Weekly News Bites: Mussel glue, overworked immune cells, and a Mount Everest mystery solved

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are a natural glue to hold stem cells in place, how cancer manipulates our immune cells, and the answer to Everest’s spooky nighttime noises.

Mussels produce a natural, sticky glue that has drawn the attention of the medical field for uses such as surgical glue. Now, Pohang University of Science, Dongguk University, and Ewha Womans University have used this glue to create a scaffold that holds stem cells in place, giving them enough time to rebuild damaged cartilage in the body.

A smart fabric has been developed by North Carolina State University, Sungkyunkwan University and Flinders University that can “heal” itself and has antibacterial properties. The researchers dipped a textile in liquid metal to make it conduct electricity. Once the circuit is cut, the smart fabric can form new conductive paths.

Cancer cells can talk to our immune cells and “overwhelm them” to avoid destruction by our body’s defense mechanisms. Research from Duke NUS, A*Star’s Singapore Immunology Network, and the National Cancer Centre Singapore use this metaphor to describe and summarize their findings about how cancer cells escape our immune system.

Air pollution can have negative effects on our heart health. This does not only occur over the long term but effects can be seen pretty rapidly, says a study from Fudan University. Data from over 300 cities showed heart arrhythmias increase when pollutant levels were high. Some symptoms showed up only a couple of hours after exposure but could last for 24 hours.

Fog is a result of climate change that can be easily overlooked. As the sea ice melts the water interacts with the atmosphere causing fog. On the important Northwest Passage it could cause shipping delays of 3 days according to the Ocean University of China. This poses a risk for ships that can be in danger of colliding with ice or other ships along the passage.

Why does Mount Everest make spooky noises at night? A research team from Hokkaido Unviersity’s Arctic Research Center have found the answer: extremely cold night temperatures  cause the ice to produce noises such as splintering and cracking. These are not the most reassuring sounds to hear when trying to sleep on the side of a mountain!