Sunday, September 23, 2007

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

Penn engineers design computer memory in nanoscale form that retrieves data 1,000 times faster:
Scientists from the University of Pennsylvania have developed nanowires capable of storing computer data for 100,000 years and retrieving that data a thousand times faster than existing portable memory devices such as Flash memory and micro-drives, all using less power and space than current memory technologies.

Delft researchers unravel the working of the bicycle:
For nearly 150 years, scientists have been baffled by the bicycle. How is it possible that a moving bicycle can, all by itself, be so stable? Researchers of the Delft University of Technology, working with colleagues from Cornell University and the University of Nottingham, UK, believe they have now found the ultimate model of the bicycle. The researchers discuss their findings in the new edition of Delft Outlook, the science magazine of TU Delft.

Scientists decipher mechanism behind antimicrobial 'hole punchers':
In the battle against bacteria, researchers have scored a direct hit. They have deciphered the molecular mechanism behind selective antimicrobial activity for a prototypical class of synthetic compounds.

Cell-surface sugar defects may trigger nerve damage in multiple sclerosis patients:
Defects on cell-surface sugars may promote the short-term inflammation and long-term neurodegeneration that occurs in the central nervous system of multiple sclerosis patients, according to University of California, Irvine researchers.

Controlling for size may also prevent cancer:
Scientists at Johns Hopkins recently discovered that a chemical chain reaction that controls organ size in animals ranging from insects to humans could mean the difference between normal growth and cancer. The study, published in the Sept. 21 issue of Cell, describes how organs can grow uncontrollably huge and become cancerous when this chain reaction is perturbed.

Heat shock proteins are co-opted for cancer:
The HSF1 transcription factor is the master regulator of cells' protective "heat-shock" response -- a complex defense system that kicks in when an organism is exposed to increased temperature, infection, toxins or other stresses. Researchers have found evidence that HSFI also plays a role in enabling normal cells to turn into cancer cells -- an understanding that could be the basis for new cancer-fighting drugs.

UCSD study reveals the regulatory mechanism of key enzyme:
Research conducted at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine has shed new light on the structure and function of one of the key proteins in all mammalian cells, protein kinase A, an enzyme which plays an essential role in memory formation, communication between nerve cells, and cardiac function.

Pathway to cell death redefined in landmark study:
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have determined that an intracellular protein called serpin-6 is crucial to the repair and survival of cell injury. Controlling the process could pave the way to new treatments for cancer, stroke, heart disease, neurological disorders and other killer illnesses. Using a primitive animal model, the scientists also have made cascade of cell death and the role of serpin-6 in saving cells dramatically -- and explosively -- visible.

Brown scientists take the petri dish to new dimensions:
Brown University biomedical engineers have created a new method for growing cells in three dimensions rather than the traditional two. This 3-D petri dish allows cells to self-assemble, creating cell clusters that can be transplanted in the body or used to test drugs in the lab. This simple new technique is part of a growing body of research that shows that 3-D culture techniques can create cells that behave more like cells in the body.

21st-century pack mule: MIT's 'exoskeleton' lightens the load:
Researchers in the MIT Media Lab's Biomechatronics Group have created a device to lighten the burden for soldiers and others who carry heavy packs and equipment.

Biologists expose hidden costs of firefly flashes:
Tufts University biologists have discovered a dark side behind the light shows put on by fireflies each summer. While it's energetically cheap for fireflies to produce their distinctive flash signals, flashier males are more likely to end up on the dinner table. The importance of these two conflicting forces could shift in different firefly populations. It is possible that this evolutionary balancing act might generate entirely new firefly species with their own distinctive flash codes.

Researchers genetically engineer micro-organisms into tiny factories:
Micro-organisms may soon be efficiently and inexpensively producing novel pharmaceutical compounds, such as flavonoids, that fight aging, cancer or obesity, as well as high-value chemicals, as the result of research being conducted by University at Buffalo researchers.

Scientists learn structure of enzyme in unusual virus:
Biologists have determined the three-dimensional structure of an unusual viral enzyme that is required in the assembly of new viruses.



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