories intrude, focusing on context could help, study findsJun 14, 2018 12:15 pm1230 views When negative memories intrude, focusing on the contextual details of the incident rather than the emotional fallout could help minimize cognitive disruption and redirect the brain’s resources to the task at hand, suggests a new study by psychologists at the University of Illinois. “Everyone has encountered something distressing either in the recent past or the remote past. These memories can pop into our minds and distract from whatever we are doing,” said study leader Florin Dolcos, a professor of psychology at Illinois. “Instead of suppressing or stifling those emotional memories, we simply shift the focus and bring to life some other aspects of the same memory. That leads to a reduction in how much those memories interfere with whatever we’re doing.”Study: Larger sample sizes needed to increase reproducibility in neuroscience studiesJun 7, 2018 8:45 am625 views Small sample sizes in studies using functional MRI to investigate brain connectivity and function are common in neuroscience, despite years of warnings that such studies likely lack sufficient statistical power. A new analysis reveals that task-based fMRI experiments involving typical sample sizes of about 30 participants are only modestly replicable. This means that independent efforts to repeat the experiments are as likely to challenge as to confirm the original results.New algorithm fuses quality and quantity in satellite imageryJun 4, 2018 8:30 am1658 views Using a new algorithm, University of Illinois researchers may have found the solution to an age-old dilemma plaguing satellite imagery – whether to sacrifice high spatial resolution in the interest of generating images more frequently, or vice versa. The team’s new tool eliminates this trade-off by fusing high-resolution and high-frequency satellite data into one integrated product, and can generate 30-meter daily continuous images going back to the year 2000. Study links neighborhood factors, breast cancer rates in African-American womenJun 1, 2018 10:15 am1237 views Neighborhood characteristics are associated with late-stage diagnoses and higher mortality rates among urban African-American women, a new study shows.Study: Two ancient populations that diverged in the Americas later ‘reconverged’May 31, 2018 1:00 pm981 views A new genetic study of ancient individuals in the Americas and their contemporary descendants finds that two populations that diverged from one another 18,000 to 15,000 years ago remained apart for millennia before mixing again. This historic “reconvergence” occurred before or during their expansion to the southern continent.Study: Disease-causing stomach bug attacks energy generation in host cellsMay 30, 2018 11:45 am598 views Researchers report in a new study that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori – a major contributor to gastritis, ulcers and stomach cancer – resists the body’s immune defenses by shutting down energy production within the cells of the stomach lining that serve as a barrier to infection.3-D printed sugar scaffolds offer sweet solution for tissue engineering, device manufacturingMay 23, 2018 2:00 pm3564 views University of Illinois engineers built a 3-D printer that offers a sweet solution to making detailed structures that commercial 3-D printers can’t: Rather than a layer-upon-layer solid shell, it produces a delicate network of thin ribbons of hardened isomalt, the type of sugar alcohol used to make throat lozenges. The water-soluble, biodegradable glassy sugar structures have multiple applications in biomedical engineering, cancer research and device manufacturing.Study: Ancient mound builders carefully timed their occupation of coastal Louisiana siteMay 22, 2018 9:45 am1832 views A study of ancient mound builders who lived hundreds of years ago on the Mississippi River Delta near present-day New Orleans offers new insights into how Native peoples selected the landforms that supported their villages and earthen mounds – and why these sites were later abandoned.New technique can track drug and gene delivery to cellsMay 21, 2018 8:00 am997 views University of Illinois researchers say they now know how to track and map drug and gene delivery vehicles to evaluate which are most effective at infiltrating cells and getting to their targets, insight that could guide development of new pharmaceutical agents. The researchers described their tracking system and their findings on the most effective delivery vehicles in the journal Nature Communications. Brazilians with less education more likely to report being in poor health, study findsMay 16, 2018 8:45 am386 views Brazilians with less education are more likely to self-report as being in poor health, according to a study using data from nationwide surveys distributed every five years from 1998 to 2013. The study also found that general subjective health did not improve over the study period, even though more people gained education throughout the study, indicating that other factors associated with poor education may need to be addressed to improve self-perceptions of health.Team achieves two-electron chemical reactions using light energy, goldMay 15, 2018 8:30 am942 views Scientists report they can now drive two-electron chemical reactions, bringing them one step closer to building a carbon-recycling system that can harvest solar energy to efficiently convert CO2 and water into liquid fuels.Study shows how bacteria guide electron flow for efficient energy generationMay 14, 2018 8:30 am568 views Biochemists at the University of Illinois have isolated a protein supercomplex from a bacterial membrane that, like a battery, generates a voltage across the bacterial membrane. The voltage is used to make ATP, a key energy currency of life. The new findings, reported in the journal Nature, will inform future efforts to obtain the atomic structures of large membrane protein supercomplexes.Elastic microspheres expand understanding of embryonic development and cancer cellsMay 14, 2018 6:00 am583 views A new technique that uses tiny elastic balls filled with fluorescent nanoparticles aims to expand the understanding of the mechanical forces that exist between cells, researchers report. A University of Illinois-led team has demonstrated the quantification of 3-D forces within cells living in petri dishes as well as live specimens. This research may unlock some of the mysteries related to embryonic development and cancer stem cells, i.e., tumor-repopulating cells.New CRISPR technology ‘knocks out’ yeast genes with single-point precisionMay 7, 2018 10:00 am921 views The CRISPR-Cas9 system has given researchers the power to precisely edit selected genes. Now, researchers have used it to develop a technology that can target any gene in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and turn it off by deleting single letters from its DNA sequence.Russian cuckoo invasion spells trouble for Alaskan birds, study findsMay 7, 2018 8:30 am305 views Common cuckoos and oriental cuckoos in eastern Russia appear to be expanding their breeding range into western Alaska, where songbirds are naive to the cuckoos’ wily ways, researchers report. A new study suggests the North American birds could suffer significant losses if cuckoos become established in Alaska.Study adds new evidence that infants track others’ mental statesMay 7, 2018 7:00 am1082 views A brain-imaging study offers new support for the idea that infants can accurately track other people’s beliefs. When 7-month-old infants in the study viewed videos of an actor who saw – or failed to see – an object being moved to a new location, activity in a brain region known to play a role in processing others’ beliefs changed in the infants, just as it did in adults watching the same videos.Prosthetic arms can provide controlled sensory feedback, study findsApr 26, 2018 2:45 pm2322 views Losing an arm doesn’t have to mean losing all sense of touch, thanks to prosthetic arms that stimulate nerves with mild electrical feedback. University of Illinois researchers have developed a control algorithm that regulates the current so a prosthetics user feels steady sensation, even when the electrodes begin to peel off or when sweat builds up. Respect Indigenous ancestors: Scholars urge community engagement before researchApr 26, 2018 1:00 pm406 views A new article in the journal Science provides guidance for those intending to study ancient human remains in the Americas. The paper, written by Indigenous scholars and scientists and those who collaborate with Indigenous communities on studies of ancient DNA, offers a clear directive to others contemplating such research: First, do no harm.Earth BioGenome Project aims to sequence genomes of 1.5 million speciesApr 23, 2018 2:00 pm1032 views An international consortium of scientists is proposing a massive project to sequence, catalog and analyze the genomes of all known eukaryotic species on the planet, an undertaking the researchers say will take 10 years, cost $4.7 billion and require more than 200 petabytes of digital storage capacity. Eukaryotes include all organisms except bacteria and archaea. There are an estimated 10-15 million eukaryotic species on Earth. Of those, the team proposes sequencing 1.5 million.Study: Judges as susceptible to gender bias as laypeople – and sometimes more soApr 19, 2018 8:30 am951 views A new study of trial court judges suggests these arbiters of the law sometimes let their personal ideas about gender roles influence their decision-making.Is autism a disorder, an identity or both?Apr 19, 2018 8:00 am965 views Speech and hearing science professor Laura DeThorne and doctoral students Henry Angulo and Veronica Vidal discuss how the neurodiversity movement recognizes autistic individuals’ unique experiences, skills and strengths, and resists the medicalization of autism.New camera gives surgeons a butterfly’s-eye view of cancerApr 5, 2018 9:00 am2806 views Cancer lurking in tissue could be more easily found when looking through a butterfly’s eye.