Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 19, 2006
Doing it right: New book helps biologists conduct rigorous and reliable research
A new book,

Other highlights in the December 20 JNCI
Also in the December 20 issue of JNCI -- a report on breast cancer stem cells and radiation; research connecting statin use and advanced prostate cancer; a study of asthma medication and pancreatic cancer cell growth; and a model that predicts the risks of radiation therapy for leukemia patients.

Study finds that rich retirees are the main losers from inflation
How would distribution of wealth change if the United States were to enter a period of inflation?

High levels of vitamin D in the body may decrease the risk of multiple sclerosis
In the first large-scale, prospective study to investigate the relationship between vitamin D levels and MS, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health have found an association between higher levels of vitamin D in the body and a lower risk of MS.

Batfish to the rescue!
Scientists at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies who were studying how coral reefs are lost to weed were astonished when, after removing a cage from a particularly weedy bit of reef, the rare batfishes emerged out of the blue and cleaned up most of the weed.

Deal or no deal? Need for immediate reward linked to more active brain region
How people might play the popular game show -- whether they'd accept an offer for quick cash or hold out for the chance to win $1 million -- probably has less to do with what's inside each briefcase than what's inside each contestant's brain, suggests a study.

New technologies for heart disease: Are drug-eluting stents worth the cost?
Two articles that will appear in the Jan. 16, 2007, issue of CMAJ provide new insights into the use of drug-eluting stents.

CCFA survey finds the majority of ulcerative colitis patients are not compliant with medications
A new, large survey supported by the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America finds that 65 percent of ulcerative colitis patients are less than fully compliant with first-line therapies to treat their disease.The most commonly reported reasons for noncompliance with medications were the dosing frequency, the number of pills and the inconvenience associated with the medication.

Kidney transplantation linked with increased risk of various cancers
Following kidney transplantation, some recipients may face a three-fold increased risk of certain cancer types, according to a study in the Dec.

Costs of long-course palliative radiotherapy acceptable in late-stage lung cancer
A longer, less intense course of radiotherapy provides better value for the money than a shorter, more intense regimen when given to ease pain and other complaints in patients with late-stage non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), according to a study in the December 20 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Study finds the air rich with bacteria
The air could be teeming with more than 1,800 types of bacteria, according to a first-of-its-kind census of airborne microbes recently conducted by scientists from the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The case of the snuggling skunks -- Is it better to brave winter alone or in a group?
A fascinating new study in the January/February 2007 issue of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology looks at the benefits of huddling vs. solitude, comparing strategies used by striped skunks to get through long, cold winters in northern climates.

Cognitive training for older adults may help slow decline of daily functioning abilities
Older adults who received cognitive training reported improved cognitive function for up to five years afterwards and less decline in the ability to perform daily activities as compared to those who did not receive the training, according to a study in the Dec.

Getting people to move -- challenges in promoting physical activity
While the benefits of regular physical activity are well documented, public health officials struggle for methods to promote increased physical activity that will work in American society.

Access to prior mammograms helps radiologists detect breast cancer
Viewing prior mammograms in association with current mammograms significantly improves radiologist performance and may decrease unnecessary recalls by up to 44 percent, according to a study in the January issue of Radiology.

AGU journal highlights -- Dec. 19, 2006
Included in this issue:

Europe looks forward to COROT launch
On December 27, COROT is to be launched into space on a unique astronomy mission: its twin goals are to detect exoplanets orbiting around other stars and to probe the mysteries of stellar interiors as never before.

Multinational scientific expedition kicks off International Polar Year 2007-2008
An international team of scientists and teachers has sailed from Punta Arenas, Chile for a two-week, US National Science Foundation-sponsored research cruise aboard the Swedish icebreaker Oden, in one of the first collaborative activities of the International Polar Year 2007-2008.

Commodity promotion programs -- What's the beef?
Government-sanctioned promotion programs, known as checkoff programs, aim to increase consumption of commodities such as dairy, beef, and pork but, according to one food economist, the messages are inconsistent with the federal government's Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Electrical activity alters language used by nerve cells
University of California, San Diego biologists have shown that the chemical language with which neurons communicate depends on the pattern of electrical activity in the developing nervous system.

University of Colorado influenza chip licensed by Quidel Corp. of San Diego
The University of Colorado today announced it has entered into an exclusive license agreement with Quidel Corp. to market Flu Chip and MChip diagnostic technologies developed by CU-Boulder researchers in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

Argonne National Laboratory releases award-winning vehicle simulation modeling software
Argonne National Laboratory's Powertrain System Analysis Toolkit (PSAT) enables designers to overcome time and cost constraints for advanced vehicle design, such as hybrid and fuel cell vehicles.

Mental exercise helps maintain some seniors' thinking skills
Certain mental exercises can offset some of the expected decline in older adults' thinking skills and show promise for maintaining cognitive abilities needed to do everyday tasks such as shopping, making meals and handline finances, according to a new study.

Higher levels of vitamin D in the blood may lower risk of multiple sclerosis
New research suggests that having higher circulating levels of vitamin D is associated with a reduced risk for multiple sclerosis, although this relationship was not seen for black and Hispanic individuals, according to a study in the Dec.

Higher occurrence of Parkinson's linked to low LDL cholesterol
People with low levels of LDL cholesterol are more likely to have Parkinson's disease than people with high LDL levels, according to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers.

WHSRN awarded major grant to foster shorebird conservation throughout the Western Hemisphere
The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation recently approved a $378,780 grant to the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences to sustain the development and implementation of conservation programs that address the decline of shorebird populations throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Mayo Clinic study explores link between nanoparticles and kidney stones
Researchers at Mayo Clinic have successfully isolated nanoparticles from human kidney stones in cell cultures and have isolated proteins, RNA and DNA that appear to be associated with nanoparticles.

MCG joins study of best treatment approach for narrowed kidney arteries
Whether reopening narrowed kidney arteries benefits patients is a $1.7 billion question a North American study hopes to answer.

CeRPTA develops new gluten-free bread
Researchers at the Food Technology Plant Special Research Centre (CeRPTA) have for the first time developed a completely gluten-free bread that is of a much higher quality than products currently available for coeliacs.

Study gives clues about how deadly bacterium gains foothold
How a potentially deadly bacterium that could be used as a bioterrorist tool eludes being killed by the human immune system is now better understood, researchers report in the December issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology.

Blood transfusions raise heart patients' infection and death risk -- especially women
Blood transfusions save the lives of millions of heart surgery patients and others each year.

Human-chimp difference may be bigger
Approximately 6 percent of human and chimp genes are unique to those species, report scientists from Indiana University Bloomington and three other institutions.

Workers' compensation ratings don't accurately predict disabilities
A study of settlement decisions in workers' compensation claims for low back pain has found almost no relationship between the rating of the disability's severity when the claim was settlement and reported pain and disability 21 months later.

Universe's oldest objects emerge from the background
The deepest reaches of space are permeated by a cloak of infrared radiation, an uneven energy swath generated by long-dead objects from the early universe.

Climate change has surprising effect on endangered naked carp
Forthcoming in the January/February 2007 issue of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, a groundbreaking study reveals an unanticipated way freshwater fish may respond to water diversion and climate change.

Gene chip technology shows potential for identifying life-threatening blood infection
Right now there's no rapid way to diagnose sepsis, a fast-moving blood infection that is a leading cause of death in hospital intensive care units.

Allergy drug slows pancreatic tumor growth in preclinical studies
An anti-allergy drug in use for more than 40 years significantly reduced tumor growth in animal models of human pancreatic cancer and also increased the effectiveness of standard chemotherapy, say researchers at the University of Texas M.

Non-drug treatments for dementia show promise, experts say
Memory training and other non-drug treatments may one day help older adults ward off declines in mental function, according to researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in an editorial in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

News tips from the Journal of Neuroscience
The following articles are featured in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Neuroscience:

News tips from ACS Chemical Biology
Highlights from the December 2006 issues of the American Chemical Society's journal, ACS Chemical Biology, are now available.

NJIT computer scientist audits government, hospital terms seeking errors
Some men seek rare antiques, others hunt wild boar. New Jersey Institute of Technology computer scientist Yehoshua Perl, Ph.D., creates elegant logical structures to track down errant or misplaced medical terms.

Plant biologist seeks molecular differences between rice and its mimic
Kenneth M. Olsen, Ph.D., a plant evolutionary biologist at Washington University in St.

The future of federally funded food programs -- Can they also fight obesity?
The WIC and Food Stamps programs do not cause obesity, yet those who have uneven access to food are often overweight/obese.

ESA polls stakeholders to inform its long-term exploration strategy
On January 8-9, in the historic town of Edinburgh, ESA and BNSC are to hold a workshop to kick off the first in a series of consultations with key stakeholders.

EUREKA TRIQ SORTING project develops new sorting system for better grain-based foods
The EUREKA E! 3176 EUROAGRI+ TRIQ SORTING project is aimed at helping food producers maintain the highest quality standards by improving the process of sorting wheat grains for use in bread, pasta and biscuit products.

Testosterone therapy may prevent Alzheimer's disease
Researchers at the University of Southern California have discovered a direct link between loss of testosterone and the development of an Alzheimer's-like disease in mice.

More patients diagnosed at earlier stage of colon cancer since expansion of screening coverage
Since Medicare raised the amount it will reimburse for colon cancer screening in 1998, there has been an increase in use of colonoscopies by Medicare beneficiaries, and a rise in the proportion of patients being diagnosed with colon cancer at an early stage, according to a study in the Dec.

Impulsiveness linked to activity in brain's reward center
A new imaging study shows that our brains react with varying sensitivity to reward and suggests that people most susceptible to impulse -- those who need to buy it, eat it, or have it, now -- how the greatest activity in a reward center of the brain.

History-hunting geneticists can still follow familiar trail
Fresh analysis validates use of classic genetic system to study ancient migrations of people and to estimate the populations of people or animals as they existed tens of thousands of years ago.

UIC named NIH Islet Cell Resource Center
The University of Illinois at Chicago has been named a National Institutes of Health Islet Cell Resource Center and awarded a 3-year $3.25 million grant.

Androgen therapy may slow progress of Alzheimer's disease
Experiments on mouse models of Alzheimer's disease suggest that treatment with male sex hormones might slow its progression.

Is workers' comp fair? Research finds no link between cash settlements, future impairment
New research from St. Louis University that points to racial disparity is among first to examine link between workers' compensation settlements for back pain and long-term functional outcomes. 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