Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 18, 2013
How the Parkin enzyme inhibits neuronal cell death
Cell biologists at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB) have launched a new project to unravel the role of the enzyme Parkin in promoting neuronal survival.

Pollen influences optical properties of the atmosphere
Pollen reflects more sunlight than previously known, and makes up to one third of the total amount of aerosol particles in the atmosphere.

Kids grasp large numbers remarkably young
Children as young as 3 understand multi-digit numbers more than previously believed and may be ready for more direct math instruction when they enter school, according to research led by a Michigan State University education scholar.

New study reveals the biomechanics of how marine snail larvae swim
Equipped with high-speed, high-resolution video, scientists have discovered important new information on how marine snail larvae swim, a key behavior that determines individual dispersal and ultimately, survival.

UCLA researcher highlights advances in nanotechnology's fight against cancer
Among the most promising advances in the fight against cancer has been the rise of nanomedicine, the application of tiny materials and devices to detect, diagnose and treat disease.

Diamonds in Earth's oldest zircons are nothing but laboratory contamination
In 2007 and 2008, two research papers reported in the journal Nature that a suite of zircons from the Jack Hills included diamonds.

Fatigue, a common side effect of breast cancer treatment, evaluated in novel patient study
Although the prevalence and impact of cancer-related fatigue has been well established, very little is known about its predictors, mechanisms for development, and persistence post-treatment.

Life Sciences Discovery Fund announces R&D grants
The Life Sciences Discovery Fund today announced $1.1 million in five Proof of Concept grants to Washington for-profit and non-profit organizations to foster the translation of health-related products from the laboratory into the commercial marketplace.

Role for sugar uptake in breast cancer revealed
Berkeley Lab researchers have shown that aerobic glycolysis -- glucose metabolism in the presence of oxygen -- is not the consequence of the cancerous activity of malignant cells, as has been widely believed, but is itself a cancerous event.

Heart disease and stroke continue to threaten US health
Heart disease and stroke remain two of the top killers of Americans and pose a significant threat to millions of others, according to the American Heart Association's Heart Disease and Stroke Statistical Update 2014, published in its journal Circulation.

Newly identified immune receptor may activate B cells in autoimmunity
A newly identified immune protein influences each person's response to vaccines and risk for autoimmune diseases like lupus and multiple sclerosis.

Messages sent via molecules can aid communication underground, underwater or inside the body
Scientists have created a molecular communications system for the transmission of messages and data in challenging environments such as tunnels, pipelines, underwater and within the body.

BBSRC announces £10M of funding for advanced scientific equipment
BBSRC is investing £10M in advanced scientific research instruments to help keep the UK at the forefront of biological sciences research.

Mayo Clinic researcher to grow human cells in space to test treatment for stroke
Abba Zubair, M.D., Ph.D, believes that cells grown in the International Space Station could help patients recover from a stroke, and that it may even be possible to generate human tissues and organs in space.

Cleveland Clinic receives grant to study role of DNA damage in treatment-resistant prostate cancer
Cleveland Clinic, along with the National Cancer Institute, the University of Chicago and Thomas Jefferson University, are the recipients of a $600,000 Special Challenge Award from the Prostate Cancer Foundation to investigate the role of abnormally high protein levels in prostate tumors.

Physicists delve into fundamental laws of biological materials
Physicists at the University of Chicago and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, are uncovering the fundamental physical laws that govern the behavior of cellular materials.

Heart disease linked with dementia in older postmenopausal women
Heart disease is linked with decreased brain function in older postmenopausal women.

Life expectancy increases among treated HIV-positive individuals in US and Canada
A 20-year-old HIV-positive adult on antiretroviral therapy in the US or Canada may be expected to live into their early 70s, a life expectancy approaching that of the general population.

Autism Speaks announces top 10 advances in autism research 2013
Each year Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization, asks its science leadership and scientific advisory committee to consider the hundreds of studies that have been reported on this year in the organization's news column.

New actors in the Arctic ecosystem
Biologists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research have for the first time shown that amphipods from the warmer Atlantic are now reproducing in Arctic waters to the west of Spitsbergen.

Markers of inflammation in the blood linked to aggressive behaviors
People with intermittent explosive disorder -- a psychiatric illness characterized by impulsivity, hostility and recurrent aggressive outbursts -- have elevated levels of two markers of systemic inflammation in their blood.

With the surgical robot, similar outcomes at a higher cost
In a study of national data on colon surgery, Johns Hopkins researchers found that while patients who undergo either minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery or the high-tech robotic approach have similar outcomes, robotic surgery is significantly more expensive.

Suggested ban on trans fat begs the question: Are substitutes any healthier?
Health advocates cheered last month's US Food and Drug Administration proposal to ban partially hydrogenated oils -- which contain trans fats that increase the risk of heart disease -- but some wonder whether the substitutes for these fats will be any healthier.

New energy harvesting technology set to reduce number of open-heart surgeries
Researchers at the University of Waterloo have developed a new technology that could dramatically reduce the number of open-heart surgeries for people with pacemakers.

Tropical forests mitigate extreme weather events
Tropical forests reduce peak runoff during storms and release stored water during droughts, according to researchers working at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

Liver cells benefit from mesenchymal stem cell co-culture prior to transplantation
Hepatocyte transplantation is an accepted therapy for acute liver failure for liver regeneration or as a bridge to liver transplantation.

The Association for Molecular Pathology releases position statement on LDTs
The Association for Molecular Pathology released a special article in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics titled

CNIO and Merck sign license agreement for the development of new cancer drugs
The Spanish National Cancer Research Centre and the German chemical and pharmaceutical company Merck today signed an agreement in Madrid to collaborate in the area of cancer drug development.

Spiders partial to a side order of pollen with their flies
Spiders may not be the pure predators we generally believe, after a study found that some make up a quarter of their diet by eating pollen.

UT Austin researchers design first battery-powered invisibility cloak
UT Researchers design a battery-powered cloak that improves upon current invisibility cloak designs.

New guidelines for management of high blood pressure released
A new guideline for the management of high blood pressure, developed by an expert panel and containing nine recommendations and a treatment algorithm (flow chart) to help doctors treat patients with hypertension, was published online by JAMA.

Immune avoidance mechanism could lead to treatments for deadly mosquito-borne viruses
A mosquito-borne virus that kills about half of the people it infects uses a never-before-documented mechanism to

Dogs recognize familiar faces from images
Facial recognition is an important skill for humans and other social animals.

No link between HIV-prevention pill Truvada and increased sexual risk behavior
In 2012 the HIV antiretroviral drug Truvada became the first and only medication approved by the FDA for HIV prevention.

Brain area attacked by Alzheimer's links learning and rewards
One of the first areas of the brain to be attacked by Alzheimer's disease, the posterior cingulate cortex, or PCC, has been found to step in during a cognitive challenge to improve the brain's performance.

44 percent of adults worry e-cigarettes will encourage kids to start smoking tobacco
Adults nationwide are concerned about the use of e-cigarettes by children and teens, with 44 percent indicating worries that the devices will encourage kids to use tobacco products.

Leading health care executives optimistic about health care reform, Penn survey shows
Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of the nation's leading health care executives say they believe the health care system will be somewhat or significantly better by 2020 than it is today as a result of national health care reform.

Debate continues on impact of artificial sweeteners
New research from the University of Adelaide has added to the debate about how our bodies respond to artificial sweeteners and whether they are good, bad or have no effect on us.

NSF supports collaborative cyber-enabled research to advance sustainability
The National Science Foundation recently awarded more than $12.5 million in grants to 17 research groups spanning 15 states, each targeting important societal challenges that can be addressed through computing and communication technologies.

It's all in your head
Researchers funded through NASA's Human Research Program are working to monitor, understand and prevent Visual Impairment/Intracranial Pressure syndrome by investigating several non-invasive methods for measuring intracranial pressure through the ear, eye and head -- techniques that are on the cutting edge of advanced space- and Earth-based medicine.

Find black holes in space from the comfort of your couch
Got a tablet or a laptop? Now you can discover black holes from the comfort of your couch.

Growers the big winners in Malawi's tobacco industry
Tobacco growers are the big winners, while the environment and people who have lost land to tobacco estates are the major losers in Malawi's expanding tobacco industry.

New geology research explores intriguing questions
Can spaceborne radar help predict sinkholes? What do ancient ambers reveal about paleochemotaxonomy?

Animal vaccine study yields insights that may advance HIV vaccine research
A vaccine study in monkeys designed to identify measurable signs that the animals were protected from infection by SIV, the monkey version of HIV, as well as the mechanism of such protection has yielded numerous insights that may advance HIV vaccine research.

$23 million to create a 'window into the body'
The University of Adelaide has been awarded $23 million to establish a new Center of Excellence to develop technologies that will help researchers to create a

Residents of poorer nations find greater meaning in life
While residents of wealthy nations tend to have greater life satisfaction, new research shows that those living in poorer nations report having greater meaning in life.

UTHealth program results in happier patients, lower costs in esophageal surgery
A new UTHealth program designed to increase the overall satisfaction of patients undergoing esophageal surgery has resulted in lower patient costs and reduced times on both the operating table and in the hospital.

American Thoracic Society and the American Lung Association to co-fund research into lung disease
The American Thoracic Society Foundation and the American Lung Association announced today that they are co-funding an $80,000 grant that will support important research into the mechanisms underlying Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome, a rare inherited disease which affects a number of organs including the lungs.

Powerful ancient explosions explain new class of supernovae
Astronomers affiliated with the Supernova Legacy Survey have discovered two of the brightest and most distant supernovae ever recorded, 10 billion light-years away and a hundred times more luminous than a normal supernova.

Researchers identify genetic marker of resistance to key malaria drug
An international team of researchers has discovered a way to identify, at a molecular level, malaria-causing Plasmodium falciparum parasites that are resistant to artemisinin, the key drug for treating this disease.

Modest weight loss may reduce heart disease, diabetes risks in middle-aged women
Sustaining a modest weight loss for 2 years in overweight or obese, middle-aged women may reduce risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.

Scientists solve a decades-old mystery in the Earth's upper atmosphere
New research published in the journal Nature resolves decades of scientific controversy over the origin of ultra-relativistic electrons in the Earth's near space environment, and is likely to influence our understanding of planetary magnetospheres throughout the universe.

Neanderthal genome shows early human interbreeding, inbreeding
A team that includes UC Berkeley population geneticists has produced the first high-quality genome of a Neanderthal, allowing comparison with the genomes of modern humans and Denisovans.

Ivy Foundation awards $3 million grant, supporting brain cancer research in Arizona
The Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation today announced a $3 million grant to the Translational Genomics Research Institute, Nemucore Medical Innovations Inc., and Barrow Neurological Institute at St.

Telecommunications data show civic dividing lines in major countries
A new study uses network data to show communication patterns and divisions in many major nations.

Computer-controlled table could direct radiotherapy to tumours while sparing vital organs
Swivelling patients around on a computer-controlled, rotating table could deliver high doses of radiotherapy to tumours more quickly than current methods, while sparing vulnerable organs such as the heart, brain, eyes and bowel.

Lemur babies of older moms less likely to get hurt
A long-term study of aggression in lemurs finds that infants born to older mothers are less likely to get hurt than those born to younger mothers.

Algae to crude oil: Million-year natural process takes minutes in the lab
Engineers have created a chemical system that continually produces useful crude oil minutes after they pour in raw algae material -- a green paste with the consistency of pea soup.

Packaging insulin into a pill-friendly form for diabetes treatment
Since insulin's crucial discovery nearly a century ago, countless diabetes patients have had to inject themselves with the life-saving medicine.

Study led by NUS scientists provides new insights into cause of human neurodegenerative disease
A recent study led by scientists from the National University of Singapore opens a possible new route for treatment of Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a devastating disease that is the most common genetic cause of infant death and also affects young adults.

Mass shootings will not substantially decrease with more armed guards or background checks
While some have theorized about the common personality traits of mass murderers, the frequency of these incidents, and the policy that can stop them, such speculation has led to many myths and misconceptions.

Flusurvey: Preliminary findings released
Preliminary results from the first month of the Flusurvey run by scientists at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine indicate that flu is yet to take hold of the UK, with just 6,000 cases per 100,000 people reported, compared to 12,000 cases per 100,000 people for the same period in 2012.

Bacteria to aid sutainable sugarcane production
Scientists have discovered a bacterium that could reduce the use of fertiliser in sugarcane production and improve yield.

Survey reveals regulatory agencies viewed as unprepared for nanotechnology
Three stakeholder groups agree that regulators are not adequately prepared to manage the risks posed by nanotechnology, according to a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS One.

Polymer coatings based on molecular structures
A novel method developed by researchers from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Jacobs University Bremen enables manufacturing of polymer layers with tailor-made properties and multiple functions: A stable porous gel for biological and medical applications is obtained from a metal-organic framework grown up on a substrate.

3D technology from the film industry improve rehabilitation for stroke patients
Researchers in Gothenburg have been using 3D technology from the film industry to analyze the everyday movements of stroke patients.

'Macrocells' influence corrosion rate of submerged marine concrete structures
Using numerical modeling, an Italian research team has discovered the role 'macrocells' play in the corrosion of hollow submerged marine concrete structures such as tunnels and parking structures.

Clinical informatics subspecialty launched at UCSF
A new specialty in clinical informatics has been launched at UC San Francisco, addressing the growing need to harness the power of massive quantities of patient information in the era of precision medicine and health care reform.

First plant-based 'microswimmers' could propel drugs to the right location
In the quest to shrink motors so they can maneuver in tiny spaces like inside and between human cells, scientists have taken inspiration from millions of years of plant evolution and incorporated, for the first time, corkscrew structures from plants into a new kind of helical

New data compression method reduces big-data bottleneck; outperforms, enhances JPEG
In creating an entirely new way to compress data, a team of researchers from the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science has drawn inspiration from physics and the arts.

HPV home tests could identify cancer risk
HPV self-testing is as effective as tests done by doctors, according to a Lund University study.

Diet rich in tomatoes may lower breast cancer risk
A tomato-rich diet may help protect at-risk postmenopausal women from breast cancer, according to new research accepted for publication in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Group Health approved for funding awards by PCORI
Research teams at Group Health Research Institute have been approved for funding awards by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to study opioid therapy and asthma -- and to help expand a health data network that will be part of PCORnet: the National Patient-Centered National Clinical Research Network.

Obese children have higher stress hormone levels than normal-weight peers
Obese children naturally produce higher levels of a key stress hormone than their normal weight peers, according to new research accepted for publication in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Total smoking bans work best
Completely banning tobacco use inside the home -- or more broadly in the whole city -- measurably boosts the odds of smokers either cutting back or quitting entirely.

Describing biodiversity on tight budgets: 3 new Andean lizards discovered
Three new Andean lizards discovered by Peruvian and American biologists establish an improved way to describe biodiversity based on different lines of evidence.

UNIST research team opens graphene band-gap
Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology announced a method for the mass production of boron/nitrogen co-doped graphene nanoplatelets, which led to the fabrication of a graphene-based field -effect transistor with semiconducting nature.

Stem cells offer clues to reversing receding hairlines
Regenerative medicine may offer ways to banish baldness that don't involve toupees.

How hypergravity impacts electric arcs
Arc discharges are common in everyday conditions like welding or lightning storms.

Ways of the photoelectric effect; How physicists have learned how to select them
An international team including theorists from the Department of Electromagnetic Processes and Atomic Nuclei Interactions of the MSU Institute of Nuclear Physics managed, for the first time in the history of photoelectric studies, to eliminate one serious obstacle that hampered these investigations for many years -- namely, the nuclear magnetic moment.

NOAA: Coastal ocean aquaculture can be environmentally sustainable
Specific types of fish farming can be accomplished with minimal or no harm to the coastal ocean environment as long as proper planning and safeguards are in place, according to a new report from researchers at NOAA's National Ocean Service.

Foreign-educated nurses report unequal treatment in US workplace
Forty percent of foreign-educated nurses working in US hospitals and other health care facilities say their wages, benefits or shift assignments are inferior compared to their American colleagues, according to a study published today by researchers at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.

Physical inactivity after cardiac surgery linked with substantially higher risk of depression
New research indicates that inactive patients following cardiac surgery have a substantially higher risk of depression and that the number of patients suffering from depression after cardiac surgery is as high as 40 percent.

New optimized coatings for implants reduce risk of infection
Researchers at Aalto University have developed a method of selection of new surface treatment processes for orthopedic and dental implants to reduce the risk of infection.

Warfarin increases risk of stroke among atrial fibrillation patients in first 30 days of use
Patients with atrial fibrillation -- an irregular and often abnormally fast heartbeat -- have nearly double the risk of suffering a stroke in the first 30 days after starting to take the anti-clotting drug warfarin compared to non-users, according to a study of over 70,000 patients from the UK Clinical Practice Research Datalink.

2 George Washington University researchers named fellows of the National Academy of Inventors
Ferid Murad and Akos Vertes -- two of George Washington University's scientific pioneers -- are among the 143 innovators who have been named 2013 Fellows of the National Academy of Inventors.

Low-cost countries are not the best conservation investment
Wildlife conservation projects in countries where management costs are low are less likely to succeed and could also have a negative impact on people, according to new research by the University of Kent and the University of California Santa Cruz.

Gut Microbiota for Health World Summit: 2014 March 8 & 9, Miami, FL
One of the most exciting new areas of research today is the gut microbiome.

York U molecular communication researchers send world's first text message using vodka
After successfully text messaging 'O Canada' using evaporated vodka, two York University researchers and their UK-based counterpart say their simple system can be used where conventional wireless technology fails.

Scientists reduce protein crystal damage, improve pharmaceutical development
Researchers at the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with two other institutions, have identified a method for protein crystallography that reduces damage to the protein crystal.

NASA sees Tropical Cyclone Bruce develop near Cocos Island
NASA's Aqua satellite flew overhead as the fourth tropical cyclone of the Southern Indian Ocean cyclone season developed today, Dec.

Toward lowering titanium's cost and environmental footprint for lightweight products
A novel method for extracting titanium, a metal highly valued for its light weight, high strength, corrosion resistance and biocompatibility, could lower its cost and make it more widely accessible, for example, for producing lighter car parts to improve fuel efficiency.

Vemurafenib: Result unchanged despite new data
The manufacturer's second dossier contained additional and more recent data, but did not provide any new findings.

Stress reaction gene linked to death, heart attacks
A genetic trait known to make some people especially sensitive to stress also appears to be responsible for a 38 percent increased risk of heart attack or death in patients with heart disease, scientists at Duke Medicine report.

Scientists find a groovy way to influence specialization of stem cells
Researchers at Queen Mary University of London have shown for the first time that the specialised role stem cells go on to perform is controlled by primary cilia -- tiny hair-like structures protruding from a cell.

Deep brain stimulation may help with driving for people with Parkinson's disease
Deep brain stimulation may have a beneficial effect on driving ability for people with Parkinson's disease, according to a new study published in the Dec.

Long-acting reversible contraception in the context of full access, full choice
In November 2013 at the International Conference on Family Planning in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the Population Council convened the third meeting of international experts to discuss ways to expand contraceptive choice and accelerate progress toward the Millennium Development Goal of universal access to reproductive health services by increasing access to highly effective, long-acting, reversible contraceptives.

Final James Webb Space Telescope mirrors arrive at NASA
The final three of 18 primary mirrors for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope arrived at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., for integration prior to a scheduled launch in 2018.

New anti-HIV drug target identified by University of Minnesota researchers
University of Minnesota researchers have discovered a first-of-its-kind series of compounds possessing anti-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) activity.

NASA catches Tropical Cyclone Amara's stretched out eye
Tropical Cyclone Amara's eye appeared elongated on satellite imagery from NASA on Dec.

Oil- and metal-munching microbes dominate deep sandstone formations
Halomonas are a hardy breed of bacteria. They can withstand heat, high salinity, low oxygen, utter darkness and pressures that would kill most other organisms.

Study finds Catalina Island Conservancy contraception program effectively manages bison population
A new study by the Catalina Island Conservancy scientists, published in the December supplement of the Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine, reports that the Conservancy's contraception program proved effective in managing the herd's numbers.

Marijuana consumption in Washington state is higher than previously estimated, study finds
Estimating the market for marijuana use is important as the states of Colorado and Washington prepare to regulate the sale of the drug for recreational use.

Coping with stress in a changing world
Stress surrounds us all the time and as climate change accelerates, many species will by pushed to and even beyond their limits.

Moa or less: Extinct 'robust' birds of New Zealand might not have been so robust after all
The leg bones of one of the tallest birds that ever existed were actually rather like those of its modern (but distant) relatives, such as ostrich, emu and rhea, the studypublished in PLOS One today (18 December) shows.

Going against the flow: Halting atherosclerosis by targeting micro RNA
Researchers at Emory and Georgia Tech have developed a potential treatment for atherosclerosis that targets a master controller of the process.

Preferable treatment for MS found in allogenic bone marrow stem cells
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is caused by an immune reaction to myelin proteins that form the myelin insulating substance around nerves, resulting in demyelination. 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