Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (2009)

Science news and science current events archive 2009.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from 2009

First gene discovered for most common form of epilepsy
An international team of researchers, led by investigators at Columbia University Medical Center, has uncovered the first gene linked to the most common type of epilepsy, called Rolandic epilepsy. One out of every five children with epilepsy is diagnosed with this form, which is associated with seizures starting in one part of the brain. Results of the study were published in an advance online issue of the European Journal of Human Genetics on Jan. 28, 2009.

Researchers identify missing target for calcium signaling
An international study led by Ohio State University researchers describes one of the missing triggers that controls calcium inside cells, a process important for muscle contraction, nerve-cell transmission, insulin release and other essential functions. The researchers believe the findings will enhance the understanding of how calcium signals are regulated in cells and shed light on new ways to treat many diseases, including cardiovascular diseases, immune diseases, metabolic diseases, cancer and brain disorders.

Access to care leads Americans' priorities in first-ever public study of health value
When Americans were asked to value the most important of dozens of health products and services as they consider spending their own money, they chose access to care over everything else, a new study revealed.

Ethnicity affects timing and access to cardiac care
Ethnicity is having a significant impact on timely access to cardiac care in Calgary and likely across Canada as the population's ethnic diversity grows, according to new research led by a team from the University of Calgary.

Early end to key study on benefits of niacin, a B vitamin, in keeping arteries open was premature
Heart experts at Johns Hopkins are calling premature the early halt of a study by researchers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Washington Hospital Center on the benefits of combining extended-release niacin, a B vitamin, with cholesterol-lowering statin medications to prevent blood vessel narrowing. Cardiovascular atherosclerosis, as it is also known, is believed responsible for one in three deaths in the United States each year.

AGU journal highlights -- Dec. 31, 2009
Featured in this release are research papers on the following topics: Indian Ocean climate event recurs quicker; Natural variability brings extra-cold 2008; Sea-ice loss stirs waters; Ice sculpting Martian land; Offshore quake could surge to Seattle; Permafrost thaw and groundwater runoff; Australian droughts' varied causes; Moon's exosphere; Saturn's auroral hiss; South America wetter in Little Ice Age; Continents' roots stress Earth's surface; Window into lunar volcanism; Plasma around Saturn; and Anthropogenic carbon dioxide fraction.

Studies investigate new trends and treatment options for sickle cell disease patients
Research presented today at the 51st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology highlights intriguing studies on the acute danger that the H1N1 pandemic presents for children with this blood disorder, evaluations of both new and standard treatments for common complications of sickle cell disease, and an expansion of the current understanding of hemoglobin expression in red blood cells that may lead to new treatments.

New focus on the moon
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera has taken and received its first images of the moon, kicking off the year-long mapping mission of Earth's nearest celestial neighbor. The LROC imaging system is under the watchful eyes of Arizona State University professor Mark Robinson, the principal investigator.

Methylprednisolone added to interferon beta reduces relapse rate
Addition of oral methylprednisolone, the standard treatment of subcutaneous interferon beta-1a, substantially reduces the relapse rate in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. The findings are reported in an article published online first and in the June edition of the Lancet Neurology

Office of Naval Research's Rear Admiral addresses diversity with HBCU presidents
The US Navy's Chief of Naval Research addressed a gathering of presidents of historically black colleges and universities on Sept. 1 in Washington, D.C. He told them

IOM Annual Meeting Oct. 12 features election of members, awards and public symposium
The Institute of Medicine's 39th annual meeting will include the announcement of new members and a public symposium that explores the role of the environment.

Health information exchange conquers new frontier: Emergency medical services
Regenstrief Institute research scientists are the first in the nation to link emergency medical services providers in the field to patients' preexisting health information, a link enabling emergency workers to make more informed treatment decisions and to transport patients to the most appropriate facility.

Packard/Stanford study suggests two causes for bowel disease in infants
New research from Lucile Packard Children's Hospital and the Stanford University School of Medicine is helping physicians unravel the cause of a deadly and mysterious bowel disease that strikes medically fragile newborn babies. The findings could lead to a better understanding of the disease and its medical management, and also shed light on the causes of sepsis, a major killer of children and young adults.

Texas women's health activist among 10 Americans chosen to receive national leadership award
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation today announced its selection of Claudia Stravato, board member and retired executive director of the Texas Panhandle Family Planning and Health Centers in Amarillo, Texas, to receive a Community Health Leaders Award. She is one of 10 extraordinary Americans who will receive the RWJF honor for 2009 at a ceremony this evening at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Risk of frailty in older women dependent on multisystem abnormalities
A study in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences reports that the condition of frailty in older adults is associated with a critical mass of abnormal physiological systems, over and above the status of each individual system. This research is the first evidence that frailty is related to the number of abnormal physiological systems.

Scientists put interactive flu tracking at public's fingertips
New methods of studying avian influenza strains and visually mapping their movement around the world will help scientists more quickly learn the behavior of the pandemic H1N1 flu virus, Ohio State University researchers say. The researchers linked many powerful computer systems together to analyze enormous amounts of genetic data collected from all publicly available isolated strains of the H5N1 virus -- the cause of avian flu.

Computer-based phone calls raise awareness, control of blood pressure
An automated system that regularly contacts hypertension patients helps them to reduce their high blood pressure. Blood pressure readings were automatically relayed to health-care providers who could modify treatment as needed. If proven cost-effective and widely accepted, the program could greatly reduce the risk of death or disability caused by strokes related to high blood pressure, researchers said.

New data analysis shows possible link between childhood obesity and allergies
A new study indicates there may be yet another reason to reduce childhood obesity -- it may help prevent allergies. The study published in the May issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showed that obese children and adolescents are at increased risk of having some kind of allergy, especially to a food. The study was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, both parts of the National Institutes of Health.

Was Britain 'built on the blood of slaves'?
On June , a team of historians from University College London will launch a major investigation into Britain's debt to slavery and create the first 'Encyclopedia of British slave owners'. This online database will identify every slave-owner resident in Britain in the 1830s (when slavery was abolished) and show how slave-related wealth was put to use. It will highlight the major companies, art collections and institutions which can trace their existence back to colonial slavery in the 19th century.

Simple measures may prevent transmission of stomach ulcer bacteria
The stomach ulcer bacterium Helicobacter pylori is not transmitted through drinking water as previously thought, but rather through vomit and possibly feces. This is shown in a thesis at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. It is therefore possible to prevent the spread of the bacterium in developing countries through some fairly simple measures.

Masitinib -- targeted therapy for cancers, inflammatory diseases and neurological indications
In new research, Dr. Patrice Dubreuil and colleagues characterise the pharmacological profile of masitinib, a novel tyrosine kinase inhibitor that targets the stem cell factor, PDGFR and Lyn. Masitinib is the active pharmacological ingredient of the first ever registered veterinary anticancer drug, Masivet.

Caltech researchers help unlock the secrets of gene regulatory networks
A quartet of studies by researchers at the California Institute of Technology highlight a special feature on gene regulatory networks recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The Geological Society of America recognizes role models for women and minorities in the geosciences
The Geological Society of America recognized outstanding contributions from women and minorities with honors presented at the Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony Oct. 17 during the Society's annual meeting in Portland, Ore.

Engineer devises ways to improve gas mileage
A mechanical engineer at Washington University in St. Louis is developing techniques that will lessen our monetary pain at the pump by reducing the drag of vehicles. Drag is an aerodynamic force that is the result of resistance a body encounters when it moves in a liquid or gaseous medium (such as air). Reduction in drag means less fuel would be required to overcome the fluid resistance encountered by the moving vehicle.

Tiny but toxic: MBL researchers discover a mechanism of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease
Particles of amyloid beta that have not clumped into plaques severely disrupt neurotransmission and delivery of key proteins in Alzheimer's disease, two new studies by MBL scientists show.

Wonderful cheese is all in the culture
An international research team led by Newcastle University has identified a new line of bacteria they believe add flavor to some of the world's most exclusive cheeses.

Mortality rates higher for heart disease patients in poorer B.C. neighborhoods
Heart disease patients living in poorer areas of B.C. are up to twice as likely to die from chronic diseases than patients living in better-off areas, a University of British Columbia study has found.

UCSF to lead new NIH-funded consortium for studying immune disorders
The University of California, San Francisco, has been designated to lead a new consortium that will study a group of severe immune disorders known as primary immunodeficiencies and aims to improve treatment for these often life-threatening diseases. The Primary Immune Deficiency Treatment Consortium comprises 13 centers throughout the United States and has a $6.25 million funding commitment over five years from the National Institutes of Health.

Jacob Ziv wins BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in information technologies
The presentation ceremony will take place on June 18. Their monetary amount and the breadth of disciplines addressed place the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards second only to the Nobel Prize.

How should mental, neurological and substance use disorders be treated where resources are scarce?
How should mental, neurological and substance use disorders be treated where resource are scarce? Over 90 percent of people with mental, neurological and substance use disorders in low and middle income countries go untreated, an inequity known as the mental health

Making monster waves
Research into monstrous rogue waves points the way to improved long distance optical communication, and could help us understand how giant, destructive waves form at sea.

The evolving manager stereotype: Gender a factor in measuring a team's performance
Although women have made strides in the business world, they still occupy less than two percent of CEO leadership positions in the Fortune 500.

UQ research finds speech disorders can be assessed from a distance
There should be no barriers to providing high-quality speech pathology services, according to University of Queensland Ph.D. graduate Dr Anne Hill.

Farnesoid X receptor regulates cystathionase
Farnesoid X receptor is a member of the ligand-activated nuclear hormone receptor superfamily. It functions as heterodimer with retinoid X receptor and binds genomic DNA of the target genes promoters containing an inverted repeat sequence in which consensus receptor-binding hexamers are separated by one nucleotide. Cystathionase catalyzes essential steps in the trans-sulfuration pathway that leads to generation of hydrogen sulphide. A research study investigated whether the farnesoid X Receptor regulates cystathionase.

Paper battery may power electronics in clothing and packaging material
Imagine a gift wrapped in paper you really do treasure and want to carefully fold and save. That's because the wrapping paper lights up with words like

New nanocrystalline diamond probes overcome wear
Researchers at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University have developed, characterized, and modeled a new kind of probe used in atomic force microscopy, which images, measures, and manipulates matter at the nanoscale. Using diamond, researchers made a much more durable probe than the commercially available silicon nitride probes, which are typically used in AFM to gather information from a material, but can wear down after several uses.

Major improvements made in engineering heart repair patches from stem cells
Researchers have engineered more viable heart repair patches from mixed stem cells. The patches beat spontaneously, can be electronically paced and have pre-formed blood vessels that connect to a rodent's heart circulation.

An easy way to find a needle in a haystack by removing the haystack
Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena and their colleagues from the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague have developed a new method to quickly and reliably detect metabolites, such as sugars, fatty acids, amino acids and other organic substances from plant or animal tissue samples. One drop of blood -- less than one micro liter -- is sufficient to identify certain blood related metabolites.

Sexist jokes favor the mental mechanisms that justify violence against women
These are the conclusions of research work carried out at the University of Granada in a sample of 109 18-26-year-old university male students. The results of this work will be released July 2 in the framework of the International Summer School and Symposium on Humor and Laughter.

Can monkeys choose optimally when faced with noisy stimuli and unequal rewards?
Even when faced with distractions, monkeys are able to consistently choose the path of greatest reward, according to a study conducted by researchers from Princeton and Stanford Universities. The study, published Feb. 13 in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology, adds to the growing evidence that animal foraging behavior can approach optimality, and could provide a basis for understanding the computations involved in this and related tasks.

Study supports possible role of urate in slowing Parkinson's disease progression
By examining data from a 20-year-old clinical trial, a research team based at the MassGeneral Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases and Harvard School of Public Health, has found evidence supporting the findings of their 2008 study -- that elevated levels of the antioxidant urate may slow the progression of Parkinson's disease.

Argonne, UC scientists reach milestone in study of emergent magnetism
Studying simple metallic chromium, the joint UC-Argonne team has discovered a pressure-driven quantum critical regime and has achieved the first direct measurement of a

New strategy to weaken traumatic memories
In the Feb. 1 issue of Biological Psychiatry, published by Elsevier, a group of basic scientists shed new light on the biology of stress effects upon memory formation.

K-State physicist works to understand atomic collisions important to ultracold quantum gasses
A K-State physics professor is studying what happens when atoms collide in groups of three and four. These few-body collisions play an important role in experiments on ultracold quantum gasses.

Sleep: Spring cleaning for the brain?
If you've ever been sleep-deprived, you know the feeling that your brain is full of wool.

Desert dust alters ecology of Colorado alpine meadows
Accelerated snowmelt -- precipitated by desert dust blowing into the mountains -- changes how alpine plants respond to seasonal climate cues that regulate their life cycles, according to results of a new study reported this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. These results indicate that global warming may have a greater influence on plants' annual growth cycles than previously thought.

Follow Rosetta's final Earth boost
ESA's comet chaser Rosetta will swing by Earth for the last time on Nov. 13 to pick up energy and begin the final leg of its 10-year journey to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. ESA's European Space Operations Center will host a media briefing on that day.

New fossil tells how piranhas got their teeth
Previously unknown fossil fish bridges the evolutionary gap between flesh-eating piranhas and their plant-eating cousins

Most women would choose surgical profession again
Most women surgeons would choose their career again, although many would favor more options for part-time or other alternative work schedules, according to a report in the July issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Yehezkel Ben-Ari, winner of the 2009 INSERM Grand Prix
Every year since 2000, INSERM has affirmed its commitment to paying tribute to outstanding work performed in its laboratories and departments. By honoring talents, INSERM intends to demonstrate the diversity and wealth of activities involved in today's biological, medical and health research, and the creativity and passion of the men and women who carry out and drive this research each day. The INSERM 2009 prize-giving ceremony will take place on Dec. 17. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to