Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

April 30, 2009
Snakes and how they helped our big brains evolve
The threat of snakes gave primates superior vision and large brains -- and fueled a critical aspect of human evolution, UC Davis anthropology professor Lynne Isbell argues in a new book.

Methylprednisolone added to interferon beta reduces relapse rate
Addition of oral methylprednisolone, the standard treatment of subcutaneous interferon beta-1a, substantially reduces the relapse rate in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

Scripps Research scientists determine workings of potentially useful virus
We typically view viruses as scourges. But Marianne Manchester, an associate professor at The Scripps Research Institute, and her colleagues are hoping to enlist the help of one particular virus to treat disease.

The first DFG research centers to be funded for another 4 years
Following a successful second funding period, the first three DFG Research Centres will again be extended and will continue for another four years.

Gene test determines risk of heart surgery complications
Genetic differences can explain why some patients undergoing heart surgery later experience shock and kidney complications, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

Pandemic study of 1918-1919 outbreak provides background and death rates for 14 European countries
French researchers have studied deaths from 14 countries in the 1918-1919 flu pandemic and have concluded that it is unlikely that the virus originated in Europe.

Caring for stroke survivors sometimes stressful, but also rewarding
While caring for stroke survivors can be highly stressful, many families feel little strain from caregiving.

CU-Boulder scientists detect magnesium in MESSENGER flyby of Mercury
NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft served up another curveball to a University of Colorado at Boulder team after a second flyby of the hot inner planet Oct.

Using a small stockpile of a secondary antiviral drug in a flu pandemic
In a global influenza pandemic, small stockpiles of a secondary flu medication -- if used early in local outbreaks -- could extend the effectiveness of primary drug stockpiles, according to research made available today ahead of publication in PLoS Medicine.

Report shows US wildlife trade poorly regulated
A research team including Brown University has found that the US wildlife import system is broken.

Gray matter under attack in multiple sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is a condition in which the immune system attacks the central nervous system, including neurons in the gray matter.

Brain protein central to both Parkinson's, drug addiction identified
Scientists have identified a protein that appears not only to be central to the process that causes Parkinson's disease but could also play a role in muting the high from methamphetamine and other addictive drugs.

Recent local TV reports on engineering highlight IEEE technologies that benefit society
As part of its public awareness program to promote engineering and technological literacy, IEEE-USA has helped to underwrite more than 600 local television news reports on engineering and science since 2005.

Cancer-causing virus associated with higher risk of new HIV infection
Infection with anal human papillomavirus, a virus that can cause anal and cervical cancers, is associated with a higher risk of new HIV infection in previously HIV-negative men who have sex with men, according to new UCSF research.

Genome Research publishes special issue: Genomics and Darwinism
The May 2009 issue of Genome Research is a special issue celebrating the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of

Penn geneticist publishes largest-ever study on African genetics revealing origins, migration
Researchers working in a 10-year collaboration have released the largest-ever study of African genetic data -- more than 4 million genotypes -- providing a library of new information on the continent which is thought to be the source of the oldest settlements of modern humans.

Recycler protein helps prevent disease
Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and Heidelberg University, Germany, have now uncovered the first step in the recycling of a crucial molecular tag which ensures the instructions encoded in our genes are correctly carried out.

Fertilization intensifies competition for light and endangers plant diversity
Fertilized grasslands are more productive but poorer in species. Researchers from the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Zurich and the ETH Zurich have now identified the mechanisms that lead to loss of biodiversity through fertilization.

First 10-year follow-up shows that treatment with AVONEX leads to long-term benefits in early multiple sclerosis patients
Biogen Idec today announced data results from the CHAMPIONS study, an open label follow-up to CHAMPS.

Strong showing of UH researchers at international nanotech expo
For the first time, the world's largest international nanotechnology conference, expo and trade show is coming to Houston May 3-7, and University of Houston researchers will be attending in full force.

NASA study says climate adds fuel to Asian wildfire emissions
In the last decade, Asian farmers have cleared tens of thousands of square miles of forests to accommodate the world's growing demand for palm oil, an increasingly popular food ingredient.

Research finds photos more useful than words
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine have found that pictures allow patients with very mild Alzheimer's disease to better recognize and identify a subject as compared to using just words.

Atomic physics study sets new limits on hypothetical new particles
In a forthcoming Physical Review Letters article, a group of physicists at the University of Nevada, Reno are reporting a refined analysis of experiments on violation of mirror symmetry in atoms that sets new constraints on a hypothesized particle, the extra Z-boson.

Southern glaciers grow out of step with North
The vast majority of the world's glaciers are retreating as the planet gets warmer.

Sandia researchers construct carbon nanotube device that can detect colors of the rainbow
Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories have created the first carbon nanotube device that can detect the entire visible spectrum of light, a feat that could soon allow scientists to probe single molecule transformations, study how those molecules respond to light, observe how the molecules change shapes, and understand other fundamental interactions between molecules and nanotubes.

Computer use significantly affected by arthritis
Computers are increasingly used in daily life: 56 percent of workers use one on the job and 62 percent of households own one.

International team finds key gene that allows plants to survive drought
A team of scientists from Canada, Spain and the United States has identified a key gene that allows plants to defend themselves against environmental stresses like drought, freezing and heat.

New view of HIV entry may lead to next generation of inhibitors
Scientists may need to rethink the design of drugs meant to block HIV from infecting human cells, according to a study that appears in the May 1 issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication.

Cancer patient mortality increased by anemia treatments
Agents used to treat anemia in cancer patients, that work by stimulating red blood cell production, also increase mortality.

XBox forensics
A forensics toolkit for the Xbox gaming console is described by US researchers in the latest issue of the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics.

CI president receives Roger Tory Peterson Medal
Russell A. Mittermeier, the president of Conservation International and a global leader in biodiversity conservation, has received the Roger Tory Peterson Medal from the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

Studies uncover high and often overlooked costs associated with epilepsy
Employees with epilepsy cost health-care insurers and employers significantly more than those without the condition, according to findings from two studies presented here today at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Meeting.

Researcher: Lasers used to detect melamine in baby formula
With equipment readily available to health officials and businesses, a Purdue University researcher has found a way to detect trace amounts of melamine in infant formula.

Stanford scientists turn adult skin cells into muscle and vice versa
In a study featured on the cover of the May issue of the FASEB Journal, researchers describe how they are able to reprogram human adult skin cells into other cell types in order to decipher the elusive mechanisms underlying reprogramming.

Children and teenagers at risk for noise-induced hearing loss, warn America's ENT doctors
A recent survey by the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery, which represents ear, nose and throat doctors, found that 4 in 5 Americans are concerned about hearing loss due to ear buds.

Scientists shed light on inner workings of human embryonic stem cells
Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have made a significant discovery in understanding the way human embryonic stem cells function.

Arizona State researchers use multispectral images to reveal origin and evolution of planet Mercury
Using high-resolution and multispectral images, researchers have started the difficult process of determining the composition of Mercury's crust and chronicling its origin and evolution.

Decrease in sense of smell seen in lupus patients
The sense of smell is a complex process of the central nervous system that involves specific areas of the brain.

Cetuximab slightly increases overall survival in lung cancer patients
A phase III study has shown that adding cetuximab to standard platinum-based chemotherapy for patients with non-small-cell lung cancer extends survival of patients by just over one month compared with chemotherapy alone.

Type of connection procedure after pancreatic surgery influenced rate of pancreatic fistula
After surgery to remove the head of the pancreas, invagination of the pancreas into the small intestine resulted in a lower rate of pancreatic fistula, according to researchers at the Jefferson Pancreas, Biliary and Related Cancer Center.

Proteins, soft tissue from 80-million-year-old dino support theory that molecules preserve over time
A North Carolina State University paleontologist has more evidence that soft tissues and original proteins can be preserved over time -- even in fossilized remains -- in the form of new protein sequence data from an 80-million-year-old hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur.

Computer hackers R.I.P. -- making quantum cryptography practical
Quantum cryptography, a completely secure means of communication, is much closer to being used practically as researchers from Toshiba and Cambridge University's Cavendish Laboratory have now developed high speed detectors capable of receiving information with much higher key rates, thereby able to receive more information faster.

New layer of control over human embryonic stem cells found
Researchers have discovered an added layer of complexity in the network that determines human embryonic stem cell fate.

Cancer-obesity link discovery by MSU researchers could aid prevention efforts
A new link between body fat and cancer identified by a Michigan State University researcher underscores obesity's health risk and could lead to new cancer treatment and prevention strategies.

Synthesis with a template
A team led by Manfred Scheer at the University of Regensburg has now synthesized the first example of an inorganic, carbon-free C80 analogue.

Synthetic chemical offers solution for crops facing drought
Abscisic acid, produced naturally by plants, is a key hormone that helps plants cope with drought conditions.

Finding a stereotype that is true: Mexicans more sociable than Americans
Stereotypes often paint a partial or false picture of an individual or group.

Ancestor of HIV in primates may be surprisingly young
The ancestors of the simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) that jumped from chimpanzees and monkeys, and ignited the HIV/AIDS pandemic in humans, have been dated to just a few centuries ago.

Just in time for spring: Scientists find the cellular on and off switch for allergies and asthma
If you're one of the millions who dread the spring allergy season, things are looking up.

Study validates means to measure possible leukemia marker
Ohio State University cancer researchers show that a technology called liquid chromatography-mass spectroscopy can reliably and reproducibly measure variations in the composition of histone proteins in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cells compared with their healthy counterparts, immune cells called B lymphocytes.

New ACS publication Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters to debut in January
In response to the increasing demand for rapid dissemination of urgent research results in physical chemistry, the American Chemical Society is pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

Caltech researchers pinpoint the mechanisms of self-control in the brain
When you're on a diet, deciding to skip your favorite calorie-laden foods and eat something healthier takes a whole lot of self-control -- an ability that seems to come easier to some of us than others.

Adding steroid drug to MS treatment may reduce disease activity
Using a steroid drug for multiple sclerosis in addition to an MS drug may reduce the amount of disease activity more than using the MS drug alone, according to a study that will be presented as part of the late-breaking science program at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 25-May 2, 2009.

Drugs to combat anemia in cancer patients increase risk of death
The use of drugs to encourage red blood cell formation (erythropoiesis-stimulating agents) in cancer patients with anemia increases the risk of death and serious adverse events such as blood clots, found a new study in CMAJ.

Social separation stops flu spread, but must be started soon
A disease spread simulation has emphasized that flu interventions must be imposed quickly, if they are to be effective.

Genetic variant impairs communication within the brain
For some time now it has been known that certain hereditary factors enhance the risk of schizophrenia or a manic-depressive disorder.

New noninvasive liver fibrosis index reduces need for biopsies in children
A new noninvasive diagnostic index has been developed that may be used in tertiary care to rule in liver fibrosis in children with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Birds can dance, really
People aren't the only ones who've got rhythm. Two reports published online on April 30 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, reveal that birds -- and parrots in particular -- can also bob their heads, tap their feet, and sway their bodies along to a musical beat.

The story of ancient Persia gets digitized
Scholars are using modern technology to digitally record thousands of tablets that, as they are being pieced together, tell an unusually detailed story of the Persian Empire.

The shocking state of UK stroke care: A medical emergency
The shocking state of UK stroke services is highlighted in an editorial in this week's Lancet.

New technology shows promise against resistant staph infections
Scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have combined their revolutionary new drug-delivery system with a powerful antimicrobial agent to treat potentially deadly drug-resistant staph infections in mice.

VARI researcher chosen for highly competitive Scholar-in-Training Award
Van Andel Research Institute Research Scientist Jindong Chen, Ph.D., was recently awarded the AACR-Sanofi-Aventis Scholar-in-Training Award for research submitted for presentation at the American Association for Cancer Research 100th Annual Meeting.

Study fuels debate about why female birds seek extra mates
When female birds mate with males other than their social partners and have broods of mixed paternity, the offspring sired by these

Can kidney disease cause cancer?
Moderate kidney disease increases an older man's risk of developing certain cancers, according to an upcoming study in the Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

Popular diabetes treatment could trigger pancreatitis, pancreatic cancer
A drug widely used to treat type 2 diabetes may have unintended effects on the pancreas that could lead to a form of low-grade pancreatitis in some patients and a greater risk of pancreatic cancer in long-term users.

Risk of leukemia with multiple sclerosis drug higher than thought
The risk of developing leukemia as a side effect of a drug for multiple sclerosis is higher than previously reported, according to a study to be presented as part of the late-breaking science program at the American Academy of Neurology's 61st Annual Meeting in Seattle, April 25-May 2, 2009.

Study analyzing dialogue between neurologists and epilepsy patients identifies significant gaps
For 2.7 million Americans with epilepsy, seizures are not the only concern.

New sequences from hadrosaur dinosaur confirm that ancient protein is preserved over time
Ancient protein dating back 80 million years to the Cretaceous geologic period has been preserved in bone fragments and soft tissues of a hadrosaur, or duck-billed dinosaur.

What influences women's opinions on their breast surgery?
The six major factors that affect how happy a woman feels with the outcome of her breast surgery have been uncovered.

Penn State plays integral role in $35 million stress project
How employees manage stress at work and in their homes is the focus of Penn State's portion of a $35 million National Institutes of Health grant that will also test the efficacy of a workplace intervention designed to reduce employee stress and promote well-being.

Gene test determines risk of heart surgery complications
Genetic differences can explain why some patients undergoing heart surgery later experience shock and kidney complications, according to a study by researchers at the Charite-Universitatsmedizin Berlin, the Max-Delbruck-Center for Molecular Medicine Berlin-Buch in Germany and the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, Australia.

K-State researcher finds 1918 flu resulted in current lineage of H1N1 swine influenza viruses
In 1918 a human influenza virus known as the Spanish flu spread through the central United States while a swine respiratory disease occurred concurrently.

Applied baccalaureate degrees at 2-year colleges play critical roles
University of Illinois education professor Debra Bragg says that the applied baccalaureate degree is becoming a more popular option for students, especially for career-changing adult learners and first-generation college students, as states look for novel ways to improve access to higher education.

Chlamydia may play role in a type of arthritis
Spondylarthritis represents a group of arthritidies that share clinical features such as inflammatory back pain and inflammation at sites where tendons attach to bone.

Hopkins Children's study: Folic acid may help treat allergies, asthma
Folic acid, or vitamin B9, essential for red blood cell health and long known to reduce the risk of spinal birth defects, may also suppress allergic reactions and lessen the severity of allergy and asthma symptoms, according to new research from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Mysterious disappearance of explorer Everett Ruess solved after 75 years
The mysterious disappearance of Everett Ruess, a 20-year-old artist, writer and footloose explorer who wandered the Southwest in the early 1930s on a burro and who has become a folk hero to many, has been solved with the help of University of Colorado at Boulder researchers and the National Geographic Society.

Women 10 times more likely to do breast self-exams correctly with intervention, KP study finds
A brief intervention program -- consisting of one counseling session and two follow-up phone calls -- boosted by tenfold the number of women correctly performing breast self-exams.

Number of Americans with disability growing; arthritis cited as most common cause
Nearly 48 million Americans have a disability, an increase of 3 million from 1999, and arthritis tops the list of most common causes of disability, according to an article published today in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Some vocal-mimicking animals, particularly parrots, can move to a musical beat
A new study from researchers at Harvard, published in Current Biology, says that some animals, particularly parrots, can move rhythmically to a beat.

Research finds perceived warmth, 'babyfaceness' positive characteristics for black CEOs
As President Barack Obama commemorates his 100th day as the country's first black commander-in-chief, a new study by Kellogg School of Management researchers examines the intersection of race and power in corporate America.

MESSENGER discovers an unusual impact basin on Mercury
A previously unknown, large impact basin has been discovered by the MESSENGER spacecraft during its second flyby of Mercury in October 2008.

'Physics Awards' of the Spanish Royal Society of Physics and the BBVA Foundation
The Spanish Royal Society of Physics offers yearly awards honoring the achievements of Spanish physicists in basic and applied research, along with emerging

Fish may actually feel pain and react to it much like humans
Fish don't make noises or contort their faces to show that it hurts when hooks are pulled from their mouths, but a Purdue University researcher believes they feel that pain all the same.

Women with arthritis more likely than men to stop working
Arthritis can have significant physical and psychological repercussions that impact quality of life and for those of working age, it can affect their ability to remain employed.

Smart Charger Controller simplifies electric vehicle recharging
PNNL's Smart Charger Controller automatically recharges electric vehicles during times of least cost to the consumer and lower demand for power.

Management of asthma during pregnancy can optimize health of mother and baby
Pregnant women with asthma, the most common condition affecting the lungs during pregnancy, should actively manage their asthma in order to optimize the health of mother and the baby, according to new management recommendations published in the current issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

White tea -- the solution to the obesity epidemic?
Possible anti-obesity effects of white tea have been demonstrated in a series of experiments on human fat cells (adipocytes).

NASA's electronic nose may provide neurosurgeons with a new weapon against brain cancer
Results of a pilot study will be presented at the 6th Annual World Congress for Brain Mapping & Image Guided Therapy at Harvard Medical School, August 26-29, 2009.

Low vitamin D causes problems for acutely ill patients
A group of endocrinologists in Sydney have observed that very sick patients tend to have very low levels of vitamin D.

Working your friendships at work
The hit television show

Simultaneous transplant gives best results in diabetics with kidney disease
For patients with type 1 diabetes who need a kidney transplant, simultaneous pancreas-kidney transplantation offers a higher survival rate than other options -- but with some increased risks, reports a study in an upcoming edition of the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. 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