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Increased amount of fat in the body increases risk of depression

A greater quantity of body fat increases the risk of depression according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Aarhus and the University Hospital of Aarhus, Denmark.

The research has calculated that having 20 pounds of excess body fat increases the risk of falling into depression by 17%. The greater the amount of fat, the greater the chance of developing depression.

And the position of fat in the body would make no difference, as specified by Søren Dinesen Østergaard, one of the authors of the study. This factor is important because according to the researchers it suggests that it is not a biological cause to increase the risk or otherwise to contribute but psychological causes are purely: “If the opposite were true, we would have seen that the centrally located fat on the body increased the risk more, since it has the most harmful effect in biological terms,” says Østergaard.

The researcher did not take into account the body mass index to measure obesity, a fairly crude measure that does not take into account other factors such as build and muscle mass. Instead, they analyzed data from two large genetic data sets, which contain various types of data, including the correlation between genetic variants and depression and physical measurements such as fat mass distributed around body parts.

Precisely because there is the psychological aspect at stake, according to the researcher, “it is important to have a balanced approach to the issue” given that the psychological consequences of obesity seem to be the main driving force that increases the risk of depression.

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New method will allow using exosomes as biomarkers for diseases

A new method that maps the proteins on the surface of a large number of individual exosomes has been developed by a group of researchers from the University of Uppsala and the company Vesicode AB.

The exosomes, compounds present both in the nucleus and in the cytoplasm of the cell, are released by all the cells of the body and are able to transfer proteins and nucleic acids of cells into cells allowing a sort of intercellular communication. They can be considered as excellent biomarkers for the progression of various diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases or cancer.

To use them as biomarkers, however, it is necessary to distinguish them on the basis of the protected surface complements they contain. However, it has always been difficult to identify specific exosomes and the tissue region from which they originate.

The new method, called proximity-dependent barcoding assay (PBA), allows the detection of the surface protein composition of individual exosomes using new-generation DNA sequencing techniques.

Di Wu, researcher and inventor of this technology and founder of the same Vesicode AB, comments on this new method: “This technology will not only benefit researchers who study exosomes, but will also allow the discovery of high-performance biomarkers. We will further develop and validate the PBA technology and provide assistance to researchers starting this year. We believe that the analysis of the single exosome will allow this exciting class of biomarkers to reach its full potential.”

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Crows eat food thrown away and suffer from high cholesterol

Wild urbanization is causing raven health problems according to a new study published in The Condor: Ornithological Applications. Even crows, like other animal species, resort to the rubbish we throw away to survive: they have learned, over the decades, to feed on the food scraps of human beings, which is leading them to live more and more. permanently in the cities.

In particular, this study suggests that this diet is leading to crows being characterized by higher levels of cholesterol in the blood: in “crows” it is much higher than those living in the countryside or in areas less densely inhabited by humans.

The discovery was made by researcher Andrea Townsend and her colleagues at Hamilton College. In fact, researchers measured cholesterol levels in the blood of 140 small American crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos) that lived in rural or urban environments in California. They then returned to measuring these rates after they had grown up. They discovered that the more the environment they lived in was urban, the higher the cholesterol in the blood.

To confirm this, they also provided a few regular crow cheeseburgers in some crow farms living in rural New York. They then measured their cholesterol level and compared it to that of neighboring crows that had not assimilated this junk food.

The crows that had eaten cheeseburgers showed higher cholesterol levels, similar to those of “urban” crows in California.

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Mekong Delta may be completely submerged by 2050 according to scientists

The Mekong delta, an area where more than 12 million people live, could be completely submerged by 2050 due to rising sea levels caused by global warming underway according to a Utrecht University scientist in The Netherlands.

Philip Minderhoud has in fact collected the topographic data of the Mekong delta area, analyzed them and published the results in a study published today in Nature Communications. The sea level altitude data of this area had been unknown for years because it was owned only by the Vietnamese government, which only recently allowed some teams of scientists to perform more in-depth analysis.

The researcher, together with his colleagues, realized that the average altitude above sea level of this area is only 0.8 meters, which is two meters lower than the estimates previously made based only on satellite data. Such an altitude practically doubles the number of people involved in the processes that will see the now inevitable sea-level rise, processes that at this point will involve more than 12 million Vietnamese.

According to the same Minderhoud similar assessments can also be made for other areas of river deltas that could do the same purpose: in this regard, the scientist cites the river Ganges in Bangladesh and India and the Irrawaddy river in Myanmar.

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Units of measurement already used in commerce 3,000 years ago in northwestern Europe

An archaeological study shows that the use of weights and scales to measure the value of goods and materials in general was already widespread in the second millennium and at the beginning of the first millennium BC in north-western Europe.

Lorenz Rahmstorf, a researcher at the University of Göttingen, published a work in the journal Antiquity following analyzes that he and his team carried out of various objects from the middle and late Bronze Age found in various British islands and northern France.

The researcher found that these objects were based on the same weight units. This indicates that weights and standard measures to facilitate trade and exchange were already in use along European trade routes.

This contrasts with the common belief that trade during the Bronze Age in Northwestern Europe was substantially based on simple exchange and bartering. The existence of a real unit of measurement, as precise as that identified by the researcher, instead allowed people to compare exact reports of the value of the materials exchanged, using the latter as if they were precise sums of money.

This also allowed traders to perform much more complex calculations, such as calculating profits, creating currencies and exploiting any production surplus. Furthermore the weight units identified by the researcher are compatible and in some respects identical to those dominant in the eastern Mediterranean at that time: this indicates that the same knowledge of standard weights and measures was much more widespread than previously thought and was not alone limited to the advanced cultures of the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia, such as those of Greece, Egypt or Mesopotamia.