Sunday, April 27, 2008

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

New source for biofuels discovered
A newly created microbe produces cellulose that can be turned into ethanol and other biofuels, report scientists from the University of Texas at Austin who say the microbe could provide a significant portion of the nation's transportation fuel if production can be scaled up.

New nanotech products hitting the market at the rate of 3-4 per week
New nanotechnology consumer products are coming on the market at the rate of 3-4 per week, a finding based on the latest update to the nanotechnology consumer product inventory maintained by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. The number of consumer products using nanotechnology has grown from 212 to 609 since PEN launched the world's first online inventory of manufacturer-identified nanotech goods in March 2006.

Menstrual blood -- a valuable source of multipotential stem cells?
Researchers suggest that stromal cells derived from menstrual blood may represent a potentially unlimited, ethically unencumbered, easily collectable and inexpensive source of stem cells for use in regenerative medicine. The study found that MenSCs are easily expandable to clinical relevance and express multipotent markers at both the molecular and cellular level. The abundance and plasticity of MenSCs suggest a potential role for MenSCs in regenerative transplantation therapies for many different organs and tissues.

Heart derived stem cells develop into heart muscle
Dutch researchers at University Medical Center Utrecht and the Hubrecht Institute have succeeded in growing large numbers of stem cells from adult human hearts into new heart muscle cells. A breakthrough in stem cell research. Until now, it was necessary to use embryonic stem cells to make this happen. The findings are published in the latest issue of the journal Stem Cell Research.

Insects use plant like a telephone
Dutch ecologist Roxina Soler and her colleagues have discovered that subterranean and aboveground herbivorous insects can communicate with each other by using plants as telephones. Subterranean insects issue chemical warning signals via the leaves of the plant. This way, aboveground insects are alerted that the plant is already "occupied."

Nanotubes grown straight in large numbers
Duke University chemists have found a way to grow long, straight cylinders only a few atoms thick in very large numbers, removing a major roadblock in the pursuit of nano-scale electronics.

Researchers reveal structure of protein that repairs damage to cancer cells
A team of University of Chicago scientists has shown how two proteins locate and repair damaged genetic material inside cells. One protein detects and repairs damage in malignant cells that may result from a certain type of cancer therapy. In a paper published in the April 24 issue of the journal Nature, the team raised the possibility of designing a molecule that could interfere with the repair process, making cancer treatment more effective.

Presence of certain antibodies signals healthier teeth and gums
Antibodies present in people with good oral health could become the first tool for dental professionals to assess a patient's probable response to periodontal disease treatments, say researchers at the University of Michigan.

MIT-led teams unravel heparin death mystery
An international team of researchers led by MIT has explained how contaminated batches of the blood-thinner heparin were able to slip past traditional safety screens and kill dozens of patients recently in the United States and Germany.

Eliminating germline lengthens fly lifespan, Brown study shows
Brown University biologists have found that eliminating germline stem cells, the cells that make eggs and sperm, lengthens the life of fruit flies and alters insulin production. These findings suggest a provocative general principle at work: Molecular signals from the reproductive system affect aging and metabolism in animals -- and possibly in humans. The work also proposes a new mechanism of how this control may occur. Results are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers make new finding about how memory is stored
Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine are the first to show that the location of protein-destroying "machines" in nerve cells in the brain may play an important role in how memories are formed -- a finding with potential implications for treating Alzheimer's and other brain diseases. The research is published in the current issue of Learning & Memory.

Scientists discover a mechanism that can send cells on the road to cancer
Using a common virus as a tool for investigating abnormal cell proliferation, a team led by scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has succeeded in clarifying an intricate series of biochemical steps that shed light on a way that cancer can begin.

You are what your mother eats: First evidence that mother's diet influences infant sex
New research by the Universities of Exeter and Oxford provides the first evidence that a child's sex is associated with the mother's diet. Published today (April 23 2008), in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, the study shows a clear link between higher energy intake around the time of conception and the birth of sons. The findings may help explain the falling birth-rate of boys in industrialised countries, including the UK and US.


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