Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

July 30, 2009
Crashing comets not likely the cause of Earth's mass extinctions
A likely comet collision on Jupiter last week caused a minor sensation, but new research shows that similar impacts on Earth are most likely not responsible for any of the planet's mass extinctions, nor have they been responsible for more than one minor extinction event.

Risk of frailty in older women dependent on multisystem abnormalities
A study in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences reports that the condition of frailty in older adults is associated with a critical mass of abnormal physiological systems, over and above the status of each individual system.

MIT team targets ovarian cancer with nanoparticles
Tiny particles carrying a killer gene can effectively suppress ovarian tumor growth in mice, according to a team of researchers from MIT and the Lankenau Institute.

Chinese women join global breast cancer trial
Breast cancer patients have for the first time been recruited from China to take part in an international trial of breast radiotherapy.

Food additive may one day help control blood lipids and reduce disease risk
Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a substance in the liver that helps process fat and glucose.

Janet Rowley to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom for cancer chromosome studies
Janet Davison Rowley, M.D., a pioneer in demonstrating that cancer is a genetic disease, will receive the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom the White House announced Thursday.

Algebra adds value to mathematical biology education
As mathematics continues to become an increasingly important component in undergraduate biology programs, a more comprehensive understanding of the use of algebraic models is needed by the next generation of biologists to facilitate new advances in the life sciences, according to researchers at Sweet Briar College and the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech.

Invisible ink? What Rorschach tests really tell us
One of the most well-known psychological tools is the Rorschach Inkblot Test.

New analysis of global fisheries data suggests marine ecosystems can recover
An international team of scientists with divergent views on ocean ecosystems has found that efforts to rebuild many of the world's fisheries are worthwhile and starting to pay off in many places around the world.

Scientists uncork a potential secret of red wine's health benefits
Scientists from Scotland and Singapore have unraveled a mystery that has perplexed scientists since red wine was first discovered to have health benefits: How does resveratrol control inflammation?

Got zinc? New zinc research suggests novel therapeutic targets
Everyone knows that vitamins

Patient safety advanced by revised heparin standards
Continuing to help ensure the identity, purity and quality of heparin, the US Pharmacopeial Convention has revised written and physical standards for the widely used blood thinner.

Unique immunization method provides insights about protective anti-malaria immune response
Scientists have developed a novel immunization method that will induce fast and effective protection in humans against the life-threatening malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum.

Little lifesavers -- kids capable of CPR
Nine-year-olds can and should learn CPR. A study of 147 schoolchildren, published in BioMed Central's open access journal Critical Care, has shown that, although the smallest may lack the requisite strength, the knowledge of how to perform basic life support is well retained by young children.

Scientists warn restoration-based environmental markets may not improve ecosystem health
While policymakers across of the globe are relying on environmental restoration projects to fuel emerging market-based environmental programs, an article in the July 31 edition of Science by two noted ecologists warns that these programs still lack the scientific certainty needed to ensure that restoration projects deliver the environmental improvements being marketed.

Prototype, 7-foot-tall sanitizer automates disinfection of hard-to-clean hospital equipment
Johns Hopkins experts in applied physics, computer engineering, infectious diseases, emergency medicine, microbiology, pathology and surgery have unveiled a 7-foot-tall, $10,000 shower-cubicle-shaped device that automatically sanitizes in 30 minutes all sorts of hard-to-clean equipment in the highly trafficked hospital emergency department.

Statement from the Pew Environment Group on the Hilborn/Worm study published in Science
Rebecca Goldburg, director of Marine Science at the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement today in response to a paper published in the journal Science.

Protein level may serve as predictor of severe osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis (OA), is the most common joint disorder throughout the world and a leading cause of disability.

UF scientists program blood stem cells to become vision cells
University of Florida researchers were able to program bone marrow stem cells to repair damaged retinas in mice, suggesting a potential treatment for one of the most common causes of vision loss in older people.

Drug-proof zebrafish reveal secrets of addiction
The effects of amphetamines on gene expression in zebrafish have been uncovered.

K-State researchers study how children view and treat their peers with undesirable characteristics
A study by Kansas State University researchers is looking at how children perceive and interact with peers who have various undesirable characteristics, such as being overweight or aggressive.

Experts urge reformulation of US space policy
Experts outline the need for a clear US policy to advance the country's national security, civilian and commercial interests in space.

Summer heat increases risk of amniotic fluid level deficiency, Ben-Gurion University study reveals
Pregnant women have a higher incidence of insufficient amniotic fluid levels (oligohydramnios) in the summer months due to dehydration, according to a study conducted by researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Sun exposure may trigger certain autoimmune diseases in women
Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight may be associated with the development of certain autoimmune diseases, particularly in women, according to a study by researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Chronic kidney disease profoundly impacts quality of life
Chronic kidney disease can significantly lessen patients' quality of life, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

Preventing toxic shock syndrome and other severe diseases
A researcher at the University of Western Ontario has received over $603,000 from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to investigate how and why a group of bacterial toxins leads to the development of toxic shock syndrome and other serious diseases.

SAMe is effective in preventing formation of primary liver cancer in rats
A new study investigated the effectiveness of S-adenosylmethionine in the prevention and treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma or primary liver cancer.

Afghanistan prepares itself to resist deadly plant plague that threatens food security in region
Scientists are racing to arm Afghanistan against a new invader -- a deadly, airborne wheat rust disease that threatens wheat production and food security in this war-torn nation and the region that stretches east across neighboring Pakistan and into India.

Leicester research paves way for first use in Europe of an insect to fight invasive plant
Researchers at the University of Leicester have paved the way for the first ever use in Europe of an insect (biocontrol) to combat an invasive plant species in Britain.

Researchers report successful riser-drilling operations in seismogenic zone
For the first time in the history of scientific ocean drilling, the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program conducted operations using the riser capabilities of the Japan-sponsored research vessel, CHIKYU, to successfully drill down to a depth of 1,603.7 meters beneath the sea floor (at water depth of 2,054 meters), in an earthquake-generating zone.

National assessment done on potential invasive snail and slug pests in US
A collaborative team led by a University of Hawaii at Manoa researcher has published the first-ever assessment of snail and slug species that are of potential threat to the nation's agriculture industry and the environment, should they ever be introduced in the US.

Americans spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on complementary and alternative medicine
Americans spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) over the previous 12 months, according to a 2007 government survey.

Reducing risk of hospitalization in the elderly
Older adults who have less strength, poor physical function and low muscle density are at higher risk of being hospitalized compared to adults with more strength and better function.

Membrane breaks through performance barrier
Engineers have developed a new method for creating high-performance membranes from crystal sieves called zeolites; the method could increase the energy efficiency of chemical separations up to 50 times over conventional methods and enable higher production rates.

A police woman fights quantum hacking and cracking
Dr. Julia Kempe of Tel Aviv University's Blavatnik School of Computer Science is working to prevent quantum computers from compromising today's online security.

Hospital dramatically increases transplant donations by integrating bereavement and donor services
A UK hospital that combined its bereavement and donation services saw a 40-fold increase in tissue donations, such as corneas, in just five years, according to research just published in Anaesthesia.

K-State researcher, collaborators study virulence of pandemic H1N1 virus
Laboratory studies at Kansas State University and the work of a K-State researcher are making headway in the effort to control the pandemic H1N1 virus.

Communication breakdown: New strategy may be valid alternative to traditional antibiotics
Certainly there is strength in numbers, but only if those numbers can effectively communicate with one another.

New statistical method shows importance of dialysis dose
A new approach to statistical analysis may be better suited to study the relationship between higher

Higher drug doses needed to defeat tuberculosis, UT Southwestern researchers report
The typical dose of a medication considered pivotal in treating tuberculosis effectively is much too low to account for modern-day physiques, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers said.

New project will bring world's top scientists together
A new €1.7 million ($2.38 million) EU funded project involving 17 world-leading research institutions -- and led by the University of Manchester -- will encourage the transfer of ideas and knowledge between top scientists around the world.

Species barrier may protect macaques from chronic wasting disease
Data from an ongoing study suggest that people who consume deer and elk with chronic wasting disease (CWD) may be protected from infection by an inability of the CWD infectious agent to spread to people.

New hope for fisheries on the horizon?
Scientists have joined forces in a groundbreaking assessment on the status of marine fisheries and ecosystems.

Gene transcribing machine takes halting, backsliding trip along the DNA
Cells have nanoscale protein machines that perform the first step in gene expression, gliding smoothly along the DNA and translating it into RNA.

Antibody targeting of glioblastoma shows promise in preclinical tests, say Lombardi researchers
Cancer researchers at Georgetown University's Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center have successfully tested a small, engineered antibody they say shuts down growth of human glioblastoma tumors in cell and animal studies.

Integrated management of childhood illness strategy is having positive effect
The WHO/UNICEF Integrated Management of Childhood Illness strategy is paying dividends for most health indicators in Bangladesh.

New hope for fisheries
A groundbreaking assessment of marine fisheries and ecosystems reveals that overfishing has been reduced in several regions around the world, resulting in some stock recovery.

U of M study identifies risk factors of disordered eating in overweight youth
University of Minnesota Project Eating Among Teens researchers have identified factors that may increase overweight adolescents' risk of engaging in extreme weight control behaviors such as self-induced vomiting, the use of diet pills, laxatives and diuretics, as well as binge eating.

Evidence of liquid water in comets reveals possible origin of life
Comets contained vast oceans of liquid water in their interiors during the first million years of their formation, a new study claims.

OHSU wins national award for its palliative and end-of-life efforts
Oregon Health & Science University has won an national award for its innovative program that improves the care of patients near the end of life or with life-threatening conditions.

Human language and dolphin movement patterns show similarities in brevity
Two researchers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom have shown for the first time that the law of brevity in human language, according to which the most frequently used words tend to be the shortest, also extends to other animal species.

Researchers uncover genetic link to age-related cataracts
Bing-Cheng Wang, Ph.D., Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine professor of pharmacology and senior staff scientist at MetroHealth Medical Center, and Sudha K.

Discovery about behavior of building block of nature could lead to computer revolution
A team of physicists from the Universities of Cambridge and Birmingham have shown that electrons in narrow wires can divide into two new particles called spinons and a holons.

A crystal ball for brain cancer?
UCLA researchers have uncovered a new way to scan brain tumors and predict which ones will be shrunk by the drug Avastin -- before the patient ever starts treatment.

Mutation responsible for cystic fibrosis also involved in muscle atrophy
Patients with cystic fibrosis usually experience significant muscle loss, a symptom traditionally considered to be a secondary complication of the devastating genetic disease.

Immune responses to flu vaccine are diminished in lupus patients
Because morbidity and mortality related to influenza are increased in immunocompromised patients, such as patients with the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus, it is recommended that patients with SLE get annual flu shots, which are safe and do not increase disease activity.

Model predicts evolution of Mediterranean landscape following fires
An international research team has developed a mathematical and cartographical model that make it possible to view how Mediterranean landscapes evolve in the aftermath of forest fires.

NIH study finds low short-term risks after bariatric surgery for extreme obesity
Short-term complications and death rates were low following bariatric surgery to limit the amount of food that can enter the stomach, decrease absorption of food or both, according to the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (LABS-1).

Rodent size linked to human population and climate change
You probably hadn't noticed, but the head shape and overall size of rodents has been changing over the past century.

Recovery act-funded research projects aid communities across the country
In the five months since passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, thousands of research-related awards have been made, supporting important scientific efforts across the country.

New location found for regulation of RNA fate
Thousands of scientists and hundreds of software programmers studying the process by which RNA inside cells normally degrades may soon broaden their focus significantly.

Study links virus to some cases of common skin cancer
A virus discovered in a rare form of skin cancer has been found in people with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), a common skin cancer.

Metal composition hold key to identity of modern sculptures
How do you tell when, where and how a Picasso or a Matisse sculpture was cast?

Mayo researchers find race has role in incidence, survival of rare brain tumor
The incidence of a rare and deadly tumor called primary central nervous system lymphoma is two times higher in black Americans, ages 20 to 49, than in white Americans, according to a Mayo Clinic study published in the June issue of Journal of Neuro-Oncology.

New MIT study shows breakdown in Planck's law
A well-established physical law describes the transfer of heat between two objects, but some physicists have long predicted that the law should break down when the objects are very close together.

'Shifting Sands' highlights past, present and future of Maryland coastal bays ecosystem
A team of 80 researchers from more than 20 organizations has teamed up to author

Blood transfusions associated with infection
A study of almost 25,000 coronary artery bypass graft patients has shown that receiving blood from another person is associated with a two-fold increase in post-operative infection rates.

Safety and supply issues around an H1N1 vaccine
An editorial in this week's Lancet says that countries must have strong post-marketing surveillance in place forthcoming H1N1 vaccines, since countries fast-tracking the approval could bypass the usual safety and efficacy requirements.

Bacteria pack their own demise
Numerous pathogens contain an

Successful completion of first riser-drilling operations in earthquake zone
The deep-sea drilling vessel CHIKYU has drilled successfully down to a depth of 1,603.7 meters beneath the seafloor (water depth 2,054 meters).

New test for safer biomedical research results
In biomedical research with living cells in the culture dish, contamination with bacteria, viruses or other fast-growing cells is always a problem.

MSU professor studies links between gastric bypass, immune system
While the massive weight loss associated with gastric bypass surgery is beneficial, some patients may face malnutrition, poor wound healing and infection as their immune systems adjust to the extreme decrease in food consumption, according to a Michigan State University researcher.

Unexpected reservoir of monocytes discovered in the spleen
Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Systems Biology have discovered an unexpected reservoir of monocytes in the spleen and found that these cells are essential to recovery of cardiac tissue in an animal heart attack model.

Bruker Energy and Supercon Technologies enters into research and development collaboration with UH
Bruker Energy and Supercon Technologies Inc., a division of Bruker Corp., has entered into a sponsored research agreement with the University of Houston, focusing on the testing and characterization of its second-generation high-temperature superconductor tapes.

IOM vitamin D and calcium workshop on Aug. 4
As part of its study of how much vitamin D and calcium people need, a committee convened by the Institute of Medicine will hold a public workshop to gather insights and data from experts on Tuesday, Aug.

Nanoparticle-delivered 'suicide' genes slowed ovarian tumor growth
Nanoparticle delivery of diphtheria toxin-encoding DNA selectively expressed in ovarian cancer cells reduced the burden of ovarian tumors in mice, and researchers expect this therapy could be tested in humans within 18 to 24 months, according to a report in Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Studies reveal hepatitis C virus carriers experience substantial increase in mortality
Hepatitis C virus is a blood-borne disease that causes inflammation of the liver and to which there is currently no vaccine available.
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