A new spray may help treat the deadly white-nose syndrome

Bats are being subjected to a deadly plague that may be threatening their existence. However, a new bacterial spray may help fight the fungus responsible.

  • Since 2006, white-nose syndrome has killed millions and millions of bats, threatening many species with extinction.
  • Bats may not be everybody's idea of a cute and cuddly animal, but losing them would be devastating to the ecosystem.
  • Fortunately, researchers are hard at work trying to uncover a means of dealing with this fungal disease. One such treatment is the use of the antifungal bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens.
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Surprising Science

Study: Social robots can benefit hospitalized children

A robotic teddy bear could improve physical and emotional outcomes in pediatric patients.

A new study demonstrates, for the first time, that "social robots" used in support sessions held in pediatric units at hospitals can lead to more positive emotions in sick children.

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Technology & Innovation

The looming superbug crisis: Politics, profit, and Big Pharma

Here's how we stop a health crisis before it wreaks havoc on us.

  • Alexander Fleming discovered a fungus that produced a chemical that could stop nearly every bacteria in its path.
  • The 1950s are known as the Golden Era of Antibiotic Development. However, today, there is a looming superbug crisis because bacteria has mutated whilst we've focused on treating other diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.
  • Many companies in the pharmaceutical industry don't want to take on the expensive risk of finding another antibiotic drug. However, a potential superbug crisis may compel us to use tax-break and patent policies to incentivize them to do so.
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Videos

An organism found in dirt may lead to an anxiety vaccine, say scientists

Can dirt help us fight off stress? Groundbreaking new research shows how.

University of Colorado Boulder
  • New research identifies a bacterium that helps block anxiety.
  • Scientists say this can lead to drugs for first responders and soldiers, preventing PTSD and other mental issues.
  • The finding builds on the hygiene hypothesis, first proposed in 1989.
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Surprising Science

What makes prions the 'zombie protein'?

How can a misfolded protein be behind some of the strangest and deadliest diseases out there?

Flickr user NIAID
  • Prions don't sound so bad at first blush: they're simply proteins that have the wrong shape.
  • They may sound innocuous, but "catching" prions is always fatal, and there is no cure.
  • Curiously, the most famous case of a prion disease outbreak happened in a cannibalistic tribe in Papua New Guinea.
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Surprising Science