News items related to STEM fields.

How mollusks make pearls so perfect

Researchers have uncovered for the first time how mollusks build ultradurable structures with a level of symmetry that outstrips everything else in the natural world, with the exception of individual atoms. The research could inform future high-performance nanomaterials. “We humans, with all our access to technology, can’t make something with a nanoscale architecture as intricate…

Top driver of unintended pregnancy is belief it’s not possible

Among people who gave birth after an unintended pregnancy, a top explanation was the belief they couldn’t get pregnant and therefore didn’t need contraception, research finds. “Among women who weren’t using contraception when they got pregnant, the primary reason was because they didn’t think they could get pregnant,” explains Sarah Cowan, an assistant professor of…

Coronavirus may be no match for the cornea

The eye’s cornea can resist infection from the novel coronavirus, a new study suggests. Whether other eye tissue such as the tear ducts and the conjunctiva, are vulnerable, however, remains unknown, the researchers report. The herpes simplex virus can infect the cornea and spread to other parts of the body in patients with compromised immune…

‘Black beauty’ may blow up water’s origin story

Water may emerge in connection with the formation of planets, according to new research. Researchers agree that water is a precondition for life. The first cell emerged in water and then evolved to form multicellular organism. The oldest known single-cell organism on Earth is about 3.5 billion years old. But if life emerged in water,…

Shrimpy nanotech could carry drugs to tumors

A nanoparticle-based drug delivery system can ferry a potent anti-cancer drug through the bloodstream safely, researchers report. The nanoparticle is derived from chitin, a natural and organic polymer that, among other things, makes up the outer shells of shrimp. Drug delivery is a recurring conundrum in cancer treatment. Scientists have developed many anti-cancer therapeutics, but…

Stuff in ‘magic mushrooms’ could treat major depression

Two doses of the psychedelic substance psilocybin, given with supportive psychotherapy, produced rapid and large reductions in depressive symptoms in a small study of adults with major depression, researchers report. According to the study, most participants showed improvement and half of study participants achieved remission through the four-week follow-up. A compound found in so-called magic…

Hospital support staff face far higher COVID risk

Support staff and Black and Latinx hospital employees with and without patient care responsibilities have the highest risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection in health care settings, a new study shows. Researchers screened 3,904 employees and clinicians at a New Jersey hospital between late April and late June for the SARS-CoV-2 virus and for lgG-antibodies to the…

End-of-life care stats reveal racial gaps

Black Americans pursue more intensive treatments than white Americans in the last six months of life, researchers report. White people are also more likely to use hospice care, according to the new study. The intensive treatments Black patients are more likely to seek include mechanical ventilation, gastronomy tube insertion, hemodialysis, CPR, and multiple emergency room…

Mutations may have made SARS-CoV-2 more contagious

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is accumulating genetic mutations, one of which may have made it more contagious, according to a study of more than 5,000 patients in Houston, Texas. “The virus continues to mutate as it rips through the world.” That mutation, called D614G, is located in the spike protein that pries open…

COVID will likely shrink job market for college grads

The job market for new college graduates is expected to decline for the first time in more than a decade as firms adjust hiring patterns during the COVID-19 economic slowdown, a new study shows. Compared to 63,555 expected hires in the previous Collegiate Employment Research Institute annual Recruiting Trends survey from Michigan State University, more…