Kamis, 30 Desember 2010

ScienceDaily Top Science Headlines

for Thursday, December 30, 2010

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98.6 degrees Fahrenheit ideal temperature for keeping fungi away and food at bay (December 30, 2010) -- Two researchers have found that our 98.6 F (37 C) body temperature strikes a perfect balance: warm enough to ward off fungal infection but not so hot that we need to eat nonstop to maintain our metabolism. ... > full story

Coma and general anesthesia demonstrate important similarities (December 30, 2010) -- The brain under general anesthesia isn't "asleep" as surgery patients are often told -- it is placed into a state that is a reversible coma, according to three neuroscientists who have recently published an extensive review of general anesthesia, sleep and coma. This insight and others reported in their review article could eventually lead to new approaches to general anesthesia and improved diagnosis and treatment for sleep abnormalities and emergence from coma. ... > full story

Mariana crow will go extinct in 75 years, study suggests (December 30, 2010) -- Researchers say the Mariana crow, a forest crow living on Rota Island in the western Pacific Ocean, will go extinct in 75 years. The extinction could happen almost twice as soon as previously believed. ... > full story

Diabetes: Poor response to anti-anemia drug predicts higher risk of heart disease or death (December 30, 2010) -- Patients with diabetes, kidney disease and anemia who don't respond to treatment with an anti-anemia drug have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease or death, researchers have found. ... > full story

Catching video pirates: Invisible DNA-like fingerprint on video assist law enforcement (December 30, 2010) -- Scientists are applying an invisible DNA-like fingerprint to film, turning the footage into a series of numbers. When the film is then bootlegged onto the Internet, the invisible fingerprint goes with it, so that it can be traced over the Web -- back to the original video pirate, who can then be tracked and arrested. ... > full story

Doctors should be required to disclose sleep deprived status to patients before elective surgeries, experts urge (December 30, 2010) -- While regulations have been put in place to restrict the work hours of doctors in training, no such regulations exist for fully trained physicians. An editorial argues that sleep-deprived physicians should not be permitted to proceed with an elective surgery without a patient's informed, written consent. ... > full story

MRI scans reveal brain changes in people at genetic risk for Alzheimer's (December 30, 2010) -- People with a known, high risk for Alzheimer's disease develop abnormal brain function even before the appearance of telltale, amyloid plaques that are characteristic of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study. The findings suggest that a gene variant affects brain function long before the brain begins accumulating the amyloid that will eventually lead to dementia. ... > full story

Protein involved in cystic fibrosis also plays role in emphysema, chronic lung disease (December 30, 2010) -- Researchers have discovered that a protein involved in cystic fibrosis also regulates inflammation and cell death in emphysema and may be responsible for other chronic lung diseases. The findings pave the way toward new treatments to prevent lung damage caused by infections or cigarette smoke in emphysema. ... > full story

Back to the Dead Sea: Climate change study digs into half a million years of history (December 30, 2010) -- A new study is digging underneath the Dead Sea to reveal the historical health of the planet through the last 500,000 years -- and to learn more about what climate change may hold in store for our planet. ... > full story

African-Americans with liver cancer more likely to die, study finds (December 30, 2010) -- African-Americans with early stage liver cancer were more likely than white patients to die from their disease, according to a new study. Five years after diagnosis, 18 percent of white liver cancer patients were alive but only 15 percent of Hispanic patients and 12 percent of black patients were. Median survival times ranged from 10 months for whites and Hispanics to 8 months for blacks. The researchers also found racial and ethnic disparities in how often patients received treatment, with black and Hispanic patients less likely than whites to have any kind of treatment. ... > full story

Vertical search across the educational horizon: New search tools could facilitate access to online educational resources (December 30, 2010) -- General search engines, while very effective at tracking down information, are nevertheless unstructured, which limits the user's ability to further automate the processing of the search results, researchers point out in a new article. ... > full story

Mortality rates are an unreliable metric for assessing hospital quality, study finds (December 30, 2010) -- A comparative analysis found wide disparities in the results of four common measures of hospital-wide mortality rates, with competing methods yielding both higher- and lower-than-expected rates for the same Massachusetts hospitals during the same year. ... > full story

'Breathalyzers' may be useful for medical diagnostics (December 29, 2010) -- Researchers have overcome a fundamental obstacle in developing breath-analysis technology to rapidly diagnose patients by detecting chemical compounds called "biomarkers" in a person's respiration in real time. ... > full story

Human protein improves muscle function of muscular dystrophy mice (December 29, 2010) -- A novel potential therapy based on a natural human protein significantly slows muscle damage and improves function in mice who have the same genetic mutation as boys with the most common form of muscular dystrophy. Now headed toward human trials, biglycan significantly slows the weakening of muscles in mice with the genetic mutation that causes muscular dystrophy. Biglycan causes utrophin,a natural muscle-building protein prevalent in young children, to collect in muscle cell membranes. ... > full story

Microfluidic device rapidly orients hundreds of embryos for high-throughput experiments (December 29, 2010) -- Researchers have developed a microfluidic device that automatically orients hundreds of fruit fly embryos to prepare them for research. The device could facilitate the study of such issues as how organisms develop their complex structures from single cells. ... > full story

How cortical nerve cells form synapses with neighbors (December 29, 2010) -- Important new light has been shed on how neurons in the developing brain make connections with one another. This activity, called synapse validation, is at the heart of the process by which neural circuits self-assemble. ... > full story

New chemical-free, anti-bacterial plastic 'skins' inspired by dolphin skin (December 29, 2010) -- Taking inspiration from animals like dolphins and pilot whales that are known to have anti-fouling skins, researchers are using nanotechnology to create synthetic, chemical-free, anti-bacterial surfaces. ... > full story

Structure deep within the brain may contribute to a rich, varied social life (December 29, 2010) -- Scientists have discovered that the amygdala, a small almond shaped structure deep within the temporal lobe, is important to a rich and varied social life among humans. ... > full story

Rodents were diverse and abundant in prehistoric Africa when our human ancestors evolved (December 29, 2010) -- Rodents have been one of the most common mammals in Africa for 50 million years. From deserts to rainforests, they flourished in prehistoric Africa, making them a plentiful food source. Now paleontologists are using rodent fossils to corroborate evidence from geology and plant and animal fossils about the ancient environments of our human ancestors and other mammals. ... > full story

Gene alteration in mice mimics heart-building effect of exercise (December 29, 2010) -- By tweaking a single gene, scientists have mimicked in sedentary mice the heart-strengthening effects of two weeks of endurance training, according to new research. The specific gene manipulation can't be done in humans, they say, but the findings may suggest a future strategy for repairing injured hearts through muscle regeneration. ... > full story

Protein helps parasite, toxoplasma gondii, survive in host cells (December 29, 2010) -- Researchers have learned why changes in a single gene, ROP18, contribute substantially to dangerous forms of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. The answer has likely moved science a step closer to new ways to beat Toxoplasma and many other parasites. ... > full story

Food in early life affects fertility, study suggests (December 29, 2010) -- The reproductive success of men and women is influenced by the food they receive at an early stage in life, according to new research. ... > full story

Comprehensive report on sudden oak death (December 29, 2010) -- Scientists have prepared a comprehensive report on the exotic invasive, quarantine sudden oak death pathogen. The report includes a history of sudden oak death, identification and distribution of the disease, epidemiology and modeling, management and control and economic and environmental impacts. ... > full story

Doctors on Facebook risk compromising doctor-patient relationship, study suggests (December 29, 2010) -- Doctors with a profile on the social networking site Facebook may be compromising the doctor-patient relationship, because they don't deploy sufficient privacy settings, new research suggests. ... > full story

Dust shatters like glass: Several times more dust particles in atmosphere than previously thought (December 29, 2010) -- Microscopic particles of dust, emitted into the atmosphere when dirt breaks apart, follow similar fragment patterns as broken glass and other brittle objects, according to new research. The research suggests there are several times more dust particles in the atmosphere than previously believed, since shattered dirt appears to produce an unexpectedly high number of large dust fragments. The finding has implications for understanding future climate change because dust plays a significant role in controlling the amount of solar energy in the atmosphere. ... > full story

Key interaction in hepatitis C virus identified (December 29, 2010) -- Scientists have identified a molecular interaction between a structural hepatitis C virus protein and a protein critical to viral replication. This new finding strongly suggests a novel method of inhibiting the production of the virus and a potential new therapeutic target for hepatitis C drug development. ... > full story

SOHO spots 2,000th comet (December 29, 2010) -- As people on Earth celebrate the holidays and prepare to ring in the New Year, an ESA/NASA spacecraft has quietly reached its own milestone: on Dec. 26, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) discovered its 2,000th comet. ... > full story

Activity of certain stem cell genes linked with worse outcomes in acute myeloid leukemia patients (December 29, 2010) -- Leukemia patients whose cancers express higher levels of genes associated with cancer stem cells have a significantly poorer prognosis than patients with lower levels of the genes, according to new research. ... > full story

Hot embossing glass -- to the nearest micrometer (December 29, 2010) -- The lens is what matters: if lens arrays could be made of glass, it would be possible to make more conveniently sized projectors. Researchers have now developed a process that allows this key component to be mass produced with extreme accuracy. ... > full story

Environmental factors limit species diversity, lizard study finds (December 29, 2010) -- New research on lizards in the Caribbean demonstrates that species diversification is limited by the environment. The finding supports and extends the MacArthur-Wilson theory of island biogeography. ... > full story

Many cancer cells found to have an 'eat me' signal (December 29, 2010) -- Researchers have discovered that many cancer cells carry the seeds of their own destruction -- a protein on the cell surface that signals circulating immune cells to engulf and digest them. On cancer cells, this "eat me" signal is counteracted by a separate "don't eat me" signal that was described in an earlier study. ... > full story

Mechanism for signaling receptor recycling discovered (December 29, 2010) -- Researchers have discovered the mechanism by which signaling receptors recycle, a critical piece in understanding signaling receptor function. Scientists describe how a signaling receptor travels back to the cell membrane after it has been activated and internalized. ... > full story

Virus previously linked to chronic fatigue syndrome was a lab contaminant, not cause of disease, new study shows (December 29, 2010) -- A virus previously thought to be associated with chronic fatigue syndrome is not the cause of the disease, a detailed study has shown. The research shows that cell samples used in previous research were contaminated with the virus identified as XMRV and that XMRV is present in the mouse genome. ... > full story

New technology improves greenhouse, plant microclimates (December 29, 2010) -- New technology improves greenhouse climates by reducing solar heat radiation and temperatures during the hot summer season. The study was the first investigation into the effects of application of the liquid foam technology as a shading method. Results showed that the technology improved greenhouse and plant microclimates and decreased air temperature more than conventional shading curtains traditionally used by greenhouse growers. ... > full story

Quitting menthol cigarettes may be harder for some smokers (December 29, 2010) -- Menthol cigarettes may be harder to quit, particularly for some teens and African-Americans, who have the highest menthol cigarette use, according to a new study. ... > full story

Finest chocolate may get better: Cacao tree genome sequenced (December 28, 2010) -- The production of high quality chocolate, and the farmers who grow it, will benefit from the recent sequencing and assembly of the chocolate tree genome. ... > full story

New clues uncover how 'starvation hormone' works (December 28, 2010) -- Researchers may solve a 17-year-old mystery about how the so-called "starvation hormone" affects multiple biological systems, including preventing insulin sensitivity and promoting cell survival. ... > full story

Malaria-infected cells stiffen, block blood flow (December 28, 2010) -- Researchers have completed the first modeling, followed by experiments, of how red blood cells are infected by a malarial parasite that attacks the brain. The researchers report that infected cells stiffen by as much as 50 times more than healthy cells. Infected cells also tend to stick along blood vessel walls, impeding the flow of blood to critical organs. ... > full story

Exposure to North Dakota road material may increase risk of lung cancer (December 28, 2010) -- New data shows that people exposed to the mineral erionite found in the gravel of road materials in North Dakota may be at significantly increased risk of developing mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer most often associated with asbestos exposure. ... > full story

Mechanisms of juvenile hormone action in insects could help fine tune pesticides (December 28, 2010) -- Just as raging hormones are part of the process of a child's maturation through the teen years to adulthood, juvenile hormones, a group of insect isoprenoids, play an important role as butterflies, fruit flies and mosquitoes transform their body structures as they molt from larva to pupa and then adults. Researchers have discovered an important step in the activation of juvenile hormone target genes. ... > full story

Parents' social problems affect their children -- even in birds (December 28, 2010) -- The phrase "nature versus nurture" was coined in the mid-19th century by the English scientist Francis Galton and symbolizes the debate over the relative importance of inherited factors and the environment (or upbringing) in determining the behavior of offspring. The issue has been complicated by the discovery of "epigenetic" effects, by which especially mothers can alter the genetic material they pass on to their young. A further twist to the story is provided by the finding that female birds can affect their chicks by adding varying amounts of hormones to the eggs. And a recent study has revealed that the social environment of mother quails has a direct influence on the growth and the behaviour of their young. ... > full story

When the black hole was born: Astronomers identify the epoch of the first fast growth of black holes (December 28, 2010) -- A team of astronomers has determined that the era of first fast growth of the most massive black holes occurred when the universe was only about 1.2 billion years old -- not two to four billion years old, as was previously believed -- and they're growing at a very fast rate. ... > full story

Newborns with low vitamin D levels at increased risk for respiratory infections (December 28, 2010) -- The vitamin D levels of newborn babies appear to predict their risk of respiratory infections during infancy and the occurrence of wheezing during early childhood, but not the risk of developing asthma. ... > full story

Woodland strawberry genome sequenced (December 28, 2010) -- The strawberry genome has been sequenced. The development is expected to yield tastier, hardier varieties of the berry and other crops in its family. ... > full story

High red blood cell folate levels linked to silenced tumor-suppressors (December 28, 2010) -- A study of 781 people enrolled in a colorectal cancer prevention clinical trial finds that elevated levels of red blood cell folate is associated with the deactivation of two anti-cancer genes known to be silenced in colorectal cancer. ... > full story

Major obstacles to cellulosic biofuel production overcome with new yeast strain (December 28, 2010) -- A newly engineered yeast strain can simultaneously consume two types of sugar from plants to produce ethanol, researchers report. The sugars are glucose, a six-carbon sugar that is relatively easy to ferment; and xylose, a five-carbon sugar that has been much more difficult to utilize in ethanol production. The new strain, made by combining, optimizing and adding to earlier advances, reduces or eliminates several major inefficiencies associated with current biofuel production methods. ... > full story

Psychologists find skill in recognizing faces peaks after age 30 (December 28, 2010) -- Scientists have made the surprising discovery that our ability to recognize and remember faces peaks at age 30 to 34, about a decade later than most of our other mental abilities. ... > full story

Bees one of many pollinators infected by virus implicated in colony collapse disorder (December 28, 2010) -- Researchers have found that native pollinators, like wild bees and wasps, are infected by the same viral diseases as honey bees and that these viruses are transmitted via pollen. This study provides new insights into viral infections in native pollinators, suggesting that viral diseases may be key factors impacting pollinator populations. ... > full story

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