Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

September 28, 2011
Vital protein complex and therapeutic possibilities revealed
Three international teams of scientists, led by researchers at the University of California San Diego, University of Michigan and Stanford University, have published a trio of papers describing in unprecedented detail the structure and workings of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), a large family of human proteins that are the target of one-third to one-half of modern drugs.

Physiology of cardiovascular disease: Gender disparities
The following release features selected highlights from next month's conference on the Physiology of Cardiovascular Disease: Gender Disparities.

NIH modifies 'VOICE' HIV prevention study in women
A large-scale clinical trial evaluating whether daily use of an oral tablet or vaginal gel containing antiretroviral drugs can prevent HIV infection in women is being modified because an interim review found that the study cannot show that one of the study products, oral tenofovir, marketed under the trade name Viread, is effective.

Big Tobacco knew radioactive particles in cigarettes posed cancer risk but kept quiet
Tobacco companies knew that cigarette smoke contained radioactive alpha particles for more than four decades and developed

USDA invests $80 million in Pac Northwest Biofuels
Overcoming key obstacles that prevent wood-based jet fuel and petrochemical substitutes from being economically viable is the focus of a new $40 million project of the Washington State University-led Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance.

Feast your eyes on the Fried Egg Nebula
Astronomers have used ESO's Very Large Telescope to image a colossal star that belongs to one of the rarest classes of stars in the Universe, the yellow hypergiants.

Correcting sickle cell disease with stem cells
Using a patient's own stem cells, researchers at Johns Hopkins have corrected the genetic alteration that causes sickle cell disease, a painful, disabling inherited blood disorder that affects mostly African-Americans.

Resisting peer pressure
The company an adolescent keeps, particularly when it comes to drugs and criminal activity, affects bad behavior.

University of Oklahoma ecology and evolutionary biology graduate student receives EPA's STAR Fellowship award
Freshwater mussels are North America's most imperiled faunal group (approximately 50 percent of mussel species are on the endangered species list), yet provide essential ecosystem services (e.g., water filtration, nutrient cycling).

First detection of pregnancy protein in older people destined for Alzheimer's disease
In an advance toward a much-needed early diagnostic test for Alzheimer's disease (AD), scientists have discovered that older women destined to develop AD have high blood levels of a protein linked to pregnancy years before showing symptoms.

New report reveals the impact of global crises on international development
Global crises and the slow burn of climate change are having a profound impact on the lives and livelihoods of poor people around the world, and bringing into question core ideas about what development is and how it happens, according to a new report.

Hide-and-seek: Altered HIV can't evade immune system
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have modified HIV in a way that makes it no longer able to suppress the immune system.

APS Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting: Highlights and media registration
The 64th Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics will include more than 2,000 compelling presentations from across the physical sciences, engineering, and medicine.

Research solutions for sustainability in a rapidly changing world
A newly established international research initiative will respond to the most compelling challenges facing our societies in this era of global environmental change.

Pitt team identifies key protein causing excess liver production of glucose in diabetes
Researchers at the John G. Rangos Sr. Research Center at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have identified a powerful molecular pathway that regulates the liver's management of insulin and new glucose production, which could lead to new therapies for diabetes.

Team NJ house opens on DC Mall following week of round-the-clock work
Following a week of tumultuous sleepless nights and round-the-clock construction, Team NJ's entry in the prestigious bi-annual US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 has opened on the National Mall's West Potomac Park in Washington, DC.

Children with autism benefit from early, intensive therapy
University of Missouri researchers found that children with autism spectrum disorders who receive more intensive therapy to combat social-communication impairments, especially at early ages, achieve the best outcomes.

White House names Georgia Tech professor as Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers honoree
President Obama named Maria G. Westdickenberg, associate professor in the School of Mathematics at the Georgia Institute of Technology, as one of 94 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Study shows link between smoking and chronic pain in women
Kentucky women who smoke heavily may experience more chronic musculoskeletal pain, suggests a new study led by University of Kentucky researchers.

Americans move dramatically toward acceptance of homosexuality
Although sharply divided, public attitudes toward gays and lesbians are rapidly changing to reflect greater acceptance, with younger generations leading the way, research by NORC at the University of Chicago shows.

Stanford Precourt Institute and TomKat Center award energy research grants
The Precourt Institute for Energy and the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy are awarding a new round of faculty seed grants for promising research in clean technology and large-scale solar power.

Europe 'punches above its weight' in biomedical research, despite limited funding
European biomedical research is advancing at a great pace compared to the relatively small funds available, and with more funding, it could do better.

Journalists lack skills when reporting on immigration
There are no journalists specialized in immigration, neither is there any specific training to this end, nor any thought given to how the media influence public opinion in this matter.

Life Sciences Discovery Fund awards grants to promote commercialization of health-related products
Four Washington state-based teams of investigators will receive up to $150,000 each to support commercial development of new health and health-care products.

MVA-B Spanish HIV vaccine shows 90 percent immune response in humans
Phase I clinical trials developed by Spanish Superior Scientific Research Council (CSIC) together with Gregorio Marañón Hospital in Madrid and Clínic Hospital in Barcelona, reveals MVA-B preventive vaccine's immune efficiency against Human's immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Wildlife Conservation Society study uncovers a predictable sequence toward coral reef collapse
Coral reefs that have lots of corals and appear healthy may, in fact, be heading toward collapse, according to a study published by the Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups.

Even high-but-normal blood pressure elevates stroke risk
People with prehypertension have a 55 percent higher risk of experiencing a future stroke than people without prehypertension, report researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in a new meta-analysis of scientific literature published in the Sept.

How the use of smartphones can revolutionize research in cognitive science
Smartphones may be the new hot tool in cognitive psychology research, according to a paper in the online journal PLoS ONE.

Potential treatment for 'pink eye' epidemic
Scientists are reporting discovery of a potential new drug for epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) -- sometimes called

How normal cells become brain cancers
Brain tumor specimens taken from neurosurgery cases at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center has given scientists a new window on the transformation that occurs as healthy brain cells begin to form tumors.

Sexy snacks
In the animal world, males typically search for their female partners.

Control gene for developmental timing discovered
University of Alberta researchers have identified a key regulator that controls the speed of development in the fruit fly.

High-risk donor livers used with greater frequency in transplantations
The shortage of available organs for transplantation has driven up use of high-risk donor livers.

Cincinnati Children's earns $12 million NIH grant to test migraine prevention medicines
Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center has received a $12 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to conduct the first clinical trial to determine the medication of choice for preventing migraines in children and teens.

The level and nature of autistic intelligence II: What about Asperger Syndrome?
Autism spectrum disorders, including Asperger syndrome, have generally been associated with uneven intellectual profiles and impairment, but according to a new study of Asperger individuals published in the online journal PLoS ONE, this may not be the case -- as long as intelligence is evaluated by the right test.

New approach to management of back pain reduces disability and is cheaper compared with conventional care
A stratified approach to the management of back pain in primary care could provide a more effective and cheaper alternative to conventional care, suggests the first study to test the new model, published online first in the Lancet.

Ian D. MacGregor receives William B. Heroy Jr. Award for Distinguished Service to AGI
The American Geological Institute (AGI) is pleased to announce Dr.

Drug companies must report clinical trial results, even when they won't lead to a product
Drug companies sponsoring human trials of possible new medications have ethical responsibilities to study participants and to science to disclose the results of their clinical research -- even when product development is no longer being pursued.

Using the energy in oil shale without releasing carbon dioxide in a greenhouse world
New technology that combines production of electricity with capture of carbon dioxide could make billions of barrels of oil shale -- now regarded as off-limits because of the huge amounts of carbon dioxide released in its production -- available as an energy source.

Salk scientist receives distinguished NIH award for transformative research
Dr. Fred Gage, a professor in the Salk Institute Laboratory of Genetics and holder of the Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Diseases, has been named a 2011 recipient of the prestigious National Institutes of Health Director's Transformative Research Projects program.

Median income of electrotechnology, IT professionals rises to $118,000
Median 2010 income for electrotechnology and information technology professionals rose nearly four percent from the previous year, according to the latest IEEE-USA Salary & Fringe Benefit Survey.

Alcohol-related behavior changes -- blame your immune system
When you think about your immune system, you probably think about it fighting off a cold.

Managing future forests for water
Forest Service Southern Research Station (SRS) scientists recently used long-term data from the Coweeta Hydrological Laboratory (Coweeta) in Western North Carolina to examine the feasibility of managing forests for water supply under the changing weather conditions forecast for the future.

Stanford brain imaging study shows physiological basis of dyslexia
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have used an imaging technique to show that the brain activation patterns in children with poor reading skills and a low IQ are similar to those in poor readers with a typical IQ.

NW biofuels coming of age with $80 million in separate projects led by UW, WSU
The University of Washington and Washington State University are leads for two separate grants of $40 million each that will use Pacific Northwest woody biomass to expand what's been a Midwest-centric biofuels industry into Washington, Oregon, Idaho, western Montana and northern California.

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center research discovers key to survival of brain cells
Nicolas G. Bazan, M.D., Ph.D, Boyd Professor and Director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center New Orleans, and David Stark, an M.D./Ph.D student working in his lab, have discovered how a key chemical neurotransmitter that interacts with two receptors in the brain promotes either normal function or a disease process -- determining whether brain cells live or die.

TGen Drug Development recognized for economic development of Arizona biosciences
TGen Drug Development won a Fast Lane award from the Arizona BioIndustry Association for promoting the economic development of Arizona biosciences.

Genetic variant linked to blocked heart arteries in patients with diabetes
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified the first genetic variant associated with severity of coronary artery disease in patients with type 2 diabetes.

New global science initiative on urban health
The global science community launches a new interdisciplinary program on science for urban decision making in relation to health and well-being.

Who's the best leader: the saint or the scrooge?
Generosity is typically regarded as a virtue. But among leaders, it can be seen as a sign of weakness, according to a new study by the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

OGI and MaRS Innovation invest in peptide therapeutics
Through its Pre-Commercialization Business Development Fund (PBDF), the Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI) has invested $100,000 into research that is aimed at novel methodologies to create effective peptide and protein based drugs.

City College of New York-led research could lead to wearable sensors for the blind
Wearable sensors that allow the blind to

ISU-led group awarded $25 million grant for land use, biofuel production study
The USDA awarded an Iowa State University-led group a $25 million grant from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to develop the blueprint for using marginal farmlands to grow perennial grasses that will, in turn, provide a biomass source for a drop-in biofuel-based study over the next five years.

Millesecond memory
An experiment published in the 28 September issue of Nature in which rats are

RIKEN OSC and Kitasato University sign joint research agreement
In an effort to support the recovery of research labs affected by the recent earthquake in Japan, the RIKEN Omics Science Center (OSC) has signed a comprehensive agreement with the Kitasato University School of Marine Biosciences toward the pursuit of joint research and exchange of students.

Neural linkage between motivation and motor functional recovery through rehabilitative training
The joint research team led by Associate Professor Yukio Nishimura from the National Institute for Physiological Sciences revealed that the more motor function recovery progresses, the stronger the functional connectivity between the brain which regulates motivation, and in the brain regions involved in the motor learning and functional recovery.

End-of-life discussions do not affect survival rates, study shows
Discussing and documenting patients' preferences for care at the end of life does not cause them any harm, contrary to recent claims.

Study shows heifers don't have to be pigs at the feed bunk
Heifers can safely eat 20 percent less between weaning and breeding, according to a two-year study conducted at the Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory at Miles City, Mont., and published recently in the British Journal of Nutrition.

Easily embarrassed? Study finds people will trust you more
If tripping in public or mistaking an overweight woman for a mother-to-be leaves you red-faced, don't feel bad.

Global conservation priorities for marine turtles
Marine turtles worldwide are vulnerable and endangered, but their long lives and broad distribution make it difficult for scientists to accurately determine the threat level to different populations and devise appropriate conservation strategies.

Vanderbilt ethicist to study return of results issue involving children in genomics studies
Should scientists inform participants in genomic studies about their risk for diseases or conditions discovered during the studies, and if so, when and how?

JoVE grants developing countries access to experimental videos
In an effort to address information inequality around the world, the Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) will now be offering free subscriptions through the HINARI initiative to developing countries in South America, Asia and Africa.

Students 'jump into action' for better health
The National Survey of Children's Health indicates 31 percent of Missouri children are overweight or obese; yet, the state lacks physical activity requirements for students and nutritional standards for school meals beyond those recommended by the USDA.

New University of Houston research focuses on teenage mind
Carla Sharp, an associate professor and director of the Developmental Psychopathology Lab in clinical psychology at the University of Houston, became interested in the way people think, how they organize thoughts, execute a decision, then determine whether a decision is good or bad.

Adolescents particularly susceptible to drinking habits of romantic partner's friends
The drinking habits of a romantic partner's friends are more likely to impact an adolescent's future drinking than are the behaviors of an adolescent's own friends or significant other, according to a new study in the October issue of the American Sociological Review.

Dementia patients face burdensome transitions in last 90 days
Health-care transitions, such as moves from the nursing home to the hospital, can result in medical errors, lack of care coordination, and for persons with advanced dementia -- emotional distress and agitation.

In unique fire tests, outdoor decks will be under firebrand attack
NIST will unleash its Dragon, an invention that bellows showers of glowing embers, at a unique wind tunnel test facility in Japan, where researchers will evaluate the vulnerability of outdoor deck assemblies and materials to ignition during wildfires, a growing peril that accounts for half of the nation's 10 most costly fires.

Blood pressure slightly above normal? You may still be at increased risk of stroke
Even people with blood pressure that is slightly above normal may be at an increased risk of stroke, according to a review of studies published in the Sept.

New research findings impact Seattle, Sierra Nevada
Excavated trenches reveal two faults that bound the eastern flank of the Sierra Nevada in Antelope Valley, California and the Carson Range in Reno, Nevada; a new model changes predictions of amplified ground motion in Seattle basin.

Consumers and physicians together applaud Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative
The American College of Physicians and the National Partnership for Women & Families joined today to commend the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on the announcement of the new Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative.

Prescribed stimulant use for ADHD continues to rise steadily
The prescribed use of stimulant medications to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) rose slowly but steadily from 1996 to 2008, according to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

Loss of 'lake lawnmowers' leads to algae blooms
Unprecedented algae growth in some lakes could be linked to the decline of water calcium levels and the subsequent loss of an important algae-grazing organism that helps keep blooms at bay.

University of Missouri study finds risk factors for cat cancer, could have human implications
A recent, large-scale study on cat intestinal cancer has provided new insight into a common pet disease and its causes; the findings could ultimately benefit humans.

Barrow scientists identify new stem cell activity in human brain
Researchers at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center have identified a new pathway of stem cell activity in the brain that represents potential targets of brain injuries affecting newborns.

European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery journals join Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press (OUP) is pleased to announce its new publishing partnership with the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery (EACTS): OUP will be publishing the association's three journal titles from January 2012.

Suffering of the poor may have helped societies with class structures spread across globe
Arguably the worst feature of societies with class structures -- the disproportionate suffering of the poor -- may have been the driving force behind the spread of those stratified societies across the globe at the expense of more egalitarian societies.

Study investigates why adolescents respond differently to peer influence
The company an adolescent keeps affects his or her behavior -- particularly when these friends engage in illicit activities and are indifferent to education -- right?

Homegrown solution for physician shortage described in Academic Medicine
An innovative program at the University of Missouri School of Medicine could help states deal with a dilemma in Washington, D.C.

fMRIs show that dyslexia isn't a matter of IQ
About 5 to 10 percent of American children are diagnosed as dyslexic.

Parents feel shock, anxiety and the need to protect children with genital ambiguity
Parents of babies born without clearly defined male or female genitals experience a roller-coaster of emotions, including shock, anxiety and the need to protect their child, according to a new study.

The mark of the beast: tradition or stress?
For animal welfare reasons, many veterinarians are currently promoting the method of implanting a microchip over the traditional practice of branding.

Major HIV prevention trial in women to drop oral tenofovir arm
VOICE, an HIV prevention trial testing two ARV-based approaches -- daily use of one of two different ARV tablets or a vaginal gel, will be dropping one of the oral tablets from the study.

Prevention of bedsores in long-term care homes cost-effective, study shows
Researchers at the University of Toronto have found that low-tech, inexpensive interventions for bedsores could improve health for long-term care residents and reduce health-care costs for the facilities that house them.

Researchers devise index for predicting long-term survival after liver re-transplantation
UCLA researchers have identified eight risk factors for potential re-transplantation failure and, using mathematical modeling, developed a risk scoring system ranging from 0 to 12 to gauge the risk of re-transplantation failure.

Light from galaxy clusters confirm theory of relativity
Observations in astronomy are based on light emitted from stars.

Video shows tool use by a fish
The first video of tool use by a fish has been published in the journal Coral Reefs by UC Santa Cruz biologist Giacomo Bernardi.

Health and economic benefits of tobacco control rapidly outweigh tobacco tax revenues
Hard evidence shows that implementing policies to cut tobacco use immediately improves health and reduces health care spending, say authors in this week's issue of the Lancet.

Research and innovation: New modelling results link natural resources and armed conflicts
The EU Joint Research Center (JRC) has developed a statistical modeling tool which allows the risk of conflict occurrence in developing countries to be analyzed.

Woody biomass research grant to launch biofuel industry in the Pacific Northwest
A recently awarded US Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant will help launch a viable, sustainable biofuels industry in the Pacific Northwest.

Medical education needs more of a public health and prevention focus
If future physicians are to best serve the changing health needs of patients and their communities, medical education must put greater emphasis on public health and prevention, experts say in a supplement to October's American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM).

Tian Tian received award for teaching at NJIT
Tian Tian, a teaching assistant in the department of Computer Science at NJIT, has received the award of Excellence in Instruction by a Teaching Assistant at NJIT's University Convocation.

European Journal of Heart Failure publishes new randomized controlled clinical study of RESPeRATE
InterCure Ltd., a medical device company publicly traded on the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE: INCR), today announced that European Journal of Heart Failure, a peer reviewed medical journal of the European Society of Cardiology, published the results of a 72-patients, randomized, controlled study which demonstrated that device-guided respiratory modulation with RESPeRATE applied at the home setting can significantly relieve symptoms of heart failure in elderly patients.

Saving heart attack victims with computer science
Newly discovered subtle markers of heart damage hidden in plain sight among hours of EKG recordings could help doctors identify which heart attack patients are at high risk of dying soon.

Popular colorectal cancer drug may cause permanent nerve damage
Oxaliplatin, a platinum-based anticancer drug that's made enormous headway in recent years against colorectal cancer, appears to cause nerve damage that may be permanent and worsens even months after treatment ends.

UC Davis advocates for new approaches to biomedical research
Two deans from the UC Davis School of Medicine have outlined several approaches to biomedical research workforce development, a topic that is currently under scrutiny by the National Institutes of Health.

Built like the Dreamliner: 2013 debut of carbon composite cars
The revolutionary material used to build the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Airbus A350 super-jumbo jet, and the military's stealth jet fighter planes is coming down to Earth in a new generation of energy-saving automobiles expected to hit the roads during the next few years.

New UC research promises better collection of prostate cancer cells
Using something called

NIST polishes method for creating tiny diamond machines
Diamonds may be best known as a symbol of long-lasting love, but semiconductor makers are also hoping they'll pan out as key components of long-lasting micromachines if a new method developed at NIST for carving these tough, capable crystals proves its worth.

A breath-takingly simple test for human exposure to potentially toxic substances
The search for a rapid, non-invasive way to determine whether people have been exposed to potentially toxic substances in their workplaces, homes and elsewhere in the environment has led scientists to a technology that literally takes a person's breath away.

Instead of defibrillator's painful jolt, there may be a gentler way to prevent sudden death
Each year in the United States, more than 200,000 people have a cardiac defibrillator implanted in their chest to deliver a high-voltage shock to prevent sudden cardiac death from a life-threatening arrhythmia.

Gene may be good target for tough-to-kill prostate cancer cells
Purdue University scientists believe they have found an effective target for killing late-stage, metastatic prostate cancer cells.

Commonly used supplement may improve recovery from spinal cord injuries
A commonly used supplement is likely to improve outcomes and recovery for individuals who sustain a spinal cord injury, according to research conducted by University of Kentucky neuroscientists.

Low zinc and copper levels might cause spontaneous abortion
This hypothesis had never been proven before in humans, and it has been demonstrated by University of Granada researchers.

Additives meant to protect vitamin C actually cause more harm
Anti-caking agents in powdered products may hasten degradation of vitamin C instead of doing what they are supposed to do: protect the nutrient from moisture.

Berkeley Lab tests cookstoves for Haiti
Scientists from the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have teamed up with students from the University of California (UC), Berkeley to run a series of efficiency tests comparing the traditional Haiti cookstove with a variety of low-cost, commercially available alternatives. 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