Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (January 2008)

Science news and science current events archive January, 2008.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from January 2008

Biologists use computers to study bacterial cell division
A group of computational biologists at Virginia Tech have created a mathematical model of the process that regulates cell division in a common bacterium, confirming hypotheses, providing new insights, identifying gaps in what is understood so far, and demonstrating the role of computation in biology.

Inside college parties: surprising findings about drinking behavior
In this issue: Most studies of college-student drinking have looked at the individual, and have relied on self reports; New findings gathered from on-the-spot observations show that parties with drinking games can predict higher blood-alcohol concentrations (BrACs).; and Young women at theme parties, especially with sexualized themes and costumes, drink more heavily than men.

Computer-based tool aids research, helps thwart questionable publication practices
A new computer-based text-searching tool developed by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers automatically -- and quickly -- compares multiple documents in a database for similarities, providing a more efficient method to carry out literature searches, as well as offering scientific journal editors a new tool to thwart questionable publication practices.

Study raises questions over Investors in People Award
Minority groups lose out on training in workplaces that have won the Investors in People training award, new research shows.

Changes needed in how federal government evaluates efficiency of research at EPA, other agencies
The White House Office of Management and Budget evaluates research at the US Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies using the Program Assessment Rating Tool, a set of questions that asks agencies about many aspects of their programs, including whether they can measure and demonstrate annual improvements in efficiency. Based on the answers, OMB rates research programs as effective, ineffective or somewhere in between. An

Intensive insulin therapy protects kidneys in critically ill patients
For critically ill patients, intensive insulin therapy to keep blood sugar at normal levels reduces the risk of acute kidney injury, reports a study in the March Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Americans pay the most for prescription drugs and still don't take them
An international study of dialysis patients shows that although US residents have the highest out-of-pocket drug costs, even those who can afford their prescription drugs are far less likely to take them than patients in other countries.

Sedentary lifestyles associated with accelerated aging process
Individuals who are physically active during their leisure time appear to be biologically younger than those with sedentary lifestyles, according to a report in the Jan. 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Winemaking waste proves effective against disease-causing bacteria in early studies
A class of chemicals in red wine grapes may significantly reduce the ability of bacteria to cause cavities, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

HIV shifting from most to least educated in sub-Saharan Africa
HIV infections appear to be concentrating among the least educated people in Africa, reversing previous patterns which saw higher levels of infection among the most educated, according to a study published today in the journal AIDS.

Pennsylvania Hospital recognized for excellence in bariatric surgery
Pennsylvania Hospital's bariatric surgery program has been designated by the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery as a Center of Excellence. This designation recognizes the quality, safety and positive results of the bariatric surgical team at Pennsylvania Hospital. Pennsylvania Hospital is part of the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Argonne's Blue Gene/P to host large cadre of INCITE researchers
Twenty research projects have been awarded more than 111 million hours of computing time at the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility at Argonne National Laboratory. The awards are part of a competitively selected group of 55 scientific projects announced Thursday by the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Docetaxel given after doxorubicin reduces recurrence
Adding the drug docetaxel to anthracycline-based chemotherapy slightly improved disease-free survival in breast cancer patients, according to a randomized clinical trial published online Jan. 8 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

People not always needed to alleviate loneliness
New research at the University of Chicago finds evidence for a clever way that people manage to alleviate the pain of loneliness: They create people in their surroundings to keep them company.

Government dietary guidelines, unintended consequences and public policy
In the years following the government promotion of a low-fat diet, obesity in America has reached almost epidemic levels. What role did the federal guidelines play? In a study published in the March 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Paul R Marantz, Elizabeth Bird, Michael H. Alderman, of Albert Einstein College of Medicine, suggest that the government issued these recommendations based on limited scientific data and assumed that no harm would result, but the evidence now suggests otherwise.

Drivers on cell phones clog traffic
Motorists who talk on cell phones drive slower on the freeway, pass sluggish vehicles less often and take longer to complete their trips, according to a University of Utah study that suggests drivers on cell phones congest traffic.

Greenhouse ocean may downsize fish
The types of algae that support the Bering Sea's extraordinary fisheries are not favored by conditions expected in 2100. This USC study sheds light on the prospects for a

American women are more likely to choose overly aggressive treatments for breast cancer
Despite a 1990 consensus recommendation from the National Institutes of Health that lumpectomy plus radiation was the treatment of choice for early-stage breast cancer, the United States continues to have the highest rate of mastectomy surgery among industrialized countries. Why would a person knowingly undertake a far more severe form of treatment when a lesser one would suffice

Research by Case Western Reserve University, VA earns cover of prestigious science publication
Jeffrey R. Capadona, associate investigator at the VA's Advanced Platform Technology Center, and Christoph Weder and Stuart Rowan, professors of macromolecular science and engineering at the Case School of Engineering, and their colleagues have unveiled a method for developing mechanically-reinforced polymer nanocomposites. Case Western Reserve University has filed for a patent protecting the technology.

Leroy Hood to receive 2008 Pittcon Heritage Award
The Chemical Heritage Foundation announced that Leroy Hood will receive the seventh annual Pittcon Heritage Award. Jointly sponsored by the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy and CHF, this award recognizes outstanding individuals whose entrepreneurial careers have shaped the instrumentation community, inspired achievement, promoted public understanding of the modern instrumentation sciences, and highlighted the role of analytical chemistry in world economies. The award will be presented at Pittcon 2008 in New Orleans, which begins March 1.

Lack of vitamin D may increase heart disease risk
The same vitamin D deficiency that can result in weak bones now has been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, Framingham Heart Study researchers report in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Scientists propose test of string theory based on neutral hydrogen absorption
Ancient light absorbed by neutral hydrogen atoms could be used to test certain predictions of string theory, say cosmologists at the University of Illinois. Making the measurements, however, would require a gigantic array of radio telescopes to be built on Earth, in space or on the moon.

New study suggests Columbus brought syphilis to Europe from New World
The most comprehensive comparative genetic analysis conducted on the family of bacteria (the treponemes) that cause syphilis and related diseases such as yaws, published Tuesday, Jan. 15 in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, supports the so-called

Stimulating the appetite can lead to unrelated impulse purchases
Exposure to something that whets the appetite, such as a picture of a mouthwatering dessert, can make a person more impulsive with unrelated purchases, finds a study from the February 2008 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. For example, in one experiment the researchers reveal that the aroma of chocolate chip cookies can prompt women on a tight budget to splurge on a new item of clothing.

Animated movie of ice
Swedish researchers from the University of Uppsala have used a computer to simulate ice melting after it is heated with a short light pulse.

Insect attack may have finished off dinosaurs
Asteroid impacts or massive volcanic flows might have occurred around the time dinosaurs became extinct, but a new book argues that the mightiest creatures the world has ever known may have been brought down by a tiny, much less dramatic force -- biting, disease-carrying insects.

Michael J. Fox Foundation awards up to $3 million to industry teams
As part of its ongoing efforts to do whatever it takes to speed delivery of transformative treatments and a cure for Parkinson's disease, the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research has awarded up to $3 million in total funding to four industry teams seeking to push potential new PD treatments closer to the clinic.

Stroke prevention: Idraparinux causes significantly more bleeding than vitamin K antagonists
In patients with atrial fibrillation at risk of stroke (thromboembolism), long-term treatment with idraparinux causes significantly more bleeding than standard treatment with vitamin K antagonists -- despite both treatments having similar efficacy. These are the conclusions of authors of an article in this week's edition of the Lancet.

Synthesis of natural molecule could lead to better anti-cancer drugs
In early 2007 a marine chemist reported in the Journal of Natural Products that a new natural compound derived from an uncommon deep-sea sponge was extremely effective at inhibiting cancer cell growth. Karl Scheidt, a Northwestern University synthetic chemist, made the molecule in the lab and discovered the reported structure was incorrect. He then determined the real structure of neopeltolide, information that will help researchers learn how the new compound works and possibly lead to new, more-effective anti-cancer drugs.

Ashkenazi ovarian cancer patients with BRCA mutations live longer than those with normal gene
Israeli investigators have found that Ashkenazi Jewish women with ovarian cancer who have mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes lived significantly longer than Ashkenazi Jewish ovarian cancer patients without these mutations. After up to nine years of follow-up, BRCA1/2 mutation carriers were 28 percent less likely to die from the disease, even though women with the BRCA mutations are significantly more likely to develop ovarian and breast cancers.

Cell signaling in cervical cancer; gene variant impairs glycogen synthesis
Featured in the upcoming edition of PLoS Medicine are

Findings suggest link between vitamin E and subsequent decline in physical function for older adults
Low serum concentration of vitamin E, an indication of poor nutrition, is associated with physical decline for older persons, according to a study in the Jan. 23 issue of JAMA.

New insight into factors that drive muscle-building stem cells
A report in the January issue of Cell Metabolism, a publication of Cell Press, provides new evidence explaining how stem cells known as satellite cells contribute to building muscles up in response to exercise. These findings could lead to treatments for reversing or improving the muscle loss that occurs in diseases such as cancer and AIDS as well as in the normal aging process

Researchers develop darkest manmade material
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Rice University have created the darkest material ever made by man. The material, a thin coating comprised of low-density arrays of loosely vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes, absorbs more than 99.9 percent of light and one day could be used to boost the effectiveness and efficiency of solar energy conversion, infrared sensors and other devices. The researchers who developed the material have applied for a Guinness World Record for their efforts.

New research explains link between smoking and SIDS
A new study from McMaster University in Hamilton sheds light on the relationship between women who smoke while pregnant -- or are exposed to secondhand smoke -- and an increased risk of SIDS to their babies. Researchers found that an infant's ability to respond to oxygen deprivation is dramatically compromised by exposure to nicotine in the womb, even light to moderate amounts.

Fraudsters beware: Iowa State engineer is developing cyber technology to find you
Yong Guan, Iowa State's Litton Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has filed a patent on a technology that protects Internet advertisers from

Walk away menopausal anxiety, stress and depression
With more menopausal women seeking natural therapies to ease symptoms, a new study has found that simply adding a brisk walking routine can reduce a variety of psychological symptoms such as anxiety, stress and depression.

DNA variations signal lupus risk
Scientists have pinpointed a set of common variations in human DNA that signal a higher risk for lupus in women who carry them. The variations may be linked to as many as 67 percent of all lupus cases. The study, the largest of its kind to date, is the work of the International Consortium for Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, SLEGEN. These results will help others looking at lupus rates in racial and ethnic groups.

NASA and Gemini probe mysterious explosion in the distant past
Using the powerful one-two combo of NASA's Swift satellite and the Gemini Observatory, astronomers have detected a mysterious type of cosmic explosion farther back in time than ever before. The explosion, known as a short gamma-ray burst, took place 7.4 billion years ago, more than halfway back to the Big Bang.

2 federal public health grants awarded to Weill Cornell Medical College
Two major federal grants have been awarded to public health faculty at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.

Report identifies research to bolster knowledge of health effects of wireless communication devices
The rapid increase in the use of wireless communication devices in recent years has been accompanied by a significant amount of research into potential health effects from high exposure to radiofrequency energy emitted by these devices. A new National Research Council report, requested by the US Food and Drug Administration, identifies research that could further extend understanding of long-term low exposure to these devices.

NightHawk Radiology exclusive radiology provider for high-risk plaque research initiative
NightHawk Radiology signs on as exclusive radiology provider for innovative high-risk plaque research initiative. First-of-its-kind research to identify individuals at high risk of heart attack or stroke 2 to 3 years before occurrence.

Brown planetary geologists lend expertise to Mercury mission
When NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft makes its historic flyby of Mercury on Monday, Jan. 14, 2008, Brown University students, led by planetary geologist James Head, will be part of the action. At mission headquarters and at Brown, these planetary experts will help analyze images from Mercury, the smallest planet in the solar system. Head leads the MESSENGER mission's geology group, overseeing analysis of Mercury's volcanic features and dating rocks on the planet's cratered surface.

U of M researchers discover a pathway to turn off immune system cells
University of Minnesota researchers have discovered a new way to turn genes off in human T cells, a type of white blood cell that helps the immune system fight infections. Turning off genes, through a process known as mRNA decay, is important for regulating the body's immune response after fighting infection. This research could lead to development of new drugs that turn off the immune system in patients with autoimmune diseases -- such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

For nutrition info, moms like the Web best
A Web site is a better source of information on nutrition than a video game or printed pamphlet, according to a study of low-income mothers reported in the January issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

UCLA scientists identify new genetic link to autism
UCLA scientists used language onset -- the age when a child speaks his first word -- as a tool for identifying a new gene linked to autism. The team also discovered that the gene is most active in developing brain regions involved with language and thought. Interestingly, evidence for the genetic link came from the DNA of families with autistic boys, not those with autistic girls.

Researchers identify a means of controlling a parasite that kills and eats human cells
Researchers from the University of Virginia and the University of Vermont have discovered a means of inhibiting one of the world's most voracious parasites. The study, published Friday, Jan. 18 in PLoS Pathogens, targets a protein which aids the parasite in ingestion of immune cell corpses.

2 Hebrew University scientists awarded Wolf Prizes
Two Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers, Professor Howard Cedar and Professor Aharon Razin, have been awarded the 2008 Wolf Prize in Medicine for their fundamental contributions to the control of gene expression and cancer research.

Social standing may be linked to body mass index in teen girls
Teen girls who perceive themselves as being lower on the social ladder appear more likely to gain weight over the subsequent two years, according to a report in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Exercising judgment: The psychology of fitness
In addition to the weight loss, exercise has been linked to reduced depressive symptoms and reduced risk for heart disease. For decades, psychologists around the world have studied why people exercise -- and why they don't -- and there's a growing body of work dedicated to helping you get up off the couch.

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