Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (June 2003)

Science news and science current events archive June, 2003.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from June 2003

Space tech keeps Pescarolo on track at Le Mans
Pescarolo Sport's use of ESA technology in their two racing cars shaved crucial seconds off every lap at last weekend's Le Mans marathon 24-hour race, helping to place them into the top ten out of 50 competitors.

New aneurysm repair technology used for first time in Canada in Montreal
Physicians at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital are using a new technology to treat patients with brain aneurysms. Matrix© coils provide better stabilization of the aneurysms and promote faster healing of the lesion. So far, two patients have received the Matrix© coil treatment at the MNI/H. The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital is one of three centres in Canada chosen to use the new Matrix© coil.

Seroquel: Effective and well tolerated treatment for bipolar disorder
Important new data presented today at the fifth International Conference on Bipolar Disorder (ICBD) confirms that Seroquel (quetiapine) monotherapy is as effective as current treatments for bipolar disorder and offers improved tolerability benefits.

July GSA BULLETIN highlights
The July issue of the Geological Society of America BULLETIN includes a number of potentially newsworthy items. Topics of particular interest include: development of Florida's coral reefs over the past 6000-7000 years; and evidence for an oceanic plate, now completely subducted, that stretched from Oregon to Alaska more than 50 million years ago.

Should drug companies be allowed to talk to patients?
If people are to become more involved in their own health care, they must be able to gain access to high quality, balanced, accurate, and up to date information, but should this information come from drug companies?

Government regulations contribute to medical debt of uninsured and underinsured
A new Commonwealth Fund report, Unintended Consequences: How Federal Regulations and Hospital Policies Can Leave Patients in Debt, reveals some patients face unmanageable medical bills because unclear federal fraud laws and Medicare regulations may encourage providers to bill the uninsured more than those with insurance for the same service. To address this problem, CMS could clarify rules to address providers' concerns, and hospitals could establish standard criteria and simplify applications for free or reduced-cost care.

Cancer could be caught before it develops
An article published in the journal BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making describes the creation of the first comprehensive listing and classification of precancers, drawn from the medical literature. Using this classification, the precancers have been organized into groups that share similar biologic profiles and, hopefully, similar treatments.

Experimental imaging technique details spread of prostate cancer
A study conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital and a Dutch hospital finds that an investigational advanced MRI technique may be able to precisely identify the spread of prostate cancer to lymph nodes. The report details how high-resolution MR studies using an iron-oxide-containing contrast agent produced very accurate localization of tumor metastases, information that could be key in guiding the treatment of men with prostate cancer.

microPET® focus improves on small animal imaging capabilities
A recent study evaluated improvements in the spatial and energy resolutions and sensitivity of microPET® Focus, a second-generation PET system designed for animals. Results revealed advances in every aspect of system performance.

Noninvasive optical biopsies on the horizon
An advance in biomedical imaging enables non-invasive microscopy scans through the surface of intact organs or body systems, biophysical scientists at Cornell and Harvard universities. report. (PNAS, June 10, 2003).

New Zealand biotech: An emerging global presence
More than one dozen New Zealand companies, involved in a range of leading-edge human therapeutics and agricultural products, are participating in BIO 2003 in Washington, DC, each representing world-class biotech innovation and a powerful product pipeline.

Study finds statins would cut heart attacks and strokes by a third in people with diabetes
Study finds statins would cut heart and strokes by a third in people with diabetes and doctors should routinely consider giving cholesterol-lowering statins to anyone with diabetes who has a substantial risk of a heart attack or a stroke, according to research to be published (Saturday 14 June) in The Lancet medical journal.

Taste testing may help identify alcoholism risk
Individuals with a family history of alcoholism are considered at-risk for developing the disorder. Not all family members, however, will develop alcoholism. Scientists are searching for

Rescheduling of some Beagle 2 'cruise check-out' tests
The instruments on board ESA's mission to Mars, Mars Express, are in the process of being tested to verify that they have survived the launch successfully and will work properly. One of these tests on the Mars Express lander, Beagle 2, has been postponed to the first week of July.

Donor cell injections in thymus improve outcomes for children getting heart transplants
Three to five years after heart transplantation, children who had received a bone marrow injection into their thymus during their transplants had significantly fewer

Injection prevents blinding blood vessel growth in mice
Researchers at Johns Hopkins' Wilmer Eye Institute and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have identified an experimental medicine that stops the blinding blood vessel growth associated with diabetic eye diseases and possibly macular degeneration in laboratory mice.

Donor immune cells attack metastatic breast cancer
In patients with metastatic breast cancer, immune cells from a genetically matched donor can attack and shrink tumors, researchers from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) announced today at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.

American Thoracic Society Journal news tips for June 2003 (second issue)
Newsworthy journal articles include studies that show: a single dose of humanized anti-human interleukin-5 antibody given to patients with severe, persistent asthma significantly reduced a white cell blood marker of serious allergic disorders called eosinophils; and elderly nursing home patients who had severe aspiration pneumonia probably suffered from microorganisms colonized in either their dental plaque or oropharyngeal cavity at the time of aspiration.

WCS biologist George Schaller reports surprising increase in Tibet's wildlife
Several species of wildlife living on the windswept Tibetan plateau - including the Tibetan antelope slaughtered by poachers to make luxury

Inherited gene may place some at higher risk of post-traumatic injury seizures
People who inherit a particular gene involved in lipid metabolism in the brain appear to be at higher risk of developing seizures after traumatic brain injury, according to researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas.

Fosrenol (TM), first non-calcium phosphate binder, demonstrates long-term benefit in ESRD patients
Shire Pharmaceuticals Group plc announces that its candidate phosphate binder, FOSRENOLTM (lanthanum carbonate) for use in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients, has become the first non-calcium phosphate binder to demonstrate sustained efficacy and a good safety profile during three years of treatment, according to new data presented today at the World Congress of Nephrology.

Studies could lead to next-generation cancer drugs
The work of a Binghamton chemistry professor is altering conventional wisdom about the interactions of the anticancer drug Taxol ® which could lead to the development of even more effective, next-generation pharmaceuticals.

Insulin-resistance-fighting drug continues to protect against type 2 diabetes
Administering a commonly available drug to lower insulin resistance in women who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes appears to prevent onset of the disease.

High percentage of N.C. children suffer undiagnosed asthma, new study shows
A new first-of-its kind University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill survey of 122,829 children at 499 N.C. middle schools has turned up disturbing information about asthma, now the most common chronic childhood disease in the United States. Asthma, which can include wheezing and sometimes frightening shortness of breath, appears to be much more prevalent than previously thought even if many children suffer milder forms than cases seen in doctors' office.

Stroke risk: Could it start in the womb?
Malnourished pregnant women generations ago may account for today's increased stroke risk in certain parts of Britain and the United States, according to a study in today's rapid access issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Low birthweight link to diabetes may be due to decreased formation of blood vessels
A common condition that leads to low birthweight babies may predispose infants to diabetes by denying cells in the pancreas access to the chemical signals they need to mature. The condition may be reversed soon after birth by administering hormones that stimulate pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin. The findings also suggest a way of preventing diabetes in people at-risk for the disease by boosting the creation of beta cells soon after birth.

Twice as many predicted genes in 'finished' rice chromosome
The smallest rice chromosome has nearly twice as many predicted genes as the draft DNA sequence had indicated, according to an analysis of the

July 4 fireworks: Why they're brighter than ever
One of the oldest forms of chemistry -- fireworks -- today burns more spectacularly than ever because metal fuels have replaced the charcoal, starches and gums of the past, explains chemist John A. Conkling, Ph.D., former technical director of the American Pyrotechnics Association. Chemical & Engineering News, the newsmagazine published by the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, traces fireworks to their possible origin in China a thousand years ago.

Transplanted kidneys from living donors survive longer with Neoral® compared with tacrolimus
Basel, June 3rd 2003 - The long-term chances of survival of a transplanted kidney from a living donor are significantly greater with immunosuppressive therapy based on Neoral® (cyclosporin microemulsion) than with therapy based on tacrolimus, according to a major new study presented today at this year's American Transplant Congress in Washington, DC, USA.1 Immunosuppressive therapy is used to help prevent the body from rejecting a transplanted organ.

New hope for children with eye tumors, cancer
A deadly form of cancer in children, which starts out as a tumor in the eye, can now be treated successfully by a combination of therapies.

Moderate malnutrition kills millions of children needlessly
Very few children die of malnutrition, but the malnourished are up to 12 times more likely to die from preventable diseases, says Jean-Pierre Habicht of Cornell University; one of the child health researchers publishing a five-article

Researcher reveals courts and psychiatrists better understood infanticide 200 years ago
New research by a historian at the University of Warwick reveals puerperal insanity, a serious yet temporary condition most acutely expressed through infanticide, was better understood and treated more sympathetically by courts and psychiatrists in the 1800s than today.

FDHT PET imaging of androgen receptors detects prostate cancer
A recent study has revealed that FDHT-PET scanning of androgen receptors (AR) is successful in imaging patients with prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in American men, with more than 230,000 cases diagnosed each year. Researchers around the world are seeking better ways to detect and analyze this disease, and this research adds to the accumulated body of knowledge.

Hebrew University researcher studies 'reorganization' of brain in blind people
Studies indicate that congenitally blind (blind from birth) people have superior verbal memory abilities than the sighted. Why and what is the significance of this?

Protein critical for development in fruit flies found to aid healing of cuts and wounds in mammals
Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have determined that a protein essential for the normal embryonic development of fruit flies is also used by mammals to assist in the timely healing of cuts and lacerations.

ENBREL provided rapid and significant relief for psoriasis patients in second pivotal study
Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN), the world's largest biotechnology company, and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, a division of Wyeth (NYSE: WYE), announce that patients in a second phase 3 clinical study assessing the efficacy and tolerability of ENBREL (etanercept) in the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis experienced significant and rapid improvement in their symptoms. Psoriasis affects nearly 7 million Americans, one million of whom have moderate to severe plaque psoriasis.

Dr. Robert Langer, distinguished leader in the field of biomedical engineering, to lecture at NIH
Dr. Robert Langer, internationally known for his work in the fields of biotechnology and materials science, will present the 2003 National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research Seymour J. Kreshover Lecture on Monday, June 16 at 3:30 p.m. in the Masur Auditorium on the campus of the National Institutes of Health. The title of his lecture is

Annals of Internal Medicine, tip sheet, June 3, 2003
The June 3 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine includes articles on dementia screening, alternative therapies for back pain and heart risk for smokers.

9/11 boosted trust in government, temporary distress, research shows
Analyses of responses given by thousands of young U.S. adults interviewed shortly after the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001, showed surges both in sadness and in trust in government when compared with responses to interviews conducted shortly before the disasters.

Some 400 'fragile regions' of genome more vulnerable to evolutionary breaks
UCSD researchers have uncovered evidence that major evolutionary changes are more likely to occur in approximately 400 'fragile' genomic regions that account for only 5 percent of the human genome. The findings, reported in the June 24 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), undercut the widely held view among scientists that evolutionary breakpoints -- disruptions in the order of genes on chromosomes -- are purely random.

Relocation of children after parents' divorce may lead to long-term problems, study suggests
Children of divorced parents who are separated from one parent due to the custodial or non-custodial parent moving beyond an hour's drive from the other parent are significantly less well off on many child mental and physical health measures compared to those children whose parents don't relocate after divorce, according to new research.

It's not always child abuse
When paediatricians are confronted with symptoms such as haemorrhages in the brain and eyes, the logical assumption is child abuse. But it could also mean the child has a very rare and deadly blood disease called haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH). For the first time, attention has been drawn to the potential confusion between HLH and child abuse injuries. The tragedy is that there is no easy way to diagnose HLH and without prompt diagnosis it could be fatal.

Cross talk between bacteria, host leads to E. coli infection
A strain of E. coli that causes severe, sometimes deadly, intestinal problems relies on signals from beneficial human bacteria and a stress hormone to infect human cells, a researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas has discovered.

Pitt researchers develop guidelines for predicting low-risk patients with heart failure
New decision guidelines for identifying patients with low-risk heart failure may prevent unnecessary hospitalizations and could significantly reduce health care-related expenses, which according to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, cost the industry an estimated $21 billion per year. These guidelines are coming out of a study being presented by University of Pittsburgh researchers today at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine (SAEM) in Boston.

Journal announces scientific releases
The American Society of Hematology (ASH) and editors of the scientific journal, Blood, are pleased to announce the first-ever availability of regular scientific releases, one to two every month, beginning July 2003.

Active control system could halt squealing brakes in cars, trucks and buses
Squealing brakes cost auto manufacturers several hundred million dollars a year in warranty repairs and are among consumers' top 20 vehicle complaints - even in luxury cars. Now, acoustics researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a solution that could stop the problem of noisy brakes once and for all.

New tool tackles nursing shortage
A multi-purpose tool developed to assess the involvement of nurses in their work environment could take a bite out of the nursing shortage by increasing recruitment and retention, according to Penn State researchers.

Unemployment, access to guns among factors that turn domestic violence deadly
Access to guns, threats to kill and most of all, unemployment, are the biggest predictors of the murder of women in abusive relationships, concludes a nationwide case control study led by Jacquelyn Campbell, Ph.D., R.N., professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.

Toxic metal clue to autism
Researchers have found to their surprise that baby hair of children later diagnosed with autism contained far lower levels of mercury than other children. In the study, mercury levels in baby hair of autistic children remained low even when the mothers' exposure to the metal was high. The results point to speculation that autistic children have some kind of abnormality that leads to problems excreting mercury from their body.

Women benefit more from quitting smoking than men
New findings from the Lung Health Study (LHS) indicate that, in general, women's lung function improves significantly more than men's after sustained smoking cessation. The study followed more than 5,300 middle-aged smokers with mild or moderate chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In the first year after quitting, women's lung function improved more than twice that of men's. Improved lung function remained greater for women throughout the five-year study, although the gender differences narrowed over time.

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