Rabu, 23 Februari 2011

ScienceDaily Top Science Headlines

for Wednesday, February 23, 2011

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Using EEGs to diagnose autism spectrum disorders in infants: Machine-learning system finds differences in brain connectivity (February 23, 2011) -- A computational physicist and a cognitive neuroscientist have come up with the beginnings of a noninvasive test to evaluate an infant's autism risk. ... > full story

Huntington's disease advance: Overactive protein triggers a chain reaction that causes brain nerve cells to die (February 23, 2011) -- A major leap forward in understanding Huntington's disease may give patients hope for a cure. Laboratory tests on skin cells and post-mortem brain tissue of Huntington's disease patients determined that an overactive protein triggers a chain reaction that causes brain nerve cells to die. Toning down the activity of that protein, known as DRP1, prevented the chain reaction and kept those cells alive. ... > full story

Texas leafcutter ants aided, but also limited, by cold-tolerant fungus crops, research shows (February 23, 2011) -- Texas leafcutter ants farm crops of fungus that evolved cold tolerance to Texas winters, just as northern farmers cultivate cold weather crops, researchers show. ... > full story

Cancer-causing virus exploits key cell-survival proteins (February 23, 2011) -- The human T-lymphotropic virus type 1, a cancer-causing retrovirus, exploits key proteins in host cells to extend the life of those cells, thereby prolonging its own survival and ability to spread, according to a new study. The virus, which causes adult T-cell leukemia and lymphoma, produces a protein called p30 that targets two important cell proteins, one involved in DNA damage repair, the other involved in the destruction of proteins within the cell. ... > full story

Liquid metal key to simpler creation of electrodes for microfluidic devices (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers have developed a faster, easier way to create microelectrodes, for use in microfluidic devices, by using liquid metal. Microfluidic devices manipulate small amounts of fluid and have a wide variety of applications, from testing minute blood samples to performing advanced chemical research. ... > full story

'Climategate' undermined belief in global warming among many TV meteorologists, study shows (February 23, 2011) -- 'Climategate' -- the unauthorized release in late 2009 of stolen e-mails between climate scientists in the US and United Kingdom -- undermined belief in global warming and possibly also trust in climate scientists among TV meteorologists in the United States, at least temporarily. Doubts were most pronounced among politically conservative weathercasters and those who either do not believe in global warming or do not yet know. ... > full story

Roots of the solar system: Astronomers observe planets in the making (February 23, 2011) -- Planets form in disks of dust and gas that surround young stars. A look at the birth places means a journey into the past of Earth and its siblings. Now, astronomers have been able to obtain detailed images of the protoplanetary disks of two stars using the Subaru telescope in Hawaii. This is the first time that disk structures comparable in size to our own solar system have been resolved this clearly, revealing features such as rings and gaps that are associated with the formation of giant planets. The observations are part of a systematic survey to search for planets and disks around young stars using a state-of-the-art high-contrast camera designed specifically for this purpose. ... > full story

Immune system: What do natural (born) killers really do? (February 23, 2011) -- Our immune systems contain three fundamentally different types of cell: B-cells, T-cells and the mysteriously named Natural Killer cells (NK cells), which are known to be involved in killing tumor cells and other infected cells. Experiments to investigate the function of NK cells have proven difficult to interpret because the interactions between the various components of the immune system make it almost impossible to isolate effects of individual cell types. This has changed with the development of a mouse in which individual genes can be knocked out (eliminated) only in NK cells, thereby providing scientists with a tool to study the importance of NK cells and indeed of individual pathways in these cells. ... > full story

Old folk remedy revived: How tansy may be a treatment for herpes (February 23, 2011) -- For centuries, tansy has been used as a folk remedy, but now scientists from Britain and Spain believe the plant may have medical benefits after all, as a treatment for herpes. The team's findings are the result of joint work between two teams to established scientific evidence for traditional medicines. ... > full story

Proteins find their way with address label and guide (February 23, 2011) -- Most newly produced proteins in a cell need to be transported to the proper place before they can be put to work. For proteins to find their way, they have a built-in signal linked to them, a kind of address label. Moreover, they are helped by a particle that guides them to the cell membrane. In a new study, researchers in Sweden show how this interaction works. ... > full story

Transitioning to organic farming (February 23, 2011) -- Scientists conducted a four-year study examining the impact of reduced-tillage and cover crops managed for hay and forage production on the agronomic and economic performance of feed grain production. ... > full story

National anti-drug campaign in US succeeds in lowering marijuana use, study suggests (February 23, 2011) -- The federal anti-drug campaign "Above the Influence" appears to have effectively reduced marijuana use by teenagers, new research shows. A study of more than 3,000 students in 20 communities nationwide found that by the end of 8th grade, 12 percent of those who had not reported having seen the campaign took up marijuana use compared to only 8 percent among students who had reported familiarity with the campaign. ... > full story

Even in a crowd, individuals remain unique, rodent vocalization study finds (February 22, 2011) -- Paradoxically, being part of a crowd is what makes you unique, life scientists report. Researchers examined the evolution of individuality -- personal uniqueness -- by recording alarm-call vocalizations in eight species of rodents that live in social groups of various sizes. They found that the size of the groups strongly predicted the individual uniqueness in the animals' voices: The bigger the group, the more unique each animal's voice typically was and the easier it was to tell individuals apart. ... > full story

Screening mammograms catch second breast cancers early, study finds (February 22, 2011) -- More women are surviving longer after having early-stage breast cancer, but they are at risk of developing breast cancer again. Annual screening mammography has long been standard for these women, but only scant evidence on screening outcomes supported this practice. In the Feb. 23, 2011 JAMA, the most comprehensive relevant study to date shows yearly mammograms do detect second breast cancers early. The Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium study examined 12 years of information. ... > full story

Cold winters mean more pollution, Swedish study suggests (February 22, 2011) -- Differences in air pressure over the North Atlantic have meant that the last two winters in Gothenburg, Sweden, have been extremely cold. This has led to the air in Gothenburg being more polluted with nitrogen oxides than ever before. A new study shows that there is a strong link between climate and air pollution. ... > full story

Long-term use of osteoporosis medication associated with increased risk of atypical fractures (February 22, 2011) -- Older women who used bisphosphonates (medications that prevent loss of bone mass) for five years or more were more likely to experience "atypical" fractures involving the femoral shaft or subtrochanteric, compared to women with less usage. However, the absolute risk of these "atypical" fractures was low and bisphosphonate use was associated with a reduced risk of typical osteoporotic fractures, according to a new study. ... > full story

Satellite to examine how sun's brightness impacts climate change (February 22, 2011) -- A new instrument developed to study changes in the sun's brightness and its impact on Earth's climate is one of two primary payloads on NASA's Glory mission set to launch on Feb. 23. ... > full story

Stresses of unemployed spouse can hurt job performance of other spouse, says study (February 22, 2011) -- Ignoring the stresses of an unemployed spouse's job search does not bode well for the employed spouse's job productivity or home life, a new study finds. ... > full story

Brains of blind people reading in Braille show activity in same area that lights up when sighted readers read (February 22, 2011) -- The portion of the brain responsible for visual reading doesn't require vision at all. Brain imaging studies of blind people as they read words in Braille show activity in precisely the same part of the brain that lights up when sighted readers read. The findings challenge the textbook notion that the brain is divided up into regions that are specialized for processing information coming in via one sense or another, the researchers say. ... > full story

Compound used to block cholesterol could also kill breast cancer cells, study suggests (February 22, 2011) -- Researchers believe there could be a new drug compound that could kill breast cancer cells. The compound might also help with controlling cholesterol. ... > full story

Researchers map out ice sheets shrinking during Ice Age (February 22, 2011) -- A set of maps has illustrated, for the first time, how the last British ice sheet shrunk during the Ice Age. Experts developed the maps to understand what effect the current shrinking of ice sheets in parts of the Antarctic and Greenland will have on the speed of sea level rise. ... > full story

Erg gene key to blood stem cell 'self-renewal' (February 22, 2011) -- Scientists have begun to unravel how blood stem cells regenerate themselves, identifying a key gene required for the process. The discovery that the Erg gene is vitally important to blood stem cells' unique ability to self-renew could give scientists new opportunities to use blood stem cells for tissue repair, transplantation and other therapeutic applications. ... > full story

Drinking water: Nanomembranes could filter bacteria (February 22, 2011) -- Nanomaterials research could lead to new solutions for an age-old public health problem: how to separate bacteria from drinking water. ... > full story

Gender gap: Selection bias snubs scholarly achievements of female scientists, study suggests (February 22, 2011) -- When it comes to scholarly awards, female scientists face sexism, according to a new analysis, by a sociologist. New research found women win service or teaching awards in proportion to their numbers in the Ph.D. pool for their discipline. But far fewer of that number win scholarly awards. ... > full story

Earth's core rotation faster than rest of the planet, but slower than previously believed (February 22, 2011) -- New research gives the first accurate estimate of how much faster Earth's core is rotating compared to the rest of the planet. Previous research had shown that Earth's core rotates faster than the rest of the planet. However, scientists have discovered that earlier estimates of 1 degree every year were inaccurate and that the core is actually moving much slower than previously believed -- approximately 1 degree every million years. ... > full story

Nanoparticles increase survival after blood loss, study suggests (February 22, 2011) -- In an advance that could improve battlefield and trauma care, scientists have used tiny particles called nanoparticles to improve survival after life-threatening blood loss. Nanoparticles containing nitric oxide were infused into the bloodstream of hamsters, where they helped maintain blood circulation and protect vital organs. ... > full story

First identification of endocrine disruptors in algae blooms (February 22, 2011) -- Scientists are reporting for the first time that previously unrecognized substances released by algae blooms have the potential to act as endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with the normal activity of reproductive hormones. The effect is not caused by microcystin toxins, long recognized as potentially harmful to humans and aquatic animals, but as yet unidentified substances. As a result, the scientists are calling for a revision of environmental monitoring programs to watch for these new substances. ... > full story

Antibody-directed chemotherapy offers improved survival for some leukemia patients (February 22, 2011) -- Antibody-directed chemotherapy offers improved survival to particular sub-groups of leukemia sufferers, a new study has found. ... > full story

New Zealand earthquake damage illustrates risks posed by shallow crustal faults (February 22, 2011) -- The terribly destructive earthquake that just hit Christchurch, New Zealand, was only a moderate 6.3 magnitude, but had certain characteristics that offer an important lesson to cities up and down the West Coast of North America that face similar risks, experts say. ... > full story

Crying baby draws blunted response in depressed mom's brain (February 22, 2011) -- Mothers who are depressed respond differently to their crying babies than do non-depressed moms. In fact, their reaction, according to brain scans, is much more muted than the robust brain activity in non-depressed moms. ... > full story

T. rex more hyena than lion: Tyrannosaurus rex was opportunistic feeder, not top predator, paleontologists say (February 22, 2011) -- Was T. rex really the king of the forest? A new census of dinosaurs in Montana's Hell Creek Formation shows that T. rex was far too abundant to be a top predator. Paleontologists argue that T. rex probably subsisted on a broad variety of dead as well as live animals, much like today's hyena. ... > full story

Unraveling how prion proteins move along axons in the brain (February 22, 2011) -- Researchers have identified the motors that move non-infectious prion proteins -- found within many mammalian cells -- up and down long, neuronal transport pathways. Identifying normal movement mechanisms of PrPC may help researchers understand the spread of infectious prions within and between neurons to reach the brain, and aid in development of therapies to halt the transport. ... > full story

What a rat can tell us about touch (February 22, 2011) -- One scientist uses the rat whisker system as a model to understand how the brain seamlessly integrates the sense of touch with movement. ... > full story

Increasing triglyceride levels linked to greater stroke risk; Study finds higher cholesterol levels only increase risk of stroke in men (February 22, 2011) -- A study by researchers in Denmark reveals that increasing levels of non-fasting triglycerides are associated with an increased risk of ischemic stroke in men and women. Higher cholesterol levels were associated with greater stroke risk in men only. ... > full story

World's smallest magnetic field sensor: Researchers explore using organic molecules as electronic components (February 22, 2011) -- Further development of modern information technology requires computer capacities of increased efficiency at reasonable costs. In the past, integration density of the relevant electronic components was increased constantly. In continuation of this strategy, future components will have to reach the size of individual molecules. Researchers have now come closer to reaching this target. ... > full story

Simple spit and blood tests might detect burnout before it happens (February 22, 2011) -- Your blood and the level of a hormone in your spit could reveal if you're on the point of burnout, according to new research. ... > full story

Plankton key to origin of Earth's first breathable atmosphere (February 22, 2011) -- Researchers studying the origin of Earth's first breathable atmosphere have zeroed in on the major role played by some very unassuming creatures: plankton. Scientists have now shown how plankton provided a critical link between the atmosphere and chemical isotopes stored in rocks 500 million years ago. ... > full story

High cholesterol and blood pressure in middle age tied to early memory problems (February 22, 2011) -- Middle-age men and women who have cardiovascular issues, such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, may not only be at risk for heart disease, but for an increased risk of developing early cognitive and memory problems as well, according to a new study. ... > full story

How disordered proteins spread from cell to cell, potentially spreading disease (February 22, 2011) -- Misfolded proteins can get into cells and form large aggregates by recruiting normal proteins. These aggregates are associated with neurodegenerative diseases. A new study finds that the protein linked to Huntington's can spread from one cell to another. The research may explain how these diseases spread through our brains, an understanding that might lead to the development of drugs to target the misfolded proteins. ... > full story

Reprogrammed stem cells hit a roadblock: Reprogramming cells leads to genomic aberrations (February 22, 2011) -- Is there a future for stem cell therapies that don't use embryonic stem cells? An international study has raised doubts, by showing that "reprogramming" adult stem cells leads to genetic aberrations. ... > full story

Pollution with antibiotics leads to resistant bacteria, scientists find (February 22, 2011) -- Many of the substances in our most common medicines are manufactured in India. Some of these factories release huge quantities of drugs to the environment. Swedish scientists now show that bacteria in polluted rivers become resistant to a range of antibiotics. International experts fear that this may contribute to the development of untreatable infectious diseases worldwide. ... > full story

When fingers start tapping, the music must be striking a chord (February 22, 2011) -- According to a psychologist, understanding how people follow a musical beat could be revealing how children master one of the most complex tasks of all -- speech. Earlier research showed that adults who stutter have problems in acquiring new and unusual tapping sequences and not just speech. The research suggests an underlying neural basis for the motor deficit. ... > full story

Brown tide culprit sequenced: Genome of the first of algal bloom species (February 22, 2011) -- Some algal species can bloom and discolor coastal waters and reduce the amount of light and oxygen available in the ecosystem. Previously known as "red tide," the term "harmful algal blooms" now denotes accumulation of algal biomass that can sometimes turn the ocean waters brown or green and disrupt an ecosystem. The first species of these algae has now been sequenced, analyzed and published. ... > full story

Cancer-related pathways reveal potential treatment target for congenital heart disease (February 22, 2011) -- Cross-disciplinary teams of scientists studying genetic pathways that are mutated in many forms of cancer, but which also cause certain forms of congenital heart disease -- including hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart muscle that is the leading cause of sudden death in children and young adults, have introduced these mutations into mice and successfully treated HCM in the lab. ... > full story

Waiter, there's metal in my moon water (February 22, 2011) -- Bring a filter if you plan on drinking water from the moon. Water ice recently discovered in dust at the bottom of a crater near the moon's south pole is accompanied by metallic elements like mercury, magnesium, calcium, and even a bit of silver. Now you can add sodium to the mix, according to scientists. ... > full story

Bone-anchored hearing aids appear beneficial for hearing-impaired children (February 22, 2011) -- Bone-anchored hearing aids appear helpful in improving hearing and quality of life in children with hearing loss in one or both ears, according to a new study. ... > full story

Dry copper kills bacteria on contact (February 22, 2011) -- Metallic copper surfaces kill microbes on contact, decimating their populations, according to new research. They do so literally in minutes, by causing massive membrane damage after about a minute's exposure, says the study's corresponding author, Gregor Grass of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This is the first study to demonstrate this mechanism of bacteriocide. ... > full story

Who can drive after a stroke? Tests can help decide (February 22, 2011) -- Many people want to keep driving after having a stroke, and many can do so safely. Simple tests in the office can help doctors determine who is more likely to be a safe driver after a stroke, according to new research. ... > full story

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