Wednesday, April 20, 2011

ScienceDaily: Latest Science News

ScienceDaily: Latest Science News

Antibiotics cure anthrax in animal models

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 06:49 PM PDT

In the absence of early antibiotic treatment, respiratory anthrax is fatal. The 2001 bioterrorism attacks in the US killed four people, out of 22 infected (10 of them with respiratory anthrax), despite massive antibiotic administration, probably because therapy did not begin until the disease had reached the fulminant stage. But a multi-agent prophylaxis initiated within 24 hours post-infection prevented development of fatal anthrax respiratory disease, and treatment combining antibiotics with immunization with a protective antigen-based vaccine conferred long-term protective immunity against reestablishment of the disease, according to a new study.

C. difficile colonization accompanied by changes in gut microbiota: Study hints at probiotics as treatment

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 06:48 PM PDT

Asymptomatic colonization by Clostridium difficile, absent the use of antibiotics, is common in infants and when it happens changes occur in the composition of the gut microbiota, according to new research.

Anti-HIV vaginal gel promising for protection in Africa, SE Asia

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 06:48 PM PDT

A new vaginal microbicide gel and drug formulation looks promising for empowering women in developing countries to protect themselves from HIV during intercourse, without having to inform their partners, according to new research.

Antibiotics disrupt gut ecology, metabolism

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 06:47 PM PDT

Humans carry several pounds of microbes in our gastro-intestinal tracts. Recent research suggests that this microbial ecosystem plays a variety of critical roles in our health. Now, working in a mouse model, researchers from Canada describe many of the interactions between the intestinal microbiota and host, and show that antibiotics profoundly disrupt intestinal homeostasis.

Plankton fossils tell tale of evolution and extinction

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 06:23 PM PDT

Scientists studying the fossils of tiny ocean-dwelling plankton, called foraminifera, have uncovered another piece in the puzzle of why species evolve or become extinct.

e-MERLIN set to give wizard new view of Hubble Deep Field region

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 05:58 PM PDT

The Hubble Deep Field (HDF), taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in the 1990s, is one of the most iconic images in astronomy. Now, astronomers at Jodrell Bank Observatory have produced a high-resolution mosaic of the HDF region using observations from the MERLIN and VLA radio telescope arrays, as well as the new e-MERLIN array.

Culture shift needed to address sickness absence in police service in UK, expert says

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 05:57 PM PDT

A major culture shift is needed to address the problems of long term sickness absence in the police service in the UK, an expert argues in a new article.

Experts question whether preventive drugs are value for money

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 05:57 PM PDT

Writing in a new article, experts challenge the view that popular drugs to prevent disease -- like statins and anti-hypertensives to prevent heart disease and stroke, or bisphosphonates to prevent fractures -- represent value for money.

Study adds weight to link between calcium supplements and heart problems

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 05:57 PM PDT

New research adds to mounting evidence that calcium supplements increase the risk of cardiovascular events, particularly heart attacks, in older women.

Link between brain molecule and obesity and diabetes discovered

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 05:57 PM PDT

The brain's hypothalamus plays a key role in obesity and one of its major complications -- Type 2 diabetes. Nerve cells in the hypothalamus detect nutrients and hormones circulating in the blood and then coordinate a complex series of behavioral and physiological responses to maintain a balance between calories eaten and calories burned. Obesity and diabetes can result when this regulatory mechanism goes awry. Now, research has revealed a molecule in the brain that may contribute to those health problems, both of which are reaching epidemic proportions.

C. difficile increases risk of death six-fold in patients with inflammatory bowel disease

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 05:57 PM PDT

Patients admitted to hospital with inflammatory bowel disease face a sixfold greater risk of death if they become infected with Clostridium difficile, a new study has found.

Decoding human genes is goal of new open-source encyclopedia

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 05:55 PM PDT

A massive database cataloging the functional components of the human genome is being made available as an open resource to scientists, classrooms, science writers, and the public, thanks to an international team of scientists.

Improved recovery of motor function after stroke

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 05:55 PM PDT

After the acute treatment window closes, the only effective treatment for stroke is physical/occupational therapy. Now scientists report a two-pronged molecular therapy that leads to significant recovery of skilled motor function in a rat model of stroke.

Advice vs. experience: Genes predict learning style

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 05:55 PM PDT

A new study finds a specific genetic association with adhering to advice that conflicts with experience. Variations in certain genes lead to a strong-willed prefrontal cortex that can bias the striatum, where experience is analyzed.

Satellite tracking of sea turtles reveals potential threat posed by human-made chemicals

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 05:55 PM PDT

The first research to actively analyze adult male sea turtles using satellite tracking to link geography with pollutants has revealed the potential risks posed to this threatened species by human-made chemicals. The research examines the different levels of chemicals in the blood of both migratory and residential turtles.

Distribution of British soil bacteria mapped for the first time

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 05:55 PM PDT

Britain's soil bacteria have been mapped for the first time in the most comprehensive study of a country's soil biodiversity to date. To complete the map the scientific team analyzed over 1,000 soil cores from England, Scotland and Wales, examining microbial DNA sequences in the laboratory to map bacterial biodiversity.

Gold prices spur six-fold spike in Amazon deforestation

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 05:55 PM PDT

Deforestation in parts of the Peruvian Amazon has increased six-fold in recent years as small-scale miners, driven by record gold prices, blast and clear more of the lowland rainforest, according to a study.

Routine rotavirus vaccination in Brazil has reduced diarrhea deaths in children

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 05:55 PM PDT

Rotavirus vaccination in all areas of Brazil is associated with reduced diarrhea-related deaths and hospital admissions in children aged under five years, a new study reports.

Satisfied people are more likely to vote

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 04:15 PM PDT

Contented people are more likely to vote than unhappy ones, according to a new study.

King crabs invade Antarctica

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 04:10 PM PDT

It's like a scene out of a sci-fi movie -- thousands, possibly millions, of king crabs are marching through icy, deep-sea waters and up the Antarctic slope.

Study pinpoints common critical errors in teen crashes

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 04:00 PM PDT

A recent study hones in on the most common errors teen drivers make that lead to a serious crash. Teen drivers are involved in fatal crashes at four times the rate of adults.

Canola oil protects against colon cancer, study suggests

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 03:51 PM PDT

A study of canola oil finds that it reduces the size and incidence of colon tumors in laboratory animals, a scientist says.

Gene necessary for successful repair of muscle damage identified

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 01:58 PM PDT

Scientists are a step closer to treating, and perhaps preventing, muscle damage caused by neurodegenerative disorders and other forms of disease. They have discovered that the gene polymerase I and transcript release factor, or PTRF, is an essential component of the cell process that repairs damaged muscle tissue. This discovery has the potential to lead to development of therapeutic treatment for patients who suffer from severe complications of diseases such as muscular dystrophy, cardiovascular disorders and other degenerative conditions.

How do you get a fruit fly to exercise?

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 01:53 PM PDT

A professor puts his fruit flies through a grueling daily workout in a quest to understand how their genes respond to exercise and to uncover clues that may one day help people stay healthier and more active into their advanced years.

Nearly 3,000 new Walt Whitman papers discovered

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 01:44 PM PDT

As a clerk in the U.S. Attorney General's Office in the 1860s and 1870s, Walt Whitman had a firsthand view of the legal, cultural and ideological challenges facing the nation after the Civil War. That experience, most believe, shaped his later works of poetry and prose. Now, a university researcher has discovered nearly 3,000 previously unknown Whitman documents from that era -- a trove of information that sheds new light on the legendary poet's post-war thinking, as well as on Whitman's published reflections on the state of the nation that soon followed.

Biophysicist targeting IL-6 to halt breast, prostate cancer

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 01:42 PM PDT

A biophysicist is using supercomputer resources to search thousands of molecular combinations for the best configuration to block a protein that can cause breast or prostate cancer.

LED efficiency puzzle solved by theorists using quantum-mechanical calculations

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 01:42 PM PDT

Researchers say they've figured out the cause of a problem that's made light-emitting diodes (LEDs) impractical for general lighting purposes. Their work will help engineers develop a new generation of high-performance, energy-efficient lighting that could replace incandescent and fluorescent bulbs.

Decoding cancer patients' genomes is powerful diagnostic tool

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 01:42 PM PDT

Two new studies highlight the power of sequencing cancer patients' genomes as a diagnostic tool, helping doctors decide the best course of treatment and researchers identify new cancer susceptibility mutations that can be passed from parent to child.

Study finds decrease in length of hospital stay after hip replacement, but increase in readmissions

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 01:42 PM PDT

An analysis of data from Medicare beneficiaries who underwent hip replacement or subsequent follow-up corrective surgery between 1991 and 2008 indicates that the length of hospital stay after surgery declined during this time period, as did the proportion of patients discharged home, while there was an increase in the rate of hospital readmissions and discharge to a skilled care facility.

Pronghorn tracked by satellite

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 01:38 PM PDT

The pronghorn were captured in a helicopter netting operation on February 28, fitted with the collars, and released. The collars are scheduled to "drop off" of the animals at a future date through an automated release mechanism.

Filters that reduce ‘brain clutter’ identified

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 01:32 PM PDT

Until now, it has been assumed that people with conditions like ADHD, Tourette syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia -- all of whom characteristically report symptoms of "brain clutter" -- may suffer from anomalies in the brain's prefrontal cortex. But a researcher has brought new hope to these patients. He believes the key to the "brain clutter" and impulsivity shown by individuals with dysfunctional prefrontal cortices lies in a malfunction of a specific type of brain cell.

Professor notices Abe Lincoln's signature on a picture hanging in his office

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 01:26 PM PDT

When a professor looked a bit closer at a picture that had been hanging in his office for a few years, he noticed what looked like a signature belonging to the nation's 16th president. Curiosity got the better of him, so he contacted a Lincoln authority. The signature turned out to be authentic.

Using duck eggs to track climate change

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 01:19 PM PDT

Julie DeJong can't set foot on the ground of an Oregon marsh to gather duck eggs on a spring day in 1875. But Charles Bendire did. And thanks to a research project that is the next best thing to time travel, DeJong is measuring the duck eggs in several museum collections. When her project is done, DeJong will have assembled and analyzed a metrics database on perhaps 60,000 duck eggs representing at least 40 species and subspecies of ducks found in North America.

One year later, oil spill’s impact on Gulf not fully understood

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 01:14 PM PDT

One year after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began on April 20, 2010, two experts comment on the known and unknown impacts to wildlife -- in the air, on the land and in the sea.

Researcher use trees to detect contaminants and health threats

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 01:03 PM PDT

Researchers have developed a method to detect the presence of soil and groundwater contamination without turning a shovel or touching the water. Instead, they're using trees.

Limitations of question about race can create inaccurate picture of health-care disparities

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 12:18 PM PDT

What race best describes your background? That one question, which appears on most paperwork for health care, could leave entire groups of people underserved and contribute to racial health disparities, according to new research.

Exploiting the stress response to detonate mitochondria in cancer cells

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 12:18 PM PDT

Researchers have found a new way to force cancer cells to self-destruct. Low doses of a drug that disrupts mitochondria allows a second drug to push the cell toward apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Their findings show how this combination approach synergistically kills tumor cells in both mouse models of glioblastoma and human glioblastoma cells.

How American consumers view debt: A case study

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 12:14 PM PDT

A new study suggests that while younger Americans are more smitten with credit cards and debt than older Americans, the older generation helps enable their children by encouraging use of credit as a "safety mechanism."

Biologically inspired catalysts being developed

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 12:14 PM PDT

A research team is developing biologically-inspired catalysts. The work is based on organic catalytic framework made sturdy by the replacement of carbon-hydrogen bonds with a combination of aromatic and aliphatic carbon-fluorine bonds.

Hundreds of barrier islands newly identified in global survey

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 12:14 PM PDT

Earth has 657 more barrier islands than previously thought, according to a new global survey by researchers.

Rational, emotional reasons guide genetic-testing choices, study finds

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 12:14 PM PDT

Consumers decide whether to use mail-in genetic tests based on both rational and emotional reasons, a finding that adds to a growing body of health-care behavior research on information seeking and avoidance, according to researchers.

'3-D towers' of information double data storage areal density

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 12:14 PM PDT

Using well-known patterned media, a team of researchers in France has figured out a way to double the areal density of information by essentially cutting the magnetic media into small pieces and building a "3-D tower" out of it.

Spring-cleaning the mind? Study shows a cluttered brain doesn't remember

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 12:14 PM PDT

Lapses in memory occur more frequently with age, yet the reasons for this increasing forgetfulness have not always been clear. According to new research, older individuals have reduced learning and memory because their minds tend to be cluttered with irrelevant information when performing tasks. The findings offer new insights into why aging is associated with a decline in memory and may lead to practical solutions.

Missing link in plant defense against fungal disease found

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 12:14 PM PDT

Scientists report on a discovery in a key component in the signaling pathway that regulates the production of phytoalexins to kill the disease-causing fungus Botrytis cinerea.

Breed-specific causes of death in dogs revealed in landmark study

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 12:14 PM PDT

Dog owners and veterinarians have long relied on a mix of limited data and anecdotal evidence to assess which breeds are at risk of dying from various conditions, but a new study provides a rare and comprehensive look at causes of death in more than 80 breeds.

Green environments essential for human health, research shows

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 12:14 PM PDT

Research shows that a walk in the park is more than just a nice way to spend an afternoon. It's an essential component for good health, according to an environment and behavior researcher.

Clumsy avatars: Perfection versus mortality in games and simulation

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 12:10 PM PDT

Willy Nilly's Surf Shack offers a cure for the idealized virtual world of Second Life. The online shop endows otherwise flawless avatars with real-world foils like clumsiness. A project allowing avatars to visibly age over time is in the works.

Right-handedness prevailed 500,000 years ago

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 10:15 AM PDT

Markings on fossilized front teeth show that right-handedness goes back a half-million years in the human family.

Miniature invisibility 'carpet cloak' hides more than its small size implies

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 10:15 AM PDT

Invisibility cloaking techniques have come with a significant limitation -- they need to be orders of magnitude larger than the object being cloaked. A team of physicists may have overcome this size limitation by using a technology known as a "carpet cloaks," which can conceal a much larger area than other cloaking techniques of comparable size.

Minimizing side effects from chemoradiation could help brain cancer patients live longer

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 10:15 AM PDT

Minimizing neurological side effects in patients with high-grade glioma from chemoradiation may result in improved patient survival, a new study suggests.

New biosensor microchip could speed up drug development, researchers say

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 10:15 AM PDT

A new biosensor microchip that could hold more than 100,000 magnetically sensitive nanosensors could speed up drug development markedly, researchers say. The nanosensors analyze how proteins bond -- a critical step in drug development. The ultrasensitive sensors can simultaneously monitor thousands of times more proteins than existing technology, deliver results faster and assess the strength of the bonds.

New discovery may block amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease process

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 10:15 AM PDT

In the first animal model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, scientists have found in fruit flies that blocking the abnormal movement of a protein made by a mutated gene called FUS also blocks the disease process.

A cancer marker and treatment in one?

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 10:15 AM PDT

Researchers say antibodies to a non-human sugar molecule commonly found in people may be useful as a future biomarker for predicting cancer risk, for diagnosing cancer cases early and, in sufficient concentration, used as a treatment for suppressing tumor growth.

How can we measure infants' pain after an operation?

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 10:15 AM PDT

It turns out to be difficult to find out exactly how much a child who cannot yet speak suffers after a surgical operation. Researchers in Spain have validated the 'Llanto' scale, the first, and only, tool in Spanish which measures infant pain rapidly and simply.

Scientists examine psychiatric disorders linked with epilepsy

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 09:14 AM PDT

Researchers from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, have conducted the first study of its kind to examine in detail, the basis of psychiatric disorders which occur in people with epilepsy. The findings of this study showed similarities with the brain cell patterns in people with schizophrenia. The research gives greater insights into both conditions which may potentially lead to new treatments in the future.

Changes in land use favor the expansion of wild ungulates

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 09:14 AM PDT

Mediterranean landscapes have undergone great change in recent decades, but species have adapted to this, at least in the case of roe deer, Spanish ibex, red deer and wild boar. This has been shown by Spanish researchers who have analyzed the effects of changes in land use on the past, present and future distribution of these species.

Gulf oil spill similar to Exxon Valdez in initial social and mental impacts, study finds

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 09:13 AM PDT

The BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill caused social disruption and psychological stress among Gulf residents that is similar to the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez spill and the impacts are likely to persist for years, a new study finds.

Link between breast implants and rare form of cancer confirmed, but cause remains unclear

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 09:13 AM PDT

Breast implants appear to be associated with a rare form of lymphoma, but there is not yet evidence to show that the cancer is caused by implants or to suggest an underlying mechanism for how the disease might develop, according to a new study.

Study suggests another look at testosterone-prostate cancer link

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 09:13 AM PDT

The long-standing prohibition against testosterone therapy in men with untreated or low-risk prostate cancer merits reevaluation, according to a new study.

Taking aim at tumors

Posted: 19 Apr 2011 09:13 AM PDT

Many of the newest weapons in the war on cancer come in the form of personalized therapies that can target specific changes in an individual's tumor. By disrupting molecular processes in tumor cells, these drugs can keep the tumor from growing and spreading. Researchers are now deploying a new tool in their study of an enzyme called tubulin tyrosine ligase, or TTL.

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