Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

November 24, 2008
Scientists present 'moving' theory behind bacterial decision-making
Biochemists at North Carolina State University have answered a fundamental question of how important bacterial proteins make life-and-death decisions that allow them to function, a finding that could provide a new target for drugs to disrupt bacterial decision-making processes and related diseases.

Mineral oil contamination in humans: A health problem?
From a quantitative standpoint, mineral oil is probably the largest contaminant of our body.

Single mothers spend less time with their children than married mothers
A new study in the Journal of Marriage and Family examined differences in the amount and type of time that single, cohabiting and married mothers spend with their children.

Phycology in China
Science in China Series C: Life Sciences plans to arrange a special issue of papers addressing topics on phycology in China.

Flexibility trumps fitness in sexual reproduction, says new theory in evolutionary biology
An intriguing new theory of evolutionary biology says the reason sexual reproduction may be so successful is that it promotes genes that work well in combination with many other genes.

Smoking, teens and their parents: New research
A new study found that adolescents were at the greatest risk of smoking when their parents began smoking at an early age and the parents' smoking quickly reached high levels and persisted over time.

Health care reform: No revolution in sight
A new study involving health care systems in 21 countries -- and the prospects for change in response to such common pressures as rising costs and aging populations -- casts doubt on the possibility of major overhauls of any of these systems because of the history and traditions that created them.

Prion switching in response to environmental stress
A new paper, published in this week's issue of PLoS Biology, describes an evolutionary mechanism in yeast that allows cells to respond to environmental stress in novel ways, including digesting materials that they were previously unable to use.

Bacterial biofilms as fossil makers
Bacterial decay was once viewed as fossilization's mortal enemy, but new research suggests bacterial biofilms may have actually helped preserve the fossil record's most vulnerable stuff -- animal embryos and soft tissues.

Europe cores in EUROCORES: Ocean drilling in EuroMARC
The oceans are our climate regulators, cover the sites of fundamental geodynamic, geochemical and biological processes and have high-resolution records of the Earth's history in store for us.

Exercise helps overweight children reduce anger expression
Regular exercise seems to reduce anger expression in overweight but otherwise healthy children, Medical College of Georgia researchers say.

Research consortium to sequence turkey genome
An international consortium of researchers has begun an effort to sequence the genome of the domesticated turkey.

Dolphin population stunted by fishing activities, Scripps/NOAA study finds
Despite broad

Rensselaer opens center dedicated to the search for life in the universe
E.T. may have

Boosting the power of solar cells
New ways of squeezing out greater efficiency from solar photovoltaic cells are emerging from computer simulations and lab tests conducted by a team of physicists and engineers at MIT.

Los Alamos observatory fingers cosmic ray 'hot spots'
A Los Alamos National Laboratory cosmic-ray observatory has seen for the first time two distinct hot spots that appear to be bombarding Earth with an excess of cosmic rays.

Oklahoma EPSCoR receives $20 million for biofuels research
The Oklahoma Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research has received $20 million in new funding from the National Science Foundation and the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.

High blood pressure in the doctor's office may not predict heart risks
Continuously measuring blood pressure may help predict heart disease and related deaths among individuals with treatment-resistant hypertension, while blood pressure readings taken in a medical office do not appear to predict future heart risks, according to a report in Nov.

USC researchers identify novel approach for suppressing prostate cancer development
Researchers at the University of Southern California have found that inactivating a specific biomarker for aggressive prostate cancer blocks the development of prostate cancer in animal models.

Growth hormone not beneficial for ALS
A growth hormone that had shown some promise for treating people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis showed no benefit in a new study published in the Nov.

Scripps Florida scientists find blocking a neuropeptide receptor decreases nicotine addiction
Scientists at Scripps Florida have found that blocking the receptor for a specific neuropeptide, short chains of amino acids found in nerve tissue, significantly decreases the desire for nicotine in animal models.

The International Year of Astronomy 2009 Opening Ceremony: Save the date
With just six weeks to go before 2009, the International Year of Astronomy project is getting ready for its grand Opening Ceremony.

Health study in northern Uganda calls for improved services for internally displaced persons
There are over 1 million internally displaced persons in Uganda due to the 20-year conflict waged between a rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army, and the central government.

Escherichia coli bacteria transferring between humans and mountain gorillas
A new study finds that mountain gorillas are at increased risk of acquiring gastrointestinal microbes, such as Escherichia coli, from humans.

UCSD researchers identify potential new drug target for chronic leukemia
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, and the Moores UCSD Cancer Center have discovered what could be a novel drug target for an often difficult-to-treat form of leukemia.

High speed broadband will create energy bottleneck and slow Internet
A surge in energy consumption resulting from increased uptake of broadband will further slow Australia's Internet, says University of Melbourne research to be presented this week at the Symposium on Sustainability of the Internet and ICT.

A scientific breakthrough on the control of the bad cholesterol
A study performed by the team of Dr. Nabil G.

Celebrated UH researcher invited to Caltech as distinguished scholar
The California Institute of Technology has invited a longtime University of Houston engineering professor to spend next spring doing research and presenting seminars on its campus.

Why women should eat less, move more and consider wearing transdermal HRT patches during menopause
Weight and appetite experts from around the world met at a conference in Bangkok earlier this year to discuss sex differences in obesity.

Nutrients in water may be a bonus for agriculture
Agriculture producers may find they don't have to bottle their water from the Seymour Aquifer in the Rolling Plains to make it more valuable, according to Texas AgriLife Research scientists.

Archeology of homelessness
Larry J. Zimmerman, Ph.D., an Indiana University -- Purdue University Indianapolis professor of anthropology and museum studies at the School of Liberal Arts, and Jessica Welch, an IUPUI student and a formerly homeless woman, have completed a unique study of the material culture of the homeless.

COPI complex is a regulator of lipid homeostasis
In this week's issue of PLoS Biology, a new paper by Dr.

Transporting broiler chickens could spread antibiotic-resistant organisms
A study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found increased levels of pathogenic bacteria, both susceptible and drug-resistant, on surfaces and in the air inside cars traveling behind trucks that carry broiler chickens.

Studies show novel device may enhance chemotherapy treatment in brain tumors
NovoCure Ltd. presented results yesterday evaluating the Novo-TTF device in vitro and in a pilot clinical trial that showed the device enhanced the efficacy of standard chemotherapy treatment in newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme patients.

Potassium loss from blood pressure drugs may explain higher risk of adult diabetes
Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered that a drop in blood potassium levels caused by diuretics commonly prescribed for high blood pressure could be the reason why people on those drugs are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Inherited genetic cause, possible treatment found for complex lung disorder
A tale of two sisters has helped researchers solve a medical mystery and discover a familial genetic mutation that causes an inherited form of the lung disease pulmonary alveolar proteinosis.

Joslin researchers identify new source of insulin-producing cells
Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center have shown that insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells can form after birth or after injury from progenitor cells within the pancreas that were not beta cells.

Genomic signature of colon cancer may individualize treatment
Researchers in the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy have developed a model for predicting risk of recurrence in early stage colon cancer patients, and have used the model to also predict sensitivity to chemotherapy and targeted therapy regimens.

Mammals can be stimulated to regrow damaged inner retina nerve cells
For the first time the mammalian retina has now shown the capacity to regenerate new neurons after damage.

USP wins CITAC award for paper on certified reference materials
The US Pharmacopeial Convention is pleased to announce that it has received an award from the Cooperation on International Traceability in Analytical Chemistry for publishing a

Transfusions increase clot risk in hospitalized cancer patients
Blood transfusions used to treat anemia in patients with cancer are associated with an increased risk of life-threatening blood clots, at a similar rate as other treatments for cancer-induced anemia, according to scientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

International food aid alone cannot solve the global malnutrition crisis
In an editorial in this week's PLoS Medicine, the journal's editors discuss some of the controversies surrounding international food aid, and conclude that

Bittersweet milestones
Research presented at the Gerontological Society of America's annual meeting found that depression among centenarians is grossly underdiagnosed: more than 25 percent showed clinical levels of depression, yet only 8 percent had been diagnosed.

Stomach ulcer bug causes bad breath
Bacteria that cause stomach ulcers and cancer could also be giving us bad breath, according to research published in the December issue of the Journal of Medical Microbiology.

New study finds publication bias among trials submitted to FDA
A quarter of drug trials submitted in support of new drug applications to the US Food and Drug Administration remain unpublished five years after the fact, says new research published in the open access journal PLoS Medicine.

Scientists build 'roach motel' for nasty bugs of the bacterial variety
The vacancy sign is on, but the lowlifes who check in never check out.

Scientists show gene mutation may cause immature lungs in newborns
Scientists have identified a gene critical to lung maturation in newborns and the production of surfactant, which lines lung tissues and prevents the lungs from collapsing.

Chinese forest project could reduce number of environmental disasters
A study published in Journal of the American Water Resources Association states that the

New type of vaccines deliver stronger and faster immune response
A new vaccine principle is being developed by scientists at the University of Copenhagen which, if it works to its full expected potential, could help to save millions of lives and revolutionize current vaccine technology.

NIST awards $24M in grants for new research facilities
The National Institute of Standards and Technology announced today that it is awarding grants totaling more than $24 million to three universities to provide cost-shared support for the construction of new scientific research facilities.

Bioinformatics lecturers enlist undergrads to tackle DNA annotation challenge
In this week's issue of PLoS Biology, a team of Marseilles University lecturers led by Pascal Hingamp, describe the Annotathon -- an innovative bioinformatics teaching approach that appeals to undergraduate biology students.

Mothers' mental games increase depressive symptoms in daughters
A new study in the journal Family Relations examined the effects of a mother's psychological control on the risk for depression of African-American adolescents.

Ph.D. student Sue Lynn Lau dances her way to Chicago
It was announced on Friday that Garvan endocrinologist and Ph.D.

New NC State study shows it pays to shop around online
Holiday shopping season has arrived, and tough financial times mean that more people will probably be shopping around for the best price.

Children with sickle cell disease receiving inadequate care
A new study finds that youth populations with sickle cell disease are receiving inadequate health care, and thus may fail to benefit from scientific advances.

Robo-lizards help prove long-standing signaling theory
Like teachers who rap a ruler before announcing homework in noisy classrooms, Puerto Rican anole lizards perform eye-catching pushups before beginning head-bobbing displays that advertise their territory and status, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis.

New economic woes hit boomers, seniors hardest
Millions of older Americans stand at the epicenter of the current financial crisis and the implications must be confronted, said experts today during a symposium at the Gerontological Society of America's 61st Annual Scientific Meeting.

Key link in how plants adapt to climate discovered by Stanford researchers
How many mouths does a plant need in order to survive?

Berkeley Lab team wins special ACM Gordon Bell Prize for algorithm innovation
Berkeley Lab researchers have won a prestigious ACM Gordon Bell Prize for special achievement in high performance computing for their research into the energy harnessing potential of nanostructures.

World AIDS Day: Dec. 1, 2008
The majority of the 1 million-plus people in this country living with HIV are uninsured or rely on public programs for care.

Penn scientists discover cells reorganize shape to fit the situation
Flip open any biology textbook and you're bound to see a complicated diagram of the inner workings of a cell, with its internal scaffolding, the cytoskeleton, and how it maintains a cell's shape.

Cancer cell 'bodyguard' turned into killer
If you're a cancer cell, you want a protein called Bcl-2 on your side because it decides if you live or die.

Pregnancy study finds strong association between two antidepressants and heart anomalies
Pregnant women who took fluoxetine had four times as many babies with heart problems, while paroxetine caused a three-fold increase.

TV: Not the only channel to early sex
Watching plenty of television combined with low self-esteem, poor relationships with parents and low academic achievement are some of the factors that may add up to young people having sex before the age of 15.

Panamanian termite goes ballistic: Fastest mandible strike in the world
A single hit on the head by the termite Termes panamensis (Snyder), which possesses the fastest mandible strike ever recorded, is sufficient to kill a would-be nest invader.

Combination therapies may be almost as effective as treated bednets in preventing malaria
Artemisinin-combination therapies could be almost as effective in reducing transmission of malaria as insecticide-treated bednets in areas of low transmission, a study based on data from Tanzania has found.

Light pollution offers new global measure of coral reef health
Scientists unveil the first global index correlating night light with threats to coral reefs.

Milagro detects cosmic ray hot spots
The University of Maryland-led Milagro collaboration, comprised of scientists from 16 institutions across the United States, has discovered two nearby regions with an unexpected excess of cosmic rays.

Developing a neighborhood watch for the Internet
Internet network performance problems are not only annoying to users -- they are costly to businesses and network operators.

Putting a green cap on garbage dumps
Landfill sites produce the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide as putrescible waste decays.

$18.5 million grant makes male circumcision a top-tier HIV prevention strategy
Three conclusive studies have shown that becoming circumcized dramatically reduces a man's chances of acquiring HIV from an infected woman.

Ocean growing more acidic faster than once thought
University of Chicago scientists have documented that the ocean is growing more acidic faster than previously thought.

Telephone counseling may be as effective as face-to-face counseling in weight loss maintenance
Face-to-face and telephone follow-up sessions appear to be more effective in the maintenance of weight loss for women from rural communities compared with weight loss education alone, according to a report in the Nov.

Race bigotry falling in Britain
Racial prejudice in Britain has been declining sharply in Britain since the 1980s thanks to the greater tolerance of younger generations, according to a new study.

Smithsonian puts tropical eastern Pacific shore fishes online
A new bilingual online information system created by D. Ross Robertson, staff scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Coeus Knowledge Systems makes it possible for conservationists, sport fishers, tourists, researchers, students and resource managers to identify and generate publishable maps for 1,287 tropical eastern Pacific shore fish species.

Expert says layoffs could worsen economic woes
Widespread layoffs that stem corporate financial losses but leave workers out in the cold would deepen the looming recession that sparked them, a University of Illinois labor expert warns.

Global warming is changing organic matter in soil
New research shows that we should be looking to the ground, not the sky, to see where climate change could have its most perilous impact on life on Earth.

SDSC-led team sets records in simulating seismic wave propagation across the Earth
A team led by researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UC San Diego has successfully completed record-setting, petascale-level simulations of the earth's inner structure, paving the way for seismologists to model seismic wave propagations at frequencies of just over one second -- the same frequencies that occur in nature.

Is private health care the answer to the health problems of the world's poor?
A provocative debate in this week's PLoS Medicine examines whether the private sector should step up its involvement in delivering health care in low-income countries.

14 drugs identified as most urgently needing study for off-label use, Stanford professor says
Physicians and policy-makers know that drugs are frequently prescribed to treat certain diseases despite a lack of FDA approval, a practice known as off-label prescribing.

Flies may reveal evolutionary step to live birth
A species of fruit fly from the Seychelles Islands often lays larvae instead of eggs, UC San Diego biologists have discovered.

Scientists discover 21st century plague
Bacteria that can cause serious heart disease in humans are being spread by rat fleas, sparking concern that the infections could become a bigger problem in humans.

Study identifies double-balloon enteroscopy as cost-effective approach for obscure GI bleeding
A cost-effectiveness analysis conducted by researchers at Stanford University Hospital in Calif., shows that an initial double-balloon enteroscopy is a cost-effective approach for patients with obscure gastrointestinal bleeding.

Adult brain neurons can remodel connections
Overturning a century of prevailing thought, scientists are finding that neurons in the adult brain can remodel their connections.

Scientists shed light on evolution of gene regulation
Scientists at Penn State have shed light on some of the processes that regulate genes and on the evolution of the DNA regions that regulate genes.

Diabetes medications in same class carry different risks of heart failure, death
Older adults who take the diabetes medication rosiglitazone appear to have a higher risk of death and heart failure than those taking the related medication pioglitazone, according to a report in the Nov.

Ants may help researchers unlock mysteries of human aging process
NYU School of Medicine researcher Dr. Danny Reinberg was awarded a Howard Hughes Institute of Medicine Collaborative Innovation Award for new research on ant epigenetics -- helping to unravel the impact lifestyle and environment have on genes.

'Lost history' of Christianity unveils Eastern church empire
Since 2002, Penn State scholar Philip Jenkins has been describing in several books the changes and the faces of global Christianity for the 21st century, with membership growth and ecumenical power shifting to the Christians in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Old flies can become young moms
Female flies can turn back the biological clock and extend their lifespan at the same time, USC biologists report.

Springer launches Food Security
Hardly a day passes without the challenge of global food security featuring prominently in the media.

Peer-led sex education does not reduce abortions among teenagers
A trial of peer-led sex education in schools in England has found that it is not more effective at reducing teenage abortions than the sex education classes given by teachers.

Gasping helps cardiac arrest victims survive
People who witness an individual collapse suddenly and unexpectedly should perform uninterrupted chest compressions even if the patient gasps or breathes in a funny way, research from the Resuscitation Research Group at the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center shows.

Mammograms may detect some cancers that would have otherwise regressed
Breast cancer rates increased significantly in four Norwegian counties after women there began undergoing mammography every two years, according to a report in the Nov.

Telcagepant proven as a safe and effective migraine treatment in phase III trial
Telcagepant 300 mg is effective as an acute treatment for migraine with efficacy comparable to that of zolmitriptan 5 mg, a widely used migraine treatment, but with fewer associated adverse effects.

ACTs may achieve malaria transmission reductions comparable to insecticide treated nets
In low-transmission areas, if widely used, artemisinin combination therapy may reduce malaria transmission as effectively as the widespread use of insecticide-treated bed nets, says a new study published in next week's PLoS Medicine.

'Gray's Paradox' solved: Researchers discover secret of speedy dolphins
In 1936, zoologist Sir James Gray observed dolphins swimming faster than 20 mph, but his studies had concluded that the muscles of dolphins simply weren't strong enough to support that speed.

New research helps explain genetics of Parkinson's disease
A new study by Narendra et al. suggests that Parkin, the product of the Parkinson's disease-related gene Park2, prompts neuronal survival by clearing the cell of its damaged mitochondria.

Polymers 'battered' with nanoparticles could create self healing paints and clever packaging
Research chemists at the University of Warwick have devised an elegant process which simply and cheaply covers small particles of polymer with a layer of silica-based nanoparticles.

Sealing off portion of intestinal lining treats obesity, resolves diabetes in animal model
Lining the upper portion of the small intestine with an impermeable sleeve led to both weight loss and restoration of normal glucose metabolism in an animal model of obesity-induced diabetes.

Scripps Research scientists shed light on how DNA is unwound so that its code can be read
Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute have figured out how a macromolecular machine is able to unwind the long and twisted tangles of DNA within a cell's nucleus so that genetic information can be

76 percent of American middle-class households not financially secure
As the economy continues to reel, a new report finds that 4 million American households lost economic security between 2000 and 2006 and that a majority of America's middle class households are either borderline or at high risk of falling out of the middle class altogether.

Getting warmer? Prehistoric climate can help forecast future changes
New data on a prehistoric warm period allow for more accurate predictions of future climate and improved understanding of today's warming.

Study suggests reliability of cognitive assessment tool varies widely
A study published in the November issue of the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease suggests the reliability of the Alzheimer's Disease Assessment Scale -- Cognitive may vary and possess the ability to affect clinical trial outcomes.

Mystery of missing hydrogen
Something vital is missing in the far distant reaches of the Universe: Hydrogen -- the raw material for stars, planets and possible life.

Superglue from the sea
Sandcastle worms live in intertidal surf, building sturdy tube-shaped homes from bits of sand and shell and their own natural glue.

Misfolded proteins accelerate yeast evolution
In yeast, a protein-misfolding mechanism can reveal hidden genetic variations and thus generate new phenotypes that may increase cell survival.

MIT engineers show how tiny cell proteins generate force to 'walk'
MIT researchers have shown how a cell motor protein exerts the force to move, enabling functions such as cell division.

Sperm size isn't everything
Contrary to common scientific belief, the length of a sperm's tail does not always determine how fast it can swim.

Chandrayaan-1 starts observations of the moon
The Indian Space Research Organization's lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1 released a probe that impacted close to the lunar south pole on Nov.

Researchers identify new leprosy bacterium
A new species of bacterium that causes leprosy has been identified through intensive genetic analysis of a pair of lethal infections, a research team reports in the December issue of the American Journal of Clinical Pathology.
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