Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (March 2009)

Science news and science current events archive March, 2009.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from March 2009

Love handles put the squeeze on lungs
A new study has found that a high waist circumference is strongly associated with decreased lung function -- independent of smoking history, sex, body mass index and other complicating factors.

Respiratory risk from hospital cleaning fluids
Cleaning fluids used in hospitals may pose a health risk to both staff and patients. A pilot study published in BioMed Central's open-access journal Environmental Health has found that potentially hazardous chemicals are contained in a selection of agents used in several different hospitals.

Psychologists' study finds TV ratings for kids' shows don't reflect aggressive content
A new study by psychologists from Iowa State University and Linfield College has found that TV ratings don't accurately reflect the aggressive content found in shows popular among children -- even cartoons.

Swimming lessons do not increase drowning risk in young children
Providing very young children with swimming lessons appears to have a protective effect against drowning and does not increase children's risk of drowning, reported researchers at the National Institutes of Health.

Aphids borrowed bacterial genes to play host
Most aphids host mutualistic bacteria, Buchnera aphidicola, which live inside specialized cells called bacteriocytes. Buchnera are vital to the aphids well being as they provide essential amino acids that are scarce in its diet. Now research published in the open-access journal BMC Biology suggests that the aphids' ability to host Buchnera depends on genes they acquired from yet another species of bacteria via lateral gene transfer.

RNA interference toward MMP-2 may be an effective therapeutic strategy for cancer
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive common tumors with an extremely poor prognosis. Matrix metalloproteinase-2can degrade type IV collagen and is associated with invasion angiogenesis of pancreatic cancer. As a kind of high efficient, specificity and relatively stable tool, RNA interference technology has already been used to silence specific target gene expression. Thus, RNA interference towards MMP-2 may be an effective therapeutic strategy for patients with pancreatic cancer.

American Chemical Society's Weekly PressPac -- Feb. 25, 2009
This is the American Chemical Society weekly Press Package with reports from 34 major peer-reviewed journals on chemistry, health, medicine, energy, environment, food, nanotechnology and other hot topics.

Metastatic bone disease patients can walk in Lazarus' footsteps
Osteoplasty -- a highly effective minimally invasive procedure to treat the painful effects of metastatic bone disease by injecting bone cement to support weakened bones -- provides immediate and substantial pain relief, often presenting individuals who are suffering terribly with the miraculous so-called

A new measure for the malignancy of melanoma
A growth factor which promotes the formation of new blood vessels in a tumor indicates disease progression in malignant melanoma. Besides its effect on vascular wall cells, the growth factor also increases the malignant properties of the cancer cells themselves. These findings have now been published by scientists of the German Cancer Research Center and the Mannheim Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University.

New research in AJN shows link between nurse's criminal history and professional misconduct
A study published in the March issue of the American Journal of Nursing found that almost 40 percent of nurses who were on probation for professional misconduct in 2001 committed another act of misconduct between 2001 and 2005. Nurses on probation who had a history of criminal conviction were more likely to recidivate, suggesting that licensing boards should carefully screen and monitor nurses with a criminal background. The study was conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Feeling down and out could break your heart, literally
New data published in the March 17, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology suggest that relatively healthy women with severe depression are at increased risk of cardiac events, including sudden cardiac death and fatal coronary heart disease. Researchers found that much of the relationship between depressive symptoms and cardiac events was mediated by cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.

Christopher McCulloch receives the IADR Research in Oral Biology Award
The 2009 Research in Oral Biology Award will be presented to Dr. Christopher McCulloch, from the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, at the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) 87th General Session & Exhibition in Miami, Fla., on April 1, 2009.

New strategy to weaken traumatic memories
In the Feb. 1 issue of Biological Psychiatry, published by Elsevier, a group of basic scientists shed new light on the biology of stress effects upon memory formation.

Tiny but toxic: MBL researchers discover a mechanism of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease
Particles of amyloid beta that have not clumped into plaques severely disrupt neurotransmission and delivery of key proteins in Alzheimer's disease, two new studies by MBL scientists show.

Engineer devises ways to improve gas mileage
A mechanical engineer at Washington University in St. Louis is developing techniques that will lessen our monetary pain at the pump by reducing the drag of vehicles. Drag is an aerodynamic force that is the result of resistance a body encounters when it moves in a liquid or gaseous medium (such as air). Reduction in drag means less fuel would be required to overcome the fluid resistance encountered by the moving vehicle.

Stanford researchers develop biodegradable substitutes for wood, plastic bottles and other materials
Stanford University researchers have developed a synthetic wood substitute that may one day save trees, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and shrink landfills. The faux lumber is made from a new biodegradable plastic that could be used in a variety of building materials and perhaps replace the petrochemical plastics now used in billions of disposable water bottles.

Protein function and chromatin structure methods featured in Cold Spring Harbor Protocols
Two new methods for analyzing the roles played by proteins in cells are featured in the March issue of Cold Spring Harbor Protocols.

New potential therapeutic target discovered for genetic disorder -- Barth syndrome
Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center may have discovered a new targeted intervention for Barth Syndrome. The new study entitled,

Study finds link between atrial fibrillation and an increased risk of death in diabetic patients
Results from a large, international, randomized, controlled trial have shown that there is a strong link between diabetics who have an abnormal heart rhythm (atrial fibrillation) and an increased risk of other heart-related problems and death. The findings are published in the European Heart Journal on Thursday, March 12. The ADVANCE study also showed that if these patients were treated with blood pressure lowering drugs, the risk was reduced: five years of active treatment would prevent one death among every 42 patients with AF.

Water method for unsedated colonoscopy; interval between prep and colonoscopy predicts prep quality
A study appearing in the monthly March issue of GIE: Gastrointestinal Endoscopy from researchers in California focuses on the impact of a novel water method on scheduled unsedated colonoscopy in US veterans. Researchers in Texas looked at how the time interval between the completion of the last dose of bowel preparation and the start of colonoscopy predicts the quality of the bowel preparation in a study appearing in the March special issue.

Community spread of trachoma could be stopped by treating all household members
All members of the household need to be treated for trachoma in order to prevent rapid re-infection, according to a new study published in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Great Basin's Bear Lake reveals records of past climate
The Geological Society of America presents a new special paper,

Brown physicists play key role in single top quark discovery
Brown physicists have played a key role in observing particle collisions that produce a single top quark, one of the fundamental constituents of matter. The discovery was announced Monday by scientists of the CDF and DZero collaborations at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Meenaskhi Narain, a Brown physics professor who has been involved with DZero since the early 1990s, said the finding is

NRL astronomers selected for NASA's Lunar Science Institute
NASA has selected seven academic and research teams as initial members of the agency's Lunar Science Institute, and Naval Research Laboratory researchers will play a substantial role on one of the teams.

Debt relief leads to development in Zambia
A new economics thesis from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows that, contrary to long-held assumptions, debt relief leads to higher levels of own investment in the case of smaller debts. The same thesis also shows how diversification can help poor smallholders in Zambia.

Mood player creates the right atmosphere
Melancholic songs, dance rhythms or romantic background music? The mood player can recognize musical characteristics and sort songs according to moods. It also blends in suitable images to the rhythm of the music.

Magnetic nano-'shepherds' organize cells
A multidisciplinary team of investigators from Case Western Reserve University, Duke University and University of Massachusetts, Amherst, created an environment where magnetic particles suspended within a specialized liquid solution acted like molecular sheep dogs by nudging free-floating human cells to form chains in response to external magnetic fields.

Summer burning may be option for pasture maintenance
The greater duration of heat in a summer-prescribed burn provides more effective management of encroaching woody or cactus species on rangeland, a Texas AgriLife Research scientist said. Controlling encroachments of prickly pear, mesquite, juniper and other rangeland plants that compete with grass can be pretty expensive without the use of fire in controlled burn situations, said Dr. Jim Ansley, AgriLife Research range management expert.

Researchers' new goal: Drug-free remission for HIV infection
A group including leading academic and industry scientists has issued a challenge to researchers in the field of HIV/AIDS: find a way to effectively purge latent HIV infection and eliminate the need for chronic, suppressive therapy to control this disease.

Names turn preschoolers into vegetable lovers
Do you have a picky preschooler who's avoiding their vegetables? A new Cornell University study shows that giving vegetables catchy new names -- like

Cardiac imaging highlighted at Biennial ICNC-9
ICNC-9, the key international scientific meeting on Nuclear Cardiology and Cardiac CT, is taking place in Barcelona, May 10-13.

Children who are dissatisfied with their appearance often have problems with their peer group
Being satisfied with one's appearance is one of the most important prerequisites for a positive self image. However, in today's appearance culture it is the rule rather than the exception that children and young people are dissatisfied with their appearance. Those children who are teased or subject to bullying are particularly critical of their appearance -- and they tend to be this way over a long period. This is revealed in a new thesis in psychology from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Drawing enhances emotional verbalization among children under the shadow of drug-addicted fathers
Emotional-verbal ability is crucial for growth and for social skills, so enabling a child to increase ability of expression and sharing by means of drawing pictures is beneficial in contributing to the efficiency and effectiveness of therapy

AGI reports on the state of the geoscience economy
The American Geological Institute Workforce Program has released the final chapter, titled

Rice fine-tunes attack on cancer
Two lasers may be better than one when attacking cancer cells, according to a paper by Rice University scientists, who are using computer simulations to quantify the effect of heating nanoparticles with near-infrared lasers to kill cancer tumors without damaging healthy tissue.

Blood test for brain injuries gains momentum
A blood test that can help predict the seriousness of a head injury and detect the status of the blood-brain barrier is a step closer to reality, according to two recently published studies involving University of Rochester Medical Center researchers.

Discovery of tuberculosis bacterium enzyme paves way for new TB drugs
A team of University of Maryland scientists has paved the way for the development of new drug therapies to combat active and asymptomatic (latent) tuberculosis infections by characterizing the unique structure and mechanism of an enzyme in M. tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes the disease.

RWJF launches $19 million public health law research program
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation today announced the selection of Temple University's James E. Beasley School of Law in Philadelphia to manage a new $19 million program called Public Health Law Research. The new program, under the direction of Temple law professor Scott Burris, J.D., will fund research that explores legal and regulatory solutions to pressing health challenges such as infectious and chronic diseases, and health emergencies such as floods, bioterrorism and epidemics.

Tissue-cultured smallpox vaccine appears promising
Administration of a tissue-cultured smallpox vaccine showed signs of an effective vaccine response with no serious adverse events, according to a study in the March 11 issue of JAMA.

Study examines the use of light in medical therapy
A study published in a special issue of Photochemistry and Photobiology examines the emerging practice of drug delivery systems which use the application of light to activate medications in the body.

Federal funding gap cited for research on human health impacts due to climate change
Climate change will seriously impact public health, but the United States has yet to allocate adequate research funding to understand and prepare for these impacts. The report suggests that the current knowledge gap is putting multitudes at risk and calls for a major expansion of research to tackle this problem.

U of Minnesota researchers test new ways to involve people in news through social media
University of Minnesota researcher Christine Greenhow, Seattle-based news aggregator NewsCloud and student newspaper the Minnesota Daily today announced the launch of the Minnesota Daily Facebook application. The Minnesota Daily application aims to become the hub of news and sharing for U of M students and community, combining both professional student and citizen journalism. Researchers will use it to test new ways to engage youth in news and information through social media.

BUSM researchers identify gene variant associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine have, for the first time, identified a gene variant on chromosome 4 that may be a potential risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These findings will be published in PLoS Genetics on March 20.

Engineer: Computer learning, electrical stimulation offer hope for paralyzed
Trainers have used it for decades to help athletes build muscle. Late-night TV commercials hawk it as an effortless flab buster. But a University of Florida engineering researcher says electrical stimulation -- a simple, decades-old technique to prompt muscles to contract -- can be combined with sophisticated computer learning technology to help people regain more precise, more life-like control of paralyzed limbs.

Control, treatment of bed bugs challenging
A review of previously published articles indicates there is little evidence supporting an effective treatment of bites from bed bugs, that these insects do not appear to transmit disease, and control and eradication of bed bugs is challenging, according to an article in the April 1 issue of JAMA.

UC San Diego biologists discover a protein link to wound healing
Diabetes and eczema may appear to be two completely unrelated diseases. But UC San Diego biologists have uncovered what appears to be a crucial biochemical link between the two.

Mayo Clinic study suggests those who have chronic pain may need to assess vitamin D status
Mayo Clinic research shows a correlation between inadequate vitamin D levels and the amount of narcotic medication taken by patients who have chronic pain.

The physics of animals, plants and materials inspired by nature
Take a new look at nature through the eyes of physicists at next month's March Meeting of American Physical Society, which takes place from March 16-20, 2009 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.

Record number of patients seek laser treatments to take lightyears off their faces
New trends reveal that laser technology is steering the future of the cosmetic surgery industry. The American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, a leader in the cosmetic surgery industry, conducted its annual Procedural Survey and the most notable finding is the shift towards noninvasive laser treatments.

Tea tree oil and silver together make more effective antiseptics
Mixing tea tree oil and silver or putting them in liposomes, greatly increases their antimicrobial activity and may minimize any side effects. Wan Li Low, University of Wolverhampton, presented research at the Society for General Microbiology meeting which showed that although both tea tree oil and silver -- as silver nitrate -- were effective against a range of micro-organisms, when low concentrations of the two agents were combined, their antimicrobial activity increased. 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