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A round-up of the latest science and news from Australasia.

Ancient Chinese Remedy Removes Scars

An ancient Chinese remedy for healing wounds could be useful for removing raised scars called hypertrophic scars.

Chen Fan, a PhD student at Queensland University of Technology, investigated the active components of shikonin, a traditional Chinese medicine made from the dried root of Lithospermum erythrorhizon, a plant that grows in China, Japan and Korea. “Shikonin has traditionally been used to improve wound-healing or to treat dermatitis and eczema,” Chen said. It also inhibits HIV-1.

No Reliable Evidence of Wind Farm Syndrome, Says NHMRC

The National Health and Medical Research Council has concluded that “there is currently no consistent evidence that wind farms cause adverse health effects in humans” after undertaking an independent assessment of direct evidence (possible relationships between wind farm emissions and health outcomes) and parallel evidence (the health effects of similar emissions from other sources).

Microbe Is Just One Gene from Multi-drug Resistance

A University of Queensland study has tracked a potentially devastating E. coli strain that is only one gene away from being resistant to almost all anti­biotics.

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Dentists Fall for Cavity Illusion

By Stephen Luntz

An optical illusion is causing dentists to drill unnecessarily large holes in their patients' teeth.

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IVF Mice Prone to Diabetes

By Stephen Luntz

Mice conceived through IVF are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those conceived naturally, adding to evidence that the same may be true for humans.

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Briefs

By Stephen Luntz

Hormones combine against obesity, antioxidants don’t aid conception, a drug prevents breast cancer relapse, and more.

Parrots Alive

DNA analysis of five feathers collected in the Lake Eyre Basin have confirmed that the Australian night parrot is not extinct.

Pezoporus occidentalis is a different species from New Zealand’s famous kakapo, but shares both the popular name of night parrot and a critically endangered status. Indeed, WA Museum CEO Alec Coles said: “The night parrot is a bird many people believed to be extinct up until 1990, and the WA Museum is very pleased to have been asked to authenticate its existence”.

Static Electricity Splits Chemical Bonds

Researchers from Curtin University have demonstrated how chemical bonds between atoms are impacted by static electricity, unlocking future potential benefits for the manufacturing and electronics industries.

The research, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, found that an external electric trigger can selectively split chemical bonds between carbon and oxygen atoms, shedding light on an overlooked aspect of chemistry and nanotechnology.