Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (February 2012)

Science news and science current events archive February, 2012.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from February 2012

Farm 'weeds' have crucial role in sustainable agriculture
Plants often regarded as common weeds such as thistles, buttercups and clover could be critical in safe guarding fragile food webs on UK farms according to Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Rainforest plant combats multi-resistant bacterial strains
Aggressive infections in hospitals are an increasing health problem worldwide. The development of bacterial resistance is alarming. Now a young Danish scientist has found a natural substance in a Chilean rainforest plant that effectively supports the effect of traditional treatment with antibiotics.

NIH study links high levels of cadmium, lead in blood to pregnancy delay
Higher blood levels of cadmium in females, and higher blood levels of lead in males, delayed pregnancy in couples trying to become pregnant, according to a study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health and other academic research institutions.

Spectator rage: The dark side of professional sports
The deadly soccer riot in Egypt offered a shocking view of spectator rage. Researchers from Clemson and Stetson universities report in the Journal of Service Research on factors team owners and stadium managers should assess and then control through management and marketing strategies.

In Northern Ireland, political violence harms youths through families
A new longitudinal study of neighborhoods in Belfast, Northern Ireland, has found that political violence affects children by upsetting the ways their families function, resulting in behavior problems and mental health symptoms among the youths over extended periods of time. Researchers gathered data through annual surveys of mothers and children, and through recording the number of politically motivated deaths in families' neighborhoods as an index of political violence.

Protecting the NHS for future generations -- services only for the poor are poor services
This week in the UK's House of Commons it was revealed that an NHS Director had written to an NHS employee to say that it was

Metabolic 'breathalyzer' reveals early signs of disease
The future of disease diagnosis may lie in a

Nano-enabled nasal spray for osteoporosis
This article is about a new collaboration to develop a nano-enabled nasal spray for the treatment of osteoporosis.

Women & Infants studying therapies to relieve urinary urge incontinence
Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island is conducting a study to compare the effect of two therapies in women who have bothersome urinary urge incontinence after trying other treatments. Patients are currently being enrolled in the ROSETTA Study -- Reftractory Overactive Bladder: Sacral NEuromodulation vs. BoTulinum Toxin Assessment.

Chief of naval research to speak at robotics conference
The chief of naval research will speak about autonomy and other robotics challenges and opportunities during a presentation at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's Unmanned Systems Program Review 2012 on Feb. 9. Rear Adm. Matthew Klunder, who heads the Office of Naval Research, will give his remarks at 9 a.m. at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D.C. Klunder will update conference attendees about ongoing efforts and discuss opportunities for engagement in various programs.

GLBT adults twice as likely to smoke, half as likely to have plans to quit
A recent study by University of Colorado Cancer Center published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research of 1,633 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered adults found twice the level of smoking and half the level of plans to quit of non-GLBT adults.

Osteopathic student garners national award for cleft palate research
A College of Osteopathic Medicine student has been awarded the prestigious Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health for his work on identifying the causes leading to cleft palate. Youssef Kousa, a fifth-year candidate in the college's D.O.-Ph.D. program, will receive $65,000 over 21 months for tuition, fees and a stipend.

Getting a handle on chronic pain
Chronic pain has a significant impact on the physical, social and emotional functioning of those who suffer from it. It is also notoriously challenging to diagnose and treat, because pain is such a subjective experience. Scientists at EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne) have developed a new tool that will give doctors an objective way to evaluate a patient's pain level. This in turn will enable them to tailor more targeted treatments and monitor their effectiveness over time.

Study to determine whether fish oil can help prevent psychiatric disorders
This new study is a National Institute of Mental Health-funded randomized double-blind trial that was designed to test whether Omega-3 fatty acids improve clinical symptoms, and help adolescents and young adults (ages 12 to 25) who are at elevated risk for severe psychiatric disorders function better in school, work and other social environments.

An update on projections of alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales
A comment published Online First by the Lancet provides the latest projections on alcohol-related deaths in England and Wales over the next 2 decades, based on data up to 2010. The data suggest that if current trends continue (a worst-case scenario for the UK), there will be up to 210,000 avoidable alcohol-related deaths in the next 20 years, of which 70,000 will be avoidable deaths from liver disease.

Seizures in patients with pork tapeworm caused by Substance P
A neuropeptide called Substance P is the cause of seizures in patients with brains infected by the pork tapeworm, said Baylor College of Medicine researchers.

Polarization imaging: Seeing through the fog of war
Funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the development of a new circular polarization filter by a collaborative team of scientists at the Colorado School of Mines and ITN Energy Systems has the potential to aid in early cancer detection, enhance vision through dust and clouds and to even improve a moviegoer's 3D experience.

Brooks Life Science Systems and the Scripps Research Institute initiate partnership
Brooks Life Science Systems, a division of Brooks Automation, Inc. (Nasdaq:BRKS), a leading worldwide provider of automation, vacuum, and instrumentation solutions for multiple markets, today announced the initiation of a technology development and commercialization partnership with the Scripps Research Institute

Study shows cognitive behavioral therapy is a safe and effective treatment for women having hot flushes and night sweats following breast cancer treatment
Hot flushes and night sweats affect 65-85 percent of women after breast cancer treatment; they are distressing, causing sleep problems and decreased quality of life. Hormone replacement therapy is often either undesirable or contraindicated. A new study published online first by the Lancet Oncology shows that cognitive behavioral therapy is a safe and effective treatment for these women, with additional benefits to mood, sleep, and quality of life.

Switching antiepileptic drugs could increase risk of seizures
Brand and generic epilepsy drugs are equally safe and effective; but switching from a brand-name antiepileptic drug to a generic one could increase some individuals' chances of having a seizure, according to a comprehensive research review conducted by pharmacists and doctors at the University of Connecticut and Hartford Hospital.

Arthritic knees, but not hips, have robust repair response
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center used new tools they developed to analyze knees and hips and discovered that osteoarthritic knee joints are in a constant state of repair, while hip joints are not.

VLT takes most detailed infrared image of the Carina Nebula
ESO's Very Large Telescope has delivered the most detailed infrared image of the Carina Nebula stellar nursery taken so far. Many previously hidden features, scattered across a spectacular celestial landscape of gas, dust and young stars, have emerged. This is one of the most dramatic images ever created by the VLT.

Study posits a theory of moral behavior
Why do some people behave morally while others do not? Sociologists at the University of California, Riverside and California State University, Northridge have developed a theory of the moral self that may help explain the ethical lapses in the banking, investment and mortgage-lending industries that nearly ruined the US economy.

Study of Alzheimer's-related protein in healthy adults may shed light on earliest signs of disease
Researchers from the Center for Vital Longevity at The University of Texas at Dallas and UT Southwestern Medical Center have completed a large-scale neuroimaging study of healthy adults from age 30 to 90 that measured beta-amyloid protein -- a substance whose toxic buildup in the brain is a diagnostic marker for Alzheimer's disease. Their findings reveal that high levels of amyloid may have negative effects on cognitive function even in healthy adults.

Cleveland Clinic physician receives prominent award for outstanding contributions to MS research
Richard Ransohoff, M.D., a Cleveland Clinic physician and a researcher in the Neurosciences Department of Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, has been awarded the 2012 John Dystel Prize for Multiple Sclerosis Research.

Sustainable land use strategies to support bioenergy described in Industrial Biotechnology journal
Applying 21st century tools and technologies to manage land use, maximize biomass production, and increase the efficiency of processes for extracting energy from renewable resources will enable the biofuels industry to overcome current challenges in bioenergy production, according to a comprehensive review article published in Industrial Biotechnology, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert Inc.

A 2-pronged attack: Why loss of STAT1 is bad news
Breast cancer represents about a fifth of all cancers diagnosed in women. The reasons for the rapid progression of the disease remain relatively poorly understood but recent work in the group of Veronika Sexl at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna has pointed the finger strongly at loss or inactivation of the transcription factor STAT1. The results are published in the current issue of the journal Oncotarget.

New super-Earth detected within the habitable zone of a nearby cool star
An international team of scientists led by Carnegie's Guillem Anglada-Escudé and Paul Butler has discovered a potentially habitable super-Earth orbiting a nearby star. The star is a member of a triple star system and has a different makeup than our Sun, being relatively lacking in metallic elements. This discovery demonstrates that habitable planets could form in a greater variety of environments than previously believed.

Treatment for hip conditions should not rest solely on MRI scans
When it comes to treating people with hip pain, physicians should not replace clinical observation with the use of magnetic resonance images (MRI), according to research being presented today at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's (AOSSM) Specialty Day in San Francisco, Calif.

Climate change leads to pollution of indigenous people's water supplies
Indigenous people around the world are among the most vulnerable to climate change and are increasingly susceptible to the pathogen loads found in potable water after heavy rainfall or rapid snow melt.

Rare fungus kills endangered rattlesnakes in southern Illinois
A small population of rattlesnakes that already is in decline in southern Illinois faces a new and unexpected threat in the form of a fungus rarely seen in the wild, researchers report. The finding matches reports of rattlesnake deaths in the northeast United States.

Discovery in Nature elucidates immune cells in skin and supports novel vaccine approach
Research in Nature shows for the first time in vivo that powerful immune system cells called TREMs (T-Resident Effector Memory cells) prevalent in the skin are more protective in fighting infection than central memory T-cells in the bloodstream. The study suggests vaccines to generate TREM can have optimal delivery to upper skin, for potentially more effective immune response than conventional vaccine injection. TREM Rx is translating this new insight into proprietary platform for novel vaccines.

CT colonography shown to be comparable to standard colonoscopy
Virtual colonoscopy is comparable to standard colonoscopy at detecting colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps in people ages 65 and older, according to a paper published online Feb. 23 in Radiology. This and results of a 2008 trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine, confirm the virtual exam can serve as a primary screening option. Medicare has refused coverage for the exam citing lack of data in patients ages 65 and older.

Pharmaceuticals from crab shells
The pharmaceutical NANA is 50 times more expensive than gold. Now it can be produced from chitin - a very cheap natural resource. The process was made possible by genetically modifying mold fungi.

Teen school drop-outs 3 times as likely to be on benefits in later life
Teen school drop-outs are almost three times as likely to be on benefits in later life as their peers who complete their schooling, indicates research published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Potatoes lower blood pressure in people with obesity and hypertension without increasing weight
The first study to check the effects of eating potatoes on blood pressure in humans has concluded that two small helpings of purple potatoes a day decreases blood pressure by about four percent without causing weight gain. In a report in the ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the researchers say that decrease, although seemingly small, is sufficient to potentially reduce the risk of several forms of heart disease.

Assessing the value of BMI screening and surveillance in schools
An expert Roundtable Discussion in the current issue of Childhood Obesity, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., debates the pros and cons of routine BMI screening in the school setting, discusses the most recent data, and explores when and for what purpose BMI screening results should be shared with parents and the potential benefits.

Big jolt to state economy with new tax on cigarettes
A new UCSF analysis has found that a state ballot initiative to increase the cigarette tax would create about 12,000 jobs and nearly $2 billion in new economic activity in California.

Dash to help -- new app to improve stroke treatment
The Newcastle team who helped develop the FAST system to identify a stroke are now piloting an app to ensure the best treatment for stroke patients. Having developed the FAST acronym -- face, arms, speech and time -- which has been seen on TV ads, the university and NHS team are now trying out an app to help people who have had a stroke and their medical team work out which course of treatment is most suitable for them.

NASA sees Giovanna reach cyclone strength, threaten Madagascar
Tropical Storm 12S built up steam and became a cyclone on Feb. 10, 2012 as NASA's Terra satellite passed overhead. Residents of east-central Madagascar should prepare for this cyclone to make landfall by Feb. 13 according to forecasters.

Vigorous exercise linked to gene activity in prostate
Scientists at the University of California, San Francisco have identified nearly 200 genes in the healthy prostate tissue of men with low-grade prostate cancer that may help explain how physical activity improves survival from the disease.

World's greenest supercomputer heads to Melbourne to boost health research
Victoria will be home to one of Australia's fastest supercomputers and the world's greenest supercomputer, the IBM Blue Gene/Q, which will be housed at the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative hosted by the University of Melbourne, and is aimed at advancing the study of human disease.

Researchers warn nanoparticles in food, vitamins could harm human health
Billions of engineered nanoparticles in foods and pharmaceuticals are ingested by humans daily, and new Cornell research warns they may be more harmful to health than previously thought.

Obstacles holding back healthier foods from your table
There are lots of new ideas out there for giving you extra protection against chronic diseases through the food you eat. But many good ideas may never make it to market.

AAAS-SFU research: Linking human evolution and climate change
It's not a take on climate change we often hear about. But Mark Collard, a Simon Fraser University Canada Research Chair and professor of archaeology, will talk about how climate change impacts human evolution at the world's largest science fair. Collard will give a talk called Environmental drivers of technological evolution in small-scale populations during a seminar called Climate Change and Human Evolution: Problems and Prospects.

Study finds injectable treatment for blood clots in advanced cancer patients increases
The use of an injectable, clot-preventing drug known as Low Molecular Weight Heparin to treat patients with advanced cancer complicated by blood clots increased steadily between 2000 and 2007, according to a new study published in The Oncologist, funded by the National Cancer Institute and led by Kaiser Permanente Colorado. However, despite previous research indicating LMWH is the preferred first-line treatment for cancer patients experiencing blood clots, use of LMWH is low compared to another commonly used anticoagulant, warfarin.

Direct measurement of the formation length of photons
How long does it take an electron to form a photon? The answer would normally be: so short a time that it cannot be measured. However, the international CERN team responsible for experiment NA63 -- mainly staffed by physicists from Aarhus University -- has now succeeded in dragging out the process, thereby making it measurable.

Sharp images from the living mouse brain
Max Planck scientists in Goettingen have for the first time made finest details of nerve cells in the brain of a living mouse visible.

US Forest Service research used in new, invasive-plant software
US Forest Service research and funding have led to the development of a free software application that will help people identify and control destructive invasive plants in Southern forests and grasslands.

Excess fat may be 'protective' in seniors over 85
Past the age of 85, says professor Jiska Cohen-Mansfield of Tel Aviv University, obese people were not only at lower risk of death than their underweight peers, but also appeared to be less at risk than those who had a normal weight as well. However, she warns that they may also suffer longer from obesity-related illnesses. 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