Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (January 2010)

Science news and science current events archive January, 2010.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from January 2010

LSUHSC awarded multimillion dollar grant to reduce pneumonia
Dr. Jay Kolls, professor and chairman of genetics at the LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Medicine, has been awarded a $2.1 million grant over five years by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health to further his work on a discovery that plays a critical role in the body's defense against pneumonia.

Virtual USA
Natural disasters -- like toddlers with crayons -- leave a mess all over the map, spilling across federal, state, and local lines. To clean up, different agencies and jurisdictions must come together and share what they know.

Transplanted stem cells form proper brain connections
Transplanted neurons grown from embryonic stem cells can fully integrate into the brains of young animals, according to new research in the Jan. 20 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. Healthy brains have stable and precise connections between cells that are necessary for normal behavior. This new finding is the first to show that stem cells can be directed not only to become specific brain cells, but to link correctly.

Dartmouth researchers help secure the power grid
Dartmouth researchers are part of the national Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid team that has been awarded a five-year $18.8 million grant from the US Department of Energy with contributions from the US Department of Homeland Security. This represents continued funding that started in 2005 with support from the National Science Foundation.

Diabetic eye disease more severe in African-Americans who consume more calories, sodium
High intakes of calories and sodium appear to be associated with the progression of retinal disease among African-American patients with diabetes, according to a report in the January issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Smokers at risk from their own 'second-hand' smoke
It is well known that smokers damage their health by directly inhaling cigarette smoke. Now, research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Environmental Health has shown that they are at additional risk from breathing environmental tobacco smoke, contrary to the prevailing assumption that such risks would be negligible in comparison to those incurred by actually smoking.

Blood test may aid in lung cancer diagnosis and reduce unnecessary invasive procedures
Of the nearly 150,000 abnormal chest X-rays performed each year in the United States, 25 percent of patients will display only benign lung pathologies on further surgical examination.

New research findings may help stop age-related macular degeneration at the molecular level
Researchers at University College London say they have gleaned a key insight into the molecular beginnings of age-related macular degeneration, the No. 1 cause of vision loss in the elderly, by determining how two key proteins interact to naturally prevent the onset of the condition.

ACR statement on airport full-body scanners and radiation
Amid concerns regarding terrorists targeting airliners using weapons less detectable by traditional means, the Transportation Security Administration is ramping up deployment of whole body scanners at security checkpoints in US airports. These systems produce anatomically accurate images of the body and can detect objects and substances concealed by clothing.

Government of Canada invests in research to help prevent violence
Three new regional research centers that will study violence and ways to prevent it will receive almost $6 million over five years from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, made the announcement today at a national roundtable that brought together leading Canadian researchers on violence, gender and health research.

Study sees little dust risk for subway workers
In a new study, published this month in the journal Environmental Research, scientists tracked steel dust exposure in 39 subway workers and measured biological responses to three metals found in steel dust: iron, chromium and manganese. The pilot study found no strong or consistent evidence of a biological response that might indicate elevated risk of dust-related disease.

Springer to publish Sexuality Research and Social Policy
Starting in 2010, Springer will publish the journal Sexuality Research and Social Policy. All aspects of sexual behavior are covered in the journal, including a unique focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations. The journal was previously published by the University of California Press.

Atrial fibrillation treatment with catheter shows better results than drug therapy
Use of catheter ablation, in which radiofrequency energy is emitted from a catheter to eliminate the source of an irregular heartbeat, resulted in significantly better outcomes in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (intermittent cardiac rhythm disturbance) who had not responded previously to antiarrhythmic drug therapy, according to a study in the Jan. 27 issue of JAMA.

Consumers have mixed reactions to puffery in advertising
According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, consumers don't always react positively to persuasion tactics that have nothing to do with the product (what the authors refer to as

I-1c gene therapy: Not such a good idea in heart failure?
Several lines of evidence have led to the suggestion that gene therapy to express a constitutively active form of the protein I-1 (I-1c) might provide a new approach to treating heart failure. However, a team of researchers has now generated data in mice that indicate that I-1c might have deleterious effects on the heart under certain circumstances, leading them to suggest that the benefit/risk ratio of I-1c gene therapy should be reevaluated.

Disarming specialized stem cells might combat deadly ovarian cancer
Eliminating cancer stem cells (CSCs) within a tumor could hold the key to successful treatments for ovarian cancer, which has been notoriously difficult to detect and treat, according to new findings published this week in the journal Oncogene by Yale School of Medicine researchers.

NIGMS awards contract to expand human genetic cell repository
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has awarded a $27 million, five-year contract to the Coriell Institute for Medical Research in Camden, N.J., to continue and expand operation of the NIGMS Human Genetic Cell Repository.

CSHL scientists uncover role of protein critical for activating DNA replication
Scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory have discovered how a protein long known to be an essential activator of DNA replication actually triggers this process in cells. The protein, called DDK (for Ddf4-dependent protein kinase), is one of two cell-cycle-regulated protein kinases that facilitate coordination with other processes during cell division. DDK is now shown to block the inhibitory activity of a domain within the DNA unwinding enzyme Mcm4, thereby promoting DNA replication.

Even mild kidney disease harms a child's quality of life
Challenging prevailing wisdom that only children with end-stage kidney disease suffer physical, social, emotional and educational setbacks from their disease, research led by Johns Hopkins Children's Center shows that even mild to moderate kidney disease may seriously diminish a child's quality of life.

Biophysicists manipulate 'zipper,' reveal protein folding dynamics
Biophysicists the Technische Universitaet Muenchen have published results of single-molecule experiments bringing a higher-resolution tool to the study of protein folding. In PNAS they report taking hold of a single, zipper-like protein molecule with optical tweezers and mapping changes in its

Cell of origin identified for common type of breast cancer
Breast cancer researchers have identified the progenitor cell that gives rise to the most common form of breast cancer. Using a mouse model, the researchers found that inhibiting a protein essential to these progenitor cells prevented mammary tumor formation. The discovery may provide a new target for breast cancer drugs.

Trauma patients safe from mortality risks associated with so-called 'weekend effect'
People who are in car crashes or suffer serious falls, gunshot or knife wounds and other injuries at nights or on weekends do not appear to be affected by the same medical care disparities -- the so-called

Stable climate and plant domestication linked
Sustainable farming and the introduction of new crops relies on a relatively stable climate, not dramatic conditions attributable to climate change. Basing their argument on evolutionary, ecological, genetic and agronomic considerations, Dr. Shahal Abbo, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and colleagues, demonstrate why climate change is not the likely cause of plant domestication in the Near East. Their thesis is published online in Springer's journal Vegetation History and Archaeobotany.

3 key factors to help children avoid social rejection identified
Neurobehavioral researchers at Rush University Medical Center have found three key factors in a child's behavior that can lead to social rejection. The studies are a crucial step in developing scientifically sound screening tests and treatment planning for social-emotional learning difficulties. The results from the studies are published in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

Virus-like particle vaccine protects monkeys from chikungunya virus
An experimental vaccine developed using noninfectious virus-like particles (VLP) has protected macaques and mice against chikungunya virus, a mosquito-borne pathogen that has infected millions of people in Africa and Asia and causes debilitating pain, researchers at the National Institutes of Health have found.

ACP To Congress: 'Health reform bill must help ensure supply of primary-care physicians'
The American College of Physicians today sent a letter to key legislators urging them to ensure that the final health-care reform bill includes provisions to support the primary-care workforce.

Breakthrough breast cancer therapy reduces mastectomies, saves breast
A new treatment developed and tested by University of Oklahoma researchers not only killed large breast cancer tumors, but reduced the need for mastectomies by almost 90 percent.

Weizmann Institute scientists reveal how tendons shape developing bones
Weizmann Institute scientists discover how signals from tendons and muscles shape the developing bones, initiating the growth of the bone ridges that anchor the tendons in place.

Magnesium supplement helps boost brainpower
Neuroscientists at MIT and Tsinghua University in Beijing show that increasing brain magnesium with a new compound enhanced learning abilities, working memory, and short- and long-term memory in rats. The dietary supplement also boosted older rats' ability to perform a variety of learning tests.

Iowa State University researcher discovers Ebola's deadly secret
Iowa State University researcher Gaya Amarasinghe has led scientists to uncover how the deadly Zaire Ebola virus decoys cells and eventually kills them. He had previously solved the structure of a critical part of an Ebola protein known as VP35, which is involved in host immune suppression. Now he knows how VP35 is able to do it.

Stain repellent chemical linked to thyroid disease in adults
A study by the University of Exeter and the Peninsula Medical School for the first time links thyroid disease with human exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid.

Popular handheld devices show promise in the field of emergency radiology
Handheld devices such as personal digital assistants and the iPod Touch are prevalent among doctors. However a recent study shows that these devices may be particularly useful for emergency radiologists, who in the near future, may be able to use them for teleconsultation and emergency procedures, according to a study published in the February issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Biomarker could help doctors tailor treatment for rheumatoid arthritis
Investigators have identified a biomarker that could help doctors select patients with rheumatoid arthritis who will benefit from therapy with drugs such as Enbrel, a tumor necrosis factor-antagonist drug. The study, led by researchers at Hospital for Special Surgery in collaboration with rheumatologists at University of Southern California, appears in the February issue of the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Engineering professor Maura Borrego earns rising star award
Maura Borrego, Virginia Tech assistant professor of engineering education, is a 2010 recipient of one of two Virginia Outstanding Faculty Rising Star Awards sponsored by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and Dominion, an energy company based in Richmond, Va. Candidates for the Rising Star Award must possess a record of superior accomplishment in four areas of scholarly endeavor: teaching, discovery, integration of knowledge and service.

Media, small businesses invited to ACS Webinar about crowdsourcing, innovation and science
News media, scientists and others interested in finance, entrepreneurships and the chemical sciences are invited to join an American Chemical Society Small & Medium Business webinar on exploring the future of science in a crowd-sourced world on Thursday, Jan. 21, from 2-3 p.m. ET.

70 percent of Inuit preschoolers live in food insecure homes
Seventy percent of Inuit preschoolers in Nunavut, Canada's largest territory, live in households where there isn't enough food, a situation with implications for children's academic and psychosocial development, found an article in CMAJ.

1 in 4 patients have lost bone around their implants
Bone loss around dental implants is far more common than previously realised, reveals a thesis from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Around a quarter of patients loose some degree of supporting bone around their implants.

Chronic total occlusion strategies will be discussed during national summit February 4-5
The CTO Summit is a two-day conference featuring state-of-the-art technologies, research findings and new developments in therapeutic procedures essential for interventional cardiologists to optimize success in chronic total coronary occlusions.

First evidence that blueberry juice improves memory in older adults
Scientists are reporting the first evidence from human research that blueberries -- one of the richest sources of healthful antioxidants and other so-called phytochemicals -- improve memory. A report on the study appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a biweekly publication.

HERMES, new computer vision system for the analysis of human behavior
A consortium of European researchers, coordinated by the Computer Vision Centre of Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, has developed HERMES, a cognitive computational system consisting of video cameras and software able to recognize and predict human behavior, as well as describe it in natural language. The applications of the Hermes project are numerous and can be used in the fields of intelligent surveillance, protection of accidents, marketing, psychology, etc.

Where do puffins go in the winter?
A recent increase in winter mortality in Atlantic puffins could be due to worsening conditions within the North Sea, according to new findings published in the scientific journal Marine Biology. The study used geolocation technology to track puffins from the Isle of May National Nature Reserve, home to the largest colony of puffins in the North Sea. The puffin population on the Isle of May has declined by 30 percent in recent years.

Proportion of non-battle-related disorders causing medical evaucation from front line is increasing and must be addressed
US military medical data from Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom have revealed in detail the causes for medical evacuation of military personnel from the front line. Musculoskeletal and connective tissue disorders were the No. 1 cause, followed by combat injuries, nervous system disorders, psychiatric disorders and spinal pain. Furthermore, a variety of different factors influence the likelihood of returning to duty. The findings are reported in an article published in this week's Conflict Special Issue of the Lancet.

Using supercomputers to explore nuclear energy
A new computer algorithm developed by researchers at the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory allows scientists to view nuclear fission in much finer detail than ever before.

Kidney-disease drug with Dartmouth origins licensed in Asia
Thanks in part to more than a decade of preclinical work by Dartmouth researchers, a Japanese biopharmaceutical firm is preparing to develop and market throughout Asia a drug for the treatment of chronic kidney disease.

Nurse home visitation program reduces girls' potential criminality later in life
Girls whose mothers were visited at home by nurses during pregnancy and the children's infancy appear less likely to enter the criminal justice system by age 19, according to a report in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

IU study: Screening and treating girls doesn't reduce prevalence of chlamydia in teens
Frequent testing and treatment of infection does not reduce the prevalence of chlamydia in urban teenage girls, according to a long term study by Indiana University School of Medicine researchers published in the Jan. 1, 2010, issue of the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

A sonata a day keeps the doctor away
Dr. Dror Mandel and Dr. Ronit Lubetzky of the Tel Aviv Medical Center affiliated with Tel Aviv University's Sackler School of Medicine have found that pre-term infants exposed to thirty minutes of Mozart's music in one session, once per day expend less energy -- and therefore need fewer calories to grow rapidly -- than when they are not

UI astronomers capture first-of-kind image at distant star
Two University of Iowa researchers have made the first direct radio image of a stellar coronal loop at a star, other than the sun, thereby providing scientists with information that may lead to a better understanding of how such phenomena as space weather affect the Earth.

CSW Director John Horgan to keynote at Swiss Biennial on Science, Technics + Aesthetics
Science writer and author John Horgan, Director of the Center for Science Writings at Stevens Institute of Technology, will keynote at the upcoming Swiss Biennial on Science, Technics + Aesthetics, Jan. 16, 2010, in Lucerne, Switzerland. The umbrella topic for the conference is

Eavesdropping on bacterial conversations may improve chronic wound healing
Listening in on bacterial conversations could be the solution for improving chronic wound care, says a team of researchers at Binghamton University, State University of New York. Their findings have been published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology.

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