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Latest and Breaking Biology News

Fine particulate air pollution linked with increased autism risk
(Harvard School of Public Health) Women exposed to high levels of fine particulate matter specifically during pregnancy -- particularly during the third trimester -- may face up to twice the risk of having a child with autism than mothers living in areas with low particulate matter, according to a study from Harvard School of Public Health. The greater the exposure, the greater the risk, researchers found. It was the first US-wide study exploring the link between airborne particulate matter and autism.

Report: Clearing rainforests distorts wind and water, packs climate wallop beyond carbon
(Burness Communications) A new study released today presents powerful evidence that clearing trees not only spews carbon into the atmosphere, but also triggers major shifts in rainfall and increased temperatures worldwide that are just as potent as those caused by current carbon pollution. Further, the study finds that future agricultural productivity across the globe is at risk from deforestation-induced warming and altered rainfall patterns.

Researcher to cancer: 'Resistance will be futile'
(University of Montreal) Turning the tables, Katherine Borden at the University of Montreal's Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer has evoked Star Trek's Borg in her fight against the disease.

Colorado River Delta greener after engineered pulse of water
(University of Arizona) The engineered spring flood that brought water to previously dry reaches of the lower Colorado River and its delta resulted in greener vegetation, the germination of new vegetation along the river and a temporary rise in the water table, according to new results from the binational team of scientists studying the water's effects. The team's latest findings will be presented at the American Geophysical Union's annual meeting the afternoon of Dec. 18.

Weigh-in once a week or you'll gain weight
(Cornell Food & Brand Lab) Stepping on the scale is common among dieters but how does the frequency of weigh-ins impact weight? A new study in PLOS ONE showed that the more frequently dieters weighed themselves the more weight they lost, and if participants went more than a week without weighing themselves, they gained weight.

Health coaching paired with gym membership works best for obese people with mental illness
(The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth) A health promotion program, called In SHAPE, designed for people with serious mental illness, produced more fit participants and significant weight loss than a control group where participants only received a gym membership. The results of a randomized clinical trial, published in the Dec. 12 American Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Stephen Bartels of Dartmouth and colleagues showed that more than half the participants in the In SHAPE group achieved clinically significant reduction in cardiovascular risk.

Genetic mutation found to cause ovarian failure
(American Friends of Tel Aviv University) A new Tel Aviv University study throws a spotlight on a previously-unidentified genetic cause of Primary Ovarian Insufficiency, associated with infertility in 1 percent of all women worldwide. While the genes involved in chromosome duplication and division had been shown to cause POI in animal models, this is the first time a similar mutation has been identified in humans.

Lens-free microscope can detect cancer at the cellular level
(University of California - Los Angeles) UCLA researchers have developed a lens-free microscope that can be used to detect the presence of cancer or other cell-level abnormalities with the same accuracy as larger and more expensive optical microscopes.

New conversion process turns biomass 'waste' into lucrative chemical products
(Purdue University) A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel for racecars and jets.A team of researchers from a DOE Energy Frontier Research Center has developed a process that uses a chemical catalyst and heat to spur reactions that convert lignin into valuable chemical commodities.

Policy action urgently needed to protect Hawaii's dolphins
(Duke University) Tourism is increasing pressure on Hawaii's spinner dolphins. A new Duke-led study shows that long-proposed federal regulations to limit daytime access to bays where the dolphins rest are greatly needed, but local, community-based conservation measures tailored to each individual bay will speed their acceptance. A one-size-fits-all approach will not work.

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