Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

March 26, 2014
Brain degeneration in Huntington's disease caused by amino acid deficiency
Working with genetically engineered mice, Johns Hopkins neuroscientists report they have identified what they believe is the cause of the vast disintegration of a part of the brain called the corpus striatum in rodents and people with Huntington's disease: loss of the ability to make the amino acid cysteine.

Using PET scanning to evaluate therapies of Menkes disease
Scientists at the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies have used PET imaging to visualize the distribution in the body of copper, which is deregulated in Menkes disease, a genetic disorder, using a mouse model.

Patches of cortical layers disrupted during early brain development in autism
Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and the Allen Institute for Brain Science have published a study that gives clear and direct new evidence that autism begins during pregnancy.

How size splits cells
Contrary to previous findings suggesting a protein measures cell length, a different protein is found to measure the cell's surface area.

Study finds secret to cutting sugary drink use by teens
A new study shows that teenagers can be persuaded to cut back on sugary soft drinks -- especially with a little help from their friends.

CASIS-sponsored research heads to space station aboard SpaceX-3
The final investigations of the Advancing Research Knowledge 1 series of research payloads will launch to the space station with the SpaceX-3 mission, joining the initial portion of the suite that launched aboard Orbital 1.

UT Dallas study: No correlation between medical marijuana legalization, crime increase
UT Dallas professor of criminology Dr. Robert Morris found that legalization of medical marijuana is not an indicator of increased crime.

Where do you start when developing a new medicine?
A pioneering public-private research initiative between GSK, the European Bioinformatics Institute and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute is to harness the power of 'big data' and genome sequencing to improve the success rate for discovering new medicines.

Rice U. study: Don't shop for travel at work
It is probably not a good idea to shop for leisure travel from the office during business hours, according to a new study from Rice University and Iowa State University.

Sunday driver gene headed the wrong way in inherited muscle diseases
Skeletal muscle cells with unevenly spaced nuclei, or nuclei in the wrong location, are telltale signs of inherited muscle diseases.

3-D MRI scans may offer better way to predict survival after chemo for liver tumors
In a series of studies involving 140 American men and women with liver tumors, researchers at Johns Hopkins have used specialized 3-D MRI scans to precisely measure living and dying tumor tissue to quickly show whether highly toxic chemotherapy -- delivered directly through a tumor's blood supply -- is working.

ATHENA desktop human 'body' could reduce need for animal drug tests
Creating surrogate human organs, coupled with insights from highly sensitive mass spectrometry technologies, a new project is on the brink of revolutionizing the way we screen new drugs and toxic agents.

Planning and building products and production plants simultaneously
Fraunhofer researchers have developed and built new production plants in record time for the specialty chemicals company LANXESS and many other companies.

Dark energy hides behind phantom fields
Quintessence and phantom fields, two hypotheses formulated using data from satellites, such as Planck and WMAP, are among the many theories that try to explain the nature of dark energy.

Female fly genomes also populated with de novo genes derived from ancestral sequences
A presentation at Genetics Society of America's Drosophila Research Conference builds the case that de novo genes derived from ancestral non-coding DNA can spread through a species.

First ring system around asteroid
Observations at many sites in South America have made the discovery that the asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings.

Dying cells in fruit fly alert neighboring cells to protect themselves
Dying Drosophila larvae cells alert neighboring cells that they are in danger of suffering a similar fate, scientists will report at the Genetics Society of America Drosophila Research Conference.

Immunotherapy approach to Alzheimer's studied in fly models
At Genetics Society of America's Drosophila Research Conference, scientists will report on results of using fly models to investigate passive immunotherapy to block amyloid-β42 peptides of amyloid plaques that damage the brain cells of patients with Alzheimer's.

Is Lady Gaga as radical as she seems?
Was Lady Gaga ever as radical as she seemed? Not quite, according to new research from Concordia University and the University of Ottawa.

Paracetamol poisoning treatment guidelines costing NHS millions
Strict guidelines for treating paracetamol overdoses -- introduced 18 months ago -- are costing the NHS millions of pounds a year, University of Edinburgh researchers claim.

Researchers identify protein that helps control common viral infection
Infectious disease specialists at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center have identified a protein that regulates the body's immune response to cytomegalovirus, a common pathogen that causes lifelong infections and can lead to devastating illness in newborns and those with weakened immune systems.

Research: Less invasive technique possible in vulvar cancer treatment
A team of researchers from Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island commanded a national stage to present the results of a study evaluating the use of sentinel lymph node dissection in women with vulvar malignancies, and then follow the patients for complications and recurrence.

The altruistic side of aggressive greed
In many group-living species, high-rank individuals bully their group-mates to get what they want, but their contribution is key to success in conflict with other groups, according to a study that sheds new light on the evolutionary roots of cooperation and group conflict.

Change the Course to restore 1 billion gallons of water to Colorado River Delta
Change the Course, a freshwater restoration movement, will restore 1 billion gallons of water to the Colorado River Delta to support the revitalization of wetland habitats in what was once one of the planet's great desert aquatic ecosystems.

New septic shock biomarker test could boost better interventions
Septic shock is a severe systemic infection and major cause of death for old and young alike.

New $1.5 million grant boosts local efforts to save lives of moms and babies during childbirth
A Vancouver-led research initiative to prevent deaths of moms and babies got a boost recently with a new $1.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bamboo-loving giant pandas also have a sweet tooth
Despite the popular conception of giant pandas as continually chomping on bamboo to fulfill a voracious appetite for this reedy grass, new research from the Monell Center reveals that this highly endangered species also has a sweet tooth.

Miriam Hospital ICU receives Silver Beacon Award for exceptional care
The Intensive Care Unit at the Miriam Hospital has attained a silver-level Beacon Award for Excellence from The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses.

Smartphone app helps support recovery after treatment for alcoholism
A smartphone application appears to help patients with alcohol use disorder reduce risky drinking days compared to patients who received usual care after leaving treatment in a residential program.

Scientists track 3-D nanoscale changes in rechargeable battery material during operation
Scientists at Brookhaven Lab have made the first 3-D observations of how the structure of a lithium-ion battery anode evolves at the nanoscale in a real battery cell as it discharges and recharges.

Research produces strong evidence for a new class of antidepressant drugs
Scientists have shown for the first time that a chemical in the brain called galanin is involved in the risk of developing depression.

Canal between ears helps alligators pinpoint sound
Alligators can accurately pinpoint the source of sounds. But it wasn't clear exactly how they did it because they lack external auditory structures.

Phloem production in Huanglongbing-affected citrus trees
Researchers monitored the progression of phloem production over time in field-grown HLB-affected citrus trees to determine how the trees are capable of sustaining new growth.

UT Southwestern cancer biologists link tumor suppressor gene to stem cells
Just as archeologists try to decipher ancient tablets to discern their meaning, UT Southwestern Medical Center cancer biologists are working to decode the purpose of an ancient gene considered one of the most important in cancer research.

Disorganized cortical patches suggest prenatal origin of autism
The architecture of the autistic brain is speckled with patches of abnormal neurons, according to research partially funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, part of the National Institutes of Health.

Keeping secrets in a world of spies and mistrust
An article in Nature reviewing developments in quantum cryptography describes how we can keep our secrets secret even when faced with the double challenge of mistrust and manipulation.

Parental addictions associated with adult children's arthritis
The adult offspring of parents who were addicted to drugs or alcohol are more likely to have arthritis, according to a new study by University of Toronto researchers.

Electroacupuncture at Conception and Governor vessels and hUCB-MSCs for cerebral ischemia
Mesenchymal stem cell transplantation is a novel means of treating cerebral ischemia/reperfusion, and can promote angiogenesis and neurological functional recovery.

First comprehensive atlas of human gene activity released
A large international consortium of researchers has produced the first comprehensive, detailed map of the way genes work across the major cells and tissues of the human body.

Gut metabolism changes -- not stomach size -- linked to success of vertical sleeve gastrectomy
It's not the size of the stomach that causes weight loss after a specific type of bariatric surgery, but rather a change in the gut metabolism, say researchers from the University of Cincinnati, the University of Gothenburg in Sweden and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

History is made with first small LVAD implant for young muscular dystrophy patient
'Today, we're going to make history,' said 18-year-old Eric Ramos on the day UT Southwestern Medical Center doctors operated on his ailing heart.

Lack of coronin 1 protein causes learning deficits and aggressive behavior
Learning and memory rely on the proper processing of signals that stimulate neuronal cells within the brain.

NHS data on patient experience is often ignored
The NHS has been collecting data on patients' experience of care for over 10 years but the information is often ignored.

Dentist shortage bites California as more choose to practice out of state
A lingering recession, the elimination of Medicaid dental reimbursements and a glut of established dentists in wealthier, populated areas may be why more new dentists are practicing outside California, according to a new policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

New Capsicum annuum pepper contains high concentrations of beneficial capsinoids
Germplasm release 509-45-1 is a small-fruited Capsicum annuum L. pepper released in 2013 by the Agricultural Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.

New drug successfully treats crizotinib-resistant, ALK-positive lung cancer
Now a new drug called ceritinib appears to be effective against advanced ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer, both in tumors that have become resistant to crizotinib and in those never treated with the older drug.

Preoperative PET cuts unnecessary lung surgeries in half
A comprehensive statistical analysis reveals PET changed patient management in 50 percent of lung cancer cases.

Harvard scientists visualize new treatments for retinal blindness
A new report published online in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology may lead the way toward new treatments or a cure for a common cause of blindness -- proliferative retinopathies.

Significant progress toward creating 'benchtop human' reported
Vanderbilt physicist John Wikswo reported significant progress toward creating 'Homo minutus' -- a benchtop human -- on March 26 at the Society of Toxicology meeting in Phoenix.

Economic growth no cure for child undernutrition
A large study of child growth patterns in 36 developing countries finds that, contrary to widely held beliefs, economic growth has little to no effect on the nutritional status of the world's poorest children.

Biological testing tool, ScanDrop, tests in fraction of time and cost of industry standard
Northeastern University professor of pharmaceutical sciences, Tania Konry, has developed a single instrument that can conduct a wide range of biological scans in a fraction of the time and cost of industry standard equipment.

NASA catches Gillian as a super-cyclone before quickly dissipating
Tropical Cyclone Gillian was near peak intensity when the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission or TRMM satellite passed overhead and saw towering thunderstorms and very heavy rainfall in the storm on March 23.

Kif15: The acrobatic motor protein that could pave the way for new cancer therapies
Researchers at Warwick Medical School have shown for the first time how a protein motor, Kif15, uses acrobatic flexibility to navigate within the mitotic spindle.

Prestorage conditioning, diphenylamine improve condition of 'honeycrisp' apple
Experiments with 'honeycrisp' apples investigated susceptibility to controlled-atmosphere injury, determined the influence of O2 and CO2, and evaluated options for avoiding injury during controlled-atmosphere (CA) storage.

Some breast cancer tumors hijack patient epigenetic machinery to evade drug therapy
A breast cancer therapy that blocks estrogen synthesis to activate cancer-killing genes sometimes loses its effectiveness because the cancer takes over epigenetic mechanisms, including permanent DNA modifications in the patient's tumor, once again allowing tumor growth, according to an international team headed by the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Life expectancy gains elude overweight teens
Although people live longer today than they did 50 years ago, people who were overweight and obese as teenagers aren't experiencing the same gains as other segments of the population, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Cell-saving drugs could reduce brain damage after stroke
Long-term brain damage caused by stroke could be reduced by saving cells called pericytes that control blood flow in capillaries, reports a new study led by scientists from University College London.

Gene mutations in flies and humans produce similar epilepsy syndromes
At the Genetics Society of America Drosophila Research Conference, scientists will report new findings that build on and expand their previous discovery that mutations in the 'prickle' gene in Drosophila were responsible for much more than merely altering the bristles on the fly's body to point them in the wrong direction.

Targeting enforcement where needed most in Africa's heart of biodiversity
Scientists seeking a more efficient way of protecting the heart of Africa's wildlife -- the Greater Virunga Landscape -- have developed a method to make the most of limited enforcement resources, according to a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society, the University of Queensland, Imperial College London, and the Uganda Wildlife Authority.

UGA researchers explore function of cancer-causing gene
Developmental biologists at the University of Georgia are discovering new roles for a specific gene known as Max's Giant Associated protein, or MGA.

Humpback whale populations share core skin bacterial community
Humpback whales share a simplistic skin bacterial community across populations.

Stag beetle males give nasty nips despite massive jaws
Stag beetles are equipped with a ferocious pair of mandibles used for battling other males, but the massive jaws should not be able to bite hard because of their length.

Nitrogen source determined significant for inflorescence development in Phalaenopsis
Researchers investigated the accumulation and use of fertilizer nitrogen (N) during the vegetative and reproductive growth stages of Phalaenopsis related to inflorescence development.

Ancient sea creatures filtered food like modern whales
Ancient, giant marine animals used bizarre facial appendages to filter food from the ocean, according to new fossils discovered in northern Greenland.

Obesity crisis in gynecologic cancer
The journal Gynecologic Oncology, the official journal of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, is pleased to announce the launch of a special issue on gynecologic cancer prevention, treatment and survivorship in obese women.

Albert Einstein College of Medicine researchers present at AACR Annual Meeting symposia
From uncovering the role nerve cells play in metastasis to identifying new cancer-causing genes, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University made notable advances in the understanding and potential treatment of cancer during the past year.

Real-life CSI: What can investigators really tell from gunshot residue?
The popular TV series 'CSI' is fiction, but every day, real-life investigators and forensic scientists collect and analyze evidence to determine what happened at crime scenes.

Caffeinated fruit flies help identify potential genes affecting insecticide resistance
To understand genetic mechanisms underlying insecticide resistance, scientists employed fruit flies and caffeine, a stimulant surrogate for xenobiotics in lab studies on resistance.

Gout isn't always easy to prove: CT scans help catch cases traditional test misses
Gout is on the rise among US men and women, and this piercingly painful and most common form of inflammatory arthritis is turning out to be more complicated than had been thought.

Federal science and engineering obligations to universities and colleges dropped by 11 percent in FY
In fiscal year 2011, federal agencies obligated $31.4 billion to 1,134 academic institutions for science and engineering activities, according to a new report from the National Science Foundation's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.

Natural history must reclaim its place
A group of scientists argues in the April BioScience that the study of natural history has waned in recent decades in developed countries.

Researchers present comprehensive 'roadmap' of blood cells
Research published online today in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology, presents an unprecedented look at five unique blood cells in the human body, pinpointing the location of key genetic regulators in these cells and providing a new tool that may help scientists to identify how blood cells form and shed light on the etiology of blood diseases.

Cosmic collision creates mini-planet with rings
Until now, rings of material in a disc have only been observed around giant planets like Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and especially Saturn, which is known for its spectacular rings.

Genetics can explain why infections can trigger rheumatoid arthritis
A new international study has revealed how genetics could explain why different environmental exposures can trigger the onset of different forms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Should whole-genome sequencing become part of newborn screening?
Should whole-genome sequencing be used in the public-health programs that screen newborns for rare conditions?

Crows complete basic 'Aesop's fable' task
New Caledonian crows may understand how to displace water to receive a reward, with the causal understanding level of a 5- to 7-year-old child.

New database features 710,000 natural history records from Canadian Museum of Nature
A new, free open-access database has opened the collections of Canada's national natural history museum, with 710,000 specimen records available at

Coal plant closure in China led to improvements in children's health
Decreased exposure to air pollution in utero is linked with improved childhood developmental and higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a key protein for brain development, according to a study of looking at the closure of coal-burning power plant in China led by researchers at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health at the Mailman School of Public Health.

Health concerns swirl around electronic cigarettes
With sales of electronic cigarettes, or 'e-cigarettes,' on the rise and expected to hit $1.5 billion this year, concerns over potential health risks of using the trendy devices are also gaining momentum and political clout.

Resistance and tolerance mechanisms play role in cancer as well as infections
In addition to demonstrating that cancer kills flies in dose dependent manner, just as bacteria and viruses cause infections in dose dependent manner, scientists established a system for disentangling resistance and tolerance mechanisms to cancer in a Drosophila model.

Cuvier's beaked whales set new breath-hold diving records
Scientists monitored Cuvier's beaked whales' record-breaking dives to depths of nearly two miles below the ocean surface and some dives lasted for over two hours.

Economic growth has little impact on reducing undernutrition in children
A large study of child growth patterns in 36 developing countries published in The Lancet Global Health journal has found that, contrary to widely held beliefs, economic growth is at best associated with very small, and in some cases no declines in levels of stunting, underweight, and wasting.

Patches of cortical layers disrupted during early brain development in autism
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Allen Institute for Brain Science have published a study that gives clear and direct new evidence that autism begins during pregnancy.

Cereal flake size influences calorie intake
People eat more breakfast cereal, by weight, when flake size is reduced, according to Penn State researchers, who showed that when flakes are reduced by crushing, people pour a smaller volume of cereal into their bowls, but still take a greater amount by weight and calories.

Pitt study examines benefits of depression treatment for heart failure patients
Can treating depression in patients with heart failure help them live longer?

Decline of natural history troubling for science, society
Seventeen North American scientists outline the importance of natural science and call for a revitalization of the practice.

Solar System's edge redefined
The Solar System has a new most-distant member, bringing its outer frontier into focus.

Migraine attacks increase following stress 'let-down'
Migraine sufferers who experienced reduced stress from one day to the next are at significantly increased risk of migraine onset on the subsequent day, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the Montefiore Headache Center and Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University.

Scientists solve riddle of celestial archaeology
A decades old space mystery has been solved by an international team of astronomers led by professor Martin Barstow of the University of Leicester and president-elect of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Beer marinade could reduce levels of potentially harmful substances in grilled meats
The smells of summer -- the sweet fragrance of newly opened flowers, the scent of freshly cut grass and the aroma of meats cooking on the backyard grill -- will soon be upon us.

West Virginia chemical spill into Elk River contaminating air and water quality
The complexities and implications of the chemical spill into West Virginia's Elk River keep growing, according to a study led by Virginia Tech professor of civil and environmental engineering Andrea Dietrich.

Diabetes: Good self-management helps to reduce mortality
People with type 2 diabetes who report good self-management behavior have a reduced mortality risk.

An answer to the perennial question: Is it safe to pee in the pool?
Sanitary-minded pool-goers who preach 'no peeing in the pool,' despite ordinary and Olympic swimmers admitting to the practice, now have scientific evidence to back up their concern.

AGU: New study shows major increase in West Antarctic glacial loss
Six massive glaciers in West Antarctica are moving faster than they did 40 years ago, causing more ice to discharge into the ocean and global sea level to rise, according to new research.

EGU 2014 media advisory 3: Full press conference schedule, online registration closing Monday
The schedule of press conferences at the European Geosciences Union meeting, which includes briefings on the Cassini mission and on the latest from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is now available.

BMJ investigation: Public health funds raided to fill holes in local authority budgets
Ring-fenced funds to promote public health are being diverted to wider council services such as social care and housing to plug gaps caused by government cuts, finds a British Medical Journal investigation today.

Resistance is not futile
Researchers with the Joint BioEnergy Institute have identified the genetic origins of a microbial resistance to ionic liquids and successfully introduced this resistance into a strain of E. coli bacteria for the production of advanced biofuels.

Reproducible research, dynamic documents, and push-button publishing
GigaScience, a BGI and BioMed Central journal, announces a major step forward for reproducible research and public data-sharing in the neurosciences with the publication of a huge cache of electrophysiology data important for retinal activity analyses.

Study identifies key player in motor neuron death in Lou Gehrig's disease
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is marked by a cascade of cellular and inflammatory events that weakens and kills vital motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord.

Natural plant compounds may assist chemotherapy
Researchers at Plant & Food Research have identified plant compounds present in carrots and parsley that may one day support more effective delivery of chemotherapy treatments.

Eat a peach
A Washington State University food scientist and colleagues at Texas A&M have found that compounds in peaches can inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells and their ability to spread.

Distinguished researcher to speak at NJIT on preventing bone loss
Preventing bone deterioration is a critical aspect of combating osteoporosis, improving bone implants, and even making long-term space flight possible, such as voyages to Mars and beyond.

Certain genetic variants may put bladder cancer patients at increased risk of recurrence
In the Western world, bladder cancer is the fourth most common cancer in men and the eighth most common in women, with many patients experiencing recurrence after treatment.

Immunotherapy data heralds new era of lung cancer treatment
A new era of lung cancer therapy is close to dawning, using drugs that can prevent tumor cells from evading the immune system, experts say at the 4th European Lung Cancer Congress.

Study shows invasive species in waterways on rise due to climate change
One of the most serious threats to global biodiversity and the leisure and tourism industries is set to increase with climate change according to new research by Queen's University Belfast.

Lawrence Livermore scientists discover bacterial resistance to improve biofuel production
New research by scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in conjunction with the Joint BioEnergy Institute suggests that a type of bacterial resistance may provide more efficient production of biofuels.

Sex chromosomes have reverted to autosomes multiple times in flies
At the GSA Drosophila Research Conference, scientists will present evidence of many reversals of sex chromosome to autosomes in flies.

New maps for navigating the genome unveiled by scientists
An international team of scientists has built the clearest picture yet of how our genetic material is regulated in order to make the human body work.

Penn Dental Medicine-NIH team reverses bone loss in immune disorder
Patients with leukocyte adhesion deficiency, or LAD, suffer from frequent bacterial infections, including the severe gum disease known as periodontitis.

Engineered bacteria produce biofuel alternative for high-energy rocket fuel
Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Joint BioEnergy Institute have engineered a bacterium to synthesize pinene, a hydrocarbon produced by trees that could potentially replace high-energy fuels, such as JP-10, in missiles and other aerospace applications.

Scientists identify core skin bacterial community in humpback whales
In a paper published in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and colleagues identified a core skin bacterial community that humpback whales share across populations, which could point to a way to assess the overall health of these endangered marine mammals.

Sugary drinks weigh heavily on teenage obesity
New research shows sugary drinks are the worst offenders in the fight against youth obesity and recommends that B.C. schools fully implement healthy eating guidelines to reduce their consumption.

Repeat sternotomy for aortic valve replacement safe option for octogenarian patients
Surgical aortic valve replacement generally improves patients' symptoms and prolongs survival. 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