Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (April 2007)

Science news and science current events archive April, 2007.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from April 2007

Trips to the NanoFrontier
Given the incredible promise of the fast emerging field -- and the billions in public and private investment that it has attracted -- the Wilson Center's Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies launched today a new series of NanoFrontiers newsletters and podcasts focused on progress toward exciting applications on the horizon of nanotechnology. Intended to encourage broader public understanding of nanotechnology, both are available online.

Benefits of antidepressants appear greater than risks for children, teens
A review of previous studies indicates that the benefits of antidepressants for children and teens with depression or anxiety disorders may outweigh their risks, and that the increased risk for suicidal thoughts and attempts from using these medications is not statistically significant, according to an article in the April 18 issue of JAMA.

New method predicts hip joint decay from chemotherapy
Investigators at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital say they have found the best way for predicting when patients will need future surgery to repair hip joints that have deteriorated because of pediatric leukemia or lymphoma treatment.

JCI table of contents -- April 19, 2007
This release contains summaries, links to PDFs and contact information for the following newsworthy papers to be published online, April 19, 2007, in the JCI, including: Why cisplatin kills breast cancer cells when other drugs fail; Why don't mothers' bodies reject their fetus?; Understanding how glucocorticoids work to stop skin irritation; Filling in the blanks: MAPKs mediate heart function defects in Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy; and others.

Richard Mayeux awarded AAN Potamkin Prize for Alzheimer's research
The American Academy of Neurology is awarding the 2007 Potamkin Prize to Richard Mayeux, M.D., M.Sc., Fellow of the AAN and co-director of the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's and the Aging Brain, Columbia University Medical Center in New York, for his research related to Alzheimer's disease.

The discovery of America: The revolutionary claims of a dead historian
History tells us Columbus discovered America in 1492 and, five years later, John Cabot reached the mainland of North America before Columbus could claim South America for Spain. What if new evidence was unearthed to suggest that while Columbus was still exploring the Caribbean, Cabot had claimed the whole of North America for England and, at the same time, established its first Christian church?

Elsevier partnership with Peking University Medical Press
Elsevier, a world-leading medical publisher, today announced an extension of their partnership with Peking University Medical Press.

Revolutionizing prosthetics 2009 team delivers first DARPA limb prototype
An international team has developed a prototype of the first fully integrated prosthetic arm that can be controlled naturally and provide sensory feedback, and allows for eight degrees of freedom -- a level of control far beyond the current state of the art for prosthetic limbs.

Dust clouds in cosmic cycle
It has been a mystery for astronomers how certain dying stars have their colossal quantities of material blown out into the universe and shrink into objects called

Malpractice study -- Juries sympathize more with doctors
There's a common belief that juries frequently side with patients in lawsuits involving medical malpractice. A legal professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia's School of Law insists that's not the case.

Decrease in breast cancer incidence linked to drop in hormone replacement
A special report in the April 19, 2007, edition of the New England Journal of Medicine concludes that the sharp decline in breast-cancer incidence in 2003, followed by a relative stabilization at a lower rater in 2004, is most likely related to the first report of the Women's Health Initiative and the ensuing drop in hormone-replacement therapy among postmenopausal women.

With right lessons, non-native kindergarteners learn vocabulary faster than native English-speakers
Analyzing rates of target word acquisition and overall vocabulary development, this study finds that students learning English as a second language pick up general vocabulary more quickly and target vocabulary words at the same rate as native English-speaking kindergarteners with oral instruction, such as storytime.

FDA approves accelerated dosing schedule for Glaxosmithkline's Twinrix
FDA approves accelerated dosing schedule for Glaxosmithkline's Twinrix.

High insulin levels impair intestinal metabolic function
Nutritional scientists at the University of Alberta are the first to establish a connection between high insulin levels and dysfunction of intestinal lipid metabolism in an animal model. They believe this finding supports their contention that impaired intestinal metabolic function plays a critical role in the development of cardiovascular disease.

Gender linked to development of skin cancer
Inherent gender differences -- instead of more sun exposure -- may be one reason why men are three times more likely than women to develop certain kinds of skin cancer, say researchers at Ohio State University Medical Center.

Oncolytics Biotech Inc. proceeds to initiate US Phase II sarcoma clinical trial
Oncolytics Biotech Inc., announced that subsequent to the regulatory review period for this submission, it is proceeding with a Phase II trial to evaluate the intravenous administration of Reolysin in patients with various sarcomas that have metastasized to the lung.

Study of California's tobacco control study
Since the advent of the California Tobacco Control Program, in 1989, the state's young adult smokers are quitting the habit in record numbers and older smokers are consuming far fewer cigarettes, according to a new series of studies from the Moores Cancer Center at University of California, San Diego.

Brain structure changes years before memory loss begins
People who develop dementia or Alzheimer's disease experience brain structure changes years before any signs of memory loss begin, according to a study published in the April 17, 2007, issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Researchers say these findings may help identify people at risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, which leads to Alzheimer's disease.

Snowmelt monitored in the Baltic Sea watershed region in near real time
As spring melt of winter snow is underway in the Baltic Sea watershed region, satellites are monitoring and mapping the snow melting process to help local authorities manage water supplies and predict and prepare for floods. Remote sensing is the only technique capable of providing a comprehensive view over such a large area.

Nanotechnology offers hope for treating spinal cord injuries, diabetes and Parkinson's disease
Dr. Samuel I. Stupp, director of the Institute of BioNanotechnology in Medicine at Northwestern University, is one of a new breed of scientists combining nanotechnology and biology to enable the body to heal itself -- and who are achieving amazing early results. Dr. Stupp's work suggests that nanotechnology can be used to mobilize the body's own healing abilities to repair or regenerate damaged cells.

Study shows food preparation may play a bigger role in chronic disease than was previously thought
How your food is cooked may be as important to your health as the food itself. Researchers now know more about a new class of toxins that might soon become as important a risk factor for heart disease and metabolic disorders as trans fats.

How genetic malfunction causes a form of retardation
Researchers have discovered that the genetic malfunction that causes a form of mental retardation called Noonan Syndrome produces an imbalance in the genesis of two types of cells in the developing embryonic brain. This imbalance, they theorize, could explain how the genetic abnormality gives rise to the neural pathology of the disorder. More broadly, they said, the new insight into the mechanism underlying NS could apply to other inherited forms of retardation.

Driving on the wrong side of the road -- the myth of Japanese efficiency in car manufacturing
The real culprit for the collapse of Rover Group under the ownership of BMW was a misconceived attempt to emulate Japanese production methods that pre-dated ownership by the German car giant, a new book shows. Based on research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the book reveals that rather than helping the fortunes of the Rover Group,

Fewer children and teens received antidepressants following FDA warnings
The number of children and teenagers prescribed antidepressant medications appears to have decreased following public warnings about suicidal behavior potentially associated with the drugs, according to a report published in the April issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. In addition, antidepressants are now more often prescribed to this age group by psychiatrists rather than primary care physicians.

MIT model helps researchers 'see' brain development
Large mammals -- humans, monkeys and even cats -- have brains with a somewhat mysterious feature: the outermost layer has a folded surface. Understanding the functional significance of these folds is one of the big open questions in neuroscience. Now a team led by MIT, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School researchers has developed a tool that could aid such studies by helping researchers

Plastic with changeable conductivity developed by chemical engineer
Dr. Yueh-Lin (Lynn) Loo at the University of Texas at Austin has modified a plastic so its ability to carry an electrical current can be altered during manufacturing to meet the needs of future electronic devices.

Novel antigen-cloning technique may boost efforts to develop a melanoma vaccine
Experimental vaccines to help the immune system fight tumors have rarely been designed to directly stimulate helper T cells, one of the body's most critical immune responders, because of the difficult process required to isolate and clone antigens for vaccine development. Now, a new technique may allow scientists to create a melanoma vaccine able to stimulate helper T cells. The approach may also aid in the development of other vaccines against cancers or infectious diseases.

Researchers associate calories from newspaper dessert recipes with community obesity rates
Research finds calorie-dense dessert recipes printed in major newspapers across the country may be contributing to obesity in large cities. The study, conducted by researchers at Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, Wis., is published in the latest issue of the Wisconsin Medical Journal (Volume 106, No. 2).

Long-term use of adult-strength aspirin linked to a moderate decreased cancer risk
A daily dose of adult-strength aspirin may modestly reduce cancer risk in populations with high rates of colorectal, prostate, and breast cancer if taken for at least five years.

Argonne helps improve air quality for 2008 Beijing Olympics
To improve the air quality of Beijing and ensure a healthy atmosphere for athletes and spectators at the 2008 Summer Olympics, the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory has been working with leading institutions, including the US Environmental Protection Agency, the University of Tennessee, Tsinghua University, Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Obesity may be linked to middle ear effusions in children
Childhood obesity may be associated with a condition known as otitis media with effusion, which consists of fluid build-up in the middle ear space without symptoms of acute ear infection, according to a report in the April issue of Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Ocean's 'twilight zone' plays important role in climate change
A major study has shed new light on the dim layer of the ocean called the

Mayo Clinic solves painful puzzle of UT ligament split tear in wrist
A Mayo Clinic orthopedic surgeon has discovered a common cause of debilitating wrist pain -- a split tear of the UT ligament -- that can be reliably detected through a simple physical examination and can be fully repaired through an arthroscopically guided surgical procedure. The findings are published in the April issue of the American Journal of Hand Surgery.

Bill and Melinda Gates to receive honorary degrees from Karolinska Institutet
Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife Melinda French Gates will receive honorary doctor of medicine degrees from Karolinska Institutet for their contributions to global health through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A special conferment ceremony will be arranged in Stockholm next January.

New research in Psychological Science
Be the first to read this innovative research in the May issue of the journal Psychological Science, published by the Association for Psychological Science. Here is a list of the research reports and their abstracts.

Study finds dietary fat interacts with genes
Research finds that for most adults in the Framingham Heart Study, dietary fat intake is associated with body mass index (BMI). However, for 13 percent of the study population with a specific gene variant within the apolipoprotein A5 gene (APOA5), higher dietary fat was not related to a higher BMI.

Want to monitor climate change? P-p-p-pick up a penguin!
We are used to hearing about the effects of climate change in terms of unusual animal behavior, such as altering patterns of fish and bird migration. However, scientists at the University of Birmingham are trying out an alternative bio-indicator -- the king penguin -- to investigate whether they can be used to monitor the effects of climate change.

Minimally invasive lung cancer surgery can improve chemotherapy outcomes
Patients who undergo a minimally invasive lung cancer surgery called thoracoscopic lobectomy may derive more benefit from the chemotherapy that follows, according to Duke University Medical Center researchers. These patients also have shorter hospital stays and accelerated recovery time compared with patients who have their tumors removed using the traditional surgical approach that involves opening the chest.

Renewable hydrogen energy -- an answer to the energy crisis
Harvesting solar energy to produce renewable, carbon free and cost-effective hydrogen as an alternative energy source is the focus of a new £4.2 million research program at Imperial College London. The college's Energy Futures Lab receives the funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. The program will develop both biological and chemical solar driven processes to develop renewable and cost-effective methods of producing hydrogen which can be used to operate fuel cells.

Stanford scientists make major breakthrough in regenerative medicine
Findings described in a new study by Stanford scientists may be the first step toward a major revolution in human regenerative medicine -- a future where advanced organ damage can be repaired by the body itself. In the May 2007 issue of the FASEB Journal, researchers show that a human evolutionary ancestor, the sea squirt, can correct abnormalities over a series of generations, suggesting that a similar regenerative process might be possible in people.

Rhesus macaque genome may hold clues for human health and evolution
An international consortium of scientists has completed a draft sequence of the rhesus macaque genome, a species of non-human primate widely used for creating models of human diseases and infections. The study paves the way for researchers to watch disease progression at the genetic level in macaques, a close relative of humans. The findings, which appear April 13 in the journal Science, will let us learn how humans and other primates evolved into distinct species.

What makes a racist? A debate at the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University, April 26, 2007
Some of the world's finest scientists, writers and evolutionary thinkers are converging on Durham for a major event which will examine provocative questions relating to fundamental human beliefs and spirituality.

How is the digitization of information impacting across the health service?
In a survey of 200 patients and their representatives, clinicians and other healthcare professionals (librarians and IT staff) from across eight NHS trusts, Professor Ann Blandford and Professor Peter Lunt have looked at the growing need to understand how digitization of health information will impact upon patients, staff and managers across the health service.

Little lifesavers -- Nanoparticles improve delivery of medicines and diagnostics
Tiny, biodegradable particles filled with medicine may also contain answers to some of the biggest human health problems, including cancer and tuberculosis. The secret is the size of the package. Using an innovative technique they invented, a Princeton University-led research team has created particles that can deliver medicine deep into the lungs or infiltrate cancer cells while leaving normal ones alone.

Doubt cast on routine screening to pick up overweight and obese schoolchildren
Primary schoolchildren should not be routinely screened for obesity and overweight in the absence of effective treatment, finds research in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Statin treatment improves spatial memory in mouse models of Alzheimer's
Treatment with Simvastatin, one of the statin drugs widely used for lowering cholesterol in humans, significantly improved spatial memory -- how to navigate a water maze -- in mice genetically bred to have an Alzheimer's like disease. Although statin improved memory in both males and females, the results were more pronounced in males.

Sticking with guidelines for acute coronary syndromes benefits even very elderly patients
According to a study published in the May 1, 2007, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, patients age 90 and older who came to the emergency room with acute coronary syndromes were less likely than younger patients to receive recommended treatments -- but for those who did, survival was much better.

Study shows zinc doesn't help head and neck cancer patients
Zinc sulfate, a supplement thought to be helpful in regaining the sense of taste for some head and neck cancer patients after radiation therapy, has been found to have no significant impact on preventing or curing taste alteration, according to a study released today in the International Journal for Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics, the official journal of ASTRO.

Tai Chi boosts immunity to shingles virus in older adults, NIH-sponsored study reports
Tai Chi, a traditional Chinese form of exercise, may help older adults avoid getting shingles by increasing immunity to varicella-zoster virus and boosting the immune response to varicella vaccine in older adults, according to a new study publishsed in print this week in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

New drug shows promise for treating epileptic seizures
A new study appearing in the latest issue of Epilepsia shows that a new drug called Eslicarbazepine (ESL) shows promise as a treatment for epilepsy patients whose symptoms remain uncontrolled with existing medications. A once-daily dose was shown to be most effective, offering patients added convenience as current treatments can involve several doses per day. 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