It is possible to produce bioethanol from agricultural and industrial waste in existing plants in a socioeconomically sustainable way. A research project has been carried out by doctoral student Ramkumar Nair at the University of Borås, Sweden, where he verified a new process model. “I have been verifying a process that we hope will work in an industrial scale, when it comes to using existing ethanol factories”, he says. “Thanks to that process, the industry can become more sustainable and use agricultural or industrial waste for the production of bioethanol.” Bioethanol is used for fuel for ethanol cars, among other things. Usually, wheat, sugar canes, or corn are used for ethanol production. In Sweden, wheat is the most common.
Every year there are around 400 new cases of cervical cancer and a total of approximately 800 cancers associated with HPV (human papilloma virus). Two measures could reverse this trend: the nonavalent HPV vaccination co-developed at MedUni Vienna's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology under the supervision of Elmar Joura and HPV screening by means of smear tests as secondary prevention. This combination is able to reduce the cancer risk by more than 90%. This point was emphasised by Joura in advance of the European Gynaecological Oncology Congress (ESGO), which is being held in the Austria Center Vienna from 4 – 7 November, under the aegis of MedUni Vienna. In future, the HPV test should and will replace cell smear testing (cytology) as a primary screening method, says the HPV expert, who also works in the Comprehensive Cancer Center Vienna (CCC). The advantage of the test, which works just like a smear test but is evaluated in a different way, is: "It is more sensitive and does not miss as many precancerous cells." With the conventional smear test there is a risk – still standing at 50% – that precancerous cells will not be detected.
The family relationship between film characters clearly affects the reactions in the viewers' brain. The study has also detected a significant conflict between the reactions of the brain and the person's own account. Are we more prone to help the person that resembles us the most? Social neuroscientists have studied the effects of similarity by showing a re-edited version of the film My Sister’s Keeper to a group of subjects and by giving them a moral dilemma to consider while measuring their brain function by means of functional magnetic resonance imaging. The subjects comprised 30 women who were shown a version of the film shortened to 25 minutes and asked to observe the film in the light of different questions. The study focused particularly on how the subjects felt about one sister refusing to donate an organ to another sister diagnosed with cancer. Before starting the film, the researchers told the subjects that the sisters were either biological siblings or that the younger sister had been adopted to the family as a baby.
Prof. Dr. Irmgard Förster (right) and Prof. Dr. Günter Mayer (left) with their team. Photo: Volker Lannert/Uni Bonn
Researchers from the University of Bonn have isolated a molecule that is suitable for the control of contact allergies. The study illuminates a central immune mechanism, which may also play a role in other inflammatory diseases such as arthritis or arteriosclerosis. The results will soon be published in the journal Molecular Therapy, but are already available online. The newly discovered substance is a so-called RNA aptamer. Aptamers are molecules that are related to DNA, the carrier of the genetic information in our cells. They can specifically bind to unique target structures of proteins and thereby block them. "Our aptamer interferes with the communication between two important types of immune cells - T cells and dendritic cells," says Prof. Dr. Irmgard Förster, who heads the department of "Immunology and Environment" at the LIMES Institute of the University of Bonn. She is also a member of the Excellence Cluster "ImmunoSensation", a major center of immunological research in Germany.
Figure: Strata of the Chinle Formation below the prominent silcrete horizon exposed in the Petrified Forest National Park. Photo courtesy of Andrew V. Kearns, 2012.
The Norian Chinle Formation in the Southwestern United States provides a snapshot into an ancient terrestrial ecosystem with its famous petrified tree trunks and various plant and vertebrate remains. The fossil plant assemblages, including spores and pollen grains, provide useful information on past vegetation and the response of the vegetation to climate changes. New pollen and spore data from the Chinle Formation at the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona, suggest that a extinction of plants occurred between 213 and 217 million years ago in tandem with an extinction of several reptile groups. The predominance of plants adapted to drier conditions after the extinction event is consistent with the gradual aridification of the North American continent due to the uplift of the Cordilleran volcanic mountain range and the probable northward shift of North America through plate tectonics. Plant community analysis reveals that the floral turnover was followed by the colonization of new plant groups such as the varieties of conifer trees and the decrease in the contribution of seed ferns in the vegetation along waterways.
The occurrence of emotions in animals has been under debate. Now, a research team from the Centro de Ciências do Mar (CCMAR), at the University of Algarve, the ISPA – Instituto Universitário, the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC) and the Champalimaud Research (in Portugal), demonstrated for the first time that fish have emotional states triggered by the way they perceive the environmental stimuli. This study, published in Scientific Reports, reveals that the ability to assess emotional stimuli may have a simpler neurologic basis than expected that was conserved throughout animal evolution.