Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

April 23, 2006
Penn researchers discover gene that creates second skeleton
Investigators at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have located the cause of fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) - a gene that, when damaged, causes the body's skeletal muscles and soft connective tissue to undergo a metamorphosis into bone, progressively locking joints in place and rendering movement impossible.

Groups perform better than the best individuals at solving complex problems
Groups of three, four, or five perform better on complex problem solving than the best of an equivalent number of individuals, says a new study appearing in the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Both alcoholism and chronic smoking can damage the brain's prefrontal cortex
A study in the current journal issue reveals alcoholism commonly co-occurs with chronic smoking; both alcohol and nicotine act on the brain's

Alcoholics with a borderline personality disorder are at greatest risk for suicidal behavior
A research study reveals the following information: Compared to the general population, individuals with alcohol-use disorders (AUDs) have a significantly greater risk of suicide attempts; New research examines the impact of all personality disorders (PDs) on the risk of a suicide attempt among individuals with AUDs; and Alcoholics with a borderline personality disorder and those who live alone are at highest risk.

Prenatal alcohol exposure can alter circadian rhythms in offspring
A study in the current journal issue reveals children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders exhibit altered sleeping and eating patterns, as well as other behavioral problems such as attention deficits and depression; alterations in these behaviors may indicate that their biological rhythms, which are controlled by circadian systems, have been affected by alcohol exposure during development; and rodent research confirms that alcohol exposure during a period equivalent to the third human trimester influences the ability to synchronize circadian rhythms to light cues.

Revealing the secrets of WRN
Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Scripps Research Institute have determined the structure and biochemistry of the exonuclease domain of WRN, a protein that protects humans from premature aging and cancer.

Sweet 'water taste' paradoxically predicts sweet taste inhibitors
A scientific paradox linking artificial sweeteners such as saccharin with a sensory experience in which plain water takes on a sweet taste has guided researchers at the Monell Center to an increased understanding of how humans detect sweet taste.

Joslin-led study reveals findings on how insulin-producing beta cells grow and function
A new Joslin Diabetes Center-led study has shown conclusively that two receptors in the insulin-producing beta cell do not affect developmental growth, refuting a long-held hypothesis in diabetes research.

Attention shoppers: Researchers find neurons that encode the value of different goods
Researchers at Harvard Medical School (HMS) report in the April 23 issue of Nature that they have identified neurons that encode the values that subjects assign to different items.

Cancer cells suppress large regions of DNA by a reversible process that can be tackled
Cancer researchers at Sydney's Garvan Institute, in collaboration with Spanish scientists, have formulated a new concept for how cancer cells can escape normal growth controls, which may have far-reaching implications for the new generation of cancer therapies.

University of Utah to help build bionic arm
University of Utah researchers will receive up to $10.3 million to help develop a new prosthetic arm that would work, feel and look like a real arm.

Individuals with a family history of alcoholism: Will they too become alcoholics?
A study in the current journal issue reports individuals with a family history of alcoholism (FH+) have a greater risk of developing alcoholism themselves than do persons with no family history; FH+ individuals who are male and have behavioral disinhibition may have the greatest risk of developing alcoholism; researchers caution that these combined characteristics indicate a greater probability, not certainty, of developing alcoholism.

Stowers scientists clarify role of tumor suppressor gene
Researchers at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research in Kansas City have identified an intrinsic pathway involving PTEN that helps control the transitions that stem cells make between the quiescent and active states.

Anthrax inhibitor counteracts toxin, may lead to new therapeutics
Researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the University of Toronto have designed a nanoscale assembly of molecules that successfully counteracts and inhibits anthrax toxin in animal and laboratory experiments.
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