Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 21, 2004
Discovery of key protein's shape could lead to improved bacterial pneumonia vaccine
Scientists at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital have discovered that the shape of a protein on the surface of pneumonia bacteria helps these germs invade the human bloodstream.

Rare type of pneumonia occurring at higher than normal rate among US troops in Iraq
Two deaths have been attributed to a rare type of pneumonia that is occurring among U.S. troops in Iraq at a higher than normal rate, according to a study in the December 22/29 issue of JAMA.

Researchers discover a stem-cell switch lurking within leukemias
Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have discovered that specific cancer-causing genes associated with leukemias can transform mature white blood cells into leukemic cells that have all the properties of stem cells.

Genetic predisposition can play an important role in development of lung cancer
First-degree relatives of lung cancer patients have a 2 to 3.5 times greater risk of developing lung cancer than the general population, and tobacco smoke plays a major role, even among those with a genetic predisposition, according to a study in the December 22/29 issue of JAMA.

Tracing the life cycle of a manmade disease
In the December issue of Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research, orthpaedic surgeon William Harris, MD, DSc, of Massachusetts General Hospital tells a remarkable story of how a new disease was inadvertently caused by successful medical treatment, ultimately understood, and eventually defeated by scientific innovation.

Tips from the Journals of the American Society for Microbiology
Research highlights in upcoming publications from the Society of Microbiology include: a new herpes vaccine may be ready for human trials, houseflies may contract e.coli from cattle and harmful bacterium commonly found in poultry may survive refrigeration and frozen storage combined.

Detoxification in nation's jails falls short
Very few jails in the United States continue methadone treatments for opiate-dependent inmates, and half fail to follow standard methadone detoxification protocols, according to a national survey by the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Evidence indicates cancer patients unable to intentionally postpone death for significant events
Contrary to previous reports, new research shows that cancer patients can not intentionally postpone death to survive for significant personal events such as Christmas, Thanksgiving or a birthday, according to a study in the December 22/29 issue of JAMA.

Mayo Clinic researchers find PDAs okay with pacemakers
With the dynamic evolution of wireless technology, Mayo Clinic researchers have been concerned about the potential effects of electromagnetic interference on heart pacemakers and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators.

Blocking cell suicide switch fails to stop prion damage in mouse brains
Researchers knew that prions, the misfolded proteins that cause mad cow disease and other brain disorders, were killing off a class of important brain cells in a transgenic mouse model.

Weizmann Insitute scientists show how proteins beat the evolutionary stakes
Evolution is something of a gamble: in order to stay a step ahead of a shifting environment, organisms must change or risk extinction.

Arsenic ingestion from well water associated with increased risk of lung cancer
Residents of Taiwan who consumed drinking water with high levels of arsenic have a higher risk of lung cancer, with cigarette smokers from this group having an even greater risk, according to a study in the December 22/29 issue of JAMA.

Hospital epidemiologists trace outbreak of organism to commonly used wound care equipment
Infection control experts at The Johns Hopkins Hospital say tighter rules governing use of a hand-held, high-pressure, water-pumping tool to wash and clean wounds should be adopted to improve the safety of wound care.

Clean and quiet snowmobiles: McGill leads the way
McGill researchers are working on developing a clean and quiet snowmobile prototype.

Nanotubes form along atomic steps
The Weizmann Institute of Science today announced that a research group headed by Dr.

Violent ocean motion no magic potion for reefs
A new survey has discovered that South Florida coral reefs pummeled by hurricanes have been scoured free of the devastating invasive seaweed that had been smothering them, though the problem is likely to return and could be exacerbated.

Geosphere, new GSA Electronic Journal, to debut first quarter 2005
The Geological Society of America is launching a new geoscience research journal in electronic-only format.

Mars rover gets trip to the cleaners
A mysterious Martian car wash seems to be keeping the Mar rover Opportunity's solar panels sparkling clean.

Journal of Dental Research: New editor, new content, new look, new access
The IADR/AADR is unveiling dramatic changes to its flagship publication, the Journal of Dental Research, under the leadership of new Editor Anthony J.

Young people face increasing risk of suicide in Scotland
Suicide rates for young people have increased dramatically in Scotland's most deprived areas, according to research in this week's BMJ.

Country's first 'simplified maze' using new ultrasound technology is done at Northwestern Memorial
The country's first ever Maze procedure done using high intensity focused ultrasound technology - the only energy source that allows surgeons to surgically cure atrial fibrillation (AF) while a patient's heart is beating rather than having to use a heart-lung bypass machine - was performed last Friday at the Northwestern Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Genetically targeted therapies create opportunities to do business in new ways
Pharmacogenomics, the study of genetic variability in the way individuals respond to medicines, has the potential to spark a major, technology-driven restructuring of the health care and pharmaceuticals industries, according to a commentary published in the current issue of Nature Medicine by faculty of the Indiana University Program in Pharmacogenomics, Ethics, and Public Policy.

Race may be factor in doctor-patient communication style
Doctors are less likely to actively engage their black patients in conversation when compared to the conversations they had with their white patients, according to a new study of primary care visits conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Medicine.

The scanner you can take anywhere
A lightweight flexible sheet of plastic, little bigger than a credit card, will let you scan with good resolution on curved surfaces like bottles or open books.

Essential oils could help to stamp out MRSA
Essential oils usually used in aromatherapy have been found to kill the deadly MRSA bacteria according to research carried out at The University of Manchester.

Need a solution? In your dreams
The advice to 'sleep on it' for a while isn't a bad idea, according to a new study.

World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking honored
World-renowned physicist and Cambridge University professor Stephen Hawking will make a rare visit to Washington, D.C. to receive the James Smithson Bicentennial Medal on Monday, February 14, 2005.

Women seeking treatment for even minimal 'male-type' hair growth need endocrine evaluation
Premenopausal women who seek help for excessive hair growth, even if it is not significant enough to meet the clinical definition of hirsutism, need to be evaluated for endocrine and reproductive system abnormalities.

New technique provides insights into gene regulation
Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed a new technique that enables them to examine the genetic material of cells in greater detail than ever before, a finding that could lead to better ways to study and diagnose diseases.

Radon in the home responsible for 9% of lung cancer deaths across Europe
The effects of natural radon gas escaping the earth's surface into our homes is causing 9% of all deaths from lung cancer across Europe, and smokers are most at risk, according to a paper on
Overweight, boozy and depressed: Why we need healthy new year's resolutions
With the time for New Year's resolutions uncomfortably close, latest data from a huge nationwide study shows that obesity is up, as is drinking by women.

Decreased sensitivity in the brain to estrogen may help explain menopausal changes
A new study suggests that age-related changes in how the brain responds to the female sex hormone estrogen may be involved in a woman's transition through menopause.

Holidays, birthdays and postponement of cancer deaths
A careful analysis of the timing of over a million deaths reveals no evidence that cancer patients can intentionally postpone their demise in order to live long enough to reach an emotionally significant or meaningful event, say scientists in the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Human see, human do
Scientists have discovered that a system in our brain which responds to actions we are watching, such as a dancer's delicate pirouette or a masterful martial arts move, reacts differently if we are also skilled at doing the move.
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