Sunday, July 02, 2006

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

What do Racquel Welch and quantum physics have in common?:

Fantastic Voyage: University of Leicester leads international study with potential that is "stuff of science fiction."

ANU scientists crack DNA replication mystery:

A team of scientists led by Professor Nick Dixon at the Research School of Chemistry at The Australian National University have cracked one of the great DNA mysteries. For more than 20 years scientists have tried in vain to understand the last step in the copying of DNA in cells that are about to divide.

Taking medicine regularly (even placebo) is good for you:

People who take their medicine regularly, even dummy (placebo) medicine, have a lower risk of death than those with poor adherence, finds a study in this week's BMJ.This intriguing finding supports the concept of the "healthy adherer" effect, whereby adherence to drug treatment may be a marker for overall healthy behavior, say the authors.

Was there life on Mars? Shiny rock coating may hold the answer:

A mysterious shiny coating found on rocks in many of Earth's arid environments could reveal whether there was once life on Mars, according to new research. The research reveals that desert varnish creates a record of life around it, by binding traces of organic compounds to desert rocks. Samples of Martian desert varnish could therefore show whether there has been life on Mars at any stage over the last 4.5 billion years.

The effect of periodontal disease on health care costs:

Prevention of periodontal disease may lead to saving of not only dental care but also medical care costs.

USC researchers investigate protein that protects tumors:

A protein that allows breast cancer cells to evade the body's natural immune responses could be a target of future cancer therapies, according to a study by Keck School of Medicine of USC scientists published today.The study, published in the July 1 issue of the American Journal of Pathology, is the first to identify how EphB4 -- a protein that sits on the surface of cells -- functions.

Rice scientists make first nanoscale pH meter:

Using unique nanoparticles that convert laser light into useful information, Rice University scientists have created the world's first nano-sized pH meter. The discovery, which appears online this week in the journal Nano Letters, presents biologists with the first potential means of measuring accurate pH changes over a wide pH range in real-time inside living tissue and cells.

Attacking cancer's sweet tooth is effective strategy against tumors:

An ancient avenue for producing cellular energy, the glycolytic pathway, could provide a surprisingly rich target for anti-cancer therapies.

How cooperation can evolve in a cheater's world:

Whether you're a free-loading virus or a meat-stealing monkey, selfishness pays. So how could cooperators survive in a cheater's world? Thomas Flatt, a postdoctoral research associate at Brown, was part of a group that created a theoretical model that neatly solves this dilemma, which has stumped evolutionary biologists and social scientists for decades. The trick: Keep the altruists in small groups, away from the swindling horde, where they multiply and migrate.

Researchers Create New Organic Gel Nanomaterials:

Researchers have created organic gel nanomaterials that could be used to encapsulate pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetic products and to build 3-D biological scaffolds for tissue engineering. Using olive oil and six other liquid solvents, the scientists added a simple enzyme to chemically activate a sugar that changed the liquids to organic gels.

Carnegie Mellon researchers discover new cell properties:

Carnegie Mellon University researchers Kris Noel Dahl and mohammad F. Islam have made a new breakthrough for children suffering from an extremely rare disease that accelerates the aging process by seven times the normal rate.

Ultrasound may help regrow teeth:

Hockey players, rejoice! A team of University of Alberta researchers has created technology to regrow teeth--the first time scientists have been able to reform human dental tissue.Using low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS), Dr. Tarak El-Bialy from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and Dr. Jie Chen and Dr. Ying Tsui from the Faculty of Engineering have created a miniaturized system-on-a-chip that offers a non-invasive and novel way to stimulate jaw growth and dental tissue healing.

Speeding discovery of the 'human cancer genome':

Two gene discoveries announced in separate reports in the June 30, 2006 issue of Cell highlight one way to speed through the human genome in search of those genes most important for spawning cancer. Both groups say that a critical element in the enterprise to efficiently characterize the "human cancer genome" --a comprehensive collection of the genetic alterations responsible for major cancers--is the strategic comparison of human tumors with those of mice.

Increased flow of groundwater after earthquakes suggests oil extraction applications:

The most obvious manifestation of an earthquake is the shaking from seismic waves that knocks down buildings and rattles people. Now researchers have established a more subtle effect of this shaking--it increases the permeability of rock to groundwater and other fluids. The enhanced permeability caused by seismic shaking could potentially be harnessed to help extract oil from natural reservoirs.

NASA Satellite positioning software may aid in tsunami warnings:

University scientists using Global Positioning System (GPS) software developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., have shown that GPS can determine, within minutes, whether an earthquake is big enough to generate an ocean-wide tsunami. This NASA-funded technology can be used to provide faster tsunami warnings.

Curtain may be closing on scientific water controversy:

The curtain may be ringing down on a scientific controversy regarding the structure of water which arose two years ago. A new study by scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has provided further evidence that the traditional structure of liquid water, in which the average water molecule is hydrogen-bonded to approximately four other water molecules in a tetrahedral arrangement, is correct.

Microscopic scaffolding offers a 'simple' solution to treating skin injuries:

A revolutionary dissolvable scaffold for growing new areas of skin could provide a safer, more effective way of treating burns, diabetic ulcers and similar injuries.

Bacteria, beware: New finding about E coli could block infections, lead to better treatments:

A newly discovered receptor in a strain of Escherichia coli can be blocked to avert infection, a finding that might aid in developing better therapies to treat bacterial infections resulting in food poisoning, diarrhea or plague.



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