Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

August 10, 2009
Potato blight plight looks promising for food security
Over 160 years since potato blight wreaked havoc in Ireland and other northern European countries, scientists funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council finally have the blight-causing pathogen in their sights and are working to accelerate breeding of more durable, disease resistant potato varieties.

Hundreds of new species discovered in eastern Himalayas
Over 350 new species including the world's smallest deer, a

Research reveals how science changed methods of execution
The research traces 19th and 20th-century newspaper accounts of the rationalization of executions, especially in terms of execution technology.

First black holes kept to a strict diet, study shows
A new supercomputer simulation designed to track the fate of the universe's first black holes finds that, counter to expectations, they couldn't efficiently gorge themselves on nearby gas.

Misuse of common antibiotic is creating resistant TB
Use of a common antibiotic may be undercutting its utility as a first-line defense against drug-resistant tuberculosis.

What science says about beach sand and stomach aches
By washing your hands after digging in beach sand, you could greatly reduce your risk of ingesting bacteria that could make you sick.

Single-molecule technique captures calcium sensor calmodulin in action
The protein calmodulin steers the activities of hundreds of other proteins in our cells, playing a role in processes ranging from gene transcription to nerve growth and muscle contraction.

UC Santa Barbara and Burnham Institute for Medical Research announce director
The Burnham Institute for Medical Research and the University of California, Santa Barbara have named leading biomedical researcher Jamey D.

Scientists make multiple types of white blood cells directly from embryonic and adult stem cells
In an advance that could help transform embryonic stem cells into a multipurpose medical tool, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have transformed these versatile cells into progenitors of white blood cells and into six types of mature white blood and immune cells.

STAT3 gene regulates cancer stem cells in brain cancer
Tufts researchers find that the STAT3 gene regulates the growth of cancer stem cells in the brain cancer Glioblastoma multiforme.

You don't have to be 'good at math' to be fascinated by numbers
Did you know that in a room of the 35 people, the probability of two of them having the same birthday is greater than 80 percent?

Bone-cell control of energy generation is regulated by the protein Atf4
Bone cells known as osteoblasts were recently shown to have a role in controlling the biochemical reactions that generate energy.

FSU professor wins $5M grant to train next generation of education researchers
A researcher at the Florida State University has been awarded a $5 million, five-year federal grant to train doctoral students to conduct advanced research on the best ways of teaching reading, math and science to the nation's schoolchildren.

ASP announces the 2009 T. Franklin Williams Scholars
The Association of Specialty Professors is pleased to announce the eighth class of T.

Metabolic bone disease in cirrhosis patients
A research team from India identified the risk factors for metabolic bone disease in cirrhosis patients.

To manage a fishery, you must know how the fish die
Fishermen know you need good fishery management to ensure healthy fish populations for future generations.

NIAID media availability: Still searching for predictors of asthma attacks
A new study of persistent asthma in inner-city adolescents and young adults finds that an extensive set of clinical tests cannot successfully predict the future risk of asthma attacks in participants who both receive care based on current guidelines and adhere to treatment recommendations.

Boston high school students focus on urban ecology through $1.5 million NSF grant
An NSF grant supports Boston College's College Bound work to increase the interests and skills of inner-city students in STEM fields and build strong pathways from high school to successful university study.

Nanoelectronic transistor combined with biological machine could lead to better electronics
If manmade devices could be combined with biological machines, laptops and other electronic devices could get a boost in operating efficiency.

U of Minnesota researchers discover high levels of estrogens in some industrial wastewater
In a groundbreaking study, civil engineering researchers in the University of Minnesota's Institute of Technology have discovered that certain industries may be a significant source of plant-based estrogens, called phytoestrogens, in surface water.

Discovery could help stem infections of parasitic roundworms
Working with researchers in China, biologists at UC San Diego have discovered how a Chinese drug effective in killing parasitic roundworms works.

New gene linked to muscular dystrophy
Muscular dystrophy, a group of inherited diseases characterized by progressive skeletal muscle weakness, can be caused by mutations in any one of a number of genes.

Americans remain divided on government involvement in health insurance, IU survey shows
Researchers from Indiana University's Center for Health Policy and Professionalism Research have found that support for government-sponsored health insurance for individuals under age 65 remains virtually the same regardless of how the plan is described or how involved the government would be.

NASA satellite sees severe flooding rains from deadly typhoon morakot
Typhoon Morakot brought enormous amounts of rainfall to Taiwan and China and NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission estimated it from space.

'Consequences of ongoing civil conflict in Somalia' and 'the PLoS Medicine debate'
In an essay published this week in PLoS Medicine, Debarati Guha-Sapir and Ruwan Ratnayake use field data to demonstrate the severe vulnerability faced by much of the Somalian population.

Limb-sparing surgery may not provide better quality of life than amputation for bone cancer patients
Limb-sparing surgery, which has been taking the place of amputation for bone and soft tissue sarcomas of the lower limb in recent years, may not provide much or even any additional benefit to patients according to a new review.

Research team responds to concerns about international insulin drug trial
The ORIGIN investigators are reassured by the findings of the independent data committee

New class of compounds discovered for potential Alzheimer's disease drug
A new class of molecules capable of blocking the formation of specific protein clumps that are believed to contribute to Alzheimer's disease pathology has been discovered by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

Breastfeeding associated with reduced risk of breast cancer among women with family history
Women with a family history of breast cancer appear to have a lower risk of developing the disease before menopause if they have ever breastfed a child, according to a report in the August 10/24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

New light-emitting biomaterial could improve tumor imaging, study shows
A new material developed at the University of Virginia -- an oxygen nanosensor that couples a light-emitting dye with a biopolymer -- simplifies the imaging of oxygen-deficient regions of tumors.

Einstein researchers identify potential target for metastatic cancer
The deadliest part of the cancer process, metastasis, appears to rely on help from macrophages, potent immune system cells that usually defend vigorously against disease, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University report.

New genes at work in patients with hereditary lung disease
Gene therapy researchers have safely given new, functional genes to patients with a hereditary defect that can lead to fatal lung and liver diseases, according to clinical trial findings.

Biologists ID molecular basis of high-altitude adaptation in mice
A group of scientists have discovered the specific mutations involved in evolutionary adaptation to different environments.

Holograms a new tool in battling ovarian cancer
University of Arizona researchers Jennifer Barton and Ray Kostuk have received a five-year, $2.4 million grant to build the instrument that they hope will one day be used to monitor women at high risk for ovarian cancer.

Research examines stereotypes of immigrants to the United States
Presenting at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, the researchers say the study is unique in that it breaks down public opinion of immigrants from four global regions.

Bipedal humans came down from the trees, not up from the ground
An analysis of wrist anatomy in humans, chimps, bonobos and gorillas indicates our own bipedalism probably did not evolve from a knuckle-walking ancestor.

MIT researchers make carbon nanotubes without metal catalyst
Researchers at MIT have for the first time shown that nanotubes can grow without a metal catalyst.

Healthy lifestyle habits may be associated with reduced risk of chronic disease
Four healthy lifestyle factors -- never smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and following a healthy diet -- together appear to be associated with as much as an 80 percent reduction in the risk of developing the most common and deadly chronic diseases, according to a report in the August 10-24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Tumors feel the deadly sting of nanobees
When bees sting, they pump poison into their victims. Now the toxin in bee venom has been harnessed to kill tumor cells by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

NASA satellites catch 2 views of Felicia already affecting Hawaii
Tropical Storm Felicia is closing in on the Hawaiian Island chain and its center is now expected to pass just north of the big island before moving through the islands Tuesday and Wednesday.

Climate models confirm more moisture in atmosphere attributed to humans
In new research appearing in the August 10 online issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists and a group of international researchers found that model quality does not affect the ability to identify human effects on atmospheric water vapor.

Brain damage seen on brain scans may predict memory loss in old age
Areas of brain damage seen on brain scans and originally thought to be related to stroke may help doctors predict a person's risk of memory problems in old age, according to research published in the Aug.

Certain behavioral traits and feeding practices may increase risk for weight gain in children
It's important for parents to use the right approach when trying to combat childhood obesity.

Physicists make crystal/liquid interface visible for first time
An Emory University lab has captured the first images of what's actually happening in the fuzzy area of the crystal/liquid interface.

Tiny 'MEMS' devices to filter, amplify electronic signals
Researchers are developing a new class of tiny mechanical devices containing vibrating, hair-thin structures that could be used to filter electronic signals in cell phones and for other more exotic applications.

Seizures during pregnancy associated with risk of pre-term and small babies
Women with epilepsy who have seizures during pregnancy appear more likely to give birth to pre-term, small or low-birth-weight babies than women without epilepsy, according to a report in the August issue of Archives of Neurology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

NSF CAREER Award funds research on plastics that conduct electricity
Clemson chemistry assistant professor Rhett Smith will receive $598,000 in a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to study a new class of materials that conduct electrical currents and can be used in thin, lightweight and flexible plastic electronic devices.

Burnham chosen as Comprehensive Center in new National Cancer Institute Chemical Biology Consortium
Burnham Institute for Medical Research has been selected as a comprehensive center in a new National Cancer Institute Chemical Biology Consortium, an integrated network of chemical biologists, molecular oncologists and chemical screening centers.

Breastfeeding reduces risk of breast cancer in women with a family history of the disease
According to a new study, women with a family history of breast cancer were 59 percent less likely to develop breast cancer themselves if they breastfed their children.

Life and death in the living brain
Like clockwork, brain regions in many songbird species expand and shrink seasonally in response to hormones.

First black holes born starving
The first black holes in the universe had dramatic effects on their surroundings, according to recent simulations carried out at the SLAC/Stanford Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology.

Doctors' opinions not always welcome in life support decisions
Some caregivers of critical care patients prefer doctors to keep their opinions on life support decisions to themselves, according to new research that challenges long-held beliefs in the critical care community.

MRI simulation of blood flow helps plan child's delicate heart surgery
Researchers have developed a virtual surgery tool that allows heart surgeons to manipulate 3-D cardiac magnetic resonance images of a patient's specific anatomy to select the best approach for each patient before entering the operating room.

Computer scientists take over electronic voting machine with new programming technique
Computer scientists hacked an electronic voting machine and stole votes using a malicious programming approach that had not been invented when the voting machine was designed.

Missing link of cloud formation
The discovery of an unknown hitherto chemical compound in the atmosphere may help to explain how and when clouds are formed.

Food stamp use linked to weight gain, study finds
The US Food Stamp Program may help contribute to obesity among its users, according to a new nationwide study that followed participants for 14 years.

Men's masculinity beliefs are a barrier to preventative health care
Middle-aged men who strongly idealize masculinity are almost 50 percent less likely than other men to seek preventative health care services, according to a study -- the first population-based analysis of men's masculinity beliefs and preventative health care compliance -- to be presented at the 104th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

NYU chemists discover twisted molecules that pick their targets
New York University chemists have discovered how to make molecules with a twist -- the molecules fold in to twisted helical shapes that can accelerate selected chemical reactions.

Estrogen-dependent switch tempers killing activity of immune cells
The sex hormone estrogen tempers the killing activity of a specific group of immune cells, the cytotoxic T cells, which are known to attack tumor cells and cells infected by viruses.

NYU researchers explore how power influences interpretation
A newly completed New York University study of public reaction to the Sept.

University of York students benefit from IBM link to promote skills for 21st century economy
The University of York has enhanced its links with industry by joining IBM UK's University Relations Program.

New genes at work in patients with hereditary lung disease
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University of Florida in Gainesville have safely given new, functional genes to patients with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a hereditary defect that can lead to fatal lung and liver diseases.

Mars, methane and mysteries
Mars may not be as dormant as scientists once thought.

Household financial contributions by adult live-in children are influenced by family structure
Single parents are more likely than parents in nuclear families to receive financial help from their grown, live-in children, according to research to be presented at the 104th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

How mice and humans differ immunologically
New research, to be published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, indicates the reason that humans and rodents respond differently to a molecule that is being developed to treat allergic diseases.

Insufficient sleep may be linked to increased diabetes risk
Short sleep times, experienced by many individuals in Westernized societies, may contribute to the development of insulin resistance and reduced glucose tolerance, which in turn may increase the long-term risk of diabetes, according to a new study accepted for publication in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Avian influenza strain primes brain for Parkinson's disease
At least one strain of the H5N1 avian influenza virus leaves survivors at significantly increased risk for Parkinson's disease and possibly other neurological problems later in life, according to new research from St.

AIAA Space 2009 Conference set for Sept. 14-17 in Pasadena
The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics will hold the AIAA SPACE 2009 Conference & Exposition, September 14-17, at the Pasadena Convention Center, Pasadena, Calif.

World's largest gathering of ENT doctors to convene in San Diego, Oct. 4-7, 2009
The 2009 Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO of the American Academy of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery Foundation, the largest meeting of ear, nose, and throat doctors in the world, will convene Oct.

Exploring the standard model of physics without the high-energy collider
Scientists have measured the largest effect of the

New drug-resistant TB strains could become widespread says new study
The emergence of new forms of tuberculosis could swell the proportion of drug-resistant cases globally, a new study has found.

Predictors of disease behavior change in Crohn's disease
A research team from Hungary investigated the probability of disease behavior changes in a well-characterized Crohn's disease cohort with strict clinical follow-up.

New method for neonatal ICUs reduces infection and lung distress in premature infants
A new method for improving quality of care can reduce hospital-acquired infections and chronic respiratory distress with oxygen dependency in premature infants in neonatal ICUs, according to a new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

UT Southwestern researchers launch study into search-and-destroy antigen for deadly skin cancer
UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers are studying a new antigen to see whether it can track down and kill cancer cells in patients with recurring melanoma, the leading cause of skin cancer deaths.

Amazonian tribe sheds light on causes of heart disease in developed countries
Heart attacks and strokes -- the leading causes of death in the United States and other developed countries -- may have been rare for the vast majority of human history, suggests a study to be published in PLoS ONE on Tuesday, Aug.

Sodium clodronate increases survival in patients with advanced prostate cancer but not in men with localized disease
Oral sodium clodronate improves overall survival in men with advanced prostate cancer, but does not reduce the risk of death in men with localized disease, according to the final results of the MRC PR05 and MRC PR04 trials, published in an article online first and in the September edition of the Lancet Oncology.

New discovery brings hope to treatment of lymphatic diseases
Researchers in the laboratory of Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati at the University of Kentucky have discovered the first naturally occurring molecule that selectively blocks lymphatic vessel growth.

Stanford professor sequences his entire genome at low cost, with small team
The first few times that scientists mapped out all the DNA in a human being in 2001, each effort cost hundreds of millions of dollars and involved more than 250 people.

MRSA may accompany hospital patients into home health settings
Infection with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) appears relatively common among patients discharged from the hospital into home health care, according to a report in the August 10-24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Substance abuse, schizophrenia and risk of violence
A study published this week in the open-access journal PLoS Medicine demonstrates that there is an association between schizophrenia and violence, but shows that this association is greatly increased by drug and alcohol abuse.

Urine samples could be used to predict responses to drugs, say researchers
Researchers may be able to predict how people will respond to particular drugs by analyzing their urine samples, suggest scientists behind a new study published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Radiation therapy may increase diabetes risk in childhood cancer survivors
Childhood cancer survivors treated with total body or abdominal radiation may have an increased risk of diabetes, according to a report in the August 10-24 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

A real eye-opener -- UC researchers uncover which gender is losing sleep
Despite the strides in gender equality at work and at home, University of Cincinnati sociologists reveal the social factors that are causing multitasking women to lose sleep.

UBC scientists find new way to extract diluted and contaminated DNA
University of British Columbia researchers have developed a new way to extract DNA and RNA from small or heavily contaminated samples that could help forensic investigators and molecular biologists get to

Characteristic pathological findings in reflux esophagitis
Although gastroesophageal reflux disease-related extraesophageal syndromes have attracted attention, how gastric-juice reflux influences the esophagus and/or extraesophageal structures is unknown.

Found: A gene that may play a role in type 1 diabetes
Scientists at Stanford University have identified a gene that may play a role in the development of type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the body's insulin-producing cells.

The violent youth of solar proxies steer course of genesis of life
One of the hottest topics at this year's XXVIIth General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union involves the study of the conditions favorable for the development and survival of primordial life.

Wide range of mental disorders increase the chance of suicidal thoughts and behaviors
Although depression is the mental disorder that most people associate with suicidal behavior, a new study reveals that a wide range of mental disorders increase the odds of thinking about suicide and making suicide attempts.

Traffic jam in brain causes schizophrenia symptoms
Northwestern researchers have discovered that schizophrenia symptoms -- which begin to develop in adolescents -- are caused by a low level of a brain protein necessary to build pathways between neurons.

Research examines coping strategies of African-American students in predominantly white schools
The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, explores race and identity in competitive academic high school environments.

Study identifies risk factors for transformation of eye growths into melanoma
Eight factors may predict whether a choroidal nevus -- a benign, flat, pigmented growth inside the eye and beneath the retina -- may develop into melanoma, according to a report in the August issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Optimism appears to lower women's risk of death, heart disease
Optimistic women have a lower risk of developing heart disease and dying than pessimistic women.

Unmanned aircraft map northern wildfires
Staff from Poker Flat Research Range have traveled north to assist fire personnel in mapping Interior Alaska's Crazy Mountain Complex fires with unmanned aircraft.

University of Oklahoma National Weather Center to host national meteorological meeting
The University of Oklahoma National Weather Center will host a professional society meeting for the first time when the 2009 American Meteorological Society Summer Community Meeting convenes Aug.

Young early stage ovarian cancer patients can preserve fertility
A new study finds that young women with early stage ovarian cancer can preserve future fertility by keeping at least one ovary or the uterus without increasing the risk of dying from the disease.

Gallbladder emptying in primary sclerosing cholangitis patients
The mechanisms responsible for abdominal pain in primary sclerosing cholangitis are not fully understood.

Stimulus funding helps K-State biochemist study eye's lens in diabetes, galactosemia patients
Thanks to a grant awarded through federal stimulus research funding, a Kansas State University biochemist has more funding for research that could eventually help diabetics preserve their eyesight.

JCI online early table of contents: Aug. 10, 2009
This release contains summaries, links to PDFs and contact information for the following newsworthy papers to be published online, Aug.

Taking the needle's sting out of diabetes
A new anti-Ras compound developed at Tel Aviv University may lead to the first tablet-based treatment for children and adults with type 1 diabetes.

University of Toronto archaeologists find cache of tablets in 2,700-year-old Turkish temple
Excavations led by a University of Toronto archaeologist at the site of a recently discovered temple in southeastern Turkey have uncovered a cache of cuneiform tablets dating back to the Iron Age period between 1200 and 600 BCE.

Discovering soybean plants resistant to aphids and a new aphid
This year farmers in the Midwest are growing a new variety of soybeans developed by University of Illinois researchers that has resistance to soybean aphids. 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