Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (October 2013)

Science news and science current events archive October, 2013.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from October 2013

Physicists decode decision circuit of cancer metastasis
Researchers from Rice University's Center for Theoretical Biological Physics have deciphered the operating principles of a genetic circuit that allows cancer to metastasize. The study revealed that the decision circuit has three settings, an oddity that could open the door to cancer treatments that disrupt the circuit.

Birds on repeat: Do playbacks hurt fowl?
Using the emphatic sounds of two bird species in Ecuador, a Princeton University researcher has -- for the first time in peer-reviewed research -- examined the effects of birdwatchers'

Is global heating hiding out in the oceans?
In a reconstruction of Pacific Ocean temperatures in the last 10,000 years, researchers have found that its middle depths have warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than they did during apparent natural warming cycles in the previous 10,000.

How a ubiquitous herpesvirus sometimes leads to cancer
Most of us are infected with the herpesvirus known as Epstein-Barr virus. For most of us, the virus will lead at worst to a case of infectious mononucleosis, but sometimes, and especially in some parts of the world, those viruses are found in association with cancer. Now, researchers have found that the difference between a relatively harmless infection and a cancer-causing one lies at least partly in the viral strain itself.

Long-term cognitive impairment too common after critical illness
Patients treated in intensive care units across the globe are entering their medical care with no evidence of cognitive impairment but oftentimes leaving with deficits similar to those seen in patients with traumatic brain injury or mild Alzheimer's disease that persists for at least a year, according to a Vanderbilt study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Experimental drug shows encouraging results in treating most common form of lung cancer
MK-3475, an anti-PD1 immunotherapy drug with promising results in advanced trials in melanoma is also showing potential in lung cancer based on preliminary phase 1b data presented at the 15th World Conference on Lung Cancer in Sydney, Australia. By blocking the PD-1 protein, the drug alerts the immune system to attack the cancer. It is generally well tolerated and further trials in lung cancer are currently underway.

Software uses cyborg swarm to map unknown environs
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed software that allows them to map unknown environments -- such as collapsed buildings -- based on the movement of a swarm of insect cyborgs, or

Researchers looking at new way to treat chronic kidney disease and heart failure
Researchers at St. Michael's Hospital are using adult bone marrow stem cells as they investigate a completely new way of treating chronic kidney disease and heart failure in rats.

Treena Livingston Arinzeh receives Innovators Award from NJ Inventors Hall of Fame
Treena Livingston Arinzeh, Ph.D., of West Orange, a professor of biomedical engineering at New Jersey Institute of Technology, received an Innovators Award from the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame in recognition of her research and inventions utilizing biomaterials and regenerative medicines for orthopedic and neural disorders. She was presented with the award at a formal banquet on Oct. 17, 2013, at the W Hotel in Hoboken.

Laser technology sorting method can improve Capsicum pepper seed quality
Scientists investigated the efficacy of chlorophyll fluorescence sorting using different maturity fruits of four different cultivars of Capsicum peppers. Results showed that CF sorting significantly increased laboratory germination, seedling emergence, and seed vigor. The researchers said that CF can be a reliable tool to separate high-quality seeds from low-quality seeds in variously matured pepper seed lots, thus improving seedling production and uniformity through enhancing the seed lot vigor.

Supermagnets present ongoing child health risks
The continued sale and availability of powerful, neodymium magnets -- typically 10 to 20 times stronger than traditional magnets -- are causing an increase in pediatric ingestion-related injuries, according to an abstract presented Sunday, Oct. 27, at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando.

Breathing new life into preterm baby research
Monash University researchers have received a prestigious National Institutes of Health project grant to find ways to improve outcomes for very preterm infants who struggle to take their first breaths.

Ultraviolet light to the extreme
When you heat a tiny droplet of liquid tin with a laser, plasma forms on the surface of the droplet and produces extreme ultraviolet (EUV) light, which has a higher frequency and greater energy than normal ultraviolet. Now, researchers have mapped this EUV emission and developed a theoretical model that explains how the emission depends on the three-dimensional shape of the plasma. In doing so, they found a previously untapped source of EUV light.

Early skin-to-skin contact linked to higher breastfeeding rates
Skin-to-skin contact between mother and infant in the delivery room is associated with an increased likelihood for exclusive breastfeeding, according to an abstract presented Oct. 28 at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition in Orlando. When combined with a mother's intent to breastfeed, the likelihood was even greater.

VCU receives federal grant to study genetic markers that may predict chronic depression
Virginia Commonwealth University has received a $3 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health to study key molecular markers found in DNA that predict chronic depression.

Natural dyes from common (and a few uncommon) ingredients: A new video by the American Chemical Society
From crimson red to lavender to mustard yellow, vibrant hues can be coaxed from common -- and a few uncommon -- ingredients to add color to fabrics. The American Chemical Society's Bytesize Science series explains the chemistry behind natural dyes with a new episode filmed at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn. The episode is available now on

Institute of Medicine Elects 70 New Members, 10 Foreign Associates
The Institute of Medicine today announced the names of 70 new members and 10 foreign associates during its 43rd annual meeting. Election to the IOM is considered one of the highest honors in the fields of health and medicine and recognizes individuals who have demonstrated outstanding professional achievement and commitment to service.

Managing the data deluge through new software
Unprecedented torrents of data flood out of research labs on a continual basis, but making sense of it all remains a major scientific bottleneck. How software is evolving to transform this data deluge into knowledge is the topic of a news story in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society.

Parental perceptions are preventing HPV vaccination success
A Mayo Clinic physician and two other pediatric experts say that parental perceptions pose a major barrier to acceptance of human papillomavirus vaccination -- and that many of those perceptions are wrong.

Medical experts recommend steps to reduce risk of inadvertent harm to potentially normal pregnancies
A panel of 15 medical experts from radiology, obstetrics-gynecology and emergency medicine, convened by the Society of Radiologists in Ultrasound, recommends new criteria for use of ultrasonography to determine when a first trimester pregnancy is nonviable (no chance of progressing and resulting in a live-born baby). These new diagnostic thresholds, published Oct. 10 in the New England Journal of Medicine, would help avoid the possibility of physicians causing inadvertent harm to a potentially normal pregnancy.

FDA must find regulatory balance for probiotics says Univ. of Md. law prof
The US Food and Drug Administration should consider the unique features of probiotics -- bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms in the intestines -- in regulating their use and marketing, says Diane Hoffmann, J.D., director of the Law and Health Care Program at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law and lead author of the a newly released Science article,

Experts from NYU Langone present new research at American College of Rheumatology 2013 Annual Meeting
Experts from NYU Langone's Department of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology presented new research and participated in expert panel discussions at the American College of Rheumatology 2013 Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA, Oct. 26-30.

Group Health wins 2 PCORI awards for patient-centered research
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute selected Group Health Research Institute for two awards: Karen Wernli, Ph.D., won a three-year contract for $1.9 million on how well breast MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) works compared to mammography for regularly checking for new signs of breast cancer in women who have had the disease before. Eric B. Larson, MD, MPH, will lead Group Health's assistance to a new PCORI-funded national data network, led by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute.

How climate change affects microbial life below the seafloor
Sediments from the deep sea give insight into the dynamics of the deep biosphere.

Using mobile devices to look up drug info prevents adverse events in nursing homes
Nearly nine out of 10 nursing home physicians said that using their mobile devices to look up prescription drug information prevented at least one adverse drug event in the previous month, according to a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

FDA grants Genentech's Perjeta® (pertuzumab) accelerated approval for use before surgery in people with HER2-positive early stage breast cancer
The US Food and Drug Administration granted accelerated approval of a Perjeta® (pertuzumab) regimen for neoadjuvant treatment (use before surgery) in people with high-risk, HER2-positive early stage breast cancer.

Plastic waste is a hazard for subalpine lakes too
Many subalpine lakes may look beautiful and even pristine, but new evidence suggests they may also be contaminated with potentially hazardous plastics. Researchers say those tiny microplastics are likely finding their way into the food web through a wide range of freshwater invertebrates too. The findings, based on studies of Italy's Lake Garda and reported on October 7th in Current Biology, suggest that the problem of plastic pollution isn't limited to the ocean.

Using genetic algorithms to discover new nanostructured materials
Columbia Engineering researchers have developed a new approach to designing novel nanostructured materials through an inverse design framework using genetic algorithms. The study, published in PNAS's Oct. 28 Early Online edition, is the first to demonstrate the application of this methodology to the design of self-assembled nanostructures, and could help speed up the materials discovery process. It also shows the potential of machine learning and

Public health policies and practices may negatively affect marginalized populations
Despite the best intentions of those working in public health, some policies and practices inadvertently further disadvantage marginalized populations, according to a commentary by a researcher at St. Michael's Hospital.

Monoclonal antibodies show promise as effective HIV therapy
A research team led by investigators at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has demonstrated that a group of recently discovered antibodies may be a highly effective therapy for the treatment of HIV.

IASLC gives 5 people travel awards
The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer awarded five people Advocacy Travel Awards. Awardees receive free conference registration, up to four nights' accommodations, a free IASLC Membership and travel stipend.

When scaling the quantum slopes, veer for the straight path
Princeton University researchers found that the

Nanoscale engineering boosts performance of quantum dot light emitting diodes
Dramatic advances in the field of quantum dot light emitting diodes could come from recent work by the Nanotechnology and Advanced Spectroscopy team at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Unravelling the true identity of the brain of Carl Friedrich Gauss
Researchers reveal the true identity of the brains of mathematicians Carl Friedrich Gauss and medical scholar Conrad Heinrich Fuchs.

Emotionally intelligent people may influence the emotions of others based on their own goals
Emotionally intelligent people have the ability to manipulate others to satisfy their own interest.

Neurosurgical residents improve quality and reduce costs
An incentive program to reduce unnecessary diagnostic laboratory tests performed in neurosurgical patients at UC San Francisco was highly successful. Neurosurgical residents identified five frequently scheduled laboratory tests that rarely yield information that would change patient care. New guidelines were developed to determine when these tests should be performed. The result was a 47% reduction in the number of targeted tests, which was attended by cost savings of $1.7 million in one year.

Psychological interventions halve deaths and CV events in heart disease patients
Psychological interventions halve deaths and cardiovascular events in heart disease patients, according to research from Athens, Greece, presented at the Acute Cardiac Care Congress 2013.

New study suggests changing bacterial mix may lead to painful sex after menopause
The mix of bacteria in the vagina changes as women go through menopause. And a certain mix is typical after menopause in women who have vulvovaginal atrophy, a common cause of vaginal dryness and sexual pain, finds a team at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland. They suspect these bacteria may play a role in causing VVA.

ALMA reveals ghostly shape of 'coldest place in the universe'
At a cosmologically crisp one degree Kelvin (minus 458 degrees Fahrenheit), the Boomerang Nebula is the coldest known object in the Universe -- colder than the faint afterglow of the Big Bang, which is the natural background temperature of space. Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope have taken a new look at this intriguing object to learn more about its frigid properties and to determine its true shape, which has an eerily ghost-like appearance.

Complete care improves patient outcomes
Complete Care, a collaborative approach to meeting patient needs, is improving outcomes for Kaiser Permanente patients. Results from the program are featured in the November 2013 issue of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, and described in a journal editorial as,

New molecular target for malaria control identified
Malaria is a leading cause of death in tropical and subtropical regions and it is transmitted by a bite from infected female mosquitoes. According to the US Centers for Disease Control, malaria claims nearly 660,000 lives per year, 90 percent of them in Africa--and most of them children. There were an estimated 216 million malaria cases worldwide in 2010, mostly among pregnant women and children.

Bladder bacteria vary in women with common forms of incontinence
Women with common forms of urinary incontinence have various bacteria in their bladder, according to data presented today by researchers from Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. Researchers also found that some of these bacteria may differ based on their incontinence type.

UT Southwestern reports promising new approach to drug-resistant infections
A new type of antibiotic called a PPMO, which works by blocking genes essential for bacterial reproduction, successfully killed a multidrug-resistant germ common to health care settings, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers report.

Exceptional fossil fish reveals new evolutionary mechanism for body elongation
The elongated body of some present-day fish evolved in different ways. Paleontologists from the University of Zurich have now discovered a new mode of body elongation based on a discovery in an exceptionally preserved fossilfish from Southern Ticino. In Saurichthys curionii, an early ray-finned fish, the vertebral arches of the axial skeleton doubled, resulting in the elongation of its body and giving it a needlefish-like appearance.

Paramedics' visits with seniors result in less EMS calls and saves on emergency room trips
Emergency Medical Service staff are accustomed to responding to emergencies. A study presented today at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress finds they may be able to prevent many emergencies as well, judging by the preliminary success of a pilot project at a Hamilton building for seniors.

Same-hospital readmission rate an unreliable predictor for all-hospital readmission rate
According to new research findings presented at the 2013 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, same-hospital readmission rates are an unreliable surrogate for predicting all-hospital readmissions rates.

Gene found to foster synapse formation in the brain
Researchers at Johns Hopkins say they have found that a gene already implicated in human speech disorders and epilepsy is also needed for vocalizations and synapse formation in mice. The finding, they say, adds to scientific understanding of how language develops, as well as the way synapses -- the connections among brain cells that enable us to think -- are formed. A description of their experiments appears in Science Express on Oct. 31.

Northwestern medicine researchers study new heart valve that doesn't require open-heart surgery
Northwestern's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute has enrolled its first participant in SALUS, a clinical trial studying the effectiveness of a non-metallic prosthetic aortic heart valve that can be placed without open-heart surgery and moved into a new position after it has been placed.

Shining the soothing light
Low-level laser therapy reduces the occurrence of oral mucositis, known as the common canker sore, and improves quality of life in head and neck squamous cell cancer patients.

How Earth's rotation affects vortices in nature
In a new paper in the journal Physics of Fluids, researchers Junho Park and Paul Billant of the CNRS Laboratoire d'Hydrodynamique in France describe their study of one such geophysical vortex behavior, radiative instability, and how it is affected by two factors, density stratification and background rotation. 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