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Fasting useful for reducing inflammation according to a new study

A fasting regimen can be positive to reduce inflammation and to generally combat chronic inflammatory diseases and the pathologies that can result from them. A new study, this time published on Cell, highlights the positive aspects of fasting and in general of the strong caloric restrictions that can be applied to a normal diet periodically.

Miriam Merad, the author of the study and director of the Precision Immunology Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, showed that intermittent fasting in mice promotes the reduction of the release of pro-inflammatory cells called “monocytes” in the blood.

During the fasting period, these cells appeared in mice to enter a sort of “sleep,” which led them to reduce their inflammatory action compared to the same cells of the mice that had instead taken food. According to Merad herself, “Monocytes are highly inflammatory immune cells that can cause severe tissue damage and the population has seen an increasing amount in their blood circulation due to the eating habits that humans have acquired over the last few centuries.”

The same researcher also admits that the study of the anti-inflammatory effects of fasting can have an “enormous potential” – if the molecular mechanisms by which fasting acts on inflammatory diseases are accurately discovered, new therapeutic strategies could be developed to mimic this process.

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Banana fungus parasite arrives in Colombia

The entire banana industry is on alert after a serious banana plant disease has spread to Colombia, one of the largest banana producing countries in the world. The fact that even this disease, previously found only in crops in Asia, has reached even South America is rekindling local concerns regarding the production of one of the most consumed fruits in the world.

The producers fear for the Global market, currently too dependent on the Cavendish banana, a type of banana known for its durability during sea journeys and in general for its resistance after it has been harvested.

The disease is caused by the parasitic fungus Fusarium oxysporum which most likely came from Asian countries. In recent weeks, confirmation was expected regarding the spread of this fungus also in Latin America, and confirmation came precisely from the analyzes carried out on some crops in Colombia.

According to experts, this parasite could also haunt the Cavendish banana after the Gros Michel quality, also known as Big Mike banana, was literally devastated in the 1950s by another strain of the same parasite that is spreading again today.

But this time, compared to the 1950s when the entire production moved to Cavendish, there is no “backup” banana to bet on if Cavendish also disappears.

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Cargo drones for transporting goods over long distances are about to become a reality

Elroy Air, a California start-up, has successfully completed tests related to the first flight of a cargo drone. This is an unmanned aircraft that can carry heavy loads and that could begin to make real deliveries by mid-2020.

This is a sector, that of delivering goods with unmanned vehicles or aircraft, which could be worth hundreds of billions of dollars according to analysts.

Among the various sub-sectors, more and more space is being given to delivery by cargo drones, which could completely revolutionize the entire industry of logistics.

It is precisely in this sector that Elroy is trying to enter, together with other start-ups, using Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft, ie aircraft that take off and land vertically, in this case without even the pilot, and which so they won’t even need a track but just some free space.

Furthermore, those used by Elroy stand out from the crowd because they are not small or medium-sized drones. These are much larger cargo drones, capable of carrying much heavier loads and capable of covering much longer distances.

The company, in any case, hopes, at least initially, to use its first aircraft for the delivery of medical supplies or for the delivery of sensitive material, for example after a disaster or during military missions. However, the same start-up makes it clear that it does not disdain any collaboration with shipping companies such as FedEx or UPS.

The first prototype built by the company, called Chaparral, will be able to carry more than 100 pounds of materials for at least 480 miles.

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Reproduction of scallops monitored in real time with a new method

There are marine organisms that reproduce in the water reproductive cells, essentially sperm and gametes or eggs, to reproduce. It is very difficult to detect the release of these cells in real time and consequently, it is also difficult to study animals such as scallops (Pecten jacobaeus), a bivalve mollusc also present in the Mediterranean.

A group of researchers from the University of Maine and Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences has therefore devised a new method to study these “releases” by taking water samples and analyzing the environmental DNA. The result of the study focuses on a new method to manage wild mollusk populations, but also those in aquaculture, and generally shows a new approach in the context of the so-called eDNA, also called environmental DNA, ie the DNA that is not collected from living organisms but from samples taken from the environments in which they live.

To explain the importance of this research is Skylar Bayer, a researcher at the Milford Laboratory of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center and main author: “Knowing when and where marine organisms are generated is important to understand their demographic growth and their life cycle. Usually, monitoring the generation events in marine invertebrates, including marine scallops, can be a difficult task, so being able to track these events by sampling seawater could be enormously useful for the management and conservation practices of marine species.”

The same researcher admits that this method can also be used in the future to understand the deposition events of other marine animals such as corals and clams, practically in real-time.

The study was published in the Marine Ecology Progress Series.

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4 new long-lived neurological proboscis insects discovered that lived 100 million years ago

In a study published in Cretaceous Research, a group of researchers from the Russian Academy of Sciences announces the discovery of four new species, and its four new genera, of extinct insects found fossilized in amber.

These are four insects with proboscis that fed by sucking from the first flowers of angiosperms almost 100 million years ago. They were found in pieces of amber from the Upper Cretaceous in northern Myanmar. The researchers included them in the group of Paradoxosisyrinae, a subfamily of sisirids (sisyridae).

According to Russian researchers, these insects used their proboscis to suck nectar from plants. However, in the past scientists had carried out in-depth studies of this organ of Paradoxosisyrinae, understanding that it was shorter than other species of insects, which led them to suck less nectar from the flowers and that most likely contributed to the evolutionary failure and to the extension of the neurotters (Neuroptera) to a long proboscis.

Precisely the discovery of these four new species of Paradoxosisyrinae in amber expands the knowledge we can now have of this group of insects and probably also corroborates the hypothesis described above. One of the species has been called Buratina truncate , in honor of Buratino, the Russian analogue of Pinocchio.

This flying insect was covered, like the other newly discovered species, with many hairs, a condition that is observed today in today’s pollinators. It is precisely these hairs that allow pollen grains to be transported with more agility.

However, precisely because of the problem described above related to the proboscis, the insects of the Paradoxosisyrinae group could suck nectar only from shallow flowers. The other three species classified are Sidorchukatia gracilisProtosiphoniella anthophila and Khobotun elephantinus.