Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 21, 2009
Compound found to safely counter deadly bird flu
A study suggests that a new compound, one on the threshold of final testing in humans, may be more potent and safer for treating

Self-monitoring with blood glucose test strips inefficient use of health-care resources
Routine self-monitoring of blood glucose levels by people with type 2 diabetes who are not taking insulin is an ineffective use of health resources as the modest benefits are outweighed by the significant cost of test strips, suggest two studies in CMAJ.

1 dose of H1N1 vaccine may provide sufficient protection for infants and children
One dose of vaccine may be effective to protect infants and children and reduce transmission of the H1N1 virus, according to a study in JAMA, published online today because of its public health implications.

What is the function of the protein CD20?
Antibodies directed against the protein CD20, which is expressed by immune cells known as B cells, are used to treat B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis.

ASU scientists improve chip memory by stacking cells
Scientists at Arizona State University have developed an elegant method for significantly improving the memory capacity of electronic chips.

How nurses can better support families of dying children
Most nurses that work in a children's critical care unit feel prepared and trained to help parents during the final moments of their child's life and the difficult hours that follow.

Study casts doubt on provocative tuberculosis theory
A new study is casting doubt on a provocative theory that explains why tuberculosis can lie dormant in some patients for many years.

SPARKy devices helps amputees return to normal lives
Arizona State University researchers have developed a prosthetic device that literally puts the spring back into an amputee's step.

Researchers identify tuberculosis strain that thrives on antibiotic
Scientists have identified a strain of antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis that thrives in the presence of rifampin, a front-line drug in the treatment of tuberculosis.

UTMB study identifies women at higher risk of significant bone loss on injectable birth control
Nearly half of women using depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, commonly known as the birth control shot, will experience high bone mineral density loss in the hip or lower spine within two years of beginning the contraceptive, according to researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Good cholesterol not as protective in people with type 2 diabetes
HDL, known as

Enzyme necessary for development of healthy immune system
Mice without the deoxycytidine kinase enzyme have defects in their adaptive immune system, producing very low levels of both T and B lymphocytes, the major players involved in immune response, according to a study by researchers with UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Trends in melanoma incidence and stage at diagnosis vary by racial and ethnic group
White and Hispanic individuals are being diagnosed with melanoma more frequently in recent years, whereas Hispanic and black patients continue to have advanced skin cancer at diagnosis, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Aviation-based team training may influence clinicians' safety behaviors
Team training based on protocols originally developed for aviation crews may change safety-related behaviors and contribute to perceptions of empowerment among nurses and other surgical staff, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Bioengineered materials promote the growth of functional vasculature, new study shows
In a paper published Dec. 21 in the early edition of PNAS, Georgia Tech researchers show that they are able to induce significant functional vasculature growth in areas of damaged tissue through the use of synthetic polymers called hydrogels.

MSU researchers creating model of HIV care for developing nations
Expanding Michigan State University's global health outreach, a team of researchers is working in the Dominican Republic to establish a model for HIV/AIDS care that can be exported to other resource-limited countries.

NSF grant benefits chemistry research/local H.S. outreach
The National Science Foundation has announced an award of a $247,553 to Enrique Peacock-Lopez, professor of chemistry at Williams College, in support of his project,

Twin study identifies factors associated with skin aging
Smoking, being heavier, not using sunscreen and having had skin cancer appear to be associated with sun damage and aging of skin on the face, according to report based on a study of twins in the December issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

New insight in nerve cell communication
New nano research gives important insights in nerve cell communication that will help the fight against nerve pain following amputation and diabetes.

Best go digital in a pandemic
The use of a digital checklist for patients being administered emergency drugs during a pandemic or following a biological terrorist attack reduces the fatigue factor, according to a report in the International Journal of Healthcare Technology and Management, and could save lives.

UC Davis study: Ski runs are not created equal
Building a new ski run by bulldozing a mountainside, rather than only cutting its shrubs and trees, is far more damaging ecologically, yet might offer only a week's earlier start to the downhill season, says a new UC Davis study.

New study finds catch shares improve consistency, not health, of fisheries
Catch share programs result in more consistent and predictable fisheries but do not necessarily improve ecological conditions, according to a new study published online this week by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Older adults may have a higher risk of complications and death after abdominal surgery
The risk of complications and early death after commonly performed abdominal surgical procedures appears to be higher among older adults, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

New warbler discovered in Laos
A diminutive, colorful bird living in the rocky forests of Laos and Vietnam has been discovered by a team of scientists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, Laos PDR Department of Forestry, and other groups.

Naturally occurring lipid blocks RSV infection in lungs
Researchers at National Jewish Health have discovered that a naturally occurring lipid in the lung can prevent RSV infection and inhibit spread of the virus after an infection is established.

Dispatcher-assisted bystander CPR best choice for possible cardiac arrest signs
Dispatchers should give CPR instructions to bystanders of all suspected cardiac arrest victims, researchers said.

Rising mortality in lower income people with diabetes despite drop in overall rate
While mortality from diabetes has declined in Canada, the income-related mortality gap is increasing, with lower income groups faring worse than higher income groups, according to a new study in CMAJ.

C-reactive protein levels correlate with future risk of heart attack, stroke and cancers, but causality seems unlikely
There has been intense interest among researchers during the past decade about whether blood concentrations of C-reactive protein -- a sensitive indicator of tissue injury inflammation produced by the liver -- is a causal factor in heart disease.

How flu succeeds
Investigators have identified 295 human cell factors that influenza A strains must harness to infect a cell, including the currently circulating swine-origin H1N1.

Poisonous prehistoric 'raptor' discovered by research team from Kansas and China
A group of University of Kansas researchers working with Chinese colleagues have discovered a venomous, birdlike raptor that thrived some 128 million years ago in China.

Fort Worth patient first in North Texas to undergo robot-assisted surgery for removal of lung tumor
When Craig Harrison found out he would be the first patient in North Texas to have robot-assisted lung-tumor surgery, an operation performed at UT Southwestern Medical Center, he wasn't nervous at all.

MARES to provide comprehensive view of south Florida marine ecosystems
A new $1.5 million NOAA-funded project, MARES will provide a comprehensive view of south Florida marine ecosystems.

Microcephaly genes associated with human brain size
A group of Norwegian and American researchers have shown that common variations in genes associated with microcephaly -- a neuro-developmental disorder in which brain size is dramatically reduced --may explain differences in brain size in healthy individuals as well as in patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Method makes refineries more efficient
Refineries could trim millions of dollars in energy costs annually by using a new method developed at Purdue University to rearrange the distillation sequence needed to separate crude petroleum into products.

Modern tests demonstrate soundness of old iron bridge
An unusual bowstring truss iron bridge that carried traffic across Roaring Run in Bedford County, Va., for almost 100 years is now a picturesque footbridge at the I-81 Ironto, Va., rest stop.

Is nicotinamide overload a trigger for type 2 diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is a major global health problem. Although the underlying mechanism of the pathogenesis is not clear, generally it is accepted that type 2 diabetes is a result of gene-environment interactions.

JCI online early table of contents: December 21, 2009
This release contains summaries, links to PDFs, and contact information for the following newsworthy papers to be published online, Dec.

Meddling in mosquitoes' sex lives could help stop the spread of malaria, says study
Stopping male mosquitoes from sealing their sperm inside females with a 'mating plug' could prevent mosquitoes from reproducing, and offer a potential new way to combat malaria, say scientists publishing new results in PLoS Biology on Dec.

Chicago Cancer Genome Project studies genetics of 1,000 tumors
A Chicago research team is one year into a three-year project to collect and analyze the genetic sequence and variations of every gene expressed by 1,000 tumors with a long-term goal of translating genomic discoveries into diagnostic tools and therapeutic strategies.

Depression saps endurance of the brain's reward circuitry
A new study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests that depressed patients are unable to sustain activity in brain areas related to positive emotion.

Role of addiction cannot be ignored in obesity epidemic
In a commentary appearing in the Dec. 21, 2009, issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, Dr.

New rhizome root harvester to be unveiled at U of I bioenergy symposium
A new miscanthus rhizome root harvester and planter will be unveiled at the seventh annual Bioenergy Feedstocks Symposium on Monday, Jan.

Mystery of golden ratio explained
The golden ratio is a geometric proportion that has been theorized to be the most aesthetically pleasing to the eye and has been the root of countless mysteries over the centuries.

The past matters to plants
It's commonly known that plants interact with each other on an everyday basis: they shade each other out or take up nutrients from the soil before neighboring plants can get them.

News brief: Relatives of boys with sexual birth defects not at risk for testicular germ cell cancer
Boys with the sexual birth defects known as hypospadias and cryptorchidism are at risk for developing testicular germ cell cancer, but their relatives are not, according to a new study published online Dec.

Into the heart of the climate debate
Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly news magazine of the world's largest scientific society, today published a major analysis of the divisive issues at the heart of the debate over global warming and climate change.

Kew botanists discover more than 250 new plant species in 250th anniversary year
Kew botanists have discovered more than 250 new species of plants and fungi in the organization's 250th anniversary year.

Disability may be on the rise again after 20-year decline
The 20-year decline of disability rates among Americans may have ended, according to a new study led by researchers at UC Berkeley and the University of Toronto.

Water cycle conference makes a big splash
Earth has a limited amount of water that recycles itself in what is called the

U of A led team makes breakthrough demonstration of pH-regulating protein
Researchers have identified the protein mechanism that senses bicarbonate fluctuations and adjusts blood pH levels.

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev launches new Africa Center
With support from Baron Eric de Rothschild as well as Israeli entrepreneur and founder of the LR Group Eitan Stibbe, the Center will send students to volunteer on the African continent.

Up a little on the left ... now, over to the right ...
Scratching below the surface of a troublesome sensation that's equal parts tingle-tickle-prickle, sensory scientists from Johns Hopkins have discovered in mice a molecular basis for nonallergic itch.

Scientists take important step toward the proverbial fountain of youth
Going back for a second dessert after your holiday meal might not be the best strategy for living a long, cancer-free life say researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Australian fossil unlocks secrets to the origin of whales
Museum Victoria palaeobiologist Dr. Erich Fitzgerald has made new groundbreaking discoveries into the origin of baleen whales, based on a 25-million-year-old fossil found near Torquay in Victoria.

37 of LA BioMed's researchers honored as Southern California Super Doctors
Los Angeles Magazine, in its January issue, names 37 of the physician-researchers at LA BioMed Southern California Super Doctors.

Police service faces unprecedented challenges amid global recession
The police service faces a host of new challenges but also opportunities in the wake of the Sept.

New computer program to give students experience with geosciences' data
The National Science Foundation recently awarded a grant of $144,244 to Williams College to fund a project titled

Surgery recognized as effective treatment
A first-of-its-kind consensus statement by 50 medical experts from around the world has pronounced surgery to be a legitimate and effective treatment for type 2 diabetes, bringing the procedure a significant step closer to wider use and acceptance.

Dental delight: Tooth of sea urchin shows formation of biominerals
Some of the most common minerals in biology, including those in bones and shells, have a mysterious structure: Their crystals are positioned in the same orientation, making them behave as one giant crystal, even though they do not look like a faceted crystal.

Formation of the Gulf of Corinth rift, Greece
A study of the structure and evolution of the Gulf of Corinth rift in central Greece will increase scientific understanding of rifted margin development and the tectonic mechanisms underlying seafloor spreading and deformation of the Earth's crust.

Largest study of PGD children shows embryo biopsy is safe for singleton pregnancies
The largest and longest running study of children born after preimplantation genetic diagnosis and screening has shown that embryo biopsy does not adversely affect the health of babies born as the result of a subsequent singleton pregnancy.

Use of 3-D imaging on patients with pancreatic carcinoma
The only procedure resulting in significantly longer survival for patients with a pancreatic carcinoma is R0 resection with adjuvant chemotherapy.

Attila Technologies and InterDigital form collaboration in wireless bandwidth aggregation tech
Stevens Institute of Technology announced that its Technogenesis spin-out company, Attila Technologies, LLC, has entered into a multi-faceted collaboration with InterDigital Communications, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of InterDigital, Inc.

More cardiac rehab reduces death for elderly heart patients
Elderly Medicare heart patients were less likely to die or have a heart attack if they attended the full number of reimbursed cardiac rehab sessions.

Hardware-accelerated global illumination by image space photon mapping
Research presented in a paper by Morgan McGuire, assistant professor of computer science at Williams College, and co-author Dr.

Gene for devastating kidney disease discovered
A genetic discovery just published in Nature Genetics new hope for a mysterious, devastating kidney disease that's the second leading cause of kidney failure in children.

We now know that the brain controls the formation of bone
The brain acts as a profound regulatory center, controlling myriad processes throughout the body in ways we are only just beginning to understand.

Waukesha Electric partners with SuperPower and UH to build fault current limiting superconducting transformer for Dept. of Energy
Waukesha Electric Systems, SuperPower, University of Houston, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Southern California Edison are partnering in a $10.7 million smart grid demonstration project award announced by US Department of Energy.

Glitter-sized solar photovoltaics produce competitive results
Sandia National Laboratories scientists have developed tiny glitter-sized photovoltaic cells that could revolutionize the way solar energy is collected and used.

Rising academic stars in China receive 'Scopus Young Researcher' awards
Science News Bi-Weekly and Elsevier's Science and Technology division in China announced today that their joint

From now on, 4 PTB primary atomic clocks will contribute to UTC
The new caesium fountain clock CSF2 is admitted into the exclusive international club of primary clocks.

AAPM statement on radiation dose
A panel of experts at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine has issued a statement calling for an open discussion of the facts about radiation hazards from computed tomography scanning in light of recent public concerns and news reports about radiation dose.

The role of medical expert witnesses: the Goudge Inquiry
The role of a medical expert witness needs to be strictly defined and carefully controlled during legal proceedings and physicians need to be aware of their role, states an analysis of the Goudge Inquiry into pediatric forensic pathology published in CMAJ.

Rand Corporation study analyzes risks, benefits to Israel of increasing reliance on natural gas
Israel can make natural gas usage a bigger part of its energy portfolio without jeopardizing its security, but even more importantly, the nation needs to make conservation measures a priority in its future energy plans, according to a RAND Corporation study issued today

Fossil shelved for a century reworks carnivore family tree
Now that an early carnivore fossil has been fully removed from its matrix (this after spending over a century on a shelf because of the associated crushed teeth), scientists are able to re-interpret the evolutionary tree of this group of mammals.

Proline repeats help protein grow tooth enamel, study shows
A simple amino acid that is repeated in the center of proteins found in tooth enamel makes teeth stronger and more resilient, according to new research at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Protein link may be key to new treatment for aggressive brain tumor
Biomedical researchers at the University of Central Florida have found a protein that could hold the key to treating one of the most common and aggressive brain tumors in adults.

Caltech physicists propose quantum entanglement for motion of microscopic objects
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have proposed a new paradigm that should allow scientists to observe quantum behavior in small mechanical systems.

MIT: Chemical energy influences tiny vibrations of red blood cell membranes
Much like a tightly wound drum, red blood cells are in perpetual vibration.

Enhanced sweet taste: This is your tongue on pot
New findings from the Monell Center and Kyushu University in Japan report that endocannabinoids act directly on tongue taste receptors to specifically enhance sweet taste.

Wild chimps have near human understanding of fire, says study by Iowa State's Pruetz
The use and control of fire are behavioral characteristics that distinguish humans from other animals.

How to relieve the pain effectively after laparoscopic cholecystectomy?
Although the pain after laparoscopic cholecystectomy (LC) is markedly less than the pain after open cholecystectomy, pain is still the patient's first complaint after LC.

Genetic study clarifies African and African-American ancestry
People who identify as African-American may be as little as 1 percent West African or as much as 99 percent, just one finding of a large-scale, genome-wide study of ancestry released by the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell University.

Mystery solved: Scientists now know how smallpox kills
Researchers have solved a fundamental mystery about smallpox that has puzzled scientists long after the natural disease was eradicated by vaccination: they know how it kills us.

Gene therapy makes mice breath easier
Individuals with single-gene mutations that decrease levels of the protein alpha-1 antitrypsin are highly susceptible to emphysema, a progressive lung disease that causes severe shortness of breath.

Genomes of identical twins reveal epigenetic changes that may play role in lupus
Identical twins look the same and are nearly genetically identical, but environmental factors and the resulting cellular changes could cause disease in one sibling and not the other.

System developed to detect plastic anti-personnel mines
A team of European researchers has devised a method for locating plastic anti-personnel mines, which are manufactured to avoid detection by metal detectors.

Housing growth near national parks may limit conservation value
The growth of housing near national parks, national forests and wilderness areas within the United States may limit the conservation value that these protected areas were designed to create in the first place, a new study has found.

ASU leads $40 million effort to rapidly assess radiation exposures
Arizona State University will lead a $40.8 million, multi-institutional research program to develop systems that would rapidly measure an individual's level of exposure to radiation in the event of a radiological or nuclear incident.

Heart transplant patients appear to have elevated risk for multiple skin cancers
Many heart transplant patients develop multiple skin cancers, with increased risk for some skin cancers among patients with other cancers and with increasing age, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Modern behavior of early humans found half-million years earlier than previously thought
Evidence of sophisticated, human behavior has been discovered by Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers as early as 750,000 years ago -- some half a million years earlier than has previously been estimated by archaeologists.

IKK may act as both inhibitor and promoter of Huntington's disease
The kinase IKK phosphorylates the protein mutated in Huntington's disease to promote its removal and neuron survival, but IKK may be a double-edged sword that increases neurotoxicity in later stages of the disease.

Researchers discover gene therapy to prevent progression of emphysema
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine have discovered a new gene therapy that may prevent the progression of emphysema.

Imaging tests identify role of allergies in chronic sinus disease
Exposing patients with chronic sinus disease to allergens and then obtaining repeated images by X-ray or ultrasound reveals that nasal allergies may be involved in some cases of chronic sinus disease, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head & Neck Surgery, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Urinary tract cancer associated with Chinese herbal products containing aristolochic acid
The carcinogen aristolochic acid, which was found in many prescribed Chinese herbal products including Guan Mu Tong, is associated with an increased risk of urinary tract cancer, according to a new study published online Dec. 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