top ten research highlights

The following highlights are the top ten most viewed research highlights on the English website of during the past month.


Artificial intelligence: A new Grandmaster for StarCraft II

Nature, October 31, 2019

An artificial intelligence program called AlphaStar now ranks among the top 0.2% of human players for the real-time strategy game StarCraft II. Reported in this week’s Nature, the algorithm represents a major achievement for machine learning that could be adapted to help solve complex problems for other applications.

StarCraft II is a science fiction strategy game that is played pro...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1724-z

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Health sciences: Mapping inequality in child deaths

Nature, October 17, 2019

A detailed global map of death rates in children under five years of age from low- and middle-income countries, reported in Nature, estimates that 123 million children died between 2000 and 2017. The study explores how a child’s risk of dying before the age of five varies depending on where they are born. Examining the causes of these inequalities could help to inform policies and public heal...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1545-0

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A nutritional memory effect counteracts the benefits of dietary restriction in old mice

Nature Metabolism, October 22, 2019

Switching to a dietary-restricted (DR) diet later in life does not make mice live longer, a study published in Nature Metabolism reports. The findings suggest that the late adoption of a healthful diet cannot undo the damage caused by a previously unrestricted diet. Whether these findings translate to humans remains to be seen.

Lifelong dietary restriction (20 - 40% reduction of norma...

doi: 10.1038/s42255-019-0121-0

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Palaeontology: 480-million-year-old arthropods formed orderly queues

Scientific Reports, October 18, 2019

Fossils of ancient arthropods discovered in linear formation may indicate a collective behaviour either in response to environmental cues or as part of seasonal reproductive migration. The findings, which are being published in Scientific Reports this week, suggest that group behaviours comparable to those of modern animals existed as early as 480 million years ago.

Collective and soc...

doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-51012-3

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Genetics: REST protein linked to long life

Nature, October 17, 2019

Overall levels of neural activity in the brain, mediated by a protein called REST, may influence lifespan, suggests a Nature study. The finding, based on various studies in model organisms and humans, could assist researchers seeking new approaches to slow ageing in humans.

Previous studies have suggested that the nervous system has a role in the regulation of ageing, but the mechanis...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1647-8

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Cancer: A treatment for KRAS-mutant cancer

Nature, October 31, 2019

A new anti-cancer drug that targets a common and specific genetic abnormality has shown promise in a study of mouse and human tumours. The research, which includes the first known report of KRAS inhibitor treatment in human clinical trials, is revealed in this week’s Nature.

Many human cancers are triggered by a mutation in the KRAS oncogene. Around 13% of lung adenocarcinomas, ...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1694-1

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Health: High salt intake linked to cognitive decline in mice

Nature, October 24, 2019

A causal link between salt intake and cognitive function in mice is identified in a study published online in Nature this week. The study uncovers how feeding mice an extremely high-salt diet can lead to the accumulation of modified tau — a protein associated with conditions that cause dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Further research is needed to explore whether the results may b...

doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1688-z

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Evolution: The yeast makes the beer

Nature Ecology & Evolution, October 22, 2019

Hybridization between different types of yeast promoted adaptation to the brewing environment and the emergence of different beer styles, reports a pair of papers published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

For thousands of years, humans have been using Saccharomyces yeasts to produce a variety of fermented products such as beer and wine. During domestication, humans created many yeast ...

doi: 10.1038/s41559-019-0997-9

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Environment: Impacts of switching to organic farming on emissions assessed

Nature Communications, October 23, 2019

An assessment of changes to greenhouse gas emissions if England and Wales shifted completely to organic food production is presented in Nature Communications. The study suggests that emissions would be reduced as a result of organic farming, but when increased land use abroad is factored in to compensate for decreased domestic production, net emissions would rise.

Guy Kirk and colleag...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12622-7

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Infectious disease: Ebola risk could increase under climate change

Nature Communications, October 16, 2019

Outbreaks of Ebola are predicted to increase under a range of potential global change scenarios, finds a modelling study published in Nature Communications this week.

Zoonotic diseases - those which arise in animals and are passed to humans - are influenced by numerous factors including: the distribution and health of the reservoir animal hosts, contact rates between humans and thos...

doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12499-6

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