Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (February 2013)

Science news and science current events archive February, 2013.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from February 2013

Gut microbiota research: Pinpointing a moving target
Although considerable progress has been made in determining the impact of the gut microbiota on the development of inflammatory bowel disease and other gastrointestinal diseases, the detailed study and understanding of the composition and effects of this intestinal community still faces numerous methodological and empirical challenges.

Support needed for children losing parent at early age
A study exploring the impact of early parental death has revealed the long-term damage and suffering that can be experienced by individuals in adult life if appropriate levels of support are not provided at the time of bereavement.

Defying the laws of Mendelian inheritance
Two articles published in F1000Research support controversial claims that could redefine what we know about Mendelian inheritance in single Arabidopsis thaliana plants.

Compound stimulates tumor-fighting protein in cancer therapy
A compound that stimulates the production of a tumor-fighting protein may improve the usefulness of the protein in cancer therapy, according to a team of researchers.

Small molecules in the blood might gauge radiation effects after exposure
Researchers have identified molecules in the blood that might gauge the likelihood of radiation illness after exposure to ionizing radiation. The animal study shows that radiation predictably alters levels of certain molecules in the blood. If verified in human subjects, the findings could lead to new methods for rapidly identifying people at risk for acute radiation syndrome after occupational exposures or nuclear reactor accidents, and they might help doctors plan radiation therapy for patients.

For some, deep brain stimulation brings lasting improvement in neuropathic pain
For many patients with difficult-to-treat neuropathic pain, deep brain stimulation can lead to long-term improvement in pain scores and other outcomes, according to a study in the February issue of Neurosurgery, official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

A genetic device performs DNA diagnosis
A biological device made of DNA inserted into a bacterial cell works like a tiny diagnostic computer.

U of M researchers identify genetic variation behind acute myeloid leukemia treatment success
Researchers from the College of Pharmacy and Medical School working within the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, have partnered to identify genetic variations that may help signal which acute myeloid leukemia patients will benefit or not benefit from one of the newest antileukemic agents. Their study is published today in Clinical Cancer Research.

Penn researchers develop protein 'passport' that help nanoparticles get past immune system
The immune system exists to destroy foreign objects, whether they are bacteria, viruses, flecks of dirt or splinters. Unfortunately, drug-delivering nanoparticles and implanted devices like pacemakers are just as foreign and subject to the same response. Now, researchers at Penn's School of Engineering and Applied Science and its Institute for Translational Medicine and Therapeutics have figured out a way to provide a

SUVmax provides valuable indicator of progression-free survival in stage I NSCLC patients
SUVmax (Maximum Standardized Uptake Value) may be a significant and clinically independent marker to indicate progression-free survival in stage I non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients treated with stereotactic body radiation therapy, according to research being presented at the 2013 Cancer Imaging and Radiation Therapy Symposium. This Symposium is sponsored by the American Society for Radiation Oncology and the Radiological Society of North America.

Space race under way to create quantum satellite
In this month's special edition of Physics World, focusing on quantum physics, Thomas Jennewein and Brendon Higgins from the Institute for Quantum Computing at the University of Waterloo, Canada, describe how a quantum space race is under way to create the world's first global quantum-communication network.

Trauma patients, community say they support exception from informed consent research
Traumatic injury is the leading cause of death for people younger than 40 in the US, but few medical interventions considered to be the standard of care for these injuries have been studied in clinical trials, because patients are typically unable to consent to participate. A new University of Pennsylvania study sought to examine peoples' willingness to be enrolled in these types of studies under the federal provisions that allow patients to be part of trials without their express consent during emergencies.

Science synthesis to help guide land management of nation's forests
A team of more than a dozen scientists from the US Forest Service's Pacific Southwest and Pacific Northwest research stations, universities and Region 5 Ecology Program recently released a synthesis of relevant science that will help inform forest managers as they revise plans for the national forests in the Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades of California.

Researchers identify potential target for age-related cognitive decline
As the elderly age, their ability to concentrate, reason, and recall facts tends to decline in part because their brains generate fewer new neurons than they did when they were younger. Now, researchers reporting in the Feb. 7th issue of the Cell Press journal Cell Stem Cell have discovered a molecule that accumulates with age and inhibits the formation of new neurons. The finding might help scientists design therapies to prevent age-related cognitive decline.

Virtual vehicle vibrations
A UI researcher has designed a computer program that allows engineers to accurately predict the role posture plays in transferring the stress of vehicle motion to bone and muscle in the head and neck.

Twin CU-Boulder instruments reveal a third radiation belt can wrap around Earth
With the flip of a switch, a pair of instruments designed and built by the University of Colorado Boulder and flying onboard twin NASA space probes have forced the revision of a 50-year-old theory about the structure of the radiation belts that wrap around the Earth just a few thousand miles above our heads.

Surgeons find better ways to treat nerve compression disorder that can sideline athletes
Two new studies from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggest ways to improve surgical treatment for a debilitating condition caused by compressed nerves in the neck and shoulder.

UN sustainable energy initiative could put world on a path to climate targets
The UN's Sustainable Energy for All initiative, if successful, could make a significant contribution to the efforts to limit climate change to target levels, according to a new analysis from IIASA and ETH Zurich.

Feeding limbs and nervous system of one of Earth's earliest animals discovered
Unique fossils literally 'lift the lid' on ancient creature's head to expose one of the earliest examples of food manipulating limbs in evolutionary history, dating from around 530 million years ago.

New report: State action on Affordable Care Act's 2014 health insurance market reforms
Only 11 states and DC have passed laws or issued regulations to implement the Affordable Care Act's major reforms that go into effect in 2014 -- including bans on denying health insurance due to preexisting conditions, minimum benefit standards, and limits on out-of-pocket costs. Thirty-nine states have not yet taken action to implement these requirements, potentially limiting their ability to fully enforce the new reforms and ensure that consumers receive the full protections of the law.

Engineers show feasibility of superfast materials
University of Utah engineers demonstrated it is feasible to build the first organic materials that conduct electricity on their edges, but act as an insulator inside. These materials, called organic topological insulators, could shuttle information at the speed of light in quantum computers and other high-speed electronic devices.

Scientists team with business innovators to solve 'big data' bottleneck
Researchers have demonstrated that a crowdsourcing platform pioneered in the commercial sector can solve a complex biological problem more quickly than conventional approaches--and at a fraction of the cost.

Self help books and websites can benefit severely depressed patients
Patients with more severe depression show at least as good clinical benefit from 'low-intensity' interventions, such as self help books and websites, as less severely ill patients, suggests a paper published on today.

UM's Judaic Studies Center announces the revival of the 'American Jewish Year Book'
The University of Miami Sue and Leonard Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies and the George Feldenkreis Program in Judaic Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences announce the return to print of the

Deworming important for children's health, has limited impact on infection in wider communities
Although they have an important impact on children's health and education, school-based deworming programs have a limited impact on the level of infection in the wider community, according to a mathematical modeling study conducted by researchers at Imperial College London.

Putting malaria on the SHELPH
Experts have disabled a unique member of the signalling proteins which are essential for the development of the malaria parasite. They have produced a mutant lacking the ancient bacterial Shewanella-like protein phosphatase known as SHLP1 (pronounced shelph). This mutant is unable to complete its complex life cycle and is arrested in its development in the mosquito.

UCSF-Safeway pharmacy alliance aims to help customers quit smoking
The UCSF School of Pharmacy has partnered with Safeway Inc. to help Safeway customers quit smoking, by connecting them with specially trained pharmacists to learn about smoking-cessation programs and other resources.

Bioliq pilot plant: Successful operation of high-pressure entrained flow gasification
On the way to the production of environment-friendly fuels from biomass residue, the Karlsruher Institut für Technologie, or KIT for short, in cooperation with the technology partner Air Liquide Global E&C Solutions has realized another important milestone: the second process stage of the bioliq pilot plant is ready -- today, the complex high-pressure entrained flow gasifier bioliq II was handed over for operation.

Unique peptide could treat cancers, neurological disorders, and infectious diseases
UT Southwestern scientists have synthesized a peptide that shows potential for pharmaceutical development into agents for treating infections, neurodegenerative disorders, and cancer through an ability to induce a cell-recycling process called autophagy.

Physicists demonstrate the acceleration of electrons by a laser in a vacuum
The acceleration of a free electron by a laser is a long-time goal of solid-state physicists. UCLA physicists have established that an electron beam can be accelerated by a laser in free space. This has never been done before at high energies and represents a significant breakthrough, and may have implications for fusion as a new energy source.

CeBIT 2013: Awakening the dormant potential of e-government
E-government holds the promise of gains in efficiency and satisfaction for case workers. In Denmark, seven government ministries have already undergone a full digital changeover. Now researchers have adapted the model for German government agencies.

Degenerative cervical spine disease may not progress over time
Follow-up data on patients with degenerative disease of the upper (cervical) spinal vertebrae show little or no evidence of worsening degeneration over time, according to a study in the Feb. 15 issue of Spine. The journal is published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

Canada's top water expert brings lessons on water resource management to AAAS
At the Global Institute for Water Security at the University of Saskatchewan, director Howard Wheater and his team use the Saskatchewan River Basin as a large-scale case study to generate the science underpinning the policies and practices governments, consumers and water users need to respond to rapid environmental change.

Macroweather is what you expect
While short-term weather is notoriously volatile, climate is thought to represent a kind of average weather pattern over a long period. This dichotomy provides the analytical framework for scientific thinking about atmospheric variability, including climate change. But the weather-climate dichotomy paints an incomplete picture, according to McGill University physics professor Shaun Lovejoy. He argues that statistical analysis shows there is a period between short-term weather and long-term climate that should be recognized as distinct.

Screening could avert 12,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States
Screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in all screening-eligible current and former smokers has the potential to avert approximately 12,000 lung cancer deaths each year in the United States. That is the conclusion of a new analysis published early online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. By providing a national estimate of potentially avertable lung cancer deaths, the study will help policy makers better understand the possible benefits of LDCT lung cancer screening.

Global land grab brings investment risk, communities react to economic harm, rights abuses
Land conflicts continue to wreak havoc on economic development and human rights around the globe, threatening both the financial health of investors as well as the livelihoods of those who live on the land, according to two reports released today.

Could an old antidepressant treat sickle cell disease?
An antidepressant drug used since the 1960s may also hold promise for treating sickle cell disease, according to a surprising new finding made in mice and human red blood cells. The discovery that tranylcypromine, or TCP, can essentially reverse the effects of sickle cell disease was made by scientists who have spent more than three decades studying the basic biology of the condition.

Learning from the linker
Induced pluripotent stem cells represent a milestone in stem cell research, however many of the biochemical processes that underlie reprogramming are still not understood. Scientists from the EMBL Hamburg, Germany now shed new light on this process. In a study published today in Nature Cell Biology, the scientists describe important details about the structure of the transcription factor Oct. 4, known to play a crucial role in the reprogramming of terminally differentiated cells.

Case Western Reserve University joins BrainGate clinical trial
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals Case Medical Center will begin testing the first of two technologies they plan to combine in a new effort to enable people with paralysis to regain some control of their arms and hands. Long-term, the goal is to bypass severed connections between the brain and the paralyzed muscles by using the participants' own brain signals as commands directing electrical impulses to their muscles and generating movement.

First anti-tuberculosis medicine under USAID-supported PQM program achieves WHO prequalification
Helping to increase the availability of affordable, high-quality medicines to treat patients worldwide suffering from multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, technical assistance provided at no cost to manufacturers under the Promoting the Quality of Medicines program -- a U.S. Agency for International Development-funded program that is implemented by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention -- has yielded its first anti-tuberculosis medicine to achieve prequalification status from the World Health Organization.

Elsevier wins 6 PROSE Awards
Elsevier, a world-leading provider of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, today announced that it received six 2012 PROSE Awards and three Honorable Mentions.

Boys' lack of effort in school tied to college gender gap
When it comes to college education, men are falling behind by standing still. The proportion of men receiving college degrees has stagnated, while women have thrived under the new economic and social realities in the United States and elsewhere, according to two sociologists who have written a new book on the subject.

Novel herbal compound offers potential to prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease
Administration of the active compound tetrahydroxystilbene glucoside derived from the Chinese herbal medicine Polygonum multiflorum Thunb, reversed both overexpression of α-synuclein, a small protein found in the brain, and its accumulation using a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease. These results, which may shed light on the neuropathology of AD and open up new avenues of treatment, are available in the current issue of Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience.

A social networking approach to public health research raises hypoglycemia awareness
Hypoglycemia may be a much larger problem among patients with diabetes than is currently realized, according to a study of members of a diabetes-focused social network conducted by researchers in Boston Children's Hospital's Informatics Program. The study shows how engaging patients in research through social networking may help augment traditional surveillance methods for public health research, while simultaneously offering opportunities to promote healthy behaviors among participants.

Study finds potential to match tumors with known cancer drugs
Researchers have found a new way to match potential cancer treatments with an individual tumor: assess the landscape of kinases and find a kinase inhibitor that goes after the highest-expressing kinases in that tumor.

Shedding new light on infant brain development
A new Columbia Engineering study finds that the infant brain does not control its blood flow the same way as the adult brain, that the control of brain blood flow develops with age. These findings could change the way researchers study brain development in infants and children and suggest that fMRI experiments in infants and children should be carefully designed to ensure that maturation of blood-flow control can be delineated from changes in neuronal development.

ACP launches study of cloud-based quality improvement program on diabetes and CVD care
The American College of Physicians in collaboration with CECity, developer of MedConcert®, a social cloud-based performance improvement platform, will pilot and test the impact of a technology-based quality improvement program on physician participation, value to practices, rapid-cycle learning, and patient outcomes.

ACC/HRS release appropriate use criteria for ICDs and CRT
The American College of Cardiology and the Heart Rhythm Society, along with key specialty societies, today released appropriate use criteria for implantable cardioverter-defibrillators and cardiac resynchronization therapy. The document provides assessed levels of appropriateness for implanting the devices in 369 real-life clinical scenarios, with the goal of enhancing physician and patient decision making and improving care and health outcomes.

Book shows evolution that joins human and environmental sciences
Hot-button issues such as climate change, wildlife conservation and restoring decimated rainforests are renowned scientific playgrounds. Emilio Moran, co-editor of a new book

University of Alberta researchers bake a better loaf of bread
University of Alberta researchers have found a way to replace artificial preservatives in bread, making it tastier. 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