Weekly News Bites

This week in research news from around Asia

Aiming to understand why Mars’s oceans have disappeared, the University of Tokyo recreated the conditions that are expected in the planet’s core. The molten metals at the core of the red planet may have (relatively) short-lived currents necessary to keep the protective magnetic field.

Closer to home, a consortium led by Nanyang Technological University aims to create a small, mini-fridge-sized satellite that will fly closer to the Earth than larger satellites. This could then take high-resolution images that can be used to look at natural disasters and speed up telecommunications by reducing communication delay to Earth.

In COVID news, a pre-print by the University of Hong Kong found that hamsters may have snuck past the strict controls in Hong Kong, carrying the Delta variant along with them. Hamsters are susceptible to COVID-19 and may have passed it on to their owners.

Long waiting times for COVID-19 test results may be over soon as researchers from Fudan University have trailed a new COVID-19 test which could give results within 4 minutes. The test uses a molecular electromechanical system (MolEMS) to analyse genetic material and identify the viral RNA.

Speaking of long waiting times, Niigata University of Health and Welfare and Edith Cowan University researchers say that only 3 seconds of “maximum effort” bicep curls a day could help increase muscle strength. Participants in their study showed results after only one month.

A study from the National University of Singapore found that our love of the outdoors might be genetic. Their study using twins found that identical twins (from one egg) shared a more similar level of desire to be outdoors and love of nature than fraternal twins (from two eggs).

Engineers from Beihang University, Peking University, and the University of Michigan have created an artificial tooth enamel that is harder than the real thing. Tooth enamel is a difficult thing to emulate as it is made up of complex structures and molecules. The artificial enamel could have applications not only in dentistry but also in construction and safety wear.

The University of Tokyo has tested an antibody treatment for prostate cancer on dogs with the disease and have found promising results. The antibody prevents T-cells from marking the cancer cells as “self” which allows them to hide in the body.

Finally, a student in Hokkaido University has developed a special chocolate for people suffering from epidermolysis bullosa, a painful disease that causes blistering skin including in the mouth, while also raising awareness of the disease. This special chocolate melts quickly in the mouth, allowing the patients to safely enjoy a sweet treat.