114. New Prehistoric Human, Step Closer to Window Solar Panels, Drug Helps Heal Spinal Cord
114. New Prehistoric Human, Step Closer to Window Solar Panels, Drug Helps Heal Spinal Cord
New prehistoric human unknown to science discovered in Israel | The Jerusalem Post (01:20)
- A new type of early human previously not known to scientists has been discovered in Israel, Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University researchers announced Thursday, July 14th.
- They believe this new “Homo” species intermarried with Homo sapiens and was an ancestor of the Neanderthals.
- The dig site, Nesher Ramla, a few kilometers from the modern-day city, was probably close to a water reservoir where early humans could hunt animals.
- Filled with many animal bones, stone tools for making fire and butchering
- Prof. Israel Hershkovitz talked on the dig site:
- “We know that modern humans – or Homo sapiens – arrived in this area some 200,000 years ago … When we started excavating and examining the different archaeological layers, we found that they dated back between 140,000 and 120,000 years ago, so we expected to find remains of Homo sapiens. We did not realize that another form of human was living alongside them.”
- The researchers believe that the newly discovered human type, which they named after the site, lived in the region hundreds of thousands of years ago and at least until 130,000 years ago.
- The findings may radically change what researchers have so far believed about how ancient populations evolved and interacted.
- Especially how sapiens and Neanderthal, other ancient human types, related to each other.
- Researchers believe the Nesher Ramla was an ancestor of the Neanderthals and other archaic Asian populations.
- Thought Neanderthals arrived in what is now Israel 70,000 to 50,000 years ago from Europe, but here they found a human species 130,000 years old.
- Some features of the remains, like the teeth and the jaws, were more similar to Neanderthal species, while the skulls resembled the Homo type.
- According to Hershkovitz, Nesher Ramla Homo and Homo sapiens not only coexisted peacefully and exchanged technology, but also produced offspring.
- “In Europe, the story was very different because when modern humans arrived there around 45,000 years ago, they completely eliminated the local Neanderthals. This did not happen here”
- In the past, geneticists had already suggested that an unknown population represented the missing link between sapiens and Neanderthal.
- The Nesher Ramla population could represent the answer.
Prunes can restore bone loss, research finds | Brighter Side News (06:58)
- New research provides evidence that prunes are a prebiotic food that reverses bone loss in mice.
- Findings show the carbohydrates and polyphenols in prunes act as prebiotics and help restore bone health.
- Principal Investigator, Brenda Smith, PhD explains:
- “Both the carbohydrate component and the polyphenols within the prunes altered the gut microbiota and were associated with positive effects on bone, namely restoring bone. By definition, prebiotics are substrates that alter the composition or activity of the microbiota and confer benefits to the health of the individual”
- Researchers isolated the polyphenol (PP) compounds as well as the carbohydrates (CHO) from prunes and fed them to two separate groups of estrogen-deficient, female mice with substantial bone loss for 5- and 10-week durations.
- In the study they had 4 groups of mice with different diets:
- Receiving the polyphenol (PP) compounds and carbohydrates directly
- Whole prunes
- Prune crude extract with both PP and CHO prune components
- Control (i.e. no prunes or extract)
- Compared to the mice who did not consume any prune or prune component, those who consumed isolated CHO, isolated PP, prune crude extract, or whole prunes experienced restored bone previously lost.
- Showed a significant increase in short chain fatty acid (SCFA) production in their guts
- Favorable changes to their gut microbiota.
- Researchers saw increases in SCFAs n-butyrate and propionate, which are thought to be most effective at preventing bone loss by suppressing biomarkers associated with bone breakdown.
- Smith suggests the findings make a strong case for consuming whole prunes “because you’re getting some of the benefit from the carbohydrate in the short term, and the long-term benefit from the polyphenols.”
- Smith also noted that the vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds in prunes may contribute to the bone and the gut benefits.
- This research gets us closer to understanding the unique attributes of prunes while underscoring the importance of eating the fruit in its entirety.
Scientists create a nearly invisible solar cell with up to 79% transparency | Interesting Engineering (11:07)
- A team of scientists from the Tohoku University in Japan has created a near-invisible solar cell using indium tin oxide (ITO) as a transparent electrode and tungsten disulfide (WS2) as a photoactive layer.
- Potential to achieve a transparency of 79 percent
- This type of PV device is known as the Schottky junction solar cell.
- An interface put between a metal and a semiconductor provides the band required for charge separation.
- The suggested device and ideal band structure separate the photogenerated electron-hole pairs by a difference in the work function between one of the electrodes and the semiconductor.
- WS2 is a member of the transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) family of materials, which the scientists claim are perfect for near-invisible solar cells due to their acceptable band gaps in the visible light range and greatest absorption coefficient per thickness.
- The contact barrier between WS2 and ITO was adjusted by coating various thin metals on top of ITO material and introducing a thin layer of WO3 (Tungsten trioxide) between ITO and the monolayer WS2.
- Result: the Schottky barrier height increased dramatically.
- Potential for increasing the efficiency of charge carrier separation in this Schottky-type solar cell.
- The power conversion efficiency of the solar cell with the optimized electrode (WO3/Mx/ITO) was more than 1,000 times greater than that of a device employing a regular ITO electrode.
- With the aid of studies like this one, we may eventually develop transparent solar panels, which would have far-reaching ramifications.
- There are reportedly five to seven billion square meters of glass surfaces in the United States, from phone screens to skyscrapers.
Drug Treatment for Cataracts Might Soon Become a Reality | SciTechDaily (16:11)
- According to the World Health Organization, cataracts are one of the leading causes of blindness throughout the world.
- Cataracts account for more than 51 percent of blindness throughout the world.
- In the United States alone, over 24.4 million people over the age of 40 have been affected by cataracts.
- A cataract is a clouding of the eye lens that develops over time and compromises the quality of vision.
- Caused by a disorder of the proteins in the lens that leads to clumps of protein accumulating that scatter light and substantially limit transmission to the retina.
- Currently, cataracts can only be cured with surgery.
- However, a groundbreaking new treatment for cataracts has had incredibly positive laboratory test results suggesting that the affliction might soon be able to be treated with drugs.
- A team of international scientists at Anglia Ruskin University, have been carrying out advanced optical tests on an oxysterol compound that had been proposed as an anti-cataract drug.
- In laboratory trials, treatment with the oxysterol compound VP1-001 showed an improvement in refractive index profiles – a key optical parameter that is needed to maintain high focusing capacity – in 61% of lenses.
- Meaning that the protein organization of the lens is being restored, resulting in the lens being better able to focus.
- Professor Barbara Pierscionek, lead researcher, stated:
- “This study has shown the positive effects of a compound that had been proposed as an anti-cataract drug but never before tested on the optics of the lens. It is the first research of this kind in the world.”
- She continues mentioning this compound could only affect a certain kind of cataracts:
- “Improvements occurred in some types of cataracts but not in all indicating that this may be a treatment for specific cataracts. This suggests distinctions may need to be made between cataract types when developing anti-cataract medications. It is a significant step forward towards treating this extremely common condition with drugs rather than surgery.”
Cancer drug triggers remarkable recovery from spinal cord injury in mice | New Atlas (21:08)
- A drug under investigation as a cancer treatment has shown exciting promise in a rather different branch of medical research, with scientists demonstrating how it can promote nerve repair following spinal injury.
- The drug acts on a DNA damage response mechanism and triggers a “remarkable” recovery in mice with injured spinal cords.
- The DNA Damage Response system, which swings into action in response to DNA damage caused by several common cancers, and also in response to spinal cord injury.
- Led by scientists at the University of Birmingham, the research focused on an experimental drug called AZD1390.
- Under investigation as a cancer therapy due its potential to make tumor cells more sensitive to radiation treatment.
- The authors of the new study hypothesize that the activation of this DNA Damage Response system may slow or prevent recovery from spinal cord injury, by hampering nerve repair.
- The thinking was that by using AZD1390 to inhibit the ATM signaling pathway, they could clear the way for the growth of new nerve cells.
- In mice with spinal cord injuries, oral administration of AZD1390 was also shown to significantly suppress the pathway.
- Further, it promoted nerve regeneration beyond the site of the injury, and enhanced the capacity of these nerves to relay electrical signals
- Study author Professor Zubair Ahmed, stated:
- “This is an exciting time in spinal cord injury research with several different investigational drugs being identified as potential therapies for spinal cord injury … We are particularly excited about AZD1390 which can be taken orally and reaches the site of injury in sufficient quantities to promote nerve regeneration and restore lost function. Our findings show a remarkable recovery of sensory and motor functions, and AZD1390-treated animals being indistinguishable from uninjured animals within four weeks of injury.”
- Such a rapid and effective recovery, making injured mice appear much like uninjured mice in 4 weeks, positions AZD1390 as an exciting potential treatment for a condition that has no cure.
- Though just an initial study, the fact that it centers on a drug already under investigation may also shorten its path to clinical use.