Jan. 5, 2021

Most-read research stories of 2020

Despite lab shutdowns and quarantines due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UCalgary researchers still manage one major breakthrough after another
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Top research stories of 2020

Each year, we round up the most-read research stories based on Google analytics. Here are the must-read research stories of 2020.

Scientists take important step toward building practical quantum internet

An international research team, including UCalgary quantum physicists, has taken a big step toward building a high-performing, scalable “quantum internet.” A functional quantum internet would dramatically change the fields of secure communication, data storage, precision sensing and computing. The research team achieved sustained, long-distance teleportation, through 44 kilometres of optical fibre, of qubits of photons. The teleportation fidelity was greater than 90 per cent, using off-the-shelf equipment and state-of-the-art single photon detectors. Read more

Research team discovers breakthrough with potential to prevent, reverse Alzheimer's

A research team at the Cumming School of Medicine has made an exciting breakthrough with the potential to prevent and reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.The team discovered that limiting the open time of a channel called the ryanodine receptor, which acts like a gateway to cells located in the heart and brain, reverses and prevents progression of Alzheimer’s disease in animal models. They also identified a drug that interrupts the disease process. The effect of giving the drug to animal models was remarkable: after one month of treatment, the memory loss and cognitive impairments in these models disappeared. Read more

Research shows new drug helps to preserve brain cells for a time after stroke

After 50 years of research and the testing of more than 1,000 drugs, there is new hope for preserving brain cells for a time after stroke. Treating acute ischemic stroke patients with an experimental neuroprotective drug, combined with a surgical procedure to remove the clot, improves outcomes as shown by clinical trial results published in The LancetRead more

Scientists discover breakthrough toward treatment of leading genetic cause of autism

Scientists at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI), Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI), and Owerko Centre at UCalgary’s Cumming School of Medicine have made a breakthrough discovery that could lead to treatment of Fragile X syndrome (FXS), the leading genetic cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The study, involving mouse models, shows promise of translating to treatment for people diagnosed with FXS. Read more

Researchers discover microbiome’s role in attacking cancerous tumours

Researchers with the Snyder Institute for Chronic Diseases at the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) have discovered which gut bacteria help our immune system battle cancerous tumours and how they do it. The discovery may provide a new understanding of why immunotherapy, a treatment for cancer that helps amplify the body’s immune response, works in some cases, but not others. Read more

Cats’ faces reveal their hidden pain

Cats are notorious for hiding their pain. But despite this tendency to suffer in silence, the feline face speaks volumes about the pain it’s feeling. Veterinary researchers recently published a paper in Scientific Reports on the Feline Grimace Scale, a fast, easy way of assessing a cat’s facial expressions to help determine how much pain it is feeling. Read more

Study finds common vitamin may help immune system battle deadly brain tumour

Glioblastoma is the most aggressive form of brain cancer. Even with treatment, chemotherapy and radiation, most people die within 14 to 16 months of being diagnosed. One of the reasons this cancer is so deadly is because it hijacks the immune system, suppressing it and reprogramming immune cells to work for the tumour. A new study by members of the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) at the University of Calgary finds niacin, commonly called vitamin B3, combined with chemotherapy can help immune cells attack glioblastoma, dramatically slowing progression of the disease, in mice. Read more

New, large meat-eating dinosaur discovered in Alberta

Paleontologists at the University of Calgary and Royal Tyrrell Museum have discovered a new large tyrannosaur from Alberta, a predatory dinosaur whose name means “reaper of death.” Called Thanatotheristes, the 79-million-year-old fossil is the oldest tyrannosaur known from northern North America and is the first new tyrannosaur species identified in Canada in 50 years, says the research team’s study. Read more

Research team develops hand-held device for speedy COVID-19 self-testing

A coronavirus test from the comfort of your living room, with results sent wirelessly from a hand-held biosensor to health officials, minutes after a sample is collected. That’s the latest COVID-19 research project from University of Calgary researchers and biomedical engineers, as they look to reduce in-person contact for people suspected of being infected with SARS-CoV-2s, while increasing the efficiency and speed of testing for the virus at the root of the global pandemic. Read more

Researchers develop new method to test for COVID-19

A research team led by scientists at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine (CSM) is sharing a new method to test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The test can provide results in 30 minutes without the need for high-tech equipment and the reagents that have been in limited supply worldwide. Read more

Underwater discovery prompts shakeup of long-held theories for origins of life

How did life begin? It’s a question so fundamental that it's likely been pondered by every human who's ever lived. The origin of life on ancient Earth is one of the oldest scientific mysteries. While researchers have been able to shed light on the subject over the years, the answers to sizeable questions about how Earth’s first organisms came to be remain couched in theory. An important new discovery by Dr. Benjamin Tutolo, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Geoscience, and co-authors Nicholas Tosca at the University of Oxford and Bill Seyfried at the University of Minnesota, calls into question the leading theories behind the early days of earthly life with an unlikely catalyst — the sea sponge. Read more