Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (December 2004)

Science news and science current events archive December, 2004.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from December 2004

Free radicals and fertilization: Study reveals egg protection secret
Sea urchin eggs, a common model for human fertility research, create a protein shield just minutes after fertilization. In Developmental Cell, Brown University biologists reveal their discovery of an enzyme that generates hydrogen peroxide, a free radical critical to this protective process. The finding illuminates a survival mechanism shared across species.

U-M study: Why men are attracted to subordinate women
Men are more likely to want to marry women who are their assistants at work rather than their colleagues or bosses, a University of Michigan study finds.

Dental x-rays could be first step in osteoporosis screening
Panoramic dental x-rays can be used to help identify postmenopausal women with low skeletal bone mineral density (BMD), meaning that screening for spinal osteoporosis could begin in the dentist's office a new study shows.

Psychological support helps adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome
Psychological support, in the form of cognitive behaviour therapy, is an effective treatment for adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome, finds a new study published on
Tumor size alone not always best for gauging treatment response
Not only can positron emission tomography (PET) help evaluate treatment for gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) by revealing biologic changes such as how the tumor processes the fuel that makes it grow, but CT can indirectly reveal biologic changes as well by analyzing the tumor's density, say researchers from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Church at Christmas: Hereford's 'come all ye faithful' v Manchester's 'silent night'
While the lure of carols, candlelight and crib scenes could see church congregations in Guildford treble this Christmas, vicars in Manchester can expect fewer than 20 per cent more worshippers to mark the traditional birthday of Jesus.

Long-term benefits for newly diagnosed patients with CML receiving first-line therapy with imatinib
CHU in Poitiers, France, today announced results of a study showing that newly diagnosed patients with a certain form of leukemia who are treated early with imatinib are more likely to achieve complete cytogenetic responses (the elimination of leukemic cells, a major goal of therapy) and have improved long-term outcomes.

UT Southwestern Medical Center acquires Zale Lipshy University, St. Paul University Hospitals
Zale Lipshy and St. Paul University Hospitals will consolidate with UT Southwestern Medical Center Jan. 1, 2005, a move medical administrators hail as crucial to the center's further development and delivery of world-class patient care.

First blood test to diagnose paralyzing, blinding disease
Misdiagnosis of a severely paralyzing disease can now be averted due to a blood test developed by Mayo Clinic researchers and their Japanese collaborators. Often misdiagnosed as multiple sclerosis, neuromyelitis optica (NMO) also causes blindness in many sufferers.

Discovery of key protein's shape could lead to improved bacterial pneumonia vaccine
Scientists at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have discovered that the shape of a protein on the surface of pneumonia bacteria helps these germs invade the human bloodstream. This finding, published Dec. 16 online by the EMBO Journal, could help scientists develop a vaccine that is significantly more effective at protecting children against the disease.

Zebrafish study yields observation of muscle formation
In this month's issue of the journal Developmental Cell, Clarissa Henry, assistant professor in the University of Maine Dept. of Biological Sciences, reports findings from a study of muscle cell development in zebrafish embryos. Looking at the formation of two types of muscle fibers, Henry and co-author Sharon L. Amacher of the University of California, Berkeley, describe a process regulated by a gene known as Hedgehog.

Gastrointestinal disorders are associated significantly with sleepless nights
Mayo Clinic researchers report in the current issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings an association between gastrointestinal disorders and sleep disturbances. The association is important because these problems cause significant health issues including greater need for general medical and mental health treatment.

NIH halts use of COX-2 inhibitor in large cancer prevention trial
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced today that it has suspended the use of COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib (Celebrex(R) Pfizer, Inc.) for all participants in a large colorectal cancer prevention clinical trial conducted by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Shutdown of circulation pattern could be disastrous, researchers say
If global warming shuts down the thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean, the result could be catastrophic climate change. The environmental effects, models indicate, depend upon whether the shutdown is reversible or irreversible, says a scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

New dates confirm beginnings of civilization in South America
Recent archaeological excavations and a new series of 95 radiocarbon dates confirm the presence of an extraordinary complex of more than 20 major ceremonial and urban centers extending back 5,000 years. These sites along the Peruvian coast represent the oldest civilization in the Andes. They are characterized by stone pyramids, large ceremonial structures and extensive residential areas. They include large settlements and massive structures, and represent the earliest common roots of the Inca Empire.

Healthy mix of GI tract microbes are key to preventing allergies and asthma
If you want to avoid allergies or asthma, scientists at the University of Michigan Medical School suggest you start paying more attention to what's in your gut.

Rare type of pneumonia occurring at higher than normal rate among US troops in Iraq
Two deaths have been attributed to a rare type of pneumonia that is occurring among U.S. troops in Iraq at a higher than normal rate, according to a study in the December 22/29 issue of JAMA.

U of M research explores addiction as a computational process
A U of M researcher developed a computational model of addiction which can be used to make predictions about human behavior, animal behavior, and neurophysiology. By bringing addiction theory into a computational realm, researchers will be able to ask and answer key questions to gain valuable insight into addictive behavior. The research will be published in the December 10 issue of Science.

$43 million from Gates Foundation to produce inexpensive antimalarial drug for Third World
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is taking a gamble on a technological solution to the shortage of antimalarial drugs for the Third World. Through the non-profit pharmaceutical company, the Institute for OneWorld Health, the foundation is putting up nearly $43 million to shepherd a breakthrough technology by UC Berkeley's Jay Keasling out of the lab and into the marketplace to produce the miracle antimalaria drug artemisinin at a price the world's poor can afford.

Combining hormones with external, internal radiation helps high risk prostate cancer patients
Prostate cancer patients with high risk cancers who are treated with both internal and external radiation and hormone treatment have a better chance of beating the disease than patients treated with radiation alone, according to a new study published in the January 1, 2005, issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of ASTRO, the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology.

NHLBI statement on oral contraceptive study
A Women's Health Initiative (WHI) review of a recent abstract on the effects of oral contraceptive use on cardiovascular disease has found flaws in both the design and interpretation of the WHI data used in the study. The abstract and subsequent media coverage may have created the impression that OC use is linked to lower risk of cardiovascular disease. The WHI review of the abstract shows no evidence that OC use is linked to lower risk of CVD.

Discovery of first demethylase molecule, a long-sought gene regulator
Researchers have discovered an enzyme that plays an important role in controlling which genes will be turned on or off at any given time in a cell. The novel protein helps orchestrate the patterns of gene activity that determine normal cell function. Their disruption can lead to cancer.

USF spin-out company Saneron CCEL wins federal award for cell therapy
A novel approach to cell therapy has won a federal award and a new patent for a team of researchers from Saneron CCEL and the University of South Florida.

BioMed Central announces publishing partnership with The Scientist magazine
BioMed Central is pleased to announce that the new website for The Scientist, the premier source for life science news, will from today be available on the BioMed Central platform. BioMed Central will now offer its library customers The Scientist print and online subscriptions, providing access to eighteen years of outstanding content, with the added benefits of online usage statistics, customer support and 24/7 service reliability.

Surgical treatment of migraines reduces sick days and increases employee productivity ASPS study
Migraine sufferers who had surgical treatment reduced the amount of time missed from work by 73 percent, according to a study published in the January issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® (PRS), the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Additionally, surgical treatment substantially lowered the annual cost of migraine care for patients, the study found.

'Jumping gene' helps explain immune system's abilities
A team led by Johns Hopkins scientists has found the first clear evidence that the process behind the human immune system's remarkable ability to recognize and respond to a million different proteins might have originated from a family of genes whose only apparent function is to jump around in genetic material.

New weapon in germ warfare: 'Jamming' bacteria signals stops cholera
A new treatment for cholera and perhaps a new type of antibiotic medicine may emerge from compounds discovered in an Australian seaweed. University of New South Wales researchers have found that furanones - isolated from the seaweed Delisea pulchra - can prevent the bacteria that cause cholera from switching on their disease-causing mechanisms. Furanones don't kill such microbes but simply

Ice cores disagree on origin of White River ash deposit
One anticipated component missing from an ice core drilled through a high-mountain, Alaskan ice field may force researchers to rethink the geologic history of that region. Ohio State University scientists had expected to find a thick layer of volcanic tephra - evidence of a massive historic eruption - near the bottom of core they drilled between Mount Bona and Mount Churchill, both ancient volcanoes, in southeast Alaska's St. Elias Mountain Range.

New research tool aids study of national well-being
A new research method that quantifies people's quality of life -- beyond how much money they make -- could lead to a national index of well-being, similar to key measures of economic health.

Study reveals developing countries with recipe for thriving health biotech industries
Health biotechnology is no longer the sole preserve of high-level research institutions of North America and Europe, according to a ground-breaking three-year study by 15 researchers of health biotechnology innovation systems in seven countries: Brazil, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, South Africa and South Korea.

Minority researchers receive AACR awards
Each year, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) presents awards to minority scholars who have made an impact in cancer research, and show potential to continue to do so in the future.

Brain surface stimulation alleviates Parkinson's symptoms
Researchers have found that low-voltage, high-frequency stimulation of the brain's motor cortex via electrodes implanted on its surface can alleviate symptoms of Parkinson's disease. In their studies on baboons with chemically induced Parkinson's symptoms, Xavier Drouot and his colleagues found that the simulation alleviated the Parkinson's-induced movement difficulties, with no evidence of cell damage or inflammation.

15-year study shows strong link between fast food, obesity and insulin resistance
Researchers have shown a correlation between fast food, weight gain, and insulin resistance in what appears to be the first long-term study on this subject. The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study by Mark Pereira, Ph.D., assistant professor in epidemiology, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, and David Ludwig, M.D., Ph.D., Children's Hospital Boston, reported that fast food increases the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Scientists discover recipe for life: eating the 'Polymeal' cuts heart disease by 76%
Scientists in this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ have discovered the 'Polymeal', a set of ingredients which cuts the risk of heart (cardiovascular) disease by 76% and significantly increases life expectancy.

Obesity hinders imaging quality, diagnosis
Obesity not only leads to numerous health problems, it can also limit the imaging equipment used to diagnose those problems, according to a study presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Alcoholism and excessive food intake may share chemical pathways in the brain
Galanin is one of several neuropeptides known to increase food intake. New findings show that galanin microinjections can increase rodents' voluntary alcohol intake. Conversely, microinjection of a galanin receptor antagonist can reduce rodents' alcohol consumption. Galanin may play a role in both excessive food intake and alcohol consumption.

NIH panel issues State-of-the-Science statement on end-of-life care
Despite progress in end-of-life research, important aspects of this life stage remain poorly understood, according to a panel convened by the NIH. The panel found that for many Americans, a lack of continuity of care and poor communication between healthcare practitioners, patients, and family members make the end-of-life period a struggle. These and other findings emerged from the NIH State-of-the-Science Conference on Improving End-of-Life Care, December 6-8, 2004, at the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

Web-based tool to help clinicians make schizophrenia treatment decisions
A new Web-based tool will be available Jan. 1 to help clinicians determine the best medication for patients with schizophrenia. An international team led by Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Herbert Meltzer, M.D., recently completed the new algorithms, the value of which was recently acknowledged by the World Health Organization. WHO has committed to establishing a Web link to the algorithms from its Web site.

44% of Americans favor curtailing some Muslim liberties
In a study to determine how much the public fears terrorism, almost half of respondents polled nationally said they believe the U.S. government should -- in some way -- curtail civil liberties for Muslim Americans, according to a new survey released Dec. 17, 2004 at Cornell University.

Does cancer run in families?
It's not often that an entire nation's genealogy and cancer records are available. But they are in Iceland, and have been used to determine how often cancers occur in families.

DFG establishes three new clinical research units
The Grants Committee on General Research Support has decided to establish three new Clinical Research Units to network basic research and clinical application. The main aim of this programme is to promote particularly distinguished groups of scientists and innovative research projects.

Progress in cardiovascular disease
You are cordially invited to the Cardiac Institute's 11th Annual Cardiac Symposium at Maimonides Medical Center.

Study explores antibiotic misuse
If a runny nose and congested chest have you thinking of antibiotics, think again.

Researchers improve predictions of cloud formation for better global climate modeling
Atmospheric scientists have developed simple, physics-based equations that address some of the limitations of current methods for representing cloud formation in global climate models - important because of increased aerosol pollution that gives clouds more cooling power and affects precipitation. These researchers - led by the Georgia Institute of Technology -- have also developed a new instrument for measuring the conditions and time needed for a particle to become a cloud droplet.

UCSD biologists identify gene in corn plants that may have paved way for development of maize
Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have identified a gene that appears to have been a critical trait in allowing the earliest plant breeders 7,000 years ago to transform teosinte, a wild grass that grows in the Mexican Sierra Madre, into maize, the world's third most planted crop after rice and wheat.

What have scientists learned since Mount St. Helens erupted?
When Mount St. Helen's blew its top in 1980, Charlie Crisafulli was 22 years old and just beginning his career as a research ecologist. One of his first assignments: travel to Mount St. Helens 2 months after the historic eruption and study the aftermath. He spent the next 25 years analyzing data that enabled him to produce long-term data sets to use to study the ecological patterns and processes of species survival and colonization.

Research by scientists affiliated with the Earth Institute at Columbia University
Summaries of selected papers - presented at the December 2004 AGU meeting - include topics on climate, earthquakes, poverty, and others by scientists affiliated with the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

Slip of the tongue
Why is it that we can look at something, know what it is and still call a rose by a different name? Breaking from conventional wisdom, new research suggests that it isn't a rushed pace or distraction that makes us slip up, but rather a hiccup in how we plan what we're going to say that messes things up.

AACR supports faculty at minority-serving institutions
Throughout the year, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) selects faculty members in minority-serving institutions who have shown excellence and dedication in the field of cancer research. They come from institutions which are historically Black, predominantly Hispanic, and Tribal Colleges and Universities.

Drilled shells show extinction's lasting effects
Give a marine snail an easy life, and it will take its time drilling into a clam. Put it under competitive stress, and it will look for a faster route. Those changes, scarred into fossils, show that an unknown catastrophe nearly two million years ago changed the competitive balance in the Western Atlantic and the ecosystem has yet to fully recover.

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