Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (September 2004)

Science news and science current events archive September, 2004.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from September 2004

Wildlife Conservation Society hosts public symposium on human-wildlife diseases
Working with wildlife health experts from around the world, WCS will host a one-day symposium on Sept. 29th at Rockefeller University in New York City to address the issue of emerging diseases shared by humans, wildlife and domestic animals. The symposium is free, but advance registration is required.

Marijuana use could cause tubal pregnancies
Marijuana use may increase the risk of ectopic (tubal) pregnancies, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center reported this week. The researchers studied CB1, a

A glass of red wine a day may keep prostate cancer away
Drinking a glass of red wine a day may cut a man's risk of prostate cancer in half, and the protective effect appears to be strongest against themost aggressive forms of the disease.

Activity level predicts and prevents heart disease in women better than focus on weight
Although excess body weight is associated with numerous heart disease risk factors, the body mass index (BMI) appears to be a poor predictor of both existing coronary artery disease and future risk of adverse events in women. A more valuable tool may be a self-reported assessment of physical activity and functional capacity. For heart disease prevention, the tendency to focus on body mass, waist circumference, waist-hip ratio and waist-height ratio fails to address the related but more important lack of physical fitness.

Rare childhood genetic syndrome identified
Researchers have identified a rare, previously undiscovered genetic syndrome that is often fatal by the second year of life, but which may be treatable with calcium channel-blocking drugs. The disease is characterized by a variety of problems including heart arrhythmias, congenital heart abnormalities, webbed hands and feet, a weakened immune system, cognitive abnormalities, and, surprisingly, autism.

UNH in nanotechnology consortium receiving $12.4 million NSF grant
The University of New Hampshire (UNH) and two other universities will share a $12.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for nanotechnology research.

Disease diagnosis, drug development focus of UH prof's biochip research
Leading the way to disease diagnosis and drug development, biochip research at the University of Houston will be presented to an international audience of top nanoscientists next week. UH Professor B. Montgomery Pettitt is one of only three American scientists among the 21 invited speakers at the Pacific Rim Nanoscience Conference Sept. 7-11 in Broome, Western Australia. He will talk about important design principles uncovered at UH for the next generation of biochips.

New surface chemistry may extend life of technology for making transistors
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a technique that uses surface chemistry to make tinier and more effective p-n junctions in silicon-based semiconductors. The method could permit the semiconductor industry to significantly extend the life of current ion-implantation technology for making transistors.

Hib infections on the rise in adults despite child vaccination programme
Cases of the Hib infection (haemophilus influenzae type b) among children and adults have risen in recent years, despite a vaccination programme which initially proved successful, say researchers in this week's BMJ.

Gum disease
Periodontal disease affects more than fifty percent of adults. Until recently, the only way for dentists to treat this condition involved use of a scalpel to remove diseased tissue. An article in the September/October 2004 issue of General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) clinical, peer-reviewed journal describes a new procedure on how lasers are being used to treat diseased gums.

Medication not effective in treating chronic fatigue syndrome
The drug galantamine (used for treatment of mild to moderate dementia) did not demonstrate a clinical benefit in treating chronic fatigue syndrome when compared with placebo, according to a study in the September 8 issue of JAMA.

New research shows air pollution can reduce children's lung function
Children who live in polluted communities are five times more likely to have clinically low lung function--less than 80 percent of the lung function expected for their age. New data from the Children's Health Study suggests that pollutants from vehicle emissions and fossil fuels hinder lung development and limit breathing capacity for a lifetime.

Survey highlights myth of multi-faith chaplaincy in hospitals
Hospital patients and staff of non-Christian religions have limited access to religious and spiritual care, a University of Edinburgh Professor has highlighted in this week's British Medical Journal (11 September, 2004).

Family predictors of girls' sex-typed activities
We measured girls' and parents' gender role attitudes, sex-typed personality qualities and sex-typed free time interests during annual home interviews.The findings of our study are consistent with the idea that characteristics of parents and girls themselves help determine whether girls stay involved in activities like sports, music, and dance in the face of

Coast-mapping satellites will follow the tides
Satellite image acquisitions will be synchronised with the tides as part of an ambitious new project to map coastlines from space.

Complex cells likely arose from combination of bacterial and extreme-microbe genomes
According to a new report, complex cells like those in the human body probably resulted from the fusion of genomes from an ancient bacterium and a simpler microbe, Archaea, best known for its ability to withstand extreme temperatures and hostile environments. The finding provides strong evidence that complex cells arose from combinations of simpler organisms in a symbiotic effort to survive.

Tracing genes, biologists show lizard migration is traced to Florida
A new study headed by biologists at Washington University in St. Louis shows that Florida is an exporter of more than just fruit and star athletes. Studying genetic variation in the common brown lizard, Anolis sagrei, the researchers found that introduced populations of the lizard in five different countries can be traced back to the Sunshine State as their site of export.

Plastic Surgery 2004: The true plastic surgery reality show coming to Philadelphia
In today's world, plastic surgery patients want treatments that are quick, require less recovery time and produce terrific results. Accepting the challenge, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) will host nearly 5,000 doctors, medical personnel and exhibitors in plastic surgery for Plastic Surgery 2004, the society's annual scientific meeting. The meeting, held Oct. 9-13 in Philadelphia, will help to ensure plastic surgeons continue to offer patients the latest techniques and technologies in plastic surgery.

Study reveals 'hidden' curriculum of humiliation in medical school
A 'hidden' curriculum of haphazard tuition and teaching by humiliation exists in undergraduate medical education, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Next generation solar cells may someday power NASA's robotic explorers
NASA recently awarded Rochester Institute of Technology and its research partners at the NASA Glenn Research Center and the Ohio Aerospace Institute, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University and the Space Vacuum Epitaxy Center at the University of Houston $6 million as part of the Human and Robotic Technology program to study nanomaterials and nanostructure for space photovoltaics. RIT will receive $1.2 million in support of its role in the project.

Boston University awarded $20.1 million for science of learning center
Use the science of learning to advance learning about learning: This is the premise that underlies a new five-year, $20.1 million grant to Boston University. Announced today by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the new BU Center of Excellence for Learning in Education, Science, and Technology (CELEST) is a multidisciplinary, collaborative research effort organized with the aim of developing a model of how the brain learns -- the science of learning.

Researchers identify the genome's controlling elements
Scientists have churned out dozens of genome sequences and won't be letting up any time soon. However, because a genome sequence is little more than a static list of chemicals, scientists are turning their attention to figuring out how organisms put their genes to work. Using yeast as a testing ground, researchers at Whitehead Institute have for the first time revealed all the

Long-term outcomes for liver transplantation due to hepatitis C
A new study on liver transplants necessitated by the hepatitis C virus (the most common indication for this type of transplant) found that long-term outcomes are similar to patients receiving transplants due to other diseases. It was the first study to examine long-term transplantation results in hepatitis C patients and to identify risk factors that might lead to transplant failure or death.

Genetic mutations linked to the practice of burning coal in homes in China
According to a study directed by Phouthone Keohavong, Ph.D., associate professor, department of environmental and occupational health, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, individuals in Xuan Wei County, China, exposed to smoky coal emissions from cooking and heating their homes may carry genetic mutations that greatly increase their risk of developing lung cancer. The study is being presented Oct. 3 at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Environmental Mutagen Society in Pittsburgh.

Cancer drug shows promise against lupus
A drug now used to treat a type of cancer appears to be very effective at treating lupus, with just one injection easing symptoms in several patients for a year or more. Doctors tested the medication rituximab, approved in 1997 to treat lymphoma, in patients with lupus; both diseases involve immune cells known as B cells. The results of the small study are very promising, doctors say.

A one-two punch for tumors
Cancer researchers have long suggested that new targeted drugs may work best when paired with other therapies. In a new study published today in Cancer Research, scientists have taken some of the first steps to demonstrate this synergy in mouse and cell line models. The findings show that two different drugs may work better in a

Wealth does not create individual happiness and it doesn't build a strong country, either
A study in the recent issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest addresses how economic status is no longer a sufficient gauge of a nation's well-being. The authors argue that the psychological well-being of its citizens is the greatest measure of a nation-- not the well-being of its economy.

Washington University in St. Louis leads group studying aging process
A research team of biologists and engineers led by faculty at Washington University in St. Louis is seeking to find the Fountain of Youth - not in Florida, but in photosynthetic cyanobacteria. Looking at the cellular systems in cyanobacteria, and then in a model plant and a moss species, these researchers want to determine how these organisms protect themselves from radicals, which are chemical culprits in the aging process in everything from bacteria to human beings.

LA BioMed research briefs
This release contains research briefs from the current issue of LA BioMed.

Boston University biomedical engineer among 100 young innovators to be honored by Technology Review
Timothy S. Gardner, research associate and assistant professor of biomedical engineering in Boston University's College of Engineering, has been selected as one of the world's 100

Self-assembling designer molecules that mimic nature could lead to nano-device advances
By combining concepts from block co-polymers and dendrimers, Cornell University researchers jhave created new class of synthesized molecules capable of self-assembly into orderly structures, offering a way to build nanodevices smaller than is possible with lithography.

Half of patients with aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are under-treated
Approximately half of patients with aggressive non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) fail to receive the recommended dose and schedule of chemotherapy, reducing their chances for remission or cure. The nationwide study of 4,522 patients found that 48 to 53 percent of NHL patients received less than 85 percent of the recommended chemotherapy dose intensity due to dose reduction or treatment delays of at least one week. Last year Lyman presented similar findings for breast cancer patients.

Teenagers' perceptions of math and English
To explore students' beliefs about how good they thought they were in each subject (Math and English), how hard they believed the subjects were, and how interesting and useful they considered the subjects, we followed 1,323 students from grades 7 through 11. We found significant gender differences which remained remarkably stable over time, with boys favoring math and girls favoring English. This finding suggests that such impressions are formed early on in a child's education and remain in place throughout their development.

ESO views of Earth-approaching asteroid Toutatis
Several photos of asteroid Toutatis that passes the Earth today have been obtained this morning from the ESO observatories at La Silla and Paranal (Chile). They provide a unique illustration of the

The search for a kinder, gentler chemotherapy
Scientists use nanoparticles in the lab to selectively target cancer cells in an effort to bypass the harmful side effects of traditional chemotherapy.

Researchers discover 'hole' in global warming predictions
In the central United States, temperatures may not rise as high in the future, scientists from Saint Louis University and Iowa State University say.

Cancer survivors' other medical problems poorly managed
People who survive cancer are less likely to receive necessary care for a wide range of other non-cancer-related medical problems according to a new study. The study suggests that a history of cancer may cause health care providers to ignore other chronic medical ailments, such as heart disease, heart failure, diabetes, and lung disease.

Rare deficit maps thinking circuitry
Using brain imaging, neuroscientists have pinpointed the site of a defect in a brain circuit associated with a specific thinking deficit. The study demonstrates how a rare genetic disorder, Williams Syndrome, can offer clues as to how genetic flaws may translate into cognitive symptoms in more common and complex major mental disorders. The thinking deficit was traced to a circuit at the back of the brain that processes locations of objects in the visual field.

News briefs from the journal Chest, September 2004
News briefs from the September issue of the journal CHEST highlight studies related to snoring risk factors for children, lung cancer staging, and quality of life for emphysema patients.

Agronomy, crop, and soil science societies to meet Oct. 31 to Nov. 4 in Seattle
Over 300 scientific sessions, 75 symposia, and 2,800+ research papers/posters will be presented as more than 4,000 delegates from 100 countries gather to attend the Annual Meetings of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) Oct. 31 to Nov. 4, in Seattle. The searchable schedule for presentations of the scientific papers are available at:
Study findings question claims of significant savings from pharmacy dose consolidation programs
Previously published research suggests that programs encouraging physicians to prescribe once-daily strength tablets instead of two lower-strength tablets when the cost is the same, would save money. However, in a study published by the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy, while savings opportunities from these programs were found, the savings may not be enough to justify costs plan sponsors would incur educating physicians and patients on the benefits of changing to a single, less expensive dose.

Landmark gene agreement announced by Samoan government and UC Berkeley for anti-AIDS drug Prostratin
The University of California, Berkeley, has signed an agreement with the Samoan government to isolate from an indigenous tree the gene for a promising anti-AIDS drug and to share any royalties from sale of a gene-derived drug with the people of Samoa. The agreement supports Samoa's assertion of national sovereignty over the gene sequence of Prostratin, a drug extracted from the bark of the mamala tree (Homalanthus nutans).

Changing the face of academic medicine
Academic medicine is failing to drive innovation and excellence in clinical practice, argue an international group of leading medical academics, in this week's BMJ.

Targeting stress response proteins on breast, prostate tumor cells shows promise
Stress response proteins present on the outside of cancer cells offer a promising target for a novel drug

Preferential parental treatment of siblings
We examined the family as a system to learn if differential parenting would have a negative influence on all children, not just those subjected to more negative treatment. We investigated using information collected in three child development studies, two from Canada and one from the U.S. This study shows that inequitable parental treatment of siblings has the potential to impact adversely not just on the siblings who perceive themselves to be

Sleeping problems could be a barrier to space exploration
Space travel could significantly disrupt the human body clock, affecting the health of astronauts and creating a further barrier to space exploration, warn scientists.

Microbes eat their way to better concrete
Two South Dakota School of Mines and Technology researchers are creating living organisms that may provide a better way to seal cracks in concrete.

Walking associated with reduced risk of dementia in older men
Older men who walked the least in a comparison group had nearly twice the risk for dementia compared to men who walked the most, according to a study in the September 22/29 issue of JAMA.

Big cities and small towns bear similar risks of gun death
Americans in small towns are statistically as likely to die from gunfire as people in major cities, according to Penn epidemiologists, with one key distinction. After adjusting for income, education, employment, and other factors, rural counties had over 1.5 times the rate of gun suicides compared to urban counties. Simultaneously, urban areas experienced almost twice the gun homicide rate of rural counties.

ConocoPhillips & Conservation International launch 'Biodiversity Action Plan' in Venezuela
Working to protect one of the Caribbean's most important regions for marine species, Conservation International and ConocoPhillips have launched a Biodiversity Action Plan to promote environmental protection and economic development as part of the company's oil production strategy in Venezuela's Gulf of Paria. While many local communities rely on local marine life for economic survival, the area is under increasing pressure from petroleum production and fishing practices that are depleting local fish and shrimp stocks. 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