Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

March 11, 2008
All-round safety
A car body that thinks intelligently and protects its occupants at the crucial moment has been every driver's dream for a long time.

Monthly personal counseling helps maintain weight loss
In the largest and longest study to date of weight loss maintenance strategies, researchers at Duke University Medical Center found that personal contact -- and, to a lesser extent, a computer-based support system -- were helpful in keeping weight off.

Monthly contact with counselor provides some benefit for maintaining weight loss
Weight-loss program participants who had a brief, monthly personal contact intervention -- most often a 10-15 minute phone conversation -- regained less weight than participants who were in a Web-based intervention or self-directed program, according to a study in the March 12 issue of JAMA.

Modern physics is critical to global warming research
In a March 11, 2008, presentation at the American Physical Society meeting in New Orleans, Brown University physicist Brad Marston makes the case that statistical physics can provide a better understanding of global weather patterns -- information critical for more accurately predicting climate change.

Harlequin frog rediscovered in remote region of Colombia
After 14 years without having been seen, several young scientists supported by the Conservation Leadership Programme, have rediscovered the Carrikeri harlequin frog in a remote mountainous region in Colombia.

Weight loss more effective than intensive insulin therapy for type 2 diabetics
Weight loss and major lifestyle changes may be more effective than intensive insulin therapy for overweight patients with poorly controlled, insulin-resistant type 2 diabetes, according to a diabetes researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Grappling with grammar
Researchers at UCL have discovered that a system in the brain for processing grammar is impaired in some children with specific language impairment, but that these children compensate with a different brain area.

Increased level of magnetic iron oxides found in Alzheimer's disease
A team of scientists, led by Professor Jon Dobson, of Keele University in Staffordshire, UK, have found, for the first time, raised levels of magnetic iron oxides in the part of the brain affected by Alzheimer's Disease.

Model identifies targets for eradication of malaria
Scientists at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, in Portugal, have shown that malaria eradication in Africa is sustainable, and any re-emergence of malaria in industrialized nations is highly unlikely.

Study shows long-term weight control is achievable
People who shed weight and want to keep it off might benefit from monthly personal contact interventions, researchers reported at the American Heart Association's Conference on Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism.

Biologists at UC San Diego identify key protein in cell's 'self-eating' function
Molecular biologists at the University of California, San Diego have found one piece of the complex puzzle of autophagy, the process of

Mystery behind the strongest creature in the world
Research published today, Tuesday, March 11, in the New Journal of Physics, details an investigation into the structure of the Hercules Beetle's peculiar protective shell which could aid design of

USC researchers find benefit for lymphoma patients in combined PET-CT scanning
Combined positron emission tomography and computed tomography imaging of lymphoma patients is a more effective method to evaluate response to radiation therapy, and may help patients avoid unnecessary follow-up treatments, a study by researchers at the University of Southern California suggests.

Joint research: Probing the mysteries of a surprisingly tough hydrogel
Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Hokkaido University are studying an unusually pliant yet strong synthetic cartilage replacement in hopes of providing arthritis victims with some relief.

A new mouse model of mania
The glutamate receptor 6 (GluR6) gene is associated with bipolar disorder.

Georgetown U student selected for prestigious Bouchet Society
Anatasha Crawford, a doctoral candidate at Georgetown University, has been named a member of the Edward A.

The fight against obesity -- a new insight
With obesity still on the increase, it appears that the main weapon in the fight against it -- reducing energy consumption by eating less -- is ineffective.

Post brain injury: New nerve cells originate from neural stem cells
In the study group of Dr. Magdalena Goetz in the Institute of Stem Cell Research of the Helmholtz Zentrum Muenchen and Ludwig Maximilians-University Munich, another step has been taken towards the understanding of processes to be able to substitute for injured brain cells after accidents.

Structure reveals how cells 'sugar-coat' proteins
Biologists at the US Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University, and the University of Wurzburg, Germany, have deciphered the structure of a large protein complex responsible for adding sugar molecules to newly formed proteins -- a process essential to many proteins' functions.

Study finds personal and Web-based support equal weight loss success
Findings in the Journal of the American Medical Association on the largest weight loss maintenance study to date reinforce Kaiser Permanente's approach to obesity prevention.

Paradigm shift: Switch for programmed cell death promotes spread of glioblastoma
The protein CD95 is known to act as a molecular switch that triggers the apoptosis death program in cells.

NIH grant to Emory and pediatric partners aims to improve kidney transplants for children
Emory University School of Medicine and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta are teaming up with two university hospitals in California to find new ways to make kidney transplants more tolerable for children.

Combined stenting and photodynamic therapy improves survival in late stage liver cancer patients
A combined therapeutic approach of stenting and photodynamic therapy may improve survival rates for patients suffering from advanced liver bile duct cancer, according to a study published this month in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Life expectancy rises for the educated; the less-educated reap no benefit
While life expectancy has increased significantly for educated people over the last 20 years, it has plateaued for less educated people.

COX-2 expression is marker for cancer development in some benign breast biopsies
The research team discovered women whose atypia tissue expressed COX-2 enzymes were more likely to develop breast cancer subsequently, and that the more the enzyme expressed, the higher the risk.

Bulk metallic glasses
This special issue is a representative review of the most important research results of the key research groups in China.

Different use of brain areas may explain memory problems in schizophrenics
The enduring memory problems that people with schizophrenia experience may be related to differences in how their brains process information, new research has found.

Wisconsin researchers describe how digits grow
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health are wagging a finger at currently held notions about the way digits are formed.

Royal corruption is rife in the ant world
Far from being a model of social cooperation, the ant world is riddled with cheating and corruption -- and it goes all the way to the top, according to scientists from the Universities of Leeds and Copenhagen.

New potential treatment for muscular dystrophy appears to be safe
Myostatin, a protein that blocks muscle growth, has shown promising results as a potential therapeutic target for treating muscular dystrophy in animal studies, where its inhibition led to increased muscle mass and strength.

Specialized hospital care associated with better survival in Dutch ovarian cancer patients
Dutch ovarian cancer patients who were treated at a semi-specialized or specialized hospital survived longer than those treated at a general hospital, according to a study published online March 11 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Leading researchers honored for progress in cancer prevention, detection and treatment
World-class cancer researchers whose science has significantly contributed to progress in the fight against cancer will be recognized April 12-16, 2008, by the American Association for Cancer Research at its 2008 Annual Meeting at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, Calif.

Penn research offers road map to safer pain control, cost savings during colonoscopies
At a time when several US health insurers have discontinued payment for use of the sedative propofol during most screening colonoscopies, physicians at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered that an alternative way to administer the drug could both save millions of health care dollars and provide a safer way to deliver optimal pain relief.

Which came first, social dominance or big brains? Wasps may tell
A study of a tropical wasp suggests that brainpower required to be dominant drives brain capacity, supporting the idea that bigger brains are better.

Scientists to discover why flamingos are in the pink of health -- in the poo!
Researchers investigate remarkable survival of birds in contaminated Indian waters.

Researchers ID behavioral risk factors for head and neck cancers
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have teased out two distinct sets of risk factors for head and neck cancers, suggesting that there are two completely different kinds of the disease.

Postoperative chemotherapy does not improve survival in gastric cancer patients
The use of combination chemotherapy following surgery did not improve survival in patients with gastric cancer, according to a randomized clinical trial published online March 11 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Climate change will have a significant impact on transportation infrastructure and operations
While every mode of transportation in the US will be affected as the climate changes, potentially the greatest impact on transportation systems will be flooding of roads, railways, transit systems and airport runways in coastal areas because of rising sea levels and surges brought on by more intense storms, says a new report from the National Research Council.

Columbus camera captures first views of Earth
One of the experiments housed on the European Columbus laboratory's external platform is an automated eye in the sky known as the Earth Viewing Camera.

News tips from the Journal of Neuroscience
The following papers are featured in the March 12 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience:

Lego system for production facilities
Things that work on a small scale are not necessarily as successful on a large one.

Short-term stress can affect learning and memory
Short-term stress lasting as little as a few hours can impair brain-cell communication in areas associated with learning and memory, University of California, Irvine researchers have found.

Other highlights in the March 11 JNCI
Also in the March 11 online issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute are a risk-factor profile for human papillomavirus-associated head and neck cancer, an association between COX-2 overexpression and breast cancer in women with previously abnormal biopsies, an estimate of the excess cancer burden in adults following radiation exposure during fetal development and early childhood, and a newly identified breast cancer gene.

Arctic climate models playing key role in polar bear decision
The pending federal decision about whether to protect the polar bear as a threatened species is as much about climate science as it is about climate change.

New twist on life's power source
A startling discovery by scientists at the Carnegie Institution puts a new twist on photosynthesis, arguably the most important biological process on Earth.

Chicago neuroscientist contributes to book on brains and baseball
Steven Small, professor of neurology and psychology at the University of Chicago, and colleagues Ana Solodkin and John Milton, are among a group science writers and neuroscientists featured in

Regenstrief Institute tapped by CDC to combat potentially catastrophic disease outbreaks
CDC contract award will allow researchers from Regenstrief Institute to build upon their groundbreaking work in health information exchange and biosurveillance to develop innovative public health informatics solutions to combat outbreaks of such public health hazards as anthrax, plague or other infectious diseases.

MRSA screening at hospital admission not linked to reduced rates of infection in surgical patients
New findings do not support the recommendation for universal screening on hospital admission for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) to reduce the rate of hospital-acquired infections in surgical patients, according to a study in the March 12 issue of JAMA.

Brown scientist answers how Peruvian meteorite made it to Earth
Brown University professor Peter Schultz's study of the Peruvian meteorite has yielded some interesting conclusions that could upend the conventional wisdom about the size and type of meteorites that can strike Earth.

FSU classics professor exploring a 'lost' city of the Mycenaeans
Along an isolated, rocky stretch of Greek shoreline, a Florida State University researcher and his students are unlocking the secrets of a partially submerged,

Europe to build state of the art laboratory
One of the great ongoing challenges of astrophysics, to find out how stars evolve and die, is to be tackled in an ambitious European research program.

UIC researchers may have found test for depression
Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine have discovered that a change in the location of a protein in the brain could serve as a biomarker for depression, making it possible with a simple, rapid, laboratory test to identify patients with depression and to determine whether a chosen antidepressant therapy will provide a successful response.

First early-detection blood test for Parkinson's shows promise
A test that profiles molecular biomarkers in blood could become the first accurate diagnostic test for Parkinson's disease, new research shows.

Bird brains suggest how vocal learning evolved
Though they perch far apart on the avian family tree, birds with the ability to learn songs use similar brain structures to sing their tunes.

Revise guidelines for weight gain during pregnancy, says Saint Louis U. obstetrician
Heavy women gain too much weight during pregnancy, says a Saint Louis University obstetrician and obesity expert.

Microchip fingerprints used to lock out chip pirates
Pirated microchips -- chips stolen from legitimate factories or made from stolen blueprints -- account for billions of dollars in annual losses to chipmakers, but a series of novel techniques developed at Rice University over the past year could stop pirates by allowing chip designers to lock and remotely activate chips with a unique ID tag.

Red-light cameras increase crashes, researchers find
Rather than improving motorist safety, red-light cameras significantly increase crashes and are a ticket to higher auto insurance premiums, researchers at the University of South Florida College of Public Health conclude.

Clean diesels
Most diggers and construction machines discharge unfiltered exhaust fumes into the air.

Policing cells demand ID to tell friend from foe, say University of Pennsylvania cell engineers
University of Pennsylvania scientists studying macrophages, the biological cells that spring from white blood cells to eat and destroy foreign or dying cells, have discovered how these

Insecticide combo delivers knockout punch
A cocktail of insecticides containing a plant protein and a common insecticide may be more lethal to crop pests than either ingredient used alone, according to biologists.

Minorities, whites get equal care in hospitals
A University of Maryland study of whether people receive different quality of hospital care because of their race or ethnicity found that when whites and minorities are admitted to a hospital for the same reason, they receive the same quality care in that hospital.

Epigenetic changes discovered in major psychosis
Scientists at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto have discovered epigenetic changes in individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Want to lose weight and keep it off? Personal counseling beats web-based information
Individuals are less likely to regain lost weight when they get monthly tips straight from trained counselors rather than from a weight-loss Web site, according to results of a study by Johns Hopkins and other researchers.

Genetic analysis reveals range of Rett syndrome
The first comprehensive analysis of the clinical effects of genetic mutations involved in Rett syndrome will enable affected families to receive a more accurate indication of their child's prognosis.

US stands to lose a generation of young researchers
Leading academic research institutions seek increased NIH funding to reverse effects that are threatening advances in medicine.

Naval Research Laboratory to design lunar telescope to see into the dark ages
A team of scientists and engineers led by NRL will study how to design a telescope on the moon for peering into the last unexplored epoch in the universe's history.

Increased carbon dioxide in atmosphere linked to decreased soil organic matter
A recent study at the University of Illinois created a bit of a mystery for soil scientist Michelle Wander -- increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was expected to increase plant growth, increase plant biomass and ultimately beef up the organic matter in the soil -- but it didn't.

New resuscitation approach for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest associated with increased survival
Patients who had cardiac arrests outside of the hospital setting and were treated with a resuscitation approach designed to limit interruption of chest compressions, termed minimally interrupted cardiac resuscitation, were more likely to survive than those patients who received standard treatments, according to a study in the March 12 issue of JAMA.

Female katydids prefer mates 'cool' in winter and 'hot' in summer
Katydid (or didn't she?) respond to the mating call of her suitors.

New techniques improve imaging quality, not diagnosis of Barrett's esophagus
Novel techniques to improve the quality of imaging are helping doctors get a better look at esophageal conditions such as Barrett's esophagus, but they do not necessarily improve the diagnosis or physician agreement on images, according to a study published this month in Gastroenterology.

Gene hunters fine-tune marker for common obesity gene
Genomics researchers, seeking to replicate another group's discovery of an important gene associated with obesity, have further refined the signal to a particular variant in DNA that may be more helpful in identifying this gene's role in obesity in various human populations worldwide. 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