Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 15, 2005
Nearly a quarter of children are especially susceptible to respiratory illness if they are exposed to second-hand smoke
Children with a certain genetic makeup are at heightened risk of chest infections and other respiratory illnesses due to second-hand smoke exposure, according to researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California.

How E. coli bacterium generates simplicity from complexity
In a surprise about E. coli that may offer clues about how human cells operate, the PNAS paper reports that only a handful of dominant metabolic states are found in E. coli when it is computationally

Bio-archaeologists pinpoint oldest northern European human activity
Scientists at the University of York used a 'protein time capsule' to confirm the earliest record of human activity in northern Europe.

Fish gene sheds light on human skin color variation
With help from a common aquarium pet and a recently released online database of human genetic variation, a collaborative team of Penn State researchers has found what could be the most important skin color gene identified to date.

Fish oil prevents potentially deadly decline in heart rate variability
A two-gram fish oil supplement given daily to elderly persons prevented a decline in heart rate variability caused by tiny, dangerous airborne particles.

Science magazine invites science-education content for new HHMI-supported section
Editors at the journal Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), are inviting original submissions for a new science-education section.

One new case of dementia arises every seven seconds
The number of people that have dementia is set to double every 20 years, according to a report in this week's issue of The Lancet.

New study identifies louse-borne diseases that ravaged Napoleon's army
Using dental pulp extracted from the teeth of soldiers who died during Napoleon's disastrous retreat through Russia in 1812, a new study finds DNA evidence that epidemic typhus and trench fever ran rampant among the French Grand Army.

'Hospital at home' offers quality care at lower cost
Being hospitalized can be a traumatic experience, especially for older persons.

Denying joint replacements based on prejudice...and is false economy
A decision by NHS trusts in Suffolk to deny replacement joints to obese patients seems to be based on prejudice or attribution of blame, argues a senior doctor in a letter to this week's BMJ.

Researchers explain why badger culling fails to control cattle TB
Researchers have discovered the most likely reason why localised culling of badgers (Meles meles) has failed to control bovine tuberculosis (TB) in British cattle.

Breast cancer drugs may slow growth of lung cancer
Medical science knows that, much like breast tumors, some lung tumors also thrive on estrogen.

Radiotherapy improves 15-year survival after breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy)
After lumpectomy for breast cancer, radiotherapy to the remaining breast tissue can improve the chances of long-term survival, according to a study published in this week's issue of The Lancet.

HHMI and Science partner to improve science education
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the journal Science are partnering to showcase innovative approaches to teaching science through a new monthly education forum in the journal.

EU and G8 countries must help Russia tackle its health crisis
Countries in the EU and G8 must help Russia tackle its health crisis, says an editorial in this week's BMJ.

Monitoring data confirm key predictions about extinction
Long-term monitoring of wild populations is a central tool for conserving species.

New small RNAs found
Dr. Kathleen Collins and a graduate researcher in her lab at UC Berkeley have identified a second RNAi pathway in Tetrahymena thermophilia - introducing a heretofore unprecedented layer of complexity to small RNA biology in unicellular organisms.

What can change in the brain? Electrical synapses, research shows
Plasticity - the brain's ability to change based on experience and its own activity - is a key to critical functions such as making memories.

Ability to capture large prey may be origin of army ants' cooperative behavior
Sightings of army ants attacking and eating a giant worm and a snake have led scientists to offer a new theory on the origin of cooperative hunting behavior among the insects.

A theoretical breakthrough inspired by experiment
The first-ever complete quantum-mechanical solution of a system with four charged particles, namely the photoionization of a hydrogen molecule, has been achieved by an international group of collaborators from the University of California, universities in Spain and Belgium, and DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

A quality dog/owner relationship no help to storm-phobic canines
Having a sympathetic owner did not lower the stress reaction of dogs that become anxious or fearful during noisy thunderstorms but living in a multi-dog household did, a Penn State study has found.

Second-hand smoke hits genetically susceptible kids harder
When US children who possess a variant gene are exposed to second-hand smoke in their homes, they are at substantially greater risk for developing respiratory illnesses that lead to school absences.

Engineered stem cells show promise for sneaking drugs into the brain
UW-Madison scientists have found a new way to sneak drugs past the blood-brain barrier by engineering and implanting progenitor brain cells derived from stem cells to produce and deliver a critical growth factor that has already shown clinical promise for treating Parkinson's disease.

Columbia University Medical Center researchers discover potential mechanism for tumor growth
Columbia researchers have identified an inherent feature of stem and progenitor cells that may promote initiation and progression of cancerous tumors.

Emphasis on individuality in college admissions disadvantages minority students
Some students need more than test prep classes to overcome the psychological blocks that keep them from going to college.

NIH funds two new biomedical technology resource centers
The National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced today that $18.2 million will be awarded to create two new biomedical technology resource centers to develop new image guided therapies and to further biochemistry studies of diseases such as alcoholism and cancer.

Research: Snails were overlooked contributors to marsh destruction
Buoyed by the effects of an intense drought, otherwise harmless snails likely killed off thousands of acres of salt marsh in the Southeast in recent years.

Sweeping recommendations to support pay-for-performance system
ACP, nation's largest group of medical specialists, supports a fair, evidence-based, consistent pay-for-performance system.

IEEE-USA commends Senators Ensign, Lieberman for introducing 'National Innovation Act of 2005'
IEEE-USA commends Sens. John Ensign (R-Nev.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) for introducing the

UK Select Committee on Science and Technology does not appropriately scrutinize British science
The way in which the UK Select Committee on Science and Technology (CST) conducts inquiries is not an acceptable way to maintain standards in British science, states an editorial in this week's issue of The Lancet.

New figures confirm PBS spending barely growing
Spending on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has plummeted to a level well below the inflation rate, the Federal Government's Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook document confirmed today.

Standing up to paraplegia with gene therapy
Elena Rugarli and colleagues from the National Neurological Institute in Milan have used gene therapy to save sensory and skeletal muscle nerve fibers from degeneration in mice with hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP).

VIASYS Healthcare Neonatal Pediatric Fellowship Award
Mary K. (Katie) Sabato, MS RRT, of Children's Hospital & Research Center Oakland, received the 2005 VIASYS Healthcare Neonatal and Pediatric Fellowship Award on behalf of the ARCF and VIASYS Healthcare.

Stretchable silicon could be next wave in electronics
The next wave in electronics could be wavy electronics. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a fully stretchable form of single-crystal silicon with micron-sized, wave-like geometries that can be used to build high-performance electronic devices on rubber substrates.

Understanding grid semantics for virtual collaboration
An EU project hopes to realise the ultimate potential of Grid computing by creating a network that is intelligently aware of its components and of the domain it addresses, enabling quick and easy virtual collaboration.

New microchip technology for medical imaging biomarkers of disease
A collaboration between scientists at UCLA, Caltech, Stanford, Siemens and Fluidigm have developed a new technology using integrated microfluidics chips for simplifying, lowering the cost and diversifying the types of molecules used to image the biology of disease with the medical imaging technology, Positron Emission Tomography (PET).

Surprising killer of southeastern salt marshes: Common sea snails
From South Carolina to Texas, salt marshes have experienced a massive die-off in recent years, threatening fisheries and leaving coastal areas vulnerable to flooding.

Children's Hospital Oakland scientist awarded seat on national scientific review board
Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute's physician-scientist has been awarded a seat on the prestigious national scientific review board.

NHS failing to provide health care according to need
The NHS needs to do more to provide health care according to need, argue researchers in this week's BMJ.

Turf management education resource published
The Crop Science Society of America's

Cancer scientists call for a large-scale human epigenome project
A vast code, invisible to the DNA sequencing effort that constituted the Human Genome Project, is rapidly being shown to play a direct role in human health.

Unexpected finding: Some dinosaurs grew slower in hard times
Palaeontologists from the University of Bonn report on an intriguing diagnosis in the 16 December issue of the journal Science.

Research bolsters controversial hypothesis on genome size and evolution
Biologists at Georgia Tech have provided scientific support for a controversial hypothesis that has divided biologists for two years.

Navy researchers awarded for aircraft safety system
Four Navy researchers were awarded today with the Vice Adm.

Fantastic voyage into the heart delivers a protector against heart failure
Reminiscent of the 1966 sci-fi thriller Fantastic Voyage, where a surgical team is miniaturized and injected into a dying man, researchers from Harvard Medical School have used injectable self-assembling peptide nanofibers loaded with the pro-survival factor PDGF-BB to protect rat cardiomyocytes from injury and subsequent heart failure.

Researchers uncover remarkable developmental pathway
Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have discovered an important regulatory pathway that enables frog embryos to develop normally even after being split in half -- as happens in the development of identical twins.

Boys more likely when pregnancy takes longer
The longer it takes to get pregnant, the more chance there is of having a boy, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Accentia Biopharmaceuticals announces option agreement with Mayo
Accentia Biopharmaceuticals, Inc. announced today that it has signed an option agreement with the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research for the exclusive right to negotiate a license for a method of use for any and all antifungals other than amphotericin B applied intranasally for the treatment of chronic sinusit.

Food additive inhibits longevity enzyme in yeast, increases cell toxicity, new study finds
Dihydrocoumarin (DHC), a common additive found in food and cosmetics, has been found to inhibit the activity of sirtuins, enzymes associated with lifespan control in yeast and other organisms, according to a new study led by UC Berkeley researchers.

New methods offer insight into regulatory DNA
A new HapMap study deepens our understanding of regulatory DNA, according to a study published in PLoS Genetics.

Household cleaners effectively remove lead-laden dust
All-purpose detergents remove lead-contaminated dust from household surfaces just as effectively as high phosphate detergents and lead-specific cleaning products, according to new research scheduled for publication in the Jan.

JCI table of contents: December 15, 2005
This release contains summaries, links to PDFs, and contact information for the following newsworthy papers to be published online on 12/15/05 in the JCI, including: Fantastic voyage into the heart delivers a protector against heart failure; Standing up to paraplegia with gene therapy; Chromosomal quality control keeps leukemia in check; Silencing SOCS1 cajoles the immune system to mount an anti-tumor response; and First link shown between LIG4 mutations and new SCID subtype.

A spoonful of sugar makes some kids feel good
It's no secret that children like sweet-tasting foods. It's also known that sweet taste acts as an analgesic in children, reducing their perception of pain.

Bats use touch receptors on wings to fly, catch prey, study finds
Bats have an

Penn researchers provide recommendations for artificial nutrition and hydration
For decades, doctors have followed an ethically-established agreement about the appropriate use of artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH).

Prepregnancy weight is increasing, bringing greater risk
A growing number of women are overweight or obese when they become pregnant, a condition that is risky to both mother and baby, a new study conducted by researchers at the University at Buffalo has shown.

How Rickettsial pathogens break into cells
New research by a team of French and US scientists has identified both the bacterial and the host receptor proteins that enable Rickettsia conorii, the Mediterranean spotted fever pathogen, to enter cells.

'Mighty Mouse' robot frees stuck radiation source
A Sandia National Laboratories robot recently withstood enough radiation to kill 40 men in freeing a stuck radiation source -- the size of a restaurant salt shaker -- at a White Sands Missile Range lab so that the cylinder could be safely returned to its insulated base.

Study suggests mechanism for recurrent sudden infant death syndrome
Women who have a baby that dies of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) have an increased risk of preterm delivery and complications in subsequent pregnancies, concludes an article in this week's issue of The Lancet.

American Physiological Society honors 16 scientists with awards/distinguished lectureships
Top honors go to Jo Rae Wright, Duke, lifetime achievement; Ulrich Von Andrian, Harvard, young investigator.

Researchers make long DNA 'wires' for future medical and electronic devices
Ohio State University researchers have invented a process for uncoiling long strands of DNA and forming them into precise patterns.

DOE Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program mobile facility moves to Niger
After a six-month stint taking cloud and aerosol measurements at Point Reyes National Seashore on the California coast, a mobile suite of climate monitoring equipment was moved to Niamey, Niger, in October for a year's deployment there.

Learning about sex from an elegant worm
Researchers have discovered how Pairing Centers on the chromosomes of the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans work to ensure that the chromosomes of its sperm and eggs are matched and recombined accurately during meiosis.

Why nanolayers buckle when microbeams bend
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, working together with colleagues from the University of Vienna and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility in Grenoble, France have made the first-ever observations of nanocrystallite buckling in carbon fibres.

Rules to target RNA are focus of research
Finding compounds that bind to and inhibit an RNA sequence -- as a potential new approach to designing disease treatments -- is still very much a trial-and-error process, involving the tedious screening of millions of molecules against a single RNA sequence. 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