Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (July 2007)

Science news and science current events archive July, 2007.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from July 2007

Trials underway for 'essential' new TB vaccine
Clinical trials are underway with the first new vaccine against TB in over 80 years. If successful, the tests will have major implications for TB control and could lead to the development of a new vaccine ready to use within eight years.

Specific type of cell death may accelerate decompensated heart failure
Autophagy, a normal process by which cells eat their own proteins to provide needed resources to the body in times of stress, may paradoxically cause harm to hearts already weakened by disease, researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

ValleyCare and UCSF work to enhance health services in tri-valley region
ValleyCare Health System and UCSF have signed a letter of intent to enhance health-care services for women and children in the tri-valley region of the East Bay. The goal of the collaboration is both to expand regional access to high-quality perinatal and pediatric care, and to broaden the availability of specialty services.

Females more prone to brain damage from alcohol abuse
Alcoholism has traditionally been considered a male disease because there are many more alcoholic males than females. But a study by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and the Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center suggests that women are more prone to brain damage from alcohol abuse than men. The study found that female mice are more susceptible to neurotoxic effects of alcohol withdrawal, including significantly increased brain cell death, than male mice.

Coaching computer canines in clambering
The mutts are metal, the size of toy poodles, with four pointy feet ending in little balls. They need to learn how to make their way on those little feet across a treacherous terrain of broken rocks. University of Southern California roboticist Stefan Schaal has just won renewal of a $1.5 million DARPA contract to train them to do so -- and has a video showing how they run.

Gene variant increases risk of blindness
Researchers have found a gene variant that can more than double the risk of developing the degenerative eye disease, age-related macular degeneration.

Sexual problems of long-term cancer survivors merit more attention
Long-term female survivors of genital-tract cancer were pleased with their cancer care but not with the emotional support and information they received about the effects of the disease and treatment on their sexuality. Three out of 5 said their physicians never brought up the effects on sexuality. Women who did report such a conversation were much less likely to have

New clue into how diet and exercise enhance longevity
The traditional prescriptions for a healthy life-sensible diet, exercise and weight control -- extend life by reducing signaling through a specific pathway in the brain, according to Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers, who discovered the connection while studying long-lived mice.

Soil particles found to boost prion's capacity to infect
The rogue proteins that cause chronic wasting disease (CWD) exhibit a dramatic increase in their infectious nature when bound to common soil particles, according to a new study.

Scleroderma outlook improves as survival increases
Individuals with scleroderma are living significantly longer today, compared with 30 years ago, and the physicians who treat this rare disease of connective tissue hope the newer drugs now on the market may extend lives even further.

Insulin grown in plants relieves diabetes in mice; UCF study holds promise for humans
Professor Henry Daniell's research team genetically engineered tobacco plants with the insulin gene and then administered freeze-dried plant cells to five-week-old diabetic mice as a powder for eight weeks. By the end of the study, the diabetic mice had normal blood and urine sugar levels, and their cells were producing normal levels of insulin.

Hydrogen peroxide could cause absorbable sutures to come apart, UT Southwestern researchers report
Cleaning absorbable sutures with hydrogen peroxide dramatically decreases their tensile strength, researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center have found.

Sex-trafficked girls and women from south Asia have high prevalence of HIV infection
Nearly 40 percent of repatriated Nepalese sex-trafficked girls and women tested were positive for HIV infection, with girls trafficked before age 15 having higher rates of infection, according to a study in the Aug. 1 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on violence and human rights.

Jefferson scientist's patent dramatically improves
A basic scientist at Jefferson Medical College and the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, has shared a patent on what may someday be a ubiquitous tool in DNA analysis. He and a colleague at Johns Hopkins University, have developed a technique that makes a DNA separation technique called electrophoresis, five times faster and less expensive than is is possible. The discovery could have a range of applications, from forensics, to cloning, and also to bioterrorism.

FDA finds no strong link between tomatoes and reduced cancer risk
A US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review has found only limited evidence for an association between eating tomatoes and a decreased risk of certain cancers, according to an article published online July 10 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

New joint replacement material developed at MGH put to first clinical use
Massachusetts General Hospital surgeons have performed the first total hip replacement using a joint socket lined with a novel material invented at the MGH. An advance over first-generation highly crosslinked polyethylene, which was also developed at MGH and significantly reduced a serious complication of early hip implants, the new material may be applied in replacements for a wider variety of joints in a more diverse group of patients.

Americans trail Chinese in understanding another person's perspective
People from Western cultures such as the United States are particularly challenged in their ability to understand someone else's point of view because they are part of a culture that encourages individualism, new research at the University of Chicago shows. In contrast, Chinese, who live in a society that encourages a collectivist attitude among its members, are much more adept at determining another person's perspective, according to a new study.

Charting ever-changing genomes
Instead of immutable proprietary software, any species' genetic information resembles open source code that is constantly tweaked and optimized to meet the users' specific needs. But which parts of the code have withstood the test of time and which parts have undergone rapid evolutionary change has been difficult to assess. An international collaboration of researchers developed a simple method to comb whole genomes for all the software fixes and security patches accumulated over time.

Lithium and bone healing
New molecular pathway shown in bone healing that could be enhanced by lithium treatment.

Prevent smoking to reduce risk of erectile dysfunction
Men who smoke cigarettes run an increased risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction, and the more cigarettes smoked, the greater the risk, according to a study by Tulane University researchers published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Genetic diversity in honeybee colonies boosts productivity
Honeybee queens tend to be promiscuous to produce genetically diverse colonies, report two Cornell researchers in the July 20 issue of Science. Such colonies are far more productive and hardy than genetically uniform colonies produced by monogamous queens, they report.

Fragmented structure of seafloor faults may dampen effects
Many earthquakes in the deep ocean are much smaller in magnitude than expected. Geophysicists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution have found new evidence that the fragmented structure of seafloor faults, along with previously unrecognized volcanic activity, may be dampening the effects of these quakes.

New model for autism suggests women carry the disorder and explains age as a risk factor
A new model for understanding how autism is acquired has been developed by a team of researchers led by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The researchers analyzed data on autism incidence and found a previously unrecognized pattern. The pattern can be explained by assuming that spontaneous germ-line mutation is a significant cause of the disorder.

Teens can learn to manage their emotions
Can teenagers experiencing powerful emotions learn to manage those emotions? A University of Illinois study in this month's Child Development reports that teens can become quite insightful about their emotional patterns, and they can learn to intervene in their emotional episodes so they unfold positively.

August Geology and GSA Today media highlights
Topics include: first images of an active oceanic detachment fault; new theory of Transantarctic Mountains formation; why western Siberian rivers flow into the Arctic Ocean via estuaries rather than coastal deltas; and the cause of the large earthquake and tsunami that destroyed coastal cities of sixth-century Phoenicia (modern-day Lebanon). The GSA Today science article presents new evidence of an advanced civilization in Alexandria, Egypt, at least seven centuries prior to the arrival of Alexander the Great.

Venous thromboembolism risk among hospitalized patients
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and Mayo Clinic College of Medicine set out to estimate the total number of US inpatients at risk for VTE -- a crucial figure previously unknown.

New tool to measure speeding nuclei is a fast-beam first
An international collaboration at the Michigan State University National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory, has demonstrated a new technique for studying particles traveling at one-third the speed of light. The result, which will be published in Physical Review Letters, opens up new doors to investigating rare isotopes. The study describes the first successful lifetime measurement the lifetime of an excited state of germanium-64.

The end of barroom brawls -- study shows alcohol can reduce aggression
New study examines the link between alcohol and aggression.

Children and young people show elevated leukaemia rates near nuclear facilities
International review shows leukaemia death rates in children aged zero to nine were elevated by up to 24 percent near nuclear facilities and incidence rates by up to 21 percent.

Measuring nectar from eucalypts
In Australia, the effect of logging on canopy nectar production in tall forest trees has for the first time been investigated by NSW Department of Primary Industry researchers. State forests provide the major honey resource for the beekeeping industry in NSW.

Use of increasingly popular treatment for wound healing questioned
The effectiveness and value of an increasingly popular treatment used in the treatment of long term wounds are questioned in this month's Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (DTB) Topical negative pressure, or VAC Therapy as it is sometimes known, involves first placing a foam dressing, cut to shape, into a wound.

Almost one-third of adults report having some form of alcohol use problem during their lifetime
About 30 percent of Americans report having some form of alcohol use disorder at some point in their lifetimes, including 17.8 percent with alcohol abuse and 12.5 percent with alcohol dependence, according to a report in the July issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Tumor painting revolutionizes fight against cancer
A tumor paint developed by researchers at Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center will help surgeons see where a tumor begins and ends more precisely by illuminating the cancerous cells. The study, published in the July 15, 2007, issue of Cancer Research, shows that the tumor paint can help surgeons distinguish between cancer cells and normal brain tissue in the operating room.

Study evaluates brain lesions of older patients
Lesions commonly seen on MRI in the brains of older patients may be a sign of potentially more extensive injury to the brain tissue, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at the Duke University Medical Center, in Durham, N.C.

A stepwise retreat: How immune cells catch pathogens
To protect us from disease our immune system employs macrophages, cells that roam our body in search of disease-causing bacteria. With the help of long tentacle-like protrusions, macrophages can catch suspicious particles, pull them towards their cell bodies, internalize and destroy them. Using a special microscopy technique, researchers from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory now for the first time tracked the dynamic behavior of these tentacles in three dimensions.

Investigating the causes of Parkinson's disease
A University of Nottingham researcher has been awarded more than £440,000 by the Parkinson's Disease Society to investigate the causes of the condition.

Cognitive scores vary as much within test takers as between age groups making testing less valid
How precise are tests used to diagnose learning disability, progressive brain disease or impairment from head injury? Timothy Salthouse, Ph.D., a noted cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia, has demonstrated that giving a test only once isn't enough to get a clear picture of someone's mental functioning. It appears that repeating tests over a short period may give a more accurate range of scores, improving diagnostic workups.

Paracetamol overdoses drop without package size legislation
The acetaminophen (paracetamol) overdose rate in Calgary, Canada, dropped by over 40 percent in the decade to 2004, without a change to the smaller pack sizes that were credited with overdose reductions in the UK. The results published today in the online open access journal BMC Public Health suggest that young women, Aboriginals and those on social security remain at greatest risk.

First of its kind report on how children with brain tumors perform at school
While children who have had brain tumors perform worse in school than healthy kids, grades in foreign language are the most affected and girls have a harder time than boys in getting good grades, according to a study published in the July 17, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Researchers say this is the first time the actual grades and subjects of brain tumor survivors have been reported.

Birds take cues from their competitors
The idea that animals other than humans can learn from one another and pass on local traditions has long been a matter of debate. Now, a new study reveals that some birds learn not only from each other, but also from their competitors.

The elderberry way to perfect skin
Forget expensive moisturisers and cosmetic surgery, a compound found in the humble elderberry could give a natural boost to skin. In the first study of its kind, the University of East Anglia and the Institute of Food Research will explore whether the skin's condition is improved by a compound which gives berries their vibrant color.

Manchester University helps with pharaoh DNA analysis
Preliminary results from DNA tests carried out on a mummy believed to be Queen Hatshepsut is expected to support the claim by Egyptian authorities that the remains are indeed those of Egypt's most powerful female ruler.

Use of pulmonary artery catheter decreases substantially in US
Use of the pulmonary artery catheter decreased by 65 percent in the US between 1993 and 2004, possibly due to growing evidence that this invasive procedure does not reduce the risk of death for hospitalized patients, according to a study in the July 25 issue of JAMA.

Nano propellers pump with proper chemistry
Chemists at the University of Illinois at Chicago have created a theoretical blueprint for assembling a nanoscale propeller with molecule-sized blades.

Harry Potter and the terrorist attacks
Could Harry Potter be guarding the secrets of the British government's post Sept. 11 response to the terrorist threat? Judith Rauhofer of the University of Central Lancashire seems to think so.

Class of medications may offer alternative option for treating type 2 diabetes
A review of previous studies indicates that use of a class of medications known as

Takeda responds to the FDA advisory committee recommendation
Following a joint meeting today of the US Food and Drug Administration Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee and the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee, Takeda Global Research & Development underscores its position that ACTOS (pioglitazone HCl) offers a proven safety profile regarding the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Landmark study finds adult Delawareans with disabilities in only 'fair' to 'poor' health
One of every seven adult Delawareans has at least one disability, and the general health of these residents with disabilities is only

New study in the journal Sleep finds that chronic insomnia can lead to anxiety and depression
According to a study published in the July 1 issue of the journal Sleep, chronic insomnia can increase one's chances for developing anxiety disorders and depression.

New lens device will shrink huge light waves to pinpoints
Manipulating light waves, or electromagnetic radiation, has led to many technologies, from cameras to lasers to medical imaging machines that can see inside the human body.

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