April 2020

COVID lockdowns have human costs as well as benefits. It’s time to consider both


Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Australia has been lucky. We’ve had time to consider our response to COVID-19, based on what was happening in other countries, before it hit us.

We implemented restrictions that are likely to have saved many from dying of COVID-19. Fewer than 100 have died so far, a fraction of the number initially projected.

At this pivotal moment, we need to think carefully about how best to protect ourselves going forward.

We need to consider whether the costs of continued restrictions to prevent transmission of COVID-19—costs that can be quantified in terms of harmed

Schizophrenia related to abnormal fatty metabolism in the brain


Levels of the sphingolipid S1P were lower than normal in the corpus callosum (white matter) in the postmortem brains of people with schizophrenia. Credit: RIKEN

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Brian Science (CBS) in Japan have discovered a deficiency in the brains of people with schizophrenia that could lead to the development of new drug therapies. A postmortem comparison published in Schizophrenia Bulletin revealed that schizophrenia was associated with lower than normal levels of S1P, a type of fatty molecule found in the white matter of the brain. Preventing S1P degradation might therefore be a new direction for

Two-person-together MRI scans of couples reveal how the brain perceives touch


Two people together in an MRI Scanner along with the accompanying image of their brains. Credit: Ville Renvall/ Aalto University

Researchers at Aalto University and Turku PET Centre have developed a new method for simultaneous imaging brain activity from two people, allowing them to study social interaction.

In a recent study, the researchers scanned from 10 couples. Each couple spent 45 minutes inside the MRI scanner in physical contact with each other. The objective of the study was to examine how activates the . The results were published in the theme issue “Social Interaction

New understanding of asthma medicines could improve future treatment


Credit: CC0 Public Domain

New research has revealed new insights into common asthma aerosol treatments to aid the drug’s future improvements which could benefit hundreds of millions of global sufferers.

Lung diseases such as are a major global health burden, with an estimated 330 million asthma sufferers worldwide. The most effective treatments are through direct inhalation of medicine to the lungs. However, generating the aerosols for inhalation is a scientific challenge because of our limited knowledge of the microstructure of products before they are aerosolised.

In new research announced today University of Manchester-based scientists demonstrate how they

Beijing bans ‘uncivilised’ behaviour to improve public hygiene


Beijing has banned “uncivilised” behaviour such as not covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, the city government said Sunday, in a new set of regulations to improve public hygiene amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The laws aim to promote “civilised behaviour” and relate to combating the pandemic which has infected more than 82,000 in China alone.

Rulebreakers will be slapped with fines for offences including not wearing a mask in public when ill, the said on its website.

The laws also require to set up one metre distance markers and to provide communal

Two states ease lockdowns; US COVID-19 toll passes 50,000


Lonnie Sullivan covers his face with a mask while getting a haircut at The Barber Shop in Broken Arrow, Okla., on Friday, April 24, 2020. The shop was among several allowed to reopen in a loosening of coronavirus-related restrictions. (Matt Barnard/Tulsa World via AP)

Even as the confirmed U.S. death toll from coronavirus rose past 50,000, salons, spas and barbershops reopened Friday in Georgia and Oklahoma with a green light from their Republican governors, who eased lockdown orders despite health experts’ warnings.

Though limited in scope, and subject to social-distancing restrictions, the reopening marked a symbolic milestone in the