Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (June 1999)

Science news and science current events archive June, 1999.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from June 1999

Electronic nose sniffs out fresh fruit
Engineers at the University of Warwick have devised an

U.S high school finalists announced for International Chemistry Olympiad
Twenty of the nation's top high school chemistry students have been selected to vie for a spot on the U.S. team that will compete in the 31st International Chemistry Olympiad to be held in Bangkok, Thailand, July 4- 11. The announcement came from the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society and primary sponsor of the team.

Depression-treating drugs lead record-setting pharmacy benefit cost rise -- Total increase lower when pharmacy benefit actively managed
America's growing use of depression-treating drugs like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil made antidepressants the biggest contributors to a record-setting pharmacy benefit cost increase of 16.8 percent last year. The total increase was lower by as much as half for plan sponors that actively managed their pharmacy benefit.

Full bone mass restored to most postmenopausal women with osteoporosis in two-year trial of new treatment
The first fully controlled two-year study of a new treatment for osteoporosis in postmenopausal women restored bone mass to its original level in nearly two thirds of the women participating in the trial, UC San Francisco scientists reported today.

Circulation publishes phase I study of ENBREL in patients with chronic heart failure
A Phase I study published today in CIRCULATION: Journal of the American Heart Association, demonstrates ENBREL (etanercept, a soluble TNF p75 receptor) was well tolerated in patients with advanced heart failure. The study also suggests that ENBREL may lead to improvement in the functional status of patients with chronic heart failure. This is the first published paper of an ENBREL study in chronic heart failure.

SFVAMC-UCSF scientists solve a key protein structure
Completing a decades old quest by biochemists and biophysicists scattered around the world, a multi- institutional team of researchers has discovered the structure of Complex II, a protein essential to the production of energy within cells. Complex II is a generic name for one of the five proteins in the process.

Details of promising cancer therapy shows for the first time
Scientists at Schering-Plough research Institute are reporting what they say is the first atomic view that shows how a promising new class of cancer-fighting drugs works. The discovery may point the way to faster, better refinement of the drugs, according to the researchers. Several pharmaceutical companies are in a race to develop so-called farnesyl protein transferase (FPT) inhibitors, which incapacitate an enzyme recently found to activate many types of cancer.

Transplanted neural stem cells migrate throughout the abnormal brain, reduce disease symptoms
For years, researchers have probed the mysteries of neural stem cells -- immature cells that can differentiate into all the cell types that make up the brain -- with the idea that they might be useful for treating brain disorders such as Parkinson's disease. Important new animal research now suggests that these cells may be effective in treating a much broader array of brain diseases than previously anticipated, including Alzheimer's disease and many childhood brain disorders.

UF study show despite ads, cities catch the 'net while small towns lag
Even as the hype portrays the Internet as a tool that will level the economic playing fields for big cities and small towns, the virtual reality is that a few select cities will get the lion's share of the information action, a new University of Florida study finds. The need for reliable connections is clustering the Internet in core cities while rural locations lag further behind.

Postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy linked to increased risk for certain types of rarely occurring breast cancer
Using hormone replacement therapy during menopause increases a woman's risk for developing some types of breast cancer that occur rarely, but not the more commonly occurring ductal carcinoma that remains confined to the site of origin or invasive ductal or lobular cancer, Northwestern University and Mayo Clinic researchers report.

First direct link found between bacteria in drinking water and stomach ulcers
Penn State Harrisburg researchers report they have found the first direct link between the presence of a bacterium in Pennsylvania drinking water and stomach ulcers.

Fears of gene-therapy DNA passed to next generation statistically unfounded: Penn geneticist's estimates affect FDA gene-therapy policy
University of Pennsylvania Medical Center geneticist estimates that naturally occurring insertions in sperm-cell DNA is 100 times more common than the suggested FDA limit for gene-therapy studies.

Nematode makes scientific history
For the first time in history, scientists now have the complete blueprint of the genetic information that makes up the tiny soil-dwelling, free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. This landmark biological accomplishment is described on the American Phytopathological Society's feature home page this month at, which highlights the implications for plant nematology in sequencing C. elegans and contains links to related sites.

Major study finds effects of child care quality linger into the second grade
A major national study that examined whether quality in child care makes a difference in children's intellectual and social readiness for school showed that indeed it does.

Agriculture linked to red-legged frog decline in California
The global decline in amphibians has been attributed to everything from UV radiation to global warming. The first concrete evidence that agriculture may play a role in amphibian decline was presented by Carlos Davidson of the University of California, Davis, at the June 1999 Society for Conservation Biology meeting.

Correction: Chandra x-ray observatory website URL
The correct URL for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is:
Natural disaster is waiting to happen
A lake in the quake-prone mountains of central Asia is close to unleashing one of the deadliest natural disasters in history, say an international team of geologists and aid workers. If the natural dam that holds back the lake bursts, a wall of water 100 metres high would devastate hundreds of tiny villages.

UW scientists find a gene that controls organ shape
Growing complete organs in the laboratory, a longstanding dream of biomedical science, is one key step closer to reality as a team of Wisconsin scientists report the discovery of a genetic mechanism that gives organs their shape.

Aging alone does not affect brain system related to memory loss
A study in rats suggests that aging by itself may not affect brain systems responsible for important aspects of learning and memory. The research found that the combination of old age and pre-existing brain pathology led to serious problems in a brain system that is crucial for normal cognitive abilities.

Horseshoe crab studies providing new insight into valuable ancient creatures
At the end of May and during June, hundreds of thousands of these prehistoric creatures emerge from the waters of Delaware Bay to lay and fertilize their eggs in the wet sand. On some beaches they will be met by scientists and volunteers who will carefully count their numbers across a series of sampling plots.

USGS reports continued decline of California sea otters
Spring surveys of California sea otters have shown a steady decrease from a high of 2,377 sea otters counted in 1995. The surveys are conducted cooperatively by scientists of the U.S. Geological Survey, California Department of Fish and Game and Monterey Bay Aquarium with the help of experienced volunteers,and cover about 375 miles of California coast.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center study identifies for the first time a molecular mechanism behind hormonal response to stress
A two-year study led by Shlomo Melmed, M.D., of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has identified for the first time a molecular mechanism that transduces (translates and conveys) stress signals from the brain to other parts of the body after physical or psychological trauma. This discovery will provide a tool for researchers studying the endocrine responses that modulate the protection against immune and inflammatory insults like blood-borne infections, shock and inflammation as well as stress.

Sound of silence: "Quiet Curtains" combine audio privacy and aesthetics fornursing homes, hospitals, hotels and offices
Hospitals are notoriously bad places to sleep. Routine noises like carts rolling down a hall disturb the sleep of patients who often need the rest. To deal with this problem, Georgia Tech researchers have developed

Low doses of aspirin and surgery better for stroke prevention
A new study, sponsored by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), shows that lower doses of aspirin given at the time of surgery work better than higher doses to prevent stroke, heart attack, or death following the surgery.

Scientists show hormone involved in cryptorchidism
Cryptorchidism - impaired testicular descent - is a congenital abnormality that affects 2 percent to 3 percent of full-term human males at birth. Scientists at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have found, in mice, that a hormone is involved in the regulation of testicular descent.

Astronomers pinpoint birth/history of Hale-Bopp
The most precise measurement to date of the carbon monoxide to water ratio in a comet is reported by a team of astrophysicists in the June 17 issue of Nature. The article suggests that the comet Hale-Bopp was likely formed in the region between Jupiter and Neptune some 4 billion years ago.

Warmer Wetter Winters Linked To Greenhouse Gases
Why are winters warming up so much faster over Northern Hemisphere continents than over the rest of the globe? A new study by NASA researchers in the June 3 issue of the journal Nature is the first to link the well-documented large degree of North America and Eurasia winter warming and the associated wind changes to rising greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere.

Immunex Corporation and Genentech, Inc. join forces to develop TRAIL/Apo2L in cancer
Immunex Corporation and Genentech, Inc. announced today that the two companies agreed to jointly develop TRAIL/Apo2L, an entirely new approach to research in the fight against cancer.

Researchers discover the driving force behind cancer cells in Hodgkin's disease
The cellular fuel which powers the growth of Hodgkin's disease has been identified for the first time by a research team at Princess Margaret Hospital's Ontario Cancer Institute, the University of Toronto and the Amgen Research Institute. The research team also discovered that the fuel is actually manufactured by the tumour cells themselves.

Pre-delivery digital exams may increase in utero bacterial levels
Digital cervical examinations during labor increase the risk of vaginal bacteria entering the cervix and the uterus and causing harm to the newborn. While many bacteria are harmless, increased amounts of certain bacteria may be of concern to women who have ruptured fetal membranes when they go through childbirth.

Materials Congress 2000 - call for papers
The Institute of Materials has issued a call for papers for Materials Congress 2000. The overall theme of the event will be Materials for the 21st Century: Innovation and Sustainability. Papers are requested for the three core themes of the conference programme: structure of materials, progress in materials processing and applications, and functional materials - synthesis, characterization and exploitation.

Faster-than-light travel has jumped its first hurdle
Star Trek fans will be pleased to hear that the starship Enterprise's famed faster-than-light warp drive travel may not be so ludicrous after all. Scientists from Belgium say the key to warping space to transport spacecraft from place to place lies with Dr Who's Tardis.

UNC-CH Surveys Reveal Where The 'Real' South Lies
Ask even educated Americans what states form

Simply reading about a childhood event people said didn't happen can alter their memories
Just being exposed to a story about a fictitious childhood experience can alter people's memories to the point that half of them believe the incident probably occurred even though they previously said it didn't, University of Washington researchers will report this week at the American Psychological Association annual meeting in Denver.

Older, disabled women have trouble managing pain
New findings from the NIA's Women's Health & Aging Study indicate that many older disabled women report significant pain in their back, knees, hips, and feet, and have considerable difficulty controlling it, suggesting a need for more effective strategies for managing pain in older people.

Nature publishes secret of abalone shell strength
Researchers have cracked the mystery of the abalone shell's toughness and fracture resistance, according to the June 24 issue of Nature, discovered by scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara. The finding suggests a biological

Study shows anxiety predicts greatest risk for persistent depression
Symptoms of major depression are most likely to persist in people who also have an anxiety disorder, according to a study headed by a psychiatrist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

More lightning news from inside hurricanes and tornadoes
Three news shorts from the Lightning Conference - 3D lightning imaging using interferometry, Hurricane lightning is muted, and Getting up close and almost too personal with a tornado.

Science panel endorses new non-animal test to see if chemicals will burn, corrode skin and eyes
For the first time, a new federally sponsored panel of scientists has endorsed the use of a non-animal test to determine -- for safety and regulatory purposes, and for labeling -- whether a chemical is likely to burn or corrode human skin.

How the nose knows
Weizmann Institute scientists have revealed how olfactory receptors work, a finding that helps explain how the human olfactory system distinguishes between millions of different smells.

Economic model to aid alligator farmers
Owners of alligator farms and ranches may soon have a new tool to aid in making critical economic decisions and to optimize alligator farm profitability and sustainability, according to Penn State economists.

Music, relaxation can complement pain medicine
Patients facing surgery can expect to have less post- operative pain if they use relaxation and music with their pain medicine, a new study by a nurse researcher at Case Western Reserve University has found.

American Heart Association names 1999 Physician of the Year
Charles L. Curry, M.D., professor of medicine at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., received the American Heart Association's Physician of the Year Award Friday during the organization's annual Delegate Assembly.

Micro-organisms help protect drinking water from MTBE contamination
Micro-organisms that live at the bottom of lakes and streams may offer a solution to the problem of drinking water contamination from the gasoline additive MTBE, according to a new study by government scientists.

Database technology organizes Antarctic treaty documents, more
International documents from the Handbook of the Antarctic Treaty System, which had previously only been disseminated in paper form, are now available in an easily-searchable database on the World Wide Web thanks to the efforts of an Ohio State University researcher.

High levels of iron may increase the risk of heart attacks
High levels of serum ferritin, a measure of bodily stores of iron, are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks in elderly people with other cardiovascular risk factors, according to a new case-control study. Eating iron-containing foods such as red meat can increase serum ferritin levels.

Alaska's Columbia glacier traveling at record pace
Already the fastest moving glacier in the world, the Columbia Glacier in Alaska has increased its speed from 25 meters to 35 meters per day in recent months, according to a University of Colorado at Boulder glaciologist.

For DNA, it's all about fitting in
The enzymes in charge of copying our DNA do an incredible job, getting the sequence in humans correct more than 99.999 percent of the time. Molecular shapes demand the high fidelity, not chemical bonds as scientists have long thought.

Pediatrician will work to cut sexually transmitted diseases
National pride in being a world leader doesn't extend to the embarrassing reality that older U.S. adolescents and young adults suffer higher sexually transmitted disease rates than young people in any other developed country.

Mitral valve prolapse less common, less harmful than previously thought
Researchers from the NHLBI Framingham Heart Study report that mitral-valve prolapse (MVP) is substantially less common and less serious than previously believed. The researchers report that MVP affects about 2 percent of the population rather than the 5 to 35 percent indicated in earlier estimates. And, contradicting earlier studies suggesting that MVP occurs more commonly in women, the researchers found that men and women are equally likely to have the condition. 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