Posts Categorized: Research News

New prebiotic identified in fermented Japanese vegetable

New prebiotic identified in fermented Japanese vegetable

Enzyme improves colon health in rats An enzyme produced by fermenting a vegetable common in Japanese cuisine may be responsible for increasing the amount of at least one beneficial bacterium associated with healthy colons in a study using rats.  The results of this prebiotic research study will be presented at the International Conference on Nutraceuticals and Nutrition Supplements in July 2016 by Norihisa Kato, Ph.D., and at the International Nutrition and Diagnostic Conference in October 2016 by doctoral student Yongshou Yang, both from Hiroshima University. The vegetable, called burdock root in English and gobo in Japanese, has a minimal positive effect on colon health when eaten raw or cooked.  Like… Read more

Cultural expectations and concern for long-term care drive preference for sons in India

Cultural expectations and concern for long-term care drive preference for sons in India

  Parents’ preference for sons persists globally, but the gender imbalance at birth remains most extreme in Asia, especially India.  New analysis reveals that in India, the preference for sons might come from the expectation – even after controlling socioeconomic factors – that sons and their wives should care for elderly family members. “Now we have the data to prove elder care motivates son preference, so we can move forward on how to understand this economic and healthcare issue,” said Yoshihiko Kadoya, Ph.D., lead author of the research study and currently Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at Hiroshima University. The absence of national pension or socialized healthcare systems… Read more

Science of Sake

Science of Sake

Mutation threatening high-quality brewing yeast identified Biologists at Hiroshima University, located in the historic sake brewing town of Saijo, have identified the genetic mutation that could ruin the brew of one particular type of yeast responsible for high-quality sake.  The research was part of an academic-government-industry collaboration involving the National Institute of Brewing (Japan), the Asahi Sake Brewing Company (Niigata), the Brewing Society of Japan, The University of Tokyo, The University of Pennsylvania, and Iwate University. Two types of sake considered especially high-quality are called daiginjo-shu and junmai-daiginjo-shu and are often made using the yeast K1801.  Different brewing yeasts, whether for beer, wine, or sake, create different tastes in the… Read more

Scientists measure how baby bump changes the way women walk, make future safety studies possible

Scientists measure how baby bump changes the way women walk, make future safety studies possible

  Movie sets are normally the home of three-dimensional motion caption systems, but researchers used the same video recording system in a lab to measure the way pregnant women walk.  This is the first research study to use 3D motion capture to create a biomechanical model of pregnant women.  The results verify the existence of the “pregnancy waddle” and should enable future studies on how to make everyday tasks safer and more comfortable for pregnant women. The research team from Hiroshima University studied how pregnant women adjust their movements during daily life, like rising from a chair or changing direction while walking. Accidental falls cause 10-25 percent of trauma injuries… Read more

Some women’s retirement plan: rely on Prince Charming

Some women’s retirement plan: rely on Prince Charming

Women workers often rely on future spouses to organize their retirement finances, rather than making independent decisions now.  Men and women working for private Japanese companies make decisions about their retirement savings plans differently based on their gender. Satoshi P. Watanabe, Ph.D., of Hiroshima University completed new research on an insurance company’s survey results from 2002.  Although the survey is somewhat dated, the data is still relevant because employee demographics have not changed significantly in the intervening 14 years.  This is the first study to examine Japanese workers’ gender-based decision making about retirement investments. Even when women and men had the same comprehension of their retirement savings plan options, women… Read more

How females store sperm: fertility study in chickens examines fatty acids

How females store sperm: fertility study in chickens examines fatty acids

The science of breeding chickens has revealed part of the mystery of how certain female animals are able to store sperm long-term.  Droplets of fat transferred from female cells to sperm cells may contribute to keeping sperm alive. Females of some types of insects, reptiles, and birds can store sperm from multiple males within specialized sperm storage areas of their reproductive tracts.  Different animals can store sperm for days or years.  Stored sperm can fertilize multiple eggs over time, meaning females do not need to mate again to fertilize additional eggs. “Farmers may be able to more successfully breed their flocks if we could understand how the sperm stays viable… Read more

Power up when the temperature is down

Power up when the temperature is down

Transporting power sources in the coldest places may be easier with a new re-chargeable, non-metallic battery from Japan. This “eco battery” could provide portable sources of power in environments like refrigerated factories or extreme winter environments. Chemists from Hiroshima University developed a new synthesis method for organic radical batteries that are re-chargeable and continue to function at below-freezing temperatures.  The specific model prototyped by the Hiroshima University team has greater voltage than previously reported styles from other research groups around the world.  The method used to create this battery is an improvement on a report from the same Hiroshima University laboratory earlier in 2016. Most electrical devices use a lithium-ion… Read more

Bubble volcano

Bubble volcano

Shaking, popping by earthquakes may cause eruptions A new study on the connection between earthquakes and volcanoes took its inspiration from old engineering basics.  Future applications of these results may enable better predictions of the likelihood of a volcanic eruption for communities affected by an earthquake. If you swirl wine in a glass too strongly, the wine crashes against the sides and spills over the top.  The same swirling and crashing, technically termed “sloshing,” happens when transporting liquids on trucks or ships.  Large liquid containers must be specially designed to avoid damage as the vehicle shakes and the liquid sloshes.  Strong earthquakes can even damage large petroleum tanks. When earthquakes… Read more

Geomorphology Research at the Mashiki Earthquake

Geomorphology Research at the Mashiki Earthquake

Mashiki is a small town in southwestern Japan, Kumamoto Prefecture, which was near the epicenter of two major earthquakes on Thursday, April 14, 2016 and on Saturday, April 16, 2016. Hiroshima University researchers Hideaki Goto, PhD, and Yasuhiro Kumahara, PhD, specialize in geomorphology – studying the shape of Earth’s surface.  They arrived in Kumamoto on Friday to collect data after Thursday evening’s earthquake.  They were shaken awake at about 1:30am on Saturday by the second, larger earthquake in Mashiki.  These photos from Saturday afternoon in Mashiki show some of the damage that local residents experienced.   The damage in Mashiki after Saturday’s earthquake was unexpected because the town is about… Read more

Untwist scoliosis by clipping wings of an overactive ladybird

Untwist scoliosis by clipping wings of an overactive ladybird

People with scoliosis, a twisting of the spine that can occur as a birth defect or more commonly starts during the teen years, are now closer to a genetic explanation for their condition. An overactive gene, called ladybird homeobox 1 (LBX1), is the start of a genetic chain reaction that causes the spine to grow abnormally. The report from collaborations at Hiroshima University, Kyoto University, RIKEN, and Kanazawa University is the first to demonstrate the functional association of scoliosis with LBX1. “A genetic test called the ScoliScore AIS Prognostic Test already exists for adolescents recently diagnosed with scoliosis to predict if the curve of the spine will get worse, which… Read more