Micro Files


Experimental cancer drug reverses schizophrenia in mice

John Hopkins University researchers stated that an experimental anticancer compound appears to have reversed behaviours associated with schizophrenia while also restoring some of the lost brain cell function in mice. The drug features compounds known as PAK inhibitors, which have been shown in animal experiments to provide some protection for brain damage in humans marked by human retardation. There is also evidence that suggests that PAK inhibitors could be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. The research, reported on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the compound called FRAX486 appears to halt the pruning process in the schizophrenic brain during which important neural connections are destroyed. The mice in the study showed improvements in their reactions after being treated with the PAK inhibitor. 

New research questions the real amount of water found on the moon’s surface

A team led by Jeremy Boyce, a researcher at the UCLA Department of Earth, has questioned the total amount of water on the moon, as scientists studying the mineral apatite of the moon may have overestimated it. For decades, scientists have believed that the amount of water found on the moon was practically null, however research conducted in 2010, discovered hydrogen-rich apatite within lunar rocks. Scientists originally assumed that information obtained from a small sample of apatite could predict the original water content of a large body of magma, or even that of the entire moon, but Boyce’s study indicates that apatite may, in fact, be deceptive. Boyce and his colleagues created a computer model to accurately predict how apatite would have crystallized from cooling bodies of lunar magma early in the moon’s history. Their simulations revealed that the unusually hydrogen-rich apatite crystals observed in many lunar rock samples may not have formed within a water-rich environment, as was originally expected.” The mineral apatite is the most widely used method for estimating the amount of water in lunar rocks, but it cannot be trusted,” stated Boyce, to the Science journal.

Methane-producing microbes caused Earth’s biggest mass extinction

Was an asteroid the cause of one of Earth’s biggest extinctions? Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology led by geophysics professor, Daniel Rothman, have found new evidence that points to the real killers, and they are smaller than you think. Fossil remains show that around 252 million years ago, roughly 90 per cent of all of Earth’s species were suddenly wiped out. This extinction is considered the largest of five known mass extinctions that have happened on Earth. For decades the scientific community credited this mass extinction to asteroids, volcanoes, and rising temperatures, but research states that the biggest factor behind the extinction was methane-producing microbes called methanosarcina. Methanosarcina first bloomed in the oceans releasing high amounts of methane into the atmosphere and dramatically changing the climate and the chemistry of the oceans leading to a massive wipe-out of almost every living organism. 



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