Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

November 18, 2004
Antipsychotic drugs stop fatal viral infection in brain cells
Scientists from Brown University and Case Western Reserve University have discovered a way to prevent brain cells from becoming infected by the JC virus, a common bug that can cause progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML, a fatal nervous system disorder that strikes AIDS patients and others with suppressed immune systems.

Futuristic 'smart' yarns on the horizon
In a collaborative effort, scientists at CSIRO Textile and Fibre Technology (CTFT) have achieved a major technological breakthrough that should soon lead to the production of futuristic strong, light and flexible 'smart' clothing materials.

Ubiquitination in real-time: A world first at the Université de Montréal
Université de Montréal researchers succeeded in demonstrating that the ubiquitination process of a given protein can be monitored dynamically, in real time, on living cells.

BU mathematician named Massachusetts Professor of the Year
Robert Devaney, professor of mathematics and statistics at Boston University, has been named the 2004 Massachusetts Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).

Scientists explore atomic mysteries of ancient pigment
University of California scientists from the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Pulsed Field Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory, working with colleagues from Tokyo Metropolitan University, the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina, the National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics in Estonia, the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Tallahassee, Florida and the University of Tokyo, have discovered an ideal candidate for Bose-Einstein condensation in the ancient Chinese pigment, Han Purple.

A 'repulsive' protein guides blood vessel development
In a developing embryo, the growth of nerves cannot outpace the establishment of life-giving blood vessels.

Pain relief could be easy with a simple injection
A recent study, published in the journal Pain Practice, identified situations in which injections of local anesthetic would be the best treatment for pain and reduce unnecessary risk and procedural costs.

NHS patients 'not fully engaged' with their own healthcare
NHS patients lag behind other western countries in actively involving patients and communities in healthcare, says an editorial in this week's BMJ.

Plant pathologists offer soybean rust identification and management tips
With the confirmation that soybean rust has been detected in the U.S., plant pathologists with The American Phytopathological Society (APS) are offering insight into the management and identification of this disease.

Back to basics
The Office of Naval Research is exploring radically new approaches to designing metals that could lead to effective blast shielding for military units--and protection for civilian targets against terrorist attack.

Columbia U to develop first international registry of solid earth samples
The Solid Earth Sample Registry (SESAR) will address the urgent need for unique sample identifiers so that sample-based data can be shared and preserved.

Study shows stem cells can preserve vision
For the first time researchers have shown that transplanted stem cells can preserve and improve vision in eyes damaged by retinal disease.

Ovarian cancer does have early warning signs, Mayo Clinic and Olmsted Medical Center find
Results from an Olmsted Medical Center and Mayo Clinic study analyzing symptoms recorded in the medical records of ovarian cancer patients suggest ovarian cancer, long considered asymptomatic until late-stage cancer develops, does in fact have early symptoms, including urinary incontinence and abdominal pain.

Time to develop new antidotes for chemical attacks, urge researchers
New antidotes for organophosphates are needed to prepare for chemical attacks in the West and to tackle pesticide poisoning in developing countries, argue researchers in this week's BMJ.

Stellar clusters forming in the Blue Dwarf Galaxy NGC 5253
A group of European astronomers has used the VLT to study star-forming processes in the primordial-like environment of the nearby Blue Dwarf Galaxy NGC 5253.

Earth Science World receives 2004 Scientific American.com Web Award
Earth Science World (
Social supports lessen effects of maltreatment on children vulnerable to depression
Maltreated children who are genetically pre-disposed to depression can be spared lifelong emotional problems if the necessary social supports are made available to them.

Riders on the storm
The 2004 hurricane season left behind a great deal of destruction, but also a wealth of valuable data.

First 'Space Council' to set course towards a European Space Programme
Ministers in charge of space affairs and those responsible for the internal market, industry and research meet in Brussels on Thursday 25 November for the first 'Space Council', a joint and concomitant meeting of the ESA Council at ministerial level and the EU Competitiveness Council.

Some hospitals face financial upheaval under new NHS payment system
Some hospitals will face sizeable changes to their incomes under a new NHS payment system, say researchers at Dr Foster in this week's BMJ.

Spina bifida: 70% of cases preventable by folic-acid supplementation
A seminar in this week's issue of The Lancet discusses the causes, symptoms, and treatments relating to spina bifida, and reinforces an important public-health message for women about to become pregnant: 70% of cases of spina bifida are preventable by folic-acid supplementation around the time of conception and during early pregnancy.

Federal forum reports Americans aging well, but gaps remain
Most older people are healthier, wealthier, and better educated than previous generations, but these gains have not been equal among today's older Americans.

LSU computer scientist helping to develop 'virtual lab'
Thanks to the work of an international group that includes LSU Computer Science Assistant Professor Bijaya B.

Major-party candidates wield the Web, with many challengers still offline
Third-party political challengers aren't using the Web as widely as expected, researchers find.

Ultrafast laser speeds up quest for atomic control
It's the scientific equivalent of having your cake and eating it too.

Six reporters reach the 'Pinnacle of Excellence'
A series on killer germs defeating antibiotics, the dramatization of how Polynesians shared their sea-faring skills with the Chumash people of Santa Barbara, the launch of the twin Mars Exploration Rovers (M.E.R.), and an account of Iceland's ambitious hydrogen energy plan, are among the entries named to win the 2004 AAAS Science Journalism Awards.

'Plague and Fire' a tale of public health, imperialism, race relations, catastrophe
A new book analyzing the effects of scientific uncertainty on public policy during one of the worst public health debacles in America has been released by Oxford University Press.

Not finding life? Dig deeper.
Microbial life exists in the Atacama's deepest desert, a Mars-like environment scientists previously thought was sterile, new research shows.

New protein 'stop sign' alters blood vessel growth
In experiments with mice, a research team led by Johns Hopkins scientists has discovered an unusual protein pair that stops blood vessels' growth in the developing back.

Estrogen-associated COX-2 pathways explain protection from heart disease in female mice
Heart disease is less pronounced in women than in men as humans age, but this difference narrows after menopause.

Were zoo workers infected with cancer-causing animal virus?
Evidence of exposure to a monkey virus possibly related to cancer has been found in the blood of North American zoo workers, according to a study in the December 15 issue of The Journal of Infectious Diseases, now available online.

Genetic science inspires opera
Genetic discovery is the inspiration behind a fusion of music, art and science in the style of a chamber opera.

HHS awards $10.4 million to fight AIDS on three continents
HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced four new grants totaling $10.4 million to provide support for HIV/AIDS research in Peru, Thailand, Cambodia and Russia, four nations that have been hard hit by the AIDS epidemic.

Acupuncture better than drugs alone for osteoarthritis of the knee
Acupuncture, as a complementary therapy to drug treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee, is more effective than drug treatment alone, find researchers from Spain in this week's BMJ.

African children with HIV would benefit from daily doses of cheap antibiotic
Results of a randomised trial in this week's issue of The Lancet highlight how the low-cost antibiotic co-trimoxazole should be given to all children with HIV in developing countries to help reduce illness and death from opportunistic infections such as pneumonia.

Three-year health study of teenage girls is underway at Trenton Central High School
A novel program that measures the effect of intervention on the synergistic relationship between exercise, nutrition, cardiovascular health and self-esteem in adolescent girls is the foundation of a new three-year health study called Teen Esteem that has been introduced at Trenton Central High School by the Women's Heart Foundation.

UGA Graduate School receives grant from the Council of Graduate Schools
The University of Georgia Graduate School has been awarded a $200,000, three-year grant from the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) to fund research on completion rates of doctoral students, particularly those among minorities and women.

Prialt receives positive CHMP recommendation for intrathecal treatment of severe chronic pain
Elan Corporation, plc today announced that PRIALT (ziconotide) has received a positive recommendation from the European Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), the human medicines scientific body of the European Medicines Agency.

Tips from the Journals of the American Society for Microbiology
Tips from the Journals of the American Society for Microbiology include E.coli in dried sausage able to withstand digestion process; shock therapy effective against bacteria on stainless steel implants and; computer modeling helps identify new smallpox drug candidate.

Data suggest ADDERALL XR ® significantly improved simulated driving in young adults with ADHD
The Washington Neuropsychological Institute today announced that preliminary data suggested that ADDERALL XR (R) significantly improved simulated driving performance in young adults aged 19 to 25 with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) for up to 12 hours after taking the medication, as compared with placebo.

Diamonds are a urologist's best friend
Wafer-thin coatings from diamond-like carbon can prevent dangerous biofilms of bacteria from forming on indwelling catheters in the urinary tract.

US sees steep rise in 'no indicated risk' caesareans
The United States has seen a steep rise in caesareans to women with no reported medical risk, according to research published today on
Capsules may be effective in treating bipolar disorder
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers have announced a formulation of three-beaded extended-release carbamazepine capsules (ERC-CBZ) was effective, safe and tolerable in the treatment of people with bipolar I disorder and showed no clinically significant weight gain or changes in blood glucose between treatment groups.

NASA satellite data to aid global conservation
The World Conservation Union, the world's largest environmental knowledge network, signed a joint declaration today in Bangkok, Thailand, to use NASA satellite data to help in worldwide conservation efforts.

Study emphasizes importance of women in cardiac research
A recent trial, published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Electrophysiology, shows that women with abnormal heart rhythms benefit from implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICDs) as much as men, stressing the importance of including females in future research.

Trace gases are key to halting global warming
Columbia University researchers suggest that reductions of trace gases may allow stabilization of climate so that additional global warming would be less than 1° C.

Proposed addiction treatment successful, safe in second small trial
A second, small clinical trial of a proposed addiction treatment led by investigators at NYU School of Medicine and the U.S.

Ventricular regulation may be key to preventing heart failure
A four-week study conducted on animals revealed that regulating ventricular rates and heart structure in models with irregular heart rhythms can inhibit chronic heart failure (CHF).

NCI scientists create model that predicts follicular lymphoma survival
Scientists at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, have created a model that predicts the survival of follicular lymphoma patients based on the molecular characteristics of their tumors at diagnosis.

Smacking legislation is unworkable for doctors
The recent Commons' decision not to outlaw the physical punishment of children means that the law will offer its most vulnerable citizens (children) less protection from assault than is offered to adults, says an editorial in this week's BMJ.

Unusual material that contracts when heated is giving up its secrets to physicists
Physicists have had a hard time explaining exactly what causes zirconium tungstate to contract when heated, rather than expanding as most solids do.

Novel biotoxin being studied for use in opioid withdrawal
On November 10, 2004 investigators involved in a Phase IIa clinical trial of the novel biotoxin Tetrodotoxin (TTX) for the treatment of opioid withdrawal enrolled their first participants.

Research explores why some internationally adopted children excel while others struggle
Over the past decade, U.S. citizens have adopted more foreign born children (150,000) than the citizens of any other country.

NASA research shows wetland changes affect Florida freezes
Scientists funded by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), used Landsat 5 satellite data to look at changes in wetlands areas in south Florida, particularly south and west of Lake Okeechobee.

Tiny plant a model for commercially important trees
Using Arabidopsis as a model, researchers are identifying genetic processes that regulate wood development.

Researchers discover defense mechanisms in some plants believed bred out by humans
Virginia Tech scientists have discovered specific protein interactions used by maize in self-defense against insects.

Policy-makers should enhance selection process for Presidential S&T appointments
To tackle increasingly complex issues, U.S. policy-makers should ensure that both the presidential appointment process for senior science and technology posts and the process of appointing experts to federal S&T advisory committees operate more quickly and transparently.

New fossil may be closest yet to ancestor of all great apes
A new ape species from Spain called Pierolapithecus catalaunicus, or its close relative, may have been the last common ancestor to all living great apes, including humans, researchers say.

UCR-led effort to aid poor in Brazil earns $400,000 grant
An international team led by a UC Riverside economics professor will use a $400,000 federal grant to seek ways to reduce poverty and hunger among rural Brazilians.

Gene expression profiling aids in ovarian cancer prognosis
The identification of a gene expression profile using microarray technology may help clinicians better determine the prognosis of patients with advanced stage ovarian cancer and may eventually help provide targeted therapies for this hard-to-treat disease, according to a study led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).

Skeletal muscle cells could be source of stem cells for regenerating nerve tissue
Cells from skeletal muscle could be an important source of stem cells for repairing damaged muscle or nerve tissue, suggest authors of a research article in this week's issue of The Lancet.

Shedding light on a microscopic world
An LSU scientist has achieved national recognition for her research on the shortest pulses of light ever created - pulses that could reveal important new information about some of nature's tiniest building blocks.

How the sea urchin grows new spines
The sea urchin's tough, brittle spines are an engineering wonder.

University of South Florida designated Center of Excellence by Huntington's Disease Society
The University of South Florida has been designated a regional Center of Excellence by the Huntington's Disease Society of America -- making it the only such HDSA Center for patients and their families in Florida.

Livermore scientists shape crystals with biomolecules
Using biominerals as an inspiration, Livermore physicist Jim De Yoreo and his LLNL research team have determined a key factor in how to manipulate the shapes of crystals.
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