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A cold virus can infect a pregnant woman’s fetus

The study showed that the expectant mother is able to transmit a respiratory tract infection to her unborn child.

Scientists from Tulane University (Louisiana, USA) received the first evidence that the cold virus, which affects a pregnant woman, can penetrate the placenta and infect the fetus. An article about this has been published in PLOS One .

The placenta, an organ that develops in the uterine cavity of a woman during pregnancy, provides the necessary nutrition from the mother to the embryo and simultaneously performs another important task: it filters out potential pathogenic microorganisms. However, a group of pediatricians led by Professor Giovanni Piedimonte found that this natural “barrier” is not so impenetrable.

Scientists took the placenta from donors, isolated three main types of cells – cytotrophoblasts, fibroblasts and Kashchenko – Hofbauer cells – and in vitro exposed them to the human respiratory syncytial virus, which causes respiratory tract infections. Although cytotrophoblast cells supported a weak process of the spread of the virus, two other types were more susceptible to infection. So, Kashchenko-Hofbauer cells survived and allowed the virus to replicate inside the cell walls. According to scientists, then these cells, moving inside the placenta, are able to transmit the virus to the fetus.

“Such cells do not die after they become infected,” Piedimonte explains. – When they enter the fetus, they are comparable to bombs stuffed with a virus. They do not spread the virus in the area of ​​the “explosion”, but carry it through the intercellular channels. <…> Thus, our theory is confirmed that when a woman gets a cold during pregnancy, the virus that causes the infection can pass to the fetus and cause a pulmonary infection before the birth of a child. ”

Pediatricians also suggested that the respiratory syncytial virus is able to infect the lung tissue of the unborn baby and provoke the development of an infection that will subsequently affect the predisposition to asthma. To confirm or refute their theory, the authors of the study intend to conduct clinical tests.

Last year, scientists from the University of Cambridge created an artificial and functional mini-placenta using trophoblasts, and recently it turned out that particles of air pollution can penetrate the placenta of pregnant women

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Science & Technology

Scientists decoded the giant squid genome and saw that this creature has a very developed brain

Giant squids of the genus Architeutis are one of the largest invertebrate creatures, which, according to official data, can reach about 8-10 meters in length, and twice as much according to unofficial ones.

Pictures of live squids were first obtained by Japanese researchers in 2004, before that scientists had ideas about giant squids only from their remains found in the stomachs of sperm whales or washed ashore.

Until now, not a single giant squid fell into the hands of scientists, which is associated not only with the fact that these creatures live mainly at great depths, but that that they rarely swim to the surface, as they sperm whale’s favorite treat.

A relatively small giant squid of the Architeuthis dux species, reaching a length of “only” 4 meters

The genome of giant squid was analyzed by a team of researchers from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), as well as researchers from the Marine Biological Laboratory of the State of Massachusetts under the leadership of Caroline Albertin. In total, this group sorted the genomes of several cephalopods at once, including octopus, cuttlefish and nautilus mollusk.

DNA samples of a giant squid were taken from a frozen piece of flesh of this creature, found many years ago on the ocean and preserved in one of the laboratories.

Researchers first found that the size of the giant squid genome is not that far behind the human genome. The giant squid had about 2.7 billion complementary pairs of DNA, which is about 90% of the human genome.

Although the size of the genome is not necessarily related to the creature’s complexity and intellectual development, more than a hundred giant squid genes have been linked to a family of specific protocadherin proteins that are responsible for complex brain structure.

The remains of a giant squid at the Smithsonian Museum.

According to Caroline Albertin, as a rule, these proteins are found in very little (or not at all) in invertebrates, and the presence of more than 100 protocadherins in the giant squid genome can be compared to the finding of a “smoking gun”, because this directly indicates that these creatures are very smart.

By the way, in the octopus genome in 2015, the same proteins were also found in approximately the same amount.

Other unusual finds include a unique set of genes responsible for the growth and development of giant squid, which were not in the genome of octopus, cuttlefish and nautilus. This probably explains why giant squids grow so huge.

The results of this curious study were published in the scientific journal GigaScience.

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Abnormal particles whose origin remains inexplicable

Photo: Icecube / NSF

An international team of scientists has detected abnormal particles whose origin remains inexplicable. The discovery, which can refute modern ideas about particle physics, is reported in a preprint published in the arXiv.org repository .

Researchers have discovered several neutrino candidates using ANITA atmospheric probes (Antarctic Impulsive Transient Antenna). Two of the three events, which are interpreted as tau neutrinos, turned out to be associated with the atmospheric shower of high-energy particles that arose during the interaction of the Earth’s atmosphere with tau leptons. The latter flew out of the core of the Earth, with which tau neutrinos interacted, which came from the other side of the planet.

The third possible neutrino was found during the search for the Askaryan effect – radiation that occurs when particles at light speeds pass through the Earth’s substance. However, scientists also did not exclude that this event is associated with background radiation.

Physicists tested the hypothesis that all recorded neutrinos were of cosmic origin and originated in natural accelerators (for example, blazars). In this case, a secondary stream of low-energy neutrinos should have arisen, to which IceCube detectors with certain characteristics are sensitive. The data collected by the under-ice neutrino observatory over seven years were analyzed, but no signs of such a flow were found.

High-energy neutrinos were first detected by IceCube detectors in 2013. It is believed that part of these particles is born from the interaction of cosmic rays and matter (or radiation fields) in the vicinity of natural cosmic accelerators. Another type of high-energy neutrino occurs when cosmic rays interact with the cosmic microwave background. These particles pass through the Earth from all directions in a uniform flow.

According to scientists, the origin of the recorded neutrino candidates cannot be explained within the Standard Model. In the case of a uniform flow, ANITA was supposed to record similar events from different viewing angles. No possible neutrino source was also found in the direction for the neutrino candidate resulting from the proposed Askarian effect. However, these anomalies can be explained by new physics, which suggests the presence of axionic and heavy dark matter, sterile neutrinos, and supersymmetries.

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Video: Researchers in the US created the first live robots

Researchers in the US have announced that they have created tiny living machines, a kind of biological robot that can be programmed to perform various tasks, from transporting medicines into the body to cleaning up toxic waste in the environment.

Artificial biological organisms (called xenobots) were created from living cells obtained from frog embryos, designed on a supercomputer, and then assembled into completely new millimeters of life. They can move on their own to a goal and self-heal after a cut.

The researchers, led by robotics professor Joshua Bogard of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Vermont, published this in the journal of the US National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). “These are innovative living machines. They are neither traditional robots nor any known species of animal. It is a new category of creation: a living programmable organization, “said Bongard.

“We can imagine various useful applications of these living robots, which other machines cannot do, such as dispatching in radioactive contaminated environments, collecting ocean-going microplastics, or cleaning the interior of arteries from the atherosclerotic plaque ,” Mike Levin said, director of the Center for Renaissance and Developmental Biology at Tufts University, according to the Athens News Agency.

Some artificial organisms have been created in recent years, but now, for the first time, according to researchers, “completely biological machines have been designed from scratch.” A special evolutionary artificial intelligence algorithm has helped to create and test thousands of candidate designs for new forms of life, until the best possible one is found. A supercomputer – led by the algorithm – has assembled again and again several hundred simulated cells, creating various test shapes and body shapes.

After the creation plan was finally selected, embryos from the embryos of the African frogs Xenopus laevis (hence the name xenobot) were used as raw material, which were microscopically assembled on the basis of the proposed computer design. Thus were created forms of life that do not exist in nature and are capable of moving on their own.

Just as some animals in nature can regenerate their cut parts, so too can the xenobot restore its integrity. “We cut the biological robot almost in the middle, but it reattached its two parts and kept moving. This is something that typical engines cannot do, “Bogard said.

“From a cellular and genetic point of view, xenobots are frogs. Their DNA is 100% derived from frogs, although they are not frogs. So one wonders what else these cells can make, “Levin said.

The groundbreaking research is funded through the Lifelong Learning Engines program by the now-existing US Pentagon’s Advanced Defense Research Programs Service (DARPA), which is apparently also monitoring military applications.

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