Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (April 2010)

Science news and science current events archive April, 2010.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from April 2010

Barrow scientist receives $450K MDA grant
A scientist at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix has been awarded a major grant from the Muscular Dystrophy Association to continue his groundbreaking work in the disease of myasthenia gravis.

FDNY rescue workers show lasting lung damage from 9/11 World Trade Center dust
A study of nearly 13,000 rescue workers from the Fire Department of the City of New York shows that the significant proportion who suffered acute lung damage after exposure to World Trade Center dust have not recovered normal lung function in the years since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

American Academy of Periodontology calls on CDC to assess periodontal health in the US
The American Academy of Periodontology was recently invited to provide testimony to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Oral Health as part of the strategic planning process for 2011 through 2014. The submission of this testimony is an extension of the longstanding collaboration between the AAP and the CDC to develop a surveillance program to determine the incidence and prevalence of periodontal disease in the US population.

Family-focused program shows benefit in treating excess weight in children
Weight Watchers has helped millions of American adults successfully lose weight and now results from a pilot, family-focused Weight Watchers approach designed to support parents shows potential for success in reducing excess weight in children, according to a study presented at the Experimental Biology Annual Meeting, Anaheim, Calif., April 27, 2010.

Hawaiian submarine canyons are hotspots of biodiversity and biomass for seafloor animal communities
Underwater canyons have long been considered important habitats for marine life, but until recently, only canyons on continental margins had been intensively studied. Researchers from Hawaii Pacific University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa have now conducted the first extensive study of canyons in the oceanic Hawaiian Archipelago and found that these submarine canyons support especially abundant and unique communities of megafauna including 41 species not observed in other habitats in the Hawaiian Islands.

$300 million fundraising campaign launched to help poor rice farmers of Asia
In the face of unrelenting pressure on Asian rice farmers to grow more rice to feed the poorest people in the region, a $300 million fundraising campaign has been launched in the United States.

Weekend hospital admissions are higher risk for patients with acute kidney injury
Patients with acute kidney injury (AKI) who are admitted to the hospital on a weekend are more likely to die than those admitted on a weekday, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology. This disparity was most evident in smaller hospitals. The findings indicate that researchers should further investigate the availability and timing of care to patients hospitalized with AKI.

Hypertensive rat genome sequence expected to uncover genetic basis of human hypertension
Chronic high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a serious health risk factor that afflicts more than 25 percent of all adults worldwide, but the molecular basis of the disease remains poorly understood. In a study published online today in Genome Research, scientists have sequenced the genome of the spontaneously hypertensive rat, building a rich catalog of genetic variants that will help researchers to understand causes of the disease in humans.

SSRIs and cardiovascular health
A class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may provide a boost to cardiovascular health by affecting the way platelets, small cells in the blood involved in clotting, clump together.

Demonstrated in vivo the transfer of maternal thyroid hormones to the fetus
By results from a Italian study conducted by a team of researchers led by the endocrinologist of Universita Cattolica Alfredo Pontecorvi clarify the role of thyroid hormones in the mother's embryo-fetal nervous system and other organs during pregnancy. The animal model created can be used to better understand the adverts effects of maternal thyroid diseases in the development of the unborn child but also to develop drug therapies to treat diseases such as heart failure, obesity and hypercholesterolemia.

Successful launch for ESA's CryoSat-2 ice satellite
Europe's first mission dedicated to studying the Earth's ice was launched today from Kazakhstan. From its polar orbit, CryoSat-2 will send back data leading to new insights into how ice is responding to climate change and the role it plays in our

Regional hyperthermia combined with chemotherapy could improve survival in sarcoma patients
Treating high-risk sarcoma with hyperthermia, by applying regional heat, alongside chemotherapy could improve the chances of survival, concludes an article published online first in the Lancet Oncology.

Making the invisible visible
The Large Binocular Telescope partners in Germany, the US and Italy are pleased to announce that the first of two new innovative near-infrared cameras/spectrographs for the LBT is now available to astronomers for scientific observations at the telescope on Mt. Graham in southeastern Arizona. After more than a decade of design, manufacturing and testing, the new instrument, dubbed LUCIFER 1, provides a powerful tool to gain spectacular insights into the universe.

Traumatized trees: Bug them enough, they get fired up
Whether forests are dying back, or just drying out, projections for warming show the Pacific Northwest is primed for more wildfires. Fuels built up after a century of rushing to suppress fires have long been pointed to as the reason, but starting in the early 1990s climate appears to have become a contributing factor.

Stealthy leads to healthy in effort to improve diet, Stanford study shows
How do you get college students to eat better? A new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine suggests that a

University of Arizona Superfund Research Program receives $14 million
Metal-laden dust and contaminated water, and their health effects, will be the focus of multiple projects for the University of Arizona's Superfund Research Program during the next five years. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recently notified UA that the Superfund Research Program, funded since 1989, will receive an additional $14 million in grant funding through 2015 to conduct the research.

Hops helps reduce ammonia produced by cattle
An Agricultural Research Service scientist may have found a way to cut the amount of ammonia produced by cattle, using a key ingredient of the brewer's art: hops.

Older age associated with risk of complications, death after implantation of cardiac devices
Older patients may be more likely to die in the hospital following the implantation of defibrillators or pacemakers, according to a report in the April 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. More than one-fifth of cardiac devices appear to be implanted in individuals age 80 and older, despite the fact that most clinical trials have not included adults in this age group.

Botulinum injection provides relief of tennis elbow
An injection of botulinum toxin can provide relief for

Curcumin nanoparticles 'open up' resistant cancers
Pre-treatment with curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric, makes ovarian cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access Journal of Ovarian Research found that delivering the curcumin via very small (less than 100 nm) nanoparticles enhanced the sensitizing effect.

Pittsburgh's young workforce among top 5 most educated in US
Once defined by heavy-industry and blue-collar masses, Pittsburgh now hosts the fifth most educated young workforce in the United States, a distinction that groups the city with such bastions of erudition as Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., according to a recent report in the Pittsburgh Economic Quarterly published by the University of Pittsburgh's University Center for Social and Urban Research.

Commissioning in the English NHS should be abandoned
Commissioning in the English NHS is a failing system that needs to be abandoned, says a public policy expert in an editorial published on today.

OHSU research explains repeated infection by some viruses
This research explains how a virus that has already infected up to 80 percent of the American population can repeatedly re-infect individuals despite the presence of a strong and long-lasting immune response. The results of this study primarily illustrate the significant barriers to creating a vaccine that will prevent CMV infection. This research also explains why CMV might be a useful viral vaccine vector.

Nano-infused filters prove effective
Rice University researchers and their colleagues in Finland and Hungary have found a way to make carbon nanotube membranes that could find wide application as extra-fine air filters and as scaffolds for catalysts that speed chemical reactions.

Ayman El-Hattab, M.D., is awarded the 2010 Genzyme/ACMG Foundation Genetics Fellowship
The objective of the Genzyme/ACMGF Award is to support a national fellowship program to encourage the recruitment and training of clinicians in the field of clinical biochemical genetics and especially in the diagnosis, management and treatment of individuals with metabolic diseases. This award grants $75,000 annually to a recipient selected by the ACMG Foundation through a competitive process, and will provide for the sponsorship of a trainee's first year of fellowship following residency in a genetics fellowship.

Gone with the wind: Far-flung pine pollen still potent miles from the tree
To see how far, and how high, pine pollen can travel and still germinate, Williams and her colleagues used a hand-held device called a spore sampler to capture and analyze pollen found miles from the mainland. Sampling by helicopter and by ferry, they found viable pine pollen as far as 2000 feet in the air and 25 miles offshore.

US health care reform: Victory, at last
The lead editorial is this week's Lancet applauds the US Health Care Reform Bill for extending access to health care and for intending to narrow the gap between expenditure and health outcomes -- stating it is an

Plastic electronics could slash the cost of solar panels
By producing plastics that are translucent, malleable and able to conduct electricity, researchers have opened the door to broader use of the materials in a wide range of electrical devices.

Bigger molecular-sized anesthetics do not promote amyloid beta peptide micro-aggregation
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting millions of people worldwide and has become a major global concern. Uncontrolled oligomerization (aggregation) of A-beta peptide is the hallmark of AD and it is believed to be causally related to AD pathomechanism. Intensive research (biophysical, animal model and clinical) is underway to investigate the cause of this unexplained aggregation of A-beta peptide and subsequently to trace the molecular pathways involved in the phenomenon.

Scientists get bird's-eye view of how cuckoos fool their hosts
Using field experiments in Africa and a new computer model that gives them a bird's-eye view of the world, Cambridge scientists have discovered how a bird decides whether or not a cuckoo has laid an egg in its nest. The finding offers unique insights into a 20-million-year-old evolutionary arms race.

Caltech researchers create 'sound bullets'
Taking inspiration from a popular executive toy (

Making personalized lung cancer therapy a reality in Europe
The recent approval of Europe's first personalized treatment for lung cancer heralds the arrival of a new era for lung cancer treatment that will demand significant changes to the way cancer specialists and other hospital doctors work.

Primary care physicians nationwide face clinical ethical conflicts with religious hospitals
Nearly 1 in 10 primary care physicians has experienced a conflict with a religiously-affiliated hospital or practice over religious policies for patient care. Most feel that when clinical judgment conflicts with religious hospital policy, physicians should refer patients to another institution.

Low vitamin D levels are related to ms brain atrophy, cognitive function, studies show
Low vitamin D levels may be associated with more advanced physical disability and cognitive impairment in persons with multiple sclerosis, studies conducted by neurologists at the University at Buffalo have shown.

A biotherapy strategy for esophageal cancer in the future
A research team from China focused on esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) and characterized sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) receptor expression pattern and investigated the role of S1P receptors on ESCC cells proliferation and migration. Their results showed that ESCC cells may down-regulate the expression of S1P5 to promote proliferation and escape S1P-S1P5 induced migration inhibition.

Cancer risk for kidney transplant
Kidney transplant recipients are known to have a higher risk of cancer, compared to the general population, due to the need to take immunosuppressive drugs to prevent organ rejection. Results published today from a significant, long-term study suggest that no single medication appears to increase this cancer risk.

LUCIFER allows astronomers to watch stars being born
A new instrument for the world's largest optical telescope, the Large Binocular Telescope on Mount Graham (Ariz.), allows astronomers to observe the faintest and most distant objects in the universe.

Major breakthrough in the diagnosis of parasitic diseases
Chagas disease is one of the most deadly parasitic diseases in the world. It affects more than 10 million people, primarily in the Americas. A reliable and rapid diagnosis is the key in the battle against infection but until now, this has been next to impossible. Dr. Momar Ndao and his team at the RI- MUHC have developed a new diagnostic approach that will help in the fight against Chagas disease.

Targeting a waterborne foe
The microscopic pathogen cryptosporidium lurks worldwide in water, contaminating swimming pools, water parks and drinking water supplies. A top researcher has made a critical breakthrough in eroding cryptosporidium's defenses.

Keep eating your fruit and vegetables
An editorial in this week's Lancet says the

Caltech scientists uncover structure of key protein in common HIV subgroup
Scientists from the California Institute of Technology have provided the first-ever glimpse of the structure of a key protein -- gp120 -- found on the surface of a specific subgroup of the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV-1. In addition, they demonstrated that a particular antibody to gp120 makes contact not only with the protein, but with the CD4 receptor that gp120 uses to gain entrance into the body's T cells.

Scientists to measure impact of volcanic ash on ocean biology
A team led by scientists from the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton, have today set sail from Govan in Scotland towards the region of the North Atlantic Ocean affected by ash from the Icelandic volcano eruption to investigate potential impacts on ocean biology.

Americans turn to Al-Jazeera for raw images of war, UA study finds
Research by Shahira Fahmy in the UA School of Journalism showed that visitors to Al-Jazeera's website, including Americans, went there looking for graphic images of war that US media generally don't publish.

Entertainment needs drive innovative mobile phone uses in India
A new study on how people in India use mobile computing devices suggests that users devise new and innovative uses for them, if they have sufficient motivation.

Oral naltrexone can reduce health care costs
Alcohol-use disorders (AUDs), referring to both alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence, affect nearly 8.5 percent of the American population, are associated with numerous medical, psychiatric, family, legal and work-related problems, and cost an estimated $185 billion in 1998. A new study has found that oral naltrexone can reduce both alcohol- and nonalcohol-related health care costs for patients with AUDs.

Field Museum and University of Chicago launch Emerging Pathogens Project
The Field Museum and the University of Chicago today announced the establishment of the Emerging Pathogens Project, a unique research program to study the evolution of species-switching parasites or pathogens that result in diseases such as bird flu, malaria and AIDS.

Study: Guillain-Barré Syndrome cases low after 2009 H1N1 vaccine
A new study finds that reports of a neurologic disease called Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) have been low after 2009 H1N1 vaccination, according to a research study that will be presented as part of the late-breaking science program at the American Academy of Neurology's 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto, April 10-17, 2010. The study is one of the first national reports of the occurrence of GBS after 2009 H1N1 vaccination.

DDW 2010 telebriefing: Preview the latest research and hot topics
Thousands of physicians, researchers and academics from around the world will gather in New Orleans, La., from May 1-5 for Digestive Disease Week, the premiere scientific conference in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery. In advance of the meeting, please join us for a telebriefing.

Dirty waters
Clean water is often the common denominator in the aftermath of any widespread disaster -- manmade or natural.

Distance-education students utilize computer-mediated communication
Researchers at Texas Tech analyzed communication methods between students and faculty in three distance learning modalities: Web-facilitated, online and interactive video conferencing courses. Research showed that the number of e-mails and phone calls from students in the online sections were significantly greater than those in the web-facilitated sections. 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