Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

August 06, 2009
Scripps Research scientists find early evolution maximized the 'spellchecking' of protein sequences
As letters of the alphabet spell out words, when amino acids are linked to one another in a particular order they

Researchers identify itch-specific neurons in mice, hope for better treatments
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered that itch-specific neurons exist in mice, and their studies suggest that itch and pain signals are transmitted along different pathways in the spinal cord.

Wistar scientists find key to strengthening immune response to chronic infection
A team of researchers from the Wistar Institute has identified a protein that could serve as a target for reprogramming immune system cells exhausted by exposure to chronic viral infection into more effective

Symposium to discuss geoengineering to fight climate change at the ESA Annual Meeting
Geoengineering techniques aim to slow global warming through the use of human-made changes to the Earth's land, seas or atmosphere.

Protein folding: Diverse methods yield clues
Rice University physicists have written the next chapter in an innovative approach for studying the forces that shape proteins.

Health reform proposals could help 13 million uninsured young adults gain coverage
Comprehensive health reform proposals now before Congress could help the more than 13 million uninsured young adults ages 19-29 gain coverage, and also help ensure that those who now have coverage would not lose it, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report.

'Green' energy from algae
In view of the shortage of petrochemical resources and climate change, development of CO2-neutral sustainable fuels is one of the most urgent challenges of our times.

Huge cost to filling health worker gap in sub-Saharan Africa
Hiring the workers needed to eliminate the staggering shortage of health care professionals in sub-Saharan Africa by 2015 will cost $2.6 billion a year, or 2.5 times the annual funds currently allocated for health worker wages in the region, according to a new study led by UC Berkeley researchers.

Yale researchers find key to keeping cells in shape
Yale University researchers have discovered how a protein within most cell membranes helps maintain normal cell size, a breakthrough in basic biology that has implications for a variety of diseases such as sickle cell anemia and disorders of the nervous system.

Results from TH-302 clinical trials presented at international lung cancer meeting
Glen Weiss, M.D., a clinical investigator for the trial and director of thoracic oncology at the Virginia G.

Researchers uncover potential mechanisms to protect against genetic alterations, diseases
Peering into the DNA of tiny yeast, researchers at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, and the San Diego Branch of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research have pinpointed a large number of genes that can prevent a type of genetic rearrangement that may lead to cancer and other diseases.

High-field post-mortem MRI is a feasible and less invasive alternative to conventional fetal autopsy
Whole-body high-field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a reliable option for post-mortem examination of human fetuses and might provide a less invasive alternative to conventional autopsy, according to an article published in this week's edition of the Lancet.

New orchid deception found: wearing the scent of hornet's prey
Orchids are famous for their deceptions. Most of those with nothing of value to offer their pollinators lure them instead with the scents of more rewarding flowers or potential mates.

DOE awards $377 million in funding for 46 energy frontier research centers
To accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to build a new 21st-century energy economy, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the delivery of $377 million in funding for 46 new multimillion-dollar Energy Frontier Research Centers located at universities, national laboratories, nonprofit organizations and private firms.

Stanford scientists find common trigger in cancer and normal stem cell reproduction
Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine have discovered, for the first time, a common molecular pathway that is used by both normal stem cells and cancer stem cells when they reproduce themselves.

Tumor mutations can predict chemo success
New work by MIT cancer biologists shows that the interplay between two key genes that are often defective in tumors determines how cancer cells respond to chemotherapy.

Live recordings of cell communication
A new method for nanoscale imaging of vesicle-fusion -- vesicles are biological nanosized containers -- could add to our understanding of diseases of the nervous system and viral infections.

UCR physicists to study attractive and repulsive forces crucial in designing nano-machines
The Casimir force is typified by the small attractive force that acts between two close parallel uncharged conducting plates.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder could soon have its own disease classification
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by obsessions, compulsive behaviors, or both.

UC design research points the way so you won't get lost at the hospital
Students from UC's internationally ranked design programs have been working on a national project to create symbols that will guide users in health-care settings -- no matter a user's language or reading level.

Noninsulin-producing alpha cells in the pancreas can be converted to insulin-producing beta cells
In findings that add to the prospects of regenerating insulin-producing cells in people with type 1 diabetes, researchers in Europe -- co-funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation -- have shown that insulin-producing beta cells can be derived from noninsulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

Aesop's fable 'the crow and the pitcher' more fact than fiction
In Aesop's fable,

Women often opt to surgically remove their breasts, ovaries to reduce cancer risk
Many women at high risk for breast or ovarian cancer are choosing to undergo surgery as a precautionary measure to decrease their cancer risk, according to a report in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

NIST demonstrates sustained quantum information processing
Raising prospects for building a practical quantum computer, physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have demonstrated sustained, reliable information processing operations on electrically charged atoms (ions).

NRL's XFC UAS achieves flight endurance milestone
The Naval Research Laboratory has completed a successful flight test of the fuel cell powered XFC (eXperimental Fuel Cell) unmanned aerial system.

What makes stem cells tick?
Investigators at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research and the Scripps Research Institute have made the first comparative, large-scale phosphoproteomic analysis of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and their differentiated derivatives.

Novel mechanism revealed for increasing recombinant protein yield in tobacco
Elastin-like polypeptides cause plants to store GM proteins in special

Nanoscale origami from DNA
Scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen and Harvard University have thrown the lid off a new toolbox for building nanoscale structures out of DNA, with complex twisting and curving shapes.

From nerve roots to plant roots -- research on hereditary spastic paraplegia yields surprises
Sprouting. Branching. Pruning. Neuroscientists have borrowed heavily from botanists to describe the way that neurons grow, but analogies between the growth of neurons and plants may be more than superficial.

Scientists find universal rules for food-web stability
The findings, published in this week's issue of Science, conclude that food-web stability is enhanced when many diverse predator-prey links connect high and intermediate trophic levels.

Mary had a lot of lambs: Researchers identify way to accelerate sheep breeding
Mary had a little lamb, but only once a year.

Study links selection for pathogen-resistance with increased risk for inflammatory disease
New research reveals that a simple laboratory assay detects a genetic variation in host response to bacterial infection that is associated with an increased susceptibility for inflammatory disease.

First human gets new antibody aimed at hepatitis C virus
MassBiologics of the University of Massachusetts Medical School has begun a Phase 1 clinical trial of a human monoclonal antibody it developed that neutralizes the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Typhoon Morakot's cloud top extent doubled in size in 1 day
Satellite imagery over the last two days has shown Typhoon Morakot to be a monster, and over the last two days, NASA satellites have confirmed the typhoon doubled its size.

Seismology tip sheet
Periodicity of earthquakes in Western US, mineral deposits offer seismic record, San Andreas/Mission Creek fault zone detailed and more articles are in the August issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.

Astronomers discover stars in early galaxies had a need for speed
A team of astronomers has measured the motions of stars in a very distant galaxy for the first time and discovered they are whizzing around at astonishingly high speeds -- about 1 million miles per hour, or twice the speed at which the sun circles our own Milky Way galaxy.

SAGE launches Music and Medicine
In response to a recent surge in studies that integrate medicine and music, SAGE, the world's leading independent academic and professional publisher, is pleased to launch Music and Medicine in July, a new interdisciplinary journal that will incorporate the research that combines the two disciplines.

Beetroot juice boosts stamina, new study shows
Drinking beetroot juice boosts your stamina and could help you exercise for up to 16 percent longer.

No need to tighten your belt -- credit crunch will worsen obesity epidemic
Levels of debt have been associated with an increased risk of being fat.

NASA eyes Category 4 Hurricane Felicia and a stubborn Enrique
Felicia is the storm that rules the Eastern Pacific Ocean this week, but Enrique refuses to give up.

Carnegie Mellon's Jean VanBriesen leads research team on Monongahela River
Carnegie Mellon University's Jeanne M. VanBriesen and Kelvin Gregory will use a $100,000 grant from the Pittsburgh-based Colcom Foundation to study water quality in the Monongahela River.

News briefs from the August issue of Chest
New studies in the August issue of Chest discuss how X-ray machines may spread infection in the ICU, how African-Americans with COPD use fewer health-care services than Caucasians, and the safety of long-acting beta agonists for asthma.

Addition of a TNF antagonist better option for patients with early rheumatoid arthritis who have poor response to methotrexate
Treating all patients with early rheumatoid arthritis with methotrexate monotherapy for a short period, followed by the addition of a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonist such as infliximab in patients with inadequate response to methotrexate, is the best treatment option and could prevent overtreatment, as well as reducing the side-effects and costs associated with aggressive combination therapy.

Hopkins scientists find cells responsible for bladder cancer's spread
Johns Hopkins scientists have tracked down a powerful set of cells in bladder tumors that seem to be primarily responsible for the cancer's growth and spread using a technique that takes advantage of similarities between tumor and organ growth.

Internists tackle key health reform issues
Monographs addressing individual mandates, tax exclusion and a public plan option were released today by the American College of Physicians.

Johns Hopkins researchers make stem cells from developing sperm
The promise of stem cell therapy may lie in uncovering how adult cells revert back into a primordial, stem cell state, whose fate is yet to be determined.

Caltech researchers show how organic carbon compounds emitted by trees affect air quality
A previously unrecognized player in the process by which gases produced by trees and other plants become aerosols -- microscopically small particles in the atmosphere -- has been discovered by a research team led by scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

A plant's arsenal of crystalline darts and sand
Crystals are found in hundreds of plant families. Despite this, their purpose is not well-understood.

Research breakthrough will lead to more accurate weather forecasts
More accurate global weather forecasts and a better understanding of climate change are in prospect thanks to a breakthrough by engineers at Queen's University Belfast's Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology.

Keeping track of rail freight
The EUREKA E! 3161 LOGCHAIN+ E_RAILMAP project has developed an electronic rail map of Europe that provides full freight details for 23,000 stations in 40 countries but also can instantly indicate the position and progress of individual wagons.

Botanicals have no effect on hot flashes or cognition: Study
Two studies have found that commonly used botanicals, while safe, do not have an effect on hot flashes or on cognitive function in menopausal women.

Extinction runs in the family
An analysis of 200 million years of history for marine clams found that vulnerability to extinction runs in evolutionary families, even when the losses result form ongoing, background rates of extinction.

AGU journal highlights -- Aug. 6, 2009
Featured in this release are research papers on the following topics:

Wastewater produces electricity and desalinates water
A process that cleans wastewater and generates electricity can also remove 90 percent of salt from brackish water or seawater, according to an international team of researchers from China and the US.

Climate-caused biodiversity booms and busts in ancient plants and mammals
A period of global warming from 53 million to 47 million years ago strongly influenced plants and animals, spurring a biodiversity boom in western North America, researchers from three research museums report in a paper published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

EMBO pioneers pension plan for internationally mobile postdoctoral researchers
The European Molecular Biology Organization announced today the introduction of a new private pension plan for EMBO Fellows.

Distinctive gene expression in brains of relapsing heroin-addicted rats
A group of genes whose expression is significantly altered following exposure to drug paraphernalia after an enforced

Chicken-hearted tyrants
It will break every pre-schooler's heart: Tyrannosaurus rex and other predatory dinosaurs might not have been fearless hunters after all.

Stroke doubles patients' risk of hip or thigh fracture
Stroke survivors have about twice the risk of breaking a hip or thigh bone as people who haven't had a stroke.

Surface features on Titan form like Earth's, but with a frigid twist
Saturn's haze-enshrouded moon Titan turns out to have much in common with Earth in the way that weather and geology shape its terrain, according to two pieces of research to be presented at the XXVII General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Covidien receives FDA clearance for its Puritan Bennett 840 ventilator system
Covidien, a leading global health-care products company and recognized innovator in mechanical ventilation and respiratory care devices, announced it has received 510(k) clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration to market its Leak Compensation software feature for the Puritan Bennett 840 ventilator system.

Carnegie donates landmark clones to biology
Surprisingly little is known about the interactions that proteins have with each other and the protective membrane that surrounds a cell.

Long debate ended over cause, demise of ice ages -- may also help predict future
Researchers have largely put to rest a long debate on the underlying mechanism that has caused periodic ice ages on Earth for the past 2.5 million years -- they are ultimately linked to slight shifts in solar radiation caused by predictable changes in Earth's rotation and axis.

New cancer drug delivery system is effective and reversible
Cancer drugs must be effective. But they must also target cancer cells and spare healthy cells.

Educate yourself to boost achievement in kids
With school days just around the corner, a University of Michigan researcher has some advice for parents who want to increase their children's academic success.

UCI discovers new Alzheimer's gene
A UC Irvine study has found that a gene called TOMM40 appears twice as often in people with Alzheimer's disease than in those without it.

Current hepatitis C treatments work equally well, UT Southwestern and national researchers report
The three treatment combinations for clearing the most common form of the hepatitis C virus work equally well with similar side effects, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers and their colleagues in 13 other institutions have found.

Researchers to study rebirth of an island after volcanic eruption
When Alaska's Kasatochi Volcano erupted on Aug. 7, 2008, it virtually sterilized Kasatochi Island, covering the small Aleutian island with a layer of ash and other volcanic material several meters thick.

Is bilateral liver resection safe for bilateral intrahepatic stones?
Hepatectomy has become the optimal treatment for intrahepatic stones. For the subgroup of patients with bilateral intrahepatic stones, the feasibility and outcomes of bilateral liver resection have not been clarified.

LHC to run at 3.5 TeV for early part of 2009-2010 run rising later
CERN 's Large Hadron Collider will initially run at an energy of 3.5 TeV per beam when it starts up in November this year.

From fable to fact: Rooks use stones and water to catch a worm
In Aesop's fable

More than half of Texas physicians do not always recommend HPV vaccine to girls
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends the human papillomavirus vaccination for all 11- and 12-year-old girls, but results of a recent survey showed that more than half of Texas physicians do not follow these recommendations.

Scientists devise efficient way of learning about complex corn traits
There's no

Protein handlers should be effective treatment target for cancer and Alzheimer's
Cancer and Alzheimer's have excess protein in common and scientists say learning more about how proteins are made and eliminated will lead to better treatment for both.

Climbing to new heights in the forest canopy
Following Darwin's interests in climbing plants, this article focuses on functional perspectives including attachment mechanisms and stem structure and function.

Does Facebook usage contribute to jealousy in relationships?
The more time college students spend on Facebook, the more likely they are to feel jealous toward their romantic partners, leading to more time on Facebook searching for additional information that will further fuel their jealousy, in an escalating cycle that may become addictive, according to a study reported in CyberPsychology & Behavior, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert Inc.

Genomic signature in blood identifies underlying viral infection
Scientists have identified a genomic

Moving to the US increases cancer risk for Hispanics
Results of a new study confirm trends that different Hispanic population groups have higher incidence rates of certain cancers and worse cancer outcomes if they live in the United States, than they do if they live in their homelands.

Got influenza? Blood genomic signature provides clues to etiology of respiratory infections
Scientists have shown that they can identify and characterize an individual's response to a respiratory viral infection by examining the pattern of gene expression in their blood.

Colon cancer may yield to cellular sugar starvation
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have discovered how two cancer-promoting genes enhance a tumor's capacity to grow and survive under conditions where normal cells die.

Penn researchers show that protein unfolding is key for understanding blood clot mechanics
Fibrin, the chief ingredient of blood clots, is a remarkably versatile polymer.

Dark energy from the ground up: Make way for BigBOSS
To measure the expansion history of the universe, the design chosen for the Joint Dark Energy mission will use three techniques -- supernovae, weak lensing, and baryon acoustic oscillation -- but it will emphasize baryon acoustic oscillation.

Psychosocial therapy with antidepressants more effective in helping depressed stroke patients
Depressed stroke patients who received medication and psychosocial therapy improved significantly in the short term and a year later, compared to those receiving medication alone.

More insulin-producing cells, at the flip of a 'switch'
Researchers have found a way in mice to convert another type of pancreas cell into the critical insulin-producing beta cells that are lost in those with type I diabetes.

Unstable proteins can cause premature ageing
The normal aging process has long been linked to problems with cell respiration, the process through which the cells extract energy from nutrients.

New experiment could reveal make-up of the universe
Scientists at the University of Liverpool are constructing highly sensitive detectors as part of an international project to understand the elements that make up the universe. 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