Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Researchers discover two new types of glial cells in the brain; study opens up a new avenue for addressing injuries that cause brain damage

A research group at the University of Basel has now discovered two new types of glial cells in the brain, by unleashing adult stem cells from their quiescent state. These new types of glia may play an important role in brain plasticity and repair. The research group of Prof. Fiona Doetsch at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel is investigating stem cells in the ventricular-subventricular zone in the adult mouse brain. In this region, many of the stem cells are in a quiescent state, sensing signals in the environment that stimulate them to awaken and transform into new nerve cells. In their study, the team identified a molecular signal that awakened the stem cells from their quiescent state, allowing them to uncover multiple domains that give rise to glial cells in this stem cell reservoir. The research team also found that both glial cell types were activated in a model of demyelination. These new glial cell types may therefore be a source of cells for repair in neurodegenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis or after injury. The team would like to specifically trace these new glial cell types and to investigate their roles in normal brain function and how they respond in different physiological contexts. This will provide important clues to understanding brain plasticity and how the renewal and repair of neural tissue occurs. (University of Basel)


Canadians Rally Behind A Cat With No Anus

A young kitten born with an incredibly rare birth defect may get a new lease on life thanks to the efforts of a Toronto, Ontario, Canada rescue organization and cat lovers around the world. Dora, an adorable little tortoiseshell, recently came into the care of Annex Cat Rescue at the tender age of just eight weeks old. The kitten was “brought to the vet because she was showing signs of severe constipation,” wrote the rescue in an Instagram post. “Unfortunately, Dora was diagnosed with an extremely rare birth defect: an Imperforate Anus. In other words, she was born without a butthole.” Prior to her revelatory veterinarian visit, Dora had miraculously survived all eight weeks of her life without ever having a bowel movement (though, as the rescue writes, “she gets in the litterbox and tries.”) Annex Cat Rescue sought to raise $6,500 for a complicated surgery to remove the “painful and life-threatening amount of fecal matter built up in her colon” as well as to construct an anus, reroute her insides and repair an internal tear. However, instead of $6,500, the rescue managed to raise over $10,000 in just a few days and Dora had her emergency surgery. She now has an anus, but her aftercare has been difficult and she must receive 24-hour support. The rescue organization is asking for a bit more help little Dora — who is described as an “adventurous and curious kitty known for her love of cuddles and gentle kisses.” (BlogTo)


US bans dogs brought in from 100 countries with rabies risk

U.S. health officials announced a one-year ban on bringing in dogs from more than 100 countries where rabies is still a problem. Dogs coming in from those countries already needed proof of rabies vaccination. The ban is being imposed because of a spike in the number of puppies denied entry because they weren’t old enough to be fully vaccinated, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The ban applies to dogs coming into or returning to the country, including pets or those brought in for sale or adoption. The ban goes into effect July 14. About 1 million dogs are brought into the U.S. each year, and the ban is expected to apply to 4% to 7.5%, officials said. Exceptions will be made for some situations, including guide dogs for the blind or foreigners moving to the U.S. with their pets. Most of the dogs recently rejected came from just three countries: Russia, Ukraine, and Colombia. (ABC News)


$1.2 million worth of cocaine found on Florida beach during turtle nesting survey

More than 30 kilograms of cocaine with a value topping $1 million were seized after washing ashore last month at the Cape Canaveral Space Station in Florida, according to the U.S. Space Force. The drugs were discovered recently by a civil engineer and wildlife manager, who noticed the packages strewn about the beach while conducting a turtle nesting survey, officials said. The estimated value of the 24 packages of narcotics was $1.2 million, according to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. The Civil Engineer said in a statement she immediately contacted the 45th Security Forces Squadron with Space Force after making the discovery. The drugs were turned over to Homeland Security Investigations, the main investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (NBC News)


Runaway monkey reunited with family after train station adventure

A runaway monkey has been reunited with its owners after being found at a train station near Glasgow, Scottland. Scotrail put an appeal on social media after the primate was found at Cambuslang train station on Saturday afternoon, calling for its owners to get in touch. “I’ve dealt with lost phones, handbags and glasses over the years but this is definitely a first,” the operator tweeted. “If you’ve lost your monkey… it’s waiting on the next service from Cambuslang into the town.” Hours later, the family had been found and the monkey, believed to be a marmoset, was taken home again. “It’s good news, people,” the operator tweeted. “This wee fella has been reunited with his family.” (Sky News)


Space Force clears SpaceX to launch reused rockets for military missions

The next SpaceX launch will feature a milestone, as the Pentagon is allowing Elon Musk’s company to send a national security satellite to orbit with a reused rocket for the first time. SpaceX is set to launch the GPS III SV05 satellite for the Space Force tomorrow (6/16) from Florida, using the Falcon 9 rocket booster that launched the GPS III SV04 satellite last November. The company’s Falcon 9 rockets are partially reusable, as SpaceX regularly lands the boosters, the largest and most expensive part of the rocket, and then launches again. The Pentagon awarded SpaceX with five of the six GPS III satellite launch contracts to date, with the GPS III SV02 mission the only one launched by competitor United Launch Alliance, the rocket-building joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Those five launch contracts total $469.8 million and originally did not include the option for SpaceX to reuse its Falcon 9 rockets. As the name suggests, GPS III spacecraft are replacements of the 31 GPS satellites currently operating in orbit. The Space and Missiles Systems Center last year modified the contracts for SpaceX’s next two GPS III satellite launches to allow reuse, a move that the military estimated will save about $64 million. (CNBC)


Younger staff want back in office

While many employees mull career changes as the economy reopens, younger ones are raring to return to the office. Almost 60% of white-collar staff aged 21 to 30 said that “working in a modern, collegiate office environment has become more important to them over the past year”. Believing WFH has in some way hobbled their careers, the majority favor at least a hybrid work model post-pandemic, a separate poll shows. (Bloomberg)


Workers may need more than skills

With 7.6 million fewer people in the workforce than before the pandemic, job openings at a record high and employers offering incentives to attract workers, why do so many jobs remain unfilled? Labor economists are pointing to the “last-mile problem,” or the notion that workers may have in-demand skills, but they can’t find jobs where they live. Personal programs focused on mentoring and coaching, which can help build connections and confidence, have proven to be effective in helping those stuck in this kind of limbo to find good jobs. (The New York Times)


Town Sells Its Water Tower by Accident

A small town of 8,500 residents in Florida accidentally sold its water tower in a blundered real estate transaction. A businessman purchased a municipal building underneath the city of Brooksville’s water tower last April for $55,000 with the goal of converting it into a gym. However, when the man went to the county to get an address for his new business location, he was told the parcel he bought included the entire water tower site. Luckily for the town, he was willing to give it back. County records show he transferred the tower back to Brooksville recently. A city council member said he didn’t know who to blame. The City Manager blamed the use of a bad legal description for what happened. The city’s redevelopment agency director resigned after the accidental sale. (Tampa Bay Times)


New touchless imaging approach diagnoses early signs of age-related vision loss much earlier than previous methods 

A non-contact laser imaging system could help doctors diagnose and treat eye diseases that cause blindness much earlier than is now possible. The new technology, developed by engineering researchers at the University of Waterloo, is designed to detect telltale signs of major blinding diseases in retinal blood and tissue that typically go unseen until it is too late. With current testing methods, diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma, which have no symptoms in their early stages, are usually diagnosed only after vision is irreversibly affected. Patented technology at the core of the new system is known as photoacoustic remote sensing (PARS). It uses multicoloured lasers to almost instantly image human tissue without touching it. When used for eyes, the non-invasive, non-contact approach dramatically improves both patient comfort and the accuracy of test results. The technology is also being applied to provide microscopic analyses of breast, gastroenterological, skin and other cancerous tissues, and to enable real-time imaging to guide surgeons during the removal of brain tumors. (Nature)


The Milky Way’s central rotation has slowed by almost 25% since its formation 14 billion years ago, astronomers find

The spin of the Milky Way’s galactic bar, which is made up of billions of clustered stars, has slowed by about a quarter since its formation, according to a new study by researchers at University College London (UCL) and the University of Oxford. The researchers say it gives a new type of insight into the nature of dark matter, which acts like a counterweight slowing the spin. In the study, researchers analysed Gaia space telescope observations of a large group of stars, the Hercules stream, which are in resonance with the bar, revolving around the galaxy at the same rate as the bar’s spin. The researchers found that the stars in the stream carry a chemical fingerprint that is richer in heavier elements, proving that they have traveled away from the galactic center, where stars and star-forming gas are about 10 times as rich in metals compared to the outer galaxy. Using this data, the team inferred that the bar, made up of billions of stars and trillions of solar masses, had slowed down its spin by at least 24% since it first formed. The Milky Way, like other galaxies, is thought to be embedded in a “halo” of dark matter that extends well beyond its visible edge. Dark matter is invisible and its nature is unknown, but its existence is inferred from galaxies behaving as if they were shrouded in significantly more mass than we can see. There is thought to be about five times as much dark matter in the Universe as ordinary, visible matter. (


YouTube will no longer sell masthead ad placements to alcohol sales, gambling, and political organizations, among other verticals

YouTube will stop accepting ads for its masthead ad unit from certain verticals, including alcohol sales, gambling, prescription drugs, and election and political ads. YouTube’s masthead, a highly visible rectangle across the top of the homepage, is often the platform’s most expensive and sought-after ad unit. Ads that feature any gambling-related content offline or online, including sports betting and casino games, will be banned. The ban will also apply to ads that promote the sale of alcohol, as well as branding ads for alcoholic beverages that don’t explicitly reference sales. Ads that are endorsing a candidate for office will be banned. Ads that are political in nature, like issue ads, will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. (Axios)


‘Covid Alien’ NFT sells for $11.75M

A billionaire buyer has snapped up a rare CryptoPunk NFT called “Covid Alien” for $11.75 million. It’s one of nine blue-skinned “alien punks” and one of 175 wearing a mask. Sotheby’s says the sale set “a new world auction record for a single CryptoPunk.” According to Barron’s, there are some 10,000 CryptoPunks, which are pixelated characters created by two software developers in 2017 and minted on the Ethereum blockchain. (CNBC)


Wednesday Is Backing Up It’s Spot With:

  • Bloomsday
  • Fudge Day
  • Ladies’ Day (Baseball)


Historical Events

  • 1746 – War of Austrian Succession: Austria and Sardinia defeat a Franco-Spanish army at the Battle of Piacenza.
  • 1779 – Spain declares war on the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the Great Siege of Gibraltar begins.
  • 1883 – The Victoria Hall theatre panic in Sunderland, England kills 183 children.
  • 1897 – A treaty annexing the Republic of Hawaii to the United States is signed; the Republic would not be dissolved until a year later.
  • 1903 – The Ford Motor Company is incorporated.
  • 1904 – Irish author James Joyce begins a relationship with Nora Barnacle and subsequently uses the date to set the actions for his novel Ulysses; this date is now traditionally called “Bloomsday”.
  • 1911 – IBM founded as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in Endicott, New York.
  • 1922 – General election in the Irish Free State: the pro-Treaty Sinn Féin win a large majority.
  • 1963 – Soviet Space Program: Vostok 6 Mission – Cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space.
  • 1972 – Red Army Faction member Ulrike Meinhof is captured by police in Langenhagen.