Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (December 2012)

Science news and science current events archive December, 2012.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from December 2012

Broader background checks and denial criteria could help prevent mass shooting catastrophes
Garen Wintemute, a UC Davis gun violence prevention expert and emergency medicine physician, believes broader criteria for background checks and denials on gun purchases can help prevent future firearm violence, including mass shooting catastrophes such as those that occurred at Sandy Hook, Aurora, Virginia Tech and Columbine.

Even the smallest stroke can damage brain tissue and impair cognitive function
Blocking a single tiny blood vessel in the brain can harm neural tissue and even alter behavior, a new study in animals has shown. But these consequences can be mitigated by a drug already in use, suggesting treatment that could slow the progress of dementia associated with cumulative damage to miniscule blood vessels that feed brain cells.

Aerobic exercise boosts brain power
The physical benefits of regular exercise and remaining physically active, especially as we age, are well documented. However, it appears that it is not only the body which benefits from exercise, but the mind too. The evidence for this is published in a new review by Hayley Guiney and Liana Machado from the University of Otago, New Zealand, which focuses on the importance of physical activity in keeping and potentially improving cognitive function throughout life.

Despite hype, costly prostate cancer treatment offers little relief from side effects
Prostate cancer patients receiving the costly treatment known as proton radiotherapy experienced minimal relief from side effects such as incontinence and erectile dysfunction, compared to patients undergoing a standard radiation treatment called intensity modulated radiotherapy, Yale School of Medicine researchers report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Happtique and Kessler Foundation lead new working group of application developers alliance
The Application Developers Alliance has launched a working group on health and medical apps. Comprised of Alliance members, the group will support growth in the medical, health, and wellness application marketplace. The working group will provide core expertise and guidance to the Alliance and its members through commissioned research, white papers, policy recommendations, and best practices. Happtique will chair the group; and Kessler Foundation, a leader in rehabilitation research, will serve as Vice Chair.

Composites for large-scale manufacturing
Continuous fiber-reinforced composites with thermoplastic matrix resins are very well suited for use in automotive manufacturing. However, to manufacture them is complicated. A new approach now makes it possible to use the injection molding process.

Researchers confirm the 'Pinocchio Effect': When you lie, your nose temperature raises
This study demonstrates that body temperature in the orbital muscle -placed in the inner corner of the eye- increases when we lie, and face temperature raises when we have an anxiety attack.

Small wasps to control a big pest?
Five species of parasitic wasps have been found associated with the vector of the Pine Wood Nematode. As this sanitary problem has been present for over a decade, new methods to control it are needed, besides trapping the insect and cutting and destroying infested trees. These five species may be candidates for bio-control programs in the future, along with others presented in a systematic key. The study was published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

'What Editors Want'
What Editors Want is a practical guide to the art of preparing and submitting manuscripts to scientific journals. With sidebars from over a dozen editors and experts, this book will equip scientists with the knowledge they need to usher their papers through publication.

Keck School of Medicine of USC researchers find clue to how Hepatitis C virus harms liver
Researchers at the University of Southern California have discovered a trigger by which the Hepatitis C virus enters liver cells -- shedding light on how this serious and potentially deadly virus can begin to damage the liver.

When the first stars blinked on
Researchers at MIT, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of California at San Diego have peered far back in time, to the era of the first stars and galaxies, and found matter with no discernible trace of heavy elements.

Ben-Gurion U and Cincinnati Children's Hospital to develop new pediatric medical devices
This collaboration is managed by CCHMC's Center for Technology Commercialization and BGU's technology commercialization company, BGN Technologies, Ltd. Cincinnati-based seed-stage investor CincyTech and Israel-based Ridgeback Business Development, Ltd. helped evaluate the projects. The CCHMC-BGU collaborative will seek new ideas and solutions for pediatric-specific medical devices from experts at both institutions for its next round of funding starting in January 2013.

Study compares standard against newer treatment in women whose breast cancer has spread
Results from a phase III clinical trial comparing a newer chemotherapy agent called eribulin mesylate with capecitabine, a standard drug used for chemotherapy today in women with previously treated metastatic breast cancer, showed that eribulin demonstrated a trend toward improved overall survival. This study was presented today by Peter A. Kaufman, M.D., during the 2012 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Lizard tails detach at a biological 'dotted line'
Like sheets of paper marked with perforated lines, gecko tails have unique structural marks that help them sever their tails to make a quick getaway. Though voluntarily shedding a body part in this manner is a well-known phenomenon, research published Dec. 19 in the open access journal PLOS ONE reveals aspects of the process that may have applications for structural engineers making similar, quickly detachable structures.

Statin drug shows promise for fighting malaria effects
Researchers have discovered that adding lovastatin, a widely used cholesterol-lowering drug, to traditional antimalarial treatment decreases neuroinflammation and protects against cognitive impairment in a mouse model of cerebral malaria.

UTMB receives $7.6 million grant
The asthma and allergy research effort at the University of Texas Medical Branch got a boost recently with a five-year, $7.6 million project grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Entitled

Kessler Foundation marks 20th Anniversary of International Day of Persons with Disabilities
Through rehabilitation research and training, Kessler Foundation collaborates with partners here and abroad to further this year's focus of the UN's International Day of Persons with Disabilities -- to remove barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all. Collaborative rehabilitation research with partners in Europe and Asia and postgraduate training for scientists from around the world, extends its rehabilitation research in cognition and mobility.

LSUHSC's Weiss chosen to help set national eye policy, research
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, has invited Jayne S. Weiss, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Ophthalmology, Herbert E. Kaufman, MD Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology, and Director of LSU Eye Center of Excellence at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans, to serve on the National Advisory Eye Council. Effective immediately, she will serve a four-year term. Dr. Weiss is among the 12 members chosen in the United States, and the only member from Louisiana.

Resident fatigue, stress trigger motor vehicle incidents, Mayo Clinic poll finds
It appears that long, arduous hours in the hospital are causing more than stress and fatigue among doctors-in-training -- they're crashing, or nearly crashing, their cars after work, according to new Mayo Clinic research.

New stem cell research, transplant strategies show promise to improve outcomes, reduce complications
Studies of stem cell biology and transplant approaches presented today at the 54th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology illustrate how the use of advanced modeling techniques is optimizing stem cells to treat patients with blood disorders, as well as the potential of enhanced treatment strategies to improve the success rate of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for these patients.

Attitudes predict ability to follow post-treatment advice
Women are more likely to follow experts' advice on how to reduce their risk of an important side effect of breast cancer surgery--like lymphedema--if they feel confident in their abilities and know how to manage stress, according to new research from Fox Chase Cancer Center to be presented at the 2012 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012.

Elsevier to publish International Review of Economics Education beginning in January 2013
Elsevier, a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, is pleased to announce that beginning in January 2013 it will publish the International Review of Economics Education.

Researchers develop novel 3-D culture system for inflammatory breast cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer is a very rare and aggressive disease. To understand how this type of cancer spreads, it's crucial to characterize the interactions between cancer cells and their 3-D environment. Researchers at Fox Chase Cancer Center have developed a novel, 3-D culture system that mimics the environment surrounding these cancer cells. This model could be used to test new anticancer drugs capable of inhibiting the spread of IBC tumors.

Georgia State physicist, international researchers discover fastest light-driven process
A discovery that promises transistors -- the fundamental part of all modern electronics -- controlled by laser pulses that will be 10,000 faster than today's fastest transistors has been made by a Georgia State University professor and international researchers.

A giant puzzle with billions of pieces
Day after day, legions of microorganisms work to produce energy from waste in biogas plants. Researchers from Bielefeld University's Center for Biotechnology (CeBiTec) are taking a close look to find out which microbes do the best job. They are analyzing the entire genetic information of the microbial communities in selected biogas plants. From the beginning of 2013, the Californian Joint Genome Institute will undertake the sequencing required. The biocomputational analysis will be performed at CeBiTec.

3 new research units, 1 new clinical research unit
The German Research Foundation will fund three new research units and one new clinical research unit. The purpose of the collaborations is to offer researchers the possibility to pursue current and pressing issues in their subject areas and to establish innovative work directions.

New studies reveal critical insights to improve care of patients with sickle cell disease
Research unveiling key gaps in continuity of care for sickle cell patients transitioning from pediatric to adult care will be presented this week during the 54th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

Prohibitive reimbursement may restrict hospice enrollment in patients requiring high-cost care
In the first national survey of enrollment policies at hospices, researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Yale University have found that the vast majority of hospices in the United States have at least one enrollment policy that could restrict access for terminally ill Medicare patients with high-cost medical needs.

Johns Hopkins study reveals what makes nonprofits special
Despite their diversity, US nonprofits are in basic agreement that seven core values -- being productive, effective, enriching, empowering, responsive, reliable, and caring -- set the nonprofit sector apart from government and for-profit businesses, according to a new report.

The birth of new cardiac cells
Recent research has shown that there are new cells that develop in the heart, but how these cardiac cells are born and how frequently they are generated remains unclear. Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital have used a novel method to identify these new heart cells and describe their origins.

Study confirms prognostic value of new IASLC/ATS/ERS adenocarcinoma sub-classification
A new study published in the January 2013 issue of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer's Journal of Thoracic Oncology, concludes the new IASLC/ATS/ERS classification identifies histologic subtypes of lung adenocarcinomas with prognostic value among Japanese patients.

Elevated levels of C-reactive protein appear associated with psychological distress, depression
Elevated levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammatory disease, appear to be associated with increased risk of psychological distress and depression in the general population of adults in Denmark, according to a report published Online First by Archives of General Psychiatry, a JAMA Network publication.

University of Chicago's Graeme Bell receives international diabetes prize
Graeme Ian Bell, Ph.D., the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics and an investigator in the Kovler Diabetes Center at the University of Chicago, has been awarded the Manpei Suzuki International Prize for 2012 for his pioneering work in understanding the role of genetics in the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes.

Study fuels insight into conversion of wood to bio-oil
New research from North Carolina State University provides molecular-level insights into how cellulose -- the most common organic compound on Earth and the main structural component of plant cell walls -- breaks down in wood to create

Ames Laboratory scientists develop indium-free organic light-emitting diodes
Scientists at the US Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have discovered new ways of using a well-known polymer in organic light emitting diodes, which could eliminate the need for an increasingly problematic and breakable metal-oxide used in screen displays in computers, televisions, and cell phones.

Affects of climate change to birds worsened by housing development
Although climate change may alter the distributions of many species, changes in land use may compound these effects. Now, a new study by PRBO Conservation Science (PRBO) suggests that the effects of future housing development may be as great or greater than those of climate change for many bird species. In fact, some species projected to expand their distributions with climate change may actually lose ground when future development is brought into the picture.

Clinical trial hits new target in war on breast cancer
Long known to drive prostate cancer, androgen receptors are a new target in breast cancer treatment. This week, a promising clinical trial at the University of Colorado Cancer Center flips from Phase I (proving safety) to Phase II (proving effectiveness).

Better tools for saving water and keeping peaches healthy
Peach growers in California may soon have better tools for saving water because of work by USDA scientists in Parlier, Calif. Agricultural Research Service scientist Dong Wang is evaluating whether infrared sensors and thermal technology can help peach growers decide precisely when to irrigate in California's San Joaquin Valley.

Metformin improves blood glucose levels and BMI in very obese children
Metformin therapy has a beneficial treatment effect over placebo in improving body mass index (BMI) and fasting glucose levels in obese children, according to a recent study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. The study showed reduction in BMI was sustained for six months.

Steps towards filming atoms dancing
Free-electron lasers offer the opportunity to film dances of atoms in molecules and in chemical reactions. An international team of scientists, which includes the participation of researchers from the DIPC and UPV/EHU, has now developed a measurement technique that provides the necessary complete temporal characterization of the laser pulses. The results has been published in the current issue of the scientific journal Nature Photonics.

More ice loss through snowfall on Antarctica
Stronger snowfall increases future ice discharge from Antarctica. Global warming leads to more precipitation as warmer air holds more moisture -- hence earlier research suggested the Antarctic ice sheet might grow under climate change. Now a study published in Nature shows that a lot of the ice gain due to increased snowfall is countered by an acceleration of ice-flow to the ocean.

A nanoscale window to the biological world
Investigators at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute have invented a way to directly image biological structures at their most fundamental level and in their natural habitats. The technique is an advancement toward imaging biological processes in action at the atomic level.

Dead or alive? A new test to determine viability of soybean rust spores
Spores from Asian soybean rust pose a serious threat to soybean production in the United States because they can be blown great distances by the wind. University of Illinois researchers have developed a method to determine whether these spores are viable.

CU-led team receives $9.2 million DOE grant to engineer E. coli into biofuels
A team led by the University of Colorado Boulder has been awarded $9.2 million over five years from the US Department of Energy to research modifying E. coli to produce biofuels such as gasoline.

Intensive therapy no better than traditional care at speeding up recovery from whiplash
More costly, intensive treatment works no better than usual care at speeding up recovery from whiplash injuries, according to new research published Online First in The Lancet.

Grateful patient philanthropy and the doctor-patient relationship
Physicians associated with

Johns Hopkins receives funding for cholera vaccine initiative
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health was awarded a four-year, $5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to promote the effective use of oral cholera vaccine around the world.

Report compares greenhouse gas and black carbon emissions tracking across North America
Working through the CEC, Canada, Mexico and the US have taken an important first step in looking at the state of comparability of emissions data at national and subnational levels with the completion of a background report: Assessment of the Comparability of Greenhouse Gas and Black Carbon Emissions Inventories in North America.

Unlocking new talents in nature
Protein engineers at the California Institute of Technology have tapped into a hidden talent of one of nature's most versatile catalysts. The enzyme cytochrome P450 is nature's premier oxidation catalyst -- a protein that typically promotes reactions that add oxygen atoms to other chemicals. Now the Caltech researchers have engineered new versions of the enzyme, unlocking its ability to drive a completely different and synthetically useful reaction that does not take place in nature.

Small changes in eating prompts weight loss
Making small easy changes to our eating habits on a consistent basis -- 25 days or more per month -- can lead to sustainable weight loss, according to research by Professor Brian Wansink in Cornell University's Food and Brand Lab. The challenge is to figure out which changes work for specific individuals and how to stick with changes long enough to make them second nature. 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