Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

June 29, 2009
Desert dust alters ecology of Colorado alpine meadows
Accelerated snowmelt -- precipitated by desert dust blowing into the mountains -- changes how alpine plants respond to seasonal climate cues that regulate their life cycles, according to results of a new study reported this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

High levels of cycling training damage triathletes' sperm
Researchers from Spain have found that the high-intensity training undertaken by triathletes has a significant impact on the quality of their sperm.

From human bite to robot jaws
The UK spends around £2.5 billion each year on dental materials to replace or strengthen teeth.  The Chewing Robot is a new biologically inspired way to test dental materials, and it will be shown to the public for the first time at this year's Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition.

For women with PCOS, acupuncture and exercise may bring relief, reduce risks
Exercise and electro-acupuncture treatments can reduce sympathetic nerve activity in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome, according to a new study.

Brain functions that can prevent relapse improve after a year of methamphetamine abstinence
In a study published online by the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, UC Davis researchers report that it takes at least a year for former methamphetamine users to regain impulse control.

ASU scientist: Study of first wave of swine flu requires revised public health strategies
Gerardo Chowell-Puente, a mathematical epidemiologist at Arizona State University, is co-author of a new study of the A(H1N1) influenza pandemic strain circulating around the world.

Study could help target new pancreatitis treatments
Scientists at the University of Liverpool have identified a gene that could help in targeting new treatments for alcohol-related pancreatitis.

Gregory Stephanopoulos winner of 2009 Amgen Biochemical Engineering Award
This prestigious Award has been awarded for over 16 years and is an integral part of the ECI Biochemical Engineering Conferences series.

Water should be a human right
In this month's PLoS Medicine editorial, the editors argue that -- despite recent international objections -- access to clean water should be recognized as a human right.

New biomarker method could increase the number of diagnostic tests for cancer
A team of researchers, including several from UCSF, has demonstrated that a new method for detecting and quantifying protein biomarkers in body fluids may ultimately make it possible to screen multiple biomarkers in hundreds of patient samples, thus ensuring that only the strongest biomarker candidates will advance down the development pipeline.

MIT: Extending the shelf life of antibody drugs
A new computer model developed at MIT can help solve a problem that has plagued drug companies trying to develop promising new treatments made of antibodies: Such drugs have a relatively short shelf life because they tend to clump together, rendering them ineffective.

Ovarian transplantation: First baby is born after a new technique
On June 22, a baby girl was born to a mother who had been menopausal for two years as a result of treatment for sickle cell anemia, after a new, two-step method of ovarian transplant that worked to restore ovarian function quickly.

Natural-born divers and the molecular traces of evolution
When the ancestors of present marine mammals returned to the oceans, their physiology had to adapt radically.

First riser-drilling research operations undertaken
IODP drilling vessel CHIKYU has resumed operations in the Nankai Trough Seismogenic Zone off the Kii Peninsula of Japan using riser technology successfully for the first time in scientific ocean research.

No evidence that WHO-recommended treatment for insecticide poisoning improves survival
A study published this week in the open-access journal PLoS Medicine finds no evidence to suggest that a controversial antidote recommended by the World Health Organization to treat patients poisoned with highly toxic insecticides improves their chance of survival.

Study finds improved communication encourages patients to seek colorectal cancer screening
Improved communication among patients and primary care physicians increases the chances those due for colorectal cancer screening will follow their doctors' advice and complete the procedure, a University at Buffalo study has found.

Tunnel vision
They're digging tunnels along the US border at a fast and furious pace, but not a single one of them has ever been discovered by US border patrol agents using technology.

Oscar Pistorius: Previously confidential study results released on amputee sprinter
A team of experts in biomechanics and physiology that conducted experiments on Oscar Pistorius, the South African bilateral amputee track athlete, have just released previously confidential study results in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Fraunhofer know-how for the ecological model city Masdar
The city of the future is currently being constructed on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi.

71 projects fill DOE Joint Genome Institute 2010 pipeline
Seventy-one projects have been approved for the DOE Joint Genome Institute's 2010 Community Sequencing Program portfolio.

Leeds engineers developing bulletproof vests from cement
Engineers at the University of Leeds are working on a new type of body armor made from cement.

Loss of coastal seagrass habitat accelerating globally
An international team of scientists warns that accelerating losses of seagrasses across the globe threaten the immediate health and long-term sustainability of coastal ecosystems.

Magic ingredient in breast milk protects babies' intestines
Scientists at Queen Mary, University of London have discovered that an ingredient in human breast milk protects and repairs the delicate intestines of newborn babies.

Gene map aims to combat blood flukes
The first microsatellite-based genetic linkage map has been published for Schistosoma mansoni, a blood fluke that is known to infect over 90 million people in Africa, the Middle East and the New World.

Scripps research scientists find key culprits in lupus
The more than 1.5 million Americans with systemic lupus erythematosus (or lupus) suffer from a variety of symptoms that flare and subside, often including painful or swollen joints, extreme fatigue, skin rashes, fever and kidney problems.

Flies avoid a plant's poison using a newly identified taste mechanism
Many plants protect themselves from hungry animals by producing toxic chemicals.

Birds with a nose for a difference
Avoidance of inbreeding is evident among humans, and has been demonstrated in some shorebirds, mice and sand lizards.

World's largest aerosol sensing network has leafy origins
From his office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., Brent Holben helps manage the world's largest network of ground-based sensors for aerosols -- tiny specks of solids and liquids that waft about in the atmosphere.

Hand-held aerosol sensors help fill crucial data gap over oceans
Since NASA researchers began assembling the Aerosol Robotic Network in the 1990s, the worldwide network of ground-based aerosol sensors has grown to 400 sites across seven continents.

Pitt researchers describe the 90-year evolution of swine flu
The current H1N1 swine flu strain has genetic roots in an illness that sickened pigs at the 1918 Cedar Rapids Swine Show in Iowa, report experts at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Story tips from the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, July 2009
Researchers have developed an innovative cooling concept that could improve vehicle performance, life expectancy and overall efficiency without increasing costs.

Female human embryos adjust the balance of X chromosomes before implantation
Dutch researchers have found the first evidence that a process of inactivating the X chromosome during embryo development and implantation, which was known to occur in mice but unknown in humans, does, in fact, take place in human female embryos prior to implantation in the womb.

New, less invasive genetic test greatly improves pregnancy rates in older women with poor prognosis
A new test examining chromosomes in human eggs a few hours after fertilization can identify those that are capable of forming a healthy baby.

Fermilab's CDF observes Omega-sub-b baryon
At a recent physics seminar at the US Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Fermilab physicist Pat Lukens of the CDF experiment announced the observation of a new particle, the Omega-sub-b (Ωb).

Scientific system accurately predicts spread of H1N1: study
A new scientific system developed by a St. Michael's Hospital physician, designed to rapidly evaluate the world's air traffic patterns, accurately predicted how the H1N1 virus would spread around the world, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine today.

Composites for energy
Advanced composite materials are playing a vital role in improved design and reduced operating costs for renewable energy technologies.

Intestinal cells surprisingly active in pursuit of nutrition and defense
Every cell lining the small intestine bristles with thousands of tightly packed microvilli that project into the gut lumen, forming a brush border that absorbs nutrients and protects the body from intestinal bacteria.

New crops needed for new climate
Plants grown under high CO2 and drought conditions show an increase in toxic compounds, a decrease in protein content and a decrease in yield.

Stanford researchers find a quicker, cheaper way to sort isotopes
Stanford chemist Richard Zare and his research team have taken a novel approach to building a new device to determine the isotope ratios within a certain substance.

Accelerating personalized mental health care
A powerful new research facility at the heart of King's Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Center is being launched today by Professor Dame Sally C.

4 out of 106 heart replacement valves from pig hearts failed
Pig heart valves used to replace defective aortic valves in human patients failed much earlier and more often than expected, says a report from cardiac surgeons at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

Assembling the virtual human
It could mean the end of animal testing and eventually even clinical patient drug trials.

Little-known marine decomposers attract the attention of genome sequencers
The US Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute announced today that they will sequence the genomes of four species of labyrinthulomycetes.

IU researchers find vibrator use to be common, linked to sexual health
Two Indiana University studies conducted among nationally representative samples of adult American men and women show that vibrator use during sexual interactions is common, with use being reported by approximately 53 percent of women and 45 percent of men.

New tool finds best heart disease and stroke treatments for patients with diabetes
Researchers from North Carolina State University and Mayo Clinic have developed a computer model that medical doctors can use to determine the best time to begin using statin therapy in diabetes patients to help prevent heart disease and stroke.

Ecological Society of America announces 2009 award recipients
The Ecological Society of America will present societal awards to five distinguished ecologists at its 94rd Annual Meeting on Monday, August 3, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Statement from IDF on studies suggesting possible link between insulin glargine and cancer
The International Diabetes Federation today called for urgent assessment and responses from regulatory authorities into a possible link between the use of insulin glargine (an insulin analogue) and increased risk of cancer based on findings published on June 26, 2009, in Diabetelogia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

Gene expression findings a step toward better classification and treatment of juvenile arthritis
Scientists have discovered gene expression differences that could lead to better ways to classify, predict outcome, and treat juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

NSF provides $3.4 million to study climatically important Agulhas Current
The National Science Foundation is funding a study with the goal of building a multi-decadal time series of Agulhas Current transport.

Top food scientist to target hidden fish allergens, pork, with new tests
The odds of contracting mad cow disease from banned or adulterated bovine protein lurking in raw or processed food for humans or meat-bone meal for livestock have declined over the past decade.

From Columbine to Dawson: study on psychological impact of mass shootings
Time does not heal all wounds, according to a new study completed by researchers from the Université de Montréal's Louis-H.

Mayo Clinic Proceedings reviews deep brain stimulation to treat psychiatric diseases
Pioneering therapeutic trials to investigate the effectiveness of deep brain stimulation in hard-to-treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette's syndrome are underway at multiple medical centers around the world, according to a review in the June 2009 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Seasonal hunger devastating and under-recognized
Most of the world's acute hunger and undernutrition occurs not in conflicts and natural disasters but in the annual

IU School of Optometry named national vision research center
A group of scientists working in Indiana University's school of optometry and the department of biology will share more than $2.2 million from the National Institutes of Health to support their ongoing vision research.

Report: Prostate cancer screening has yet to prove its worth
The recent release of two large randomized trials suggests that if there is a benefit of screening, it is, at best, small, says a new report in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

Placebo effects in caregivers may change behavior of children with ADHD
Stimulant medications, such as Ritalin and Adderall, are the accepted treatment to stem hyperactivity in children with attention deficit-hyperactive disorder and improve their behavior.

First impact factor of Journal of the American Medical Directors Association
The new impact factor of the official journal of the American Medical Directors Association is 3.467.

GIE: Gastrointestinal Endoscopy June issue study highlights
In the June issue of GIE: Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the monthly peer-reviewed scientific journal of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, a study looking at polyp detection rates at screening colonoscopy found a wide variation among endoscopists, though researchers note that further study is needed to determine the reasons for the variation and their clinical significance.

Stanford researchers publish comprehensive model for medical device development
In an effort to increase understanding of the medical device development process and help companies execute the bench-to-bedside process of product development more effectively, researchers at Stanford University have published the first comprehensive model representing the medical device development process.

Working to conserve endangered 'Playboy' bunnies
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's legacy will live on with a new University of Central Florida study aimed at saving the endangered bunnies named after him.

Peer pressure plays major role in environmental behavior
People are more likely to enroll in conservation programs if their neighbors do -- a tendency that should be exploited when it comes to protecting the environment, according to results of a new study.

GUMC study may help explain 'awakenings' that occur with popular sleep-aid Ambien
Some people who take the fast-acting sleep-aid zolpidem (Ambien) have been observed walking, eating, talking on the phone and even driving while not fully awake.

Teens who believe they'll die young are more likely to engage in risky behavior, University of Minnesota research finds
University of Minnesota Medical School researcher Iris Borowsky, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues found that one in seven adolescents believe that it is highly likely that they will die before age 35, and this belief predicted that the adolescents' would engage in risky behaviors.

Sulfate lens enhances climate warming properties of atmospheric soot
Particulate pollution thought to be holding climate change in check by reflecting sunlight instead enhances warming when combined with airborne soot.

Mice run faster on high-grade oil
Between the 1932 and 2008 Olympic Games, world record times of the men's 100m sprint improved by 0.6 seconds.

New MRI technique could mean fewer breast biopsies in high-risk women
A University of Wisconsin-Madison biomedical engineer and colleagues have developed a method that, applied in MRI scans of the breast, could spare some women with increased breast cancer risk the pain and stress of having to endure a biopsy of a questionable lump or lesion.

Risk of cancer
Finnish Academy Professors Lauri Aaltonen and Jussi Taipale have identified and described a mechanism whereby a single-base change in the human genome increases the risk of colorectal cancer.

Vietnamese drug authority teams with United States standards-setting organization
As Vietnam's industrial capabilities have developed rapidly in recent decades, government officials have recognized the importance of helping to secure the nation's supply of medicines.

Ozone depletes oil seed rape productivity
With rising ozone levels scientists have found that high ozone conditions cause a 30 percent decrease in yield and an increase in the concentration of a group of compounds with toxic effects to livestock, but anticarcinogenic effects for humans, within oilseed rape plants.

Toxic chemicals affect steroid hormones differently in humans and invertebrates
In a study with important consequences for studies on the effects of chemicals on steroid responses in humans, a team of French and American scientists, including Michael E.

Developer of the LCD screens new honorary doctor
Hiroyoshi Fukuro, manager of the Nissan research center and maybe one of the most important researchers behind the breakthrough of LCD screens, will receive a honorary doctorate at the Faculty of Science at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Exploring how the body adapts to exercise at altitude-hypoxia affects muscle and nerve responses
Exercise requires the integrated activity of every organ and tissue in the body, and understanding how these respond to the decreased oxygen levels present at moderate to high altitude is the focus of the current special issue of High Altitude Medicine & Biology.

Ovarian transplantation: New technique gives greatly improved results in this delicate operation
Ultra-fast freezing of ovarian tissue from women who have lost their fertility as a result of cancer treatment can lead to it being used in transplants with the same success rate as fresh tissue.

Who goes abroad for fertility treatment and why?
A substantial number of European patients travel to other countries for fertility treatment, both because they think that they will receive better quality care abroad, and in order to undergo procedures that are banned in their home country, says a study of the subject launched today.

UNC scientists tackle viral mysteries
A recent study led by Blossom Damania, Ph.D., associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, focuses on the intersection of these two scientific puzzles, resulting in new discoveries about how one herpes virus known to cause cancer may reactivate when the infected cell senses another type of virus entering it.

Study of flower color shows evolution in action
Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have zeroed in on the genes responsible for changing flower color, an area of research that began with Gregor Mendel's studies of the garden pea in the 1850's.

Prostate screening studies reviewed in European Urology July issue
The July issue of European Urology, the official journal of the European Association of Urology, features an editorial by Lars Holmberg comparing the results from the European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer with the results from the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial.

Conversing helps language development more than reading alone
UCLA study shows adult-child conversations have a more significant impact on language development than exposing children to language through monologic reading alone.

Penn State researchers receive $1.2 million MURI grant
The Center for Network-Centric Cognition and Information Fusion in Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology received a Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative Award for

Breakthrough in combating the side effects of quinine
Discovered back in the 1600s, quinine was the first effective treatment in the fight against malaria -- and it continues to be a commonly used treatment against this devastating disease.

BGU'S Desert Research Institutes to receive Cleantech 2009 Environmenal Excellence Award
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev's Jacob Blaustein Institutes for Desert Research has won the CleanTech 2009 Excellence Award in the category of Outstanding Academic Institution in the Field of Environmental Studies.

Second gene linked to familial testicular cancer
Specific variations or mutations in a particular can gene raise a man's risk of familial, or inherited, testicular germ-cell cancer, the most common form of this disease, according to new research by scientists at the National Institutes of Health.

How much is life worth? The $440 billion question
The decision to use expensive cancer therapies that typically produce only a relatively short extension of survival is a serious ethical dilemma in the US that needs to be addressed by the oncology community, according to a commentary published online June 29 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Super-sleepers could help super-sizers!
Burrowing frogs can survive buried for several years without food or water.

MIT: A new approach to engineering for extreme environments
Composite materials such as fiberglass, which take on a mix of properties of their constituent compounds, have been around for decades.

Straighten up and fly right: Moths benefit more from flexible wings than rigid
New research using high-speed digital imaging shows that, at least for some insects, wings that flex and deform, something like what happens to a heavy beach towel when you snap it to get rid of the sand, are the best for staying aloft.

Media alert: European Society of Cardiology Congress 2009
The latest news on procedures, drugs and equipment in the field of cardiology will be presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress which will take place in Barcelona, from Aug.

Water webs: Connecting spiders, residents in the Southwest
If you are a cricket and it is a dry season on the San Pedro River in Arizona, on your nighttime ramblings to eat leaves, you are more likely to be ambushed by thirsty wolf spiders.

New research shows a global trend in nature-based tourism
A new study out today found that many nations throughout the world, including the United Kingdom, are seeing an annual increase in visitors to their conservation areas.

NuTeV anomaly helps shed light on physics of the nucleus
A new calculation clarifies the complicated relationship between protons and neutrons in the atomic nucleus and offers a fascinating resolution of the famous NuTeV Anomaly.

Novel epigenetic markers of melanoma may herald new treatments for patients
Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer, diagnosed in more than 50,000 new patients in the United States annually.

Interferon gamma-1b does not improve survival in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a fatal disease for which no effective treatment exists.

Can a new implant coating technique create a new Six Million Dollar Man?
Tel Aviv University researcher Prof. Noam Eliaz of the TAU School of Mechanical Engineering has developed an electrochemical process for coating metal implants which vastly improves their functionality, longevity and integration into the body.

Early heart attack therapy with bone marrow extract improves cardiac function
In a new UCSF mouse study, researchers showed that heart function improves after heart attack when subjects are given therapy with bone marrow (BM)-derived stem cells and bone marrow stem cell extract.

American Chemical Society's Weekly PressPac -- June 24, 2009
The American Chemical Society Weekly Press Package with reports from 34 major peer-reviewed journals on chemistry, health, medicine, energy, environment, food, nanotechnology and other hot topics.

UNC study: Aerobic activity may keep the brain young
In a UNC study, to be published July 9 in the American Journal of Neuroradiology, physically active elderly people showed healthier cerebral blood vessels than those who are not active.

Retinopathy of prematurity diagnosis time significantly reduced using telemedicine
Traditional bedside ophthalmoscopy diagnosis can require greater time commitments, according to a study in the American Journal of Ophthalmology.

Debate on administration of magnesium sulfate to pregnant women to prevent cerebral palsy in preterm infants
Cerebral palsy is the most prevalent chronic childhood motor disability with an estimated lifetime cost of nearly $1 million per individual.

Peptic ulcer bacterium alters the body's defense system
Helicobacter pylori survives in the body by manipulating important immune system cells.

Purple sweet potato means increased amount of anti-cancer components
Purple sweet potatoes have high contents of anthocyanin, and anthocyanins have been epidemiologically associated with a reduced cancer risk.

Elsevier announces 2008 journal impact factor highlights
Elsevier, the leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services, today announced the highlights of its journal impact factor performance in 2008.

Kelvin Lee winner of Biochemical Engineering Journal Young Investigator Award
This biennial award recognizes outstanding excellence in research and practice contributed to the field of biochemical engineering by a young community member.

First step to converting solar energy using 'artificial leaf'
An international team of researchers has modified chlorophyll from an alga so that it resembles the extremely efficient light antennae of bacteria.

2 is not company -- as far as fish are concerned
Research at the Universities of Plymouth and Exeter has shown that fish kept alone or in small groups are more aggressive, and exhibit fewer natural behaviors such as shoaling.

Stress in the womb can last a lifetime, say researchers behind new exhibit
Visitors can see how their stress levels could affect the heart rate of their unborn baby and find out why pregnant women should reduce their anxiety, at a new exhibit at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, which opens June 30, 2009.

Dino tooth sheds new light on ancient riddle
Scientists discover that a major group of dinosaurs had unique way of eating unlike anything alive today.

ICSI or IVF: Babies born from frozen embryos do just as well
Analysis of the longest running ICSI program in the United States has found reassuring evidence that babies born from frozen embryos fertilized via ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection) do just as well as those born from frozen embryos fertilized via standard IVF treatment.

Dynasty: Influenza virus in 1918 and today
The influenza virus that wreaked havoc in 1918-1919 founded a viral dynasty that persists to this day, according to scientists from NIAID.

Black gay men may be at increased HIV risk
In a study looking at social and sexual mixing between ethnic groups in men who have sex with men, H.
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