Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (September 2001)

Science news and science current events archive September, 2001.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from September 2001

Leading snake expert dies at 38
Dr. Joseph B. Slowinski, Associate Curator of Herpetology at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, died on the morning of September 12 in Myanmar (Burma) after suffering a bite from a highly venomous snake. This was his 11th expedition to this region.

Babies' hands move to the rhythm of language
Babbling is thought to mark the developmental moment when a young child embarks on the road to spoken language. Now, new insight into why this behavior occurs can be found in the hands of hearing babies as they acquire a natural signed language. A Dartmouth researcher has found that babies are born with sensitivity to highly specific rhythmic patterns so powerful that they display the rhythms of language with their hands even without vocal input.

Heart treatment gap closes with standardized care
A pilot in-hospital program helped close a treatment gap in heart disease prevention by significantly increasing the number of heart attack patients who followed American Heart Association secondary prevention guidelines.

Emerging trends: Scientific evidence in the courtroom
A dialogue between criminal justice professionals including prosecutors, judges, and forensic scientists, and the academic community including psychologists, molecular biologists, and biotechnologists, to foster and develop questions for future research on the role of science and scientists in the criminal justice system.

Phased-out Bt corn variety dramatically cut growth rate of black swallowtail caterpillars
Pollen from a Bt corn variety carrying a now-phased-out genetically inserted pesticide known as event 176 dramatically reduced growth rates among black swallowtail caterpillars in University of Illinois field tests, researchers report. The UI findings are in one of six related papers being releasd early by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Medication prevents osteoporosis in men treated for prostate cancer
One of the fastest-growing osteoporosis risk groups consists of men with prostate cancer who receive androgen-deprivation therapy to lower testosterone levels. In the Sept. 27 issue of New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital describe how the drug pamidronate prevented bone loss in prostate cancer patients treated with what are called GnRH agonists.

Concerns over commerical control of medical research
In response to concerns about the increasing influence of sponsors in medical research, several international medical journals, including the BMJ, have taken steps to restrict the publication of research that is not independent.

Handling stress: life and death decisions at the cellular level
The daily life of a cell can be inordinately stressful. Two papers in the September 15th issue of Genes & Development highlight recent discoveries that have been made regarding how cells handle environmental stress, and decide whether or not their life is worth living. Both papers lend valuable insight into the ways that different cells respond to oxygen deprivation, or hypoxia.

Study urges caution in nuclear deregulation
A study of deregulation's past impact on several safety-critical industries provides valuable insight into the factors affecting safety of deregulated nuclear power plants.

Improved snoring treatment: less pain, more gain
A new study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine offers new hope for habitual snorers and those who must endure their nighttime cacophonies.

A better way to glue micro-size parts for medical devices
Engineers at Ohio State University have mastered a critical step for manufacturing tiny medical devices. This new technique for sealing plastic casings could bring medical nanotechnology closer to reality.

Sea of Galilee yields clues for weather forecasting
Oceanographer Ayal Anis has studied the lake where Christ walked on the water, but rather than focusing on religious questions, his research aims to shed light on the process by which surface waves transfer energy from the air to the water.

Benefits of quality child care last into elementary school
High quality child care during the preschool years is linked to improved language, academic and social skills when children later enter elementary school, according to a new study of children from across the United States. In the study published in the September/October issue of Child Development, better classroom materials and practices - such as activities and teachers' responsiveness to preschoolers - were associated with more advanced development of children's language and academic abilities

Changes in Lake Erie fish population suggest lake's recovery
While a cleaner Lake Erie is seen mostly as good news, it may lead to trade-offs in desirable fish species, a new study suggests. Historically important sport and commercial fish in the lake - such as smallmouth bass - have increased with the decrease of phosphorus coming into the lake. But other fish species, such as walleye, have begun to decline.

Can we defy nature's end?
An international team of leading conservationists calculate that protecting enough biological diversity to sustain a healthy planet will cost some $30 billion, and maintain that the money and measures to do so are attainable.

Cooling vest improves symptoms for MS patients
Wearing a cooling vest can help multiple sclerosis (MS) patients with muscle strength, fatigue and balance, according to a study published in the September 11 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Researchers identify gene causing rare form of cleft palate
The identification of a gene that causes a rare form of the congenital defect, cleft palate, may offer an important insight into human development and the mechanisms involved in the condition. Researchers led by Dr Philip Stanier from Imperial College have found that the sex-linked form of cleft palate (CPX) and an associated form of the disorder known as tongue-tie are caused by mutations in a gene called T-box 22. The study is published online today in the journal Nature Genetics.

Blood pressure measures during exercise can indicate unhealthy hearts
A blood pressure reading taken during exercise is a more accurate test for early heart disease than one taken at rest, according to a study presented Sept. 14 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) in Minneapolis.

Chandra probes nature of dark matter
Scientists have precisely determined the distribution of dark matter in a distant galaxy cluster with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. These new measurements serve to narrow the field of candidates that explain

Cases of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism peak in winter
Admissions to hospital for deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism are higher in winter and lower in summer, finds a study in this week's BMJ. Researchers in France analysed hospital admissions for deep vein thrombosis (blood clotting in the legs) and pulmonary embolism (obstruction of the main artery in the lung) between 1995 and 1998. The number of admissions per month was significantly higher in winter and lower in summer for both conditions.

Regulation of vascular tone by a secreted mitochondrial peptide
The F0F1 ATP synthase is a large, multi-subunit complex expressed in the mitochondrial inner membrane. Surprisingly, this complex can also be found on the plasma membrane of endothelial and other cells, and the fact that it appears to be biologically active suggests that most or all of its components can be assembled at this location. Osanai and coworkers have previously argued that the peptide coupling factor 6 (CF6), an essential component of the ATP synthase, also serves a distinct physiological role as a circulating hormone.

Structure of key protein involved in cancer, osteoporosis and foot-and-mouth disease finally solved
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have solved the structure of an integrin receptor, a key protein involved in diseases and processes ranging from tumor angiogenesis and breast cancer metastasis to osteoporosis, vascular restenosis and foot-and-mouth disease.

Alcohol researchers show 'friendly' virus slows HIV cell growth
A team of alcohol researchers led by Jack Stapleton, M.D., of the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Iowa College of Medicine and the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center, report in the September 6 New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 345, 2001 (Effect of co-infection with GB virus type C (Hepatitis G Virus) on survival of HIV-infected individuals: In vitro co-infection suggests inhibition of HIV replication by GB virus C) that

Two routes to cell death in the diseased kidney
Stimulation by the ubiquitous cytokine TGF-b activates the transcription of numerous target genes and leads to an impressive range of biological effects. Central to these responses are intracellular mediators of the SMAD family, which are activated and transported to the nucleus following TGF-b treatment. Schiffer et al. show here that there are surprises left in this widely studied and highly conserved pathway.

Mayo Clinic study shows long-term medication use helps smokers who stop avoid relapse, gain less weight
Smokers who stop smoking by taking the antidepressant bupropion (Zyban™) used to treat nicotine addiction are less likely to relapse if they use the medication for one year, according to a Mayo Clinic study published in the September 18 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

National Biomedical Engineering Society meeting Oct. 4-7 in North Carolina
The annual fall meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society is expected to attract more than 1,100 researchers to Research Triangle Park area Oct. 4-7 for an array of presentations in areas encompassing the breadth of the bioengineering field.

Brain imaging study sheds light on moral decision-making
While people regularly reach the same conclusions when faced with uncomfortable moral choices, their answers often do not grow out of the reasoned application of general moral principles. Instead, they draw on emotional reactions, particularly for certain kinds of moral dilemmas. In a brain imaging study that combines philosophy and neuroscience, researchers have begun to explain how emotional reactions and logical thinking interact in moral decision-making.

Small risk of sex triggering a heart attack in people at risk of heart disease
Having sex is a potential trigger for a heart attack in people with heart disease. But the risk is small, provided other regular forms of exercise are taken, finds research in Heart.

New combination drug treatment for hepatitis C
Results of a randomised trial in this week's issue of THE LANCET suggest that the drug combination peginterferon alfa-2b and ribavirin offers the best therapeutic treatment for patients with chronic hepatitis C.

Blood vessels trigger development of the pancreas
HHMI researchers have discovered that blood vessels can send signals to the pancreas that trigger its development. The finding provides the first glimpse of a new type of biochemical signaling pathway that may prevent the pancreas, and possibly other organs, from developing until a blood-supply pipeline is in place.

Technology fix for campaign finance reform
Some legal experts have proposed that if all campaign donations were anonymous, there would be no way to buy or sell influence. Computer scientists at the University of California, Davis, and InterTrust Technologies, Santa Clara, Calif. have come up with a cryptographic scheme to achieve just that.

Researchers: Autumn color is nature's sunscreen
University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists have a new theory about why autumn leaves turn scarlet and why the hues are more vibrant some years than others. They say that the pigments -- called anthocyanins -- are meant to act like sunscreen.

Monarch butterflies, corn pollen coexist in cornfields
Milkweeds growing in cornfields sometimes support monarch butterfly larvae at the same time the corn is shedding its pollen. Thus, monarchs feeding next to corn genetically engineered to contain the Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) insecticide could be exposed to the toxin.

A new paradigm for anti-angiogenesis therapy
The aim of anti-angiogenesis therapy is to target the abnormal blood vessels growing into a tumor and cut off the blood supply to a cancerous mass. However, another potential use might be to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation treatment by making the tumor's blood supply more normal and efficient.

A step forward in nanotechnology
A technique that will greatly improve the study of nanostructures and help shorten the development time for quantum computers and similar devices has been demonstrated by a team of University of Michigan researchers.

Lowering of blood pressure reduces risk of recurrent stroke
Combination drug treatment to lower blood pressure could substantially reduce the risk of recurrent stroke, conclude authors of a fast-track study published in this week's issue of THE LANCET.

Colgate-Palmolive selects Mayo Clinic health management resources
ROCHESTER, MINN. -- Mayo Clinic today announced that it will enhance Colgate-Palmolive Company's U.S. employee benefits package with services from Mayo Clinic Health management Resources.

Millions go undiagnosed and undertreated for artery disease
The largest study ever done on peripheral artery disease (PAD) shows significant numbers of people are undiagnosed, underdiagnosed or undertreated.

Computer reminders can increase delivery of preventive care to hospitalized patients
In a study published in the September 27, 2001 New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute for Health Care demonstrated for first timethat computer reminders can dramatically increase the number of pneumonia and flu vaccinations ordered by physicians for hospitalized adults. This is the first randomized trial to show that computer reminders can increase pneumonia and flu vaccination rates among hospitalized patients.

High-quality family planning services stabilise abortion rate in Bangladesh
Results of a Bangladesh population study in this week's issue of THE LANCET highlight how the provision of high-quality family planning services can decrease population growth without an accompanying increase in rates of abortion.

Statistics training that works with our innate ability to assess the likelihood of events can help doctors and patients figure the odds of illness better
Does a positive mammogram mean a woman has breast cancer? Does a positive HIV test mean someone is infected with the virus? As ordinary people confront the laws of probability, the odds of misinterpretation and false alarms rise. Two German psychologists have found a better way to teach basic statistical concepts, based on the way people naturally weigh the odds. This approach can help patients, and the doctors who advise them, more accurately assess the meaning of test results.

UB biophysicists discover high-speed motility in cells in response to voltage changes
University at Buffalo biophysicists studying the motility of cells have shown that simple cells react in less than a millisecond to changes in membrane voltage, a property scientists have thought was confined to highly specialized cells such as the cochlear outer hair cells responsible for hearing.

Listening for an ocean
Things are cracking up on the Jovian moon Europa, but nobody's laughing. Instead, Office of Naval Research funded scientists are intrigued with the notion that acoustic techniques now used by the Navy to determine water depth, can be used to establish the existence and depth of an ocean under Europa's ice mantle.

Traditional wars are in decline, but criminal warfare and terrorism will demand new government responses
While the federal government may focus on military reactions to terrorist attacks on the United States, the best response may be more akin to police work.

URI biological oceanographers awarded National Science Foundation grant to study increases in jellyfish population
URI Graduate School of Oceanography biological oceanographers Barbara K. Sullivan and Dian J. Gifford have been awarded $655,000 by the National Science Foundation to study the cause of substantial increases in the concentrations of the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi (commonly called the combjelly) and determine the effects these increases could have on coastal ecosystems. An additional $244,000 was awarded to Dr. John Costello of Providence College to collaborate on the study.

Pelvic floor exercises can reduce incontinence in women
Three months after childbirth, a third of women still experience urinary incontinence, yet simple treatments such as pelvic floor exercises or bladder training are effective in about one in 10 women, concludes a study in this week's BMJ.

Prescribed burning may threaten ground nesting birds
Prescribed burning could be a good way to restore oak forests in the eastern U.S. -- but it might also have some unwanted ecological effects. The first study of bird recovery after prescribed burning shows that it can reduce populations of ground-nesting birds.

Scientists: future Atlantic hurricane picture is highly complex
This summer, a team of meteorologists predicted that the current resurgence in North Atlantic hurricane activity will continue for at least the next 10 to 40 years. That's only a small part of a complex tropical storm picture, NC State researchers say.

From embryo to placenta, gene transfer in primates a success
By successfully inserting a gene from a jellyfish into the fertilized eggs of rhesus monkeys, scientists have managed to make transgenic placentas, where the inserted gene functions as it does in the jellyfish.

Post-traumatic stress related to medical problems
Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder have more medical problems that bring them to the doctor's office than their peers without PTSD, according to a new study.

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