Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (December 1999)

Science news and science current events archive December, 1999.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from December 1999

Common cholesterol drugs could be used to treat osteoporosis, as reported in the 3 December issue of Science
A team of scientists has discovered that some widely- prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs also have impressive bone-building capabilities that may make them effective drugs for treating osteoporosis.

Novartis submits NDA for Zometa® (zoledronic acid for injection)
Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation today announced that it has submitted a new drug application (NDA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for Zometa (zoledronic acid for injection) for the treatment of tumor-induced hypercalcemia (TIH). A potentially life-threatening disorder, TIH is characterized by elevated serum calcium levels in patients with cancer. Tumor-induced hypercalcemia is one of the most common metabolic complications associated with cancer.

Male unemployment levels affect birthweight
Unemployment among adult males may have an indirect and overlooked social cost - an increase in the incidence of low infant birthweight, according to researchers.

Scientists report marker of increased cancer risk in women with benign breast disease
Women with a benign breast disease whose cells lose ability

Fox Chase Cancer Center's Joseph Testa receives 1999 Irving J. Selikoff Award for Cancer Research
Dr. Joseph R. Testa, a cancer geneticist at Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, has received a 1999 Irving J. Selikoff Award for Cancer Research. The award, given by the Ramazzini Institute for Occupational and Environmental Health Research, honors Testa for

Stem-cell transplantation has advantages over bone marrow transplantation for some leukemia patients
In the largest study ever to compare outcomes of cancer patients transplanted with marrow versus stem cells, Hutchinson Center researchers have found that for certain patients, stem cells offer clear advantages. Results will be presented at the 41st annual American Society of Hematology meeting Dec. 3-7 in New Orleans, La.

Religious differences, peace co-existed in ancient city
Religious groups in the ancient Roman city of Caesarea Maritima (between the modern-day cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa) lived together peacefully and co-operatively, not just competitively, according to a professor at the University of Toronto.

Novel molecule blocks pain receptor system
Researchers with Banyu Pharmaceutical Co. in Japan have designed a synthetic molecule that can block a molecular pathway, allowing researchers a closer look at what makes some people less sensitive to pain. The novel finding could be key to development of new and improved drugs to treat pain, they say.

Yale Cancer Center researchers find ways to switch off cancer cells' protection
Yale Cancer Center researchers have identified two mechanisms to disable the Survivin gene, an inhibitor of apoptosis. The scientists used two different classes of molecular antagonists to interfere with the function of Survivin and eliminate its protective properties.

Study: Information on the web is likely correct, but hard to find
A study found that the Internet search engine AltaVista uncovered Web pages with correct answers to library reference questions 27 percent of the time -- wrong answers, 9 percent of the time. However, 64 percent of the time, the pages it listed either contained no answer or were out-of-service.

UCSF Psychiatry Department receives grant to study innovative drug and substance abuse treatments
The UCSF Department of Psychiatry will use a $7.9 million grant to study creative ways to treat complex, substance abusing patients in community settings, such as hospital emergency rooms and mental health programs.

Antibody-targeted chemotherapy with CMA-676 uses breakthrough technology to treat leukemia
At the 41st Annual Meeting and Exposition of the American Society of Hematology (ASH), scientists presented the latest data on the use of a pioneering drug technology known as

Study: avoiding vitamins A, E might improve cancer therapy
Vitamins A and E, which normally boost human health in numerous ways, also appear to keep cancer cells from dying through the natural protective process scientists call apoptosis, new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill research shows.

Gene discoveries among top 10 research advances in heart disease and stroke for 1999
Four important gene discoveries lead the list of the top 10 research advances in heart disease and stroke during 1999, says Lynn Smaha, M.D., Ph.D., president of the American Heart Association. Other top 10 advances include the first growth of a complete heart valve in the laboratory, robotic bypass surgery, a new use for an old drug, new drugs to help treat stroke and the recognition of diabetes as a major risk for heart disease and stroke.

Dual-earner families are scaling back for kids
About three-quarters of middle-income, dual-earner couples in a study in upstate New York -- and almost all of those couples raising children -- scale back their work commitments for the sake of their families and to have more discretionary time, according to a new Cornell University study. But wives still scale back much more, often harming their future career attainment

Psychologist challenges basic assumptions of human memory theory
For those who get flummoxed by how-to manuals, or stymied by instructions for assembly, University of Wisconsin-Madison psychologist Arthur Glenberg has a reassuring theory. It's not all your fault. The instructions run counter to how your memory works.

Chemistry leaders expect longer lives, less pollution in the future
Optimism and excitement are front and center in the minds of leaders from all segments of the international chemical enterprise - academia, industry and government - when reflecting on the role they expect chemistry to have in the progress of society during the coming millennium. Their thoughts are captured in a special issue of the weekly newsmagazine Chemical & Engineering News, published Dec. 6.

Trauma patients need monitoring for infection risk
Trauma patients are at very high risk of developing infections while in hospital and should be monitored closely for early diagnosis and treatment according to a University of Toronto study.

Expect rapid, pervasive innovation in 21st century
Innovative technologies emerging over the next decade promise to affect virtually all aspects of everyday society, from transportation to health care, communication to recreation.

Parathyroid tumors can be removed safely in outpatient procedure
Minimally invasive outpatient surgery to remove tumors of the parathyroid glands is safe for most patients and far more cost-effective than traditional open surgery, a Johns Hopkins study shows.

Duke study: Cold needed to preserve livers for transplant also can kill certain cells
A team of Duke University Medical Center researchers has figured out why donated livers can suffer a mysterious injury that damages their ability to perform well once transplanted.

ORNL technology could make solar energy more viable
Solar energy could get a mega-boost, effectively gaining a three-fold improvement over conventional technology, with a system being developed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Laser light from Free-Electron Laser used for first time in human surgery
Vanderbilt researchers performed the first human surgery using a beam from a free-electron laser, a powerful laser developed as part of the Pentagon's Star Wars program. The operation was an important step toward the ultimate goal of replacing scapels, bone saws and drills with laser light.

Earth's magnetic field expanded immensely after the day the solar wind ran out of gas
A rare space weather event May 11 marked by a sharp decrease in solar wind helped cause Earth's magnetosphere to balloon to more than 100 times its normal volume, reaching nearly to the moon in the process, according to a new study headed by the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Genetic extremism overstates risks
Amid increasing acts of vandalism and protests against the use of genetic engineering in forestry, a group of scientists said this month in a professional journal that scare tactics used by environmental extremists must yield to a more careful analysis of the issues based upon science.

Scientists use Salmonella to fight cancer in first human trials
A genetically engineered strain of the bacteria Salmonella has been given to the first cancer patients enrolled in a clinical trial. The altered Salmonella has been shown to target solid tumors and inhibit their growth in laboratory animals.

'Ulysses' measures the deflection of galactic dust particles by solar radiation
An international team of scientists from NASA, the University of Florida at Gainesville, and the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany, observed the deflection of galactic dust grains by solar radiation (Science 17 December 1999).

Tobacco still a major problem among U.S. teens and around the globe, according to American Heart Association statistical update
The president of the American Heart Association today called attention to two alarming trends in tobacco use: Smoking is on the increase among U.S. teens and smoking-related deaths around the globe are expected to triple in the coming century.

Researchers develop mouse models of neurofibromatosis
Two strains of mice genetically engineered by HHMI researchers to develop neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a tumor-producing hereditary disease of the peripheral nerves, are likely to improve understanding of the progression of NF1 and provide much needed models in which to evaluate therapies for the disease.

Internet study suggests women & older users more concerned about virtual violence, spreading viruses
Female and older computer users appear more concerned than their counterparts about moral issues affecting the Internet like spreading computer viruses and sharing offensive computer games, according to a study in a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®).

NSTX produces one megampere plasma current
On Tuesday, December 14, the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX) at the U.S. Department of Energy's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) produced a one million ampere plasma current -- a new world record for a spherical torus device. Producing this plasma current sets the stage for the Laboratory to create and study plasma conditions that are relevant to the production of fusion energy.

Krauss wins AAAS award for public understanding of science
Lawrence Krauss, professor and chair of physics at Case Western Reserve University, will receive the 1999-2000 Public Understanding of Science and Technology Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The award honors those who improve communication between the scientific community and the public.

Study shows secretin fails to benefit children with autism
The first of a number of studies sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) has shown that treatment with a synthetic version of the hormone secretin offered no more benefit for children with autism than did treatment with a placebo.

Behind the mask
It could be the most unexpected display of patterns since crop circles - the self-assembly of a minute array of pillars in a sheet of plastic resin.

Even the 'soft' stars have a 'hard' side
Soft-gamma repeaters have a hard side. It's hard enough that they could almost be mistaken for the hard gamma-ray bursts that come from deep in the observable universe.

Illinois waterways, waterfowl detailed in new book
Illinois wetlands, waterways and waterfowl have come together in a 672-page book and companion field guide that blend history, biological research, conservation management and a wealth of color photographs and facts. The book,

Sexual fantasies increase pain tolerance
Bringing to mind a favorite sexual fantasy may be a good way to lessen pain, according to a recent study of college students by researchers at Johns Hopkins and the University of Wisconsin.

Nonchemical weedkiller has huge potential; hungriest nations may benefit thanks to McGill plant scientists
Currently one of the greatest obstacles to food production in Africa, the parasitic Striga, thrives in areas of poor soil and infests two thirds of land devoted to cereal crops. Field trials in Mali led by the Biopesticide Research Laboratory have produced spectacular results using a naturally occurring pathogen, Fusarium.

Budget for interferon beta for MS sufferers would be better spent on improved supportive care
Prescribing of the multiple sclerosis (MS) drug interferon beta-1b should be restricted and the funds saved should be redirected into improved supportive care for MS sufferers, say researchers in this week's BMJ.

El Niño's dramatic impact on ocean biology and carbon dioxide captured by unique monitoring system
The 1997-98 El Niño had an unprecedented effect on the oceanic food chain across a vast swath of the Pacific. According to new results published in the December 10 issue of Science, El Niño also dramatically reduced the carbon dioxide normally released into the atmosphere by the equatorial Pacific Ocean.

Zinc reduces pneumonia by 41%, and diarrhea by up to 25%
Pneumonia and diarrhea claim the lives of millions of children each year. But now, scientists from The World Health Organization and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health have found that dietary zinc supplementation reduces pneumonia incidence by 41% and diarrhea by as much as 25%.

Local and remote aerosol measurement techniques compared
The environmental effects of man-made atmospheric particles, known as

Five top minority science students win scholarships
Academic scholarships of up to $2,500 each have been awarded to local minority chemistry students through the American Chemical Society/AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals Scholars Program, sponsored by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world's largest scientific society. A list of the winners is attached.

'Snap shot' captures key cancer-search and destroy enzyme
A collaboration between the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the State University of New York at Stony Brook has produced a highly detailed image of a newly discovered class of proteins that searches genetic material for damage from environmental chemicals and sunlight.

One theory solves two ancient climate paradoxes
A Penn State meteorologist has a single theory that could solve both the Faint Young Sun problem and the Snowball Earth problem if it proves to be correct.

Researchers find one in five children not getting care they think they need
Each year, one in five U.S. teen-agers doesn't receive health care when he or she thinks it's needed, according to the nation's largest study of adolescent behavior. The study's lead researcher called the findings

Hybrid process uses electricity to shape aluminum auto parts
Automakers may shape aluminum parts more easily in the future because of a new technique that uses electromagnetic pulses to shape metal. Manufacturers knew they could make cars lighter and more fuel efficient by incorporating aluminum parts, but the metal often tore when they tried to stamp it into shape.

Researchers seek answers to combat world's stressed freshwater supply
A multi-pronged analysis of global water resources indicates the supply of clean freshwater for use by humans and natural ecosystems is shrinking by the year, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder researcher.

Hormone replacement therapy use limited
A third of all menopausal and post-menopausal women are undecided about hormone replacement therapy (HRT), according to new research. They may not be getting the information they need to make informed decisions that weigh the risks and benefits involved.

Penn study shows that most battered women know their attackers and many assaults occur in public
According to a new study, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center conclude that more than 50 percent of violently assaulted women were attacked by

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