Radio-burst discovery deepens astrophysics mystery

Headline News

The discovery of a split-second burst of radio waves by scientists using the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico provides important new evidence of mysterious pulses that appear to come from deep in outer space. The finding by an international team of astronomers that includes McGill’s Vicky Kaspi marks the first time that a so-called “fast radio burst” has been detected using an instrument other than the Parkes radio telescope in Australia.

Scientists find key piece in brain tumour puzzle

Research and Discovery

Scientists have shown that a member of the protein family known as SUMO is a key to why tumour cells multiply uncontrollably, especially in the case of glioblastoma, the most common and lethal brain cancer.

A breakthrough for organic reactions in water

Research and Discovery

Green-chemistry researchers at McGill have discovered a way to use water as a solvent in one of the reactions most widely used to synthesize chemical products and pharmaceuticals. The findings mark a potential milestone in efforts to develop organic reactions in water.

A tiny molecule may help battle depression

Research and Discovery

Levels of a small molecule found only in humans and in other primates are lower in the brains of depressed individuals, according to researchers at McGill and the Douglas Institute. This discovery may hold a key to improving treatment options for those who suffer from depression.

Melatonin makes old bones stronger; research on elderly rats may have implications for osteoporosis

Research and Discovery

“Old rats are tedious to work with,” says Faleh Tamimi, a professor in the School of Dentistry. “They get sick a lot and that means they also cost a lot more. But if you’re interested in aging and diseases like osteoporosis they’re an essential part of the process.” Tamimi is the leader of a McGill team which has just discovered that supplements of melatonin make bones stronger in elderly rats and therefore, potentially, in humans too.

What doesn’t kill you may make you live longer

Research and Discovery

Many people believe that free radicals, the sometimes-toxic molecules produced by our bodies as we process oxygen, are the culprit behind aging. But new research coming out of McGill, suggests that, contrary to popular belief, free radical production increases during aging because free radicals actually combat – not cause – aging.

Neutron star magnetic fields: not so turbulent, after all?

Research and Discovery

Neutron stars, the extraordinarily dense stellar bodies created when massive stars collapse, are known to host the strongest magnetic fields in the universe – as much as a billion times more powerful than any man-made electromagnet. But some neutron stars are much more strongly magnetized than others, and this disparity has long puzzled astrophysicists. Now, a study by McGill physicists sheds new light on the expected geometry of the magnetic field in neutron stars. The findings could help scientists measure the mass and radius of these unusual stellar bodies, and thereby gain insights into the physics of matter at extreme densities.

Of mice and men

Research and Discovery

Scientists’ inability to replicate research findings using mice and rats has contributed to mounting concern over the reliability of such studies. Now, an international team of pain researchers led by scientists at McGill may have uncovered one important factor behind this vexing problem: the gender of the experimenters has a big impact on the stress levels of rodents, which are widely used in preclinical studies.

Pain curbs sex drive in female mice, but not in males

Research and Discovery

“Not tonight, dear, I have a headache.” Generally speaking, that line is attributed to the wife in a couple, implying that women’s sexual desire is more affected by pain than men’s. Now, researchers from McGill and Concordia University have investigated, possibly for the first time in any species, the direct impact of pain on sexual behaviour in mice. Their study found that pain from inflammation greatly reduced sexual motivation in female mice in heat – but had no such effect on male mice.

Antibiotics improve growth in children in developing countries

Research and Discovery

Antibiotics improve growth in children at risk of undernourishment in low and middle income countries, according to researchers at McGill who have just conducted a research literature review on the subject. Their results suggest that the youngest children from the most vulnerable populations benefit most and show significant improvements toward expected growth for their age and sex, particularly for weight.