UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News
Tuesday, June 22, 2021 5:45 PM

PASADENA, Calif., June 22 (UPI) -- NASA says new images from its Jason-2 oceanography satellite shows the tropical Pacific has switched from El Nino warm conditions to La Nina cool conditions.

"The central equatorial Pacific Ocean could stay colder than normal into summer and beyond," said oceanographer and climatologist Bill Patzert at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "That's because sea level is already about 4 inches below normal, creating a significant deficit of the heat stored in the upper ocean. The next few months will reveal if the current cooling trend will eventually evolve into a long-lasting La Nina situation."

Patzert said a La Nina is essentially the opposite of an El Nino and is associated with less atmospheric moisture, resulting in less rain along the coasts of North and South America. La Ninas also tend to increase the number of tropical storms in the Atlantic.

"For the American Southwest, La Ninas usually bring a dry winter, not good news for a region that has experienced normal rain and snowpack only once in the past five winters," Patzert said.

More information on El Nino, La Nina and Jason-2 is available at http://sealevel.jpl.nasa.gov.

How salt may increase hypertension risk

AUGUSTA, Ga., June 22 (UPI) -- Inflammation from excess fat causes the body to retain more sodium and, as a result, more fluid causing higher blood pressure, U.S. researchers said.

"It's well established that obesity increases inflammation, salt sensitivity and high blood pressure," corresponding author Dr. Yanbin Dong, a geneticist and cardiologist at Medical College of Georgia, said in a statement.

Dong and colleagues said the process appears to start with fat producing more inflammatory factors, such as interleukin-6, or IL-6.

The research team exposed mouse kidney cells to IL-6 and found increased production of prostasin, a protease, which typically inhibits a protein's action. But when prostasin cut fellow protein -- epithelial sodium channel -- it increased its activity and so did salt reabsorption.

"It's very special; there are not too many proteases like that. We found that in cells fed IL-6, epithelial sodium channel gets activated and the cells take in more sodium," Dong said. "It is the last step of your salt reabsorption."

If the findings in mice are true in humans, a simple urine test could one day help identify those at risk for or experiencing this type of inflammation-based hypertension, Dong said.

The researchers are measuring levels of prostasis, which is excreted in the urine, in obese people with and without hypertension as well as normal-weight individuals, Dong said.

The study is published in the American Journal of Physiology Regulatory -- Integrative and Comparative Physiology.

Antarctic ice melt: 10 percent of sea rise

CAMBRIDGE, England, June 22 (UPI) -- New research led by the British Antarctic Survey shows West Antarctica's ice melt currently contributes nearly 10 percent of the global sea level rise.

An international team of researchers -- including scientists from the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University in New York and the Britain's National Oceanography Center -- identified the antarctic's Pine Island Glacier as a major source of the ice melt.

Officials said the project is part of a series of investigations to better understand the impact of melting antarctic ice on sea level.

The scientists said they used an autonomous underwater vehicle to dive beneath the Pine Island Glacier's floating ice shelf and discovered a 985-foot-high ridge (mountain) on the sea floor.

"The discovery of the ridge has raised new questions about whether the current loss of ice from Pine Island Glacier is caused by recent climate change or is a continuation of a longer-term process that began when the glacier disconnected from the ridge," Adrian Jenkins of the British Antarctic Survey and the study's lead author said. "This work is vital for evaluating the risk of potential wide-spread collapse of west antarctic glaciers."

The new findings are reported in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Scientists create plastic antibodies

IRVINE, Calif., June 22 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they've developed the first plastic antibodies that have been successfully employed in live organisms to stop the spread of bee venom.

University of California-Irvine researchers say they designed the tiny polymeric particles to match and encase melittin -- a peptide in bee venom that causes cells to rupture. Large quantities of melittin can lead to organ failure and death.

The researchers led by Professor Kenneth Shea and project scientist Yu Hoshino said they prepared the nanoparticles by molecular imprinting -- a technique similar to plaster casting:

The scientists said they linked melittin with small molecules called monomers, solidifying the two into a network of long polymer chains. After the plastic hardened, they removed the melittin, leaving nanoparticles with minuscule melittin-shaped holes.

When injected into mice given high doses of melittin, the nanoparticles enveloped the matching melittin molecules before they could disperse and wreak havoc, thereby greatly reducing deaths among the rodents.

"Never before have synthetic antibodies been shown to effectively function in the bloodstream of living animals," Shea said. "This technique could be utilized to make plastic nanoparticles designed to fight more lethal toxins and pathogens."

The study that included Takashi Kodama of Stanford University and Hiroyuki Koide, Takeo Urakami, Hiroaki Kanazawa and Naoto Oku of Japan's University of Shizuoka was published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

(Source: UPI )


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