Jumat, 31 Desember 2010

ScienceDaily Top Science Headlines

for Friday, December 31, 2010

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What makes a face look alive? Study says it's in the eyes (December 31, 2010) -- The face of a doll is clearly not human; the face of a human clearly is. Telling the difference allows us to pay attention to living things, which are capable of interacting with us. But where is the line at which a face appears to be alive? A new study finds that a face has to be quite similar to a human face to appear alive, and that the cues are mainly in the eyes. ... > full story

Risk for alcoholism linked to risk for obesity (December 31, 2010) -- Addiction researchers have found that a risk for alcoholism also may put individuals at risk for obesity, and the association between a family history of alcoholism and obesity risk has become more pronounced in recent years. ... > full story

When their tools get dull, leaf-cutters switch jobs (December 31, 2010) -- When their razor-sharp mandibles wear out, leaf-cutter ants change jobs, remaining productive while letting their more efficient sisters take over cutting, say researchers. Their study provides a glimpse of nature's way of providing for its displaced workers. ... > full story

Expansion of HIV screening cost-effective in reducing spread of AIDS, study shows (December 31, 2010) -- An expanded US program of HIV screening and treatment could prevent as many as 212,000 new infections over the next 20 years and prove to be very cost-effective, according to a new study. ... > full story

Study classifies and uses artificial proteins to analyze protein-protein interfaces (December 31, 2010) -- A new study suggests that there may be roughly a thousand structurally distinct protein-protein interfaces -- and that their structures depend largely on the simple physics of the proteins. ... > full story

George Clooney Effect? High-earning women want older, more attractive partners, research finds (December 31, 2010) -- Psychologists have found that George Clooney may be even luckier than previously thought. New research has discovered that as women become more financially independent, they want an older, more attractive male partner. ... > full story

Your genome in minutes: New technology could slash sequencing time (December 31, 2010) -- Scientists are developing technology that could ultimately sequence a person's genome in mere minutes, at a fraction of the cost of current commercial techniques. ... > full story

New test for major killer of lung transplant patients: High stem cell count after transplant predicts debilitating syndrome (December 31, 2010) -- A lung transplant can mean a new chance at life. But many who receive one develop a debilitating, fatal condition that causes scar tissue to build up in the lungs and chokes off the ability to breathe. Researchers hope a new diagnostic tool they developed to predict bronchiolitis obliterans syndrome will allow doctors to intervene earlier and, ultimately, to provide life-saving treatments. ... > full story

Evolutionary arms race between smut fungi and maize plants (December 31, 2010) -- Fungi are a major cause of plant diseases and are responsible for large-scale harvest failure in crops like maize and other cereals all over the world. Scientists have now analyzed the genetic make-up of Sporisorium reilianum, an important maize parasite. ... > full story

Why does dialysis fail? (December 31, 2010) -- A protein implicated in the development of vascular diseases may also contribute to the failure of arteriovenous (AV) fistulas created for vascular access in dialysis patients, according to a new study. ... > full story

Crops: Improving nitrogen use efficiency lessens environmental impact (December 31, 2010) -- Most agricultural crops require large quantities of nitrate-rich fertilizer to realize optimal yields. Increased interest in environmentally beneficial "low-input" approaches is challenging researchers to identify genotypes that have a characteristic called "high nutrient use efficiency", or NUE. Using vegetable types with high NUE could help growers lessen environmental impacts while maintaining high crop yields. A new study reported on improved NUE traits that resulted from grafting melon plants onto commercial rootstocks. ... > full story

Depressed smokers less likely to stay tobacco free (December 31, 2010) -- Depressed smokers want to quit the nicotine habit just as much as non-depressed smokers, but a new study suggests that depression can put a kink in their success. ... > full story

Light dawns on dark gamma-ray bursts (December 30, 2010) -- Gamma-ray bursts are among the most energetic events in the Universe, but some appear curiously faint in visible light. The biggest study to date of these so-called dark gamma-ray bursts, using the 2.2-meter MPG/ESO telescope at La Silla in Chile, has found that these explosions don't require exotic explanations. Their faintness is now explained by a combination of causes, the most important of which is the presence of dust between the Earth and the explosion. ... > full story

Gene protects against dementia in high-risk individuals, study finds (December 30, 2010) -- Neuroscientists had assumed that a mutation in the progranulin gene, which makes the progranulin protein and supports brain neurons, was sufficient to produce a kind of dementia known as frontotemporal lobar degeneration. But now an international team of scientists has found another genetic factor they say appears to protect against the disorder in progranulin mutation carriers. ... > full story

New imaging advance illuminates immune response in breathing lung (December 30, 2010) -- In a recent study in mice, researchers developed a method to stabilize living lung tissue for imaging without disrupting the normal function of the organ. The method allowed the team to observe, for the first time, both the live interaction of living cells in the context of their environment and the unfolding of events in the immune response to lung injury. ... > full story

Trace amounts of microbe-killing molecules predict chronic granulomatous disease survival (December 30, 2010) -- Investigators have observed that the survival rate of people with a rare immunodeficiency disease called chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) is greatly improved when even very low levels of microbe-killing molecules are present. Because production of these molecules, made by an enzyme called NADPH oxidase, can be predicted from genetic analysis, a patient's risk for severe CGD could be assessed very early in life, allowing for more personalized treatment, say the researchers. ... > full story

Link between ancient lizard fossil in Africa and today's Komodo dragon in Indonesia (December 30, 2010) -- Researchers have unearthed a mysterious link between bones of an ancient lizard found in Africa and the biggest, baddest modern-day lizard of them all, the Komodo dragon, half a world away in Indonesia. ... > full story

Visual skills required for independence are impaired in children with autism, research finds (December 30, 2010) -- The ability to find shoes in the bedroom, apples in a supermarket, or a favorite animal at the zoo is impaired among children with autism, according to new research from the UK. They are unable to search effectively for objects in real-life situations -- a skill that is essential for achieving independence in adulthood. ... > full story

Bacteria provide example of one of nature's first immune systems, research shows (December 30, 2010) -- Scientists are uncovering the secrets of one of nature's most primitive immune systems through studying how bacteria incorporate foreign DNA from invading viruses into their own regulatory processes. ... > full story

Link between light signal and circadian rhythms pinpointed (December 30, 2010) -- Scientists have taken an important step in understanding the underlying molecular signals that influence a broad array of biological processes ranging from the sleep-wake cycle to cancer growth and development. ... > full story

Indoor plant intervention: New answers for health care design? (December 30, 2010) -- Could a plant "intervention" improve the well-being of patients in a difficult rehab process? Scientists have found that patients' overall physical and mental health improved during the program, but the presence of new plants did not increase the degree of improvement. However, pulmonary patients in the "plant intervention group" reported a larger increase in well-being during their rehabilitation program more often than lung patients from the "no-plant" control group. ... > full story

New regulator plays critical role in development B cells (December 30, 2010) -- Researchers have identified a new regulator playing a critical role in the development B cells, which produce antibodies -- a transcription factor called Miz-1, which is needed for the proper development and maturation of B cells in the bone marrow. ... > full story

Gatekeeper for tomato pollination identified (December 30, 2010) -- Having identified a tomato pollen gene associated with blocking self-pollination in petunias and cross-species fertilization in tomatoes, researchers conclude that tomato plants use similar biochemical mechanisms to guard against inbreeding and cross-species hybridization. ... > full story

Wake up, Mom: Gender differences in accepting sleep interruptions (December 30, 2010) -- Working mothers are two-and-a-half times as likely as working fathers to interrupt their sleep to take care of others. ... > full story

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

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