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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

Science



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Tufts researchers create membrane that filters fluoride out of water

Throughout her career, Ayse Asatekin, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering at Tufts University, has sought to use filters to prevent illness and protect the environment. One mineral that performs this function is fluoride, which results in dental and skeletal fluorosis. Fluorosis is a degradation of bones or teeth that happens when fluoride is consumed in excess quantities at a young age. Now, Asatekin has finally found a solution to filtering fluoride out of water.


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This Week in Science: Omicron may spread like common cold, J&J could boost Pfizer vaccine, Hawaii blizzard

The omicron variant, the newest COVID-19 strain, may be more contagious but cause milder symptoms than other coronavirus variants, a new study suggests. Venky Soundararajan, a bioengineer who co-wrote the study, explained to the Washington Post that as viruses evolve to become more widespread, symptoms generally become less severe. Still, researchers caution that more information is needed about the novel variant.


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What’s different about COVID-19 transmission rates on college campuses? Experts weigh in.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact communities around the United States and the world, certain trends have emerged surrounding infection rates and their link with prevention measures including surveillance testing, masking and vaccine mandates. Experts agree that, especially on college campuses, these measures are essential in curbing the spread of COVID-19. 


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This Week in Science: Omicron variant, brain swelling linked to Alzheimer's medication, lyme disease vaccine, CDC recommendation for universal boosters

A new COVID-19 variant labeled omicron has recently emerged in several countries, including South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong, and contains dozens of mutations from the original alpha variant,leading many scientists to discuss its implications for COVID-19’s future. Although the moment when omicron first started to infect people is not exactly known, infectious disease researcher Kristian Andersen hypothesizes that the variant could have emerged in September or October, indicating that it was initially slow to spread. However, this does not mean that it is less contagious than previous variants; in fact, researchers predict that the mutations associated with omicron may likely increase the virus’s resistance to the vaccine and its rate of infection, according to evolutionary biologist Jesse Bloom. Because of this,researchers are suggesting that people receive a booster shot to strengthen their protection against omicron.



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3D-printing class pushes students to frontier of modern medicine

Among the 3D printers throughout the room, Vincent Fitzpatrick, a postdoctoral biomedical researcher at Tufts University, holds up a gray unassuming piece of plastic, crisscrossed with a cage-like structure. Hidden beneath a series of support structures that have yet to be removed, he explains, lies a perfect replica of a patient’s bone — assembled from data isolated from a CT scan so that it would have a Cinderella-like fit if surgically implanted.



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This Week in Science: NASA's armageddon mission, boosters for all adults, high-kicking frogs, the best way to hug, COVID-19 origin

NASA plans to launch a spacecraft this week that, in late 2022, will intentionally crash into an asteroid, hopefully changing its trajectory. Planetary defense research has been conducted over the past several years in hopes of preventing foreseeable meteor crashes. Although scientists believe massive meteorites do not pose a significant Armageddon-level threat in the next few centuries, smaller astrological debris can be just as deadly, with the potential to decimate entire cities like Manhattan.  


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This Week in Science: Orangutan paintings, engineered bacteria kills tumors, biodegradable glitter

A recent study analyzed drawings done by five orangutans in a Japanese zoo and found that the drawings — especially those of one orangutan, Molly —correlate with environmental factors like seasons, daily life events and even changes in keeper identity. In total, 790 orangutan drawings were studied, 656 of which were chosen randomly from those done by Molly.Researchers found differences in color preferences that related to the current season; the orangutans tended to use purple in the spring and green in the summer and winter. In addition, Molly used more red in her drawings when another orangutan in a separate location was giving birth. The content and patterns of the drawings also changed in relation to more mundane, daily events in Molly’s life. These included new art supplies on one day, when an elementary school class visited on another and the change of her keeper once over the course of the experiment.


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This Week in Science: HPV vaccine effective, new Delta strain emerges, UK approves COVID pill

The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine has the potential to reduce cases of cervical cancer by 87% and prevent certain cervical abnormalities by 97%, according to a British study recently published in The Lancet. Researchers examined women a decade after their HPV vaccinations and found that there was a reduction in pre-cancerous growths as well as cervical cancer. In 2006, the FDA approved the HPV vaccine, Gardasil, and since then, two other HPV vaccines have been developed and over 100 countries have incorporated the HPV vaccine into their regular inoculation schedules.


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Science

These fluorescent polka dots may one day be used to store your data

An estimated 14 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity were used in 2020 to store data, which is the same amount of annual energy used by 1.27 million U.S. homes. To help reduce the amount of energy that data storage uses, a new technique that uses glowing fluorescent molecules has been developed by researchers from Harvard University and Northwestern University.


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Bite-Size Science: 23andMe for horses? Genetics provide clues on equine ancestry

An analysis of ancient animal DNA samples has helped identify the genetic homeland of modern horses from around 4,200 years ago. A team of archaeologists spent the last five years collecting thousands of horse samples — from bones to teeth — in locations where the animals could have originated. Researchers utilized radiocarbon dating to figure out the age of different samples and tracked several horse populations before, during and after domestication. By comparing these different populations, the team concluded in a recent report published in Nature thatmodern domestic horses originated from the steppes — which are grasslands located in present-day Russia — before spreading across Eurasia and replacing all preexisting horse lineages.


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This Week in Science: Children allowed COVID-19 vaccine, singing lemurs, pig kidneys, flamingo makeup

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panelvoted on Tuesday to recommend the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 years old. The FDA is not bound by the panel’s decision, but it is expected to act accordingly and grant emergency-use authorization for the vaccine within a few days. If approved, vaccination eligibility will expand to some28 million children in that age bracket.


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This Week in Science: Moderna boosters approved, koala chlamydia vaccine trial starts, NASA launches spaceship, leading primate center to be shut down

An FDA advisory panelunanimously voted last week to approve the use of a booster shot for the Moderna vaccine and again voted unanimously yesterday to approve a booster for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Moderna’s booster only applies to certain groups of people, such as those over the age of 65, high-risk individuals between the ages of 18 and 64 or people whose jobs put them at risk of contracting COVID-19. The individuals in all three categories should wait at least six months after their second dose to receive their Moderna booster shot. Although the FDA panel unanimously decided to approve the booster for those categories, the panel did not make any decisions on whether to recommend booster shots for low-risk adults over 18. Some members believe it is too early to make the call; they argue that as more people become eligible for the booster, it will be crucial to determine if it is effective at providing better protection against COVID-19. Additionally, some scientists say that there is not enough evidence to suggest that vaccine efficacy is decreasing, which, if true, could make a booster shot pointless.


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This week in Science: FDA okays e-cig, first malaria vaccine approved, toilet bats discovered

The U.S. Food and Drug Administrationgranted market authorization to an electronic cigarette company for the first time on Tuesday, approving certain products for sale in the United States. The FDAapproved three products from R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company’s brand, Vuse, in an effort to diminish the impacts of traditional cigarettes, whose carcinogenic properties contribute to an estimated 400,000 U.S. deaths each year. The FDA concluded that the reduced morbidity and mortality among smokers outweigh the risks that approving Vuse products poses to youth. Notably, 10% of high school students who use e-cigarettes said Vuse is their usual brand.



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Highly processed foods make up 67% of youth diets, Friedman study finds

As smartphones, online shopping and cryptocurrency have become more prevalent in the past 20 years, so too have ultraprocessed foods, which make up the majority of youth diets. The percentage of child and adolescent diets composed of ultraprocessed foods — those made with refined ingredients and additives — hasincreased from 61% to 67% in the past 20 years, according to a recent Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The findings may have implications for combating the development of ultraprocessed food-related disease in adulthood.


The Setonian
Science

Events on the Hill — Week of Feb. 23

MONDAY"TUPIT Screening: 'True Justice'"Details: The Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College (TUPIT) will host a free screening of the documentary "True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight For Equality" (2019), which relates historical injustices of the U.S. prison ...


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Events on the Hill — Week of Feb. 16

TUESDAY"Student-Alumni Panel and Networking Night"Details: Engineering alumni will return to campus to network with students and discuss career paths as part of the School of Engineering's National Engineers Week programming. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. and appetizers will be served.Where ...


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