Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

July 21, 2011
Software helps synthetic biologists customize protein production
A software program developed by a Penn State synthetic biologist could provide biotechnology companies with genetic plans to help them turn bacteria into molecular factories, capable of producing everything from biofuels to medicine.

Media registration opens for Neuroscience 2011, world's largest meeting on brain science and health
SfN's Annual Meeting, Neuroscience 2011, will take place Nov. 12-16 at the Washington Convention Center.

NASA sees Tropical Storms Bret and now Cindy frolic in North Atlantic
Two tropical storms are now in the open waters of the North Atlantic: Bret and Cindy.

BUSM/BMC researchers awarded $3.5 million grant from the NIDA
Researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center were recently awarded a $3.5 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, to improve upon the

Hepatitis C is transmitted by unprotected sex between HIV-infected men
Sexual transmission of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is considered rare.

An eye gene colors butterfly wings red
One toxic butterfly species may mimic the wing pattern of another toxic species in the area.

'Freaky mouse' defeats common poison
Researchers led by Rice University's Michael Kohn discovered common house mice found two distinct ways to evolve resistance to warfarin-based rodent poisons.

University of Texas faculty bring science and policy to hydraulic fracturing debate
Innovative and interdisciplinary research by faculty at the University of Texas at Austin is helping to improve the safety and efficiency of hydraulic fracturing, identify issues that need to be corrected and untangle the knowns and unknowns of a process that is expected to constitute perhaps half of the nation's total natural gas supplies in coming years.

Identical virus, host populations can prevail for centuries, WHOI researcher reports
A Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist, analyzing ancient plankton DNA signatures in sediments of the Black Sea, has found for the first time that the same genetic populations of a virus and its algal host can persist and coexist for centuries.

Behavior 2011 to draw global contingent of more than 1,100 animal researchers to IU next week
Behavior 2011, the first-ever joint meeting of the International Ethological Conference and the Animal Behavior Society, is expected to draw more than 1,100 researchers from around the world for the July 25-30 conference at Indiana University Bloomington.

Blue collar workers work longer and in worse health than their white collar bosses
Researchers looked at aging, social class and labor force participation rates to illustrate the challenges that lower income workers face in the global marketplace using the burden of arthritis to examine these connections.

Scavenger cells accomplices to viruses
Mucosal epithelia are well-protected against pathogenic germs. However, individual viruses, such as the HI virus, still manage to enter the body via the mucous membrane somehow.

Fingerprinting fugitive dust
Each community of soil microbes has a unique fingerprint that can potentially be used to track soil back to its source, right down to whether it came from dust from a rural road or from a farm field, according to a US Department of Agriculture soil scientist.

UCI-led butterfly study sheds light on convergent evolution
For 150 years scientists have been trying to explain convergent evolution.

U of M researchers may have discovered key to help women fight infections during pregnancy
University of Minnesota Medical School researchers have identified the underlying mechanisms for this physiologic immune suppression that may lead to new therapies to help ward off infections during pregnancy.

Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, July 2011
July 2011's story tips from ORNL include:

4 unusual views of the Andromeda Galaxy
The Andromeda Galaxy is revealed in unprecedented detail in four archive observations from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Solar energy and air purification examined by Rutgers-Camden chemist
Solar light can be used to help purify air and water and produce valuable chemicals that contribute to energy efficiency.

Exoplanet aurora: An out-of-this-world sight
Earth's aurorae, or Northern and Southern Lights, provide a dazzling light show to people living in the polar regions.

Stronger social safety net leads to decrease in stress, childhood obesity
Social safety net programs that reduce psychosocial stressors for low-income families also ultimately lead to a reduction in childhood obesity, according to research by University of Illinois economist Craig Gundersen.

Elimination of national kidney allocation policy improves minority access to transplants
A new study published in the American Journal of Transplantation reveals that since the elimination of the kidney allocation priority for matching for HLA-B on May 7, 2003, access to kidney transplantation for minorities has been improved.

Parasites help reveal new ecological rules
Scientists at UC Santa Barbara and other institutions say their new research is expected to profoundly affect the field of ecology and can assist the management of ecosystems, including forests, lakes, and oceans.

Vascular changes linked to dementia
High blood pressure is related to the development of age-related vascular cognitive impairment.

MIT: Inside the innards of a nuclear reactor
MIT's Harry Asada and colleagues develop robots equipped with cameras that may navigate the underground pipes of a nuclear reactor to check for corrosion by propelling themselves with internal networks of valves and pumps.

Optimism associated with lower risk of having stroke
A large-scale observational study shows that optimism is associated with lower risk of stroke.

MS research: Myelin influences how brain cells send signals
The development of a new cell-culture system that mimics how specific nerve cell fibers in the brain become coated with protective myelin opens up new avenues of research about multiple sclerosis.

Researchers stumble on colorful discovery
Modified metals that change colour in the presence of particular gases could warn consumers if packaged food has been exposed to air or if there's a carbon monoxide leak at home.

A new discovery paves the way for using super strong nanostructured metals in cars
Super strong nanometals are beginning to play an important role in making cars even lighter, enabling them to stand collisions without fatal consequences for the passengers.

Metabolic syndrome increases risk of both major types of primary liver cancer
Incidence rates of hepatocellular carcinoma and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma have increased in the US This population-based study publishing in the August issue of Hepatology, a journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, found that metabolic syndrome significantly increases risk of developing these primary liver cancers.

Chromosome number changes in yeast
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin have uncovered the evolutionary mechanisms that have caused increases or decreases in the numbers of chromosomes in a group of yeast species during the last 100-150 million years.

UCLA scientists complete first mapping of molecule found in human embryonic stem cells
Stem cell researchers at UCLA have generated the first genome-wide mapping of a DNA modification called 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) in embryonic stem cells, and discovered that it is predominantly found in genes that are turned on, or active.

Plan to one day end the use of environmentally harmful chemicals on commercial crops developed
Two University of Alberta researchers have published a step by step plan to one-day end the use of environmentally harmful chemicals on commercial crops by developing plants that produce their own fertilizer.

Liver, belly fat may identify high risks of heart disease in obese people
Increased liver fat and abdominal fat may increase risk of heart disease and other serious health problems.

Diamonds pinpoint start of colliding continents
Jewelers abhor diamond impurities, but they are a bonanza for scientists.

Smartphone making your eyes tired?
Several reports indicate that prolonged viewing of mobile devices and other stereo 3-D devices leads to visual discomfort, fatigue and even headaches.

Dolphins' 'remarkable' recovery from injury offers important insights for human healing
A dolphin's ability to heal quickly from a shark bite with apparent indifference to pain, resistance to infection, hemorrhage protection, and near-restoration of normal body contour might provide insights for the care of human injuries, says Michael Zasloff, of Georgetown.

Clinical tests for medicines made from genetically modified plants
Pharmaceuticals can be produced by plants. Antibodies that have been produced in tobacco plants will now for the first time be tested in a clinical study.

Chance favors the concentration of wealth, U of M study shows
Most of our society's wealth is invested in businesses or other ventures that may or may not pan out.

Washing away good and bad luck
Do people believe good and bad luck can be washed away?

Social media study: Conservatives were top tweeters in 2010 elections
The results of a study on candidates' use of Twitter in the 2010 midterm elections suggest that Republicans and Tea Party members used the social medium more effectively than their Democratic rivals.

Computer simulations aid understanding of bacterial resistance against commonly used antibiotics
A recent study into the interactions between aminoglycoside antibiotics and their target site in bacteria used computer simulations to elucidate this mechanism and thereby suggest drug modifications.

Repairing our inner clock with a 2-inch fish
Prof. Yoav Gothilf of Tel Aviv University says that his discovery of the genetic resemblances between the zebrafish and the human body is a breakthrough for continuing research on the still mysterious circadian system.

Study: Subsidizing wages at long-term care facilities would cut turnover
A government-sponsored wage-subsidy program could reduce the churn of low-wage caregivers through group homes by one-third, says Elizabeth T.

With secondhand gene, house mice resist poison
Since the 1950s, people have tried to limit the numbers of mice and rats using a poison known as warfarin.

Chemists create molecular flasks
Recently, researchers at New York University demonstrated an ability to make new materials with empty space on the inside, which could potentially control desired and unwanted chemical reactions.

University of Leicester develops test for classifying force used in bottle stabbings
Engineers at the University of Leicester have for the first time created a way of measuring how much force is used during a stabbing using a broken bottle.

Skin sentry cells promote distinct immune responses
A new study reveals that just as different soldiers in the field have different jobs, subsets of a type of immune cell that polices the barriers of the body can promote unique and opposite immune responses against the same type of infection.

UNC researchers identify seventh and eighth bases of DNA
For decades, scientists have known that DNA consists of four basic units -- adenine, guanine, thymine and cytosine.

Hepatitis B vaccination for health care students lags behind recommendations
A study in the August issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, suggests that documentation of hepatitis B vaccination for health care students may fall short of current recommendations.

INFORMS: CARE positions disaster relief with promising discipline of humanitarian logistics
Operations research models developed by a team at the Georgia Institute of Technology helped CARE International pick three locations worldwide to supply relief quickly to victims of earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters, according to a paper in a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

Exonhit and BGI announce successful completion of a promising next-generation sequencing project
Exonhit (Alternext: ALEHT), a biotech company focused on personalized medicine, and BGI, the world's largest genome organization, are pleased to announce the successful completion of a project dedicated to expanding Exonhit's Genome Wide SpliceArray to an additional strategic preclinical animal model species.

ONR-funded STEM program offers peek into world of real 'CSI'
Students and teachers from more than 25 Dallas schools will spend July 18-29 dusting for fingerprints and analyzing facial images at the second annual Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Camp, through a program sponsored by the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Hospital bacteria outbreak linked to nasal spray
Infection control researchers investigating a rare bacterial outbreak of Burholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) identified contaminated nasal spray as the root cause of the infections, leading to a national recall of the product.

Nanotechnology for water filter
Nanotechnology has developed tremendously in the past decade and was able to create many new materials with a vast range of potential applications.

Study: Regulatory hurdles hinder biofuels market
In a new study, University of Illinois law professor Jay P.

Paternity testing helps fill in family tree for Puget Sound's killer whales
In a study published online this month in the Journal of Heredity, NOAA researchers and others, using DNA testing to fill in a missing link in the lives of killer whales that seasonally visit Washington's Puget Sound, have discovered that some of the progeny they studied were the result of matings within the same social subgroups, or pods, that are part of the overall population.

Executive pay reform unlikely to reduce systemic risk in economy
Reforms aimed at curbing executive compensation will likely have little effect on reducing systemic risk in the financial system, according to published research by U. of I. law professor Christine Hurt, an expert in business law and corporate finance.

Minority participants crucial to effective aging studies
A new supplemental issue of the Gerontologist urges aging researchers to include representative samples of ethnically diverse populations in their work.

NASA satellite video and images show Dora become a major hurricane
A new image and video of major Hurricane Dora were released today from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

Link between competing phases in cuprates leads to new theory
A team of scientists studying the parent compound of a cuprate (copper-oxide) superconductor has discovered a link between two different states, or phases, of that matter -- and written a mathematical theory to describe the relationship.

Is anesthesia dangerous?
In pure numerical terms, anesthesia-associated mortality has risen again. The reasons for this are the disproportionate increase in the numbers of older and multimorbid patients and surgical procedures that would have been unthinkable in the past.

Targeting toxin trafficking
Toxins produced by plants and bacteria pose a significant threat to humans, as emphasized by the recent effects of cucumber-borne Shiga toxin in Germany.

Workings of brain protein suggest therapies for inherited intellectual disability, autism
Researchers now have a much clearer understanding of how mutations in a single gene can produce the complex cognitive deficits characteristic of Fragile X Syndrome, the most common inherited form of intellectual disability.

Forest fungus factory
Hemlock woolly adelgid has devastated hemlock forests from Georgia to Maine.

Tech dashboard earns IU Research Administration international honor
Indiana University's Office of Research Administration has been named the recipient of the 2011 Technology Innovation and Application Award from the Society of Research Administrators International.

1 in 4 gay/lesbian high school students are homeless
Roughly one in four lesbian or gay teens and 15 percent of bisexual teens are homeless, versus 3 percent of exclusively heterosexual teens, finds a Children's Hospital Boston study of more than 6,300 Massachusetts public high school students.

OSC lifts OSU land speed racer toward 400-mph goal
A team of engineering students at the Ohio State University's Center for Automotive Research recently began running aerodynamics simulations at the Ohio Supercomputer Center, one of the first steps in the long and careful process of researching, designing, building and racing the fourth iteration of their record-breaking, alternative-fuel streamliner.

Gardening in the brain
Cells called microglia prune the connections between neurons, shaping how the brain is wired, scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Monterotondo, Italy, discovered.

Erlotinib nearly triples progression-free survival compared with standard chemotherapy in patients with the most common form of lung cancer (OPTIMAL trial)
The targeted drug erlotinib nearly triples progression-free survival, and is better tolerated, compared with standard chemotherapy as the initial treatment for patients with advanced non-small-cell lung cancer whose tumors harbor epidermal growth factor receptor mutations.

Working mothers and the effects on children
Parents struggling to combine paid work with bringing up their children now have some positive news thanks to a new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council on maternal employment and child socio-emotional behavior in the UK.

As agricultural riches waylay pollinators, an endangered tree suffers
For the conservation of species, hostile territory might sometimes have its advantages.

Agilent Technologies and A*STAR launch all-in-one drug screening platform
Agilent Technologies Inc. and A*STAR's Experimental Therapeutics Centre (ETC) today announced the launch of a drug screening platform within ETC's new Singapore Screening Centre.

Chronic pain in homeless people not managed well: Study
Chronic pain is not managed well in the general population and it's an even greater challenge for homeless people, according to new research by St.

Breastfeeding may prevent asthma
Feeding a baby on only breast milk and for up to 6 months after birth can reduce their risk of developing asthma-related symptoms in early childhood, according to new research.

Bacterial attack strategy uses special delivery of toxic proteins
When competing for food and resources, bacteria employ elaborate strategies to keep rival cells at bay.

INFORMS journal announces special issue on using logistics, analytics in humanitarian relief
In the wake of the devastating Japanese tsunami, the 2010 Haitian earthquake, and the recent threat of pandemic flu, a new issue of the journal Interfaces: The INFORMS Journal on the Practice of Operations Research is dedicated to improving responses to disasters, health crises and acute public issues, according to the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences.

Study suggests obesity accelerates progression of cirrhosis
Researchers from the United States and Europe involved in an NIH-funded multicenter study have determined that increased body mass index (BMI) is an independent predictor of clinical decompensation in patients with compensated cirrhosis, independent of portal pressure and liver function.

Do we buy cosmetics because they are useful or because they make us feel good?
A study by the University of the Basque Country shows that people who use cosmetics buy these products primarily for emotional reasons.

Even privately insured have hard time getting psychiatric care in Massachusetts: Harvard study
A new study by Harvard Medical School researchers in the Annals of Emergency Medicine finds that access to outpatient psychiatric care in the greater Boston area is severely limited, even for people with reputedly excellent private health insurance.

Chemists create molecular polyhedron -- and potential to enhance industrial and consumer products
Chemists have created a molecular polyhedron, a ground-breaking assembly that has the potential to impact a range of industrial and consumer products, including magnetic and optical materials.

A hot species for cool structures
A fungus that lives at extremely high temperatures could help understand structures within our own cells.

Adolescent boys among those most affected by Washington state parental military deployment
A new study from researchers at the University of Washington concludes that parental military deployment is associated with impaired well-being among adolescents, especially adolescent boys.

Health-care reform must involve psychologists, medical providers, educate patients
For health-care reform to be successful, one University of Missouri public health expert has determined that professional associations for psychologists and other medical providers need to be at the forefront of the planning stages, and that everyone, including providers and patients, will need to be educated on rights and responsibilities.

Grazing management effects on stream pollutants
Research conducted on the water quality of pasture streams suggests that grazing management techniques can have substantial impacts on the levels of stream pollutants.

Proteins enable essential enzyme to maintain its grip on DNA
Scientists have identified a family of proteins that close a critical gap in an enzyme that is essential to all life, allowing the enzyme to maintain its grip on DNA and start the activation of genes.

Mail-order pharmacy for new statin prescriptions achieve better cholesterol control
Kaiser Permanente Northern California patients who obtained new statin prescriptions via a mail-order pharmacy achieved better cholesterol control in the first 3-15 months following the initiation of therapy -- compared to those patients who only obtained their statin prescription from their local Kaiser Permanente Northern California pharmacy. 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