Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938


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

New Tasmanian Devil Facial Cancer

Routine field research has identified a second transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils that is very similar to Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). The new cancer has similarities to DFTD as it causes tumours, primarily on the face or inside the mouth, and is probably also spread between devils by biting.

What Women Want in a Sperm Donor

A study into how women choose sperm donors online has revealed that men who are intellectual, shy, calm and methodical are selected to produce more children rather than those who are extroverted.

“Worldwide demand for sperm donors is so great, an informal online market has emerged in which offspring are being produced outside of the more formal fertility clinic setting,” said Mr Stephen Whyte of Queensland University of Technology.

Molecules Inhibit Cancer Metastasis and Multiple Sclerosis

An international team of scientists has identified potential inhibitors of cell membrane proteins involved in the spread of cancer to other parts of the body, and in the progression of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

The newly identified molecules strongly inhibit the action of the two chemokine receptors CXCR4 and ACKR3, which work together to regulate cell migration and are thus important in both cancer metastasis and autoimmune disease. The variant that bound most strongly to the CXCR4 receptor inhibited multiple sclerosis in a laboratory study.

How Much Weight Do Quitters Gain?

Fear of weight gain is a commonly cited reason for not quitting smoking, despite evidence that quitting will result in better overall health.

Now researchers at the University of Tasmania’s Menzies Institute for Medical Research have quantified the weight gain for smokers who quit, and the difference in weight gain between quitters and continuing smokers.

Early Signs of Arthritis in the Mouth

A common gum disease may indicate a person’s risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis later in life, according to a report published in Medical Hypotheses.

Toad-Proof Fence

Toad-proof fences around dams can prevent the pests from cooling down in the hot, arid zones of Australia, killing them in large enough numbers to stop their spread. “This is the first study to demonstrate long-term control of cane toads,” says A/Prof Mike Letnic of UNSW

New Life for Old Malaria Drug

Chloroquine could be given a new lease of life as an anti-malarial treatment simply by being administered differently.

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