Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (January 2009)

Science news and science current events archive January, 2009.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from January 2009

Cell death from cytomegalovirus may bring new life to treatment of retinal disease
Just days after the first retinal cell gets infected with the common cytomegalovirus, contiguous cells start committing suicide and researchers believe their death may provide clues to better treatment of this potentially blinding infection.

Dramatic expansion of dead zones in the oceans
Unchecked global warming would leave ocean dwellers gasping for breath. Dead zones are low-oxygen areas in the ocean where higher life forms such as fish, crabs and clams are not able to live. A team of Danish researchers have now shown that unchecked global warming would lead to a dramatic expansion of low-oxygen areas zones in the global ocean by a factor of 10 or more. The findings are published in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience.

Nose-spray vaccine against botulism effective in first tests
A pre-clinical study found a new nasal spray vaccine to provide complete protection against a major botulism toxin, according to a study published today in the Nature journal Gene Therapy.

WHO and WTO: Bridging the divide
WHO has too little influence in WTO decisions and is relegated to

Major agricultural initiative to benefit millions of South Asian farmers
An initiative announced today aims to help 6 million South Asian farmers substantially boost crop yields and their income within 10 years.

Drugs for children are not safe enough
Drugs are regularly prescribed to children in outpatient care that have not been licensed for children. The pharmacologist Bernd Mühlbauer and his colleagues present the result of their health services analysis in the new edition of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International.

TXOTX, coordinated international project to contribute to sustainability of the marine resources
AZTI-Tecnalia is coordinating the international TXOTX project. The fundamental aim of this project is to collate the greatest information possible on scientific fishery research programs from the different regions in the world's oceans in order to achieve effective coordination and cooperation between countries, regional fisheries organizations and other bodies. This, in turn, will contribute to a coherent approach towards the sustainability of the marine environment and its fisheries resources.

'Fishy' clue helps establish how proteins evolve
Three billion years ago, a

Study examines racial disparities in survival among patients diagnosed with lung cancer
Disparities in survival among black patients diagnosed with early stage lung cancer are not seen when patients are recommended appropriate treatment, according to a report in the January issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Developing countries need support to ethically conduct unlinked anonymous HIV testing
Data collected from HIV surveillance are crucial to guide public health interventions, planning, and prevention efforts. But developing countries face several challenges to implementing surveillance programs says a team of researchers from the US and the Democratic Republic of Congo in this week's PLoS Medicine.

UQ research finds speech disorders can be assessed from a distance
There should be no barriers to providing high-quality speech pathology services, according to University of Queensland Ph.D. graduate Dr Anne Hill.

Mortality rates higher for heart disease patients in poorer B.C. neighborhoods
Heart disease patients living in poorer areas of B.C. are up to twice as likely to die from chronic diseases than patients living in better-off areas, a University of British Columbia study has found.

Wonderful cheese is all in the culture
An international research team led by Newcastle University has identified a new line of bacteria they believe add flavor to some of the world's most exclusive cheeses.

First gene discovered for most common form of epilepsy
An international team of researchers, led by investigators at Columbia University Medical Center, has uncovered the first gene linked to the most common type of epilepsy, called Rolandic epilepsy. One out of every five children with epilepsy is diagnosed with this form, which is associated with seizures starting in one part of the brain. Results of the study were published in an advance online issue of the European Journal of Human Genetics on Jan. 28, 2009.

Physical activity, mood and serious mental illness
Indiana University researchers combined experience sampling during random signaling throughout the day with physical activity measures recorded on study participants' accelerometers. They found that even low levels of physical activity improved mood for people with serious mental illness, such as bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia. A challenge, they say, is to find everyday activities to help this population, which typically has low levels of activity, become more active and engaged.

Technology Innovation Program to fund new infrastructure research
NIST has announced nine awards for new research projects to develop advanced sensing technologies that would enable timely and detailed monitoring and inspection of the structural health of bridges, roadways and water systems that comprise a significant component of the nation's public infrastructure. The awards are the first to be made under NIST's new Technology Innovation Program.

Alcohol taxes have clear effect on drinking
A new study published online today finds that the more alcoholic beverages cost, the less likely people are to drink.

Greening the Internet Economy
California Public Utilities Commission and UC San Diego host a conference, Jan. 22-23, on green technology.

Super-sensitive gas detector goes down the nanotubes
NIST researchers have devised a new method to cast arrays of metal oxide nanotubes to create novel gas sensors that are 100 to 1,000 times more sensitive than current devices based on thin films.

Spin-polarized electrons on demand
Spintronics, in the future, could replace electronics. Different from electronics, where whole electrons are moved, here it is a matter of manipulating the electron spin. For this reason, components are needed in which electrons can be injected successively, and one must be able to manipulate the spin of the single electrons. Both are possible with a single electron pump, as scientists of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt have, together with colleagues from Latvia, now shown.

Biologists find stem cell-like functions in other types of plant cells
Ordinary cells have the ability to replace lost organs in plants -- a function previously thought to be limited to stem cells -- researchers at New York University's Center for Genomics and Systems Biology and Utrecht University in the Netherlands have found.

Recalibrating 'fight or flight'
A Canadian/US research team has reported a novel approach to stimulating recovery from chronic stress disorders. Details of the therapeutic model, which exploits the natural dynamics of the body's

Study reveals surprisingly high tolerance for racism
White people do not get as upset when confronted with racial prejudice as they think they will, a study by researchers at Yale University, York University and the University of British Columbia suggests. This indifference helps explains why racism persists even as the United States prepares to celebrate the inauguration of Barack Obama, researchers say.

Toxicity mechanism identified for Parkinson's disease
Alpha-synuclein is the main component of Lewy bodies, the clumps of aggregated proteins that form in the brains of Parkinson's disease patients. The alpha-synuclein gene is mutated or triplicated in some cases of inherited Parkinson's. A process called chaperone-mediated autophagy (CMA) plays an important role in recycling of specific proteins in brain cells. Alpha-synuclein disrupts a key survival circuit in brain cells by interfering with CMA and the recycling of the protein MEF2D.

Letting infants watch TV can do more harm than good says wide-ranging international review
Letting children under two watch TV can do more harm than good, says a leading US child expert. Professor Christakis, from Seattle Children's Hospital and the University of Washington, looked at 78 studies published over the last 25 years.

Clinical trials: Unfavorable results often go unpublished
Trials showing a positive treatment effect, or those with important or striking findings, were much more likely to be published in scientific journals than those with negative findings, a new review from the Cochrane Library has found.

Preterm births rise 36 percent since early 1980s
Nearly 543,000 babies were born too soon in 2006, according to new government statistics released Wednesday. The nation's preterm birth rate (birth before 37 completed weeks gestation) rose to 12.8 percent in 2006 -- that's a 36 percent increase since the early 1980s.

Older women less likely than men to be listed for kidney transplants
A Johns Hopkins transplant surgeon has found strong evidence that women over 45 are significantly less likely to be placed on a kidney transplant list than their equivalent male counterparts, even though women who receive a transplant stand an equal chance of survival.

Top high-energy astrophysics prize awarded for black hole measurements
The 2009 Rossi Prize has been awarded to three scientists for their work on the measurements of masses of black holes in the Milky Way. The recipients, in alphabetical order, are Charles D. Bailyn from Yale University, Jeffrey E. McClintock from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Ronald A. Remillard from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Researchers identify 4 genetic hotspots associated with psoriasis
A genomewide scan of millions of genetic mutations has revealed four new DNA

Major immune system branch has hidden ability to learn
Half of the immune system has a hidden talent, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered. They found the innate immune system, long recognized as a specialist in rapidly and aggressively combating invaders, has cells that can learn from experience and fight better when called into battle a second time. Scientists previously thought any such ability was limited to the immune system's other major branch, the adaptive immune system.

Household chemicals may be linked to infertility
Researchers at the UCLA School of Public Health have found the first evidence that perfluorinated chemicals -- chemicals that are widely used in everyday items such as food packaging, pesticides, clothing, upholstery, carpets and personal care products -- may be associated with infertility in women.

New tool enables powerful data analysis
A powerful new tool that can extract features and patterns from enormously large and complex data sets has been developed by scientists at University of California, Davis, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The tool -- a set of problem-solving calculations known as an algorithm -- is compact enough to run on computers with as little as two gigabytes of memory.

The pseudogap persists as material superconducts
Boston College Physicist Vidya Madhavan and an international team of researchers combined two investigative techniques to discover that the mysterious pseudogap state that precedes superconductivity actually persists and may even compete with the phase where materials conduct electricity with zero resistance.

Kidney transplant survival can be long-term for people with HIV
A Johns Hopkins study finds that HIV-positive kidney transplant recipients could have the same one-year survival rates for themselves and their donor organs as those without HIV, provided certain risk factors for transplant failure are recognized and tightly managed.

Mothers pass on disease clues to offspring
The study provides the first evidence for a transgenerational effect on immune response based on environmental cues -- with maternal perception of disease risk in the immediate environment potentially determining offspring disease resistance and social dominance. The results are published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the Royal Society's flagship biological research journal.

Adolescents with arthritis need more information when transitioning to adult care
Helping adolescents with arthritis develop the skills and secure resources to assure that their health care needs are met as they transition to adulthood is an important issue in the US.

Cenozoic sedimentary records and geochronological constraints of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau uplift
The Northeastern part of the present-day Qinghai-Tibet region had a higher elevation than the Southwestern part until the earliest Miocene, i.e., circa 23 million years ago. Thereafter, two phases (12-8 and 5 million years ago) of intensive differential tectonic uplifting led to a significant geomorphologic reversal, resulting in the Southwest/Northeast tilting of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau as seen today.

New MicroBiome Analysis Center to explore health effects of microorganisms within the human body
The human body contains billions of microorganisms. Microbial cells in the human gut are estimated to outnumber human cells by 10-to-1 in healthy adults, according to the National Institutes of Health, but very little is known about the ways in which these minute life forms influence health and disease.

Natural brain substance blocks weight gain in mice, UT Southwestern researchers discover
Mice with increased levels of a natural brain chemical don't gain weight when fed a high-fat diet, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

Elsevier to launch over 600 health science e-Book titles on ScienceDirect
Elsevier, the world's leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, announced today that over 600 medical, veterinary medicine and health professions book titles will be launched in Health Science eBook Collections in April 2009 on ScienceDirect, its online scientific research platform.

Architect Steven Holl wins the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in Arts
The Arts award in this inaugural edition of the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Awards has gone to the US architect Steven Holl. Born in Bremerton, Wash., in 1947, he is known as

St. Jude finds more than 100 gene variations linked with response to leukemia treatment
Scientists from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the Children's Oncology Group have discovered in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia scores of inherited genetic variations that clinicians might be able to use as guideposts for designing more effective chemotherapy for this cancer.

Possible new hope for crops battling parasitic infection
Scientists from Ghent University and VIB (the Flemisch Institute for Biotechnology) have demonstrated how nematodes, also known as roundworms, manipulate the transport of the plant hormone auxin in order to force the plant to produce food for them. Their findings, published Jan. 16 in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens, could open up new possibilities for the development of nematode-resistant plants.

Girls twice as likely as boys to remain victims of bullying
Girls targeted by bullies at primary school are two and a half times more likely to remain victims than boys, according to research from the University of Warwick and University of Hertfordshire.

Findings turn events in early TB infection on their head, may lead to new therapy
Masses of immune cells that form as a hallmark of tuberculosis have long been thought to be the body's way of trying to protect itself by literally walling off the bacteria. But a new study in the Jan. 9 issue of the journal Cell offers evidence that the TB bacteria actually sends signals that encourage the growth of those organized granuloma structures, and for good reason.

Sustainability, whale music, plus more highlight upcoming free NJIT lectures
There's something for everyone this spring at NJIT's semi-annual Technology and Society Forum Series. In two weeks, Ralph Izzo, chairman and chief executive officer of Public Service Enterprise Group opens the event with a closer look at sustainability.

'Birth control' for centrioles
Like DNA, centrioles need to duplicate only once per cell cycle. Rogers et al. uncover a long-sought mechanism that limits centriole copying, showing that it depends on the timely demolition of a protein that spurs the organelles' replication.

Cell phones dangerous for child pedestrians, UAB study finds
Children who talk on cell phones while crossing streets are at a higher risk for injuries or death in a pedestrian accident, said psychologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in a new study that will appear in the February issue of Pediatrics.

Slight changes in climate may trigger abrupt ecosystem responses
Slight changes in climate may trigger major abrupt ecosystem responses that are not easily reversible. Some of these responses, including insect outbreaks, wildfire, and forest dieback, may adversely affect people and ecosystems and their plants and animals. The USGS led a new assessment of the implications of a warming world on 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