Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (April 2004)

Science news and science current events archive April, 2004.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from April 2004

May GEOLOGY media highlights
The May issue of Geology covers a wide variety of potentially newsworthy subjects. Topics include: discovery in the U.K. of Earth's earliest recorded wildfire; new perspectives on high levels of atmospheric oxygen in the late Paleozoic; new paleoclimatological and fossil record evidence documenting migration of snakehead (

Study reveals cause of loss of consciousness during seizures
Persons who lose consciousness during seizures have abnormal signals scattered across brain images like a fireworks display. In contrast, patients who had seizures but did not lose consciousness had localized increases confined to the temporal lobe.

Carnegie Mellon interactive-video DVD helps teens avoid sexually transmitted diseases
Sexually active teenage girls who viewed an interactive sex education DVD created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University were more likely to become abstinent than girls who did not see the DVD, according to a study of 300 adolescent girls in the Pittsburgh area. The study will be published this fall in the journal

Continuous insulin monitoring does not raise hospital costs
Patients with diabetes whose glucose is continually monitored after coronary bypass artery graft surgery do not incur higher medical costs despite the additional testing, Penn State Diabetes Center researchers report.

New research to address early lung cancer detection
Researchers at Cornell Medical College announced today the funding of an important new cancer research study using new CT screening technology that gives doctors a more defined picture of potential cancer development. The goal of this study is to show that CT screening for lung cancer, and the enhanced ability to show potential early cancer development, can be effectively linked to smoking-cessation programs to help motivate people to stop smoking.

Unmarried women say they feel misunderstood in doctors' offices
Inhibitions about doctor visits was a main reason unmarried women said they did not seek routine cancer screening tests, according to initial findings from a five-year study of women ages 40 to 75. Change is needed to ensure the 20 million women in this population undergo tests that detect cancer in its early stages. Researchers are recruiting 600 women for the next phase of the project.

University of Michigan symposium charts course for the future of telemedicine
Future Directions for Telemedicine is a symposium taking place May 20-22 in Ann Arbor, MI for those in medicine, public health, engineering and information science, biomedical and health services research, health policy and program development. This is the second telemedicine symposium sponsored jointly by the University of Michigan Health System and the World Health Organization.

Duke scientists overcome immune resistance in dendritic cell vaccines for cancer
Scientists have discovered why dendritic cell vaccines do not attack cancer as forcefully as expected, and they have demonstrated how to overcome this constraint by bolstering the vaccines' tumor-seeking machinery.

Turkish-American relations conference first of its kind
An unprecedented gathering on American soil of Turkish cabinet members and Turkish cultural and business leaders will converge at Stevens Institute of Technology (Hoboken, NJ) for the first Turkish-American Conference on Technology, Business and Culture:

Turning robots into a well-oiled machine
Humans are social creatures, but robots, for the most part, are not. To help emergency response personnel in the trenches, a team of researchers is writing the playbook to turn a group of robots into a single well-oiled machine.

Poorest in India are biggest consumers of tobacco
The view that many poor families in South Asia are going without food to get tobacco is raised in this week's BMJ. A study from India finds that those with the lowest standard of living smoke and chew tobacco more than others do.

Protein-centric drug development and functional glycomics enrich biopharmaceuticals pipeline
Researchers are beginning to see the potential for breakthrough in healthcare through glycomics, which studies carbohydrates, proteins and their interactions. In fact, these carbohydrates are moving beyond their regular roles as sugar storage bins. Carbohydrate-binding proteins are becoming extremely useful in curing various illnesses.

Science and technology experts analyze President's budget and critical policy issues
AAAS, the science society, will release a comprehensive five-year budget forecast at the 29th Annual Science and Technology Policy Forum in Washington D.C., 22 - 23 April.

American Society for Microbiology 104th general meeting
The American Society for Microbiology will hold its 104th General Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, May 23-27, 2004, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The meeting, will feature approximately 3,000 scientific presentations on topics spanning the spectrum of the microbiological sciences.

SSX, a new family of cancer vaccine targets
Scientists from the Cancer Vaccine Collaborative (CVC) have discovered that the cancer-specific protein, SSX-2, induces a spontaneous immunological reaction against cancer cells in melanoma patients, offering a new target for the development of a therapeutic melanoma vaccine. The first early-phase clinical trial, which will assess the safety and dose profiles of an SSX-2 peptide-based vaccine, is scheduled to begin this year at the CVC Clinical Trials Center in Zürich, Switzerland.

Canadian doctors don't know costs of prescribed treatments
For the most part, family physicians in British Columbia aren't even close when they guess the costs of the treatments and tests they prescribe for their patients, according to a new study published in the journal Canadian Family Physician.

Two molecules work together to aid transport of immune cells, UT Southwestern researchers find
New research findings about T-cell transport shed light on how the normal immune system functions and could have implications in fighting autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, say researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Surgery for treatment of temporal lobe epilepsy varies among ethnic groups
African Americans are less than half as likely as non-Hispanic whites to undergo surgery for temporal lobe epilepsy, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 56th Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The difference in surgery rates is independent of other demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical variables, including availability of medical insurance.

Damage to brain vessels increases the chance of dementia and depression
Dutch researcher Niels Prins has discovered that elderly people with a lot of damage to the small blood vessels in the brain have a greater chance of developing dementia or depression. The damage is visible on MRI scans as white matter lesions and infarcts of the brain.

Nighttime chemistry affects ozone formation
When it comes to air pollution, what goes on at night can be just as important as what happens during the day. Scientists found that nighttime chemical processes remove nitrogen oxides (NOx) from the atmosphere in the marine boundary layer off the coast of New England. With less nitrogen oxides in the atmosphere, ozone production the next day will almost always be reduced. The nighttime chemistry is a new piece of the air quality puzzle, the researchers say.

Duration of hospital stay has shortened for patients with heart attack
From 1986 to 1999, the average length of hospital stay for patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI, or heart attack) has significantly declined, without increases in death rates after discharge, according to an article in the April 12 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, April 2004
Story ideas from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the month of April include high-tech protective gear for first responders, self-organizing polymers, fuel for the future and belt-free automobiles.

Top honors for patient counseling awarded to UH student
Michelle Edwards, a UH College of Pharmacy student, took first place in the Patient Counseling Competition for students at the American Pharmacists Association (APhA) national convention in Seattle March 29. Two years running as the local Houston winner, Edwards, a 2004 Pharm.D. candidate at the University of Houston, garnered a spot at nationals to prove that she is the best in patient counseling, demonstrating her ability to communicate under pressure.

GlaxoSmithKline Drug Discovery and Development Research Grant Program 2004
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is pleased to announce a call for applications for its 2004 Drug Discovery and Development Research Grant Program. GSK will award $250,000 in grants for innovative HIV/AIDS drug research in recognition of the need to produce new alternatives and hope in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Applications must be submitted by July 31. For more information, please call 1-888-527-6935 or visit
Spiders make best ever Post-it notes
Scientists have found that the way spiders stick to ceilings could be the key to making Post-it® notes that don't fall off - even when they are wet. A team from Germany and Switzerland have made the first detailed examinations of a jumping spider's 'foot' and have discovered that a molecular force sticks the spider to almost anything. The research is published today in the Institute of Physics journal Smart Materials and Structures.

American Society of Plant Biologists offers developing nations free access to science journals
The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) announced today that it is offering scientists in nearly 70 poor nations free access to its plant science journals: Plant Physiology and The Plant Cell.

New efforts needed to address cleanup after 'dirty bomb' attack
If the United States fell victim to a dirty bomb attack, current regulations for environmental remediation would be inadequate, hampering attempts to clean up the site and restore order, according to a study by scientists from Argonne National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Study shows coenzyme Q10 may prevent migraine
A popular supplement, coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), may help prevent migraine, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology 56th Annual Meeting in San Francisco, Calif., April 24 - May 1, 2004. Migraine patients who took 100 mg three times a day of CoQ10--which acts as the body's energy producer--had fewer attacks in three months than those who took a placebo.

Vitamin C reduces level of C-reactive protein, finds UC Berkeley-led study
A new study led by UC Berkeley researchers is giving yet another boost to vitamin C's healthy reputation. They found that people who took 500 milligrams of vitamin C supplements per day saw a 24 percent drop in levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the body that has garnered increasing attention among health researchers in recent years.

Alzheimers disease - recent discoveries pave the way toward new treatments
Promising research into the causes of Alzheimer's disease, with an emphasis on the roles of such proteins as amyloid-beta and apolipoprotein E, will be the subject of a plenary session presentation on April 29 at the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) 56th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

NJIT grad student and professor take ride of their lives in vomit comet
Researchers at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) recently took an extraordinary ride in the interest of science, aboard a flying laboratory dubbed the Weightless Wonder.

Fox Chase Cancer Center and the Girl Scouts partner to promote oncology nursing careers
What can healthcare institutions do to ensure that a future nursing shortage does not affect their ability to provide patients with excellent care? Nursing career specialist, Maureen Mullin, RN, BSN, OCN, at Fox Chase Cancer Center offers expert suggestions on how to combat the potential impact of a nursing shortage.

Combination PET/CT should be used to determine stage of non-small cell lung cancer
The combination of real-time PET and CT is a highly sensitive tool for identifying non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and can assist in identifying patients whose cancer has not yet spread to lymph nodes, according to results of a study by researchers at Johns Hopkins.

Challenges facing a changing rural America
A new book,

New NASA technology helps forecasters in severe weather season
NASA is providing new technology and satellite data to help forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) create the best possible forecasts of severe springtime weather.

Radio astronomers lift 'fog' on Milky Way's dark heart
The massive black hole at the core of the Milky Way emits intense radiation as matter falls inward, but its true size is obscured by a fog of ionized gas between Earth and the center, 26,000 light years away. Now, using the Very Long Baseline Array, radio astronomers led by Geoffrey Bower of UC Berkeley have peered through this fog to get an accurate estimate of the size of the object surrounding the black hole.

Gene mutation found for a form of juvenile-onset motor neuron disease
Researchers have discovered a genetic mutation associated with an inherited form of motor neuron disease in which symptoms first appear in childhood or young adulthood. Learning more about the biological repercussions of the mutation may lead to insights on how motor neurons are damaged in other forms of ALS.

'Virtual colonoscopy' techniques and training need to be improved before widespread clinical use
The accuracy of computed tomographic colonography (

Engineered virus provides impetus in search for HIV vaccine
A hybrid gene therapy vector that contains components of two viruses could provide a vehicle for producing a vaccine against a host of diseases, including the human immunodeficiency virus, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine.

ACP guidelines: Many diabetics should be taking statins
All people with type 2 diabetes mellitus and coronary artery disease and all people with diabetes and any other risk for cardiovascular disease should be taking cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins, the American College of Physicians said in new guidelines published in the April 20, 2004, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. This is the second ACP guideline on aggressive management of risk factors for cardiovascular disease in people with type 2 diabetes.

Statins and aspirin may protect against severe vision loss in elderly
Cholesterol-busting statins, the largest-selling prescription drugs in the U.S., may protect older people from blindness, a new study shows. Aspirin also appears to provide significant protection, according to the research.

Diagnostic method based on nanoscience could rival PCR
Since the advent of the polymerase chain reaction, scientists have been trying to overturn it with something better. The

Genetic screening study at Stanford ID's most aggressive adult leukemia strains
In an effort to help doctors identify cancer patients in need of aggressive therapy, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have uncovered 133 genes that point to the most dangerous strains of adult acute myeloid leukemia, or AML. Their research, published in the April 15 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, may help doctors pick the best treatment for their AML patients.

Researchers invent way to determine optimal conditions for spinal cord nerve regen in lab animals
Mayo Clinic researchers have created a method for measuring the growth of new spinal cord nerve fibers in rats, an advance that allows them to quickly determine nerve regeneration rate and what variables in the nerve-growth environment best support it.

Scripps Nierenberg Prize awarded to renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall
The fourth annual award honoring the memory of William A. Nierenberg, who led Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UCSD, as director for more than two decades, will be awarded to celebrated primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall.

New Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health established
Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have joined together to form the Woods Hole Center for Oceans and Human Health (COHH). The new Center, with administrative offices at WHOI, will serve as a focal point for research on issues at the intersection of oceanographic, biological and environmental health sciences, such as harmful algal blooms and organisms in coastal waters and estuaries that cause human illness and death.

Combinatorial techniques yield polymer libraries to expedite materials testing and design
A Georgia Tech professor has pioneered combinatorial synthesis and high-throughput screening in polymer science - techniques that allow researchers to create and evaluate thousands of polymeric materials in a single experiment.

ASIRAS, a new ESA airborne instrument sees ice for the first time
Making sure that the measurements made by satellites are as accurate as possible has always been a difficult business and this will be especially true for ESA's ice mission CryoSat. However, last week a new instrument, which is set to be the workhorse for validating CryoSat data, was successfully tested from an aircraft over the snow and ice not far from the North Pole.

Pregnancy complications high even when diabetes is under control
Women with diabetes are at an increased risk of pregnancy complications, even if their diabetes is well controlled, according to new research. These findings suggest that the current criteria for strict blood sugar (glycaemic) control before and during pregnancy are not good enough.

Researchers go fishing, pull out antigens
Researchers at National Jewish have developed a method for finding the molecular targets of the immune system, known as antigens. The method extends a widely used technique, called library display, to more complex proteins. It could have broad applications in biological and medical research. The research team is already collaborating with teams looking for causes of the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis, developing cancer vaccines, and understanding the molecular triggers of chronic beryllium disease.

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