Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.


Knut the polar bear of the Berlin Zoological Garden drowned in 2011 following seizures and was diagnosed as having suffered encephalitis of unknown etiology after exhaustive pathogen screening. Using the diagnostic criteria applied to human patients, we demonstrate that Knut’s encephalitis is almost identical to anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis which is a severe autoimmune disease representing the most common non-infectious encephalitis in humans. High concentrations of antibodies specific against the NR1 subunit of the NMDA receptor were detected in Knut’s cerebrospinal fluid. Histological examination demonstrated very similar patterns of plasma cell infiltration and minimal neuronal loss in affected brain areas. We conclude that Knut suffered anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis making his the first reported non-human case of this treatable disease. The results suggest that anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis may be a disease of broad relevance to mammals that until now has remained undiagnosed.


Participant adoption and maintenance is a major challenge in strength training (ST) programs in the community-setting. In adults who were overweight or with type 2 diabetes (T2DM), the aim of this study was to compare the effectiveness of a standard ST program (SST) to an enhanced program (EST) on the adoption and maintenance of ST and cardio-metabolic risk factors and muscle strength.


O-linked glycosylation is one of the most abundant post-translational modifications of proteins. Within the secretory pathway of higher eukaryotes, the core of these glycans is frequently an N-acetylgalactosamine residue that is α-linked to serine or threonine residues. Glycoside hydrolases in family 101 are presently the only known enzymes to be able to hydrolyze this glycosidic linkage. Here we determine the high-resolution structures of the catalytic domain comprising a fragment of GH101 from Streptococcus pneumoniae TIGR4, SpGH101, in the absence of carbohydrate, and in complex with reaction products, inhibitor, and substrate analogues. Upon substrate binding, a tryptophan lid (residues 724-WNW-726) closes on the substrate. The closing of this lid fully engages the substrate in the active site with D764 positioned directly beneath C1 of the sugar residue bound within the -1 subsite, consistent with its proposed role as the catalytic nucleophile. In all of the bound forms of the enzyme, however, the proposed catalytic acid/base residue was found to be too distant from the glycosidic oxygen (>4.3 Å) to serve directly as a general catalytic acid/base residue and thereby facilitate cleavage of the glycosidic bond. These same complexes, however, revealed a structurally conserved water molecule positioned between the catalytic acid/base and the glycosidic oxygen. On the basis of these structural observations we propose a new variation of the retaining glycoside hydrolase mechanism wherein the intervening water molecule enables a Grotthuss proton shuttle between E796 and the glycosidic oxygen, permitting this residue to serve as the general acid/base catalytic residue.


Reproducibility is a defining feature of science, but the extent to which it characterizes current research is unknown. We conducted replications of 100 experimental and correlational studies published in three psychology journals using high-powered designs and original materials when available. Replication effects were half the magnitude of original effects, representing a substantial decline. Ninety-seven percent of original studies had statistically significant results. Thirty-six percent of replications had statistically significant results; 47% of original effect sizes were in the 95% confidence interval of the replication effect size; 39% of effects were subjectively rated to have replicated the original result; and if no bias in original results is assumed, combining original and replication results left 68% with statistically significant effects. Correlational tests suggest that replication success was better predicted by the strength of original evidence than by characteristics of the original and replication teams.


Observational studies have demonstrated an association between decreased vitamin D level and risk of multiple sclerosis (MS); however, it remains unclear whether this relationship is causal. We undertook a Mendelian randomization (MR) study to evaluate whether genetically lowered vitamin D level influences the risk of MS.


There are currently huge efforts by the World Health Organization and partners to complete global polio eradication. With the significant decline in poliomyelitis cases due to wild poliovirus in recent years, rare cases related to the use of live-attenuated oral polio vaccine assume greater importance. Poliovirus strains in the oral vaccine are known to quickly revert to neurovirulent phenotype following replication in humans after immunisation. These strains can transmit from person to person leading to poliomyelitis outbreaks and can replicate for long periods of time in immunodeficient individuals leading to paralysis or chronic infection, with currently no effective treatment to stop excretion from these patients. Here, we describe an individual who has been excreting type 2 vaccine-derived poliovirus for twenty eight years as estimated by the molecular clock established with VP1 capsid gene nucleotide sequences of serial isolates. This represents by far the longest period of excretion described from such a patient who is the only identified individual known to be excreting highly evolved vaccine-derived poliovirus at present. Using a range of in vivo and in vitro assays we show that the viruses are very virulent, antigenically drifted and excreted at high titre suggesting that such chronic excreters pose an obvious risk to the eradication programme. Our results in virus neutralization assays with human sera and immunisation-challenge experiments using transgenic mice expressing the human poliovirus receptor indicate that while maintaining high immunisation coverage will likely confer protection against paralytic disease caused by these viruses, significant changes in immunisation strategies might be required to effectively stop their occurrence and potential widespread transmission. Eventually, new stable live-attenuated polio vaccines with no risk of reversion might be required to respond to any poliovirus isolation in the post-eradication era.


Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) are the major pesticides used worldwide. Converging evidence suggests that GBH, such as Roundup, pose a particular health risk to liver and kidneys although low environmentally relevant doses have not been examined. To address this issue, a 2-year study in rats administering 0.1 ppb Roundup (50 ng/L glyphosate equivalent) via drinking water (giving a daily intake of 4 ng/kg bw/day of glyphosate) was conducted. A marked increased incidence of anatomorphological and blood/urine biochemical changes was indicative of liver and kidney structure and functional pathology. In order to confirm these findings we have conducted a transcriptome microarray analysis of the liver and kidneys from these same animals.


Introduction. Researchers' productivity is usually measured in terms of their publication output. A minimum number of publications is required for some medical qualifications and professional appointments. However, authoring an unfeasibly large number of publications might indicate disregard of authorship criteria or even fraud. We therefore examined publication patterns of highly prolific authors in 4 medical specialties. Methods. We analysed Medline publications from 2008-12 using bespoke software to disambiguate individual authors focusing on 4 discrete topics (to further reduce the risk of combining publications from authors with the same name and affiliation). This enabled us to assess the number and type of publications per author per year. Results. While 99% of authors were listed on fewer than 20 publications in the 5-year period, 24 authors in the chosen areas were listed on at least 25 publications in a single year (i.e., >1 publication per 10 working days). Types of publication by the prolific authors varied but included substantial numbers of original research papers (not simply editorials or letters). Conclusions. Institutions and funders should be alert to unfeasibly prolific authors when measuring and creating incentives for researcher productivity.


Despite its cultivation as a source of food, fibre and medicine, and its global status as the most used illicit drug, the genus Cannabis has an inconclusive taxonomic organization and evolutionary history. Drug types of Cannabis (marijuana), which contain high amounts of the psychoactive cannabinoid Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), are used for medical purposes and as a recreational drug. Hemp types are grown for the production of seed and fibre, and contain low amounts of THC. Two species or gene pools (C. sativa and C. indica) are widely used in describing the pedigree or appearance of cultivated Cannabis plants. Using 14,031 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) genotyped in 81 marijuana and 43 hemp samples, we show that marijuana and hemp are significantly differentiated at a genome-wide level, demonstrating that the distinction between these populations is not limited to genes underlying THC production. We find a moderate correlation between the genetic structure of marijuana strains and their reported C. sativa and C. indica ancestry and show that marijuana strain names often do not reflect a meaningful genetic identity. We also provide evidence that hemp is genetically more similar to C. indica type marijuana than to C. sativa strains.


Wind turbines remove kinetic energy from the atmospheric flow, which reduces wind speeds and limits generation rates of large wind farms. These interactions can be approximated using a vertical kinetic energy (VKE) flux method, which predicts that the maximum power generation potential is 26% of the instantaneous downward transport of kinetic energy using the preturbine climatology. We compare the energy flux method to the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) regional atmospheric model equipped with a wind turbine parameterization over a 10(5) km(2) region in the central United States. The WRF simulations yield a maximum generation of 1.1 We⋅m(-2), whereas the VKE method predicts the time series while underestimating the maximum generation rate by about 50%. Because VKE derives the generation limit from the preturbine climatology, potential changes in the vertical kinetic energy flux from the free atmosphere are not considered. Such changes are important at night when WRF estimates are about twice the VKE value because wind turbines interact with the decoupled nocturnal low-level jet in this region. Daytime estimates agree better to 20% because the wind turbines induce comparatively small changes to the downward kinetic energy flux. This combination of downward transport limits and wind speed reductions explains why large-scale wind power generation in windy regions is limited to about 1 We⋅m(-2), with VKE capturing this combination in a comparatively simple way.