Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 15, 2011
New research identifies changes to the brain in patients with spinal cord compression
Spinal degeneration is an unavoidable part of aging. For some, it leads to compression of the spinal cord which can cause problems with dexterity, numbness in the hands, and the ability to walk.

12 finalists share more than $1 million in ONR STEM challenge funding
The Office of Naval Research announced Dec. 15 that it selected 12 winners from more than 125 entries in its Sponsoring Scholars in Science challenge, which was a highlight of the 2011 Naval STEM Forum.

Adolescent drinking may be as important a risk factor for criminal activity as illicit drug use
Alcohol use has often been linked to criminal activity on the part of both perpetrators as well as victims.

Key genetic error found in family of blood cancers
Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have uncovered a critical genetic mutation in some patients with myelodysplastic syndromes -- a group of blood cancers that can progress to a fatal form of leukemia.

Researchers assess effects of a world awash in nitrogen
Humans are having an effect on Earth's ecosystems but it's not just the depletion of resources and the warming of the planet we are causing.

RTOG activates study to determine best treatment strategies for patients with glioma brain tumors
The RTOG 0925 clinical trial seeks to determine if patients' neurocognitive changes caused by the tumor progression can help guide treatment decisions.

Kessler Foundation tests Ekso exoskeletal device in 6 patients with traumatic spinal cord injury
Monitored by scientists at Kessler Foundation, six people with traumatic spinal cord injuries tested Ekso, the robotic exoskeleton from Ekso Bionics that enables wheelchair users to stand and walk.

It could be dangerous living in Ambridge
With a risk of traumatic death far higher than the national average, rural life may not be so idyllic in Ambridge, the fictitious village in the BBC radio series,

I wanna talk like you (oo)
The topic of how communication evolved is hotly debated. Non-human primates seem to be born with a range of calls and sounds, but there seems to be some flexibility -- you can tell where a gibbon lives by its accent.

Spread of nasopharyngeal carcinoma reduced by bevacizumab in Phase 2 trial
Combining the widely used cancer drug bevacizumab with standard chemoradiation therapy is safe and could prolong survival in patients with advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma, according to a new Phase 2 trial published online first in the Lancet Oncology.

Wistar receives $4.7 million to develop drug against Epstein-Barr virus-related cancers
The Wistar Institute today announced that it has signed a funding agreement with the Wellcome Trust, a UK-based charity, to support the development of a new drug to treat cancers associated with Epstein-Barr virus, which is estimated to cause up to 400,000 cancer cases worldwide annually.

NASA's RXTE detects 'heartbeat' of smallest black hole candidate
An international team of astronomers has identified a candidate for the smallest-known black hole using data from NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE).

Researchers closer to understanding the evolution of sound production in fish
An international team of researchers studying sound production in perch-like fishes has discovered a link between two unrelated lineages of fishes, taking researchers a step closer to understanding the evolution of one of the fastest muscles in vertebrates.

New research could lead to enhanced MRI scans
New research from the University of Southampton could lead to enhanced MRI scans, producing brighter and more precise images, and potentially allowing the detection of cancerous cells before they cause health problems.

Metabolomx test detects lung cancer from breath
Metabolomx announces publication of results from the first clinical study demonstrating a breath test that can both detect lung cancer and differentiate between types of lung cancer in humans.

Multisensory integration: When correlation implies causation
Researchers discover how the brain merges sights and sounds.

Manchester United helped spot fan's rare condition
Doctors in Manchester spotted a rare condition in a football fan after hearing about her unusual symptoms while watching her team Manchester United play.

Researchers describe a new genetic program that converts static cells into mobile invasive cells
Researchers at the IRB Barcelona have identified the gene GATA 6 as responsible for epithelial cells -which group together and are static- losing adhesion and moving towards a new site.

Physics strikes the right note with classical musicians
The combination of physics and music might usually prompt images of Brian Cox playing keyboards for D:Ream, but a new trio, consisting of a professor of physics, an internationally renowned composer and an award-winning violinist, are bringing particle physics to life through a series of classical compositions.

3-year study identifies key interventions to reduce maternal, newborn and child deaths
Some 56 evidence-based interventions will sharply reduce the 358,000 women who still die each year during pregnancy and childbirth and the 7.6 million children who die before the age of 5, according to a massive three-year global study.

Meteorite shockwaves trigger dust avalanches on Mars
Dust avalanches around impact craters on Mars appear to be the result of the shock wave preceding the actual impact, according to a study led by a UA undergraduate student.

IASLC sets up committee to move CT lung cancer strategic screening forward
The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) has taken a proactive role in advancing discussions with the international lung cancer community on how we should take lung cancer screening forward.

Less blood needed post-surgery, says NEJM study
Patients need less blood after surgery than is widely thought.

Cancer from fetal exposure to carcinogens depends on dose, timing
The cancer-causing potential of fetal exposure to carcinogens can vary substantially, causing different types of problems much later in life depending on the stage of pregnancy when the fetus is exposed.

Analysis of fetal meconium can reveal gestational alcohol exposure
Neonatal meconium can be used to examine gestational alcohol exposure during the second and third trimesters.

Using powerful MRI to track iron levels in brain could be new way to monitor progression of MS
Medical researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered a new way to track the progression of multiple sclerosis (MS) in those living with the disease, by using a powerful, triple strength MRI to track increasing levels of iron found in brain tissue.

What makes solo terrorists tick?
The double terrorist attack in Norway last July, which claimed 77 lives, has moved violent acts committed by single individuals up the political, media and now research agendas.

Blood test might predict how well a depressed patient responds to antidepressants
Loyola University Medical Center researchers are reporting what could become the first reliable method to predict whether an antidepressant will work on a depressed patient.

Victoria's Secret, child labor, fair trade and its issues
A professor who specializes in fair trade issues says what Bloomberg News uncovered in Victoria's Secret's African supply chain is a symptom of a larger problem.

Improving security in the cloud
New encryption research may lead to improved data security, even for operations performed on remote servers.

NYU study concludes that dentists could screen 20 million Americans for chronic physical illnesses
Nearly 20 million Americans annually visit a dentist but not a general health-care provider, according to an NYU study published today in the American Journal of Public Health.

Concordia University launches world's first Solar Simulator-Environmental Chamber
Concordia University's new Solar Simulator - Environmental Chamber is a unique laboratory that will revolutionize solar energy applications and building standards.

Texting can help to both assess drinking issues and deliver brief interventions
Many young adults in the US visit hospital emergency departments (EDs) for alcohol-related problems.

Aalto University researchers demonstrate an almost noiseless nanomechanical microwave amplifier
Physicists in Aalto University, Finland, have shown how a nanomechanical oscillator can be used for detection and amplification of feeble radio waves or microwaves.

In the genome, an answer to a mysterious movement disorder
Children with a rather mysterious movement disorder can have hundreds of attacks every day in which they inexplicably make sudden movements or sudden changes in the speed of their movements.

FDA, ABIA to collaborate on safety and performance of materials used in medical devices
Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron and the US Food and Drug Administration have entered into a ground-breaking collaboration to support and develop regulatory science for the safe and effective use of biomaterials in medical devices.

Majority of B.C. women take prescription drugs during pregnancy: UBC study
Almost two-thirds of women in British Columbia filled at least one prescription at some point in their pregnancy, including drugs with potential risks, according to a new study by University of British Columbia researchers.

President's Bioethics Commission releases report on human subjects protection
The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues today issued its report concerning federally sponsored research involving human volunteers, concluding that current rules and regulations provide adequate safeguards to mitigate risk.

Team pinpoints amino acid variation in immune response gene linked with ulcerative colitis
The association between the inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis and a gene that makes certain cell surface proteins has been pinpointed to a variant amino acid in a crucial binding site that profoundly influences immune response to antigens, including gut bacteria, reports a team of researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Cleveland Clinic, Carnegie Mellon University and Harvard Medical School.

Discovery of a 'dark state' could mean a brighter future for solar energy
The efficiency of conventional solar cells could be significantly increased, according to new research on the mechanisms of solar energy conversion led by chemist Xiaoyang Zhu at the University of Texas at Austin.

Work sheds new light on medicinal benefits of plants
Scientists from institutions around the nation and the world have collaborated to develop new resources poised to unlock yet another door in the hidden garden of medicinally important compounds found in plants.

Global conference on stem cell therapy to be held Jan. 25-27, 2012 in New York City
The Seventh International Conference on Cell Therapy for Cardiovascular Disease is a one-and-a-half day comprehensive program dedicated to the evolving field of cell-based therapies for the repair and regeneration of cardiac and vascular disease, as well as related diseases such as diabetes and stroke.

A simple clip could increase quality of life for thousands of patients with a common heart problem
The interventional cardiology team at the Montreal Heart Institute recently conducted the first clinical procedure in Canada using the MitraClip system, which is designed to treat patients suffering from mitral valve failure, a very common heart defect that affects an estimated one out five people to various extents starting at the age of 55.

Young star rebels against its parent cloud
Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 has captured this image of a giant cloud of hydrogen gas illuminated by a bright young star.

UIC researchers discover how cells limit inflammation in lung injury
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine have found in an animal model of acute lung injury a molecular mechanism that allows cells of the immune system to reduce tissue damage from inflammation.

First low-mass star detected in globular cluster
Even the most powerful high-tech telescopes are barely able to record remote low-mass and thus faint stars.

Ohio State researchers discover hereditary predisposition of melanoma of the eye
Ohio State University researchers have discovered a hereditary cancer syndrome that predisposes certain people to a melanoma of the eye, along with lung cancer, brain cancer and possibly other types of cancer.

Goddard scientists selected as participating scientists in missions
Scientists at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., have been selected as Participating Scientists in NASA's Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) and Cassini missions.

A galaxy blooming with new stars
The VLT Survey Telescope has captured the beauty of the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 253.

Researchers investigate link between autoimmune diseases and wounds that don't heal
Millions of Americans suffer from wounds that don't heal, and while most are typically associated with diabetes, new research has identified another possible underlying cause - autoimmune diseases.

Building the smart grid of the future: UCLA teams with Korea's energy research institute
UCLA Engineering and the Korea Institute of Energy Research have entered into a ten-year partnership to develop breakthrough technologies for a robust smart grid on an international level.

New stats show America's heart health needs improvement
New statistics show America's cardiovascular health is far from

Gene discovery explains how fruitflies retreat from heat
A discovery in fruit flies may be able to tell us more about how animals, including humans, sense potentially dangerous discomforts.

Acid rain poses a previously unrecognized threat to Great Lakes sugar maples
The number of sugar maples in Upper Great Lakes forests is likely to decline in coming decades, according to University of Michigan ecologists and their colleagues, due to a previously unrecognized threat from a familiar enemy: Acid rain.

Researchers identify phthalates in numeruous medicines and supplements
Researchers from Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center, in collaboration with Harvard School of Public Health, have found numerous prescription and over-the-counter drugs and supplements use certain chemicals called phthalates as inactive ingredients in their products.

F. nucleatum enables breaking bond on blood vessels to allow invaders in
A common oral bacteria, Fusobacterium nucleatum, acts like a key to open a door in human blood vessels and leads the way for it and other bacteria like Escherichia coli to invade the body through the blood and make people sick, according to dental researchers at Case Western Reserve University.

Blood-sucking mosquitoes keep their cool
The researchers showed that the cooling depended on those drops of fluid the insects excrete from their backsides as they feed.

Let's do the twist: Spiral proteins are efficient gene delivery agents
Clinical gene therapy may be one step closer, thanks to a new twist on an old class of molecules.

'Smart Connector' could save millions in lost revenue
Researchers at Rochester Institute of Technology and PPC Corp. have developed the Smart Connector, a new sensor that once installed in the connecting units of coaxial cables can provide information about equipment damage and pinpoint the exact location through self-diagnosing technologies -- some of the most advanced in the field today.

Same-sex marriage laws reduce doctor visits and health care costs for gay men
Gay men are able to lead healthier, less stress-filled lives when states offer legal protections to same-sex couples, according to a new study examining the effects of the legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.

From heterogeneous patient measurements towards earlier diagnosis in Alzheimer's disease
The European PredictAD project, lead by principal scientist Jyrki Lötjönen from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, has developed a decision support tool for objective diagnostics of Alzheimer's disease.

New light on medicinal benefits of plants
Scientists are about to make publicly available all the data they have so far on the genetic blueprint of medicinal plants and what beneficial properties are encoded.

The respective roles of the public and private sectors in pharmaceutical innovation
The study identifies the respective contributions of direct and indirect government support in research and development of new pharmaceutical drugs.

Unwanted online sexual exposures decline for youth, new UNH research finds
A new study from the University of New Hampshire Crimes against Children Research Center finds declines in two kinds of youth Internet sexual encounters of great concern to parents: Unwanted sexual solicitations and unwanted exposure to pornography.

Tips from the journals of the American Society for Microbiology
This release includes; First Molecular Evidence Links Live Poultry Markets to Human H5N1 Infection in China; Compound in Apples Inhibits E. coli O157:H7; Cold Spots Contaminated in High Humidity Incubators; and Bacterial Filters Reduce Stink from Big Pig Factories.

IOM report recommends stringent limits on use of chimpanzees in biomedical and behavioral research
Given that chimpanzees are so closely related to humans and share similar behavioral traits, the National Institutes of Health should allow their use as subjects in biomedical research only under stringent conditions, including the absence of any other suitable model and inability to ethically perform the research on people, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine.

Diabetes risk reduced among Latinos in UMass clinical study
An inexpensive, culturally sensitive diabetes prevention program created by researchers at UMass Medical School reduced pre-diabetes indicators in a Latino population at risk for developing diabetes.

Less knowledge, more power: Uninformed can be vital to democracy, study finds
A Princeton University-based research team reports in Science that uninformed individuals -- as in those with no prior knowledge or strong feelings on a situation's outcome -- can actually be vital to achieving a democratic consensus.

Free-to-pay? No way! U of A professor explores negative billing
During the festive season, online shoppers may think they're getting a bargain when they click on promotional discount boxes or sign up for free trials for such things as Christmas cards, exercise tips or even e-dating.

Decades-old conclusion about energy-making pathway of cyanobacteria is corrected
Research expected to help scientists to discover new ways of genetically engineering bacteria to manufacture biofuels overturns a generally accepted 44-year-old assumption about how certain kinds of bacteria make energy and synthesize cell materials.

Can proteins in the blood predict an early death?
Certain measures of kidney health can also predict who is likely to die prematurely.

U of Toronto experiment named top breakthrough of 2011 by Physics World
Aephraim Steinberg and colleagues at the Center for Quantum Information and Quantum Control at the University of Toronto had the top physics breakthrough of the year according to Physics World magazine.

Teens choose water when calorie count of sugary beverages is easier to understand
Providing easily understandable caloric information, specifically in the form of a physical activity equivalent, may reduce the likelihood of sugar-sweetened beverage purchases among adolescents by as much as half

AACR & IASLC to host molecular origins of lung cancer conference
The second AACR-IASLC Joint Conference on Molecular Origins of Lung Cancer: Biology, Therapy and Personalized Medicine will bring together scientists to share the latest findings in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the nation's leading cause of cancer and cancer mortality.

Walking skills program improves physical function following hip replacement surgery
Researchers in Norway report that patients who receive walking skills training following total hip arthroplasty for osteoarthritis show improved physical function.

Hide and seek signals
Weizmann Institute scientists reveal how certain white blood cells find hidden chemical signals that allow them to exit the bloodstream.

Wiley-VCH and ChemPubSoc Europe to launch multidisciplinary chemistry journal
Wiley-VCH, part of the scientific and technical publishing business of John Wiley & Sons, Inc., and ChemPubSoc Europe, an association of 16 chemical societies, have announced the launch of ChemPlusChem, a multidisciplinary journal centering on chemistry.

Close family ties keep cheaters in check, study finds
Any multicellular animal poses a special difficulty for the theory of evolution.

Lead levels in drinking water spike when copper and lead pipes joined
Lead pipes once used routinely in municipal water distribution systems are a well-recognized source of dangerous lead contamination, but new research from Washington University in St.

Team designs a bandage that spurs, guides blood vessel growth
Researchers have developed a bandage that stimulates and directs blood vessel growth on the surface of a wound.

Prize-winning research on solubility by Hebrew University doctoral student yields promise
A method for increasing solubility, developed by a graduate student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Casali Institute of Applied Chemistry, has yielded promising commercial benefits for industry, particularly in pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and agriculture.

New Research Demonstrates Lean Beef is Good for Heart Health
A new study published in the January 2012 edition of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that beef can play a role in a cholesterol-lowering diet, despite commonly held beliefs.

Gene discovered for Weaver syndrome
Scientists have found a gene that causes Weaver syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that typically causes large size at birth, tall stature, developmental delay during childhood, and intellectual disability.

Scientists find microbes in lava tube living in conditions like those on Mars
A team of scientists from Oregon has collected microbes from ice within a lava tube in the Cascade Mountains and found that they thrive in cold, Mars-like conditions.

Heart failure study: Health-literate patients not always adept at managing care
A patient's education level is not a fail-safe predictor of how well they will manage symptoms related to complicated chronic diseases, such as heart failure, according to a Purdue University study.

Robotic therapy may provide lasting gains for immobilized stroke survivors
Adding robotic assistance to standard rehab was more effective than traditional methods in helping severely impaired stroke survivors regain the ability to walk.

Identify clinically relevant fungi confidently and accurately
A new edition of the definitive practical resource for laboratory identification of fungal infections is now available.

A 'fantastic voyage' through the body -- with precision control
Dr. Gabor Kosa of Tel Aviv University has devised a method to guide endoscopic

Behavioral interventions can increase condom use, reduce sexually transmitted infections
Behavioral interventions to reduce HIV succeed in promoting condom use, lead to fewer sexually transmitted infections for up to four years after initial intervention.

For NASA Webb telescope engineers, COCOA this winter means precision testing
Engineers working on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope are bringing out the COCOA this winter, but it's not a warm beverage.

Insect warfare: A timely holiday gift for citrus growers
The Asian citrus psyllid is an invasive pest that could devastate California's $1.1 billion citrus industry.

Outwit the Grim Reaper by walking faster
Men aged 70 and older can elude the Grim Reaper by walking at speeds of at least three miles (or five km) an hour, finds a study in the Christmas issue published on today.

Genetic factors can predict the progression of Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is marked by the abnormal accumulation of α-synuclein and the early loss of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra region of the brain.

Half of microsoft video game design finalists from UH
Three video games developed by University of Houston computer science students have been selected by Microsoft to compete in the US Imagine Cup 2012 Finals this spring, dominating the slots awarded in the fall leg of the contest.

New racism in 'reasonable accommodation'
It seems history has once again repeated itself. The recent introduction of a 'statement of values,' by one of Quebec's biggest cities, Gatineau, harkens back to the 2007 outbreak of race anxiety when the village of Hérouxville drafted its own code of conduct for newcomers.

Shape, fit of reproductive organs evolve quickly and in concert, leaving size behind
Believed critical for determining which individuals can -- or cannot -- successfully reproduce with each other, genitalia not only figure prominently in the origin of new species, but are also typically the first type of trait to change as new species form.

NASA eyes power in Tropical Storm Washi, warnings in the Philippines
NASA's TRMM satellite measured heavy rainfall and powerful towering thunderstorms as Tropical Depression 27W intensified into Tropical Storm Washi today.

Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson Director Richard Pestell named AAAS Fellow
Richard Pestell, M.D., Ph.D., FACP, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Jefferson, has been named a 2011 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

UW Medical Center granted magnet status for excellence in nursing care
The University of Washington Medical Center was recently granted Magnet Recognition Program status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center for its excellence in nursing practice and patient care.

Bacterial protein 'mops up' viruses found in contaminated water supplies
Access to clean water is a necessity often taken for granted.

Penicillin doses for children should be reviewed, say UK experts
A team of scientists and clinicians, led by researchers at King's College London and St.

New study shows promise for preventing preterm births
A new study co-authored by the University of Kentucky's Dr.

Nitrogen from humans pollutes remote lakes for more than a century
Nitrogen derived from human activities has polluted lakes throughout the Northern Hemisphere for more than a century and the fingerprint of these changes is evident even in remote lakes located thousands of miles from the nearest city, industrial area or farm.

Study of skates and sharks questions assumptions about 'essential' genes
Biologists have long assumed that all jawed vertebrates possess a full complement of nearly identical genes for critical aspects of their development.

A supernova with a view
Observations of the closest supernova in 25 years help rule out some scenarios for how stars explode.

Scientists uncover evidence on how drug-resistant tuberculosis cells form
A new study led by Harvard School of Public (HSPH) researchers provides a novel explanation as to why some tuberculosis cells are inherently more difficult to treat with antibiotics.

6 UNC faculty recognized by prestigious international scientific society
Six University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill faculty members have been named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Psychology researcher finds that second-guessing one's decisions leads to unhappiness
You're in search of a new coffee maker, and the simple quest becomes, well, an ordeal.

Scientists discover second-oldest gene mutation
A new study has identified a gene mutation that researchers estimate dates back to 11,600 B.C., making it the second oldest human disease mutation known.

Tool detects patterns hidden in vast data sets
Researchers from the Broad Institute and Harvard University have developed a tool that can tackle large data sets in a way that no other software program can.

Penn study shows how B cells may generate antibodies after vaccination
Steve Reiner, M.D., professor of Medicine, and Burton Barnett, a doctoral student in the Reiner lab at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, have shown how immune cells, called B lymphocytes, are able to produce daughter cells that are not equal, a finding that might explain how lifelong antibodies are made after vaccination.

Young adults drop exercise with move to college or university: McMaster researchers
Regular exercise tends to steeply decline among youth as they move to university or college, and does not appear to revert itself, but continues on a downward trajectory into adulthood

New biodiversity data publishing framework proposed
A special supplement of BMC Bioinformatics focuses on recommendations by a task group set up by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, to establish a framework for biodiversity data publishing.

U.S. Supreme Court petitioned to review AMP, et al. lawsuit on gene patents
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation have petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear Association for Molecular Pathology v.

Study takes aim at education-based death rate disparities
A study in the December issue of the American Sociological Review has brought new understanding as to why death rates for less educated middle aged adults are much higher than for their more educated peers despite increased awareness and treatments aimed at reducing health disparities.

Shared flavor compounds show up on US menus, rare in Asian cuisines
North Americans and Western Europeans love a good mix of alpha-terpineol, 4-methylpentanoic acid and ethyl propionate for dinner, flavor compounds shared in popular ingredients like tomatoes, parmesan cheese and white wine.

Ring in the New Year with dairy
A summary of 2011 global published research about dairy's positive attributes related to health is highlighted.

Genome tree of life is largest yet for seed plants
Scientists at the American Museum of Natural History, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the New York Botanical Garden, and New York University have created the largest genome-based tree of life for seed plants to date. 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