Can Allergies Reflect their Environment? (Abstract Science, Jan. 6 - 10)
Also: a new coronavirus could be behind Chinese outbreak, and AI motion capture for animals could have much wider impact
(Jef Akst, The Scientist, 1/8/20)
To make a long historical story short, there is a border between Finland and Russia where the Finnish side began to modernize in the mid 20th century, while the Russian side maintained traditional social and farming practices. Decades later, people on the Finnish side show higher prevalence of allergies than those on the Russian side, leading immunologists to research environmental factors like soil microbes and bacterial diversity. With corroborating research into rural children displaying fewer allergies than city children, evidence is mounting to suggest that microbial diversity plays a large role in human health.
(Catherine Zandonella, Princeton University, 1/8/20)
Researchers from Princeton University, including physicists and neuroscientists, have built an AI system to track and predict animal movements. In the video, researchers explain how the system can track multiple animals at once to record how they interact with their environment and each other. The system could be used to track how drugs or genetic mutations affect animal behavior.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) and Chinese scientists agree that a mysterious form of pneumonia that has infected 59 people in Wuhan could be caused by a new coronavirus. There are many variations of this virus, from the common cold to Sars. Seven Wuhan patients are critical, but it is not clear yet how the virus spreads.
—Stories compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Mary Parker