Sunday, May 04, 2008

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

Gene therapy improves vision in patients with congenital retinal disease
In a clinical trial at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, researchers from The University of Pennsylvania have used gene therapy to safely restore vision in three young adults with a rare form of congenital blindness -- Leber congenital amaurosis. Although the patients have not achieved normal eyesight, the preliminary results set the stage for further studies of an innovative treatment for this and possibly other retinal diseases.

Early treatment of stomach infection may prevent cancer
Based on research using a new mouse model of gastritis and stomach cancer, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say that prompt treatment of Helicobacter pylori infections reverses damage to the lining of the stomach that can lead to cancer.

Scientists at Yale provide explanation for how cancer spreads
Metastasis, the spread of cancer throughout the body, can be explained by the fusion of a cancer cell with a white blood cell in the original tumor, according to Yale School of Medicine researchers, who say that this single event can set the stage for cancer's migration to other parts of the body.

Are you looking at me?
In humans, the eyes are said to be the 'window to the soul,' conveying much about a person's emotions and intentions. New research demonstrates for the first time that birds also respond to a human's gaze.

Genotyping takes us closer to an osteoporosis fingerprint
For the first time ever, an extensive genome-wide search has been undertaken to find the genes linked to osteoporosis and fracture. Five regions of interest have been identified that appear to warrant further scientific investigation.

UCLA stem cell researchers create heart and blood cells from reprogrammed skin cells
Stem cell researchers at UCLA were able to grow functioning cardiac cells using mouse skin cells that had been reprogrammed into cells with the same unlimited properties as embryonic stem cells.

Decoding the dictionary: Study suggests lexicon evolved to fit in the brain
The latest edition of the Oxford English Dictionary boasts 22,000 pages of definitions. While that may seem far from succinct, new research suggests the reference manual is meticulously organized to be as concise as possible -- a format that mirrors the way our brains make sense of and categorize the countless words in our vast vocabulary.

Pill ingredient could prevent brain damage after head injury
A common component of the contraceptive pill could improve the neurologic outcome for patients with severe head injuries, according to a study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Critical Care.

The most natural drug
In an advance online publication in Nature, researchers from the Oklahoma Medical Foundation and Emorgy University describe a method that can identify and clone human antibodies specifically tailored to fight infections. The new technology holds the potential to quickly and effectively create new treatments for influenza and a variety of other communicable diseases.

Scientists discover new ocean current
Scientists at Georgia Tech have discovered a new climate pattern, the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation. This pattern explains, for the first time, changes in the water important in helping commercial fishermen understand fluctuations in the fish stock. They're also finding that as the Earth is warming, large fluctuations in these factors could help climatologists predict how oceans will respond in a warmer world. The research appears in the April 30 edition of Geophysical Research Letters.

Scientists make chemical cousin of DNA for use as new nanotechnology building block
While scientists are fully exploring the promise of DNA nanotechnology, Biodesign Institute researcher John Chaput is working to give scientists brand new materials to aid their designs. Chaput and his research team have made the first self-assembled nanostructures composed entirely of glycerol nucleic acid -- a synthetic analog of DNA.

'Rotten eggs' in the blood
Hydrogen sulphide is a gas most commonly associated with the smell of stink bombs, sewage and rotten eggs, but a team of researchers from the Peninsula Medical School in the South West of England and King’s College London have now identified a role for this gas in regulating blood pressure, according to research published today in the leading science journal "Circulation."

Is happiness having what you want, wanting what you have, or both?
Some argue that happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have. This maxim sounds reasonable enough, but can it be tested, and if so, is it true?

Researchers light up lungs to help diagnose disease
Researchers at the University of Sheffield have developed innovative technology which illuminates a person's lungs and helps clinicians identify if they are functioning correctly. The new technology could result in earlier diagnosis of emphysema and smoking related damage, as well as other lung conditions and diseases.

Copper nanowires grown by new process create long-lasting displays
A new low-temperature, catalyst-free technique for growing copper nanowires has been developed by researchers at the University of Illinois. The copper nanowires could serve as interconnects in electronic device fabrication and as electron emitters in a television-like, very thin flat-panel display known as a field-emission display.

Single-celled bacterium works 24-7
Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis have gained the first detailed insight into the way circadian rhythms govern global gene expression in Cyanothece, a type of cyanobacterium (blue-green alga) known to cycle between photosynthesis during the day and nitrogen fixation at night.

Looking at neurons from all sides
A new technique that marries a fast-moving laser beam with a special microscope that look at tissues in different optical planes will enable scientists to get a 3-D view of neurons or nerve cells as they interact, said Baylor College of Medicine scientists in a report that appears today in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Go Speed Racer! Revving up the world's fastest nanomotors
(American Chemical Society) In a "major step" toward a practical energy source for powering tomorrow's nanomachines, researchers in Arizona report development of a new generation of sub-microscopic nanomotors that are up to 10 times more powerful than existing motors. The tiny motors, made of platinum and gold nanowires, are supercharged with carbon nanotubes. Go Speed Racer, go!


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