Sunday, August 05, 2007

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

Coelacanth fossil sheds light on fin-to-limb evolution:
A 400 million-year-old fossil of a coelacanth fin, the first finding of its kind, fills a shrinking evolutionary gap between fins and limbs. University of Chicago scientists describe the finding in a paper highlighted on the cover of the July/August 2007 issue of Evolution & Development.

Rare example of Darwinism seen in action:
A research team, including UC Riverside biologists, has found experimental evidence that supports a controversial theory of genetic conflict in the reproduction of those animals that support their developing offspring through a placenta. The conflict has been likened to a "battle of the sexes" or an "arms race" at the molecular level between mothers and fathers. At stake: the fetus's growth rate and how much that costs the nutrient-supplying mother.

Shining light on pancreatic cancer:
Using novel light-scattering techniques, researchers have found the first evidence that early stage pancreatic cancer causes subtle changes in part of the small intestine. The easily monitored marker may ultimately allow early detection for a disease notorious for having few obvious symptoms, the primary reason pancreatic cancer killed more than 33,000 Americans last year.

Study shows radiofrequency ablation highly effective in treating kidney tumors:
Radiofrequency ablation, a relatively new, minimally invasive treatment, was 100 percent successful in eradicating small malignant kidney tumors in a study of more than 100 patients, report researchers from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Of 95 tumors that were smaller than 3.7 cm, all were completely eradicated by a single treatment, along with 14 of the larger tumors. Total success rate for all tumors was 93 percent.

Monkeys learn in the same way as humans, psychologists report:
Monkeys seem to learn the same way as humans, UCLA and Columbia University psychologists report in the August issue of the journal Psychological Science. Like humans, monkeys benefit enormously from being actively involved in learning, instead of having information presented to them passively.

Using a magnet to tune a magnet:
An international research team, led by scientists at the London Centre for Nanotechnology, has found a way to switch a material's magnetic properties from "hard" to "soft" and back again -- something which could lead to new ways of controlling electromagnetic devices. The research will appear in the journal Nature on Aug. 2, and shows how a magnet can be "tuned" by subjecting it to a second magnetic field, perpendicular to the original.

Robots with a sense of humor:
Despite advances in artificial intelligence, robots have so far remained humorless due to the difficulty in trying to mimic the complex human sense of humor. But now US researchers have built a computer program or "bot" that has been taught to get a specific type of joke -- based on simple puns. The team hope the cyber wit could lend a sense of humor to robots used as companions or helpers.

Automated technique paves way for nanotechnology's industrial revolution:
In an assist in the quest for ever smaller electronic devices, Duke University engineers have adapted a decades-old computer-aided design and manufacturing process to reproduce nanosize structures with features on the order of single molecules.

Fish eyes could hold clue to repairing damaged retinas in humans:
A special type of cell found in the eye has been found to be very important in regenerating the retina in zebrafish and restoring vision even after extensive damage. Now, a UK team of scientists believe they may be able to use these cells -- known as Müller glial cells -- to regenerate damaged retina in humans, according to a study published this month in the journal Stem Cells.

Under magnetic force, nanoparticles may deliver gene therapy:
After binding DNA segments to tiny iron-containing spheres called nanoparticles, researchers have used magnetic fields to direct the nanoparticles into arterial muscle cells, where the DNA could have a therapeutic effect. Although the research, done in cell cultures, is in early stages, it may represent a new method for delivering gene therapy to benefit blood vessels damaged by arterial disease.

Pets could be source of multi resistant bacteria infections in humans, MU researchers investigate:
The next time you have difficulty fighting a bacterial infection, your next trip to the doctor might be to the family veterinarian. A new University of Missouri-Columbia study is investigating whether the family pet could be a reservoir for infections of multi resistant bacteria in humans.

Scientists move closer to bio-engineered bladders:
Researchers at the University of York are using an understanding of the special cells that line the bladder, urothelial cells, to develop ways of restoring continence to patients with serious bladder conditions, including cancer. Scientists have found that if the bladder is damaged, these cells are able to rapidly regrow to repair the wound. The researchers hope to harness this property to engineer new bladders.

Lithium and bone healing:
New molecular pathway shown in bone healing that could be enhanced by lithium treatment.

New aerogels could clean contaminated water, purify hydrogen for fuel cells:
Scientists at the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have identified a new technique for cleansing contaminated water and potentially purifying hydrogen for use in fuel cells, thanks to the discovery of a innovative type of porous material.

MIT team building robotic fin for submarines:
Inspired by the efficient swimming motion of the bluegill sunfish, MIT researchers are building a mechanical fin that could one day propel robotic submarines.

MIT model could predict cells' response to drugs:
MIT researchers have developed a model that could predict how cells will respond to targeted drug therapies. Models based on this approach could help doctors make better treatment choices and drug developers identify the ideal compound. In addition, the model could help test the effectiveness of drugs for a wide range of diseases, including cancer, arthirtis, and immune system disorders.



Post a Comment

<< Home