Wednesday Science News Roundup #21

Below are 10 science news that I found interesting and are related to topics I care about.

Alzheimer’s drug turns back clock in powerhouse of cell – The experimental drug J147 is something of a modern elixir of life; it’s been shown to treat Alzheimer’s disease and reverse aging in mice and is almost ready for clinical trials in humans. Now, Salk scientists have solved the puzzle of what, exactly, J147 does. In a paper published January 7, 2018, in the journal Aging Cell, they report that the drug binds to a protein found in mitochondria, the energy-generating powerhouses of cells. In turn, they showed, it makes aging cells, mice and flies appear more youthful. Science Daily

At least 3 out of 5 people who try a cigarette become daily smokers – At least 61 per cent of people who try their first cigarette become, at least temporarily, daily smokers, suggests an analysis of survey data by Queen Mary University of London. Science Daily

This Common Painkiller Could Be Negatively Affecting Male Fertility – Male fertility could be at a tipping point. Last year, scientists discovered sperm counts in western countries had plummeted by 50 percent in 40 years, and while the reasons behind the decline are complex, many researchers say the phenomenon is due to men’s hormones being disrupted. Science Alert

Britain Now Generates Twice as Much Electricity From Wind as Coal, And That’s a Big Deal – Just six years ago, more than 40 percent of Britain’s electricity was generated by burning coal. Today, that figure is just 7 percent. Science Alert

These Birds of Prey Are Deliberately Setting Forests on Fire – It’s pretty hot in Australia right now. A brutal heatwave that’s incinerated temperature records threatens devastating bushfires – and to make matters worse, authorities have to contend with an ancient breed of flying arsonists that may as well be miniature dragons. Science Alert

Magic Mushrooms Could Treat Depression Without The Emotional Numbing Caused By Traditional Antidepressants – Magic mushrooms could hold the key to alleviating symptoms of depression, particularly in those who have not benefited from more traditional treatments, new research finds. IFLScience

Pharmaceutical Giant Pfizer Pulls Plug On Alzheimer’s And Parkinson’s Drug Research – Pfizer, one of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical giants, is going to ditch their research efforts into new drugs to fight against Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. IFLScience

Protein Linked To Alzheimer’s Seen Spreading Like An Infection – For the first time, researchers have observed tau proteins, one of the presumed causes of Alzheimer’s disease, spreading from neuron to neuron in a manner similar to how an infection might advance in tissue. IFLScience

White dwarf’s inner makeup is mapped for the first time – Astronomers have probed the inner life of a dead star. Tiny changes in a white dwarf’s brightness reveal that the stellar corpse has more oxygen in its core than expected, researchers report online January 8 in Nature. The finding could challenge theories of how stars live and die, and may have implications for measuring the expansion of the universe. Science News

CRISPR gene editor could spark immune reaction in people – Immune reactions against proteins commonly used as molecular scissors might make CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing ineffective in people, a new study suggests. Science News

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