Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (December 2008)

Science news and science current events archive December, 2008.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from December 2008

United States death map revealed
A map of natural hazard mortality in the United States has been produced. The map, featured in BioMed Central's open access International Journal of Health Geographics, gives a county-level representation of the likelihood of dying as the result of natural events such as floods, earthquakes or extreme weather.

'World Energy Outlook' to be presented at Rice University Dec. 9
Richard H. Jones, deputy executive director of the International Energy Agency, will present the

URI launches behavior change campaign to reduce energy use on campus
A survey of energy use practices on campus has led the University of Rhode Island to launch a unique behavior change campaign aimed at reducing wasteful behaviors in residence halls.

New criteria identify additional patients with cancer who benefit from liver transplantation
A substantial number of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma who exceed the Milan criteria -- which are currently used to select transplant candidates -- could also be good candidates for successful transplantation, according to findings of a Web-based survey of 1,112 patients, which is published in an article early online and in the January edition of the Lancet Oncology.

Women double fruit, veggie intake with switch to Mediterranean diet plan
In a new study led by the University of Michigan Health System, women more than doubled their fruit and vegetable intakes and dramatically increased their consumption of

Proactive care saves lives of seniors, study finds
Can a patient-centered, care management program utilizing nurse care managers and interdisciplinary teams, supported by electronic tracking and care coordination systems reduce the rate of deaths and hospitalizations among chronically ill older adults? The answer, based on a three-year study involving more than 3,400 chronically ill seniors led by Oregon Health & Science University researcher David A. Dorr, M.D., appears to be

Risk of death may be higher with drug commonly used during cardiac surgery
The risks of death are probably higher with aprotinin, a drug commonly used to control blood loss and transfusions during cardiac surgery, compared with lysine analogues, according to a study to be published in the Jan. 20 issue of CMAJ.

Modified gene targets cancer cells a thousand times more often than healthy cells
Researchers at the University of Rochester have designed a gene that produces a thousand times more protein in cancer cells than in healthy cells. The findings may help address the prime challenge in anticancer therapy, improving treatments' ability to specifically and effectively target cancer cells. Using this new approach, scientists should be able to insert

Breast cancer genome shows evolution, instability of cancer
A newly published genome sequence of a breast cancer cell line reveals a heavily rearranged genetic blueprint involving breaks and fusions of genes and a broken DNA repair machinery, said researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in a report that appears online in the journal Genome Research.

Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease linked
Type 1 (juvenile) diabetes and celiac disease appear to share a common genetic origin, scientists at the University of Cambridge and Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry have confirmed.

Colonoscopy significantly reduces death from left-sided colon cancer but not from right-sided
A new study finds that colonoscopy is strongly associated with fewer deaths from colorectal cancer. However, the risk reduction appears to be entirely due to a reduction in deaths from left-sided cancers. According to the study, colonoscopy shows almost no mortality prevention benefit for cancer that develops in the right side of the colon.

Horizon Therapeutics announces 2 pivotal HZT-501 Phase 3 trials meet primary endpoints
Horizon Therapeutics Inc., a privately held biopharmaceutical company, today announced that two pivotal Phase 3 trials evaluating its lead investigational product candidate, HZT 501, met all primary endpoints. HZT 501, a novel, proprietary fixed-dose combination product containing ibuprofen and famotidine, demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in the incidence of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug-induced upper gastrointestinal (gastric and/or duodenal) ulcers in patients with mild-to-moderate pain when compared to ibuprofen alone.

Gene which protects against lung cancer identified
A study led by researchers at the University of Nottingham has identified a gene that protects the body from lung cancer.

I'm a believer: Some product claims work better than others
Consumers face a barrage of product claims each day. What makes those claims believable? A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research says both marketers and consumers can benefit from information about the way people process product claims.

Evolutionary roots of ancient bacteria may open new line of attack on CF
The redox-active pigments responsible for the blue-green stain of the mucus that clogs the lungs of children and adults with cystic fibrosis are primarily signaling molecules that allow large clusters of the opportunistic infection agent, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, to organize themselves into structured communities.

Kidney disease patients with poor health literacy are less likely to receive kidney transplants
Kidney disease patients' ability to understand basic health information may have a significant impact on whether or not they will receive an organ transplant, according to a study appearing in the January 2009 issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology. The findings reveal an important disparity in access to care and point to the need for more standardized procedures for referring patients for transplantation.

New statement outlines essentials of heart failure clinics
Heart failure clinics are an increasingly important approach to the treatment of patients with heart failure, yet there have been no published standards regarding the care provided by these specialized clinics. To address this gap, the Quality of Care Committee of the Heart Failure Society of America has developed a consensus statement summarizing the rationale, goals and components of HF clinic care. The statement appears in the December issue of the Journal of Cardiac Failure.

Tiny magnetic crystals in bacteria are a compass, say Imperial researchers
Scientists have shown that tiny crystals found inside bacteria provide a magnetic compass to help them navigate through sediment to find the best food, in research out today.

Shame on us: Shaming some kids makes them more aggressive
Aren't you ashamed of yourself? All these years, you've been trying to build up your child's self-esteem, and now a growing body of research suggests you may be making a big mistake. A study published in the December issue of Child Development finds that early adolescents with high self-esteem are more likely to react aggressively when they feel ashamed than their peers with lower levels of self-esteem.

Protea plants help unlock secrets of species 'hotspots'
New species of flowering plants called proteas are exploding onto the scene three times faster in parts of Australia and South Africa than anywhere else in the world, creating exceptional

SEA announces winners of the Fall 2008 SHARPen it Up Scholarship Contest
Scientists and Engineers for America is announcing the winners of its Fall 2008 SHARPen it Up Scholarship Contest. Students from across the country competed for one of three $250 scholarships by contributing information on the science policy positions of candidates in the 2008 elections.

Statins, indication creep and risks for children and youth
There is a dearth of direct evidence regarding the safety and efficacy of statins and other drugs in children and youth, and caution and alternative management tools should be applied, write Drs. Michael Rieder, Noni MacDonald, Matthew Stanbrook and on behalf of the CMAJ editorial team.

Hypersensitivity reactions to the quadrivalent HPV vaccine are rare
Hypersensitivity reactions to the quadrivalent HPV vaccine (4vHPV, Gardasil) are uncommon and most schoolgirls can tolerate subsequent doses, finds the first evaluation of the quadrivalent HPV vaccine published on today.

The universe is yours to discover during the International Year of Astronomy 2009
With 2009 just over the horizon, stargazers around the world are busy preparing for the International Year of Astronomy. A staggering 135 nations are collaborating to bring the universe closer to Earth. Events and activities will take place over the coming 365 days and beyond, in a spectacle of cosmic proportions.

Practice as well as sleep may help birds learn new songs
The reorganization of neural activity during sleep helps young songbirds to develop the vocal skills they display while awake. Practice, or auditory feedback, may also play a role in learning.

Team led by Scripps Research scientists develop method for generating novel types of stem cells
A team led by Scripps Research Institute scientists has for the first time developed a technique for generating novel types of rat and human stem cells with characteristics similar to mouse embryonic stem cells, currently the predominant type of stem cells used for creating animal models of human diseases in research. The technique potentially provides scientists with new sources of stem cells to develop drugs and treatments for human diseases.

Should the Pope be worried that Wales won the rugby Grand Slam this year?
Doctors in the Christmas issue published on today are urging the Vatican's medical team to keep a special watch over the Pope this Christmas, after their research investigating the link between papal deaths and Welsh rugby performance suggests that he has about a 45 percent chance of dying by the end of 2008.

State policies have little effect on reducing minors' indoor tanning use
A new analysis finds that state policies meant to limit minors' indoor tanning use have had little effect. Published in the Jan. 15, 2009 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study indicates that additional efforts are needed to reduce indoor tanning use in youth.

Popular class of diabetes drugs doubles risk of fractures in women
New findings out of Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the University of East Anglia show that long-term use of a popular class of oral diabetic drugs doubles the risk of fractures in women with type 2 diabetes.

Fractional dose of scarce meningitis vaccine may be effective in outbreak control
One fifth of the standard dose of a commonly used meningitis vaccine may be as effective as using the full dose. This new finding should allow scarce vaccine resources to be stretched further, especially during epidemics in Africa.

These shells don't clam up: Innovative technique to record human impact on coastal waters
Using stable isotope techniques, Dr. Ruth Carmichael of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and her colleagues have demonstrated it is possible to identify and trace wastewater inputs to estuaries and coastal food webs by studying the organic matrix in the shell of the hard clam Mercenaria mercenaria.

Dream of quantum computing closer to reality as mathematicians chase key breakthrough
The ability to exploit the extraordinary properties of quantum mechanics in novel applications, such as a new generation of super-fast computers, has come closer following recent progress with some of the remaining underlying mathematical problems.

Leeds research points to new therapy for hepatitis C treatment
Combination therapies similar to those used for HIV patients may be the best way of treating hepatitis C virus, say researchers from the University of Leeds.

Working with cells like working in an art gallery where the art changes every day
Rarely seen but eerily beautiful world inside cells is made visible in videos, animations, and photographs named as winners of

Researchers advance knowledge of little 'nano-machines' in our body
A discovery by Canada-US biophysicists will improve the understanding of ion channels, akin to little

Montana State study finds super dads, possible polygamists among dinos
New research suggests that some meat-eating dinosaurs were super dads and possibly polygamists.

Discovery of new gene associated with diabetes risk suggests link with body clock
A connection between the body clock and abnormalities in metabolism and diabetes has been suggested in new research by an international team. The researchers have identified a gene involved in the way the body responds to the 24-hour day-night cycle that is strongly linked to high blood sugar levels and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The results of the genome-wide association scan are published in Nature Genetics.

Mouse trap? Stanford immunologist calls for more research on humans, not mice
The fabled laboratory mouse -- from which we have learned so much about how the immune system works -- can teach us only so much about how we humans get sick and what to do about it, says a leading researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Babies born a few weeks too soon at greater risk of cerebral palsy and developmental delays
Late preterm infants, those born 34-36 weeks gestation, were three times as likely to have cerebral palsy than full-term infants, according new research by a team lead by the March of Dimes. More than half million babies are born too soon each year in the US. Late preterm babies account for more than 70 percent of all preterm births and for the majority of the increase in preterm birth rates during the past two decades.

International study supports new standard of treatment for women with advanced ovarian cancer
Results of a phase III, international randomized clinical trial demonstrate a new standard of care for treating advanced ovarian cancer that significantly reduces side-effects and post-operative deaths compared to the previously established treatment course. The study, presented at the 12th Biennial Meeting of the International Gynecologic Cancer Society in Bangkok in October, has a major impact on many countries where the new standard represents a more practical course of treatment.

American Cancer Society recognizes international tobacco control leaders
The American Cancer Society announced today the winners of the 2009 Luther L. Terry Awards for Exemplary Leadership in Tobacco Control. The awards are named for the late United States Surgeon General Luther L. Terry, M.D., who led the landmark 1964 Surgeon General's Report which connected tobacco use to lung cancer and other illnesses.

Breaking the silence after a study ends
While an estimated 2.3 million people in the United States take part in clinical trials every year, there currently exists no formal requirement to inform them of study results, an oversight that leaves participants confused, frustrated, and, in some cases, lacking information that may be important to their health. Now researchers have proposed an effective approach to disseminate the results of clinical trials to study volunteers.

New treatment eliminates heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis
Combining an ultrasound-guided technique with steroid injection is 95 percent effective at relieving the common and painful foot problem called plantar fasciitis, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

Some 70 percent of schoolchildren don't walk to school
As part of the study, the research team consulted past investigations on children and walking. In 1971, about 80 percent of Canadian children aged 7 and 8 walked to school. Therr 2008 study revealed only 30 percent of children now walk or bicycle to school in the Montreal and Trois-Rivieres regions.

Study associates 11 new gene sites with cholesterol, triglyceride levels
An international research team has identified 11 novel locations in the human genome where common variations appear to influence cholesterol or triglyceride levels, bringing the total number of lipid-associated genes to 30. Major mutations in some of these genes underlie rare lipid metabolism disorders and it is becoming apparent that common changes that have modest effects can combine with other risk-associated gene variants to significantly influence blood lipid levels.

JCI online early table of contents: Dec. 1, 2008
This release contains summaries, links to PDFs and contact information for the following newsworthy papers to be published online, Dec. 1, 2008, in the JCI, including

Experts uncover weakness in Internet security
Independent security researchers in California and researchers at the Centrum Wiskunde and Informatica in the Netherlands, EPFL in Switzerland, and Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have found a weakness in the Internet digital certificate infrastructure that allows attackers to forge certificates that are fully trusted by all commonly used web browsers.

Tau protein expression predicts breast cancer survival -- though not as expected
Expression of the microtubule-binding protein Tau is not a reliable means of selecting breast cancer patients for adjuvant paclitaxel chemotherapy, according to research led by the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Presented today, Dec. 13, at the CRTC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, the researchers found that Tau expression does predict survival, yet in an unexpected way.

Pain hurts more if the person hurting you means it
Psychologists at Harvard University have found that pain hurts more when we think that someone intended to cause hurt. Intentional pain also seems to have a fresh sting every time, whereas we get used to unintentional pain.

Another reason to avoid high-fat diet -- it can disrupt our biological clock
Indulgence in a high-fat diet can not only lead to overweight because of excessive calorie intake, but also can affect the balance of circadian rhythms -- everyone's 24-hour biological clock, Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers have shown. 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