Nat Kelly Nat Kelly30 June 2023 Open Science
May Top 5 articles

Insights from MDPI Top 5 Picks: May

May’s top 5 most-read articles include a glance into the distant past, with the analysis and identification of a Roman perfume and discovery of a new Mosasaurid from the Late Cretaceous. We also have two papers looking at healthcare, addressing spike-protein-related pathologies and sarcopenia. And finally, we end with an analysis of human–cat communication.

Archaeometric Identification of a Perfume from Roman Times

Many perfume vessels from the Roman era have been discovered over the years. However, there is not much information on the chemical composition of the substances they contain.

This study looks at an unguentarium (a small ceramic or glass bottle popular throughout the Roman Empire) found in 2019 that contained a solid mass that was once perfume. Through various analyses, they determined that it is most likely patchouli, a plant still used in modern perfumes. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first time a perfume from Roman times has been identified.

Stelladens mysteriosus: A Strange New Mosasaurid (Squamata) from the Maastrichtian (Late Cretaceous) of Morocco

The Mosasauridae are a specialized family of marine lizards whose diversity rapidly increased in the Late Cretaceous, with an array of body sizes, shapes, and jaw and tooth morphologies. Through this radiation, they also evolved to be apex predators.

The authors of this study report a new mosasaurid, Stelladens mysteriosus, with unique tooth morphology. They speculate that this could be due to it having an unusual and specialized diet or method of capturing prey (or both).

Strategies for the Management of Spike Protein-Related Pathology

“The treatment of spike-protein-related diseases is an important topic as many people are experiencing both long COVID and vaccine injury, which share similar etiologies in the spike protein as a pathological agent (though not the sole agent). People with these conditions have struggled to have their medical challenges recognized and have found difficulty finding the help and support they need. Spike-protein-related diseases are still poorly understood, and therapeutics are limited. 

We set out to summarize the pathophysiology of the spike protein and review the potential therapeutics that can address these issues. We also summarize the emerging body of evidence from clinical trials on responses to spike-protein-related diseases. It is important as a starting point for therapeutic development to treat the people still experiencing health issues after COVID-19 infection or vaccination, the scale of which is only now being recognized by governments and health systems.”

  • Quote from lead author Matt Halma

Sarcopenia Prediction for Elderly People Using Machine Learning: A Case Study on Physical Activity

“Sarcopenia, characterized by significant loss of skeletal muscle mass, is a common age-related condition observed in older individuals. The relationship between sarcopenia and various risk factors has been extensively studied. However, our study focuses specifically on the role of physical activity (PA), eliminating the need for measurement using medical equipment.

We have demonstrated the feasibility of using various machine learning algorithms to predict sarcopenia based on PA in daily life. Remarkable predictive performance is achieved using only PA features, and further improvements are observed when training models are separated by gender. Additionally, key features that played a crucial role in the high-performance models are identified.

In conclusion, this study provides evidence that machine learning models based solely on PA features can achieve robust predictive performance. These findings support the development of a sarcopenia management system that utilizes personal devices, such as smartphones, capable of recognizing and monitoring physical activity.”

  • Quote from author Wooseong Kim

Multimodal Communication in the Human–Cat Relationship: A Pilot Study

Human–cat communication stretches back millennia, with this unique relationship beginning 10,000 to 12,000 years ago. Many elements of how they interpret our cues, however, remain a mystery.

The authors of this study assessed the response of cats to three types of communication – vocal, visual, and bimodal (a mixture of vocal and visual) – with a control condition (no communication). The cats’ responses were recorded and analyzed, and it is suggested that cats prefer visual and bimodal cues to vocal cues only.

If you want to find out more about any of the studies mentioned in this article, you can read them for free on the MDPI website.