Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (March 2011)

Science news and science current events archive March, 2011.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from March 2011

Study: Homeless patients cost $2,500 more than the average patient for each hospital stay
Homeless patients cost about $2,500 more per hospital stay than the average patient, according to a new study by researchers at St. Michael's Hospital.

Diet-exercise combo best for obese seniors
For obese seniors, dieting and exercise together are more effective at improving physical performance and reducing frailty than either alone. Although weight loss alone and exercise alone improve physical function, neither is as effective as diet and exercise together, which improved physical performance in seniors by 21 percent.

Optimizing yield and fruit size of figs
South African researchers published a new study that provides valuable information for fig growers. The scientists evaluated the number of fruit, budbreak, and shoot growth on 1-year-old shoots for three common fig cultivars; results revealed pruning strategies that ensure a balance between current-season yield and development of new fruiting wood. The study proves that a wide range of shoot lengths is productive and presents data to help growers achieve consistently high yields.

Mutations found in human induced pluripotent stem cells
Ordinary human cells reprogrammed as induced pluripotent stem cells may revolutionize personalized medicine by creating new and diverse therapies unique to individual patients. But important and unanswered questions have persisted about the safety of these cells, in particular whether their genetic material is altered during the reprogramming process. A new study finds that the genetic material of reprogrammed cells may in fact be compromised, and suggests that extensive genetic screening of hiPSCs become standard practice.

Polishing the apple's popular image as a healthy food
Scientists are reporting the first evidence that consumption of a healthful antioxidant substance in apples extends the average lifespan of test animals, and does so by 10 percent. The new results, obtained with fruit flies -- stand-ins for humans in hundreds of research projects each year -- bolster similar findings on apple antioxidants in other animal tests. The study appears in ACS's Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

New model shows importance of feet, toes in body balance
Researchers are using a new model to learn more about how toe strength can determine how far people can lean while keeping their balance. The results could help in building robotic body parts that will closely imitate human movement, and might lead to a new generation of advanced prosthetics.

Leading entomologist and bee expert awarded prestigious 2011 Tyler Environmental Prize
One of the world's leading entomologists and foremost experts on the evolutionary relationship between insects and plants, May R. Berenbaum, Ph.D., will receive the 2011 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. Since its inception in 1973 as one of the world's first international environmental awards, the Tyler Prize is the premier award for environmental science, environmental health and energy, given to those who confer great benefit upon humankind through environmental restoration and achievement.

New GSA special paper takes us to the moon
Lunar missions over the past 15 years have brought to Earth data that is greatly improving geoscientists' understanding of the stratigraphic features and characteristics of Earth's Moon. Missions targeting basins, highlands, mare deposits, and the lunar poles provide information to aid planetary geologists in piecing together, through maps and models, the nature of our closest neighbor.

Study shows new treatment strategy effective for certain lung cancers
LSU oncologist Vince D. Cataldo, M.D., is the lead author of a review article reporting two chemotherapy drugs now indicated for second and third-line therapy in patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer are remarkably effective in treating a certain subset of these patients. Dr. Cataldo and his colleagues say these drugs should be considered as a first-line treatment in people who are known to carry an Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor mutation.

Time lived with obesity linked with mortality
Monash University researchers have found the number of years individuals live with obesity is directly associated with the risk of mortality.

New research suggests wild birds may play a role in the spread of bird flu
Wild migratory birds may indeed play a role in the spread of bird flu, also known as highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1.

Thrill-seeking females work hard for their next fix
It seems that women become addicted to cocaine more easily than men and find it harder to give up. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Biology of Sex Differences reinforces this position by showing that the motivation of female rats to work for cocaine is much higher than males.

Miniature lasers could help launch new age of the Internet
A new laser device created at the University of Central Florida could make high-speed computing faster and more reliable, opening the door to a new age of the Internet.

Study finds no association between mercury exposure and risk of cardiovascular disease
In a new, large-scale study from Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), researchers found no evidence that higher levels of mercury exposure were associated with higher risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, or total cardiovascular disease in two separate studies of US adults.

Texas A&M-led study shows earliest American residents came at least 15,500 years ago
Michael Waters, director of Texas A&M's Center for the Study of First Americans, along with researchers from Baylor University, the University of Illinois-Chicago, the University of Minnesota and Texas State University, have found the oldest archaeological evidence for human occupation in Texas and North America at the Debra L. Friedkin site, located about 40 miles northwest of Austin. Their work is published in the current issue of Science magazine.

ChesapeakeView: Everything you need to know about the bay
Crabs, fishing, land use and pollution sources are frequently hot topics for researchers in the Chesapeake Bay area, but finding all the available information, especially remote sensing data, is frequently a chore. Now, ChesapeakeView, a project of the AmericaView consortium, brings together a variety of datasets and makes them available to anyone who needs them for research, planning or other studies.

Experimental radioprotective drug safe for lung cancer patients, says Pitt study
Patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer can safely take an experimental oral drug intended to protect healthy tissue from the effects of radiation, according to a study led by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute and published in this month's issue of Human Gene Therapy.

Charge it: Neutral atoms made to act like electrically charged particles
Completing the circuit they started by creating synthetic magnetic fields, scientists from the Joint Quantum Institute have made atoms act as if they were charged particles in electric fields.

Abnormal neural activity recorded from the deep brain of Parkinson's disease and dystonia patients
An international joint research team led by Professor Toru Itakura and Assistant Professor Hiroki Nishibayashi from Wakayama Medical University, Japan, Professor Atsushi Nambu from the National Institute for Physiological Sciences, Japan, succeeded, for the first time, in recording cortically induced neural activity of the basal ganglia in patients with Parkinson's disease and dystonia during stereotaxic neurosurgery for the deep brain stimulation. This research has been reported in

Recommendations to the review of the legislation governing the use of human embryos in research
The Australian Stem Cell Centre has made five recommendations to the 2010 Review of the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction Act 2002 and the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002.

Autism Speaks supports new diagnostic code for individuals with autism with history of wandering
With increasing frequency, parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) report the terrible consequences that can occur when their children wander or unexpectedly run away. Recognizing the urgency of this problem, Autism Speaks supports the proposed ICM-9-CM diagnostic code and asks the autism community to sign the petition found at Autism Speaks also calls for HHS to study the causes of wandering and to develop ways of preventing its occurrence.

Symposium honoring UD Nobel Laureate Richard Heck set for May 26
On Thursday, May 26, the University of Delaware will host the scholarly symposium

Parkinson's disease may be caused by microtubule, rather than mitochondrial complex I, dysfunction
Patients with Parkinson's disease suffer a specific loss of dopaminergic neurons from the midbrain region that controls motor function. The exact mechanism of this selective neurodegeneration is unclear, though many lines of evidence point to dysfunctional mitochondrial complex I as one root cause of the disease. Yet new research now suggests that defective regulation of microtubules may be responsible for at least some cases of PD.

Animal welfare does not damage competitiveness
Farmers and politicians have expressed concern that Swedish and European agricultural producers do not compete on equal terms with the rest of the world because of stricter animal welfare legislation. A new report from the AgriFood Economics Center in Sweden shows that there is no justification for more tariffs based on the argument that stricter legislation would increase imports.

Lymph node dissection is not essential in small screen-detected lung cancers, new research shows
Lymph node dissection, the current standard surgical treatment for localized non-small cell lung cancers, may be unnecessary in certain screen-detected early stage cases.

The Pacific oyster is in Sweden to stay
The Pacific oyster was discovered in large numbers along the west coast of Sweden in 2007. The mortality rate in some places during the past two winters has been 100 percent, but researchers at the University of Gothenburg who have studied the Pacific oyster can now say that the species copes with cold winters and is here to stay.

Researchers unlock new secret to how smells are detected
Researchers seeking to unravel the most ancient of our senses have found a previously unknown step in how odors are processed by the brain.

Research may lead to new treatments for Parkinson's disease and other neurological disorders
Scientists at Marshall University are conducting research that may someday lead to new treatments for repair of the central nervous system. The group has identified and analyzed unique adult animal stem cells that can turn into neurons. The neurons they found appear to have many of the qualities desired for cells being used in development of therapies for slowly progressing, degenerative conditions like Parkinson's disease and for damage due to stroke or spinal cord injury.

Kidney transplant recipients: Get moving to save your life
Low physical activity increases kidney transplant patients' likelihood of dying early, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology. The results suggest that patients need to exercise to fend off an early death.

Is blood thicker than water?
In 1964 biologist William Hamilton introduced Inclusive Fitness Theory to predict and explain phenomena ranging from animal behavior to patterns of gene expression. With its many successes, the theory became a cornerstone for modern biology. In August, 2010, Harvard researchers challenged the theory in the prestigious journal, Nature. Now Nature has published sharp rebuttals from scores of scientists, including Edward Allen Herre and William Wcislo, staff scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

Waste ash from coal could save billions in repairing US bridges and roads
Coating concrete destined to rebuild America's crumbling bridges and roadways with some of the millions of tons of ash left over from burning coal could extend the life of those structures by decades, saving billions of dollars of taxpayer money, scientists reported here today at the 241st National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. They reported on a new coating material for concrete made from flyash that is hundreds of times more durable than existing coatings and costs only half as much.

Neutron analysis yields insight into bacteria for solar energy
Structural studies of some of nature's most efficient light-harvesting systems are lighting the way for new generations of biologically inspired solar cell devices.

Scientists show how men amp up their X chromosome
Vive le difference? Not at the level of DNA. Men must increase gene expression on their lone X chromosome to match the two X's possessed by women. A new study explains just how men manage to do that.

Syracuse University chemist develops technique to use light to predict molecular crystal structures
A Syracuse University chemist has developed a way to use very low frequency light waves to study the weak forces (London dispersion forces) that hold molecules together in a crystal.

Why stem cells don't just want to make neurons
Research being presented April 1 at the UK National Stem Cell Network annual science conference provides another piece in the puzzle of why it can be so hard to produce large numbers of the same type of cell in the lab -- a process that is vital for scaling up stem cell production for therapeutic use. This knowledge will help researchers to develop strategies for obtaining the desired cell type for use in either research or medicine.

UC Davis pain research may pave the way to understanding and controlling chronic pain
Researchers at the University of California, Davis have discovered a

New high-resolution carbon mapping techniques provide more accurate results
A team of scientists from the Carnegie Institution for Science's Department of Global Ecology and the USDA Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station has developed new, more accurate methods for mapping carbon in Hawaii's forests. Their research appears in an online issue of the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

4 new species of Zombie ant fungi discovered in Brazilian rainforest
Four new Brazilian species in the genus Ophiocordyceps have been published in the online journal PLoS ONE. The fungi, named by Dr. Harry Evans and Dr. David Hughes, belong to a group of

Flipping a switch on neuron activity
All our daily activities, from driving to work to solving a crossword puzzle, depend on signals carried along the body's vast network of neurons. Propagation of these signals is, in turn, dependent on myriad small molecules within nerve cells -- receptors, ion channels and transmitters -- turning on and off in complex cascades.

Women get short shrift in many heart device studies, despite requirement
Despite a longstanding requirement for medical device makers to include women in the studies they submit to the Food and Drug Administration for device approval, very few include enough women or separately analyze how the devices work in them. Devices may be on the market without adequate data on their safety and effectiveness in women.

Scientists from Toronto and Helsinki discover genetic abnormalities after creation of stem cells
Dr. Andras Nagy at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute of Mount Sinai Hospital and Dr. Timo Otonkoski at Biomedicum Stem Cell Center (University of Helsinki), as well as collaborators in Europe and Canada have identified genetic abnormalities associated with reprogramming adult cells to induced pluripotent stem cells. The findings give researchers new insights into the reprogramming process, and will help make future applications of stem cell creation and subsequent use safer.

Prozac reorganizes brain plasticity
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) such as Prozac are regularly used to treat severe anxiety and depression. However it can take weeks of treatment before a patient feels any effect and both beneficial effects and side effects can persist after treatment is stopped. New research published by BioMed Central's open-access journal Molecular Brain investigates physiological changes within the brain that may be caused by SSRI treatment.

University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center studies new treatment for high-risk aortic patients
About 100,000 Americans, most of them over the age of 70, are diagnosed with severe aortic stenosis each year, and it can leave them breathless, feeling faint and with chest pain and heart palpitations. The University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center is part of the national Medtronic CoreValve US pivotal trial to replace diseased valves with a minimally invasive procedure. It's a potentially transformative option for patients who cannot tolerate open heart surgery.

Study finds reports of domestic violence rise 10 percent after NFL upsets
Calls to the police reporting men's assaults on their wives or intimate partners rose 10 percent in areas where the local National Football League team lost a game they were favored to win, according to an analysis of 900 regular-season NFL games reports researchers in a paper in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

Sharpest microscope tip lands Canada's Nanotech Institute in Guinness Book of World Records
A very tiny, very sharp object has put Canadian researchers at the National Institute for Nanotechnology (NINT) and University of Alberta into the Guinness Book of World Records. Only one atom at its end point, the tip used in electron microscopes is the sharpest man-made object.

AACR and Landon Foundation support the next generation of researchers with INNOVATOR Awards
The American Association for Cancer Research and the Kirk A. and Dorothy P. Landon Foundation will present three INNOVATOR Awards at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011, held April 2-6.

Nanorods developed in UC Riverside lab could greatly improve visual display of information
Chemists at the University of California, Riverside have developed tiny, nanoscale-size rods of iron oxide particles in the lab that respond to an external magnetic field by aligning themselves parallel to one another like a set of tiny flashlights turned in one direction, and displaying a brilliant color. The research paves the way for fabricating magnetically responsive photonic structures with significantly reduced dimensions so that color manipulation with higher resolution can be realized.

Research shows rapid adoption of newer, more expensive prostate cancer treatments
New research from the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center shows that newer, more expensive treatment options for prostate cancer were adopted rapidly and widely during 2002-2005 without proof of their cost-effectiveness, and may offer explanations for why health care spending accounts for 17 percent of the nation's GDP.

Tumor suppressor blocks viral growth in natural HIV controllers
Elevated levels of p21, a protein best known as a cancer fighter, may be involved in the ability of a few individuals to control HIV infection with their immune system alone. In the April edition of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers report that CD4 T cells from HIV controllers show highly increased expression of the p21 protein, and while capable of being infected by HIV, effectively suppress key aspects of the viral life cycle.

Is your child's hobby making him sick?
Used woodwind and brass instruments were found to be heavily contaminated with a variety of bacteria and fungi, many of which are associated with minor to serious infectious and allergic diseases, according to a study published in the March/April 2011 issue of General Dentistry, the peer-reviewed clinical journal of the Academy of General Dentistry. 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