Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The News
Grandkids Don't Wear Out Grandma After All
Science Daily
— Despite previous research findings that showed negative health impacts on grandmothers who care for their grandchildren, new research conducted by Linda Waite, the Lucy Flower Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago, and researchers at three other universities shows caring for grandchildren generally does not have dramatic and widespread negative impacts on grandparents’ health.
The research finds that some grandparents are already ill before they begin caring for grandchildren and others don’t experience a health change.
Waite and her colleagues based their work on a study of nearly 13,000 grandparents between the ages of 50 and 80.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The News
Bird-flu survivors' blood halts virus in mouse tests
By Lauran Neergaard The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 05/28/2007 10:56:23 PM MDT
Washington - Blood donated by four survivors of bird flu seems to harbor a potent protection against the deadly virus.
Scientists have long suspected that culling immune-system molecules from survivors could provide a new therapy for the hard-to-treat H5N1 flu strain. Monday, an international team of researchers reported the first evidence, albeit from tests in mice, that it really may work.
If the research pans out, it could be possible to stockpile these antibodies, the immune system's search-and-destroy force, as an additional way to treat or even prevent H5N1 in case the worrisome flu strain ever mutates to spark a worldwide epidemic.
"Obviously we're interested and excited about this potential," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health.
The research started when four Vietnamese adults who survived bouts of H5N1 in 2004 agreed to donate blood to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the journal PLoS Medicine.
The News
Morality might be hard-wired in brain
By Shankar Vedantam The Washington Post
Article Last Updated: 05/28/2007 10:59:57 PM MDT
Washington - The e-mail came from the next room.
"You gotta see this!" Jorge Moll had written.
Moll and Jordan Grafman, neuroscientists at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., had been scanning the brains of volunteers as they were asked to think about a scenario involving either donating a sum of money to charity or keeping it for themselves.
The results were showing that when volunteers put the interests of others before their own, that activated a primitive part of the brain that usually lights up in response to food or sex.
Altruism, the test suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable.
Their 2006 finding that unselfishness can feel good lends scientific support to the admonitions of spiritual leaders such as St. Francis of Assisi, who said: "For it is in giving that we receive."
But it is also a dramatic example of the way neuroscience has begun to elbow its way into discussions about morality and has opened up a new window on what it means to be good.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The News
New sugar-to-hydrogen technology proposed
BLACKSBURG, Va., May 23 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists, declaring a hydrogen economy is not a futuristic concept, have proposed using carbohydrates from biomass to produce low-cost hydrogen.
Researchers at Virginia Tech, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Georgia are suggesting the use of polysaccharides, or sugary carbohydrates, to directly produce hydrogen for the new hydrogen economy.
The researchers note most industrial hydrogen comes from natural gas, which is costly to store and move, as well as being cumbersome and dangerous.
"We need a simple way to store and carry hydrogen energy and a simple process to produce hydrogen," said Y.H. Percival Zhang, assistant professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech.
Using synthetic biology approaches, Zhang and colleagues use 13 enzymes never found together in nature to convert polysaccharides and water into hydrogen.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the journal PLoS One.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The News
Diabetes drug may be risky for heart
By Rob Stein The Washington Post
Article Last Updated: 05/22/2007 12:13:41 AM MDT
Washington - A drug widely used to control diabetes increases the risk of heart attacks and possibly death, researchers reported Monday, raising alarm about another popular prescription medication.
The drug, Avandia, taken by about 1 million Americans to keep their blood sugars at safe levels, boosts the risk for heart attacks by 43 percent and may increase the risk of dying from such an attack or stroke by 64 percent, according to a new analysis.
"This is very concerning," said Steven Nissen of the Cleveland Clinic, who conducted the analysis released early by the New England Journal of Medicine because of its public-health implications. "When you have a drug widely used in a population with a high inherent rate of heart disease, it's very, very concerning."
Nissen and others advised patients taking the drug to immediately consult with their doctor.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The News
Unexpected marine biodiversity discovered
HAMBURG, Germany, May 21 (UPI) -- German researchers have reported finding 585 new species of crustaceans in the depths of the Southern Ocean.
The discovery came during three sampling expeditions set up as part of the Antarctic benthic deep-sea biodiversity project. The discovery of unexpected levels of biodiversity challenge assumptions that deep sea diversity is depressed in that area.
Angelika Brandt and colleagues from the University of Hamburg collected biological specimens and environmental data from different regions between 2,500 and 21,000 feet under the surface of the Weddell Sea and adjacent areas.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the journal Nature.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The News
Study hints at prostate cancer link to vitamins
By The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 05/16/2007 01:31:57 AM MDT
Washington - There's more worrisome news about vitamins: Taking too many may increase men's risk of dying from prostate cancer. The study, being published today, doesn't settle the issue. But it is the biggest yet to suggest high-dose multivitamins may harm the prostate, and the latest chapter in the confusing quest to tell whether taking various vitamins really helps a variety of conditions - or is a waste of money, or worse.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Monday, May 14, 2007

The News
Naps awaken productivity
Employers seek health, work benefits in midday rest
By Teresa M. McAleavy McClatchy Newspapers
Article Last Updated: 05/13/2007 09:02:48 PM MDT
Hackensack, N.J. - For Mike Vago, the only thing missing was the milk and cookies. It's not the Jersey City, N.J., resident didn't appreciate what his boss was offering. It's more that the 31-year-old art coordinator for Workman Publishing Co. couldn't help but recall the midday routine of his preschool days as he picked up his yoga mat and headed for the Manhattan company's nap area for a snooze. "I found myself feeling a little guilt because, hey, I just napped at work," said Vago, whose 1-year-old son tends to keep him up at night. "So I really got right back to work." Because of the costs associated with energy lulls that many 9-to-5ers experience in the afternoon, some employers are embracing the idea Workman is testing: letting workers nap at work.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine v.1 (January 2007) pp. 1-10.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The News
Oral sex may raise throat-cancer risk
A study suggests that the sexually transmitted virus linked to cervical cancer can be a danger in the type of sex some think is safer.
By Rob Stein The Washington Post
Article Last Updated: 05/09/2007 10:12:51 PM MDT
Washington - The sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer also sharply increases the risk of certain types of throat cancer among people infected through oral sex, according to a study being published today. The study, involving 300 subjects with and without throat cancer, found that those infected with the human papillomavirus (HPV) were 32 times more likely to develop one form of oral cancer than those free of the virus. Although previous research had indicated HPV caused oral cancer, the new study is the first to definitively establish the link, researchers said.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The News

For more science news, check out the National Academies: Advisors to the Nation on Science, Engineering, & Medicine. Four organizations comprise the Academies: the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The News
U.S. parents quick to let tiny ones tune in to TV
A study offers "a wake-up call" that notes many 3-month-olds watch.
By Jennifer Barrett The Salt Lake Tribune
Article Last Updated: 05/08/2007 01:43:14 AM MDT
Pressured to raise brilliant children in an era of shrinking family time, American parents are turning to television to educate, entertain and soothe their babies. Forty percent of 3-month-olds are watching television regularly, despite recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics that babies be TV-free until age 2 years. By 24 months, the number rises to 90 percent, according to a study published Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Monday, May 7, 2007

The News
Fat Aussie teens grow into obese adults
HOBART, Australia, May 6 (UPI) -- An Australian medical study has found that the teenage years of children are critical in determining their future weight.
Researchers spent more than 20 years tracking the weight ranges of children, beginning when the children were 7 to 15 and following them until they were 25 to 35.
The findings, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, show those children who were overweight or obese were up to nine times more likely than others to become overweight or obese adults.
Professor Alison Venn of the Menzies Research Institute, says the researchers also found that many people who had healthy weights as children became overweight or obese during adolescence.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

The News
New quantum dots make cheaper solar panels
HOUSTON, May 3 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say a new method of producing molecular specks of semiconductors called quantum dots may result in better, cheaper solar energy.
The research by scientists at Rice University's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology involves a new chemical method of making four-legged cadmium selenide quantum dots, which are particularly effective at converting sunlight into electrical energy.
Four-legged quantum dots, called tetrapods, are much more efficient at converting sunlight into electricity than regular quantum dots.
But the new study's principal investigator, Assistant Professor Michael Wong, said there has been no efficient and consistent way of producing tetrapods, since current technology leads to uneven particles. Even in the best recipe, 30 percent of the prepared particles are not tetrapods.
The Research
Read the research behind this story in the journal Small.

Friday, May 4, 2007

The News
Egg trick shows Mercury has fluid core
By Randolph E. Schmid The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 05/04/2007 12:13:12 AM MDT
Washington - Researchers have cracked a mystery at the core of Mercury - and say there's molten fluid inside the tiny planet.
They did it by using the same trick as cooks who want to know if an egg is raw or hard-boiled.
The finding helps explain the unexpected discovery several years ago that Mercury has a small magnetic field.
The discovery of the magnetic field by the Mariner 10 spacecraft puzzled scientists, who believed that because of its small size the planet's core had long ago solidified.
But the most common explanation for a magnetic field is a molten interior, such as on Earth. The moon and Mars, for example, show evidence only of ancient magnetic fields.
The Messenger spacecraft is on its way to Mercury and is expected to arrive next year, but in the meantime researchers led by Jean-Luc Margot, an assistant professor of astronomy at Cornell University, launched their own attempt to learn about the planet's core.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the journal Science.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The News
Bone drug may affect heart
Researchers say the risk of irregular heart rhythms in women is small, and the side affect could be a fluke or the result of aging.
By Jeff Donn The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 05/02/2007 11:16:41 PM MDT
Boston - Two research reports suggest a possible link between two bone-building drugs and irregular heart rhythms in a small number of women who take the medicine.
The signs of a problem were more pronounced with Reclast, a drug made by Novartis AG and given as an annual shot. But there was a hint of similar trouble in a few women who took the leading osteoporosis pill, Fosamax, by Merck & Co. The two drugs are in the same class.
The safety question caught researchers by surprise. While uncertain how big a worry it might be, they agreed the overall risk is small. Specialists said women at high risk for bone breaks - the main target of these osteoporosis drugs - should keep taking them as prescribed.
But several experts said they would be cautious about those who also are at risk for atrial fibrillation, an irregular heart rhythm that can cause strokes.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the New England Journal of Medicine.
First article
Second article

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The News
Heart failures in hospitalized cardiac patients fall in 6 years
By Lindsey Tanner The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 05/01/2007 07:48:30 PM MDT
Chicago - In just six years, death rates and heart failure in hospitalized heart-attack patients have fallen sharply, most likely because of better treatment, the largest international study of its kind suggests.
The promising trend parallels the growing use of cholesterol- lowering drugs, powerful blood thinners and angioplasty, the procedure that opens clogged arteries, the researchers said.
"These results are really dramatic, because, in fact, they're the first time anybody has demonstrated a reduction in the development of new heart failure," said Dr. Keith Fox, the lead author and a cardiology professor at the University of Edinburgh.
The six-year study involved nearly 45,000 patients in 14 countries who had major heart attacks or dangerous partial artery blockages. The percentage of patients who died in the hospital or who developed heart failure was cut nearly in half from 1999 to 2005.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The News
Primate Gestures May Be Clue to Human Language
by Michelle Trudeau
Morning Edition, May 1, 2007 · Watch a group of apes for a while and you'll inevitably see them use their hands to communicate that they want something from another — like food, or to play, or to be groomed, or to have sex.
Researchers at Emory University studied gestures used by two groups of chimps and two groups of bonobos. Chimps and bonobos are two separate species of apes; genetically, they are humans' closest relatives.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The News
Engineer Shortage? Duke Study Says No
Morning Edition, April 30, 2007 · Why are so many engineering jobs being sent overseas? Leaders of tech companies say the United States does not produce enough engineers. But a Duke University study says the real issue is cheap overseas labor. Vivek Wadhwa discusses his study's findings.

The Research
Read the research behind this story in the Issues in Science & Technology Online.