Kamis, 24 Februari 2011

ScienceDaily Top Science Headlines

for Thursday, February 24, 2011

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Virus-mimicking nanoparticles can stimulate long-lasting immunity (February 24, 2011) -- Scientists have designed tiny nanoparticles that resemble viruses in size and immunological composition and that induce lifelong immunity in mice. They designed the particles to mimic the immune-stimulating effects of one of the most successful vaccines ever developed -- the yellow fever vaccine. The particles, made of biodegradable polymers, have components that activate two different parts of the innate immune system and can be used interchangeably with material from many different bacteria or viruses. ... > full story

New vaccine technology protects mice from hepatitis C virus (February 24, 2011) -- HCV mutates so strongly that traditional vaccines are useless. However, researchers have now developed a vaccine, which provides future hope for medical protection from the hepatitis C virus. ... > full story

High vitamin-D bread could help solve widespread insufficiency problem (February 24, 2011) -- With most people unable to get enough vitamin D from sunlight or foods, scientists are suggesting that a new vitamin D-fortified food -- bread made with high-vitamin D yeast -- could fill that gap. The new study confirms that the approach works in laboratory tests. ... > full story

Higher levels of compound in blood associated with lower risk of respiratory disease (February 24, 2011) -- An analysis of data including more than 500,000 adults indicates that levels in the blood of bilirubin (a compound produced by the breakdown of hemoglobin from red blood cells) in the normal range but relatively higher were associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and all-cause death, according to a new study. ... > full story

A semantic sommelier: Wine application highlights the power of Web 3.0 (February 24, 2011) -- In the restaurant of the future, you will always enjoy the perfect meal with that full-bodied 2006 cabernet sauvignon, you will always know your dinner companions' favorite merlot, and you will be able to check if the sommelier's cellar contains your favorite pinot grigio before you even check your coat. These feats of classic cuisine will come to the modern dinner through the power of Semantic Web technology. ... > full story

Secret society connecting through the Internet feeds eating disorders, researchers say (February 24, 2011) -- Researchers reveal a new social support group that's emerging on the Web -- a secretive society to encourage negative behaviors associated with eating disorders. ... > full story

Microbes help children breathe easily? Bacteria and fungi may offer protection against asthma, study suggests (February 24, 2011) -- Children who grow up on farms are less likely to suffer from asthma than other rural children. A large-scale study indicates that this may be due to differences in the spectrum of microbes the two groups are likely to encounter. This findings suggest that certain microorganisms may protect against the disease. ... > full story

New biological pathway identified for post-traumatic stress disorder (February 24, 2011) -- High blood levels of a hormone produced in response to stress are linked to post-traumatic stress disorder in women but not men, a study has found. The hormone, called PACAP is known to act throughout the body and the brain, modulating central nervous system activity, metabolism, blood pressure, pain sensitivity and immune function. The identification of PACAP as an indicator of PTSD may lead to new diagnostic tools and eventually, to new treatments for anxiety disorders. ... > full story

Learn to the rhythm: Nerve cells acting as metronomes are necessary for certain memory processes (February 24, 2011) -- Usually, we associate rhythms with dance and music. But they also play an important role in the brain. When billions of neurons communicate with each other, certain rhythmic activity patterns arise. The proper metre in this interplay is provided by nerve cells that do not excite other cells, but inhibit their activity instead. One type of these inhibiting cells acts in a particularly fast and efficient way and is therefore thought to be crucial for memory formation and information processing in neuronal networks. Scientists can now specifically switch off this cell type and to observe the consequences for memory formation. ... > full story

Vitamin E may increase or decrease the risk of pneumonia, depending on smoking and exercise (February 24, 2011) -- Depending on the level of smoking and leisure time exercise, vitamin E supplementation may decrease or increase, or may have no effect, on the risk of pneumonia, according to a study by researchers in Finland. ... > full story

UV-transparent coating for image sensors (February 24, 2011) -- Image sensors as used in cell phones are partially color-blind. This is because of their coating, which prevents UV light from passing through. CMOS chips have as a result not been suitable for spectroscopy up to now. A new production process makes the coating transparent -- and the sensors suitable for special applications. ... > full story

Higher levels of social activity decrease the risk of developing disability in old age (February 24, 2011) -- Afraid of becoming disabled in old age, not being able to dress yourself or walk up and down the stairs? Staying physically active before symptoms set in could help. But so could going out to eat, playing bingo and taking overnight trips. ... > full story

New England, Mid-Atlantic beaches eroding, losing 1. 6 feet per year on average (February 23, 2011) -- An assessment of coastal change over the past 150 years has found 68 percent of beaches in the New England and Mid-Atlantic region are eroding, according to a new report. Scientists studied 650 miles of the New England and Mid-Atlantic coasts and found the average rate of coastal change was negative 1.6 feet per year. Of those beaches eroding, the most extreme case exceeded 60 feet per year. ... > full story

Spinal fluid proteins distinguish Lyme disease from chronic fatigue syndrome (February 23, 2011) -- Patients who suffer from neurologic post treatment Lyme disease and those with the chronic fatigue syndrome report similar symptoms. However, unique proteins discovered in spinal fluid can distinguish those two groups from one another and also from people in normal health, according to new research. ... > full story

Polygamy hurt 19th century Mormon wives' evolutionary fitness, scientists say (February 23, 2011) -- Polygamy practiced by some 19th century Mormon men had the curious effect of suppressing the overall offspring numbers of Mormon women in plural marriages, say scientists in a new article. Simply put, the more sister-wives a Mormon woman had, the fewer children she was likely to produce. ... > full story

New marker for heart disease identified in study of firefighters (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers are shedding new light on an underlying cause of heart disease. A new study finds that endothelial dysfunction (blood vessel lining) can predict who is at risk for developing coronary heart disease. By identifying this new marker in patients, doctors may be able to intervene early to prevent the progression of heart disease. ... > full story

3-D structure required for function of some vital cell transporters resolved (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers have completed the 3-D structural sequence adopted by several essential proteins in the exchange of substances between the extra and intracellular milieu. This finding provides a global perspective of the structural changes that occur in these relevant proteins during basic cell processes, such as protein synthesis, the regulation of metabolism and cell volume, and nerve transmission, and will contribute to understanding some of the functional disruptions caused by human diseases. ... > full story

For a better workday, smile like you mean it (February 23, 2011) -- A new study suggests customer-service workers who fake smile throughout the day worsen their mood and withdraw from work, affecting productivity. ... > full story

Scientists create illusion of having three arms (February 23, 2011) -- How we experience our own bodies is a classical question in psychology and neuroscience. It has long been believed that our body image is limited by our innate body plan -- in other words that we cannot experience having more than one head, two arms and two legs. However, brain scientists have now shown that it is possible to make healthy volunteers experience having three arms at the same time. ... > full story

Lasers ID deadly skin cancer better than doctors (February 23, 2011) -- High-resolution images from a new laser-based tool could help doctors better diagnose melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, while potentially saving thousands of lives and millions of dollars in unnecessary health care costs each year. ... > full story

Bacteria living on old-growth trees (February 23, 2011) -- By collecting mosses on the forest floor and then at 15 and 30 meters up into the forest canopy, researchers were able to show both that the cyanobacteria are more abundant in mosses high above the ground, and that they "fix" twice as much nitrogen as those associated with mosses on the forest floor. ... > full story

Protein fuels inflammation in pancreatic and breast tumors (February 23, 2011) -- Two separate studies identify a protein that drives tumor-promoting inflammation in pancreatic and breast tumors. ... > full story

Paper archives reveal pollution's history (February 23, 2011) -- A new source of climate records is as close as the nearest university library: Back issues of magazines reveal the rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. ... > full story

People with low self-esteem show more signs of prejudice (February 23, 2011) -- When people are feeling badly about themselves, they're more likely to show bias against people who are different. A new study examines how that works. ... > full story

Bizarre friction-free 'superfluid' found in neutron star's core (February 23, 2011) -- NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has discovered the first direct evidence for a superfluid, a bizarre, friction-free state of matter, at the core of a neutron star. Superfluids created in laboratories on Earth exhibit remarkable properties, such as the ability to climb upward and escape airtight containers. The finding has important implications for understanding nuclear interactions in matter at the highest known densities. ... > full story

Schizophrenia gene mutation found; Target for new drugs (February 23, 2011) -- In a major advance for schizophrenia research, an international team of scientists has identified a gene mutation strongly linked to the brain disorder -- and a signaling pathway that may be treatable with existing compounds. ... > full story

Pump that bacteria use to resist drugs described (February 23, 2011) -- Scientists have identified the structure of pumps that allow bacteria to resist toxins. ... > full story

Pathway transforms normal cells into aggressive tumors (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers have discovered a biological pathway that transforms normal cells into aggressive tumors. The research helps define the cellular events that lead to metastasis. While the study used breast cells, the pathway offers characteristics that are applicable to cancers in general. ... > full story

3-D nanoparticle in atomic resolution (February 23, 2011) -- For the first time, scientists have managed to measure the atomic structure of individual nanoparticles. The technique could help better understand the properties of nanoparticles in future. ... > full story

Are we more -- or less -- moral than we think? (February 23, 2011) -- If asked whether we'd steal, most of us would say no. Would we try to save a drowning person? That depends -- perhaps on our fear of big waves. Much research has explored the ways we make moral decisions. But in the clinch, when the opportunity arises to do good or bad, how well do our predictions match up with the actions we actually take? ... > full story

'Thunder-thighs' dinosaur discovered: Brontomerus may have used powerful thigh muscles to kick predators (February 23, 2011) -- A new dinosaur named Brontomerus mcintoshi, or "thunder-thighs" after its enormously powerful thigh muscles, has been discovered in Utah. Brontomerus may have used its powerful thighs as a weapon to kick predators, or to help travel over rough, hilly terrain. Brontomerus lived about 110 million years ago, during the Early Cretaceous Period, and probably had to contend with fierce "raptors" such as Deinonychus and Utahraptor. ... > full story

Vaccine made with synthetic gene protects against deadly pneumonia (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers have developed an experimental vaccine with a synthetic gene that appears to protect against an increasingly common and particularly deadly form of pneumococcal pneumonia. ... > full story

'Fingerprints' match molecular simulations with reality (February 23, 2011) -- A theoretical technique is bringing supercomputer simulations and experimental results closer together by identifying common "fingerprints." The method reconciles the different signals between experiments and computer simulations to strengthen analyses of molecules in motion. ... > full story

Patients with COPD have higher risk of shingles, study finds (February 23, 2011) -- Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are at greater risk of shingles compared with the general population, according to a new study. The risk is greatest for patients taking oral steroids to treat COPD. ... > full story

6,000-year climate record suggests longer droughts, drier climate for Pacific Northwest (February 23, 2011) -- Researchers extracted a 6,000-year climate record from a Washington state lake showing that the American Pacific Northwest could not only be in for longer dry seasons, but also is unlikely to see a period as wet as the 20th century any time soon and will likely suffer severe water shortages. ... > full story

Babies and toddlers can suffer mental illness, seldom get treatment (February 23, 2011) -- Infants and toddlers can suffer serious mental health disorders, yet they are unlikely to receive treatment that could prevent lasting developmental problems, according to new research. ... > full story

Cell phone use may have effect on brain activity, but health consequences unknown (February 23, 2011) -- In a preliminary study, researchers found that 50-minute cell phone use was associated with increased brain glucose metabolism (a marker of brain activity) in the region closest to the phone antenna, but the finding is of unknown clinical significance. ... > full story

Blood test may find markers of bladder cancer risk (February 23, 2011) -- Exposures to harmful substances in the environment alters the methylation of DNA, potentially elevating the risk of developing cancer. A new blood test can detect the abnormal pattern of methylation associated with bladder cancer, suggesting that it may be possible to assess a person's susceptibility to the disease. ... > full story

Toward computers that fit on a pen tip: New technologies usher in the millimeter-scale computing era (February 23, 2011) -- A prototype implantable eye pressure monitor for glaucoma patients is believed to contain the first complete millimeter-scale computing system. ... > full story

Protective strategy shields primate ovaries from radiation-therapy-induced damage (February 23, 2011) -- A novel strategy to shield mammalian ovaries from the damaging effects of radiation and chemotherapy has passed an important milestone. A new study finds that brief preexposure of the ovaries to an FDA-approved agent called FTY720 preserved the fertility of female rhesus monkeys exposed to potentially lethal doses of radiation. ... > full story

Organic vs. conventional farming: No clear answers from nitrogen fixing bacteria counts (February 23, 2011) -- The population and diversity of nitrogen-fixing bacteria in agricultural soils varies more according to what crop was previously farmed than with whether those soils are organically or conventionally farmed, according to new research. ... > full story

Speaking foreign languages may help protect your memory (February 23, 2011) -- People who speak more than two languages may lower their risk of developing memory problems, according to a new study. ... > full story

MIT engineers design new nanoparticle that could lead to vaccines for HIV, malaria, other diseases (February 23, 2011) -- Engineers have designed a new type of nanoparticle that could safely and effectively deliver vaccines for diseases such as HIV and malaria. ... > full story

Use of nitrates may increase bone strength (February 23, 2011) -- Preliminary research indicates that use of nitroglycerin ointment among postmenopausal women for 2 years was associated with a modest increase in bone mineral density and decrease in bone resorption (loss), according to a new study. ... > full story

New report lists 25 most endangered turtle species; Some turtle species number less than 5 individuals (February 23, 2011) -- A new report lists the 25 most endangered turtle species from around the world -- some of which currently number less than five individuals. ... > full story

Drinking alcohol in moderation protects against heart disease, meta-analysis finds (February 23, 2011) -- Individuals who drink alcohol in moderation (about one drink a day or less) are 14-25 percent less likely to develop heart disease compared to those who drink no alcohol at all, a new meta-analysis by researchers in Canada has found. ... > full story

New marine mollusk -- oldest in its genus -- discovered in Iberian Peninsula (February 23, 2011) -- An international research team has discovered a new species of mollusk, Polyconites hadriani, in various parts of the Iberian Peninsula. The researchers say this species, which is the oldest in its genus, adapted to the acidification of the oceans that took place while it was in existence. This process could now determine the evolution of modern marine systems. ... > full story

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

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