Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (April 2003)

Science news and science current events archive April, 2003.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from April 2003

AAAS analyzes federal R&D 2004 budget
How will non-defense agencies cope with limited R&D funds, and how will the 2004 budget affect R&D for health and general science? In a time of imminent armed conflict and ever-growing fears of terrorism, the president's proposed 2004 budget sees huge funding increases for defense research and development (R&D), but allows for only a mixture of flat funding, cuts, and modest increases for other areas of non-defense programs like medical research.

OHSU researchers reveal yoga and exercise can improve patients' quality of life
OHSU researchers are releasing the results of a study aimed at determining the benefits of yoga or exercise for MS patients. The trial showed both activities appear to impact fatigue levels. Severe fatigue is a common side effect of MS.

Reduce unnecessary suffering and cost of treatment, says Queen's nurse researcher
Even though there's a recognized

University of Toronto team designs twist on software
University of Toronto researchers have created software that will enable users to twist, bend, push and pull shapes in two and three dimensions.

K-State marketing instructor studies consumer behavior during Internet purchasing
Janis Crow, Kansas State University instructor of marketing, has been researching what happens when consumers build their own products on the Internet.

April 2003 JACI Highlights
This press release highlights new research in asthma treatment from the April 2003 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI). The JACI is the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI).

The pressures of working at home
The quality of home life for homeworkers is the theme of an absorbing study carried out by Dr. Jeanne Moore and Tracey Crosbie of the University of Teesside, for the Economic and Social Research Council. Her work is likely to have widespread resonance among those who already work from home, and offers valuable insights to anyone considering the radical shift from workplace to homeworking.

Whale study links genetics and reproductive success
A recent study focusing on the humpback whales of the Gulf of Maine revealed that differences in reproductive success of whale mothers may play a significant role in changing genetic variation in the population, according to scientists. Specifically, certain maternal lines of whales have produced more calves than other lines in the past decade, a finding that uncovers the often-complex role of genetics and environment in the makeup of this population of long-lived mammals.

The mechanics of anti-tumor activity outlined
Inhibiting the growth and the angiogenic properties of cancer is an important modality for cancer treatment and research. In an article published today in the April issue of Cancer Cell (Vol. 3, No. 4, pg. 363), Winship Cancer Institute (WCI) researchers report that 2-methoxyestradiol (2ME2) inhibits tumor growth and angiogenesis by suppressing hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF).

EHelp donates RoboDemo software worth $75,000 at retail to UC San Diego
eHelp Corporation, the makers of RoboHelp, and University of California, San Diego (USCD) announced today a $75,000 donation in retail value of eHelp's RoboDemo eLearning Edition software to the university through the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology [Cal-(IT)²].

Checking how cells grow
Research published today in Journal of Biology challenges an assumption about cell growth that underpins modern cellular biology. Ian Conlon and Martin Raff, of University College London, show that mammalian cells do not regulate their size in the way scientists have assumed they do since the 1970s.

Gastric emptying for specific foods may be key to managing deadly illnesses in elderly
The rate of gastric emptying is a major measure of the glucose and cardiovascular responses to oral carbohydrates. Now, a team of Australian physiologists has produced evidence that the gastric emptying, or nutrient absorption, for specific foods, may hold the answer for dietary management of deadly illnesses affecting the elderly population.

Experts meet to challenge approaches of testing and developing cancer treatments
Representatives from the National Cancer Institute, Food and Drug Administration, pharmaceutical industry, and academic research centers will meet at Georgetown University Medical Center on April 23 - 24 to critique current practices of clinical development of oncology agents.

Succulent Karoo to benefit from $8 million in grants
Local groups working to conserve the Succulent Karoo's biodiversity will receive much-needed assistance through US$8 million in grants from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). One of the world's most urgent conservation priorities, this desert in southern Africa boasts the richest variety of succulent plants on Earth, as well as high reptile and invertebrate diversity.

How far can a dentist's drill go?
When ESA's Mars Express reaches the Red Planet in December 2003, there will be a drill on board its Beagle 2 lander. This drill will dig into the surface to take samples of the Martian rocks. Who would imagine that the creativity of an enthusiastic dentist is behind a 'cosmic' drill?

Sequence matters when using novel agent
An experimental agent that targets a cancer cell's protein shredding machinery (the proteasome) should be given either before or with taxane-based chemotherapy drugs, but not after, say researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center who conducted laboratory tests using prostate cancer cells.

Counselling can increase fruit and vegetable intake
Behavioural counselling can increase consumption of fruit and vegetables among deprived adults, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

UW researchers find second anthrax toxin receptor
Building on their 2001 discovery of a cellular doorway used by anthrax toxin to enter cells, University of Wisconsin Medical School researchers have found a second anthrax toxin doorway, or receptor. The finding could offer new clues to preventing the toxin's entrance into cells.

Depression during treatment may make it harder for women to quit smoking
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh found that women smokers who experienced an increase in depressive symptoms during smoking-cessation treatment may be more likely to relapse. However, a history of major depressive disorder (MDD) before treatment was not predictive of failure to quit smoking.

Enzyme found in blood vessels likely target to treat lung injury
Scientists at Northwestern University have demonstrated that an enzyme vital to normal function of blood vessels also can be an Achilles heel during infection-induced or ventilator-induced lung injury. They believe that the enzyme holds significant potential as a drug discovery target for the treatment of acute lung injury.

Kids carry bike helmet safety message into middle school
Children taught to wear bicycle helmets in a fourth-grade safety program say they are still wearing their helmets in fifth and sixth grade, according to a new study.

Annals of Internal Medicine, tip sheet, April 15, 2003
Story ideas include strong quadriceps may not help knee arthritis and chemotherapy use at end of life.

Elderly likely to decline after hospitalization
Elderly patients may receive life-saving care by being hospitalized, but one of the costs may be a loss of independence after returning home. That is the finding of a study by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC).

Common thyroid cancer gene mutation found
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have found that a single genetic mistake causes about two-thirds of papillary thyroid cancers. Their research, published in the April 16, 2003 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, may lead to new therapies that could counteract the mistake.

Obesity prevention program aimed at second graders
A groundbreaking program in Colorado is tackling the problem using an integrated science education enrichment program and child-to-parent communications.

Chaos theory may help explain patterns of alcohol abuse, studies suggest
Chaos theory, which helps scientists understand complex systems such as weather patterns and the stock market, may also help shed light on the dynamics of alcohol abuse, a new study suggests. A researcher at Ohio State University used techniques of chaos theory to do a case study of the drinking patterns of an alcohol abuser over several years.

A room with a view helps rural children deal with stress
Having nature in or around the home appears to significantly buffer the impact of stressful life events on rural children's psychological well-being, according to a new study by two Cornell University environmental psychologists, (Environment and Behavior Vol. 35:3).

Odors summon emotion and influence behavior, new study says
Psychologist Rachel S. Herz found that college students stymied by a computer game exhibited their frustration during a later word test when they were in a room with the same scent. Herz will present her study at the annual meeting of the Association for Chemoreception Sciences (AChemS) April 13, 2003, at 8 a.m.

Scientists discover 'drive shaft' in mechanism that propels parasite into cells
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered that a common protein known as aldolase, which is used in cells to produce energy from sugars, serves as a kind of drive shaft in the parasite Toxoplasma as it propels itself into host cells to cause infection.

Potato-related plant species exhaust potato cyst nematode
Dutch plant ecologists have investigated how the potato cyst nematode can be controlled using Solanum sisymbriifolium, a member of the potato family. The plant produces a hatching agent which causes the nematode's eggs to hatch. However, the nematodes which eat the plant can no longer reproduce.

UNC scientists find important new clue to puzzle of addictive behavior
By applying a novel technique to measure changes in chemicals in the brain instantly, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers have discovered what they believe is a major new clue to what causes addictions to cocaine and possibly other drugs including alcohol and tobacco.

Some strokes found to occur when patients stop taking anti-clotting drugs prior to surgery
Researchers at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have found that some strokes originating from blood clots due to abnormal heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation) occurred because patients were told to stop taking a common anti-clotting drug prior to undergoing an invasive surgical procedure.

The structure behind the switch
A team of scientists from the Keck School of Medicine of USC has, for the first time, described a new, stable DNA structure in both mouse and human cells-one which differs from the standard Watson-and-Crick double helix.

Private finance initiative is associated with NHS downsizing and bed reductions
The private finance initiative (PFI) in Lothian, Scotland has not reached its targets for inpatient admissions and performance, show researchers in this week's BMJ. The effect has been a cut in services and downsizing of hospital and community facilities compared with other NHS hospitals in Scotland.

Gene discovery may shed light on carpel tunnel syndrome and Lou Gehrig's disease
NHGRI and NINDS scientists, working together at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), found the gene responsible for Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease type 2D and distal spinal muscular atrophy (dSMA) type V. The gene, called GARS (the glycyl tRNA synthetase gene), is located on chromosome 7 and encodes, or provides the instructions to make one of the aminoacyl tRNA synthetases--a family of enzymes vital to the cell's ability to build proteins.

DNA sequence of chromosome 7 decoded
Scientists at The Hospital for Sick Children (HSC) have compiled the complete DNA sequence of human chromosome 7 and decoded nearly all of the genes on this medically important portion of the human genome. The research, which involved an international collaboration of 90 scientists from 10 countries, publishes in the online version of the scientific journal Science on April 10, 2003.

Biotech regulations impede crop domestication
Government regulations that lump all types of genetic engineering together, instead of making reasonable distinctions between differing technologies, is stifling research, favors large and wealthy corporations, and does little to protect the public safety. Changes need to be made, especially in gene research in crop agriculture.

Uninsured cancer patients receive less care
Emory University researchers show that uninsured cancer patients incur fewer costs because of fewer visits with doctors and health care providers. Uninsured cancer patients also spend more out of pocket, while Hispanic cancer patients are more likely to be uninsured.

Brauman to receive Gibbs Medal for achievements in chemistry
The Chicago Section of the American Chemical Society (ACS) has awarded the 2003 J. Willard Gibbs Medal to John I. Brauman, the J. G. Jackson-C. J. Wood Professor of Chemistry and cognizant dean for the natural sciences at Stanford.

Glowing hot transiting exoplanet discovered
A group of German astronomers have discovered an exoplanet -somewhat larger than Jupiter, but only half as massive- that moves in front of the central star (OGLE-TR-3) every 28.5 hours. This crucial observation was made with the UVES spectrograph on the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT). Some features of this exoplanet include shortest period found to-date and the hemisphere that faces the star is at 2000C.

Genes, Brain and Behavior Symposium April 16
Prominent experts on genes, brain and behavior will discuss the impact of genomics on neuroscience in an all-day scientific symposium at the National Institutes of Health, April 16. Sponsored by seven NIH Institutes, the event is a satellite symposium of

Treating strokes with blood cord cells holds promise, Saint Louis University rat study shows
Human umbilical cord blood could help nerve cells regain function, animal research at Saint Louis University indicates.

Immigrant status, country of origin reveal important differences in smoking prevalence
Statistics concerning immigrant status and country of origin can reveal important health behavior differences that are often obscured by broad racial/ethnic categories used in national-level health surveys.

Think political news is biased? Depends who you ask
Are the news media politically biased against people with

Childhood overweight linked to severe obesity as an adult
Childhood overweight is associated with a significantly higher risk of severe obesity in adulthood, according to a recent study. The study findings demonstrate the importance of childhood overweight as a risk for severe obesity and mortality over the life course. However, overweight children who did not become severely obese as adults were not at greater risk of mortality.

Getting to know a catena
Soils present a marvelous opportunity for science students to see the practical real-world implications and applications of the principles of basic physics, biology and chemistry. Hands-on experience is an important part of learning about soils. Published in the Journal of Natural Resources and Life Science Education, this paper presents a simple but effective approach for studying a catena in a lab class of 15 to 25 students.

The magic behind merlin
A new study reveals an essential role for the merlin protein in maintaining the junctions between cells - a significant advance in understanding the tumor suppressor function of this protein, and how mutations in the gene that encodes it can contribute to cancer. The report is published by Dr. Andrea McClatchey and colleagues at the MGH Cancer Center (Charlestown, MA) and INSERM (Paris, France) in the May 1 issue of Genes & Development.

B-vitamins prove effective in relieving chronic pain
New findings reveal that this treatment could be highly effective in alleviating neuropathic pain caused by injury to the nervous system.

Study demonstrates that low dose tamoxifen may be effective in treating breast cancer
Administering tamoxifen at lower doses than the current standard dose appears to effectively reduce breast cancer proliferation while causing fewer side effects, according to data published in the Proceedings for the 2003 Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR). Unlike standard chemotherapy, estrogen-based agents such as tamoxifen work by saturating the estrogen receptor. Once saturation occurs, there is no longer any treatment benefit regardless of regimen frequency or dosing, and additional drug may cause an increase in side effects.

Hebrew University excavations strengthen dating of archaeological findings to David, Solomon
A new, laboratory-based affirmation of the existence of a united Israelite monarchy headed by kings David and Solomon in the 10th century B.C.E. has been revealed as the result of excavations carried out by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Archeology.

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