Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

February 15, 2011
Large portion of costs at children's hospitals accounted for by patients with frequent readmissions
Among a group of children's hospitals, nearly 20 percent of admissions and one-quarter of inpatient expenditures were accounted for by a small percentage of patients who have frequent recurrent admissions, according to a study in the Feb.

Cell-culture-derived flu vaccine is as effective as current flu vaccines and would provide more robust and flexible vaccine supplies
A flu vaccine derived from cell culture is as effective as currently available flu vaccines, but would be less susceptible to manufacturing problems.

Hearing loss and dementia linked in study
Seniors with hearing loss are significantly more likely to develop dementia over time than those who retain their hearing, a study by Johns Hopkins and National Institute on Aging researchers suggests.

A mental retardation gene provides insights into brain formation
Scientists at Duke University Medical Center have uncovered new clues to memory and learning by exploring the function of a single gene, and at the same time, have provided insights into a form of human mental retardation.

Research presented at 2011 GU Cancers Symposium highlights advances in treatment of prostate cancer
New studies on the screening and treatment of genitourinary cancers were released today in advance of the fourth annual Genitourinary Cancers Symposium, being held Feb.

Poor sleep quality is associated with greater disability in rheumatoid arthritis patients
A study in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that poor sleep quality correlated with higher levels of depressive symptoms, greater pain severity, increased fatigue, and greater functional disability in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).

New study finds no cognitive impairment among ecstasy users
In contrast to many prior studies, ecstasy users in the new study showed no signs of cognitive impairment attributable to drug use: ecstasy use did not decrease mental ability.

Macho muscle cells force their way to fusion
According to new research from Johns Hopkins, the fusion of muscle cells is a power struggle that involves a smaller mobile antagonist that points at, pokes and finally pushes into its larger, stationary partner using a newly identified finger-like projection.

Government mashups -- better contact with public authorities
Mashup technologies and mobile applications will help to close the communication gap between government bodies and the general public.

Ion-exchange water softeners do not improve eczema in children
Water softeners provide no additional clinical benefit to usual care in children with eczema, so the use of ion-exchange water softeners for the treatment of moderate to severe eczema in children should not be recommended.

'Healthy' patients at high risk of cardiac death identified
The way the heart responds to an early beat is predictive of cardiac death, especially for people with no conventional markers of cardiovascular disease, according to new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St.

Tick population plummets in absence of lizard hosts
The Western fence lizard's reputation for helping to reduce the threat of Lyme disease is in jeopardy.

Engineer develops new approach for uncertainty estimation, wins award
Mechanical engineers from Virginia Tech and Utah State have devised a new method to estimate uncertainty in a specific type of flow measurement, termed particle image velocimetry.

Financial planning a key but neglected component of Alzheimer's care, say researchers
Patients newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or other dementias, and their families, need better guidance from their physicians on how to plan for the patient's progressive loss of ability to handle finances.

House leaders told some cuts in budget resolution could increase shortage of primary care physicians
The American College of Physicians today told leaders of the House of Representatives that ACP understands the serious financial constraints on the federal budget at this time and supports bipartisan efforts to reduce funding for discretionary programs that do not achieve sufficient value, but firmly believes that Congress must continue on a path towards reversing an unprecedented shortage of primary care physicians in this country.

NASA Satellite sees two 'tropical fists' threatening Australia
Australia is getting hit with two

Study finds blacks more likely to be readmitted to hospitals after discharge
Elderly black patients were more likely to be readmitted to the hospital after a prior hospital stay for a heart attack, heart failure, or pneumonia, according to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health.

US Secret Service moves Tiny Town to Virtual Tiny Town
With the help of the Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology Directorate, the Secret Service is giving training scenarios a high-tech edge: moving from static tabletop models to virtual kiosks with gaming technology and 3-D modeling.

Atomic model of tropomyosin bound to actin
New research sheds light on the interaction between the semi-flexible protein tropomyosin and actin thin filaments.

New material provides 25 percent greater thermoelectric conversion efficiency
Automobiles, military vehicles, even large-scale power generating facilities may someday operate more efficiently thanks to a new alloy developed at the US Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory.

Safety of biologic treatment for arthritis depends on the drug
Some biologic drugs may be safer than others according to a new systematic review by Cochrane researchers.

Zinc reduces the burden of the common cold
Zinc supplements reduce the severity and duration of illness caused by the common cold, according to a systematic review published in the Cochrane Library.

Good diets fight bad Alzheimer's genes
Professor Daniel Michaelson of Tel Aviv University says that a diet high in omega-3 oils and low in cholesterol can significantly reduce the negative affects of the APOE4 gene, which is an indicator of Alzheimer's disease.

APS to adopt Creative Commons licensing, publish open access articles and journals
Authors of papers in American Physical Society journals may now choose to make their papers freely available through the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, granting authors and others the right to copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt the work, provided that proper credit is given.

NASA Satellite sees most of Cyclone Bingiza's rainfall over Mozambique Channel
Infrared data from NASA's AIRS instrument revealed that the low level center of Cyclone Bingiza was still over land in western Madagascar this morning, but the bulk of its rainfall was over the Mozambique Channel.

Method of DNA repair linked to higher likelihood of genetic mutation
Accurate transmission of genetic information requires the precise replication of DNA.

Intravaginal practices are associated with acquiring HIV infection
Although there is no evidence to suggest a direct causal pathway, some intravaginal practices used by women in sub-Saharan Africa (such as washing the vagina with soap) may increase the acquisition of HIV infection and so should be avoided.

UT Southwestern launches clinical trial for treatment of breast cancer using CyberKnife
Breast-cancer patient Kristin Wiginton is the first to be treated at UT Southwestern Medical Center with high-beam radiation using the Accuray CyberKnife System, which offers improved cosmetic results, less radiation exposure to surrounding tissue and a shorter treatment period.

Jefferson researchers provide genetic evidence that antioxidants can help treat cancer
Researchers from Jefferson's Kimmel Cancer Center have genetic evidence suggesting the antioxidant drugs currently used to treat lung disease, malaria and even the common cold can also help prevent and treat cancers because they fight against mitochondrial oxidative stress -- a culprit in driving tumor growth.

Using chlorhexidine gluconate baths to reduce hospital-acquired infections
A new study from Rhode Island Hospital has found a reduced risk of hospital-acquired infections when using two percent chlorhexidine gluconate cloths for daily bathing instead of soap and water.

Updated heart disease prevention guidelines for women focus more on 'real-world' recommendations
Updated cardiovascular prevention guidelines for women focus on what works best in the

Astronomers identify thick disc of older stars in nearby Andromeda galaxy
An international team of astronomers has identified for the first time a thick stellar disc in the nearby Andromeda galaxy, a major result from a five-year investigation.

Why problem drinking during adolescence is never a 'phase'
The Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index (RAPI) is widely used to assess adolescent drinking-related problems.

Boston Medical Center critical care chief receives grant for lung injury study
Suresh Agarwal, M.D., the chief of surgical critical care at Boston Medical Center and associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, has received a $295,172 grant from the National Trauma Institute to identify optimal treatment methods for acute lung injury.

Getting cars onto the road faster
Auto manufacturers are looking for shorter production times, faster logistics processes, new materials and technologies.

Calorie labeling has no effect on teenagers' or parents' food purchases
A new study led by an NYU School of Medicine investigator and published in the Feb.

Higher levels of compound in blood associated with lower risk of respiratory disease
An analysis of data including more than 500,000 adults indicates that levels in the blood of bilirubin (a compound produced by the breakdown of hemoglobin from red blood cells) in the normal range but relatively higher were associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and all-cause death, according to a study in the Feb.

Scientists warn against stifling effect of widespread patenting in stem cell field
In an opinion piece published Feb. 10 in the journal Science, a team of scholars led by a Johns Hopkins bioethicist urges the scientific community to act collectively to stem the negative effects of the patenting and privatizing of stem cell lines, data and pioneering technologies.

How do women fend off domestic violence?
For many women in violent relationships, leaving is not an option.

Science alone does not establish source of anthrax used in 2001 mailings
A National Research Council committee asked to examine the scientific approaches used and conclusions reached by the Federal Bureau of Investigation during its investigation of the 2001 Bacillus anthracis mailings has determined that it is not possible to reach a definitive conclusion about the origins of the anthrax in letters mailed to New York City and Washington, D.C., based solely on the available scientific evidence.

Alcohol's disruptive effects on sleep may be more pronounced among women
Researchers have known for decades that alcohol can initially deepen sleep during the early part of the night but then disrupt sleep during the latter part of the night; this is called a

University of Miami scientists find new way to estimate global rainfall and track ocean pollution
A study by scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science suggests a new way to estimate how much of the ocean's pollution is falling from the sky.

Density of neighborhood liquor stores is especially risky for African-Americans who drink
Previous studies have shown a strong link between neighborhood alcohol environments and outcomes such as drunk driving and violence.

Losing hair at 20 is linked to increased risk of prostate cancer in later life
Men who start to lose hair at the age of 20 are more likely to develop prostate cancer in later life and might benefit from screening for the disease, according to a new study published online in the cancer journal, Annals of Oncology.

UF leads world in reconfigurable supercomputing
University of Florida researchers say their supercomputer, named Novo-G, is the world's fastest reconfigurable supercomputer and is able to perform some important science applications faster than the Chinese supercomputer touted as the world's most powerful.

Final flight of space shuttle Discovery to carry 2 payloads built by CU-Boulder
Following a more than three-month delay due to technical problems, NASA's space shuttle Discovery will make its final flight Feb.

Study finds racial disparities in hospital readmission rates
Elderly Medicare black patients have a higher 30-day hospital readmission rate for several conditions including congestive heart failure and pneumonia compared to white patients, that is related in part to higher readmission rates among hospitals that disproportionately care for black patients, according to a study in the Feb.

Analysis of violent deaths of Iraqi civilians between 2003-2008
A paper published in this week's issue of PLoS Medicine provides the most detailed assessment thus far of civilian deaths in the course of the recent Iraq war.

US public's knowledge of science: Getting better but a long way to go
Amid concerns about the lagging math and science performance of American children, American adults are actually scoring higher than they did 20 years ago on a widely used index of civic scientific literacy, according to a University of Michigan researcher.

Scientists delve into 'hotspot' volcanoes along Pacific Ocean Seamount Trail
Nearly half a mile of rock retrieved from beneath the seafloor is yielding new clues about how underwater volcanoes are created and whether the hotspots that led to their formation have moved over time.

Breast cancer screening with MRI benefits women with radiation therapy history
Breast cancer screening with MRI can detect invasive cancers missed on mammography in women who've undergone chest irradiation for other diseases, according to a new study.

NIH-funded study finds new possible risk factor of heart disease
Abnormal heart rate turbulence is associated with an increased risk of heart disease death in otherwise low-risk older individuals, according to a study funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

NYU Langone Department of Orthopaedic Surgery chosen to participate in joint replacement registry
The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center has been chosen as one of only 16 centers across the country to participate in the American Joint Replacement Registry.

Study compares balanced propofol sedation with conventional sedation for therapeutic GI endoscopic procedures
Researchers from Korea report that, compared with conventional sedation, balanced propofol sedation (BPS) using propofol in combination with midazolam and meperidine, provided higher health care provider satisfaction, better patient cooperation, and similar adverse event profiles in patients undergoing therapeutic endoscopic procedures.

2 new plants discovered in Spain
Just when everyone thought that almost every plant species on the Iberian Peninsula had been discovered, Spanish researchers have discovered Taraxacum decastroi and Taraxacum lacianense, two dandelions from the Pyrenees and the Cordillera Cantábrica mountain range, respectively.

The New York Academy of Sciences launches Pathways to Science
The New York Academy of Sciences today unveiled Pathways to Science, a web portal designed to provide science educators with access to stellar scientific content and to enable teachers to meet and converse online with science education colleagues worldwide.

University leads the way in global mental health development
The University of Melbourne's Centre for International Mental Health is leading the way in addressing a desperately needed and often overlooked area of aid: mental health, by becoming the first University to head the Secretariat of the Movement for Global Mental Health.

Frequent, potentially avoidable readmissions are major driver of pediatric health care care costs
In a retrospective study of inpatient records at 37 free-standing children's hospitals between 2003 and 2008, nearly 20 percent of admissions and one-quarter of inpatient expenditures ($3.4 billion) were accounted for by a small group (2.9 percent) of patients who were readmitted to the same hospital four or more times within a one year period, according to a study in the Feb.

Unique new probe of proton spin structure at RHIC
Scientists hoping to unravel the mystery of proton spin at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC), a 2.4-mile-circumference particle accelerator at Brookhaven National Laboratory, have a new tool at their disposal -- the first to directly explore how quarks of different types, or

NASA Satellite catches a tropical cyclone forming near Darwin, Australia
NASA's Aqua satellite captured a low pressure area known as System 99S that appears to be strengthening very close to Darwin, Australia.

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation honors promising young scholars
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation names 118 early-career scholars as the 2011 Sloan Research Fellows.

Chance of dying early 20 percent higher in north than south England
Since 1965, the chances of dying early (under age 75) are a fifth higher in the north of England than the south, finds a study published on bmj.com today.

Stevens professor Alan Blumberg to give invited talk to UNESCO/IOC
Dr. Alan Blumberg, Director of the Center for Maritime Systems at Stevens Institute of Technology, has been invited to deliver a talk on urban maritime awareness to UNESCO stakeholders in Paris on April 12.

Overabundance of protein expands breast cancer stem cells
An essential protein for normal stem cell renewal also promotes the growth of breast cancer stem cells when it's overproduced in those cells, researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center report in the February edition of Cancer Cell.

If greenhouse gas emissions stopped now, Earth still would likely get warmer
As debate continues about potential policies to curb greenhouse gas emissions, new research shows the world is already committed to a warmer climate because of emissions that have occurred up to now.

Tips from the journals of the American Society for Microbiology
The following release describes new research published in the journals of the American Society for Microbiology, including

2 in 1: Multi-tasking protein provides new approaches for anti-tuberculosis drugs
Scientists from EMBL Hamburg reveal new insights into the workings of an enzyme from Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis.

Uncovering the genome secrets of the Blackleg fungus
The genome of the Blackleg fungus, which causes the most damaging disease to canola crops worldwide, has been sequenced for the first time by a team of French and Australian scientists.

Obesity and knee osteoarthritis shorten healthy years of life
Due to obesity and symptomatic knee OA, Americans over the age of 50 will together lose the equivalent of 86 million healthy years of life, concluded researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital, who investigated the potential gains in quality and quantity of life that could be achieved averting losses due to obesity and knee OA.

Potential treatment for Chikungunya discovered by Vivalis and A*STAR's SIgN
The Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), an institute of the Agency of Science, Technology and Research, and VIVALIS, a French biopharmaceutical company, announced today the discovery of two new fully human monoclonal antibodies which could battle Chikungunya, a disease that currently has no available vaccine or specific treatment.

Sentries in the garden shed
Biologists have shown that plants can serve as highly specific sentries for environmental pollutants and explosives.

A device enables the remote explosion of improvised land-mines
EPFL in Switzerland developed a new tool to eliminate those weapons by using electromagnetic energy.

The lock shapes the key
Proteins normally recognize each other by their specific 3-D structure.

Study: Native Hawaiians at higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke at younger age
Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders may be at higher risk for hemorrhagic stroke at a younger age and more likely to have diabetes compared to other ethnicities, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9-16, 2011.

How genetic variations in neuroactive steroid-producing enzymes may influence drinking habits
Alcohol dependence (AD) may develop through alcohol's effects on neural signaling.

Designing new molecular tools to study the life and death of a cancer cell
Basic and translational research on cancer, and development of new cancer therapeutics, has focused on different aspects of cancer cellular function.

Payoffs of long-term investment in education research
Leading scholars and private foundation presidents shared the Capitol Hill stage to highlight the payoffs of long-term investment in education research at a Capitol Hill briefing on Monday, Feb.

Rensselaer professor Daniel Lewis receives NSF CAREER Award
Daniel Lewis, assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, has won a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation.

FASEB praises President Obama for increasing funding for research in his FY 2012 budget
William T. Talman, M.D., President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, praised President Barack Obama for his continuing support for science and engineering.

EARTH: Oil and water help US win World War II
The US had two key strategic advantages over the Axis in World War II: oil and water.

Peer support offers promise for reducing depression symptoms
Peer support programs were found to reduce depression symptoms better than traditional care alone and were about as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy, study finds.

4.7 million Californians to gain coverage under health reform, new study estimates
Up to two-thirds of California's 7 million uninsured residents will become eligible for health care coverage when health reform is implemented in 2014, according to a new policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Therapy for depression can be delivered effectively by non-specialists
Depression can be treated effectively with psychotherapy by mental health nurses with minimal training, according to new preliminary research findings.

Got a goal?: A helpful partner isn't always helpful
You might think that a loving partner helps keep you on track -- say, when you want to stick to your jogging or concentrate on your studies.

Peruvian potato farmers launch ambitious plan to send 1,500 varieties to Arctic seed vault
As climate change and disease threaten potato farming in the tuber's ancestral home in the Peruvian Andes, potato preservationists today launched a major effort to safeguard more than 1,500 varieties by sending them to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic Circle.
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