Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (December 2009)

Science news and science current events archive December, 2009.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from December 2009

Compound found to safely counter deadly bird flu
A study suggests that a new compound, one on the threshold of final testing in humans, may be more potent and safer for treating

Self-monitoring with blood glucose test strips inefficient use of health-care resources
Routine self-monitoring of blood glucose levels by people with type 2 diabetes who are not taking insulin is an ineffective use of health resources as the modest benefits are outweighed by the significant cost of test strips, suggest two studies in CMAJ.

Are most consumers planners when it comes to time and money? New study shows some benefits
Planning -- regarding money or time -- can bring tangible benefits to consumers. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research discovered what makes planners tick.

Cooling may benefit children after cardiac arrest
When the heart is stopped and restarted, the patient's life may be saved but their brain is often permanently damaged. Therapeutic hypothermia, a treatment in which the patient's body temperature is lowered and maintained several degrees below normal for a period of time, has been shown to mitigate these harmful effects and improve survival in adults.

Potential impact of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles
A new report from the National Research Council,

$60 million grant from Lilly Endowment boosts physician research at Indiana University
The Lilly Endowment grants $60 million to Indiana University School of Medicine to support recruitment and training of physician scientists.

'Environmental Atlas of Europe' unveiled at COP15
In support of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place in Copenhagen, the European Environment Agency hosted the

STEM gets greener: Promoting critical thinking using renewable energy technology
Can building model cars really help create the next generation of electric vehicle designers and engineers? Researchers at North Carolina State University think so. Through a recent grant, they will develop a curriculum that uses real-world applications of renewable energy technologies to teach science, technology, engineering and mathematics -- known as STEM concepts.

1 dose of H1N1 vaccine may provide sufficient protection for infants and children
One dose of vaccine may be effective to protect infants and children and reduce transmission of the H1N1 virus, according to a study in JAMA, published online today because of its public health implications. The study will appear in the Jan. 6 print edition of the journal.

Scientists suggest certain genes boost chances for distributing variety of traits, drive evolution
Genes that don't themselves directly affect the inherited characteristics of an organism but leave them increasingly open to variation may be a significant driving force of evolution, say two Johns Hopkins scientists.

Mechanism discovered by which body's cells encourage tuberculosis infection
Tuberculosis bacteria use a signaling pathway to coerce disease fighting cells to switch allegiance and work on their behalf. Scientists have discovered a molecular mechanism by which TB bacteria prod epithelial cells to help produce tubercles. Instead of protecting the body, the tubercles act as hubs for production and dissemination of TB bacteria. The same signal pathway may also occur in noninfectious inflammatory conditions like arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

Overweight children may develop back pain and spinal abnormalities
Being overweight as a child could lead to early degeneration in the spine, according to a new study.

Innovation boost to tackle climate change
While Heads of State are negotiating to reach a substantial climate agreement in Copenhagen, the EU is stepping forward to take the lead in developing innovations to tackle climate change. The European Institute of Innovation and Technology has launched a groundbreaking new research, innovation and education initiative that aims to answer the various challenges of climate change. A pan-European consortium encompassing 16 world class partners from academia, and from the private and public sectors, will implement this new and unique network.

Yehezkel Ben-Ari, winner of the 2009 INSERM Grand Prix
Every year since 2000, INSERM has affirmed its commitment to paying tribute to outstanding work performed in its laboratories and departments. By honoring talents, INSERM intends to demonstrate the diversity and wealth of activities involved in today's biological, medical and health research, and the creativity and passion of the men and women who carry out and drive this research each day. The INSERM 2009 prize-giving ceremony will take place on Dec. 17.

The Geological Society of America recognizes role models for women and minorities in the geosciences
The Geological Society of America recognized outstanding contributions from women and minorities with honors presented at the Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony Oct. 17 during the Society's annual meeting in Portland, Ore.

Studies investigate new trends and treatment options for sickle cell disease patients
Research presented today at the 51st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology highlights intriguing studies on the acute danger that the H1N1 pandemic presents for children with this blood disorder, evaluations of both new and standard treatments for common complications of sickle cell disease, and an expansion of the current understanding of hemoglobin expression in red blood cells that may lead to new treatments.

AGU journal highlights -- Dec. 31, 2009
Featured in this release are research papers on the following topics: Indian Ocean climate event recurs quicker; Natural variability brings extra-cold 2008; Sea-ice loss stirs waters; Ice sculpting Martian land; Offshore quake could surge to Seattle; Permafrost thaw and groundwater runoff; Australian droughts' varied causes; Moon's exosphere; Saturn's auroral hiss; South America wetter in Little Ice Age; Continents' roots stress Earth's surface; Window into lunar volcanism; Plasma around Saturn; and Anthropogenic carbon dioxide fraction.

Altering malignant cells' structure said to possibly slow spread of cancer
Cancer may spread throughout the human body when malignant cells travel in the blood stream. But it may be possible to slow or even stop those cells from spreading by altering their structure, according to a recent investigation led by a Texas A&M University researcher.

Late-breaking brain and behavior research presented at ACNP annual meeting this week
The 2009 American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Annual Meeting will feature innovative research on PTSD, biomarkers for schizophrenia and treatment for gambling addiction.

3-D microchips for more powerful and environmentally friendly computers
3-D microprocessors cooled from the inside through channels with a liquid coolant. Such is the solution currently being developed by researchers from the EPFL and its sister organization, ETH Zurich, to boost the performance of future computers. IBM has just signed a partnership to join the adventure.

What is the function of the protein CD20?
Antibodies directed against the protein CD20, which is expressed by immune cells known as B cells, are used to treat B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis. Despite this, the function of CD20 has not been determined. However, researchers have now determined that CD20 has a nonredundant role in generating optimal B cell immune responses by analyzing a patient lacking the protein.

New support tools point way to better health policymaking
A comprehensive review of evidence-informed health policymaking was recently launched in BioMed Central's open access journal Health Research Policy and Systems. This free supplement, titled

Female birds -- acting just like the guys -- become sexual show-offs in cooperative breeding species
Female birds in species that breed in groups can find themselves under pressure to sexually show off and evolve the same kinds of embellishments -- like fanciful tail feathers or chest-puffing courtship dances -- as males, according to new research in the latest issue of Nature.

Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, Ford study simulated car crashes involving pregnant women
The model being developed could help Ford safety researchers better understand how crash forces specifically affect pregnant women and their developing babies.

ASU scientists improve chip memory by stacking cells
Scientists at Arizona State University have developed an elegant method for significantly improving the memory capacity of electronic chips. Led by Michael Kozicki, an ASU electrical engineering professor and director of the Center for Applied Nanoionics, the researchers have shown that they can build stackable memory based on

Small addition to cancer drug may make big difference
The addition of a small molecule to the cancer drug Temozolomide disrupts repair mechanisms in a type of tumor cells that is highly resistant to treatment.

Singapore's R&D expenditure increased 12.4 percent in 2008, compared to 2007
Singapore's A*STAR reported that the nation's gross expenditure on R&D in 2008 recorded a new high of $7.13 billion (Singapore dollars), a 2.77 percent of GDP.

Journal highlights forest service early warning system
A national early warning system designed to assist land managers in rapidly detecting threats to forest health is featured in the cover article of the October 2009 issue of Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing. The article describes the vision and progress of the system in development by partners from the US Forest Service Eastern Forest Environmental Threat Assessment Center, Western Wildland Environmental Threat Assessment Center, and NASA Stennis Space Center.

Ginkgo biloba does not appear to slow rate of cognitive decline
Older adults who used the herbal supplement Ginkgo biloba for several years did not have a slower rate of cognitive decline compared to adults who received placebo, according to a study in the Dec. 23-30 issue of JAMA.

How did flowering plants evolve to dominate Earth?
Scientists in Ecology Letters reveal the evolutionary step which allowed flowering plants to become the most abundant and ecologically successful group of plants on Earth.

ADA releases updated position paper on nutrient supplementation
While supplements can help some people meet their nutrition needs, eating a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods is the best way for most people to obtain the nutrients they need to be healthy and reduce their risk of chronic disease, according to a newly updated position paper titled

New data show breakthrough microRNA-targeted therapy holds promise as new treatment for hepatitis C
A study published online in this week's Science shows that SPC3649, a breakthrough microRNA-targeted therapy developed by Santaris Pharma A/S using its proprietary Locked Nucleic Acid technology, holds promise as a novel treatment for patients infected with the hepatitis C virus.

Kidney disease patients benefit from surgery to prevent stroke
Physicians should be comfortable referring some patients with chronic kidney disease for effective stroke prevention surgery, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. The findings indicate that CKD patients gain a significant benefit from the procedures without an increased risk of dying from surgical complications.

Where are the female scientists in research articles?
A recent research article published in the journal Scientometrics by a team from the University of Extremadura has proved something that was already obvious to its scientific community -- the extreme imbalance between the visibility of its male and female scientists. Only 20 percent of the university's articles studied had female lead authors, while the percentage of male lead authors stood at 50 percent. The remaining articles were led by authors from other universities.

University of the Basque Country research on plankton at Urdaibai
The goal of the research was to study the microbian plankton of the Urdaibai estuary. The author of the thesis is Ms. Aitziber Sarobe Egiguren and her work titled

1 step closer to closure
Spinal cord disorders like spina bifida arise during early development when future spinal cord cells growing in a flat layer fail to roll up into a tube. In the Dec. 6 issue of Nature Cell Biology, researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine team with colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley to report a never-before known link between protein transport and mouse spinal cord development, a discovery that opens new doors for research on all spinal defects.

How nurses can better support families of dying children
Most nurses that work in a children's critical care unit feel prepared and trained to help parents during the final moments of their child's life and the difficult hours that follow. The biggest challenges in helping families cope play out earlier than that tragic moment, concludes a new study by Brigham Young University professor Renea Beckstrand and graduate student Nicole Rawle.

Clearing the way for detecting pulmonary embolism
Research published in the December issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine suggests that a form of molecular imaging called single photon emission computed tomography, when combined with low-dose CT, may provide an accurate diagnosis for pulmonary embolism.

Super cool atom thermometer
Physicists have devised a thermometer that can potentially measure temperatures as low as tens of trillionths of a degree above absolute zero.

Advancing STEM education
Seven institutions received funding in fiscal year 2009 through Innovation through Institutional Integration, or I3 -- an effort intended to link institutions' existing National Science Foundation-funded projects in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and to leverage their collective strengths. Awards were for up to $1.25 million over four years.

Got smell?
As anyone suffering through a head cold knows, food tastes wrong when the nose is clogged, an experience that leads many to conclude that the sense of taste operates normally only when the olfactory system is also in good working order. Evidence that the taste system influences olfactory perception, however, has been vanishingly rare -- until now. In a novel study this week in Nature Neuroscience, Brandeis researchers report just such an influence.

Of girls and geeks: Environment may be why women don't like computer science
In real estate, it's location, location, location. And when it comes to why girls and women shy away from careers in computer science, a key reason is environment, environment, environment.

UNC scientists coordinate study of link between insulin use and cancer in people with diabetes
Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are coordinating a large, multi-site retrospective study on insulin users with type 2 diabetes. The study is designed to determine if diabetic patients exposed to insulin glargine have a higher incidence of cancer than diabetic patients exposed to other insulins or to other glucose-lowering medications.

Within a cell, actin keeps things moving
Using new technology developed in his University of Oregon lab, chemist Andrew H. Marcus and his doctoral student Eric N. Senning have captured what they describe as well-orchestrated, actin-driven, mitochondrial movement within a single cell.

UCF leads Florida universities with 4 professors named AAAS fellows
The four professors -- UCF's total leads all Florida universities -- are among 531 people nationwide selected by their peers for scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Leprosy susceptibility genes reported in New England Journal of Medicine paper
In the first genome-wide association study of leprosy and the largest GWAS on an infectious disease, scientists at the Genome Institute of Singapore and 26 institutes in China identified seven genes that increase an individual's susceptibility to leprosy.

ESA and World Bank move toward closer collaboration
The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. At first glance, this may not appear to be connected to space technology, but large development projects and the state of Earth's environment are intrinsically linked.

Schizophrenia mouse model should improve understanding and treatment of the disorder
Scientists have created what appears to be a schizophrenic mouse by reducing the inhibition of brain cells involved in complex reasoning and decisions about appropriate social behavior.

Potential new heart attack biomarker uncovered
In a study appearing in this month's Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, researchers have identified cardiac myosin-binding protein C as a potential new diagnostic biomarker for heart attacks, one that may be particularly valuable for mild attacks in which traditional diagnostic proteins may not be abundant enough.

The end of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon?
A new article in the Dec. 4 issue of Science addresses how the combined efforts of government commitments and market transition could save forest and reduce carbon emissions in Brazil. 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