A supernova exploded near Earth about 2.5 million years ago, possibly causing an extinction event.
- Researchers from the University of Munich find evidence of a supernova near Earth.
- A star exploded close to our planet about 2.5 million years ago.
- The scientists deduced this by finding unusual concentrations of isotopes, created by a supernova.
This Manganese crust started to form about 20 million years ago. Growing layer by layer, it resulted in minerals precipitated out of seawater. The presence of elevated concentrations of 60 Fe and 56 Mn in layers from 2.5 million years ago hints at a nearby supernova explosion around that time.
Credit: Dominik Koll/ TUM
Researchers detect a large lake and several ponds deep under the ice of the Martian South Pole.
- Italian scientists release findings of a large underground lake and three ponds below the South Pole of Mars.
- The lake might contain water, with salt preventing them from freezing.
- The presence of water may indicate the existence of microbial and other life forms on the planet.
Mars colony: Humanity's greatest quest | Michio Kaku, Bill Nye, & more | Big Think<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa931ba0f8c1152a7c32c5e09c55d138"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KfKr5Jll88o?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
An active component of honeybee venom rapidly killed two particularly aggressive forms of breast cancer in a laboratory study.
- New laboratory studies by a team of scientists found that the active component of honeybee venom induced death in two forms of malignant breast cancer cells that are notoriously difficult to treat.
- The magic healing molecule in the honeybees' venom appears to be melittin, which rapidly killed cancer cells in under an hour.
- In the future, doctors could potentially use melittin alongside chemotherapy drugs to increase the efficacy of the treatment.
The magic molecule<p>Previously, honeybee venom has shown potential in treating other medical conditions such as <a href="https://www.sciencealert.com/mellitin-bee-venom-eczema-inflammation-treatment" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eczema</a> and tumors, and it has been known to <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0041010108003796?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">have anticancer properties</a>. How the venom works against tumors on a molecular level hasn't been understood, but science just got a lot closer. </p><p>It seems that the magic healing ingredient in the honeybees' venom is melittin — the zingy molecule responsible for producing the painful sting of a bee. Scientists at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in Perth, Australia and the University of Western Australia found that the melittin induced cancer cell death. </p><p>Their lab study, reported in the journal <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41698-020-00129-0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">NPJ Precision Oncology</a>, is the first to have looked into the effect the ingredient has on a range of breast cancers, the most common cancer in women worldwide. The two most aggressive and hard-to-treat types are known as triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) and HER2-enriched breast cancer, which tend to mutate to resist existing treatments. The researchers found that melittin rapidly kills these cancer types and, critically, does so with no negative effects on normal cells. </p><p>"The venom was extremely potent," <a href="https://www.perkins.org.au/honeybee-venom-kills-breast-cancer-cells/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">said</a> research leader Ciara Duffy from The Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research in a news release. "We found that melittin can completely destroy cancer cell membranes within 60 minutes."</p><p>The lab study also found that bumblebee venom (which does not contain melittin) did not kill those particular breast cancer cells.</p>
How it works<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="df37e6f56c59da163c4ed2df27444ee7"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/K3oMN1a_pdg?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Melittin disarms cancer cells by puncturing holes in their outer membrane. Another stunning effect: within just 20 minutes of exposure to melittin, the chemical messages cancer cells need to grow and divide are disrupted.</p><p>"We looked at how honeybee venom and melittin affect the cancer signaling pathways, the chemical messages that are fundamental for cancer cell growth and reproduction, and we found that very quickly these signaling pathways were shut down," <a href="https://www.perkins.org.au/honeybee-venom-kills-breast-cancer-cells/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">said Duffy</a>.</p><p>The molecule is able to do this by stopping the activation of receptors that signal growth factors in the cells' membranes. The large number of these receptors in HER2-enriched cancer cells and some TNBC cells is one reason for their uncontrollable growth. Melittin seems to halt the cell's proliferation by blocking those growth signals from getting through. </p><p>"Significantly, this study demonstrates how melittin interferes with signalling pathways within breast cancer cells to reduce cell replication," said Western Australia's Chief Scientist Professor Peter Klinken. "It provides another wonderful example of where compounds in nature can be used to treat human diseases."</p>
Enhancing current cancer treatments<p>The team also tested to see if melittin could be used with existing chemotherapy drugs, as the pores in the membranes that it creates may allow other treatments to faster penetrate and kill cancer cells. </p><p>They tested the idea on a lab mouse with triple-negative breast cancer. They injected it with a combination of melittin and docetaxel — a drug used to treat a number of cancers including breast cancer. The mixture proved to be more effective at shrinking the tumors than either melittin or docetaxel alone. </p><p>In the future, doctors could potentially use melittin alongside chemotherapy drugs to enhance the efficacy of the treatment. This may allow them to reduce the dosage of chemotherapy drugs, and the adverse side effects that come with it. </p><p>The authors in the study point out that honeybee venom is inexpensive and easy to obtain, thus making it a fantastic option for cancer treatment in regions and countries with poorly resourced health services and care.</p><p>"Honeybee venom is available globally and offers cost effective and easily accessible treatment options in remote or less developed regions," <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41698-020-00129-0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the authors write.</a> "Further research will be required to assess whether the venom of some genotypes of bees has more potent or specific anticancer activities, which could then be exploited."</p><p>Though exciting, this research is still in early, lab testing stages. The researchers will still need to perform clinical trials to assess the safety and efficacy of melittin for treating breast cancer in humans.</p>
A new study finds the rocks that first formed Earth carried with them enough hydrogen for three times the water we have today.
- Enstatite chondrite meteorites are rare today, but they may have been Earth's basic building blocks.
- A study finds these meteorites contain a surprising amount of hydrogen, nitrogen, and water.
- The implication of the study is that Earth had all of its water from the beginning.
Analyzing E chondrites<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzYwNDUwOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNzc0NTg1M30.uL0ziiPPOTZud7L_5IXJt2hEKhiX42qcgKoyb9ADOiE/img.jpg?width=980" id="4d974" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3692b2cf3dcba948cedc8c8d42c7a244" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="enstatite chondrite" />
Credit: User Captmondo/Wikimedia<p>Lead author <a href="http://recherche.crpg.cnrs-nancy.fr/spip.php?rubrique437&lang=fr" target="_blank">Laurette Piani</a> of CPRG <a href="https://source.wustl.edu/2020/08/meteorite-study-suggests-earth-may-have-always-been-wet/" target="_blank">says</a>, "Only a few pristine enstatite chondrites exist: ones that were not altered on their asteroid nor on Earth." In acquiring samples for study, the researchers went out of their way <em>not</em> to select meteorites holding water: "In our study we have carefully selected the enstatite chondrite meteorites and applied a special analytical procedure to avoid being biased by the input of terrestrial water."</p><p>As to why this team of scientists were the first to identify high concentrations of hydrogen in E chondrites, Piani suggests it's due to previous researchers' bias, saying, "it was commonly assumed that these chondrites formed close to the sun. Enstatite chondrites were thus commonly considered 'dry,' and this frequently reasserted assumption has probably prevented any exhaustive analyses to be done for hydrogen." </p><p>Using conventional <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_spectrometry" target="_blank">mass spectrometry</a> and secondary ion mass spectrometry, the scientists did also find water in the meteorites. Recalls Vacher, "The most interesting part of the discovery for me is that enstatite chondrites, which were believed to be almost 'dry,' contain an unexpectedly high abundance of water." In addition to water, the team found substantial amounts of nitrogen they theorize could have aided in the formation of the Earth's atmosphere, nitrogen being its most abundant element.</p>
Earth's first sip<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzYwNDUyMy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NzM4OTQzMn0.-bEMCDbsCNLfE6A-weKvSN4e8nLeb9wmyNTwXD26XZo/img.jpg?width=980" id="b95b9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a70443a22a624a53b43a6b335c054240" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="ocean" />
Credit: gunsan gimbanjang/Shutterstock<p>The researchers were also able to add fresh evidence supporting the theory that E chondrites were Earth's basic building blocks: The meteorites' hydrogen and nitrogen isotopes turned out to be the same as the planet's.</p><p>"Our discovery shows," says Piani, "that the Earth's building blocks might have significantly contributed to the Earth's water. Hydrogen-bearing material was present in the inner solar system at the time of the rocky planet formation, even though the temperatures were too high [at the time] for water to condense." </p><p>Where did our water come from? It was always right here.</p>
Just what every arachnophobe needed to hear.
- A new study suggests some spiders might lace their webs with neurotoxins similar to the ones in their venom.
- The toxins were shown to be effective at paralyzing insects injected with them.
- Previous studies showed that other spiders lace their webs with chemicals that repel large insects.