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News at a Glance: New Gene Therapy, Europe’s Drought, and a Black Hole’s Photon Ring | Sciences

ARCHEOLOGY

Drought exposes ‘Spanish Stonehenge’ for study

Scientists are racing to examine a 7,000-year-old stone circle in central Spain that had been submerged by a reservoir for decades and was discovered after drought in Europe lowered water levels. Nicknamed the “Spanish Stonehenge,” though 2,000 years older than the UK’s stone circle, the Guadalperal Dolmen (above) was described by archaeologists in the 1920s. The approximately 100 standing stones, up to 1.8 meters high and arranged around an oval open space, they were submerged in the ValdecaƱas reservoir after the construction of a dam on the Tagus River in 1963. The water has receded several times since then, the last one in 2019, when archaeologists worked to create a digital record of the site. This time they hope to better understand the carvings on the stones, which include a human figure and a wavy line, and to document any further damage to the monument’s porous granite. The drought has uncovered other historic sites across Europe, including a Roman fort in Spain, World War II-era German warships on the Danube River, and “hunger stones,” with dates etched by people suffering famines caused by past droughts, in the Danube, Elbe and other rivers.

LEADERSHIP

Fauci sets a date to resign

Anthony Fauci, the physician and immunologist who has led the $6.3 billion National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) for 38 years and has been a fervent voice and besieged by scientific evidence during the COVID-19 pandemic, she will leave government service in Dec. Fauci, 81, is also resigning as head of an NIAID immunology laboratory and as chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden. In a statement he said that intends to continue advising future scientific leaders. hey said washington post that his plans also include writing a book and teaching. The tireless and forceful Brooklyn native has served under seven presidents and led NIAID from the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 1980s to the anthrax attacks of 2001, the swine flu pandemic of 2009 and outbreaks of West Nile, Ebola, and Zika viruses. . As a member of former President Donald Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force, Fauci became an icon in the United States and around the world, working to counter Trump’s public misstatements about the pandemic. Fauci has also clashed with Republican lawmakers like Sen. Rand Paul (KY) over pandemic public health measures and his unsubstantiated claims that the SARS-CoV-2 virus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China, that had received government funding. NIAID.

In our big time, our performance reliably fell short of expectations.

  • US CDC Director Rochelle Walensky
  • saying he plans to reorganize the agency due to shortcomings during the pandemic. He promised more responsibility and punctuality.
BIOMEDICINE

Gene therapy for a blood disease

The US Food and Drug Administration last week approved a gene treatment for the blood disorder beta-thalassemia, marking the third US gene therapy for a rare disease. The disorder causes low hemoglobin levels and severe anemia, and the regular blood transfusions used to treat it can cause a buildup of iron that damages organs. The new treatment, Zynteglo, from manufacturer bluebird bio, relies on a virus to deliver a hemoglobin gene into a patient’s cultured bone marrow cells; The cells are then infused back into the body. In clinical trials, 89% of treated patients no longer required transfusions. Zynteglo gained European approval in 2019 but was withdrawn from the market after countries balked at the high price; in the United States it will cost $2.8 million for a single treatment, making it one of the most expensive drugs in history. Bluebird is testing a different product that uses the same method for sickle cell anemia, which is more common in the United States than thalassemia.

BY THE NUMBERS

6.5%

Some 200 men who have sex with men tested positive for monkeypox and had no symptoms of the disease. It is unclear whether these men, who participated in a screening program in France, could transmit monkeypox. But the study authors say that vaccination campaigns should not be limited to people who have had contact with symptomatic cases. (Annals of Internal Medicine)

GENETICS

How rabbits invaded Australia

Most of Australia’s rabbits, which have become a scourge on native crops and plants, descended from a single introduction by a farmer in 1859, a genetic study has found. Rabbits were repeatedly brought to Australia, including aboard the first fleet of British ships to reach Sydney, in 1788. But the fateful introduction came in 1859, when wealthy colonist Thomas Austin’s relatives in England sent him rabbits I used to set. a colony on his property outside Melbourne. These animals may have had an advantage in colonizing the continent: the DNA of their contemporary progeny includes a large number of wild ancestors, which may have given the Austin offspring an adaptive advantage in Australia, says the study in the issue of this week’s magazine. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The findings may aid efforts to find new ways to control the country’s rabbit populations and perhaps eradicate them.

CONSERVATION

A cheaper way to save forests

To get the most for your money, forest conservationists should focus on areas where relatively small investments could protect many species, rather than push to preserve a specific percentage of the landscape, a study argues. The analysis, published by economists in the August 17 edition of Nature, comes as many advocates are urging nations to adopt a new goal of protecting 30% of their land by 2030. That “30×30” goal risks wasting limited resources, the authors say. Instead, they offer a 50-year plan, based on a study of 458 forested regions, that requires first saving relatively species-rich forests where conservation costs are low. They found that limiting deforestation in the first year of the plan in just 18 regions, including Turkey’s Anatolian Peninsula and Melanesia, for example, would produce the greatest benefit. His plan would protect a total of 46 regions within a decade. It gives a lower priority to saving forests where the costs would be high, such as near cities in Brazil.

ASTRONOMY

They reveal the ‘photon ring’ of the black hole

images of a black hole and its ring of photons
EVENT HORIZON TELESCOPE COLLABORATION; AE BRODERICK AND TO., APJ 935 61 (2022)

Like art restorers discovering an image hidden beneath an old master, astrophysicists have used reprocessed data to create the first image of a black hole and he sifted only the light from his “photon ring”. The sharp, bright circle (top right) shows the photons in a tight orbit near the edge of the event horizon, the point at which not even light can escape the black hole’s gravity. To reveal the ring, the researchers reanalyzed the now-iconic image of the supermassive black hole in nearby galaxy M87, released in 2019 by the Event Horizon Telescope. That image (top left) shows a fiery, fuzzy band of light that combines photons escaping from the ring and emissions from matter swirling around the black hole. The new algorithms were able to detect only the photons that came from the ring. The researchers reported last week in The Astrophysical Journal that the ring’s size, structure, and invariant nature closely match theoretical predictions, confirming the ability of strong gravity to bend light into a tight curve.

PUBLICATION

Mom is the word on faulty papers

A third of the 330 top-ranked scientific journals do not post outsider reviews of articles after they have appeared, even though most of these journals belong to a publishing organization, the Publishing Ethics Committee, which encourages members to publish reviews, found one study. Among the majority who post critical letters, comments, or comments online, many impose deadlines and limit duration. Together, these choices by both types of journals pose barriers to correcting flawed articles, the study authors write this week in Royal OpenScience Society. Across the 207 journals that accepted comments, only about 2% of 2,066 randomly selected articles mentioned the existence of a relevant post-publication review, the team found. Their study looked at the 15 journals with the highest journal impact factors in each of 22 scientific disciplines. All 15 clinical medicine journals published reviews; only two math journals did.

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