Discovered: Hops help prevent severe forms of pneumonia and bronchitis in children; video of an elusive Malaysia cat; what bat autopsies can teach us about AIDS; genetic mutations are common.
The best medicine for severe pneumonia in kids is found in ... beer? Alcohol companies can't directly market their products to children, but a Japanese brewery may have found a sly workaround for connecting their beer with the kids: science! Sapporo has cited a study that suggests large amounts of a chemical found in hops can help stave off a virus that causes sever forms of pneumonia and bronchitis in children. Sapporo Medical University researchers found that the hoppy chemical compound humone suppressed respiratory syncytial (RS), which can lead to serious breathing difficulties in infants and toddlers. "No vaccination is available at the moment to contain it," says researcher Jun Fuchimoto. But Fuchimoto doesn't suggest filling your baby's bottle up with beer—you'd have to chug 30 cans to get any effect. "We are now studying the feasibility of applying humulone to food or non-alcoholic products," he says. "The challenge really is that the bitter taste is going to be difficult for children." [New York Daily News]
Close-up footage of the Sunda clouded leopard. Until now, the Sunda clouded leopard of Malaysia had only been glimpsed on still camera. But biologist Dr. Jyrki Hokkanen managed to get up close and personal with the cat, on video, while on holiday recently. The species—the smallest of the "big cat" category—was only discovered five years ago, and the first footage emerged in 2010. Hokkanen is a scientific visualization specialist in Finland who vacationed in Borneo's Danum Valley this summer. "We saw an unusually big pair of eyes about ten metres ahead," says Dr. Hokkanen. "The eyes pointed at us and did not move and a round face was just about visible in the flashlight." Check out the clip of a female Sunda clouded leopard below. [BBC News]
Why AIDS researchers are looking at dead bats. When autopsying bats that suffered from white-nose fungus, U.S. Geological Survey researchers found that they didn't die directly from the disease. Rather, the animals met their end due to their own overworked immune systems. The only other disease scientists know that works like this is AIDS, and researchers hope that by understanding the bat afflictions, they may be able to develop AIDS treatments. "We want to support scientists thinking in novel ways," says Eleftherios Mylonakis, editor-in-chief of Virulence, the journal that published a study exploring the connections between the bat disease and human AIDS. "Very often what we see in our patients is already seen in some form or another in nature and we want to understand these connections in order to facilitate new discoveries." [The Washington Post]
We all have genetic mutations. The word mutation implies something freakish or unusual, but there's actual nothing more commonplace than genetic mutations. All of us have at least 400 faulty genes, according to Chris Tyler-Smith and his colleagues at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK. These types of mutations have been linked with risk of disease, and on average, the 179 patients studied by these researchers had at least two high-risk mutations. The takeaway isn't that we should all panic about our genetic shortcomings, says Tyler Smith: "We can lose a surprising number of genes without any noticeable effects on health." [New Scientist]