Sunday, June 15, 2008

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

Memory loss linked to common sleep disorder
Got memory problems? If you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea, your brain could be to blame. For the first time, UCLA researchers have discovered that people with sleep apnea show tissue loss in brain regions that help store memory. Reported in the June 27 edition of the journal Neuroscience Letters, the findings emphasize the importance of early detection of the disorder, which afflicts an estimated 20 million Americans.

U of M researchers discover gene linked to adult-onset obesity
Researchers at the University of Minnesota have discovered a gene that may provide a clue as to why obesity rates increase with age. The research was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Hubble's sweeping view of the Coma Galaxy Cluster
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captures the magnificent starry population of the Coma Cluster of Galaxies, one of the densest known galaxy collections in the Universe.

Cancer-killing viruses influence tumor blood-vessel growth
Viruses genetically designed to kill cancer cells offer a promising strategy for treating incurable brain tumors, but the body often eliminates the viruses before they can eliminate the tumor. This animal study helps explain why this happens. The research shows that as the viruses destroy tumor cells, the cells release proteins that stimulate new blood-vessel growth to the tumor. These vessels bring immune cells that eradicate the viruses and actually stimulate regrowth of the tumor.

UC San Diego physicists reveal secrets of newest form of carbon
Using one of the world's most powerful sources of man-made radiation, physicists from UC San Diego, Columbia University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have uncovered new secrets about the properties of graphene -- a form of pure carbon that may one day replace the silicon in computers, televisions, mobile phones and other common electronic devices.

Who shalt not kill? Brain power leads to level-headedness when faced with moral dilemmas
Should a sergeant sacrifice a wounded private on the battlefield in order to save the rest of his troops? Is euthanasia acceptable if it prevents needless suffering? Many of us will have to face some sort of extreme moral choice such as these at least once in our life. A new study appearing in the June issue of Psychological Science explores how people understand morality and make decisions on moral issues.

Sun goes longer than normal without producing sunspots
The sun has been laying low for the past couple of years, producing no sunspots and giving a break to satellites. Periods of inactivity are normal, but this one has gone on longer than usual, scientists said recently at Montana State University.

Researchers block transmission of malaria in animal tests
By disrupting the potassium channel of the malaria parasite, a team of researchers has been able to prevent new malaria parasites from forming in mosquitoes and has thereby broken the cycle of infection during recent animal tests.

Rutgers researchers show how the brain can protect against cancer
Researchers at Rutgers hypothesized that beta-endorphin peptide producing neurons do not just make us feel good, but also play roles in regulating the stress response and immune functions to control tumor growth and progression. In a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Dr. Dipak K. Sarkar and his colleagues demonstrate the physical mechanisms that support their hypothesis.

Origins of the brain
One of the great scientific challenges is to understand the design principles and origins of the human brain. New research has shed light on the evolutionary origins of the brain and how it evolved into the remarkably complex structure found in humans. The research suggests that it is not size alone that gives more brain power, but that, during evolution, increasingly sophisticated molecular processing of nerve impulses allowed development of animals with more complex behaviors.

Duke scientists show why cells starved of iron burn more glucose
Duke University Medical Center scientists have found a mechanism that allows cells starved of iron to shut down energy-making processes that depend on iron and use a less efficient pathway involving glucose. This metabolic reshuffling mechanism, found in yeast cells, helps explain how humans respond to iron deficiency, and may help with diabetes research as well.

USC researchers identify gene that regulates glucose levels and increases risk for diabetes
Researchers at the University of Southern California have helped identify a genetic variant that regulates glucose levels and also increases the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Roadrunner supercomputer puts research at a new scale
(DOE/Los Alamos National Laboratory) Less than a week after Los Alamos National Laboratory's Roadrunner supercomputer began operating at world-record petaflop/s data-processing speeds, Los Alamos researchers are already using the computer to mimic extremely complex neurological processes.

Nanoparticles aid bone growth
(Rice University) In the first study of its kind, bioengineers and bioscientists at Rice University and Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands, have shown they can grow denser bone tissue by sprinkling stick-like nanoparticles throughout the porous material used to pattern the bone.

'Nanoglassblowing' seen as boon to study of individual molecules
(National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)) Researchers from NIST and Cornell University have developed a new fabrication technique called 'nanoglassblowing' that creates nanoscale fluidic devices to isolate and study single molecules in solution, including individual DNA strands.


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