Weekly News Bites: Dog COVID, fake teeth, and an extinct plant rediscovered

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are that COVID is transmissible between dogs, a new material created to replace extracted teeth, and a fungi-eating plant that was thought to be extinct.

Dogs can catch and transmit COVID-19 between themselves, confirms a study by Seoul National University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Jeonbuk National University. Putting an infected and uninfected dog in the same cage showed that the virus spread from one to the other. The researchers say that animal vaccines might be needed to stop reverse zoonosis, which is when animals catch diseases from humans instead of the other way around.

Sunscreen is vital to protect our skin but there are concerns about its environmental impact and the effects it can have if absorbed into the bloodstream. To help avoid these issues, Tsinghua University scientists have created a new effective sunscreen made up of polymers that isn't absorbed by the skin and is non-toxic to coral.

Dental research is usually performed on extracted human teeth but a shortage due to the pandemic forced the University of Hong Kong's dental school, Wuhan University, and Drexel University (US) to get creative and invent a new material to replace the extracted teeth. These fake teeth had a similar lifespan and characteristics to the real thing, helping continue research even when teeth supplies are low.

By looking at the metabolites in pregnant and postpartum women’s blood, Tohoku University researchers hypothesize that they can predict postpartum depression. Women who suffered from postpartum depression had different changes in their metabolites, especially cytosine and erythrulose, compared to women who did not have the condition.

When restoring historical buildings it is often best practice to use traditional methods to maintain the integrity of the structure and its history. Technology can help speed things up, however, as demonstrated by Kumamoto University scientists who are using image processing software to help rebuild Kumamoto castle

Can you bring a plant back from non-existence? A team from Kobe University has rediscovered a strange “fairy lantern” plant that was thought to be extinct. Another interesting fact about this plant, apart from its distinctive lantern-like appearance, is that it eats fungi instead of using photosynthesis.