Hundreds of new viruses present in insect bodies have been identified

Hundreds of previously unknown new viruses present in the body of insects have been identified following research published in PLOS Pathogens and carried out by a team of scientists at the Charité University Hospital in Berlin.

“Every new virus we find could be a cause of previously unknown diseases, both in humans and livestock,” says Christian Drosten, director of the Institute of Virology and one of the authors of the study for which it is important to identify and replenish our database of known viruses because then it may be easier to recognize the cause of new or even unusual diseases that may happen to us.

To carry out this study, the researchers used the largest international database of transcriptomes on insects. The researchers considered all types of insects, not just mosquitoes and other insects that come into contact with blood, i.e. those most dangerous in terms of virus transmission.

In total, they considered 1283 species of insects and discovered hundreds of new viruses that can be included in at least 20 new genera.

These new identifications may perhaps prove useful in solving some of those cases of viral infections where the virus could not be identified.

Heating is causing animals to shrink according to a new study

One of the effects of climate change is the bodily reduction of animals according to a new interesting study conducted by researchers from the University of Cape Town (UCT). The researchers analyzed data for a period of 23 years between 1976 and 1999 and found this change with regard to the average body size of a group of birds.

Among other things, as specified by the statement on the University website, in the past, as we discovered from the fossil record, cases of global warming have led to similar effects with marine and terrestrial animals that have tended to become smaller. To support this theory, the researchers analyzed the size of a genus of passerine birds called Motacilla. Specifically, they analyzed various groups of Motacilla Clara that live along the Palmiet, a river in South Africa.

The researchers, by the voice of Res Altwegg, one of the authors of the research, declare themselves astonished by these results: they did not expect such effects to be deducible even in a quarter of a century. The results instead clearly indicate not only the average shrinkage of the body of these birds but also the fact that climate change was the reason.

The researchers also used data from a nearby meteorological station and discovered an average temperature increase of 0.18 ° in the period examined. This has led, due to the evolutionary adaptation to the environment, a slow replacement of the heavier individuals in favor of the lighter ones.

Furthermore, according to Altwegg, there are other studies that show that animals are reducing their body size in many places around the world. However, these are deductions that concern the average of the animal world and there are certainly no exceptions: some species could, for example, increase the size of their bodies while others may not modify this morphological aspect at all.

Scientists find out about a serious sheep disease

A group of researchers from the University of Western Australia has succeeded in identifying a compound present in merino sheep wool that is attractive to Australian butterflies.

According to Phil Vercoe, one of the authors of the study, this result could help develop new therapies or medicines to combat flystrike, a disease that affects sheep and spreads through flies and gnats.

The sheep are sensitive to this disease because of their thick wool: if the latter is dirty or contaminated with fluids, the flies can more easily lay eggs inside the same wool.

The larvae, once they have developed, begin to feed on the flesh of the sheep causing the disease which, as main symptoms, sees strange behavior of the animal and matted wool.

As Vercoe explains, if the smell of wool that attracts flies is inherited, the compounds that scientists have just identified can lead to the development of more effective therapies to combat this disease in sheep: “It would be a great thing for the industry because would improve animal welfare and productivity.”

According to the scientist, the cost that this disease entails for breeders and for the whole industry connected to sheep is 280 million dollars a year.

Convulsions can be reduced by removing newly formed neurons in the brain

An innovative approach regarding the fight against epileptic seizures for those people who suffered a head injury was found by a group of researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). According to the researchers, it is possible to slow the progression of epilepsy with a process that sees the removal of newborn neurons.

This is what the researchers discovered by performing experiments on mice. The same researchers believe that the method can also be used successfully in humans. The method could be implemented for all those people who, following an accident or a violent act, suffer brain injuries. In fact, these people have a greater risk of developing seizures.

These occur because the new neurons that are generated after the brain injury do not migrate or develop normally and can therefore contribute to the development of epilepsy.

During the experiments, the researchers systematically removed the neurons that formed during the eight weeks following the lesion in mice. The results showed a 65% reduction in seizures compared to untreated mice.

“We now know that we can remove new neurons after the initial crises. Although we cannot stop the first convulsions, we can try to prevent secondary crises, which is very exciting and can lead to new therapeutic strategies,” says Jenny Hsieh, one of the authors of the study and professor of cell biology and director of Brain Health UTSA Consortium.

New light and strong magnesium alloy developed by researchers

A method to create stronger and lighter magnesium alloys was developed by a group of researchers from Monash University, Australia.

Currently magnesium alloys cannot be used in certain fields, in particular those that require a thermomechanical application, because they are often subject to deformation. Precisely for this reason, this material cannot be used in place of steel despite being resistant and light.

The new technique developed by the engineers of the Australian university keeps the typical characteristics of magnesium intact, while improving the structural integrity and thus ensuring that it can be used, for example, also in the aerospace industry or in the automotive industry.

The study, published in Nature Communications, describes the method used by researchers which involves the use of an X-ray mapping.

According to Jian-Feng Nie, lead author of the study, this light magnesium has a huge potential especially for those applications with low energy consumption and environmentally friendly.

The alloy, in addition to magnesium, involves the use of neodymium and silver.