Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (November 2004)

Science news and science current events archive November, 2004.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from November 2004

TRMM satellite proves El Nino holds the reins on global rains
NASA scientists recently found the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the main driver of the change in rain patterns all around the world.

Burning anxiety: New treatment targets smokers with panic disorder
The 2.4 million Americans who have panic disorders not only smoke at a disproportionately high rate--about 40 percent vs. 24 percent of the general population--they also have a harder time quitting and relapse more often. Another 5 percent of American smokers may develop panic-related symptoms or even panic disorder when they try to quit. New treatments at the University of Vermont offer hope.

Can poor countries help rich countries contain drug costs?
Rich countries could follow the lead of poor countries and adopt a more systematic way of selecting medicines for reimbursement, according to a paper in this week's BMJ.

Taking a number of medications regularly could give you a serious headache
The frequent use of headache medications to make the pain of a headache disappear could trigger chronic daily headache (CDH), according to recent commentary appearing in Headache Currents.

Geological demolition derby
The spectacular rift valleys of the Tibetan plateau don't run north-south as previously thought, according to new research. The rift valleys actually curve away -- some to the east, some to the west -- from the point where India is punching into the gut of Tibet.

ESA at the world's largest medical exhibition
At MEDICA 2004, the medical trade fair taking place in Düsseldorf, Germany, from 24-27 November 2004, the European Space Agency will introduce highly progressive methods in space medicine and their application on Earth.

UC Santa Barbara researchers discover living nanoscale 'necklace'
In an interdisciplinary endeavor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a team of researchers in physics and biology have made a discovery at the nanoscale level that could be instrumental in the production of miniaturized materials with many applications. Dubbed a

Following heart care guidelines saves lives
The closer hospitals adhere to national guidelines for treating potential heart attack patients, the greater the decline in their mortality rates, according to a analysis of treatment patterns at 315 U.S. hospitals by Duke Clinical Research Institute researchers.

Antidepressants may increase risk of abnormal bleeding
New users of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs, a type of antidepressant) have an increased risk of being admitted to the hospital for abnormal bleeding, according to an article in the November 22 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Study may lead to new means of increasing effectiveness of existing cancer treatments
Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have discovered a new mechanism of activation of a pathway known to be implicated in many cancers. Additionally, the researchers found that when this mechanism is blocked cells may become more sensitive to radiation and chemotherapeutic agents, thus making them easier to destroy. The research was published in the November issue of Cancer Cell.

As obesity increases in people with diabetes, so does risk of cardiovascular disease
As weight goes up among people with diabetes, so does risk for developing cardiovascular diseases, according to a national study of people with diabetes.

Model predicting colorectal cancer screening suggests higher mortality for virtual colonoscopy
A model predicting complications for colorectal screening options found a greater risk of cancer deaths and procedure-related deaths in virtual colonoscopy as compared to traditional colonoscopy.

Laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery effectively improves obesity-related health problems
This study examines the positive effect laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery can have on obesity-related health problems.

Encouraging results from vaccine trial to reduce cervical cancer
A randomised trial in this week's issue of The Lancet shows how a vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) infection could potentially reduce the global incidence of cervical cancer.

New Royal Society journal studies
This Royal Society journal release includes the mystery of the Moas, nightvision geckos and the origin of teeth development.

Can cabbage help prevent cervical cancer?
Did your grandmother always tell you to

IRCM scientist demonstrates basic active mechanism of immune-system cells
In the upcoming issue of Immunity, a highly regarded journal put out by the Cell group, Dr. André Veillette, a scientist at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal (IRCM), and his team will publish the results of a study that could revolutionize the treatment of autoimmune diseases, such as juvenile diabetes, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Contemporary medicine has to date achieved only mixed results in dealing with these diseases, which affect hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

Safety and immunogenicity data available for new pertussis booster vaccine candidate for adolescents
GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) today reported results from a pivotal clinical study of its booster vaccine candidate, Boostrix. Phase III clinical trial showed Boostrix to be comparable to a U.S.- licensed Tetanus Diphtheria (Td) vaccine with regard to safety and immunogenicity. In addition, the use of Boostrix induced anti-pertussis antibody levels which exceeded those observed in infants following primary immunization with a DTaP vaccine (Infanrix) in whom efficacy against pertussis disease was demonstrated in a previous study.

Ethical paradigm: Relating embryonic stem cell use to organ donation
Conflict over embryonic stem cell therapeutic use pits the value of early human life against potentially life-saving therapies. In the Journal of Clinical Investigation November 1 issue, researchers from the University of Columbia present a potential means for creating common ground in this debate. They propose applying the ethics and standards established for organ donation to embryonic cell use by establishing a definition of embryonic death as has been done for fully formed humans.

Initiative yields effective methods for anthrax detection; RAMP and MIDI, Inc., methods approved
AOAC INTERNATIONAL, and its subsidiary AOAC Research Institute, announced today the approval of two biodefense methods for the detection of Bacillus anthracis (commonly known as anthrax).

Reduced fish stocks linked to increased bushmeat trade, wildlife declines in W. Africa
Declining fish stocks are fuelling a multibillion-dollar bushmeat trade in West Africa. It's a trend that is threatening the survival of dozens of wildlife species, and EU fishing agreements with African nations may be part of the problem, says a group of international researchers that includes UBC forestry sciences professor Peter Arcese, UBC zoology professor Anthony Sinclair and UBC graduate Justin Brashares (now an assistant professor at UC, Berkeley).

Researchers develop digital technique for art authentication
A team of Dartmouth researchers has developed a new computational tool to help authenticate works of art, specifically paintings, prints and drawings.

Senior citizens at risk for pneumonia
The recent flu vaccine shortage has focused attention on elderly people's risk for infection. Like the flu, pneumonia can also cause serious health problems for older people. More than 900,000 cases of community-acquired pneumonia occur each year among seniors in the United States, according to an article in the December 1 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, now available online.

Health issues may affect grandmothers who are primary caregivers
Grandmothers who are caregivers to grandchildren are more prone to stress and depressive symptoms than non-caregivers according to the latest research by Case Western Reserve University's Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. Carol Musil, associate professor of nursing at Case, is leading an ongoing National Institutes of Health-funded study which examines the effects of caregiving on the health of 450 Ohio grandmothers, as well as how it impacts their families.

People cause more soil erosion than all natural processes
Human activity causes 10 times more erosion of continental surfaces than all natural processes combined, an analysis by a University of Michigan geologist shows.

Visualizing the end of the human genome
Scientists have glimpsed the three-dimensional structure of a protein that protects the ends of human chromosomes, a function that is essential for normal cell division and survival. By visualizing the protein as it surrounds the end of a chromosome, the scientists have learned how the protein homes in on a specific DNA sequence and acts like a protective cap to prevent erosion of chromosome ends.

Molecular technique shows promise in destroying drug resistance in bacteria
A new approach to outwit resistance to antibiotics has been discovered by a team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. By inserting a naturally occurring molecule into an antibiotic-resistant bacterium, the team was able to gradually destroy the machinery responsible for the resistance.

Loyola warns lower temps mean greater risk of fire from space heaters
The Burn Center at Loyola University Medical Center is warning the public about the dangers of space heaters and other electrical appliances used to keep warm during winter cold snaps.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research focuses on early mechanisms
A $1 million grant from the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases will fund research at Virginia Tech to identify the cell-level mechanisms that start Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive and fatal muscle weakness disease that occurs in approximately one in 3,500 males. The research project will focus on determining specific mechanisms responsible for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy early in life.

Antipsychotic drugs stop fatal viral infection in brain cells
Scientists from Brown University and Case Western Reserve University have discovered a way to prevent brain cells from becoming infected by the JC virus, a common bug that can cause progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, or PML, a fatal nervous system disorder that strikes AIDS patients and others with suppressed immune systems. Their work, published in Science, reveals a surprising cellular defender: antipyschotic drugs.

Bomb book wins top honour
A University of Manchester academic has been awarded a prestigious international prize for his book about the history of science.

Women taking breast enhancement pills swallow empty promises
Flip through any women's magazine and you are sure to find advertisements hawking pills to enlarge women's breasts. But do these pills actually work? Probably not, says the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Not only are breast enhancement pills unproven, they could be dangerous, according to a study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® (PRS), the official medical journal of the ASPS.

UK scientist and children's author wins EMBO Award for Communications 2004
Fran Balkwill, Professor of Cancer Biology at the Barts & The London, Queen Mary's Medical School, is the 2004 winner of the EMBO Award for Communication in the Life Sciences. Balkwill receives the award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to science communication for children.

Extinction in ocean's mud presages key ecological changes
The loss of seemingly inconsequential animal species in the marine benthos - the top 6 inches or so of mud and sediment on the floors of the world's oceans - is giving scientists a new look ahead at the consequences of the steady decline of the world's biological diversity.

Tithonium Chasma, Valles Marineris, on Mars
These images, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft, show the western end of the Valles Marineris Canyon system on Mars.

Weight gain found to be harder on the heart than maintaining higher weight
Gaining 15 pounds or more over several years puts people at greater jeopardy of developing risk factors for heart disease than maintaining a stable weight - even a stable weight that is considered obese, according to a study authored by Donald Lloyd-Jones, M.D., a cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Dr. Lloyd-Jones presented the findings from a study titled Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) today at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.

'Weekend' use matches daily drops for 'lazy eye'
Adults who dispense eye drops daily to correct a child's

The phone that knows you better than you do
Most cellphones can already get you up in the morning with built-in alarms and tell you what appointments you have that day from a calendar. But a new smarter cellphone is on its way that can double as a personal assistant. The phones, developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, learns about its users' lifestyle by logging when they make voice and text calls or use other phone applications.

HPV vaccine shown effective at reducing cancer-causing infections
A vaccine that could reduce cervical cancer rates by 75 percent is safe and 95 percent effective, according to a study of 1,113 women in North America and Brazil.

New medication dramatically decreases congestive heart failure in African-American patients
A new medication has dramatically reduced mortality among African-American patients suffering from heart disease, according to results of a study including UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas researchers. The results were so favorable that investigators halted the multi-center trial so that all the 1,050 study participants suffering from advanced heart failure, including those on a placebo, could be given the combined drug treatment.

Are museum collections of ancient life representative?
Members of the general public look to museums for the best examples of ancient life - the biggest dinosaur, the nicest fossils of plants and bugs. Increasingly, researchers are looking to museum collections to answer questions about what lived on earth millions of years ago and how life evolved. But are museum collections representative of what is found in nature? Maybe the curator just looked for T-rex teeth and flies in amber.

November nutrition news from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts
Most people had not heard of ubiquitin until recently when the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to three scientists for their groundbreaking work on the subject. Researchers at Tufts have been researching the role of ubiquitin in eye health since 1982. Adolescent boys, fat intake and nutrition labels: nutrition labels are generally recognized as a good education tool because they enable consumers to make healthy food choices. But what if reading the nutrition labels doesn't help everyone?

Futuristic 'smart' yarns on the horizon
In a collaborative effort, scientists at CSIRO Textile and Fibre Technology (CTFT) have achieved a major technological breakthrough that should soon lead to the production of futuristic strong, light and flexible 'smart' clothing materials.

NJIT's smart gun moves closer to completion with $1.1 million grant
Scientists at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) were awarded $1.1 million by the US Department of Justice to continue testing a safer personalized weapon.

Smoking triggers early onset of pancreatic cancer
A new study finds tobacco may act as an environmental trigger for patients with an inherited genetic predisposition to pancreatic cancer.

Ubiquitination in real-time: A world first at the Université de Montréal
Université de Montréal researchers succeeded in demonstrating that the ubiquitination process of a given protein can be monitored dynamically, in real time, on living cells.

Asymptomatic cardiovascular changes are powerful predictor of future heart disease
An index of early cardiovascular changes measurable even before symptoms appear is a more powerful predictor of future stroke, heart attack or other coronary heart disease than traditional risk factors such as smoking, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. More aggressive intervention at the time these changes are first detected could have a positive impact on cardiovascular disease-related illness and death.

Down Syndrome protein reduces tumor growth
Scientists have found that overexpression of a protein called Down Syndrome Critical Region 1 (DSCR-1) blocks the formation of new blood vessels and thus reduces tumor growth. Therapeutics based on this finding may potentially lead to new cancer treatments.

Standing up to earthquakes
From the Pacific coast to our nation's interior, more than 75 million Americans in 39 states live in towns and cities at risk for earthquake devastation.

University seeks recruits for Parkinson's Disease study
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh are seeking people with Parkinson's Disease (PD) to help them better understand how mood-- particularly depression-- affects their symptoms. The study will investigate the way depression impacts on the thinking processes of those with PD, and look at how this mood disorder can be treated. 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