Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 14, 2004
First blood test to diagnose paralyzing, blinding disease
Misdiagnosis of a severely paralyzing disease can now be averted due to a blood test developed by Mayo Clinic researchers and their Japanese collaborators.

Shutdown of circulation pattern could be disastrous, researchers say
If global warming shuts down the thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic Ocean, the result could be catastrophic climate change.

Ice cores disagree on origin of White River ash deposit
One anticipated component missing from an ice core drilled through a high-mountain, Alaskan ice field may force researchers to rethink the geologic history of that region.

Alcoholism and excessive food intake may share chemical pathways in the brain
Galanin is one of several neuropeptides known to increase food intake.

Stanford study finds new method improves chemotherapy survival in mice
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have figured out a way to boost the immune function in animals following such treatments.

New model of rare childhood blindness holds promise for testing preventive therapies
The development of a laboratory model for a rare, inherited form of blindness holds promise that scientists might one day be able to test new treatments to prevent or cure this devastating disease of the retina.

International study shows select improvements in US math and science
The United States made some headway against international counterparts in the 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), which compares mathematics and science performance of fourth- and eighth-grade students.

Portable sampling cart monitors emissions from wood-burning cookstoves
A new method of measuring emissions from cookstoves could help improve human health and enhance the accuracy of global climate models.

Feminism has suffered because of its view on beauty and fashion, author says
Feminism needs to end its long obsession with the politics of personal appearance, and get past its dim view of beauty, says author Linda Scott, who describes herself as a feminist.

The secret life of acid dust
Dry dust reacts with gaseous pollutants to form dewy particles whose sunlight-reflecting and cloud-altering properties are unaccounted for in atmospheric climate models, according to a new study from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Research led by UGA professor reports first routine tool use by wild capuchin monkeys
A team of researchers, led by University of Georgia psychologist Dorothy Fragaszy, has just published the first direct scientific report of tool use among a population of wild capuchin monkeys.

Prevalence of obesity among immigrants increases with longer residency in US
The longer an immigrant lives in the U.S. the more likely they are to be obese, according to a study in the December 15 issue of JAMA.

Fewer calories may slow Alzheimer's
Restricting the diets of mice reduces the build-up of plaques in the brain that are linked to Alzheimer's disease, according to a USC study.

New study shows how mad cow prions hitch a ride into intestine
A new study shows that the infectious version of prion proteins, the main culprits behind the human form of mad cow disease or variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), are not destroyed by digestive enzymes found in the stomach and finds that the infectious prion proteins cross the normally stringent intestinal barrier by riding piggyback on ferritin, a protein normally absorbed by the intestine and abundantly present in a typical meat dish.

Little evidence that breast cancer diagnosis leads to employment discrimination, study concludes
Women diagnosed with breast cancer are no more likely than women in the general population to experience discrimination at work, according to a new study in the December 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Study in Royal Society journal on first evidence for magnetic field detection in sharks
Royal Society journals release including first evidence for detection of magnetic fields by sharks and use of visual landmarks by homing pigeons.

To help your mind, take steps to help your heart, study says
Could the same actions that help prevent a heart attack or stroke also prevent or slow the memory loss, confusion and thinking problems of dementia?

Decision to take tamoxifen difficult for many women
Many women at high risk for breast cancer are foregoing tamoxifen, the first FDA-approved drug for prevention of breast cancer, due to concerns about side effects, increased risk of other cancers, and lack of information, a new study by researchers in Boston shows.

Vitamin E in plant seeds could halt prostate, lung cancer, says Purdue scientist
The form of vitamin E found in many plant seeds - but not in most manufactured nutritional supplements - might halt cancer.

USC researchers highlight disparities in cancer rates among racial and ethnic groups in California
The newly released report,

Other highlights in the December 15 JNCI
Other highlights in the December 15 JNCI include an update of three clinical trials that confirms the benefit of chemotherapy for the treatment of a certain type of breast cancer, a study of the effects of radiologists' characteristics on their mammography performance, a study of the relationship between sex hormone levels and breast cancer risk, and a study of the interaction or risk factors for liver cancer.

False positive screening for cancer found to be frequent and costly
Cancer screening tests can frequently produce false positive outcomes that may result not only in anxiety but also additional economic costs as well, according to research conducted by scientists at the Henry Ford Health System, Detroit, Mich., and published in the December issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Alcohol vulnerability linked to action of insulin
Drunken fruit flies have led to the discovery that insulin may determine susceptibility to alcohol.

Key to understanding how blood and blood vessel cells develop discovered
Common sense leads to the conclusion that if you have blood cells you must have blood vessels and that if you have blood vessels they must have blood to carry.

Mutant gene linked to treatment-resistant depression
A mutant gene that starves the brain of serotonin has been discovered and found to be 10 times more prevalent in depressed patients than in control subjects.

Study finds women hesitant to take tamoxifen as preventive measure
Researchers have found that due to concerns about risks and side effects, women at high risk for developing breast cancer are choosing not to take tamoxifen, the first and only drug approved by the U.S.

UT Southwestern researchers locate gene family involved in determining potential for acquiring lupus
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have found a gene family involved in determining the potential for acquiring lupus, a debilitating autoimmune disease that affects more than one million Americans.

Drinking and spousal abuse by male US Army soldiers
Domestic violence is a significant and preventable cause of injury to women.

Certain high blood pressure combination therapies elevate risk for death from cardiovascular disease
Patients with high blood pressure who take calcium channel blockers and diuretics have an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) death compared to patients who take beta-blockers plus diuretics, according to a study in the December 15 issue of JAMA. Other findings indicate that diuretics may be the preferred single high blood pressure medication in preventing CVD complications.

UCSB makes important advances in studies of retinal detachment
Scientists at UCSB's Neuroscience Research Institute are reporting significant advances in their studies of retinal detachment, including the fact that cellular changes that occur in the retinas of animals with retinal detachments also occur in humans.

Daily social/physical activity improves sleep and cognition in the elderly
A study by sleep researchers at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine suggests that even short-term exposure to either morning or evening social and physical activity improves cognitive performance and subjective sleep quality in the elderly.

Success of experimental herpes vaccine builds momentum for human clinical trials
A new study provides evidence that a herpes vaccine developed by a Harvard Medical School researcher is a strong candidate for testing in humans.

News tips from the Journal of Neuroscience
Highlights from this issue of the Journal of Neuroscience include

NASA's ICESat satellite sees changing world affecting many
The Earth is a dynamic entity, and scientists are trying to understand it.

Dwarf mistletoe reveals its sexual secrets
Hold off putting up your usual variety of mistletoe - the dwarf mistletoe could soon eclipse its better-known Christmas cousins as the green fertility symbol of choice for holiday party goers.

APS announces 2005 Distinguished Lecturer Awards
APS honors 16 leading physiologists with Distinguished Lecturer Awards. Award presentations will be given at the 35th International Congress of Physiological Sciences, which begins on March 31st in San Diego, Ca.

Exploring ocean life and color on the internet
A new NASA Internet tool called

New microscope boost for UK nanotechnology research
A powerful new microscope, currently available only in three universities in Europe and the USA, will position Britain as a leading centre for nanomaterials, researchers announce today.

UGA researchers receive NIH contract to create a stem cell-based drug assay for SMA
Researchers at the University of Georgia have been awarded a $425,598 subcontract to develop a human embryonic stem cell-derived test for screening drugs capable of treating spinal muscular atrophy, the number one genetic killer of children under the age of two.

New pathway identified in angiogenesis
Scientists have discovered a new biological pathway that may be useful in regulating angiogenesis, the process the body uses to build new blood vessels.

Immigrants, beware: Living in the United States is fattening
Immigrants who have lived in the United States for at least 15 years are nearly as obese as U.S.-born adults, according to an article in the Dec.

NASA eyes ice changes around Earth's frozen caps
At 32 degrees Fahrenheit, or 0 Celsius, ice changes to water.

NASA's aura satellite sheds new light on air quality and ozone hole
NASA scientists announced the agency's Aura spacecraft is providing the first daily, direct global measurements of low-level ozone and many other pollutants affecting air quality.

NASA finds trees and insect outbreaks affect carbon dioxide levels
Winds and changing climate converted parts of Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado and Texas into a giant 'dust bowl' in the 1930s.

New ocean drilling research findings presented at American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting
Scientists from around the globe will present research results on more than 200 discoveries made possible through scientific ocean drilling at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco from December 13-17, 2004.

Genes tied to abnormal immune response in mice with lupus
Scientists have uncovered a link between a family of genes and abnormalities of the immune system that are associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a devastating disease that affects over 1 million Americans.

Risks from labor after prior cesarean delivery low, study reports
The risks from vaginal delivery after a prior Cesarean delivery are low, but are slightly higher than for a repeat Cesarean delivery.

FSU leads charge to modernize America's power grid
America's electric power grid is long overdue for an overhaul.

CIGNA settlement favorable to psychologists
Psychologists saw a significant step forward in their ongoing effort to improve managed care administrative services and policies when CIGNA agreed to change its policies and procedures to better ensure easier and faster processing of transactions for claims as well as prompt payment for services.

Cigarette smoking exacerbates alcohol-induced brain damage
Roughly 80 percent of alcohol-dependent individuals report smoking regularly. Chronic, heavy alcohol consumption is already known to cause brain damage.

More charter school students proficient on state exams than public school peers
A higher percentage of students in established charter schools are judged proficient on state reading and math examinations than in the nearest traditional public school, according to a new study by Caroline Hoxby of Harvard University.

Europe's fishermen should have marine 'stewardship' role, says study
North Sea fishermen should be allowed to play a greater part in taking care of the marine environment as part of a new strategy to protect the sea's wildlife and habitats, including taking on 'stewardship' roles.

Gene vaccine for Alzheimer's disease shows promising results
UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas researchers have found a way of stimulating the immune systems of mice to fight against amyloid proteins that cause the devastating plaques that are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease.

A genetic difference at the opiate receptor gene affects a person's response to alcohol
Previous research has implicated the brain's opioid system in the development of alcohol-use disorders.

Going to extremes: Pulsar gives insight on ultra dense matter and magnetic fields
A long look at a young pulsar with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed unexpectedly rapid cooling, which suggests that it contains much denser matter than previously expected.

Researchers improve predictions of cloud formation for better global climate modeling
Atmospheric scientists have developed simple, physics-based equations that address some of the limitations of current methods for representing cloud formation in global climate models - important because of increased aerosol pollution that gives clouds more cooling power and affects precipitation.

MIT team engineers new approaches to understanding malaria, more
In the January 2005 issue of Acta Biomaterialia, MIT researchers and colleagues report the most complete and quantitative characterization yet of how a healthy human blood cell changes its shape, or deforms, upon being invaded by the malaria-inducing parasite Plasmodium falciparum.

Study examines impact of two-year screening interval for breast cancer
Except for women in their 40s, women who are screened with mammography every 2 years may not have an increased risk of late-stage breast cancer compared with women screened every year, according to a new study in the December 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Research team discovers first evidence of microbes living in a rock glacier
Scientists have discovered evidence of microbial activity in a rock glacier high above tree line in the Rocky Mountains, a barren environment previously thought to be devoid of life.

Some herbal medicine products contain potentially toxic amounts of heavy metals
An analysis of a sample of Ayurvedic herbal medicine products found that 20 percent contained metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic at levels that could be toxic if taken as directed, according to a study in the December 15 issue of JAMA. 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