Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (October 2008)

Science news and science current events archive October, 2008.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from October 2008

New $11 million center to speed production of new compounds for drug discovery
Scientists from three Chicago-area universities have joined forces to develop new ways of building state-of-the-art chemical libraries that will help identify new compounds for future drug development and basic biomedical research.

Get moving: Johns Hopkins research shows early mobility better than bed rest for ICU patients
A critical care specialist at Johns Hopkins who has reviewed recent studies of intensive care unit (ICU) patients and data from the Johns Hopkins Hospital concludes that the routine use of deep sedation and bed rest in ICU patients may be causing unnecessary and long-term physical impairment and poor quality of life after hospital discharge.

A new relationship between brain derived neurotrophic factor and inflammatory signaling
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine, the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia/University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine have shown that the development of epilepsy in adult rats is linked to functional changes in the expression of alpha 1 containing GABA-A receptors.

When seeing IS believing
New research published in the journal Science explains why individuals seek to find and impose order on an unruly world through superstition, rituals and conspiratorial explanations by linking a loss of control to individual perceptions.

Nanoscale carbon materials research wins the 2008 Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics
Dr. Phaedon Avouris of IBM and professor Tony Heinz of Columbia University were presented with the 2008 Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics on Sept. 27, 2008, during a day-long forum at Harvard University, attended by luminaries of the field. The Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics recognizes researchers who have made an outstanding and innovative contribution to the field of applied physics. The forum was sponsored by the scientific publisher Springer.

Salk scientist Fred H. Gage to receive the Keio Medical Science Prize
Salk researcher Dr. Fred H. Gage, professor in the Laboratory of Genetics, has been awarded the Keio Medical Science Prize for his discovery of the physiological role of adult neurogenesis in mammalian brains. He will officially receive the award during a ceremony at Keio University's School of Medicine in Japan on Nov. 21.

Rheumatoid arthritis rising among women
After four decades on the decline, rheumatoid arthritis is on the upswing among women in the United States. That's the finding presented by Mayo Clinic investigators at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology/Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals in San Francisco.

Clients, not practitioners, make therapy work
The perception that therapists and their techniques play the most significant role in influencing the outcome of treatment is challenged in a new research review, launched today at the Annual Conference of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy in Telford.

Crucial hormonal pathway to bone building uncovered
New study shows parathyroid hormone given intermittently enhances the body's own bone-building action through a specific

MU scientist uses tracer to predict ancient ocean circulation
Measuring a chemical tracer in samples of ancient fish scales, bones and teeth, University of Missouri and University of Florida researchers have studied circulation in the Late Cretaceous North Atlantic Ocean. The Late Cretaceous was a time with high atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide and warm temperatures. Understanding such ancient greenhouse climates is important for predicting what may happen in the future. The new findings contradict some previous models.

Study shows safety and efficacy of blood flow reversal system used during carotid stenting
Results of a study on an embolic protection system during carotid stenting that uses a novel blood flow reversal system was reported today during the 20th annual Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics scientific symposium, sponsored by the Cardiovascular Research Foundation.

New tool probes function of rice genes
A new tool for investigating the rice genome has been developed by researchers at UC Davis led by Pamela Ronald, professor of plant pathology. The inexpensive, publicly-available rice DNA microarray covers nearly all the 45,000 genes in the rice genome. Details are published this week in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.

Breathing second life into language teaching
An international team has developed a wireless virtual reality environment that can help promote language learning and let students practice. The researchers have demonstrated their Collaborative Virtual Reality Environment with Mexican engineering students carrying out listening comprehension practice in English as a foreign language.

Moderate use averts failure of type 2 diabetes drugs in animal model
Drugs widely used to treat type 2 diabetes may be more likely to keep working if they are used in moderation, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found in a study using an animal model.

'Fishapod' reveals origins of head and neck structures of first land animals
Newly exposed parts of Tiktaalik roseae, the intermediate fossil between fish and the first animals to walk out of water onto land, are revealing how this evolutionary event happened. The first detailed look at the internal head skeleton of Tiktaalik shows show how it was gaining structures that allowed it to support itself on solid ground and breathe air.

Study examines association between caffeine consumption and breast cancer risk
Caffeine consumption does not appear to be associated with overall breast cancer risk, according to a report in the Oct. 13 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. However, there is a possibility of increased risk for women with benign breast disease or for tumors that are hormone-receptor negative or larger than 2 centimeters.

Portable imaging system will help maximize public health response to natural disasters
Researchers have developed a low-cost, high-resolution imaging system that can be attached to a helicopter to create a complete and detailed picture of an area devastated by a hurricane or other natural disaster. The resulting visual information can be used to estimate the number of storm refugees and assess the need for health and humanitarian services.

Pediatricians more likely to disclose medical errors that are apparent to families, survey finds
A survey of pediatricians found wide variation in whether and how they would disclose medical errors to patients and their families, and may be less likely to share information about errors that are less obvious to parents, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Researchers reveal Epstein-Barr virus protein contributes to cancer
Researchers at the University of Toronto have shown that the EBNA1 protein of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) disrupts structures in the nucleus of nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cells, thereby interfering with cellular processes that normally prevent cancer development. The study, published Oct. 3 in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens, describes a novel mechanism by which viral proteins contribute to carcinogenesis.

Baby talk: The roots of the early vocabulary in infants' learning from speech
A new report describes an increasing emphasis among researchers in studying vocabulary development in infants. Recent findings have shown that infants are not only aware of the pieces that make up a word, but they are already aware of the entire word and by one year of age, children are able to recognize mispronunciations of words. In addition, there is a relationship between young children's performance in word recognition and their later language achievement.

Classic experiments give new insight on life's origin
The building blocks of life may have emerged in volcanic eruptions on the early Earth, according to a new analysis of classic experiments performed more than 50 years ago. Using modern techniques to examine samples from the original experiments, researchers discovered previously undetectable organic compounds. The results, reported in the Oct. 17 issue of Science, point to the possible contribution of volcanism to the beginning of life on Earth.

Circadian clock may be critical for remembering what you learn, Stanford researchers say
The circadian rhythm that quietly pulses inside us all, guiding our daily cycle from sleep to wakefulness and back to sleep again, may be doing much more than just that simple metronomic task, according to Stanford researchers. Working with Siberian hamsters, biologist Norman Ruby has shown that having a functioning circadian system is critical to the hamsters' ability to remember what they have learned. Without it, he said,

Groundbreaking discovery may lead to stronger antibiotics
The last decade has seen a dramatic decline in the effectiveness of antibiotics, resulting in a mounting public health crisis across the world. A new breakthrough by University of Virginia researchers provides physicians and patients a potential new approach toward the creation of less resistant and more effective antibiotics.

Supercomputer provides massive computational boost to biomedical research at TGen
In less time than the blink of an eye, the Translational Genomics Research Institute's new supercomputer at Arizona State University can do operations equal to every dollar in the recent Wall Street bailout. That would be 700 billion computations in less than 1/60th of a second.

Weight does not affect women's sexual behavior
Oregon and Hawaiian researchers have found that a woman's weight does not seem to affect sexual behavior. In fact, overweight women are more likely to report having sex with men than women considered to be of

Stem cell research to benefit horse owners and trainers
In a potential breakthrough for the performance horse industry (such as racing and polo), Melbourne scientists are aiming to harness stem cells to repair tendon, ligament, cartilage and bone damage in horses.

ER staffs: Gaps exist in hospital preparedness for dirty bombs
Serious challenges remain in radioactivity readiness, according to a new study that finds emergency room doctors and nurses worry that hospitals are not adequately prepared to handle casualties from a radioactive

Gene scan of Alzheimer's families identifies four new suspect genes
The first family-based genome-wide association study in Alzheimer's disease has identified the sites of four novel genes that may significantly influence risk for the most common late-onset form of the devastating neurological disorder.

Pneumococcal vaccine associated with 50 percent lower risk of heart attacks
Pneumococcal (pneumonia) vaccination was associated with a 50 percent lower risk of heart attacks two years after vaccination, suggests a large hospital-based case-control study published in CMAJ.

The risk to John McCain's life from his history of melanoma
The threat to US presidential candidate John McCain's life posed by his history of the skin cancer melanoma is detailed in correspondence published in this week's edition of the Lancet.

MU scientists 'see' how HIV matures into an infection
After improving the sensitivity of nuclear magnetic resonance, researchers at the University of Missouri actually watched the HIV-1 protease mature from an inactive form into an active infection. This process has never been directly visualized before. The findings appear today in the journal Nature.

Running on rocket fuel
Because African wild dogs face bigger competitors like lions, whose larger stomachs handle large irregular meals, the African wild dog evolved a runner's metabolism (lithe, smaller stomachs) and formed large packs. In packs they reduce costs and ensure a regular supply of food. But in packs less than five, they end up in poverty traps, less well fed, less able to have pups, and spiral downward. This study reveals an extinction risk for social species.

Models of eel cells suggest electrifying possibilities
Researchers at Yale University and NIST have applied modern engineering design tools to one of the basic units of life. They say that artificial cells could be built that not only replicate the electrical behavior of electric eel cells but in fact improve on them, possibly driving future implantable medical devices.

Clock-shifts affect risk of heart attack
Adjusting the clocks to summer time on the last Sunday in March increases the risk of myocardial infarction in the following week. In return, putting the clocks back in the autumn reduces the risk, albeit to a lesser extent. This according to a new Swedish study published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine.

Ancient mummy has no modern children
The 5,300 year old human mummy -- dubbed Ă–etzi or

ORNL scientists develop high-performance steel for possible use in ITER fusion project
Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the US ITER Project Office, which is housed at ORNL, have developed a new cast stainless steel that is 70 percent stronger than comparable steels and is being evaluated for use in the huge shield modules required by the ITER fusion device.

New way of inhibiting cell cycle shows promise
A new anti-cancer compound that works by blocking a part of the cell's machinery that is crucial for cell division has shown promising results in a phase I clinical trial in patients who have failed to respond to other treatments.

Mentally ill smoke at 4 times the rate of general population, says University of Melbourne study
Australians with mental illness smoke at four times the rate of the general population, says a new study from the University of Melbourne.

Tracking down the cause of mad cow disease
A team headed by Christian F. W. Becker at the TU Munich and Peter H. Seeberger at the ETH Zurich developed a new general method for the synthesis of anchored proteins, such as GPI-anchored prions, which cause scrapie and mad cow disease.

Diabetes treatment becomes more complex, costly
A progressively more complex and expensive array of treatments for type 2 diabetes is being prescribed to an increasing number of adults, according to a report in the Oct. 27 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Link possible between pet food contamination and baby formula contamination
A study published in the November issue of Toxicological Sciences describes the kidney toxicity of melamine and cyanuric acid based on research that was done to characterize the toxicity of the compounds that contaminated pet food in North America in 2007. This research points to a possible link between the pet food contamination that occurred in North America in 2007 and the recent adulteration of milk protein and resultant intoxication of thousands of babies from Asia.

Genetic clock makers at UC San Diego publish their 'timepiece' in Nature
UC San Diego bioengineers have created the first stable, fast and programmable genetic clock that reliably keeps time by the blinking of fluorescent proteins inside E. coli cells. The clock's blink rate changes when the temperature, energy source or other environmental conditions change, a fact that could lead to new kinds of sensors that convey information about the environment through the blinking rate. The researchers published their synthetic biology advance in the journal Nature.

Tick-borne encephalitis virus reveals its access code
Fritz et al., reporting in the Journal of Cell Biology, have identified an amino acid switch that flaviviruses flip to gain access to cells.

China faces daunting challeges to heatlh equity
China's economic boom of recent decades has also seen its reputation for health slipping and the health gap between the rich and the poor widening. Yet this economic boom means it is in a much better position than other nations to overcome health inequities, as it should be able to afford major health reforms. These are among the conclusions of authors of the first paper in the Lancet's Health System Reform in China series.

24-hour drinking linked to shift in hospital attendance patterns
Since the UK's move to 24-hour drinking, a large city center hospital in Birmingham has seen an increase in drink-related attendances between the hours of 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. A new study, published in the open access journal BMC Public Health, shows no significant decrease in alcohol-related attendances after 24-hour drinking was introduced but a significant shift in the time of attendances.

Announcing the launch of the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, OASPA
The Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association, announces its official launch today in conjunction with an OA Day celebration hosted by the Wellcome Trust in London.

Almond pest management team to receive major award at ESA meeting
A University of California team that developed a successful insect pest management program for almond growers, leading to significant pesticide reduction, will be honored at the Entomological Society of America annual meeting, Nov. 16-19 in Reno.

Soil Science Society of America presents 2008 fellows
A recognition of Fellows from the Soil Science Society of America as presented during their annual meeting on Oct. 5-9 in Houston.

Learning how not to be afraid
New studies by Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers are showing how the brain changes when mice learn to feel safe and secure in situations that would normally make them anxious. The mice developed a conditioned inhibition of fear that squelches anxiety as effectively as antidepressant drugs, such as Prozac.

Presidential candidates' health plans offer divergent approaches to health system reform
A new report from the Commonwealth Fund examines key differences and areas of agreement in the health system reform proposals of presidential candidates Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama. Both plans seek to expand health insurance, but Senator McCain would encourage individuals to select their own coverage through the individual insurance market while Senator Obama would strengthen employer coverage and public programs.

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