Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (May 2009)

Science news and science current events archive May, 2009.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from May 2009

Non-wovens as scaffolds for artificial tissue
In the future, cartilage, tendon and blood vessel tissue will be produced in the laboratory, with cells being grown on a porous frame, such as non-wovens. A new software program helps to characterize and optimize the non-wovens.

Westernization associated with potentially harmful sun habits among Asian-Americans
Asian-Americans who have adopted more aspects of Western culture may be more likely to engage in behaviors that increase sun exposure, thereby endangering their skin health, according to a report in the May issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

New nanotube coating enables novel laser power meter
The US military can now calibrate high-power laser systems, such as those intended to defuse unexploded mines, more quickly and easily thanks to a novel nanotube-coated power measurement device developed at NIST.

Retail clinics less likely to be located in underserved communities
Despite reports indicating that placement of retail clinics are determined by physician shortages and higher uninsured populations, these clinics appear to be located in more advantaged neighborhoods, according to a report in the May 25 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

2 new studies on circadian rhythms
Dartmouth Medical School geneticists have made new inroads into understanding the regulatory circuitry of the biological clock that synchronizes the ebb and flow of daily activities, according to two studies published May 15.

Will the economic crisis lead to major societal changes?
Will poverty lead to major societal changes? A new theory of social change and human development by UCLA professor Patricia Greenfield offers insights into the future.

Heating heart with catheter better than drugs for common heart rhythm disorder
Treating a common heart rhythm disorder by burning heart tissue with a catheter works dramatically better than drug treatments, a major international study has found. Results were so convincing the trial was halted early.

Process controlling T cell growth and production identified
Identifying one of the processes that plays a role in naïve and memory T-cells' growth and production could one day lead to better vaccines and possibly more effective cancer immunotherapy, said researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital in a report that appears in the current edition of Nature Immunology.

Environmental pollution increases the risk of liver disease
A new study is the first to show that there is a previously unrecognized role for environmental pollution in liver disease in the general US adult population. This work builds upon the groups' previous research demonstrating liver disease in highly exposed chemical workers. The study is being presented during Digestive Disease Week 2009.

Erosion of the Yucca Mountain crest
The Yucca Mountain crest in Nevada has been proposed as a permanent site for high level radioactive waste. But a new study, already published as an article in press by Elsevier's journal Geomorphology and recently included in the research highlights of Nature, shows that there may be erosion of the crest.

Australian team reveals world-first discovery in a 'floppy baby' syndrome
In a world first, West Australian scientists have cured mice of a devastating muscle disease that causes a

Farnesoid X receptor regulates cystathionase
Farnesoid X receptor is a member of the ligand-activated nuclear hormone receptor superfamily. It functions as heterodimer with retinoid X receptor and binds genomic DNA of the target genes promoters containing an inverted repeat sequence in which consensus receptor-binding hexamers are separated by one nucleotide. Cystathionase catalyzes essential steps in the trans-sulfuration pathway that leads to generation of hydrogen sulphide. A research study investigated whether the farnesoid X Receptor regulates cystathionase.

New data analysis shows possible link between childhood obesity and allergies
A new study indicates there may be yet another reason to reduce childhood obesity -- it may help prevent allergies. The study published in the May issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology showed that obese children and adolescents are at increased risk of having some kind of allergy, especially to a food. The study was funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, both parts of the National Institutes of Health.

Computer-based phone calls raise awareness, control of blood pressure
An automated system that regularly contacts hypertension patients helps them to reduce their high blood pressure. Blood pressure readings were automatically relayed to health-care providers who could modify treatment as needed. If proven cost-effective and widely accepted, the program could greatly reduce the risk of death or disability caused by strokes related to high blood pressure, researchers said.

Ethnicity affects timing and access to cardiac care
Ethnicity is having a significant impact on timely access to cardiac care in Calgary and likely across Canada as the population's ethnic diversity grows, according to new research led by a team from the University of Calgary.

Access to care leads Americans' priorities in first-ever public study of health value
When Americans were asked to value the most important of dozens of health products and services as they consider spending their own money, they chose access to care over everything else, a new study revealed.

Most efficient spectrograph to shoot the Southern skies
ESO's Very Large Telescope, Europe's flagship facility for ground-based astronomy, has been equipped with the first of its second generation instruments: X-shooter. It can record the entire spectrum of a celestial object in one shot -- from the ultraviolet to the near-infrared -- with high sensitivity. This unique new instrument will be particularly useful for the study of distant exploding objects called gamma-ray bursts.

NIH grants $122 million in Institutional Development Awards
The National Center for Research Resources, part of the National Institutes of Health, announced today it will provide up to an estimated $122 million over the next five years to fund Institutional Development Award Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence in seven IDeA-eligible states. The INBRE is a component of the IDeA program, which is designed to improve the competitiveness of investigators in states that historically have not received significant levels of NIH research funding.

Insect gene expression responds to diet
Cabbage looper caterpillars are able to alter the expression of genes associated with metabolism, homeostasis and immunity in response to feeding on plants carrying bacteria. Research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Frontiers in Zoology has shown that, as well as tailoring gene expression within their own digestive systems, the insects are able to pass this information along to their offspring.

Marine scientists return from expedition to erupting undersea volcano
Scientists who have just returned from an expedition to an erupting undersea volcano near the Island of Guam report that the volcano appears to be continuously active, has grown considerably in size during the past three years, and its activity supports a unique biological community thriving despite the eruptions.

La Jolla Institute announces 2.0 launch of major database to aid vaccine development worldwide
Key improvements in a major infectious disease database that will aid vaccine development worldwide were unveiled today with the 2.0 launch of the National Institutes of Health-sponsored Immune Epitope Database and Analysis Resource. The 2.0 launch was announced by a research team from the La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology, who designed, developed and continue to host the database under a multi-million dollar NIH contract.

Bioelectricity promises more 'miles per acre' than ethanol
Biofuels such as ethanol offer an alternative to petroleum for powering our cars, but growing energy crops to produce them can compete with food crops for farmland, and clearing forests to expand farmland will aggravate the climate change problem. How can we maximize our

Researchers develop light-treatment device to improve sleep quality in the elderly
Sleep disturbances increase as we age. Some studies report more than half of seniors 65 years of age or older suffer from chronic sleep disturbances. Researchers have long believed that the sleep disturbances common among the elderly often result from a disruption of the body's circadian rhythms -- biological cycles that repeat approximately every 24 hours.

Nontoxic hull coating resists barnacles, may save ship owners millions
North Carolina State University engineers have created a nontoxic

Quality of life survey highlights need for holistic approach in elderly residential care
A survey of over a hundred older people living in residential care has revealed the factors that impact on their quality of life. The survey explores a number of universal issues and provides valuable pointers on how care can be improved for the aging population.

Taking folic acid for a year before pregnancy may reduce risk of preterm birth
New research published in PLoS Medicine found that taking folic acid for a year before pregnancy can substantially reduce the risk of preterm birth. It is already known that folic acid prevents neural tube defects and the bottom line is that this research bolsters the recommendation of the March of Dimes and other health organizations that all women of child-bearing age should take a multivitamin containing 400 micrograms folic acid.

NRL part of multinational team that launches Herschel Space Observatory
Naval Research Laboratory scientists are part of a team working on the Herschel Space Observatory, which was successfully launched by the European Space Agency from French Guiana on May 14, 2009.

Animals on runways can cause serious problems at small airports
A Purdue University study of 10 small Indiana airports found that animals can gain easy access to runways and infield area, increasing the likelihood of planes striking those animals.

Indiana U. research at the American College of Sports Medicine conference
Dozens of researchers at Indiana University participated in the American College of Sports Medicine conference. Studies in this tip sheet discuss findings involving exercise-induced asthma, high altitude training and high speed accelerometers.

Obstructive sleep apnea, retinopathy linked in diabetes
The eyes may be the window into the soul, but they may also contain important medical information. According to new research to be presented at the American Thoracic Society's 105th International Conference in San Diego on May 19, patients with diabetes who have retinopathy should also be screened for obstructive sleep apnea.

SAGE's leading robotics journal launches first ever data papers, revamps multimedia services
The International Journal of Robotics Research will launch a new genre of research paper today at the 2009 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation.

Grilling with charcoal less climate-friendly than grilling with propane
Do biofuels always create smaller carbon footprints than their fossil-fuel competitors? Not necessarily, finds a paper published today in Elsevier's Environmental Impact Assessment Review.

The challenges of avian influenza virus: Mechanism, epidemiology and control
The latest special issue of Science in China Series C: Life Sciences focuses on the recent progress in the H5N1-related research field.

Story tips From the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory -- May 2009
The SNS has added another instrument to its eventual suite of 25. Wide tires on tractor-trailers can reduce the weight of a rig. In one of the largest experiments of its kind, thousands of cottonwood cuttings planted in common gardens in British Columbia, Oregon and California will help scientists determine which strains are best suited for cellulosic ethanol production. Fusion energy took a small step forward with a successful simulation performed on ORNL's Jaguar supercomputer.

Study in pregnant women suggests probiotics may help ward off obesity
One year after giving birth, women were less likely to have the most dangerous kind of obesity if they had been given probiotics from the first trimester of pregnancy, found new research that suggests manipulating the balance of bacteria in the gut may help fight obesity. The research was presented on Thursday at the European Congress on Obesity in Amsterdam.

Too much information: Process thinking can lead to difficult choices
Choosing among products can be more difficult if you tend to think more about the process of using an item rather than the outcome of the purchase, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Queen's scientists discover eco-friendly wood dissolution
Scientists at Queen's University have discovered a new eco-friendly way of dissolving wood that may help its transformation into popular products such as biofuels, textiles, clothes and paper.

UCLA study shows traumatic brain injury haunts children for years
Traumatic brain injury is the single most common cause of death and disability in children and adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Now, according to a new study by UCLA researchers, the effects of a blow to the head, whether it's mild or a concussion, can linger for years.

COMBRI, a research project for designing bridges of the future
The TECNALIA Technological Corporation have taken part, through its Construction Unit, in the European research project,

International Meeting for Autism Research reports latest on autism causes and treatments
More than 900 research and educational presentations will be made at the 8th Annual International Meeting for Autism Research before 1,500 researchers and attendees in the world's largest gathering devoted to better understanding of autism at the Hilton Chicago Hotel from May 6-9, 2009, including demonstration of 30 latest Innovative Technologies for Autism. Meeting sponsors include Autism Speaks, the Simons Foundation, the Autism Society of America and the National Institutes of Health.

New early detection studies of lung cancer in nonsmokers launched today
Government and private sector cancer scientists today launched a research partnership to find biomarkers for lung cancer that develops in people who have never smoked. The research studies are designed to create a better understanding of the biology of lung cancer and to develop a test to detect early stage lung cancer in lifetime nonsmokers. NCI's Early Detection Research Network and the Canary Foundation will provide initial funding of $1 million each.

Capturing the birth of a synapse
Researchers have identified the locking mechanism that allows some neurons to form synapses to pass along essential information. Mutations of genes that produce a critical cell-adhesion molecule involved in the work were previously linked to autism.

Hebrew University researchers neutralize tumor growth in embryonic stem cell therapy
Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered a method to potentially eliminate the tumor-risk factor in utilizing human embryonic stem cells. Their work paves the way for further progress in the promising field of stem cell therapy.

UC Riverside chemist recognized for excellence in teaching and research
Yadong Yin, an assistant professor of chemistry at the University of California, Riverside, has been named a Cottrell Scholar -- an honor that carries with it an award of $100,000 to further his research and teaching. The award is given by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. Yin is one of only 10 Cottrell Scholars named this year. He received the award for his proposal titled

A combined tooth-venom arsenal revealed as key to Komodo dragon's hunting strategy
A new study has shown that the effectiveness of the Komodo dragon bite is a combination of highly specialized serrated teeth and venom. The authors also dismiss the widely accepted theory that prey die from septicemia caused by toxic bacteria living in the dragon's mouth.

Proteomics: Finding the key ingredients of disease
New findings from an international collaboration, involving McGill University, the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center and the Human Proteome Organization published in Nature Methods show how to improve protein analysis to tease out relevant potential disease-causing molecules.

Vandetanib shows clinical benefit when combined with docetaxel for lung cancer
When combined with standard chemotherapy, an international Phase III trial has shown that the oral targeted therapy vandetanib improves progression-free survival for patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer, according to research from the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Study finds unexpected bacterial diversity on human skin
The health of our skin depends upon the delicate balance between our own cells and the millions of bacteria and other one-celled microbes that live on its surface. To better understand this balance, National Institutes of Health researchers have set out to explore the skin's microbiome. Their initial analysis, published today in the journal Science, reveals that our skin is home to a much wider array of bacteria than previously thought.

Toward cheap underwater sensor nets
UC San Diego computer scientists are one step closer to building low cost networks of underwater sensors for real time underwater environmental monitoring. At the IEEE Reconfigurable Architectures Workshop in Rome, Italy, on May 25, computer scientists from the Jacobs School of Engineering presented a paper highlighting the energy conservation benefits of using reconfigurable hardware rather than competing hardware platforms for their experimental underwater sensor nets.

New malaria agent found in chimpanzees close to that commonly observed in humans
Researchers based in Gabon and France report the discovery of a new malaria agent infecting chimpanzees in Central Africa. This new species, named Plasmodium gaboni, is a close relative of the most virulent human agent P. falciparum; it is described in an article published May 29 in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens. 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