You may have missed… EVs reduce pollution deaths, big breakfasts and waistlines, monkeypox vaccines, aspirin and cancer

Air pollution from cars kills more people than crashes, EV transition could reduce this.

In Australia, nearly 24 thousand lives could be lost in the next two decades from transport-induced air pollution.

Widespread adoption of electric vehicles would be one way to mitigate this problem, say researchers from Swinburne University of Technology, with the potential for $148 billion in net benefits as an outcome of transitioning. Their research says EVs “provide very large private and public benefits that are considerably greater than the expected cost of the transition in all three scenarios.”

Those scenarios include a slow transition – a business-as-usual situation slightly above the current rate of EV sales (5 percent of total sales with a 10 percent increase each year), an accelerated market-based scenario in-line with adoption rates around the world (60 percent of Norse car sales this year are EVs), and an ‘aggressive regulatory scenario’ where all sales would be electric as a result of new government regulations.

“This research shows that Australia risks losing up to 24,000 lives by 2042 from transport-induced air pollution if electric vehicles are not rapidly adopted,” says Professor Hussein Dia.

“This is equivalent to losing 1,200 lives every year over the next 20-year period. This tragic and avoidable loss of life would be like six planes, each carrying 200 passengers, falling out of the sky every year and killing everyone on board. We don’t accept this in air travel and we should not be allowing this to happen in the context of preventable air pollution.”

T cell unsw
T cells (blue) adhere to targeted cancer cells (orange) and generated forces to promote killing by pore-forming proteins (yellow) / Credit: James Cremasco, Daryan Kempe and Maté Biro

T cells kill cancer with force

Damaged, infected or cancerous cells pose problems to the body, which is why cytotoxic T lymphocytes – a type of white blood cell – form part of immune responses to kill them. They do this by using tiny lytic ‘granules’ called perforin to punch holes in the target cell, and then releasing granzymes that enter the hole and dismantle them. Now, UNSW researchers have shed light on the mechanical forces used in this process. Publishing in Developmental Cell, the researchers found T cells use physical force to push these granules towards the target cell, and to latch onto cancer membranes to start the interactions required to eventually shut cells down.

Among the findings, researchers also found that T cells prefer outwardly curved membranes to bind with. This might better allow the T cells to manipulate tumour cells to make it easier to punch through them.

“It was very exciting to discover that, in addition to its mechanical tension and biochemical configuration, the shape of the target cell membrane plays an important role in T cell mediated cancer cell killing,” said co-lead researcher Dr Daryan Kempe.

Breakfast like a king likely has no effect on weight loss

‘Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper’

It’s a oft-trumpeted line that suggests packing energy consumption into the start of your day is a more effective way to ensure weightloss. After all, you don’t need calories when you’re sleeping, right?

Well, that might not be the case. Researchers publishing in Cell Metabolism suggest that in humans, meal timing has no difference on weight loss.

“There are a lot of myths surrounding the timing of eating and how it might influence either body weight or health,” says senior author Professor Alexandra Johnstone, “This has been driven largely by the circadian rhythm field. But we in the nutrition field have wondered how this could be possible. Where would the energy go?”

A randomised crossover trial of 30 obese or overweight participants conducted by scientists from the University of Aberdeen, University of Surrey and Maastricht University Medical Centre found that participants showed no change in daily energy expenditure or resting metabolic rate. However while there is little change in energy use between time of eating, researchers did note that eating a big breakfast and smaller lunch and dinner meals resulted in greater feelings of fullness throughout the course of the day, potentially having applications for applications for developing more effective dietary plans.

False coloured electron micrograph of a single negative-stained monkeypox virus particle. Negative contrast transmission electon microscopy using 2% phosphotungstic acin, 52,000x magnification
False coloured electron micrograph image of a Monkeypox virus particle. / Credit: Dr Jason Roberts, Head of the Electron Microscopy and Structural Virology Laboratory at the Doherty Institute

Vaccine expected to induce strong immune responses against the 2022 monkeypox virus

Vaccines based on the vaccinia virus (VACV) will elicit a strong immune response to the monkeypox virus currently circulating in over 90 counties, say researchers from Melbourne University, the Doherty Institute and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in Viruses.

While there is little data on how effective VACVs are at neutralising the current monkeypox strain – known as MPXV-2022 – the researchers found similarities in the genetic regions targeted by the body’s natural immune system. As VACVs also share these structures, it’s anticipated they’ll be effective against the currently circulating virus.

“Specific VACV-based vaccines have demonstrated high efficacy against monkeypox viruses in the past and are considered an important outbreak control measure,” says study co-lead Professor Matthew McKay.

“While we identified a small number of distinct mutations in MPXV-2022, our study more broadly demonstrates that VACV and MPXV-2022 are highly genetically similar in the regions targeted by the immune system through vaccination. Based on our analysis, we anticipate that the immune responses generated by VACV-based vaccines would continue to do a good job of recognising and responding to MPXV-2022.”

Aspirin could increase survival in cancer

Aspirin appears to have an overall positive effect on cancer patient survival and reduction in metastasis.

Researchers from the University of Cardiff in the UK, reviewing over 80 studies into aspirin’s relationship with cancer, found clinical evidence is, overall, favourable to the use of the drug. However, they noted that there is little research from randomised trials, and that which does exist is inconsistent. Overall, the review found aspirin is associated with “increases in survival rates and reductions in metastatic spread and vascular complications of different cancers”. 

“There appears to be an impressive harmony between the biological effects of aspirin on clinical outcome in cancer,” say the researchers.

“[But] further evidence is needed before the suggestion by the present evidence of about a 20% increase in survival of cancer is accepted.

“Fortunately, research on aspirin taken by cancer patients can be conducted with a high degree of confidence that aspirin is a relatively safe drug.”

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