Plants & Animals 

Tick bite protection: New CDC study adds to the promise of permethrin-treated clothing

The case for permethrin-treated clothing to prevent tick bites keeps getting stronger.In a series of experiments conducted by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, clothing treated with an insecticide known as permethrin had strong toxic effects on three primary species of ticks known to spread disease-causing pathogens in the United States. Exposure to permethrin interfered with the ticks’ ability to move properly, making them sluggish and likely interfering with their ability to bite. This effect has been previously documented in just one tick species. The results of the study are published today in the Entomological Society of America’s Journal of Medical Entomology.

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Gut microbiome can control antitumor immune function in liver

Scientists have found a connection between bacteria in the gut and antitumor immune responses in the liver. Their study, published May 25 in Science, was led by researchers in the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). It showed that bacteria found in the gut of mice affect the liver’s antitumor immune function. The findings have implications for understanding the mechanisms that lead to liver cancer and for therapeutic approaches to treat them. NCI is part of the National Institutes of Health.

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Plants & Animals 

Bold lizards of all sizes have higher mating success

Boldness correlates with the mating success, but not body size or sex, of yellow-spotted monitor lizards roaming the remote Oombulgurri floodplains of tropical Western Australia, ecologists report in the Ecological Society of America’s open access journal Ecosphere. But boldness has a cost: bold individuals expose themselves to much higher risk of being eaten by predators during the dangerous wet season. The researchers demonstrated quantifiable behavioral syndromes in the large lizards, with an intriguing relationship to the lizards’ seasonal hunting strategies.

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Plants & Animals 

Complementing conventional antibiotics

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major medical problem worldwide, impacting both human health and economic well-being. A new strategy for fighting bacteria has now been reported in the latest online issue of Nature by a research group headed by Prof. Ivan Dikic at the Goethe University Frankfurt. The scientists revealed the molecular action mechanism of a Legionella toxin and developed a first inhibitor.

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Helping dental retainers and aligners fight off bacteria

Clear, plastic aligners have been growing in popularity as alternatives to bulky, metal braces. And once the teeth are straightened, patients graduate to plastic retainers to maintain the perfect smile. But these appliances can become contaminated, so one group is now reporting in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces that they have developed a film to prevent bacteria from growing on them.

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Plants & Animals 

Most comprehensive tree of life for malaria parasites

A new study led by the American Museum of Natural History puts forth the most comprehensive tree of life for malaria parasites to date. Known for being a devastating scourge of human health, with five species known to infect humans, there are more than 500 described species of malaria that infect mammals, birds, and reptiles. Among the researchers’ findings, which were published today in the journal Royal Society Open Science, is that the diverse malaria parasite genus Plasmodium (which includes those species that infect humans) is composed of several distantly related evolutionary lineages, and, from a taxonomic standpoint, many species should be renamed.

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Plants & Animals 

How a cell knows when to divide

How does a cell know when to divide? We know that hundreds of genes contribute to a wave of activity linked to cell division, but to generate that wave new research shows that cells must first grow large enough to produce four key proteins in adequate amounts. The study, published today in Cell Systems, offers a path for controlling the balance between cell growth and division, which is implicated in countless diseases, including cancers.

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Plants & Animals 

‘Uniquely human’ muscles have been discovered in apes

Muscles once thought ‘uniquely human’ have been discovered in several ape species, challenging long-held theories on the origin and evolution of human soft tissues. The findings question the anthropocentric view that certain muscles evolved for the sole purpose of providing special adaptations for human traits, such as walking on two legs, tool use, vocal communication and facial expressions. Published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, the study highlights that thorough knowledge of ape anatomy is necessary for a better understanding of human evolution.

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