Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

February 16, 2004
How meals become bones
Amylin, a hormone produced along with insulin after food intake, is vital for strengthening bones, according to an article in the Journal of Cell Biology (
Lactating mammary glands sense calcium
Large amounts of calcium are transferred from mother to offspring through breast milk.

Long-term use of antibiotics possibly linked with increased risk of breast cancer
Women who used increased amounts of antibiotics appear to have a greater risk of breast cancer, according to a new study in the February 18 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Flies offer clues to anesthesia-resistant memory
A fruit fly gene called radish has opened doors to understanding the genes and neuronal networks that govern a special type of memory, termed anesthesia-resistant memory.

Cord blood cells proven to differentiate into heart muscle and brain cells
Scientists at the Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center have scientifically validated for the first time that stem cells in umbilical cord blood can infiltrate damaged heart tissue and transform themselves into the kind of heart cells needed to halt further damage.

Women pleased with preventative mastectomy decision
Women at high risk of getting breast cancer who undergo preventive double mastectomies suffer minimal psychological and physical distress as a result, says a new study from the University of Toronto.

Studies offer new insight into HIV vaccine development
Discovery may help researchers design vaccines that exploit the notorious mutability of HIV by training the immune system to attack the virus where it's most vulnerable.

More patients protect themselves from the sun after skin cancer surgery
Patients who have had skin cancers surgically removed report little change in quality of life, but are more likely to use sun screen, wear hats, and avoid the sun after their surgeries than they were before, according to an article in the February issue of The Archives of Otolaryngology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

The EMBC agrees to six-year budget for EMBO
The European Molecular Biology Conference (EMBC) met recently in an extraordinary session to discuss the multi annual budget for its activities, which are delivered by the European Molecular Biology Organization (EMBO).

Exercise sharpens focus, decision-making among aging adults
Aging adults who give up a sedentary lifestyle and replace it with a cardiovascular fitness regimen such as brisk walks reap greater focus and reduced decision-making conflict as they perform a variety of tasks, scientists say.

Radioactive and toxic waste site plans are a recipe for disaster, says Rutgers sociologist
Federal government plans for more than 100 radioactive and toxic waste sites are fantasy and wishful thinking, says world-renowned disaster expert Lee Clarke.

Rare disease endemic in South America is model for studying autoimmunity
A group of men living amid the gold mines and disappearing jungles of northeastern Colombia, is giving a Medical College of Georgia scientist unprecedented access to study how the wrong combination of genetics and environment cause the body to turn on itself.

£48M for fusion research
The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council is allocating its largest ever grant of £48M.

Athletics, genetic enhancement and ethics
Combining genetic manipulation and weight training in rats yields leg muscles that are bigger and stronger than the muscles of rats exposed to just one of these two muscle-building techniques, according to a new study.

Mouth microbes may help shape immune system, says Stanford research team
The immune system may be shaped by some of the very agents it exists to fight, according to research by David Relman, MD, associate professor of medicine and of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Global warming to squeeze western mountains dry by 2050
A 70 percent reduction in West Coast mountain snow cover will lead to increased fall and winter flooding, severe spring and summer drought that will play havoc with the West's agriculture, fisheries and hydropower industry.

Possible mechanism for link between diabetes and Alzheimer's disease discovered
For some time, researchers have known that people with diabetes have a greater risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than those without diabetes, but the exact cause of this link has not been known.

'Evo-devo' biology tackles evolutionary history's unanswered questions
The recent marriage of evolutionary biology with developmental biology has resulted in the birth of a new field, evolutionary developmental biology, or

New X-ray sources speed protein crystallography
Cornell physics professor Sol Gruner says that high-powered synchrotron X-ray sources and advanced detectors have been largely responsible for the advent of structural studies in protein crystallography.

Final of the 2003/04 Research Councils' Business Plan Competition
This is an invitation for journalists to attend the Final of the Research Councils's Business Plan Competition - London, UK.

NSF puts priority on attracting and educating a skilled, diverse science and engineering workforce
National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Rita Colwell will kick off a two-day Forum for School Science at the AAAS Annual Meeting on Feb.

Experimental drug used to treat recurrent ovarian cancer shows promising results
Yale researchers have reported promising preliminary results of a Phase Ib/IIa study in women with recurrent ovarian cancer using phenoxodiol, an experimental anti-cancer drug that could kill cancer cells and increase effectiveness of standard chemotherapy.

Relearning to hear
Mario Svirsky and his Indiana University School of Medicine colleagues tested whether a training regimen that gradually introduced subjects to the frequency shift could improve their ability to comprehend speech.

Young people prone to type 2 diabetes exhibit alterations in mitochondrial activity
Researchers at Yale have found that decreased activity in muscle mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell, may be a major factor in the development of type 2 diabetes in young, lean offspring of parents with the disease.

New, non-radioactive screen for antimalarial compounds
Panama's International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (ICBG) announces the development of a new test for identification of antimalarial compounds with wide applicability in the developing world.

Widespread nerve fiber damage in brains of patients with multiple sclerosis associated with fatigue
Extensive nerve fiber damage in the brains of patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) is associated with the debilitating fatigue associated with the disease, according to an article in the February issue of The Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Disease-fighters in our mouths provide clues to enhancing the immune system
Studies of natural antibiotics in our mouths may lead to new treatments for oral infections, as well as ways to boost the infection-fighting powers of mouthwashes, denture coatings, and wound dressings.

Recession's silver lining? More top students head to grad school
The recent slump prompted top U.S. college graduates to hunker down in graduate school, sharply reversing a trend from the 1990s.

Most clones doomed from the start, according to Temple University embryologist
Until scientists can improve the early development of cloned embryos, cloning will remain marginally successful, according to research presented today at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Statistical technique helps researchers gain more information from a single data run
For certain classes of data that may be very expensive or difficult to obtain, a new statistical technique may provide useful information from a single data run by allowing meaningful re-sampling.

Hormone found to protect bones
Amylin, a hormone secreted by the same cells that produce insulin in the pancreas, prevents bone loss, said Baylor College of Medicine researchers and an international group of collaborators in a report in today's issue of the Journal of Cell Biology. The finding may point the way toward treatments for osteoporosis, a disease of low bone mass that usually affects post-menopausal women but that is also observed in Type 1 diabetes patients.

Hubble and Keck find farthest known galaxy in the Universe
An international team of astronomers may have set a new record in discovering what is the most distant known galaxy in the Universe.

Symposium explores 'Scientific Integrity in Policy Contexts'
Is selection of members for scientific advisory committees based on their political stance contaminating the Federal scientific advisory process?

Modified surgical procedure appears effective for treating obstructive sleep apnea
A modified version of a surgical procedure used to treat obstructive sleep apnea appears to be effective for reducing symptoms of the disorder, according to an article in The Archives of Otolaryngology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Hair dye use increases risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
Yale researchers have found that lifetime users of hair coloring products have an increased risk of developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL), a cancer that attacks the lymphatic system, part of the body's immune system.

A new protective protein against Parkinson's disease
In a recent finding, researchers have shown that a spontaneous dominant mutation has a protective effect on axons in an mouse model of Parkinson's disease.

Metabolic syndrome predicts heart risk in women with coronary artery disease, study finds
Women with a group of risk factors called metabolic syndrome, and who have significant coronary artery disease (CAD), had a lower four-year survival and cardiac event-free survival rate compared to women with normal metabolic status, according to research from the multi-center Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) Study, published in the Feb.

UMHS study finds surgery safer at teaching hospitals
A new study by University of Michigan Health System researchers has found patients undergoing complex gastrointestinal surgery at teaching hospitals are less likely to die or experience complications than those patients at non-teaching hospitals, primarily because teaching hospitals tend to perform these surgeries more often.

Arbour raised bar for prosecuting war crimes, book says
A Canadian prosecutor was instrumental in raising the profile of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia from relative obscurity to the most effective international criminal court ever, says a University of Toronto law professor.

Entrepreneurs lift off with ESA's business incubator
European entrepreneurs with innovative ideas now have help in getting their businesses started, thanks to a recent ESA initiative called the European Space Incubator.

Models help estimate children's exposure to toxins
For almost 10 years, Stanford's Jim Leckie and his students have been successfully collecting immense amounts of data, writing original software and building sophisticated statistical models - all to begin to measure how children are exposed to chemicals in their environments.

Sun exposure behaviors matched to dose of UV radiation received
Danish researchers found that sun exposure behaviors and personal characteristics are correlated with the dose of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) a person receives, according to a report in the February issue of The Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Nuclear waste dumps need better stewardship, says expert
Freudenburg, a professor of environmental studies and sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, will chair a session on the challenges of long-term nuclear waste management at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Seattle on Monday, February 16, from 1-4 p.m.

Pioneer in the genetics of programmed cell death honored
Stanley J. Korsmeyer, M.D., Sidney Farber professor of pathology and professor of medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School, and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, is the recipient of the seventh annual Pezcoller Foundation-American Association for Cancer Research International Award for Cancer Research, for his pioneering studies in programmed cell death, or apoptosis.

Annals of Internal Medicine, tip sheet, February 17, 2004
Highlights in the February 17, 2004 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine include: U.S. group does not recommend EKG, treadmill tests and CT scans to screen people at low risk for heart disease; Hospice care doesn't lower overall medicare costs; Cognitive decline associated with left carotid artery disease even in people with no symptoms of artery disease.

Jefferson researchers uncover biochemical clues to how cells migrate in embryos
Researchers at Jefferson Medical College are gaining a better understanding of the cues that help guide cells to the right places in developing embryos.

Neurons so excited that they just can't hide it
Ataxia is a lethal neurological disorder characterized by a lack of muscle coordination.

Cheap four-drug combo saves heart patients' lives
An inexpensive cocktail of four tiny pills can make a big difference in heart patients' death risk, a new study finds.

Improved medical treatment of serious heart problems focus of UH-led group
Suncica Canic, University of Houston mathematics professor, and her research group are presenting new findings related to the medical treatment of two serious heart problems at the AAAS annual meeting in Seattle at 8 a.m.

The link between funding and the disclosure of clinical trial results
Dr. Mohit Bhandari and colleagues state that their study of 332 randomized trials published between January 1999 and June 2001 shows that industry-funded trials were more likely to be associated with statistically significant pro-industry findings.

Virtual play boosts disabled children's self-image
Virtual reality games that enable children with physical challenges to see themselves playing sports can also enhance their self-esteem, says a University of Toronto study.

Metabolic syndrome, not BMI, predicts future cardiovascular risk in obese women, study finds
A group of risk factors called metabolic syndrome, rather than body mass index (BMI), predicts future cardiovascular risk in women, according to research from the multi-center Women's Ischemia Syndrome Evaluation (WISE) Study, published in the February 17 issue of the journal Circulation.

Approved drug blocks deadly anthrax toxin
A drug already approved to treat chronic hepatitis B virus infection can effectively block the action of edema factor -- one of the two toxins that make anthrax so deadly.

Discovery could lead to better treatment for cryptosporidum infections
Biologists from the University of Georgia have discovered that the water-borne parasite Cryptosporidium parvum depends on certain enzymes to steal away nutrients from its host to survive.

CHF publishes biography of Fritz Haber
This long-awaited biography of Fritz Haber, now abridged by the author and translated into English, illuminates the life of one of the most gifted yet controversial figures of the 20th century.

How much is too much VEGF?
Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is responsible for the growth of blood vessels.

Blood protein may be important predictor of future cardiovascular attack
A blood protein called serum amyloid alpha (SAA) may be an important predictor of future cardiovascular attack, according to a study from the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Public Health.

Undisclosed results of clinical trials
This issue of CMAJ includes a commentary decrying the suppression of data from clinical trials of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the treatment of adolescent depression. 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