Sunday, January 28, 2007

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

Canadian researchers first to complete the human metabolome:
Researchers at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, Canada, have announced the completion of the first draft of the human metabolome, the chemical equivalent of the human genome.

New nanotechnology able to examine single molecules, aiding in determining gene expression:
A new nanotechnology that can examine single molecules in order to determine gene expression, paving the way for scientists to more accurately examine single cancer cells, has been developed by an interdisciplinary team of researchers at UCLA's California Nanosystems Institute, New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and Veeco Instruments, a nanotechnology company.

Thinking with the spinal cord?:
Scientists from the University of Copenhagen have demonstrated that the spinal cord use network mechanisms similar to those used in the brain. The discovery is featured in the current issue of Science.

A boost for hydrogen fuel cell research:
The development of hydrogen fuel cells for vehicles, the ultimate green dream in transportation energy, is another step closer. Researchers with the US Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory have identified a new variation of a familiar platinum-nickel alloy that is far and away the most active oxygen-reducing catalyst ever reported.

UCLA, Caltech chemists report important step toward building molecular computers:
A team of UCLA and Caltech chemists reports in the January 25 issue of the journal Nature the successful demonstration of a large-scale (160 kilobit) memory device that stores information using reconfigurable molecular switches. This research represents an important step toward the creation of molecular computers that are much smaller and could be more powerful than today's silicon-based computers.

Major link in brain-obesity puzzle found:
A single protein in brain cells may act as a linchpin in the body's weight-regulating system, playing a key role in the flurry of signals that govern fat storage, sugar use, energy balance and weight, researchers report. And although it's far too early to say how this protein could be useful in fighting obesity, the finding gives scientists an important system to target in future research and the development of anti-obesity medications.

New approach could lower antibiotic requirements by 50 times:
Antibiotic doses could be reduced by up to 50 times using a new approach based on bacteriophages. Steven Hagens, previously at the University of Vienna, told Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI, that certain bacteriophages, a type of virus that infects bacteria, can boost the effectiveness of antibiotics gentamicin, gramacidin or tetracycline.

Important mechanism identified in the formation of blood vessels:
All tissues, sick and healthy alike, need a blood supply to survive and grow. The key to many medical problems, like preventing tumor development, is therefore to obstruct the spread of the blood vessels. Research scientists at Karolinska Institutet have now discovered a heretofore unknown mechanism for how the body links together its blood vessels.

Novel laboratory technique nudges genes into activity:
A new technique that employs RNA, a tiny chemical cousin of DNA, to turn on genes could lead to therapeutics for conditions in which nudging a gene awake would help alleviate disease, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center say.

Carnegie Mellon engineers devise new process to improve energy efficiency of ethanol production:
Carnegie Mellon University chemical engineers have a devised a new process that can improve the efficiency of ethanol production, a major component in making biofuels a significant part of the U.S. energy supply.

Chemicals in brown algae may protect against skin cancer:
Substances extracted from a marine seaweed may protect against skin cancer caused by too much sun, new research suggests. The animal study indicates that chemicals called brown algae polyphenols (BAPs), which are found in a type of brown marine seaweed, might protect against skin cancers caused by ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.



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