what's the buzz

what's the buzz

A possible remedy for dementia

Austrian scientists have discovered a natural remedy which could play an important role in the treatment of dementia in the future.

The scientists from the University of Graz, who worked in conjunction with researchers from the Free University of Berlin, said the substance "spermidine" stimulates the breakdown of "cellular scrap", Xinhua reported citing ORF, the Austrian public broadcaster.

 This should aid, for instance, with memory loss problems, a major issue for sufferers of dementia. According to Frank Madeo from the institute for molecular bioscience at the University of Graz, spermidine is found in all body cells, though its concentration decreases with age. The compound aids in the breakdown of defective proteins and other damaged cellular components.

As a part of their study, the researchers conducted tests on fruit flies, where it was established that the older flies who had been administered spermidine had much better memory abilities.

When confronted with certain stimuli, these older flies, who otherwise performed poorly, reacted with the same success as the younger flies.

Given that fruit flies and mice have memory processes similar to humans, the researchers hope the positive results can be adapted to the treatment of dementia in humans. A targeted patient studies is expected to be the next step.

Scientists decode wine grape genome

Scientists have sequenced the genome of high-value grapes in order to demystify the chemical processes that create a wine's aroma.

The invaluable potential application of understanding in wine-making is the new objective of scientists who sequenced the genome of the high-value Tannat grape, from which "the most healthy of red wines" are fermented.

Uruguayan chemistry professor Francisco Carrau and scientist Massimo Delledonne of Italy sequenced the Tannat grape, pressings of which, thanks partly to its many seeds, produces the largest concentration of tannins - an anti-oxidant that combats the ageing of cells.

Wines made from the Tannat are known as the most healthy of red wines due to their high levels of procyanidins, said to be good for reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and encouraging healthy blood clotting, researchers said.

"Discovering in more detail the health-promoting compound in the Tannat grape requires us to continue work on its genome. I suspect that in future, such information will help the variety become far better known around the world," said Carrau.

Astronomers capture 500 GHz image of planetary nebula

Astronomers have successfully synthesized the distribution of atomic carbon around a planetary nebula NGC 6302 in test observations with the ALMA Band 8 receiver.
This is the first 500 GHz band astronomical image captured by a radio interferometer with unprecedentedly high resolution.

NGC 6302 is a planetary nebula, which is in the final stage of the life of a star with a mass several times that of the Sun. Visible light image shows a bipolar shape of gas ejected from the dying star.

ALMA with the Band 8 receivers targeted at the center of the nebula and revealed that the distribution of carbon atoms is concentrated in a small part, which is similar to a dust and gas disk around the central star that has been found by previous observations with other telescopes. So far, observations in the 500 GHz band, including emission line from cosmic carbon atoms, have been made with single dish radio telescopes. The typical spatial resolution of those observations is 15 arcseconds or larger (1 arcsecond corresponds to 1/3600 of 1 degree).