Sunday, May 07, 2006

Science Sunday: Wrap-up of recent advancements in science from EurekAlert!

Nano machine switches between biological and silicon worlds
Scientists have created a molecular switch that could play a key role in thousands of nanotech applications. The Mol-Switch project successfully developed a demonstrator to prove the principle, despite deep scepticism from specialist colleagues in biotechnology and biophysics.

UCLA engineers announce breakthrough in semiconductor spin wave research
UCLA Engineering adjunct professor Mary Mehrnoosh Eshaghian-Wilner, researcher Alexander Khitun and professor Kang Wang have created three novel nanoscale computational architectures using a technology they pioneered called "spin-wave buses" as the mechanism for interconnection. The three nanoscale architectures are not only power efficient, but also possess a high degree of interconnectivity.

Five Spanish hospitals in international phase III trial with H5N1 influenza pandemic vaccine
The vaccine under study is fractionated - it only contains parts of the viral proteins that activate our immune system. Thus, this vaccine cannot cause influenza. It contains an adjuvant that enhances immunogenic effects, what permits to reduce the concentration of vaccine administered in each dose. The study will recruit 5,052 volunteers of which 1,500 will be recruited from Spain.

Stomach receptor for H. pylori discovered
Scientists have determined that decay-accelerating factor (DAF), a protein found in epithelial cells in the stomach, acts as a receptor for the bacteria Helicobacter pylori. Blocking this interaction could lead to new drugs that reduce the risk of peptic ulcer disease or gastric cancer. The research appears as the "Paper of the Week" in the May 12 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry, an American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology journal.

Important gene controlling tree growth and development found
Scientists at the Ume. Plant Science Centre (UPSC) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) report today about a breakthrough in our understanding of how the growth and development of forest trees is controlled. In an article published in Science, they show that the FT gene that was previously shown to control the flowering time of annual plants, also controls tree flowering.

Meteorites discovered to carry interstellar carbon
Scientists at the Carnegie Institution have discovered that meteorites can carry primitive, organic particles that originated billions of years ago either in interstellar space, or in the outer reaches of the solar system when it was beginning to coalesce. They showed that the parent bodies of meteorites -- the large objects from the asteroid belt -- contain primitive organic matter similar to that found in interplanetary dust particles. The finding provides clues to how organic matter evolved in the solar system.

New study finds similarities between monkey business and human business
Little attention has been paid to whether systematic economic biases such as risk-aversion are learned behaviors - and thus easily ameliorated through market incentives - or biologically based, arising in novel situations and in spite of experience. In a groundbreaking new study from the Journal of Political Economy, Yale researchers extend this question across species, exploring how a colony of capuchin monkeys responds to economic decisions. They found that monkeys doing business - including trading and gambling - behave in ways that closely mirror our own behavioral inclinations.

Epstein-Barr virus might kick-start multiple sclerosis
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) carry immune cells that over-react to Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). The virus has long been suspected of playing a role in MS, but the mechanism linking it to the disease was poorly understood. The new findings show the culprit might be a population of T cells that boosts other immune system components in response to EBV. The findings could lead to new therapies to better control the central nervous system damage MS causes.

World-leading microscope shows more detail than ever
A unique 3-dimensional microscope that works in a new way is giving unprecedented insight into microscopic internal structure and chemical composition.

Freezing kidney tumors is a safe alternative to surgery
Percutaneous cryoablation, a relatively non-invasive technique that destroys tumors by freezing them, is a safe method for treating kidney tumors in selected patients who are not considered candidates for surgery, according to a new study by researchers from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

MIT nanoparticles may help detect, treat tumors
A new technique devised by MIT engineers may one day help physicians detect cancerous tumors during early stages of growth. The technique allows nanoparticles to group together inside cancerous tumors, creating masses with enough of a magnetic signal to be detectable by a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine.

Gold beads show previously unseen parts of the eye
A new study recently published in Journal of Vision, an online, free access publication of the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO), shows that gold beads injected into eye tissue can be used to obtain images of important structures in the orbit that cannot be seen with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or other imaging methods.



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