Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (August 2015)

Science news and science current events archive August, 2015.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from August 2015

Study examines Florida's pill mill law, prescription drug monitoring program
Legislative efforts by the state of Florida to reduce prescription drug abuse and diversion appear to be associated with modest decreases in opioid prescribing and use, according to an article published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

Few gay teenage boys get tested for HIV
HIV infections are rising for young men who have sex with men, but only one in five gay male teens have ever been tested for HIV, reports a new study. The reason is teens don't know where to get an HIV test and worry about being recognized at a testing site. Testing is critical because it can help those who are positive receive lifesaving medical care and prevent them from transmitting the virus.

Power grid forecasting tool reduces costly errors
PNNL has developed a new tool to forecast for future energy needs that is up to 50 percent more accurate than several commonly used industry tools, showing potential to save millions in wasted electricity. The advancement was selected a 'best paper' at the IEEE Power & Energy general meeting this week.

The human genome: A complex orchestra
A team of Swiss geneticists from the University of Geneva, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and the University of Lausanne discovered that genetic variation has the potential to affect the state of the genome at many, seemingly separated, positions and thus modulate gene activity, much like a conductor directing the performers of a musical ensemble to play in harmony.

The Alan Turing Institute signals progress on many fronts
The Alan Turing Institute has marked its first few days of operations with the announcement of its new director, the confirmation of £10 million of research funding from Lloyd's Register Foundation, a research partnership with GCHQ, a collaboration with Cray Inc. and EPSRC, and its first research activities.

Methanotrophs: Could bacteria help protect our environment?
New insight into methanotrophs, bacteria that can oxidise methane, may help us develop an array of biotechnological applications that exploit methane and protect our environment from this potent greenhouse gas.

Big data analysis of state of the union remarks changes view of American History
Researchers used computational techniques to map recurring words and their relation to each other in 224-years of State of the Union remarks by American presidents. They identify 1917 as the start of modern political discourse.

New embryo image processing technology could assist in IVF implantation success rates
A collaboration between biologists and engineers at Monash University has led to the development of a new non-invasive image processing technique to visualise embryo formation. Researchers were able to see, for the first time, the movement of all of the cells in living mammalian embryos as they develop under the microscope. This breakthrough has important implications for IVF treatments and pre-implantation genetic diagnosis . In the future, this approach could help with embryo selection to improve IVF success rates.

New cardiovascular disease death rates show stark inequalities between European countries
Diseases of the heart and blood vessels are the most common cause of death in Europe, resulting in over four million deaths a year (45 percent of all deaths) according to the latest available figures published in the European Heart Journal. Although deaths from cardiovascular disease are declining in most of Europe, there are large inequalities between European countries, with higher death rates seen in Eastern Europe.

Warming climate is deepening California drought
A new study says that global warming has measurably worsened the ongoing California drought. While scientists largely agree that natural weather variations have caused a lack of rain, an emerging consensus says that rising temperatures may be making things worse by driving moisture from plants and soil into the air. The new study is the first to estimate how much worse: as much as a quarter.

Covert and overt forms of sexism are equally damaging to working women
Frequent sexist wisecracks, comments and office cultures where women are ignored are just as damaging to women as single instances of sexual coercion and unwanted sexual attention, according to a new study out today in The Psychology of Women Quarterly, a SAGE Journal.

PNNL to tackle future grid challenges through new facility, capabilities
PNNL researchers and industry are now better equipped to tackle top challenges in grid modernization and buildings efficiency with the dedication today of the new Systems Engineering Building. The facility links real-time grid data, software platforms, specialized laboratories and advanced computing resources for the design and demonstration of new tools to modernize the grid and increase buildings energy efficiency.

Plastic in 99 percent of seabirds by 2050
Researchers from CSIRO and Imperial College London have assessed how widespread the threat of plastic is for the world's seabirds, including albatrosses, shearwaters and penguins, and found the majority of seabird species have plastic in their gut.

Study reveals effects of chemoradiation in brains of glioblastoma patients
A study from Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center researchers -- the first to examine the effects of combined radiation and chemotherapy on the healthy brain tissue of glioblastoma patients -- reveals not only specific structural changes within patients' brains but also that the effect of cancer therapy on the normal brain appears to be progressive and continues even after radiation therapy has ceased.

Hypertensive patients benefit from acupuncture treatments, UCI study finds
Patients with hypertension treated with acupuncture experienced drops in their blood pressure that lasted up to a month and a half, researchers with the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine have found.

Lice in at least 25 states show resistance to common treatments
The start of the school year means new classes, new friends, homework and sports. It also brings the threat of head lice. Scientists report today that lice populations in at least 25 states have developed resistance to over-the-counter treatments still widely recommended by doctors and schools. The researchers are presenting their work today at the 250th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

Common class of 'channel blocking' drugs may find a role in cancer therapy
Research findings in fruit flies and mice by UC San Francisco scientists that led to unconventional treatment of a case of metastatic brain cancer.

New research reveals unintended consequences of using incorrect medical foods in managing patients
According to researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute, many 'medical foods' are designed to help manage patients with rare inborn errors of metabolism, and can help prevent serious and life-threatening complications. Unfortunately such special foods may cause harm in some patients when their use is not carefully monitored. They argue that such patients may need closer dietary management.

Scientists uncover the antigenic patterns of the recent influenza A (H3N2) virus
The human influenza A (H3N2) virus was widespread in many countries in the 2014-2015 winter season, causing more morbidity and mortality. Through an antigenic modeling, it was discovered that the recent H3N2 viruses constitute two distinct antigenic clusters, which may account for its disease burden in the 2014-2015 winter season.

Striking a gender balance among speakers at scientific conferences
Increasing the number of female speakers at a scientific conference can be done relatively quickly by calling attention to gender disparities common to such meetings and getting more women involved in the conference planning process, suggests a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researcher.

Fires ravaging Washington, Oregon, and California
Wildfires have been ravaging large parcels of land in the West and there seems to be no end in sight for the weary Westerners.

Research shows testosterone changes brain structures in female-to-male transsexuals
Brain imaging shows that testosterone therapy given as part of sex reassignment changes the brain structures and the pathway associated with speech and verbal fluency. This result supports research that women in general may deal with speech and interaction differently than men.

Accelerating forage breeding to boost livestock productivity
The Genome Analysis Centre, with partners in the UK, Colombia and Kenya bring together their leading expertise in forage breeding for animal nutrition, cutting-edge genomics and phenomics technologies to accelerate the improvement of Brachiaria, a vital livestock feed crop in central Africa and Latin America.

NASA's GPM sees Typhoon Atsani intensifying
Typhoon Atsani was an intensifying tropical storm moving over the open waters of the Pacific Ocean on Aug. 16, 2015 when the GPM core observatory satellite flew overhead.

International research institutes team up to build new schizophrenia collections
Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland at the University of Helsinki and The Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at Broad Institute, together with its international partners, are initiating major new sample collections in several regions and countries. The goal is to collect up to 50,000 samples from schizophrenia patients across the globe.

UCLA physicist tests theories of dark energy by mimicking the vacuum of space
Besides the atoms that make up our bodies and all of the objects we encounter, the universe contains mysterious dark matter and dark energy. The latter, which causes galaxies to accelerate away from one another, constitutes the majority of the universe's energy and mass. Paul Hamilton, a UCLA assistant professor of physics and astronomy, reproduced the low-density conditions of space to precisely measure this force.

UCI-led team begins first clinical trial of stem cell-based retinitis pigmentosa treatment
Participants are being enrolled in the first clinical trial that tests the use of retinal progenitor cells to treat retinitis pigmentosa, reported project director Dr. Henry Klassen of UCI's Gavin Herbert Eye Institute and Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center. The product of stem cell research at UCI, these retinal progenitors are similar to stem cells in terms of potential regenerative properties, but they're specific to the retina.

Parents' views on justice affect babies' moral development
Babies' neural responses to morally charged scenarios are influenced by their parents' attitudes toward justice, new research from the University of Chicago shows.

Recreating alchemical and other ancient recipes shows scientists of old were quite clever
From 'dragon's blood' to slippery elm root, coded and obscure ingredients of ancient recipes are getting a second look today not by Harry Potter fans, but by historians who want to experience science as it was practiced centuries ago. An article in Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, explores some of the intriguing discoveries these recent efforts have yielded and the unexpected questions they raise.

Domestic violence coalitions can reduce intimate partner violence
The Society for Public Health Education announces the publication of a Health Education & Behavior theme section devoted to the latest research on domestic violence prevention and the effectiveness of community coalitions in 19 states to prevent and reduce intimate partner violence.

New study finds GeneSight CPGx precision medicine test provides significant health care cost savings
A new study published in Current Medical Research and Opinion demonstrated $1,036 in annual prescription savings per patient when healthcare providers used the GeneSight combinatorial pharmacogenomic test results to guide treatment decisions compared with usual trial-and-error prescribing. CPGx is the evaluation of multiple genetic factors that influence an individual's response to medications.

Light/moderate drinking linked to increased risk of some cancers in women & male smokers
Even light and moderate drinking (up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men) is associated with an increased risk of certain alcohol related cancers in women and male smokers, suggests a large study published by The BMJ today.

Helping preschoolers deploy 'superpowers' against sunburn
Five globe-trotting, sun-blocking superheroes teach preschoolers about lifelong sun safety in a new curriculum available this summer based on research at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Women having a baby by IVF are at increased risk of reflux disease after birth
Women who give birth to babies conceived by in-vitro fertilization are at increased risk of experiencing long-term symptoms of gastro-esophageal reflux disease, according to the results of a study published in the UEG Journal.

Degenerating neurons respond to gene therapy treatment for Alzheimer's disease
Degenerating neurons in patients with Alzheimer's disease measurably responded to an experimental gene therapy in which nerve growth factor was injected into their brains, report researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in the current issue of JAMA Neurology.

Piece of protein may hold key to how the mammalian brain evolved
Toronto researchers have discovered that a single molecular event in our cells could hold the key to how we evolved to become the smartest animal on the planet.

A community of soil bacteria saves plants from root rot
Root bacteria are known to form symbiotic relationships with plants by improving the plants' supply of nutrients. Yet as scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, found recently, the bacteria actually play a much more profound role. During field experiments in Utah, in the western USA, researchers discovered that the right mixture of soil microbiota directly influences the survival of Nicotiana attenuata, a species of wild tobacco.

A brain-computer interface for controlling an exoskeleton
Scientists working at Korea University, Korea, and TU Berlin, Germany have developed a brain-computer control interface for a lower limb exoskeleton by decoding specific signals from within the user's brain.

Long-term ovarian cancer survival higher than thought
Combing data collected on thousands of California ovarian cancer patients, UC Davis researchers have determined that almost one-third survived at least 10 years after diagnosis.

Watching more TV as a young adult predicts obesity
The more hours young adults spend watching television each day, the greater the likelihood that they'll have a higher body mass index and bigger waist circumference, a 15-year analysis by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health revealed.

NFWF and SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. announce new ocean health initiative
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., today announced the creation of the Ocean Health Initiative, a new marine conservation program designed to protect and restore coastal and marine habitats across the country. SeaWorld has pledged $1.5 million over three years for the initiative.

TSRI & Janssen study makes major advance toward more effective, long-lasting flu vaccine
Scientists from The Scripps Research Institute and the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson have found a way to induce antibodies to fight a wide range of influenza subtypes -- work that could one day eliminate the need for repeated seasonal flu shots.

Georgia Tech finds 11 security flaws in popular internet browsers
Researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology College of Computing developed a new cyber security analysis method that discovered 11 previously unknown Internet browser security flaws.

Merck and MD Anderson announce immuno-oncology research collaboration in solid tumors
Merck and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center announced a strategic clinical research collaboration to evaluate Merck's anti-PD-1 therapy, KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab), in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy and/or novel anti-tumor medicines.

A patient shedding poliovirus for 28 years -- possible challenges for polio eradication
With all but two countries worldwide, Pakistan and Afghanistan, declared polio-free, the eradication of the devastating viral disease in the near future is a real possibility. A study published on Aug. 27 in PLOS Pathogens reports results from an individual in the UK with an immune disease whose stool samples have contained large amounts of live polio virus for over 20 years. Patients like this one, the authors suggest, could start new polio outbreaks and complicate polio eradication as currently planned.

An orange a day keeps scurvy away
Today's explorers cross miles of space with no hope of finding an island with food and nutrients along the way. All nutritional needs must be met aboard. 'Nutrition is vital to the mission,' Scott M. Smith, Ph.D., NASA Nutritionist said. 'Without proper nutrition for the astronauts, the mission will fail. It's that simple.'

Cervical pessary doesn't reduce rate of preterm birth or neonatal complications in twin gestatations
To investigate whether the use of a cervical pessary might reduce premature births of twins, an international team of researchers conducted a large, multicenter, international randomized clinical trial of approximately 1,200 twin pregnancies. They report in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology that placement of a cervical pessary did not reduce spontaneous preterm births or reduce neonatal complications.

Study shifts understanding of how bone fractures heal
A team of Vanderbilt investigators has discovered that fibrin, a protein that was thought to play a key role in fracture healing, is not required. Instead, the breakdown of fibrin is essential for fracture repair. The findings, reported in the August issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, shift understanding of how fractures heal and have implications for efforts to promote fracture repair.

IT industry's renewable energy procurement is significant, set to climb
The percentage of renewable electricity purchased by US companies in the information and communication technology sector is growing and will likely increase significantly by the start of the next decade, according to a first-ever analysis by the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

UBC scientists discover possible 'obesity gene'
Scientists at the University of British Columbia have discovered a gene that could be an important cause of obesity. 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