Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (December 2013)

Science news and science current events archive December, 2013.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from December 2013

UBC-VCH scientists use drug to repair rare birth defect
University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health scientists have developed a potential cure for a rare eye disease, showing for the first time that a drug can repair a birth defect. They formulated the drug Ataluren into eye drops, and found that it consistently restored normal vision in mice who had aniridia, a condition that severely limits the vision of about 5,000 people in North America.

Dysfunctional TGF-beta signaling contributes to Loeys-Dietz syndrome-associated aortic aneurysm
In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Harry Dietz and colleagues at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine developed a mouse model of LDS, in which transgenic animals expressing Tgfbr1 or Tgfbr2 with LDS-associated mutations recapitulated human phenotypes.

RI researchers validate tool for pain assessment in patients following cardiac surgery
How do you measure the pain of a patient who can't communicate? A Rhode Island Hospital researcher studied an observational pain scale in cardiac surgery patients, and found that the Critical-Care Pain Observation Tool provided an accurate measure of a patient's pain level. The study by Sandra Linde, RN, is the first study conducted in the hospital's Clinical Nurse Scholar program, in which nurses are mentored to serve as principal investigators.

EARTH Magazine: Navigating the risks of hazard research
After the 2012 conviction of six Italian geoscientists on manslaughter charges related to communication about the hazards prior to the L'Aquila earthquake in 2009, scientists worldwide are keen to understand the risks of their hazards research. EARTH Magazine investigates the complicated and often nuanced risks scientists face in hazard research.

Toll-like receptor 4-mediated apoptosis of hippocampal neurons
Toll-like receptor 4 antibody, protein kinase B (AKT) inhibitor, LY 294002, and glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK-3β) inhibitor, LiCl, were used by Yu He and colleagues from Nantong University, China to attenuate or augment the effects of the TLR4-phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase/AKT-GSK-3β signaling pathway so as to identify the participation of this signaling system in the apoptosis of hippocampal neurons.

Tell me your barcode, and I will tell you what palm you are
A short fragment of chloroplastic DNA as a

Nuclei in wrong place may be cause, not result, of inherited muscle diseases
Researchers solve puzzle of whether out-of-position cell nuclei are cause or consequence of congenital muscle diseases.

Study: Moderate alcohol consumption boosts body's immune system
Medical science has known for years that people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol actually have a reduced risk of death. Now, new research from Oregon Health & Science University adds a fascinating twist: moderate drinking may actually bolster our immune system and help it fight off infection.

Integrated approaches to customize fungal cell factories
The natural ability of certain fungi to break down complex substances makes them very valuable microorganisms to use as cell factories in industrial processes. Advances in metabolic engineering and systems biology are helping to customize and optimize these fungi to produce specific bioproducts, as described in a Review article in Industrial Biotechnology.

2 LSU Professors named AAAS Fellows
LSU Professors John Fleeger and Robert Lipton have been named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, or AAAS.

Feinstein Institute researchers show a genetic overlap in schizophrenia and cognitive ability
Investigators at The Feinstein Institute for Medical Research have discovered for the first time, direct evidence of a genetic overlap between schizophrenia and general cognitive ability.

Building a better malaria vaccine: Mixing the right cocktail
A safe and effective malaria vaccine is high on the wish list of most people concerned with global health. Results published on Dec. 26 in PLOS Pathogens suggest how a leading vaccine candidate could be vastly improved.

Gene therapy method targets tumor blood vessels
Working in mice, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report developing a gene delivery method long sought in the field of gene therapy: a deactivated virus carrying a gene of interest that can be injected into the bloodstream and make its way to the right cells. In this early proof-of-concept study, the scientists have shown that they can target tumor blood vessels in mice without affecting healthy tissues.

Boston Hospital Trio awarded $25 million NIH grant to study critical limb ischemia
A team of researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital has been awarded $25 million by the National Institutes of Health to conduct a four-year, randomized clinical trial -- the BEST-CLI Trial (Best Endovascular versus Best Surgical Therapy in Patients with Critical Limb Ischemia).

What makes the deadliest form of malaria specific to people?
Why does the deadliest malaria parasite, Plasmodium Falciparum, only infect humans? Scientists have uncovered a protein interaction that is a key reason why this malaria parasite infects people and no other closely related species, such as chimps and gorillas. This may be an important guiding factor in the development of eradication strategies against P. falciparum in endemic areas.

For altitude training, a narrow window for success
In a new study, researchers found that living between 2,000 and 2,500 meters above sea level offered the best performance enhancement compared to living at higher or lower elevations. These findings could help competitive endurance athletes and their coaches develop altitude training regimens that have the highest chance of success.

Bedtime for toddlers: Timing is everything, says CU-Boulder study
The bedtime you select for your toddler may be out of sync with his or her internal body clock, which can contribute to difficulties for youngsters attempting to settle in for the night, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study.

Pilot program study finds that pediatric obesity patients like telehealth services
A pilot program offering telehealth technology to pediatric obesity patients found that a great majority of pediatric patients were satisfied with their telehealth appointment.

Long-term use of common heartburn and ulcer medications linked to vitamin B12 deficiency
Long-term use of commonly prescribed heartburn and ulcer medications is linked to a higher risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

CARING Criteria shows 1 year death risk at time of hospital admission
A new tool allows doctors to recognize patients at highest mortality risk, matching treatments to values and health goals.

CU-Boulder-led team finds first evidence of primates regularly sleeping in caves
Scientists have discovered that some ring-tailed lemurs in Madagascar regularly retire to limestone chambers for their nightly snoozes, the first evidence of the consistent, daily use of the same caves and crevices for sleeping among the world's wild primates.

You are what your father eats
Mothers get all the attention. But a study led by McGill researcher Sarah Kimmins suggests that the father's diet before conception may play an equally important role in the health of their offspring. It also raises concerns about the long-term effects of current Western diets and of food insecurity.

Common misconceptions by cat owners lead to high numbers of unwanted kittens
New research suggests that the high number of unwanted kittens may be due to common misconceptions held by cat owners.

Transgender medical research and provider education lacking
As a result of the limited transgender medical training offered at medical schools, very few physicians possess the knowledge needed to treat transgendered patients. This circumstance is the topic of a paper in this month's issue Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity.

UT Southwestern neuroscience researchers identify gene involved in response to cocaine
UT Southwestern neuroscience researchers have identified a gene that controls the response to cocaine by comparing closely related strains of mice often used to study addiction and behavior patterns.

'Universal ripple' could hold the secret to high-temperature superconductivity
UBC researchers have discovered a universal electronic state that controls the behavior of high-temperature superconducting copper-oxide ceramics.

UI biology professor finds 'Goldilocks' effect in snail populations
A University of Iowa researcher has discovered that a

UF researchers' experiment is first to simulate warming of Arctic permafrost
Although vegetation growth in the Arctic is boosted by global warming, it's not enough to offset the carbon released by the thawing of the permafrost beneath the surface, University of Florida researchers have found in the first experiment in the Arctic environment to simulate thawing of permafrost in a warming world.

TGen, Barrow and PCH receive $4 million grant to study genetic basis of brain injuries
In an effort to lower medical costs, identify patients at risk for injury, and speed patient recovery, scientists will attempt to identify a molecular signal that indicates severity of brain-injury during a $4 million, five-year federal grant to Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix Children's Hospital and the Translational Genomics Research Institute.

Sugar cane fires in Louisiana
According to KATC Channel 3 in Lafayette, LA on December 17, 2013 , thick plumes of smoke are visible for miles around Acadiana (the mostly French region of Louisiana in the southern part of the state). They aren't major fires, but instead controlled-sugar cane burns.

Navy launches UAV from submerged submarine
A milestone in US Navy history, an all-electric NRL developed unmanned aircraft was successfully launched and flown from the submerged USS Providence.

World Stem Cell Report 2013 highlights expert opinion and state-of-the-art science
Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers announced the publication of the World Stem Cell Report 2013, a special supplement to the peer-reviewed journal Stem Cells and Development.

Newly invented shielding for stopping neutrons cold
When faced with the challenge of protecting sensitive scientific equipment and computers from radiation, engineers at the US Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility decided to take matters into their own hands. They came up with three innovative products that could soon find their way to nuclear power plants, particle accelerators and other radiation-generating devices around the world.

Use of vitamin E by patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease slows functional decline
Among patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer disease, a daily dosage of 2,000 IUs of vitamin E, compared to placebo, was effective in slowing functional decline and in reducing caregiver time in assisting patients, according to a study appearing in the January 1 issue of JAMA.

NewLeaf Symbiotics acquires Intuitive Genomics
NewLeaf Symbiotics Inc. an agricultural biotech company, today announced the acquisition of Intuitive Genomics Inc., a leader in the design and implementation of custom bioinformatics solutions.

Messy children make better learners
Parents, let your children get messy in the high chair. They learn better that way. That's according to a new study from the University of Iowa, which concludes that a 16-month-old's setting and degree of interaction enhances his or her ability to identify nonsolid objects and name them. Results published in the journal Developmental Science.

Breast tomosynthesis increases cancer detection and reduces recall rates
Researchers have found that digital breast tomosynthesis led to reduced recall rates and an increase in cancer detection in a large breast cancer screening program.

3D printing used as a tool to explain theoretical physics
Students may soon be able to reach out and touch some of the theoretical concepts they are taught in their physics classes thanks to a novel idea devised by a group of researchers from Imperial College London.

Slosh experiment designed to improve rocket safety, efficiency
A better understanding of fluid slosh could not only decrease fuel uncertainty, but increase efficiency, reduce costs and allow additional payloads to be launched.

Lower Rio Grande Basin study shows shortfall in future water supply
Reclamation released the Lower Rio Grande Basin Study that evaluated the impacts of climate change on water demand and supply imbalances along the Rio Grande from Fort Quitman, Tex., to the Gulf of Mexico. As a result of climate change, a projected 86,438 acre-feet of water per year will need to be added to the 592,084 acre-feet per year of supply shortfall predicted in the existing regional planning process in 2060.

Genetics Society of America announces recipients of spring 2014 DeLill Nasser Award
Eleven early career researchers receive travel grants to attend conferences to aid in their professional development.

Muscular head pumps give long-proboscid fly the edge
A long-proboscid fly with an extra-long, tongue-like proboscis might seem to take extra-long to feed on a flower, but it actually has an advantage over its counterparts with average sized nectar-sipping mouth parts. It can suck up almost all nectar available in a flower in one go, because it has more efficient suction pumps in its head, say researchers in a study published in Springer's journal Naturwissenschaften - The Science of Nature.

Museum bird DNA 'ready for use' in Naturalis Biodiversity Center
An Iranian ornithologist used a

PIK3CA gene mutations make HER2- and hormone receptor-positive breast cancers treatment-resistant
Women with breast cancer characterized by high levels of the protein HER2 and hormone receptors gained much less benefit from presurgery treatment with chemotherapy and HER2-targeted therapies if their cancer had one or more mutations in the PIK3CA gene, according to results presented here at the 2013 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, held Dec. 10-14.

First real-time flu forecast successful
Scientists were able to reliably predict the timing of the 2012-2013 influenza season up to nine weeks in advance of its peak. The first large-scale demonstration of the flu forecasting system by scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health was carried out in 108 cities across the United States.

Penn study delivers protein across blood-brain barrier to degrade Alzheimer's plaques
University of Pennsylvania biologists substantially degraded Alzheimer's plaques in mice brains and human brain tissue by sending a fused protein across the blood-brain barrier. Their technique not only offers a potential strategy for treating the debilitating neurological disease, but also other diseases that affect the brain and eyes.

Regular exercise in middle age protects against muscle weakness later in life
A cross-sectional study by investigators from Tokyo University has found that exercising in middle age is a protective factor against sarcopenia and effective in maintaining muscle strength and physical performance. Sarcopenia is a disease associated with the aging process, resulting in loss of skeletal muscle mass and muscle strength and/or function in the elderly. The multiple adverse health outcomes include physical disability, poor quality of life and premature death.

Innovative screening strategy swiftly uncovers new drug candidates, new biology
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have demonstrated a drug-discovery strategy with a double payoff -- it enables the rapid selection of chemical compounds that have a desired effect on cells and also highlights how the compounds work. To illustrate the power of the innovative technique, the TSRI researchers used it to identify a compound that shows promise for treating obesity-linked diabetes.

Mothers see their youngest as shorter than they are
Many parents say when their second child is born that their first child suddenly appears to have grown overnight. Now, researchers reporting in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on Dec. 16 have an explanation: until the birth of the new child, those parents were subject to a

Childhood bullying shown to increase likelihood of psychotic experiences in later life
New research has shown that being exposed to bullying during childhood will lead to an increased risk of psychotic experiences in adulthood, regardless of whether they are victims or perpetrators. 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