Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

April 24, 2014
Solving the mystery of a superluminous supernova
Scientists have explained why an exceptionally bright supernova reported in 2013 was so luminous; it is because a lens in the sky amplified its light.

Amazon rainforest survey could improve carbon offset schemes
Carbon offsetting initiatives could be improved with new insights into the make-up of tropical forests, a study suggests.

HHS leaders call for expanded use of medications to combat opioid overdose epidemic
A national response to the epidemic of prescription opioid overdose deaths was outlined yesterday in the New England Journal of Medicine by leaders of agencies in the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Study reaffirms soy-dairy protein blend increases muscle mass
A new study published online in the Journal of Applied Physiology shows additional benefits of consuming a blend of soy and dairy proteins after resistance exercise for building muscle mass.

Study: Altruistic adolescents less likely to become depressed
It is better to give than to receive -- at least if you're an adolescent and you enjoy giving, a new study suggests.

Autism Genome Project delivers genetic discovery
A new study from investigators with the Autism Genome Project, the world's largest research project on identifying genes associated with risk for autism, has found that the comprehensive use of copy number variant genetic testing offers an important tool in individualized diagnosis and treatment of autism.

Study suggests targeting B cells may help with MS
A new study suggests that targeting B cells, which are a type of white blood cell in the immune system, may be associated with reduced disease activity for people with multiple sclerosis.

Increasing daily coffee consumption may reduce type 2 diabetes risk
People who increased the amount of coffee they drank each day by more than one cup over a four-year period had a 11 percent lower risk for type 2 diabetes than those who made no changes to their coffee consumption, according to a new study led by Harvard School of Public Health researchers.

Protecting olive oil from counterfeiters
Who guarantees that expensive olive oil isn't counterfeit or adulterated?

'Horsing around' reduces stress hormones in youth
New research from Washington State University reveals how youth who work with horses experience a substantial reduction in stress -- and the evidence lies in kids' saliva.

ESA to publish the Journal of Insect Science
The Entomological Society of America is very pleased to announce that it has assumed ownership of the Journal of Insect Science from the University of Wisconsin.

Researchers discover new genetic brain disorder in humans
A newly identified genetic disorder associated with degeneration of the central and peripheral nervous systems in humans, along with the genetic cause, is reported in the April 24, 2014, issue of Cell.

The blood preserved in the pumpkin did not belong to Louis XVI
The results of an international study, which counted on the participation of the Spanish National Research Council, indicate that the DNA recovered from the inside of a pumpkin, attributed so far to the French King Louis XVI, does not actually belong to the monarch, guillotined in 1793.

Controlling brain waves to improve vision
Researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois are using a novel technique to test brain waves to see how the brain processes external stimuli that do and don't reach our awareness.

Study finds accelerated soil carbon loss, increasing the rate of climate change
Research published in Science found that increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere cause soil microbes to produce more carbon dioxide, accelerating climate change.

Many patients who could benefit from home dialysis are receiving care in dialysis centers
In Australia, kidney failure patients from the most advantaged areas were less likely to use home dialysis and more likely to use in-center hemodialysis than patients from the most disadvantaged areas.

Paying closer attention to attention
Researchers from McGill have suggested that there may be an overreporting of attention problems in children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, simply because parents and teachers are using a misplaced basis for comparison.

Droplet lens
Australian scientists have invented a simple and cheap way of making a high-powered lens that can transform a smart phone into a high-resolution microscope.

Researchers pinpoint protein crucial for development of biological rhythms in mice
Johns Hopkins researchers report that they have identified a protein essential to the formation of the tiny brain region in mice that coordinates sleep-wake cycles and other so-called circadian rhythms.

Computer program could help solve arson cases
Sifting through the chemical clues left behind by arson is delicate, time-consuming work, but University of Alberta researchers teaming with RCMP scientists in Canada, have found a way to speed the process.

GEN Publishing introduces 'Clinical OMICs' digital publication
GEN Publishing recently introduced 'Clinical OMICs,' a semi-monthly digital publication focusing on the application of OMICs technologies in clinical settings.

Princeton doctoral candidate selected as William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellow
The American Geosciences Institute would like to congratulate Princeton Ph.D.

New type of protein action found to regulate development
Johns Hopkins researchers report they have figured out how the aptly named protein Botch blocks the signaling protein called Notch, which helps regulate development.

New approach for surgery patients cuts hospital stays and costs
Changes in managing patients before, during and after colorectal surgery cut hospital stays by two days and reduced readmission rates, according to researchers who led a study of the approach at Duke University Hospital.

Pregnancy complications may be more common in immigrants from certain regions
Pregnant immigrants from Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Caribbean islands may require increased monitoring during pregnancy, according to new research from St.

Low-dose natural antimicrobial exacerbates chronic lung infection in cystic fibrosis
Respiratory failure caused by chronic lung infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria is a common cause of death in patients with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that is common in individuals of European descent.

Georgia State researcher gets $2.83 million grant to develop drugs for RSV infection
Dr. Richard Plemper, a professor in the new Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State University, has received a five-year, $2.83 million federal grant to develop novel therapeutics against respiratory syncytial virus infection.

JCI online ahead of print table of contents for April 24, 2014
This release contains summaries, links to PDFs, and contact information for the following newsworthy papers published online, April 24, 2014, in the JCI: 'Ex vivo expansion of hematopoietic stem cells from cord blood,' 'Receptors in the brain mediate the weight loss effects of GLP1 agonists,' 'Peripheral nervous system plasmalogens regulate Schwann cell differentiation and myelination,' 'Estrogen promotes Leydig cell engulfment by macrophages in male infertility,' and more.

Take the bat, leave the candy
'Take me out to the ballgame' doesn't exactly conjure up images of apple slices and kale chips.

Animals with bigger brains, broader diets have better self control
A new study representing the largest study of animal intelligence to-date finds that animals with bigger brains and broader diets have better self-control.

New study helps to explain why breast cancer often spreads to the lung
New research led by Alison Allan, Ph.D., a scientist at Western University and the Lawson Health Research Institute, shows why breast cancer often spreads or metastasizes to the lung.

Scientists reprogram blood cells into blood stem cells in mice
Researchers have reprogrammed mature blood cells from mice into blood-forming hematopoietic stem cells, using a cocktail of eight genetic switches called transcription factors.

International collaboration unravels novel mechanism for neurological disorder
A team of international scientists led by Baylor College of Medicine has discovered a novel gene (CLP1) associated with a neurological disorder affecting both the peripheral and central nervous systems.

Genomic diversity and admixture differs for Stone-Age Scandinavian foragers and farmers
An international team led by researchers at Uppsala University and Stockholm University reports a breakthrough on understanding the demographic history of Stone-Age humans.

Study supports safety of antimicrobial peptide-coated contact lenses
Contact lenses coated with an antimicrobial peptide could help to lower the risk of contact lens-related infections, reports a study in Optometry and Vision Science, official journal of the American Academy of Optometry.

Untangling Brazil's controversial new forest code
Brazil's new Forest Code has few admirers. A study, co-authored by Woods Hole Research Center scientists Michael Coe, Marcia Macedo and Brazilian colleagues, published this week in Science, seeks to clarify the new law.

Pilot study suggests ways to widen access to fecal transplants for C. diff infections
Using frozen stool from healthy, unrelated donors was safe and effective in treating patients with serious, relapsing diarrhea caused by Clostridium difficile, according to a new pilot study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases and available online.

Some corals adjusting to rising ocean temperatures, Stanford researchers say
Research led by Stanford scientist Steve Palumbi reveals how some corals can quickly switch on or off certain genes in order to survive in warmer-than-average tidal waters.

Moffitt Cancer Center's phase 3 study may be game-changer for acute myeloid leukemia
Moffitt Cancer Center researchers say clinical trials for a new experimental drug to treat acute myeloid leukemia are very promising.

New ultrasound device may add in detecting risk for heart attack, stroke
Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have developed a new ultrasound device that could help identify arterial plaque that is at high risk of breaking off and causing heart attack or stroke.

Nitrogen pollution, climate and land use: Why what we eat matters
A new report quantifies for the first time how much our food choices affect pollutant nitrogen emissions, climate change and land-use across Europe.

Genetic alterations in shared biological pathways as major risk factor for ASD
A substantial proportion of risk for developing autism spectrum disorders, resides in genes that are part of specific, interconnected biological pathways, according to researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, who conducted a broad study of almost 2,500 families in the United States and throughout the world.

Oldest pterodactyloid species discovered, named by international team of researchers
An international research team, including a George Washington University professor, has discovered and named the earliest and most primitive pterodactyloid -- a group of flying reptiles that would go on to become the largest known flying creatures to have ever existed -- and established they flew above the earth some 163 million years ago, longer than previously known.

Toshiba Research Europe, BT, NPL and ADVA explore 'quantum leap' in encryption technology
Toshiba Research Europe, BT, ADVA Optical Networking and the National Physical Laboratory, the UK's National Measurement Institute, today announced the first successful trial of Quantum Key Distribution technology over a live 'lit' fiber network.

Researchers trace HIV adaptation to its human host
'Much research has focused on how HIV adapts to antiviral drugs -- we wanted to investigate how HIV adapts to us, its human host, over time,' says lead author Zabrina Brumme from Simon Fraser University.

Scripps Research Institute scientists find new point of attack on HIV for vaccine development
A team led by scientists at The Scripps Research Institute working with the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative has discovered a new vulnerable site on the HIV virus.

Muscle mass linked with physical function and quality of life in dialysis patients
Dialysis patients with higher BMI, waist circumference, and abdominal fat measures had poorer scores on a 6-minute walking test.

Astronomical forensics uncover planetary disks in NASA's Hubble archive
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have applied a new image processing technique to obtain near-infrared scattered light photos of five disks observed around young stars in the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes database.

Researchers discover new genetic brain disorder in humans
A newly identified disorder affecting the human nervous system is caused by a mutation in a gene never before implicated in human disease.

Fruit fly study identifies brain circuit that drives daily cycles of rest, activity
Researchers describe a circuit in the brain of fruit flies that controls their daily, rhythmic behavior of rest and activity.

Breakthrough harnesses light for controlled chemical reaction
One catalyst supplies electrons, other one controls position of raw material.

Three-banded panther worm debuts as a new model in the study of regeneration
The lab of Whitehead Institute Member Peter Reddien is introducing the scientific community to the three-banded panther worm (Hofstenia miamia), a small organism with the ability to regenerate any missing body part.

Microscopic organism plays a big role in ocean carbon cycling, Scripps scientists discover
Scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego have taken a leap forward in understanding the microscopic underpinnings of the ocean carbon cycle by pinpointing a bacterium that appears to play a dominant role in carbon consumption.

Plants send out signals attracting harmful bacteria, MU study finds
When bacteria attack plants, they often inject harmful proteins into the host plants' cells to weaken and suppress natural defenses.

A scourge of rural Africa, the tsetse fly is genetically deciphered
An international team of researchers led by the Yale School of Public Health has successfully sequenced the genetic code of the tsetse fly, opening the door to scientific breakthroughs that could reduce or end the scourge of African sleeping sickness in sub-Saharan Africa.

Inaugural Brain Health Summit focuses on brain resilience and regeneration
On April 28, the Center for BrainHealth will bring together national experts to discuss solutions to our most pressing brain-related challenges at its inaugural Brain Health Summit, titled 'The Human Brain: Resilience and Regeneration.' Summit participants will garner insights to important initiatives designed to improve our nation's brain health through research, education and implementation programs to improve brain performance.

New guidelines aim to improve care for babies with heart problems in the womb
Heart experts have developed the first scientific statement on detecting, managing and treating heart abnormalities in the womb.

Genetic legacy of rare dwarf trees is widespread
Researchers from Queen Mary University of London have found genetic evidence that one of Britain's native tree species, the dwarf birch found in the Scottish Highlands, was once common in England.

Motor skill deficiencies linked to autism severity in new research
An Oregon State University researcher has found a relationship between motor skill deficiencies and the severity of the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder in very young children.

Small business owners not always worried about being treated fairly, researcher finds
Fairness is not always the most important priority for small retailers.

Take notes by hand for better long-term comprehension
Dust off those Bic ballpoints and college-ruled notebooks -- research shows that taking notes by hand is better than taking notes on a laptop for remembering conceptual information over the long term.

Two new US turtle species described
The alligator snapping turtle is the largest river turtle in North America, weighing in at up to 200 pounds and living almost a century.

Cosmic illusion revealed
A team of researchers led by Robert Quimby at the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe has announced the discovery of a galaxy that magnified a background, Type Ia supernova thirty-fold through gravitational lensing.

Surprising new insights into the PTEN tumor suppressor gene
Ever since it was first identified more than 15 years ago, the PTEN gene has been known to play an integral role in preventing the onset and progression of numerous cancers.

Scientists find way to target cells resistant to chemo
Scientists from The University of Manchester have identified a way to sensitize cancer cells to chemotherapy -- making them more open to treatment.

Cell resiliency surprises scientists
New research shows that cells are more resilient in taking care of their DNA than scientists originally thought.

Channel makeover bioengineered to switch off neurons
Scientists have bioengineered an enhancement to a cutting edge technology that provides instant control over brain circuit activity with a flash of light.

How productive are the ore factories in the deep sea?
Hydrothermal vents in the deep sea, the so-called 'black smokers,' are fascinating geological formations.

Genome yields insights into golden eagle vision, smell
Purdue and West Virginia University researchers are the first to sequence the genome of the golden eagle, providing a bird's-eye view of eagle features that could lead to more effective conservation strategies.

'Double-duty' electrolyte enables new chemistry for longer-lived batteries
Researchers have developed a new and unconventional battery chemistry aimed at producing batteries that last longer than previously thought possible.

How a plant beckons the bacteria that will do it harm
A common plant puts out a welcome mat to bacteria seeking to invade, and scientists have discovered the mat's molecular mix.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity
Many subpopulations of a microbial species coexist in each drop of seawater.

Taking a walk may lead to more creativity than sitting, study finds
When the task at hand requires some imagination, taking a walk may lead to more creative thinking than sitting, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

UH art professor Abinadi Meza receives prestigious Rome Prize
Soon, University of Houston School of Art professor Abinadi Meza will be immersed in Rome's landscapes and culture.

Increasing consumption of coffee is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes
New research published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, shows that increasing coffee consumption by on average one and half cups per day over a four-year period reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 11 percent.

Stanford team makes switching off cells with light as easy as switching them on
In 2005, a Stanford University scientist discovered how to switch brain cells on or off with light pulses by using special proteins from microbes to pass electrical current into neurons.

New high-detail atlas offers tool to explore local environment and health
Researchers have launched a detailed atlas with environment and health maps at a fine scale across England and Wales.

Palliation is rarely a topic in studies on advanced cancer
Randomized controlled trials only rarely consider end-of-life aspects and often fail to name superordinate patient-relevant treatment goals.

LSUHSC awarded NSF grant for summer research experience for underrepresented undergrads
The National Science Foundation has awarded LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans a Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site grant in the amount of $295,635.

Store doping samples for 10 years to stop sports cheats, say anti-doping bodies
Blood and urine samples taken from athletes to spot signs of doping should be stored for 10 years, to enable technology to catch up with substances that currently evade detection, says a consensus statement of international anti-doping bodies, published in a special issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Large-scale identification and analysis of suppressive drug interactions
Cell analysis finds drug interactions to be startlingly common: baker's yeast is giving scientists a better understanding of drug interactions, which are a major cause of illness and hospitalization worldwide.

Using antineutrinos to monitor nuclear reactors
When monitoring nuclear reactors, the International Atomic Energy Agency has to rely on input given by the operators.

Skin layer grown from human stem cells could replace animals in drug and cosmetics testing
An international team led by King's College London and the San Francisco Veteran Affairs Medical Center has developed the first lab-grown epidermis -- the outermost skin layer -- with a functional permeability barrier akin to real skin.

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled
A decade-long effort by members of the International Glossina Genome Initiative has produced the first complete genome sequence of the tsetse fly, Glossina morsitans.

Engineered E. coli produces high levels of D-ribose as described in Industrial Biotechnology journal
D-ribose is a commercially important sugar used as a sweetener, a nutritional supplement, and as a starting compound for synthesizing riboflavin and several antiviral drugs.

UCL and HR Wallingford collaborate to construct Europe's largest tsunami simulator
UCL and HR Wallingford, the specialist hydraulic research and consultancy, are collaborating to construct the largest tsunami simulator in Europe, to better understand the impact of these devastating natural phenomena on buildings and coastal defenses.

What makes psychotic teens more at risk for suicide than other groups with psychosis?
Jane Timmons-Mitchell, Ph.D., from Case Western Reserve University's social work school, and Tatiana Falcone, M.D., from the Cleveland Clinic, reviewed studies of teenagers with psychosis to better understand why they are more at risk for suicide than other groups similarly diagnosed.

Finnish team of researchers finds a mutation in a tumor of the jaw
A Finnish team of researchers was the first in the world to discover a gene mutation in ameloblastoma, which is a tumor of the jaw.

Viral infections: Identifying the tell-tale patterns
Researchers at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich have identified the structural features that enable the innate immune system to discriminate between viral and endogenous RNAs in living cells.

Dartmouth awarded lead role in NCI clinical trials network
Dartmouth will serve as a Lead Academic Participating Site in the National Cancer Institute's new National Clinical Trials Network, designed to improve speed and efficiency of cancer clinical trials.

The Ancient Maya and virtual worlds: Different perspectives on material meanings
A UC researcher explores the Maya perspective on the material world and begins to uncover parallels with today's online culture.

Parents of severely ill children see benefits as caregivers, says study
Benefits often coexist with the negative and stressful outcomes for parents who have a child born with or later diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, says a recent study led by a researcher at the University of Waterloo.

Vanderbilt study finds physical signs of depression common among ICU survivors
Depression affects more than one out of three survivors of critical illness, according to a Vanderbilt study released in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, and the majority of patients experience their symptoms physically rather than mentally.

You may have billions and billions of good reasons for being unfit
Although our chromosomes are relatively stable within our lifetimes, the genetic material found in our mitochondria is highly variable across individuals and may impact upon human health, say researchers at the University of Montreal and its affiliated Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Sainte-Justine Hospital.

Boring cells could hold the key to heart disease
Fibroblasts, cells long thought to be boring and irrelevant, could offer an alternative to heart transplants for patients with heart disease.

Treatment for deadly yeast disease reduced to 3 days
Initial treatment for a brain infection caused by fungus could now be treated in three days, rather than two weeks, due to study by University of Liverpool scientists.

Breast cancer replicates brain development process
New research led by a scientist at the University of York reveals that a process that forms a key element in the development of the nervous system may also play a pivotal role in the spread of breast cancer.

Oops! Researchers find neural signature for mistake correction
Culminating an eight year search, scientists at the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics captured an elusive brain signal underlying memory transfer and, in doing so, pinpointed the first neural circuit for 'oops' ? the precise moment when one becomes consciously aware of a self-made mistake and takes corrective action.

Researchers build new 'off switch' to shut down neural activity
Optogenetics ushered in the development of channelrhodopsins, light-activated ion channels that can turn on neurons in which they're genetically expressed.

Novel therapeutic agent for Tamiflu-resistant pH1N1 influenza virus discovered
Researchers at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland FIMM, University of Helsinki, with their collaborators have shown that first Tamiflu resistant pandemic influenza pH1N1 viruses have emerged in Finland.

Report: Top 12 ways the world can eliminate agriculture's climate footprint
Annual carbon emissions from global agriculture can be reduced by as much as 50 to 90 percent by 2030 -- the equivalent of removing all the cars in the world -- according to a comprehensive new report released by Climate Focus and California Environmental Associates.

Kessler Foundation scientist named 63rd Mendel Lecturer by St. Peter's University
Nancy Chiaravalloti, Ph.D., of Kessler Foundation was named the 63rd Mendel Lecturer by Saint Peter's University in Jersey City, N.J.

Children living with a lone parent are as happy as those with 2
Children living with a step-parent or a lone parent are as happy as those living with two biological parents.

To mark territory or not to mark territory: Breaking the pheromone code
A team led by scientists at the Scripps Research Institute has deciphered the surprisingly versatile code by which chemical cues help trigger some of the most basic behaviors in mice.

Measles commentary in Annals of Internal Medicine
A commentary will be published early online in Annals of Internal Medicine.

Oxygen diminishes the heart's ability to regenerate, researchers discover
Scientific research at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center previously discovered that the newborn animal heart can heal itself completely, whereas the adult heart lacks this ability.

Bake your own droplet lens
Researchers have created a new type of lens that costs less than a penny to make, and can be used in a 3-D printed attachment that turns a Smartphone into a dermascope, a tool to diagnose skin diseases like melanoma.

Genetic legacy from the Ottoman Empire: Single mutation causes rare brain disorder
An international team of researchers have identified a previously unknown neurodegenerative disorder and discovered it is caused by a single mutation in one individual born during the Ottoman Empire in Turkey about 16 generations ago.

Wyss Institute researcher elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Joanna Aizenberg, Ph.D., a Core Faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a prestigious honor society and a leading center for independent policy research.

Interactive training halves malaria overdiagnosis and prevents wastage of drugs
New research published on World Malaria Day finds that interactive training programs for health workers could halve the overdiagnosis of malaria and prevent wastage of valuable drugs.

Researchers create comprehensive map of human B cell development
A Columbia and Stanford team describes a new method for mapping cellular development at the single cell level.

Tsetse fly genome reveals weaknesses
Mining the genome of the tsetse fly, which transmits sleeping sickness, researchers have revealed weaknesses in its unique biology that they hope will help to eradicate this deadly disease.

Use of frozen material for fecal transplant successfully treats C. difficile infection
A pilot study by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators may lead to greater availability and acceptability of an unusual treatment for a serious medical problem -- use of fecal material from healthy donors to treat recurrent diarrhea caused by the Clostridium difficile bacteria.

When things get glassy, molecules go fractal
School children learn the difference between liquids and gases, but centuries of scholarship have failed to produce consensus about how to categorize glass. 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