Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 16, 2003
Metabolic syndrome strongly linked to heart attack and stroke
Four hallmarks of the metabolic syndrome - high blood pressure, high blood triglycerides, low blood HDL cholesterol and insulin resistance - are independently and significantly linked to heart attack and stroke, data from a national survey indicates.

To see the message, just add noise
Paradoxical as it seems, a team of University of Southern California researchers has built a signal detector that only works when noise is added.

Université de Montréal receives US$11.7 million grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The Université de Montréal announced today a commitment of US$11.7 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build capacity for population and health research and policy in French-speaking sub-Saharan Africa.

Researchers say hybrid pick and place robots could be a third cheaper
Robot researchers have long looked at the science of Kinematics and particularly how it applies to parallel robotics as providing novel solutions to robotic problems.

World's biggest 'virtual supercomputer' given the go-ahead
The Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council has today announced GBP 16 million to create a massive computing Grid, equivalent to the world's second largest supercomputer after Japan's Earth Simulator computer.

Tiny nanowire could be next big diagnostic tool for doctors
A tiny nanowire sensor -- smaller than the width of a human hair, 1,000 times more sensitive than conventional DNA tests, and capable of producing results in minutes rather than days or weeks -- could pave the way for faster, more accurate medical diagnostic tests for countless conditions and may ultimately save lives by allowing earlier disease detection and intervention, Harvard scientists say.

Oral drug showing promise for breast cancer prevention in a mouse model
The oral drug ZD1839, also known as gefitinib, prevented the development of estrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer in a mouse model, which raises the possibility that the drug could be a preventive agent for ER-negative breast cancer.

Medication provides effective treatment for moderate to severe psoriasis
Patients with moderate to severe psoriasis who were administered the medication efalizumab experienced significant improvements, with a reduction in the frequency and severity of symptoms, according to an article in the December 17 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Antibiotic use on swine farms increases efficiency, profits
Antibiotics used on swine farms may stir controversy about their potential role in the rise of anti-bacterial resistance, but a new study says their use means significant production efficiency and a 9 percent boost in pork producer profits.

Study supports tailoring adjuvant therapy for early-stage breast cancer
Premenopausal women with lymph node-negative breast cancer should receive adjuvant therapy tailored according to the estrogen receptor status of the primary tumor, concludes a study by the International Breast Cancer Study Group (IBCSG) reported in the December 17 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Passive tobacco smoke increases complications in children with sickle cell disease
Physicians and researchers at the UC Davis School of Medicine and Medical Center found that children with sickle cell disease who are exposed to tobacco smoke in the home have more complications from the disease than those who live in a smoke-free environment.

Older prostate cancer patients may face age bias
When it comes to deciding what kind of treatment a man with prostate cancer receives, the person's age trumps life expectancy, according to a new study from the University Health Network.

Practice-based interventions enhance quality of care
An evaluation of the Healthy Steps for Young Children Program Adding found that adding behavior and development services to the pediatric health care practice dramatically improved the quality of care of young children and the parenting practices of families.

Scientists discover how anthrax creates its deadly spores
In the age-old battle between man and microbe, it pays to know your enemy.

Dec. 17 JAMA study shows new 'biologic' drug reduces psoriasis symptoms, improves quality of life
Biologics are a new approach to treating psoriasis, according to JAMA lead author Dr.

Young adult fitness protects heart health in middle age
Cardiorespiratory fitness in early adulthood significantly decreases the chance of developing high blood pressure and diabetes -- both major risk factors for heart disease and stroke -- in middle age, according to a new study supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

Most popular snuff brands also have big nicotine doses
The most popular brands of smokeless tobacco also contain the highest amounts of nicotine that can be readily absorbed by the body, according to a new study.

UK scientists all set for New Year encounter with a comet
On January 2nd 2004 the NASA space mission, STARDUST, will fly through comet Wild 2, capturing interstellar particles and dust and returning them to Earth in 2006.

Smaller, lighter power adaptors take the weight off laptops
As notebook computers become thinner and lighter, the ever-present bulky power adapters used for line current approach the weight of the laptops, but smaller and lighter adapters may be on the way, thanks to piezoelectric technology, according to a Penn State electrical engineer.

Poor fitness in young adults associated with eventual development of cardiovascular problems
Poor fitness in young adults is associated with the development of cardiovascular disease risk factors later in life, according to a study in the December 17 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

National vaccine advisory committee issues recommendations to strengthen supply of routine vaccines
In an effort to enhance the supply of necessary childhood vaccines without the shortages seen in recent years, the National Vaccine Advisory Committee (NVAC) has issued a list of recommendations that are published in a special communication in the December 17 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

UCSD to construct world's first bomb blast simulator
Structural engineers at UC San Diego are building the world's first blast simulator to study the impact of explosions on buildings and other structures.

Patient, doctor attitudes can affect rate of flu shots
Success in immunizing the elderly against flu largely depends on attitudes of both patients and physicians, according to a study that found decreasing vaccination rates before this year's outbreak occurred.

Practice-based intervention improves quality of care for young children
A practice-based intervention enhanced the quality of care for families of young children and improved selected parenting practices, according to an article in the December 17 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

New low-temperature process produces 'pure' hydrogen
Devinder Mahajan, a chemist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, was recently issued U.S.

Generation gap explains decline in feminist ranks
Despite gains brought about by the women's movement, young adults are far less likely than their middle-aged counterparts to call themselves feminists, according to a study conducted in part by the University of Pennsylvania.

Other highlights in the December 17 issue of JNCI
Other highlights of the December 17 issue of JNCI include a study examining the frequency of BRAF mutations in primary melanomas, a study of cell cycle checkpoint function in bladder cancer, and a study of tobramycin dosing in children with febrile neutropenia who are undergoing stem cell transplantation.

Early identification of kidney disease cost-effective only when directed at high-risk patients
Routine annual testing for abnormally high levels of protein in the urine - an early marker of kidney malfunction and premature death - should be limited to those with other risk factors and older Americans, a Johns Hopkins study indicates.

Wind tunnel tests could lead to healthier towns and cities
The overpowering fragrance of mothballs in a large wind tunnel could provide the key to improving air quality in our towns and cities.

American Thoracic Society Journal news tips for December 2003 (second issue)
Newsworthy highlights include studies showing that in a large cohort of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients, contrary to prior results, investigators found no significant effect from inhaled corticosteroids on patient mortality, number of COPD exacerbations, or COPD-related hospital stays; and an ultrasound-based deep vein thrombosis screening strategy performed on critically ill patients could add to their quality-adjusted life expectancy, prevent a pulmonary embolism, and reduce embolism-associated deaths.

Treaty violations in wartime predictable
A review of more than 200 treaties from between 1816 and 1944 yields clues for determining when a country is likely to break an alliance during wartime.

Parents' vaccine concerns on the rise, making accurate information crucial
Children's doctors are hearing more concerns from their patients' parents about vaccines, and occasionally encountering parents who refuse some or all recommended vaccines for their children because they fear known or alleged effects, according to a new study.

ESA/Inmarsat agreement to improve satellite mobile phone and data services
An agreement signed by ESA and Inmarsat brings the reality of reliable mobile broadband communications services a step closer.

Air pollution increases risk of death from heart disease more than respiratory disease
Long-term exposure to air pollution poses a greater risk of death from heart disease than for death from respiratory ailments, researchers report in today's rapid access issue of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Fitness in young adulthood protects heart health in middle age
Fitness in early adulthood greatly reduces the likelihood of developing high blood pressure and diabetes -- both major risk factors for heart disease and stroke -- in middle age, a new study has found.

The common cold as cancer fighter? SLU prof's lifetime work moving into clinical trials
Can the common cold ever be a good thing? It is if you've figured out a way to genetically engineer the virus so that it fights and kills cancerous cells - while leaving healthy cells intact.

Historian reveals that Cromwellian Christmas football rebels ran riot
When the were Puritans established in power after the civil war, the new regime not only abolished Christmas but also banned sports deemed 'disorderly'. 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