Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (December 2016)

Science news and science current events archive December, 2016.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from December 2016

UC researchers examine potential drug pathway to combat pneumocystis
A study led by University of Cincinnati researchers is offering new insight in how the fungus Pneumocystis, thrives in the lungs of immune-compromised individuals, where it can cause a fatal pneumonia.

Corn yield modeling towards sustainable agriculture
Researchers use a 16 year field-experiment dataset to show the ability of a model to fine-tune optimal nitrogen fertilizer rates, and identify five ways it can inform nitrogen management guidelines. Finding the optimal N fertilizer rate is notoriously complex and yet vital to keep profits high and environmental impact low. The work, published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Plant Science is relevant to future food security and sustainable farming methods.

New US law poised to improve marine conservation worldwide
New restrictions on US seafood imports, which will require seafood to be harvested in accordance with the US Marine Mammal Protection Act, will likely offer significant marine conservation benefits on a global scale. In this Policy Forum, Rob Williams et al. highlight the impacts and challenges involved in this endeavor.

Clarifying the behaviors of negative hydrogen ions
The National Institutes of Natural Sciences National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS) has succeeded in revealing the flow of negative hydrogen ions using a combination of infrared lasers and electrostatic probes in the ion-source plasma, which generates a negative-hydrogen-ion beam. This is the first time in the field of fusion research that the detailed ion flow, which changes direction and moves toward the beam direction in the ion source, has been demonstrated experimentally.

Young professionals speak out on achieving equity in pediatrics
Young and seasoned scientific investigators share their perspective on achieving equity in academic pediatrics. Their insights appear in the most recent issue of the International Journal for Equity in Health. Glenn Flores, the Distinguished Chair in Health Policy Research at the Medica Research Institute, is the lead author of the publication.

Bad people are disgusting, bad actions are angering
A person's character, more so than their actions, determines whether we find immoral acts to be 'disgusting,' according to new research in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Shaping pharma: The industry's top stories from 2016
As the year comes to an end, Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, takes stock of the top 10 stories that shaped the pharmaceutical landscape and set the stage for 2017.

Would you take a free predictive test for Alzheimer's disease?
Three-quarters of people aged 65 and over in the US would take a test telling them they were going to develop Alzheimer's disease if such a test existed, according to research published in the open access journal Alzheimer's Research and Therapy.

Healthy weight only protects women from hot flashes during the early stages of menopause
Greater weight increases the likelihood of night sweats and hot flashes during early stages of the menopause transition but reduces those symptoms throughout menopause and beyond, new UC Davis research published in the journal Menopause shows.

New study describes 200 million years of geological evolution
Two-hundred million years of geological evolution of a fault in the Earth's crust has recently been dated. Published in Nature Communications, these new findings may be used to shed light on poorly understood pathways for methane release from the heart of our planet.

Study: Warming global temperatures may not affect carbon stored deep in northern peatlands
Deep stores of carbon in northern peatlands may be safe from rising temperatures, according to a team of researchers from several US-based institutions.

'Nudges' an inexpensive, effective way to increase completion of health promotion programs
Keeping your message brief and simple -- on the level of a gentle reminder, as opposed to constant nagging -- can produce gains when trying to increase engagement with health care programs, says new research from U. of I. professor and social psychology expert Dolores Albarracin.

Psychosocial risk factors are associated with high readmission rates, longer hospital stays
A new study shows that psychosocial risk factors that impact a person's ability to cope with chronic stress are associated with significantly higher readmission rates and longer hospital stays among blood cancer patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT), according to researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Gene activity predicts progression of autoimmune disease, Stanford researchers find
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and six other institutions have designed a new diagnostic tool for a rare and deadly autoimmune disease that affects the skin and internal organs.

Jeffrey Lieberman given the ACNP Julius Axelrod Mentorship Award
The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) has named Jeffrey Lieberman, M.D. as one of two winners of the 2016 Julius Axelrod Mentorship Award. Dr. Lieberman is the Lawrence C. Kolb Professor and Chairman, Department of Psychiatry at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and Psychiatrist-in-Chief of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center.

Study identifies gastric cancer biomarker and possible treatment
Scientists at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine have shown that the hormone receptor GHRH-R could be a potential biomarker for gastric cancer, enabling earlier diagnoses and better staging.

Racial disparities exist in children's access to kidney transplantation
In a study of children with kidney failure who were followed for a median of 7.1 years, black children had a 36 percent higher risk of dying than white children. The increase risk was mostly attributed to differences in access to transplantation. Hispanic children had lower risk of death than white children even though they had lower access to transplantation.

Molecular Velcro boosts microalgae's potential in biofuel, industrial applications
Michigan State University scientists have engineered 'molecular Velcro' into to cyanobacteria, boosting this microalgae's biofuel viability as well as its potential for other research.

Unexpected activity of 2 enzymes helps explain why liver cancer drugs fail
Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that lack of two types of enzymes can lead to liver disease and cancer in mice. In human liver tumors, they found that deficiencies in these two enzymes, Shp2 and Pten, are associated with poor prognosis. The study, published Dec. 13 by Cell Reports, provides a new understanding of liver cancer development, new therapeutic approach and new mouse model for studying the disease.

Coffee-ring phenomenon explained in new theory
The formation of a simple coffee stain has been the subject of complex study for decades, though it turns out that there remain some stones still to be turned. Researchers at the University of Nevada, Reno have modeled how a colloidal droplet evaporates and found a previously overlooked mechanism that more accurately determines the dynamics of particle deposition in evaporating sessile droplets, which has ramifications in many fields of today's technological world.

Fundamental solid state phenomenon unraveled
Researchers at Goethe University Frankfurt and Technische Universität Dresden have made a pioneering discovery during their study of a phase transition from an electrical conductor to an insulator (Mott metal-insulator transition).

Marital history linked to stroke survival
The risk of dying after a stroke is significantly higher for people who have never been married or have been widowed compared to continuously married people. Adults who experienced more than one divorce or death of a spouse in their lifetime were about 39 percent and 40 percent respectively more likely to die after having a stroke than those who were continuously married.

Hormonal contraception is safer than expected for women with diabetes
Strokes and heart attacks are rare for women with diabetes who use hormonal contraception, with the safest options being intrauterine devices (IUDs) and under-the-skin implants, new research published in 'Diabetes Care' shows.

Quasi noise-free digital holography
Noise originating from the coherent nature of laser light is the scourge of digital holography, always causing holographic images to be of lower quality than conventional photographs. Now, Pasquale Memmolo of ISASI-CNR and co-workers have practically eliminated this noise by using a two-stage algorithm. The output obtained exhibited both qualitative and quantitative improvement over recently developed de-noising techniques. In particular, the algorithm reduced noise in background regions by 98 percent and in signal regions by 92 percent.

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses
A new study by Lyle Hood, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), describes a new device that could revolutionize the delivery of medicine to treat cancer as well as a host of other diseases and ailments. Hood developed the device in partnership with Alessandro Grattoni, chair of the Department of Nanomedicine at Houston Methodist Research Institute.

Simple steps lengthen lives of high-risk AML patients
New SWOG research shows that quickly identifying patients with high-risk acute myeloid leukemia (AML), and speeding the process to find them a stem cell donor and performing the transplant earlier, can significantly improve their chances of surviving for at least two years after diagnosis. These potentially practice-changing results will be presented Monday, Dec. 5, at the 58th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting.

Krembil research prompts rethink on established vision recovery theory
A team of researchers at the Krembil Research Institute has published a paper that is expected to change the way scientists think about vision recovery after retinal cell transplantation.

Timing may be key to understanding cognitive problems in Parkinson's disease
University of Iowa research shows that people with Parkinson's disease (PD) and mice that lack dopamine both are missing a critical brain wave needed for timing actions -- a cognitive process that's consistently impaired in patients with PD. Brain stimulation at the same frequency as the missing brain wave restores timing ability in mice lacking dopamine, suggesting that it might be possible to use brain stimulation to improve cognitive problems in PD.

Enzyme that digests vitamin A also may regulate testosterone levels
Bco1, an enzyme that metabolizes beta carotene, may play a vital role in testosterone metabolism as well, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Illinois.

Dabigatran superior to warfarin when anticoagulation is resumed after bleeding
In the first analysis of how to treat patients on anticoagulants who suffer a major bleeding event, a clinical practice that routinely gives doctors pause, while also evaluating a new drug, University of Pittsburgh researchers aim to provide much-needed guidance to clinicians trying to balance the risks of stroke versus bleeding when determining the best treatment.

El Niño fueled Zika outbreak, new study suggests
Scientists at the University of Liverpool have shown that a change in weather patterns, brought on by the 'Godzilla' El Niño of 2015, fueled the Zika outbreak in South America.

Scientists discover new mechanism of how brain networks form
Scientists have discovered that networks of inhibitory brain cells or neurons develop through a mechanism opposite to the one followed by excitatory networks. Excitatory neurons sculpt and refine maps of the external world throughout development and experience, while inhibitory neurons form maps that become broader with maturation.

Simple processing technique could cut cost of organic PV and wearable electronics
A simple solution-based electrical doping technique could help reduce the cost of polymer solar cells and organic electronic devices, potentially expanding the applications for these technologies.

Search on for drug to tame 'hyperactive' zinc transporter and lower type 2 diabetes risk
Gene variants associated with disease are typically considered faulty; problems arise when the proteins they make don't adequately carry out their designated role.

Want to give a good gift? Think past the 'big reveal'
Gift givers often make critical errors in gift selection during the holiday season, according to a new research article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. The research suggests that gift givers tend to focus on the moment of exchange when selecting a gift, whereas gift recipients are more focused on the long-term utility or practical attributes of the gift.

Dual strategy teaches mouse immune cells to overcome cancer's evasive techniques
By combining two treatment strategies, both aimed at boosting the immune system's killer T cells, Johns Hopkins researchers report they lengthened the lives of mice with skin cancer more than by using either strategy on its own. And, they say, because the combination technique is easily tailored to different types of cancer, their findings -- if confirmed in humans -- have the potential to enhance treatment options for a wide variety of cancer patients.

Anti-tumor effect of novel plasma medicine caused by lactate
Nagoya University researchers developed a new physical plasma-activated salt solution for use as chemotherapy. Lactate was identified as the key anti-tumor component. The solution killed brain tumor cells in vitro and reduced the tumor volume in mice, revealing the potential of plasma-activated liquids in clinical applications.

Evangelicals are more skeptical of evolution than of climate change
Evangelicals are more skeptical of evolution than of climate change, according to new research from Rice University.

Political left, right both inspired by utopian hopes
Studies explore moral convictions associated with same sex marriage, gun control.

Early-phase trial demonstrates shrinkage in pediatric neural tumors
In an early-phase clinical trial of a new oral drug, selumetinib, children with the common genetic disorder neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) and plexiform neurofibromas, tumors of the peripheral nerves, tolerated selumetinib and, in most cases, responded to it with tumor shrinkage.

Recovering Latina breast cancer patients report big gaps in 'survivorship' care
Breast cancer patients in one of the United States' largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority groups are likely to experience numerous gaps in care following their primary treatment.

UH Seidman cancer center expert presents triple-negative breast cancer immunotherapy trial
A researcher from UH Seidman Cancer Center will discuss his upcoming immunotherapy clinical trial for triple-negative breast cancer at 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Joseph Baar, MD, PhD, Director of Breast Cancer Research at UH Seidman Cancer Center, will share details about a phase II clinical trial testing the effectiveness of combining carboplatin and nab-paclitaxel with an immunotherapeutic agent called pembrolizumab in patients with metastatic triple-negative breast cancer.

An eye on young specialists' success
Graduates from several medical and surgical specialties are having difficulty securing practice opportunities, especially in specialties dependent upon limited resources, according to new research from Queen's ophthalmologist Robert Campbell.

Researchers use genes as early warning system for harmful algae blooms
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers have sequenced the genes of a harmful algae bloom, unveiling never-before-seen interactions between algae and bacteria that are thought to propagate their growth.

New study uncovers vivid patterns of neural activity in the resting mouse brain
Scientists have traced the origins of mysterious brain signals that have long captivated the fMRI community. The team found network-like activity coursing around the brain, even when the mouse was 'at rest,' while also demonstrating that this activity could predict blood-flow changes, connecting their findings to 'resting-state fMRI.' This research provides a tantalizing new view of brain-wide neural activity that could lead to a better understanding of how distinct brain regions interact with each other.

Baylor study aims to find out why some children's autism symptoms improve with antibiotics
For years parents and clinicians have reported that antibiotics can cause changes (both improvements and worsening) in autism symptoms. Despite this and the fact that microbiome is increasingly implicated in playing a role in autism, this phenomenon has not been systematically studied. A new study is now underway at Baylor to better understand the phenomenon. The study was spearheaded by two parents of affected children who are both involved in autism research.

A look at the US cold snap from NASA infrared imagery
Imagery and an animation of infrared imagery from the AIRS instrument aboard NASA's Aqua satellite showed the movement of cold, Arctic air over the U.S. from Dec. 1 to Dec. 11. That frigid air mass is expected to affect states from the north central to the northeastern and Mid-Atlantic.

New study of water-saving plants advances efforts to develop drought-resistant crops
As part of an effort to develop drought-resistant food and bioenergy crops, scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have uncovered the genetic and metabolic mechanisms that allow certain plants to conserve water and thrive in semi-arid climates.

Images of faraway galaxies shed new light on dark matter
Scientists have gained fresh insight into the nature of dark matter, the elusive material that accounts for much of the mass of the universe.

Vitamin E and selenium don't prevent polyps that can lead to colorectal cancer
A SWOG review of ancillary SELECT results definitively shows that two antioxidants, vitamin E and selenium, don't prevent colorectal adenomas -- polyps that are the premalignant precursors to most colorectal cancers. 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