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Aggiornato: 13 settimane 1 giorno fa

Spatiotemporal characterization of the field-induced insulator-to-metal transition

Gio, 19/08/2021 - 18:44

Many correlated systems feature an insulator-to-metal transition that can be triggered by an electric field. Although it is known that metallization takes place through filament formation, the details of how this process initiates and evolves remain elusive. We use in-operando optical reflectivity to capture the growth dynamics of the metallic phase with space and time resolution. We demonstrate that filament formation is triggered by nucleation at hotspots, with a subsequent expansion over several decades in time. By comparing three case studies (VO2, V3O5, and V2O3), we identify the resistivity change across the transition as the crucial parameter governing this process. Our results provide a spatiotemporal characterization of volatile resistive switching in Mott insulators, which is important for emerging technologies, such as optoelectronics and neuromorphic computing.

Hierarchical crack buffering triples ductility in eutectic herringbone high-entropy alloys

Gio, 19/08/2021 - 18:44

In human-made malleable materials, microdamage such as cracking usually limits material lifetime. Some biological composites, such as bone, have hierarchical microstructures that tolerate cracks but cannot withstand high elongation. We demonstrate a directionally solidified eutectic high-entropy alloy (EHEA) that successfully reconciles crack tolerance and high elongation. The solidified alloy has a hierarchically organized herringbone structure that enables bionic-inspired hierarchical crack buffering. This effect guides stable, persistent crystallographic nucleation and growth of multiple microcracks in abundant poor-deformability microstructures. Hierarchical buffering by adjacent dynamic strain–hardened features helps the cracks to avoid catastrophic growth and percolation. Our self-buffering herringbone material yields an ultrahigh uniform tensile elongation (~50%), three times that of conventional nonbuffering EHEAs, without sacrificing strength.

Rare variant MX1 alleles increase human susceptibility to zoonotic H7N9 influenza virus

Gio, 19/08/2021 - 18:44

Zoonotic avian influenza A virus (IAV) infections are rare. Sustained transmission of these IAVs between humans has not been observed, suggesting a role for host genes. We used whole-genome sequencing to compare avian IAV H7N9 patients with healthy controls and observed a strong association between H7N9 infection and rare, heterozygous single-nucleotide variants in the MX1 gene. MX1 codes for myxovirus resistance protein A (MxA), an interferon-induced antiviral guanosine triphosphatase known to control IAV infections in transgenic mice. Most of the MxA variants identified lost the ability to inhibit avian IAVs, including H7N9, in transfected human cell lines. Nearly all of the inactive MxA variants exerted a dominant-negative effect on the antiviral function of wild-type MxA, suggesting an MxA null phenotype in heterozygous carriers. Our study provides genetic evidence for a crucial role of the MX1-based antiviral defense in controlling zoonotic IAV infections in humans.

Babbling in a vocal learning bat resembles human infant babbling

Gio, 19/08/2021 - 18:44

Babbling is a production milestone in infant speech development. Evidence for babbling in nonhuman mammals is scarce, which has prevented cross-species comparisons. In this study, we investigated the conspicuous babbling behavior of Saccopteryx bilineata, a bat capable of vocal production learning. We analyzed the babbling of 20 bat pups in the field during their 3-month ontogeny and compared its features to those that characterize babbling in human infants. Our findings demonstrate that babbling in bat pups is characterized by the same eight features as babbling in human infants, including the conspicuous features reduplication and rhythmicity. These parallels in vocal ontogeny between two mammalian species offer future possibilities for comparison of cognitive and neuromolecular mechanisms and adaptive functions of babbling in bats and humans.

Malaria infection and severe disease risks in Africa

Gio, 19/08/2021 - 18:44

The relationship between community prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum and the burden of severe, life-threatening disease remains poorly defined. To examine the three most common severe malaria phenotypes from catchment populations across East Africa, we assembled a dataset of 6506 hospital admissions for malaria in children aged 3 months to 9 years from 2006 to 2020. Admissions were paired with data from community parasite infection surveys. A Bayesian procedure was used to calibrate uncertainties in exposure (parasite prevalence) and outcomes (severe malaria phenotypes). Each 25% increase in prevalence conferred a doubling of severe malaria admission rates. Severe malaria remains a burden predominantly among young children (3 to 59 months) across a wide range of community prevalence typical of East Africa. This study offers a quantitative framework for linking malaria parasite prevalence and severe disease outcomes in children.

Masitinib is a broad coronavirus 3CL inhibitor that blocks replication of SARS-CoV-2

Gio, 19/08/2021 - 18:44

There is an urgent need for antiviral agents that treat severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. We screened a library of 1900 clinically safe drugs against OC43, a human beta coronavirus that causes the common cold, and evaluated the top hits against SARS-CoV-2. Twenty drugs significantly inhibited replication of both viruses in cultured human cells. Eight of these drugs inhibited the activity of the SARS-CoV-2 main protease, 3CLpro, with the most potent being masitinib, an orally bioavailable tyrosine kinase inhibitor. X-ray crystallography and biochemistry show that masitinib acts as a competitive inhibitor of 3CLpro. Mice infected with SARS-CoV-2 and then treated with masitinib showed >200-fold reduction in viral titers in the lungs and nose, as well as reduced lung inflammation. Masitinib was also effective in vitro against all tested variants of concern (B.1.1.7, B.1.351, and P.1).

Clarion call from climate panel

Gio, 12/08/2021 - 18:43

News at a glance

Gio, 12/08/2021 - 18:43

Failure to protect?

Gio, 12/08/2021 - 18:43

How massive is that black hole?

Gio, 12/08/2021 - 18:43

When did terrestrial plants arise?

Gio, 12/08/2021 - 18:43

Taking the long view on metabolism

Gio, 12/08/2021 - 18:43

Plant-made vaccines and therapeutics

Gio, 12/08/2021 - 18:43