Sunday, February 25, 2007

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

Pregnancy hormone key to repairing nerve cell damage:
The mystery of why multiple sclerosis (MS) tends to go into remission while women are pregnant may be the secret to overcoming the devastating neurodegenerative disease, according to University of Calgary researchers who have shown that the pregnancy-related hormone prolactin is responsible for rebuilding the protective coating around nerve cells. New paper to be published in Feb. 21 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Scientists produce neurons from human skin:
Scientists from Université Laval's Faculty of Medicine have succeeded in producing neurons in vitro using stem cells extracted from adult human skin. This is the first time such an advanced state of nerve cell differentiation has been achieved from human skin, according to lead researcher Professor François Berthod. This breakthrough could eventually lead to revolutionary advances in the treatment of neurodegenerative illnesses such as Parkinson's disease.

Liposuctioned fat stem cells to repair bodies:
Expanding waistlines, unsightly bulges: people will gladly remove excess body fat to improve their looks. But unwanted fat also contains stem cells with the potential to repair defects and heal injuries in the body. A team led by Philippe Collas at the University of Oslo in Norway has identified certain chemical marks that allow him to predict which, among the hundreds of millions of stem cells in liposuctioned fat, are best at regenerating tissue.

New engine helps satellites blast off with less fuel:
Georgia Tech researchers have a created a new satellite technology that allows satellites to blast off with less fuel, opening the door for deep space missions, lower launch costs and more hardware on board.

Scientists identify specific enzymes that make meningitis hard to fight:
Two enzymes in meningitis bacteria which prevent the body from successfully fighting off the disease, and make the infection extremely virulent, have been identified in new research published today.

Experimental evolution in robots probes the emergence of biological communication:
Using an ingenious approach involving virtual robots that possess evolvable genomes, researchers have identified key factors that may play important roles in determining the manner in which communication arises during the evolution of social organisms.

MicroRNA helps prevent tumors:
Researchers have found that when a single mircoRNA molecule is unable to regulate a specific cancer-related gene, tumors result.

Caffeine may prevent heart disease death in elderly:
Habitual intake of caffeinated beverages provides protection against heart disease mortality in the elderly.

Microfluidic chip helps solve cellular mating puzzle:
Using a biochemical version of a computer chip they invented, a team of researchers has solved a long-standing mystery related to the mating habits of yeast cells.

Birds found to plan for the future:
Planning and worrying about the future has always been considered an exclusively human activity, but now one species of bird has also been found to plan for tomorrow. The finding, published in Nature, raises the possibility that, like humans, birds may get anxious about the future. The birds, western scrub-jays, are shown to have learned from their previous experiences of food scarcity, storing food for future use in places where they anticipate future slim pickings.

Drug safety recommendations lack scientific evidence:
During the past several years, there has been a perceived drug safety crisis in the United States. The Institute of Medicine (IOM), recently released it final recommendations for reforming the US drug safety system, but an editorial published today in Health Economics by Tomas Philipson and colleagues at the University of Chicago finds little evidence of a drug safety crisis and no scientific evidence to back up the IOM's recommendations.

New research finds people and pigeons see eye to eye:
Pigeons and humans use similar visual cues to identify objects, a finding that could have promising implications in the development of novel technologies, according to new research conducted by a University of New Hampshire professor.

Photo software creates 3-D world:
The Photo Tourism experimental software is one part photo album and one part video game. It analyzes where a digital photograph was taken and then places the image in a 3-D virtual world. Applications include organizing personal photo collections, creating virtual tours and, perhaps someday, making a visual map of all the photos on the Internet.

Deep in the ocean, a clam that acts like a plant:
How does life survive in the black depths of the ocean? At the surface, sunlight allows green plants to "fix" carbon from the air to build their bodies. Around hydrothermal vents deep in the ocean live communities of giant clams with no gut and no functional digestive system, depending on symbiotic bacteria to use energy locked up in hydrogen sulfide to replace sunlight. Now, the genome of this symbiont has been completely sequenced.

Good vibrations: Aging bones may benefit from a good shaking:
Researchers at Griffith University are investigating a novel, low intensity interventionthat they believe may help reduce hip fracture risk in the elderly.

Problem forgetting may be a natural mechanism gone awry:
It may turn out the reason some people grow increasingly forgetful as they age is less about how old they are and more about subtle changes in the way the brain files memories and makes room for new ones.

Practice of farming reaches back farther than thought:
Microscopic residues of plants recovered from stone tools that people were using in Panama 3,000 to 7,800 years ago show that people were engaged in the practice of agriculture much earlier than previously thought.



Post a Comment

<< Home