Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 19, 2005
Women who undergo reconstructive breast implantation frequently develop short-term complications
Almost one-third of women who underwent reconstructive breast implantation after mastectomy had at least one short-term complication in the chest or breast area, with one in five women requiring additional surgery, according to a study in the December issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Pular antidepressants boost brain growth, Hopkins scientists report
The beneficial effects of a widely used class of antidepressants might be the result of increased nerve-fiber growth in key parts of the brain, according to a Johns Hopkins study being published in the January 2006 issue of the Journal of Neurochemistry.

Fertility genes discovered at Rugters
Rutgers geneticists have discovered two genes required for sperm and egg to achieve fertilization.

Why we give: New study finds evidence of generosity among our early human ancestors
A groundbreaking new study examines the origins of holiday giving and finds that our early human ancestors were frequently altruistic.

A new player in human atherosclerosis
Studies in rodents had suggested that endothelial lipase might play a role in the development of atherosclerosis.

Dramatic increase in annual rate of laparoscopic bariatric surgeries
The number of bariatric surgeries performed in the US increased by 450 percent between 1998 and 2002, a growth the researchers say could be linked with use of the minimally invasive laparoscopic technique, according to an article in the December issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Wanted: Amateur stargazers to help solve supernova mystery
Ohio State University scientists have thought of a new way to solve an astronomical mystery, and their plan relies on a well-connected network of amateur stargazers and one very elusive subatomic particle.

Novel enzyme offers new look at gene regulation
Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have purified a novel protein and have shown it can alter gene activity by reversing a molecular modification previously thought permanent.

Ophthalmologists prove existence of CLANs
A team of ophthalmologists at the University of Liverpool has become the first in the world to image geodesic structures - called CLANs - inside the human body.

Bare metal stents deliver gene therapy to heart vessels with less inflammation in animal studies
Improved materials may allow stents, tiny metal scaffolds inserted into blood vessels, to better deliver beneficial genes to patients with heart disease, by reducing the risk of inflammation that often negates initial benefits.

Age does not predict hearing outcomes for elderly recipients of cochlear implants
Among elderly patients with profound hearing loss, age at time of receipt of an electronic hearing device known as a cochlear implant does not predict subsequent hearing ability, according to a study in the December issue of Archives of Otolaryngology - Head & Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Use of gastric acid-suppressive agents linked with increased risk for diarrhea infection
Use of gastric acid-suppressive therapy, particularly proton pump inhibitors, is associated with an increased risk for an infection that is a significant cause of diarrhea, according to a study in the December 21 issue of JAMA.

Passive smoking almost doubles risk of degenerative eye disease
Passive smoking almost doubles the risk of the progressively degenerative eye disease, age related macular degeneration, shows research in the British Journal of Ophthalmology.

Ninety-six percent of minimally invasive knee replacement patients leave same day, no complication
Orthopedic surgeons at Rush University Medical Center found that 96 percent of patients who had minimally invasive total knee replacement surgery were able to go home the same day, without complications-many walking out unassisted or with a cane.

Annals of Internal Medicine tip sheet for Dec. 20, 2005
A new study finds that a yoga program was more effective in treating lower back pain than another exercise program or education.

Monumental measurement of mortality
A paper in PLoS Medicine reports the rationale, design, and implementation of the world's largest prospective study of the causes and correlates of mortality.

Scientists close in on genes responsible for Parkinson's disease
Scientists have identified 570 genes that act abnormally during the development of Parkinson's disease, a finding which could help doctors predict the likelihood of it developing, and provide targets for new treatments.

Ancient Chinese remedy shows potential in preventing breast cancer
A derivative of the sweet wormwood plant used since ancient times to fight malaria and shown to precisely target and kill cancer cells may someday aid in stopping breast cancer before it gets a toehold, according to a study by two University of Washington bioengineers.

New method holds promise for better understanding of prion diseases
Internal standards allow meaningful comparison of PrP(Sc) profiles from different origins.

New Israeli study finds vaccinating all toddlers against hepatitis A
Results from a new study presented today found that vaccinating all children against hepatitis A at 18 and 24 months in one Israeli community reduced overall incidence of the disease for all ages by 95 percent.

Stevens Professor Alan Blumberg to speak at New York Public Library
Alan F. Blumberg, a Professor of Ocean Engineering in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Ocean Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology, will present a talk and a slide show, 'The Waters Around Manhattan: Balancing Human Uses and The Natural Environment' at The New York Public Library, Wednesday, February 21, 2006.

Carbon monoxide soothes inflammatory bowel disease
Doctors have long known that smokers rarely suffer from a common form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) called ulcerative colitis, but they didn't know why.

Details of the first case of avian flu in mainland China
Scientists report on the first confirmed human case of avian influenza A (H5N1) in mainland China, online in The Lancet today (Tuesday December 20, 2005).

Neighborhoods may affect asthma, UCSF study finds
Educational level, housing status and other socioeconomic factors are thought to affect the health of people with asthma, but a new study finds that one's neighborhood and surrounding area may also play a significant role, even after taking into account personal economic well-being.

Plant defenses prompt bacterial countermeasure in the form of 'island' DNA excision
Seeking to catch an arms-race maneuver in action, researchers have uncovered new evidence to explain how bacteria in the process of infecting a plant can shift molecular gears by excising specific genes from its genome to overcome the host plant's specific defenses.

How do islet cells die during early stages of diabetes?
Results from rodent and human cells suggest that necrosis of ½-cells plays a role in the early stages of type 1 diabetes as reported in PLoS Medicine.

Resolved to lose weight? Social cues encourage overeating: University of Toronto study
Socially informed perceptions of which foods are appropriate to eat, when they should be eaten and how much should be consumed have a greater impact on our food intake than feelings of hunger or fullness, says a University of Toronto review paper published in Physiology & Behavior.

Scientists sequence DNA of woolly mammoth
A team of experts in ancient DNA from McMaster University (Canada) and genome researchers from Penn State University (USA) have obtained the first genomic sequences from a woolly mammoth, a mammal that roamed grassy plains of the Northern Hemisphere until it became extinct about 10,000 years ago.

Nutritional interventions for the aging in developing countries to reduce disease burden?
In a special article published in Nutrition Reviews, researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University explore how undernutrition and immune decline contribute to infectious disease among elderly people in less-developed countries, and make suggestions for future research and intervention strategies.

Scientists narrow the time limits for the human and chimpanzee split
A research team proposes that the time when the most recent common ancestor of humans and their closest ape relatives -- the chimpanzees -- lived was between 5 and 7 million years ago -- a sharper focus than previous estimates of anywhere from 3 to 13 million years ago.

Neuroscientist takes issue with antidepressants for children
An article published in the premier open access journal PLoS Medicine looks at the ongoing controversies surrounding the use of SSRI antidepressants in children.

Mayo Clinic co-sponsoring FDA forum on patient-reported outcomes
Mayo Clinic and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are co-sponsoring a unique symposium Feb.

Pandemic planning: Regional governments may be reluctant to report outbreaks
The distribution and division of power across several regional governments in federal systems can hinder national and international efforts to control infectious disease outbreaks, says a team of researchers in the open access journal PLoS Medicine (
Algal protein in worm neurons allows remote control of behavior by light
By introducing expression of a special green-algae gene into neurons of the tiny, transparent nematode C. elegans, researchers have been able to elicit specific behavioral responses by simply illuminating animals with blue light.

Federal grant funds research on novel HIV therapy
An immunology researcher at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia leads a multi-center $6.7 million program project grant recently awarded by the National Institute of Mental Health to explore a novel approach to HIV treatment.

Regional governments may be reluctant to report outbreaks
The recent revision of the International Health Regulations is both long overdue and eminently necessary to face the challenges of an increasingly globalized world, according to a paper published in the open access journal PLoS Medicine.

New UNC experiments show very weak chlorine solutions can kill noroviruses
Chlorine solutions much weaker than previously believed can still be used to kill more than 99 percent of noroviruses, the chief cause of outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness around the world, a new University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study concludes.

Studies show benefits of newborn screening for 'bubble boy disease'
Two new studies show that newborn screening for Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) -- a rare, treatable disorder of the immune system commonly known as

Food insecurity and food stamps: How is the US doing?
Imagine being one of the 38 million people in the United States whose family can't count on having enough food throughout the year.

Why do the young turn to crime? Early findings turn some theories on their heads
How and why do young people become criminals? Why do they become criminals?

Drug-eluting stents may cause allergic reactions
Drug-eluting stents have greatly reduced the risk of repeat blockage of heart arteries, but researchers from Northwestern Memorial Hospital have found that in some patients, the stents can cause allergic reactions that can have serious consequences.

Motorcycles emit 'disproportionately high' amounts of air pollutants
Motorcycles collectively emit 16 times more hydrocarbons, three times more carbon monoxide and a

Overfishing may drive endangered seabird to rely upon lower quality food
The effects of overfishing may have driven marbled murrelets, an endangered seabird found along the Pacific coast, to increasingly rely upon less nutritious food sources, according to a new study by UC Berkeley biologists.

Dynamic bed causes irregular course of river
How can you manage and design rivers such that no floods occur, whilst still ensuring navigation for shipping and a continuation of the agricultural, ecological and recreational functions?

Conference to address the challenge of renewable resources
A major international conference focusing on the growing impact of Renewable Resources will take place at the University of York, in the UK, next September.

EGNOS demonstration in South Africa
A demonstration of the use of the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) for advanced railway traffic management and control recently took place near Johannesburg, South Africa.

Artificial light at night stimulates breast cancer growth in laboratory mice
Results from a new study in laboratory mice show that nighttime exposure to artificial light stimulated the growth of human breast tumors by suppressing the levels of a key hormone called melatonin.

Whooping cough persistence traced to key toxin
A key toxin associated with whooping cough helps the germs resist the human immune system and infect vaccinated populations.

Polio vaccination strategies assessed as eradication nears
Polio is on track to become only the second disease ever eradicated.

Smoking associated with severity of psoriasis
Cigarette smoking is associated with the clinical severity of the skin disease psoriasis, and both smoking and obesity are more prevalent among psoriasis patients, according to two studies in the December issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Study shows complex link between abuse and eating disorders
Women who were victims of childhood sexual abuse have long been assumed to be at a higher risk for eating disorders.

Improving coping skills benefits family caregivers of hospice patients with cancer
Caregivers of cancer patients dying at home significantly benefited from supportive educational sessions in which hospice nurses taught caregivers how to cope with distressing patient symptoms.

Yoga is more effective than conventional exercise for back pain, Group Health study finds
Yoga appears to be more effective for low back pain than conventional exercise or getting a self-care book about the condition, according to a first-of-its-kind study conducted by researchers at Group Health Cooperative's Center for Health Studies and published in the December 20 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Improved speech without vocal cords
Dutch otolaryngologist Marein van der Torn hoped to develop a prosthesis that would improve the voice of people who had lost their vocal cords.

GroPep completes final milestone of the path malaria vaccine initiative
Adelaide biotechnology company GroPep has completed the manufacture of two vaccine antigens as part of the project funded by the international PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative (MVI).

Eating chicken may reduce your risk of colon cancer
A recent study in The American Journal of Gastroenterology revealed that patterns in diet may effect the development of colorectal adenomas, or precancerous polyps of the colon.

LIAI initiatives battle influenza; Potential bird flu treatment among their findings
The La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology (LIAI) is making significant strides in the battle against the avian

Euclid returns to maths lessons
Knowing how a mathematical theory developed improves a pupil's understanding of it.

Adherence to pneumonia treatment guidelines results in better outcomes, Pitt study shows
A University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study published in this week's Annals of Internal Medicine shows that a carefully implemented system of pneumonia care can lead to better outcomes and fewer unnecessary and costly hospitalizations.

Sahara's edge studied from ground, air and space to improve water management
An international team worked on the verge of the Sahara to gather data on the ground and in the air, to be compared with imagery of the same region acquired by ESA satellites.

Genetic analysis of cavefish reveals more about evolution
A multi-institutional study offers additional insight into the evolutionary process by examining how albinism evolves in cavefish.

New brain scan technology could save babies' lives
A revolutionary portable brain scanner under development could aid the treatment, and in some cases help save the lives, of premature and newborn babies in intensive care.

Most of Arctic's near-surface permafrost to thaw by 2100
Over half of the Northern Hemisphere's topmost layer of permafrost could thaw by 2050 and as much as 90 percent by 2100, according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Doctors group gives New Year's diet tips
With 2006 quickly approaching, losing weight is on the minds of many people considering a New Year's resolution.

A few squares of dark chocolate a day may stave off artery hardening in smokers
Dark chocolate may stave off artery hardening in smokers, and a few squares every day could potentially cut the risk of serious heart disease, finds a small study in Heart.

Genetic analysis of Asian elephants in India reveals some surprises
Analysis of dung from Asian elephants reveals that elephants in northeastern India are actually two genetically distinct populations separated by the Brahmaputra River, a finding that could have implications for conservation of the endangered species

Brandeis researchers propose model of neural circuit underlying working memory
Our ability to understand speech or decide which fruit in the store is freshest depends on the brain's dexterity in integrating information over time.

UCF, NIH study: Effective, safe anthrax vaccine can be grown in tobacco plants
Enough anthrax vaccine to inoculate everyone in the United States could be grown in one acre of tobacco in one year.
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