Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 22, 2011
UNC HIV prevention research named scientific breakthrough of the year
The HIV Prevention Trials Network 052 study, led by Myron S.

UCSF biochemist wins prestigious prize
Peter Walter, Ph.D., a professor in the Biochemistry and Biophysics Department within the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco has been awarded the 2012 Paul Ehrlich and Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize for his

Toddlers don't listen to their own voice like adults do
When grown-ups and kids speak, they listen to the sound of their voice and make corrections based on that auditory feedback.

How do you mend a broken heart?
Scientists are closing in on signals that may be able to coax the heart into producing replacement cardiac muscle cells.

How skin is wired for touch
Compared to our other senses, scientists don't know much about how our skin is wired for the sensation of touch.

Young children understand the benefits of positive thinking
A study of 90 children ages 5-10 shows that even kindergarteners know that thinking positively will make you feel better.

Lingua franca critical for electronic medical records and health information exchange
A reference compendium of standardized codes for the 2,000 most frequently reported laboratory test observations, released by the Regenstrief Institute, enables hospitals, medical laboratories, physician offices and others to focus on approximately 98 percent of tests as they develop electronic medical record systems and engage in health information exchange.

Virgin olive oil & fish fatty acids help prevent acute pancreatitis
Scientists at the University of Granada have shown that oleic acid and hydroxytyrosol -present in a particularly high concentration in virgin olive oil- and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids -found in fish- relieve the symptoms of pancreatitis.

School absenteeism, mental health problems linked
A new longitudinal study of more than 17,000 youths has found that frequently missing school is associated with a higher prevalence of mental health problems later on in adolescence, and that mental health problems during one year also predict missing additional school days in the following year for students in middle and high school.

Hips that function better and last longer
Engineers and physicians have made a surprising discovery that offers a target for designing new materials for hip implants that are less susceptible to the joint's normal wear and tear.

Scientists engineer mosquito immune system to fight Malaria
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute have demonstrated that the Anopheles mosquito's innate immune system could be genetically engineered to block the transmission of malaria-causing parasites to humans.

How bacteria fight flouride
Yale researchers have uncovered the molecular tricks used by bacteria to fight the effects of fluoride, which is commonly used in toothpaste and mouthwash to combat tooth decay.

Severe congenital disorder successfully treated in a mouse model for the first time
Using a mouse model, Heidelberg University Hospital researchers have for the first time successfully treated a severe congenital disorder in which sugar metabolism is disturbed.

New device could bring optical information processing
Purdue University researchers have created a new type of optical device small enough to fit millions on a computer chip that could lead to faster, more powerful information processing and supercomputers.

CSHL's DNA Learning Center awarded Science magazine SPORE prize
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's DNA Learning Center (DNALC) has been awarded the Science Prize for Online Resources in Education (SPORE) for its creation of a science education portal at that attracts more than 7 million online visitors annually.

DNA mismatch repair happens only during a brief window of opportunity
In eukaryotes-the group of organisms that include humans -a key to survival is the ability of certain proteins to quickly and accurately repair genetic errors that occur when DNA is replicated to make new cells.

Sea cucumbers: Dissolving coral reefs?
Coral reefs are extremely diverse ecosystems that support enormous biodiversity.

Built-in 'self-destruct timer' causes ultimate death of messenger RNA in cells
Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have discovered the first known mechanism by which cells control the survival of messenger RNA (mRNA) -- arguably biology's most important molecule.

Fixing common blood disorder would make kidney transplants more successful
Correcting anemia, a red blood cell deficiency, can preserve kidney function in many kidney transplant recipients, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN).

Long intervening non-coding RNAs play pivotal roles in brain development
Whitehead Institute scientists have identified conserved, long intervening non-coding RNAs that play key roles during brain development in zebrafish, and went on to show that the human versions of these RNAs can substitute for the zebrafish lincRNAs.

Reclaiming the land after a forest fire
Assaf Inbar, a graduate student at Tel Aviv University, treated burnt soil with an organic polymer used in agriculture.

Study shows new imaging technique to be superior to standard
In recent years, modern imaging tests have replaced exercise treadmill testing to diagnose coronary artery disease, with single-photon emission computed tomography being the most common, although accuracy varies and patients are exposed to ionising radiation.

Study points to long-term recall of very early experiences
This study looks at children ages 8-15, college-age adults, and adults over 60 years old to compare how people of different ages process information and make decisions.

High genetic diversity in an ancient Hawaiian clone
The entire Hawaiian population of the peat moss Sphagnum palustre appears to be a clone that has been in existence for some 50,000 years researchers have discovered.

More than other drugs, injected meth is associated with an increased risk of attempted suicide
The dire physical and mental health effects of injecting methamphetamine are well known, but there's been little research about suicidal behavior and injecting meth.

DOE researchers achieve important genetic breakthroughs to help develop cheaper biofuels
Researchers at the US Department of Energy's Joint BioEnergy Institute announced today a major breakthrough in engineering systems of RNA molecules through computer-assisted design, which could lead to important improvements across a range of industries, including the development of cheaper advanced biofuels.

Journal names discovery that HIV treatment can prevent spread 'breakthrough of the year'
The finding of a team of researchers -- including several members from Johns Hopkins -- that HIV treatment with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) can actually prevent transmission of the virus from an infected person to his or her uninfected partner has been named

'Nanoantennas' show promise in optical innovations
Purdue University researchers have shown how arrays of tiny

Gene fusion in lung cancer afflicting never-smokers may be target for therapy
Smoking is a well-known risk factor for lung cancer, but nearly 25 percent of all lung cancer patients have never smoked.

Promising treatments for blood cancers presented by JTCancerCenter researchers at ASH meeting
Researchers from the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, one of the nation's top 50 best hospitals for cancer, presented results from 31 major studies of blood-related cancers -- leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma -- during the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Annual Meeting, Dec.

New spin-out company from DTU: Bladena
Bladena is a new spin-out company from DTU, Technical University of Denmark - a platform from which small wind turbine manufacturers can grow by leaps and bounds.

AGU journal highlights -- Dec. 22, 2011
Featured in this release are research papers on the following topics:

Pitt/Children's Hospital team: Cell membrane proteins could provide targets for broader vaccines
Vaccines with broader reach might be made by stimulating specialized immune cells to recognize foreign cell membrane proteins that are shared across bacterial species, say researchers from Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in a report published online today in Immunity.

Researcher contends multiple sclerosis is not a disease of the immune system
An article forthcoming in the December 2011 issue of the Quarterly Review of Biology argues that multiple sclerosis, long viewed as primarily an autoimmune disease, is not actually a disease of the immune system.

Previously unconnected molecular networks conspire to promote cancer
An inflammation-promoting protein triggers deactivation of a tumor-suppressor that usually blocks cancer formation via the NOTCH signaling pathway, a team of researchers led by scientists at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center reports today in Molecular Cell.

Blood progenitor cells receive signals from niche cells and the daughter blood cells they create
Maintaining balance is crucial. In Drosophila, the common fruit fly, the creation and maintenance of the blood supply requires such balance.

Double trouble: Concomitant immune challenges result in CNS disease
A research team led by Glenn Rall at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, PA developed a novel mouse model to show that a fatal central nervous system disease can be caused by a pathogen that does not replicate in the CNS.

MRI scan 'better' for heart patients
A magnetic resonance imaging scan for coronary heart disease is better than the most commonly-used alternative, a major UK trial of heart disease patients has shown.

Shearing triggers odd behavior in microscopic particles
Microscopic spheres form strings in surprising alignments when suspended in a viscous fluid and sheared between two plates, a finding that will affect the way scientists think about the properties of such wide-ranging substances as shampoo and futuristic computer chips.

Genetic study of black chickens shed light on mechanisms causing rapid evolution in domestic animals
The genetic changes underlying the evolution of new species are still poorly understood.

Chinese fossils shed light on the evolutionary origin of animals from single-cell ancestors
Evidence of the single-celled ancestors of animals, dating from the interval in the Earth's history just before multicellular animals appeared, has been discovered in 570 million-year-old rocks from South China by researchers from the University of Bristol, the Swedish Museum of Natural History, and the Paul Scherrer Institute.

Teens who express own views with mom resist peer pressures best
A longitudinal study of more than 150 diverse teens finds that teens who more openly express their own viewpoints in discussions with their moms, even if their viewpoints disagree, are more likely than others to resist peer pressure to use drugs or drink.

University of Texas chemist receives major grant to improve detection of drug-resistant tuberculosis
Developing a simple, paper-based test for drug-resistant tuberculosis is the goal of a University of Texas at Austin chemist, whose project just received a $1.6 million point-of-care diagnostics grant through Grand Challenges in Global Health, an initiative created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Unnatural disasters
Global wildlife is facing an unprecedented threat from natural disasters exacerbated by climate change, warn scientists in a paper published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

Drugs used to overcome cancer may also combat antibiotic resistance: McMaster researchers
The pharmaceutical sector has made a big investment in targeting kinases proteins, so there are a lot of compounds and drugs out there that, although they were designed to overcome cancer, they can in fact be looked at with fresh eyes and maybe repurposed to address the problem of antibiotic resistance.

Pitt researchers propose new model to design better flu shots
The flu shot, typically the first line of defense against seasonal influenza, could better treat the US population, thanks to University of Pittsburgh researchers.

When 'clean' is not clean enough
Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate develops a backboard cover to protect emergency patients from cross-infections.

Science's breakthrough of the year: HIV treatment as prevention
The journal Science and its publisher, AAAS, the nonprofit science society, have lauded an eye-opening HIV study, known as HPTN 052, as the most important scientific breakthrough of 2011.

Journal of Clinical Virology assembles papers on HIV diagnostic testing algorithms
Elsevier's Journal of Clinical Virology in collaboration with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today announced the publication of a special supplement entitled 'Update on HIV Diagnostic Testing Algorithms.'

Science Magazine honors cutting-edge DNA web sites
Because of their remarkable scope and value as educational tools, Science magazine is honoring the DNA Learning Center Web sites with a Science Prize for Online Resources in Education.

Enzyme that flips switch on cells' sugar cravings could be anti-cancer target
Cancer cells tend to take up more glucose than healthy cells, and researchers are increasingly interested in exploiting this tendency with drugs that target cancer cells' altered metabolism.

New technique makes it easier to etch semiconductors
Creating semiconductor structures for high-end optoelectronic devices just got easier, thanks to University of Illinois researchers.

Defending the genome
New research published in the journal Cell by the labs of William E.

UT-ORNL research reveals aquatic bacteria more recent move to land
An analysis by Igor Jouline, University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge National Laboratory joint faculty professor of microbiology, indicates the shift of soil bacteria Azospirillum may have occurred only 400 million years ago, rather than approximately two billion years earlier as originally thought.

Mayo Clinic discovery selected for Science's Top 10 Achievements of 2011
The editors of the journal Science have selected a Mayo Clinic discovery as one of their top 10

For every road there is a tire
Life is complicated enough, so you can forgive the pioneers of DNA biology for glossing over transcriptional elongation control by RNA polymerase II, the quick and seemingly bulletproof penultimate step in the process that copies the information encoded in our DNA into protein-making instructions carried by messenger RNA.

Bacteria battle against toxic fluoride
Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have discovered the cellular chain of events that occurs inside a bacterium after it encounters fluoride in its environment.

When the mountains call . . .
More and more tourists are climbing up mountains that are 5,000 to almost 7,000 meters high, such as Kilimanjaro, without any prior experience at high altitudes.

Penn engineers develop more effective MRI contrast agent for cancer detection
Many imaging technologies and their contrast agents -- chemicals used during scans to help detect tumors and other problems -- involve exposure to radiation or heavy metals, which present potential health risks to patients and limit the ways they can be applied.

How moms talk influences children's perspective-taking ability
This two-year longitudinal study involved more than 120 Australian children between the ages of 4 and 6 at the start of the study.

Fish oil may hold key to leukemia cure
A compound produced from fish oil that appears to target leukemia stem cells could lead to a cure for the disease, according to Penn State researchers.

Rapid evolution in domestic animals sheds light on the genetic changes underlying evolution
A new study describes how a complex genomic rearrangement causes a fascinating phenotype in chickens in which a massive expansion of pigment cells not only makes the skin and comb black, but also results in black internal organs.

American Cancer Society study finds colorectal cancer mortality dropping slower in African Americans
A new study finds that while colorectal cancer mortality rates dropped in the most recent two decades for every stage in both African Americans and whites, the decreases were smaller for African Americans, particularly for distant stage disease.

MSU chemists become the first to solve an 84-year-old theory
The same principle that causes figure skaters to spin faster as they draw their arms into their bodies has now been used by Michigan State University researchers to understand how molecules move energy around following the absorption of light.

Penn scientists pioneer new method for watching proteins fold
A protein's function depends on both the chains of molecules it is made of and the way those chains are folded.

Harvard physicists demonstrate a new cooling technique for quantum gases
Physicists at Harvard University have realized a new way to cool synthetic materials by employing a quantum algorithm to remove excess energy.

HIV study named 2011 breakthrough of the year by Science
The journal Science has chosen the HPTN 052 clinical trial, an international HIV prevention trial sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, as the 2011 Breakthrough of the Year.

Improving family consent in organ donation could save lives
Research published today in the British Journal of Anaesthesia suggests that organ donation rates in the UK could be increased if the current issues affecting declined consent are improved.

Biochemists develop promising new treatment direction for rare metabolic diseases
A research team led by biochemist Scott Garman at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has discovered a key interaction at the heart of a promising new treatment for a rare childhood metabolic disorder known as Fabry disease.

Prophylactic nevirapine to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission can be safely used up to age 6 months
Rates of transmission of HIV from infected mothers to their newborn children are reduced if the children are given a daily oral dose of the antiretroviral drug nevirapine, a strategy that can be safely used until the child is six months old or the mother stops breastfeeding.

Joint BioEnergy Institute researchers have developed computer assisted design-type tools for engineering RNA components to control genetic expression in microbes.

NIH researchers uncover clues related to metal-on-metal hip implants
A new study, bringing together an interdisciplinary team of physicians and engineers from the United States and Germany, made a surprising finding about implants used in hip replacement surgery: Graphite carbon is a key element in the lubricating layer that forms on metal-on-metal hip implants.

Scientists identify cell death pathway involved in lethal sepsis
Sepsis, a form of systemic inflammation, is the leading cause of death in critically ill patients.

UTHealth researchers link multiple sclerosis to different area of brain
Radiology researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) have found evidence that multiple sclerosis affects an area of the brain that controls cognitive, sensory and motor functioning apart from the disabling damage caused by the disease's visible lesions.

UCF patented on induced pluripotent stem cells, iPS cells
A process that prompts a single gene to generate millions of supercharged stem cells, which can then turn into any kind of cell a body needs to repair itself, has been patented at the University of Central Florida.

University of Nevada, Reno professor authors new book on development strategies for Africa
In his new book, University of Nevada, Reno sociologist Johnson W.

First ever direct measurement of the Earth's rotation
A group with researchers of the Technical University of Munich are the first to plot changes in the Earth's axis through laboratory measurements. 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