Saturday, August 30, 2008

Research news: Flies In Danger Escape With Safety Dance

The News:
Flies In Danger Escape With Safety Dance
by Joe Palca
Morning Edition, August 29, 2008 · You may think you know how to swat a fly, but Michael Dickinson's work could teach you a thing or two.
Dickinson used superslow-motion video cameras to study how a fly avoids getting swatted. First, he and his graduate student Gwyneth Card coaxed the fly to stand on a glass prism anchored to the middle of a small moat. The prism let him see the fly from below and the side simultaneously.
Then, he moved a kind of mini fly swatter toward the fly and recorded how the fly reacted. Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the journal Current Biology.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Research news: Alzheimer's-linked protein traced live

The News:
Alzheimer's-linked protein traced live
By Lauran Neergaard The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 08/28/2008 08:15:01 PM MDT
WASHINGTON — Scientists for the first time have peered into people's brains to directly measure the ebb and flow of a substance notorious for its role in Alzheimer's disease.
The delicate research was performed not with Alzheimer's patients but with people suffering severe brain injuries — because a brain injury increases the risk of developing dementia later in life.
The goal is to learn why.
But with this first-step study, a team of scientists from Missouri and Italy got a surprise. Read on...

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

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Research news: Moo North--Cows Sense Earth's Magnetism

The News:
Moo North: Cows Sense Earth's Magnetism
by Nell Greenfieldboyce
All Things Considered, August 25, 2008 · A new study suggests that cows sense the Earth's magnetic field and use it to line up their bodies so they face either north or south when grazing or resting.
The discovery was made by a team led by Hynek Burda of the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. "I think the really amazing thing is that hunters and herdsmen and farmers didn't notice it," Burda says.
Burda didn't set out to study cows. He normally studies small underground creatures called naked mole rats. They're blind, but have a kind of internal magnetic compass — they always build sleeping nests in the southern side of their little homes.
Burda wondered if sleeping humans might do something similar. He decided to look at camping tents and fired up Google Earth on his computer, to get an overhead view of campgrounds. Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (click on full text PDF)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Research news: Brain study could lead to new understanding of depression

The News:
Brain Study Could Lead To New Understanding Of Depression
ScienceDaily (Aug. 25, 2008) — Brain scientists have moved a step closer to understanding why some people may be more prone to depression than others.
Dr Roland Zahn, a clinical neuroscientist in The University of Manchester’s School of Psychological Sciences, and his colleagues have identified how the brain links knowledge about social behaviour with moral sentiments, such as pride and guilt.
The study, carried out at the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in the US with Dr Jordan Grafman, chief of the Cognitive Neuroscience Section, and Dr Jorge Moll, now at the LABS-D'Or Center for Neuroscience in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to scan the brains of 29 healthy individuals while they considered certain social behaviours. Read on....

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Research news: Women exposed to negative life events at greater risk of breast cancer

The News:
Women exposed to negative life events at greater risk of breast cancer: BGU study
Study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers
BEER-SHEVA, ISRAEL, August 22, 2008 -- Happiness and optimism may play a role against breast cancer while adverse life events can increase the risk of developing the disease, according to a study by Professor Ronit Peled, at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. An article on the study titled "Breast Cancer, Psychological Distress and Life Events among Young Women," was just published in the British journal BMC Cancer (8:245, August 2008).
In the study, researchers questioned women about their life experiences and evaluated their levels of happiness, optimism, anxiety, and depression prior to diagnosis. Researchers used this information to examine the relationship between life events, psychological distress and breast cancer among young women. Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the journal BMC Cancer.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Research news: To lower blood pressure, open up and say 'Om'

The News:
To Lower Blood Pressure, Open Up And Say 'Om'
by Allison Aubrey
Morning Edition, August 21, 2008 · In his 20 years as director of the hypertension program at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Randy Zusman has maintained a rather traditional approach.
He writes plenty of prescriptions for standard medications to treat high blood pressure. But in recent years, Zusman has gotten more assertive with patients about lifestyle choices.
"You're going to have to change your diet, you're going to have to lose weight, exercise, stop smoking," Zusman tells patients. "If it's not an important priority, keep doing what you're doing, I'll give you the pills. But if you really want to be there, you're going to have to change." Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Therapy.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Research news: Arsenic-diabetes link gets broader

The News:
Arsenic- diabetes link gets broader
A study indicates a tie-in even with low levels of arsenic. The jury's out on what it all means.
By Carla K. Johnson The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 08/19/2008 10:44:04 PM MDT
CHICAGO — A new analysis of government data is the first to link low-level arsenic exposure, possibly from tap water, with Type 2 diabetes, researchers say.
The study's limitations make more research necessary. And public water systems were on their way to meeting tougher U.S. arsenic standards as the data were collected.
Still, the analysis of 788 adults' medical tests found a near-quadrupling in the risk of diabetes in people with low arsenic concentrations in their urine compared with people with even lower levels.
Previous research outside the U.S. has linked high levels of arsenic in drinking water with diabetes. It's the link at low levels that's new. The findings appear in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.
"The good news is, this is preventable," said lead author Dr. Ana Navas-Acien of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.
New safe drinking water standards may be needed if the findings are duplicated in future studies, Navas-Acien said. She said they've begun a new study of 4,000 people.
Arsenic can get into drinking water naturally when minerals dissolve. It is also an industrial pollutant from coal burning and copper smelting. Utilities use filtration systems to get it out of drinking water. Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Research news: Many believe God can cure after doctors give their all

The News:
Many believe God can cure after doctors give their all
A survey suggests physicians need to be sensitive with families waiting for a miracle.
By Lindsey Tanner The Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 08/19/2008 12:45:45 AM MDT
CHICAGO — When it comes to saving lives, God trumps doctors for many Americans.
An eye-opening survey reveals widespread belief that divine intervention can revive dying patients. And, researchers said, doctors "need to be prepared to deal with families who are waiting for a miracle."
More than half of randomly surveyed adults — 57 percent — said God's intervention could save a family member even if physicians declared treatment would be futile. And nearly three-quarters said patients have a right to demand such treatment.
When asked to imagine their own relatives being gravely ill or injured, nearly 20 percent of doctors and other medical workers said God could reverse a hopeless outcome.
"Sensitivity to this belief will promote development of a trusting relationship" with patients and their families, according to researchers. That trust, they said, is needed to help doctors explain objective, overwhelming scientific evidence showing that continued treatment would be worthless.
Pat Loder, a Milford, Mich., woman whose two young children were killed in a 1991 car crash, said she clung to a belief that God would intervene when things looked hopeless.
"When you're a parent and you're standing over the body of your child who you think is dying . . . you have to have that" belief, Loder said. Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the journal Archives of Surgery.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Research news: 1918 flu aided immunity

The News:
1918 flu aided immunity
In survivors, potent defenses evolved for protection
By Seth BorensteinThe Associated Press
Article Last Updated: 08/18/2008 01:15:00 AM MDT

WASHINGTON — Nearly a century after history's most lethal flu faded away, survivors' bloodstreams still carry super- potent protection against the 1918 virus, demonstrating the remarkable durability of the human immune system.
Scientists tested the blood of 32 people ages 92 to 102 who were exposed to the 1918 pandemic flu and found antibodies that still roam the body looking to strangle the old flu strain. Researchers manipulated those antibodies into a vaccine and found that it kept alive all the mice they had injected with the killer flu, according to a study published online Sunday in the journal Nature.
There is no pressing need for a 1918 flu vaccine because the virus has long since mutated out of its deadly form and is unlikely to be a threat anymore, experts said. What is more important in this research, they said, is that it confirms theories that our immune system has a steel-trap memory.
"It's incredible. The Lord has blessed us with antibodies our whole lifetime," said study co- author Dr. Eric Altschuler at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey. "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
This is the longest that specific disease-fighting cells have lasted in people, said study lead author Dr. James Crowe, a professor of microbiology and immunology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.
But these antibodies don't just survive; they have mutated tremendously and now bind tighter to disease cells than other antibodies. That makes them more potent, he said. Read on...

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

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Research News: Health study eases role of weight

The News:
Health study eases role of weight
Experts say the estimates suggest stereotypes of body size can be misleading.
By Lindsey TannerThe Associated Press
CHICAGO — A new study suggests that a surprising number of overweight people — about half — have normal blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while an equally startling number of trim people suffer from some of the ills associated with obesity. The first national estimate of its kind bolsters the argument that you can be hefty but still healthy, or at least healthier than has been thought.

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Research News: Some stepfathers seen as better dads

The News:
Some stepfathers seen as better dads
Poor, urban mothers are surveyed
By Queenie WongMcClatchy Newspapers
Article Last Updated: 08/10/2008 12:37:39 AM MDT
WASHINGTON — Stepfathers make slightly better parents than married biological fathers, researchers found in a study of at-risk urban families. Mothers reported that stepfathers were more engaged, more cooperative and shared more responsibility than their biological counterparts did.

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in Journal of Marriage and Family.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Research News: As Americans age, they lay off liquor

The News:
As Americans age, they lay off liquor
The first study of lifetime habits logs a consistent decrease in alcohol consumption — except among problem drinkers.
By Federica Narancio McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — As Americans aged over the past two generations, they drank less alcohol. And the younger generation of adults drank less heavily than the ones before it, according to the first analysis of alcohol-consumption trends over adult life spans. By the time they reached their 80s, more than 40 percent of men and 60 percent of women said they didn't drink at all, according to a study in the August issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Research News: Study doubts prostate test's value

The News:
Study doubts prostate test's value
It may not help young men, and it certainly doesn't help the elderly, a panel says.
By Rob Stein Washington Post
Article Last Updated: 08/05/2008 01:51:09 AM MDT
WASHINGTON — The blood test millions of men undergo each year to screen for prostate cancer leads to so much unnecessary anxiety, surgery and complications that doctors should stop testing elderly men, and it remains unclear whether the test is worthwhile for younger men, a federal task force concluded Monday.

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Research News: CU study finds elderly not getting enough vitamin D

The News:
CU study finds elderly not getting enough vitamin D
Despite counseling, seniors at risk of bone breaks, osteoporosis
By Suzanne S. Brown The Denver Post
Article Launched: 08/04/2008 12:30:00 AM MDT
If you are in your sunset years, there's a good chance you are not getting enough of the so- called sunshine vitamin. Researchers at the University of Colorado School of Pharmacy, working with volunteers ages 65-89, found that when pharmacists educated the volunteers about their need for vitamin D, intake increased but still fell short of what seniors need for optimum health.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Research news: Skin cells rewind to stem cells

The News:
Skin cells rewind to stem cells
Sick patients' cells have been reverted to their embryonic state, paving way for therapy.
By Karen Kaplan Los Angeles Times
Article Last Updated: 08/01/2008 12:05:47 AM MDT
Scientists have created the first personalized stem cells for patients with a genetic disease by rewinding their skin cells to an embryonic state, according to a study published Thursday in the online edition of Science.
The researchers then converted some of those stem cells into the two kinds of brain cells that cause their crippling disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.
Stem-cell experts said they were delighted — though not surprised — to see proof that the reprogramming technique worked on human cells from a sick patient. Previously, human versions of the so-called induced pluripotent stem cells had only been made from skin samples provided by healthy subjects.
"It is quite amazing and an important step that should allow the development of experimental and therapeutic interventions for this disease," said Kathrin Plath, a researcher at the Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA, who was not involved in the study.
The new cells were derived from 3-millimeter patches of skin removed from the arm of an 82-year-old woman and her 89-year-old sister, who share a rare genetic mutation that causes about 2 percent of ALS cases.
The scientists from Harvard University and Columbia University focused on the rare form of ALS in part to test whether cells from elderly patients could be reprogrammed, said biologist Kevin Eggan of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Read on...

The Research:
Read the research behind this story in the journal Science. (click on Full text-pdf)