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Thu, 09 Dec 2021
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Newly discovered skin cell may underlie inflammatory skin disease

Early-Life Triggers May Prime Cells to Unleash Exaggerated Immune Responses.

Skin Fascia
© Rosenblum Lab
Microscope image of skin fascia showing TIFFs labeled in green. Selected TIFFs are labeled in pink to visualize their star-like shape. I
The surprise discovery of a new type of cell explains how distress to the skin early in life may prime a person for inflammatory skin disease later, according to a new study by UC San Francisco researchers in the Oct. 27 issue of Nature. Knowledge of this new cell type will likely lead to greater insight on how to reverse autoimmune disorders such as scleroderma, and shed light on the nature of inflammatory disease in general, the researchers said.

"The results reinforce the idea that what you're exposed to initially may have lasting ramifications," said Michael Rosenblum, MD, PhD, principal investigator on the study. "It appears that early exposure to inflammation can, through these cells we discovered, imprint an ability for tissues to develop inflammatory disease later in life."

The team learned about the new type of cell while investigating the effects of a set of actions known to evoke immune response in mice. One of these actions involved knocking out a group of skin cells that suppress the immune system. In the absence of that regulation, Rosenblum said, the researchers saw the presence of a unique cell that seemed to be acting as a shelter for pathogenic immune cells that aren't usually seen in skin tissues.

"We had to knock out one cell population to see that they were controlling the growth and capacity of these other, unknown cells," he said, noting that the new cells became apparent only in the tissue that had been exposed to inflammatory triggers. "What normally would be a deserted island on the skin was now inhabited by all these strangers," he said.

The team dubbed the strangers "TIFFs" (Th2-interacting fascial fibroblasts) after the Th2 immune cells that they help to house. The location of TIFFs in the skin suggests that they belong to a group of cells that make up fascia, the fibrous connective tissue that surrounds and connects organs throughout the body, said lead author Ian Boothby, a graduate student in Rosenblum's lab.

"Because most organs have fascia of some sort, what we're learning about TIFFs in skin may well be widely applicable to the rest of the body, meaning that these cells may play a role in a huge number of inflammatory diseases," he said.


Plants use RNA to communicate with neighbours

Arabidopsis thaliana flowers: A study finds that plants sharing the same growth medium can exchange microRNAs that silence genes in the recipient, suggesting the nucleic acids may act as signaling molecules.
Plants use a variety of mechanisms to communicate with other organisms, including one another. Volatile compounds can signal flowering and attract pollinators, for instance, and mycorrhizal fungal networks can transmit warnings or transfer resources. Small RNAs are on that list of communication molecules, and new findings confirm their potential: according to a paper published October 14 in Nature Plants, the plant Arabidopsis thaliana secretes microRNAs (miRNAs) — a type of small, single-stranded RNAs — into its liquid growth medium. Nearby individuals then take up these RNAs, which alter their gene expression patterns by binding to messenger RNAs and preventing certain genes from being translated into proteins (a process known as RNA interference).

Comment: See also:


Needle-free vaccine patches coming soon, say researchers and makers

Vaxxas microarray patch
© Vaxxas
Technicians working with the high-density microarray patch in the Vaxxas cleanroom.
Effective vaccines, without a needle: Since the start of the COVID pandemic, researchers have doubled down on efforts to create patches that deliver life-saving drugs painlessly to the skin, a development that could revolutionize medicine.

The technique could help save children's tears at doctors' offices, and help people who have a phobia of syringes.

Beyond that, skin patches could assist with distribution efforts, because they don't have cold-chain requirements — and might even heighten vaccine efficacy.

A new mouse study in the area, published in the journal Science Advances, showed promising results.

The Australian-US team used patches measuring one square centimeter that were dotted with more than 5,000 microscopic spikes, "so tiny you can't actually see them," David Muller, a virologist at the University of Queensland and co-author of the paper, told AFP.

Comment: It's not just vaccines they'll want to use these patches for...


Roman concrete from noblewoman's tomb still stands strong 2,000 years later, new study reveals why

Caecilia Metella
© Tyler Bell.
The tomb of Caecilia Metella is still remarkably intact after nearly 2,000 years since it was completed.
One of the world's biggest engineering problems is concrete. Critical infrastructure built over the last century — bridges, highways, dams, and buildings — are now crumbling before our eyes. Repairing and rebuilding this decaying infrastructure is estimated to cost trillions of dollars in the United States alone.

When steel reinforcements were introduced to concrete in the 19th century, it was rightfully at the time hailed as a massive step up in innovation. Adding steel bars to concrete speeds up construction time, uses less concrete, and allows the engineering of long, cantilevered structures such as miles-long bridges and tall skyscrapers. These early engineers who introduced these projects thought reinforced concrete structures would last at least 1,000 years. In reality, we now know their lifespan is between 50 and 100 years.

Comment: A few other recent discoveries reveal that the Roman era had other technologies that were far more sophisticated than once thought: See also: And check out SOTT radio's:


NASA's Juno probe offers first 3D view of Jupiter's atmosphere, inner workings of Great Red Spot

jupite natural light infrared light
© International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/NASA/ESA, M.H. Wong and I. de Pater (UC Berkeley) et al.
Jupiter's banded appearance is created by the cloud-forming "weather layer." This composite image shows views of Jupiter in (left to right) infrared and visible light taken by the Gemini North telescope and NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, respectively.
New findings from NASA's Juno probe orbiting Jupiter provide a fuller picture of how the planet's distinctive and colorful atmospheric features offer clues about the unseen processes below its clouds. The results highlight the inner workings of the belts and zones of clouds encircling Jupiter, as well as its polar cyclones and even the Great Red Spot.

Researchers published several papers on Juno's atmospheric discoveries today in the journal Science and the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. Additional papers appeared in two recent issues of Geophysical Research Letters.

"These new observations from Juno open up a treasure chest of new information about Jupiter's enigmatic observable features," said Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "Each paper sheds light on different aspects of the planet's atmospheric processes - a wonderful example of how our internationally-diverse science teams strengthen understanding of our solar system."


Leprosy identified in wild chimpanzees for the first time

chimpanzee leprosy
© Tai Chimpanzee Project
A chimpanzee named Woodstock with leprosy, in the Ivory Coast.
Scientists have detected leprosy in wild chimpanzees for the first time, and the symptoms resemble those in infected people.

A team of researchers recently found leprosy-infected chimps in unconnected populations in two West African countries: Guinea-Bissau and the Ivory Coast. Facial lesions in several of the animals looked like those in humans with advanced leprosy; genetic analysis of the chimps' stool samples confirmed that animals in both groups were carrying Mycobacterium leprae, bacteria that causes the disfiguring disease, according to a new study.

Not only are these cases the first to be detected in wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus) — leprosy in captive chimps has been reported previously — they are the first known non-human cases of leprosy in Africa.

Comment: See also:

Better Earth

Previous periods of abrupt climate change cannot be explained by current scientific models

dsert field climate change
Climate 'tipping points' can be better understood and predicted using climate change data taken from the ancient past, new research shows.

Current understanding of tipping points, in which the climate system exceeds a threshold beyond which large and often irreversible changes occur, is limited. This is because such an event has not occurred in recent times and certainly not since scientists started to record climate data.

Comment: There's actually a wealth of data across various fields of expertise that show abrupt climate change has occurred in our recent past, and, as just one data point, mainstream science has shown that these shifts appear to correlate with periods of low sun spot activity: 536 AD, the year the sky went dark

Earth System models, routinely used to predict climate, are taken from our understanding of the physical, chemical and biological processes that work together to shape our planet's environment.

Comment: Evidently current climate science fails to take into account the primary drivers behind climate change, which doesn't bode well for our own time: The Seven Destructive Earth Passes of Comet Venus

See also: And check out SOTT radio's:


Brain implant gives blind woman basic artificial vision in scientific first

brain implant vision blind woman
© John A. Moran Eye Center at the University of Utah
Berna Gomez, wearing glasses to test the brain implant visual prosthesis.
A 'visual prosthesis' implanted directly into the brain has allowed a blind woman to perceive two-dimensional shapes and letters for the first time in 16 years.

The US researchers behind this phenomenal advance in optical prostheses have recently published the results of their experiments, presenting findings that could help revolutionize the way we help those without sight see again.

At age 42, Berna Gomez developed toxic optic neuropathy, a deleterious medical condition that rapidly destroyed the optic nerves connecting her eyes to her brain.

In just a few days, the faces of Gomez' two children and her husband had faded into darkness, and her career as a science teacher had come to an unexpected end.

Fireball 2

'Lost extinction event' uncovered for the first time, claimed more than 60% of Africa's primates

extinct lemurs africa skull fossils
© Matt Borths, Duke University Lemur Center
Fossils of the key groups used to unveil the Eocene-Oligocene extinction in Africa with primates on the left, the carnivorous hyaenodont, upper right, rodent, lower right. These fossils are from the Fayum Depression in Egypt and are stored at the Duke Lemur Center's Division of Fossil Primates.
About 34 million years ago, a "lost extinction" in Africa wiped out the majority of primates, rodents and carnivores that preyed on the two groups. Species vanished in a slow-motion wave that spanned millions of years and yet went undetected by scientists — until now.

This previously unseen extinction bridges two geologic epochs: the Eocene (55.8 million to 33.9 million years ago) and the Oligocene (33.9 million to 23 million years ago). When the Eocene's greenhouse climate began shifting toward the icehouse temperatures that marked the Oligocene, sea levels dropped, the Antarctic ice sheet grew, and approximately two-thirds of all animal species in Europe and Asia went extinct.

Arrow Up

Study finds California condors can have 'virgin births'

California Condor
© AP/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Condor takes flight in the Ventana Wilderness east of Big Sur, California
Endangered California condors can have "'virgin births," according to a study released Thursday.

Researchers with the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance said genetic testing confirmed that two male chicks hatched in 2001 and 2009 from unfertilized eggs were related to their mothers. Neither was related to a male.

The study was published Thursday in the the Journal of Heredity. It's the first report of asexual reproduction in California condors, although parthenogenesis can occur in other species ranging from sharks to honey bees to Komodo dragons.

But in birds, it usually only occurs when females don't have access to males. In this case, each mother condor had previously bred with males, producing 34 chicks, and each was housed with a fertile male at the time they produced the eggs through parthenogenesis.

The researchers said they believe it is the first case of asexual reproduction in any avian species where the female had access to a mate.