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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News

First report of long-term safety of human embryonic stem cells to treat human disease

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:17 PM PDT

The first evidence of the medium-term to long-term safety and tolerability of transplanting human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in humans has been revealed by scientists. hESC transplants used to treat severe vision loss in 18 patients with different forms of macular degeneration appeared safe up to 3 years post-transplant, and the technology restored some sight in more than half of the patients.

Earth's magnetic field could flip within a human lifetime

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 02:08 PM PDT

Earth's last magnetic reversal took place 786,000 years ago and happened very quickly, in less than 100 years -- roughly a human lifetime. The rapid flip, much faster than the thousands of years most geologists thought, comes as new measurements show the planet's magnetic field is weakening 10 times faster than normal and could drop to zero in a few thousand years.

Genetic history of tomatoes revealed by new sequencing

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 02:08 PM PDT

The sequencing of 360 tomato varieties has yielded a 'genetic history' of the popular food crop. An important finding is that specific regions of the tomato genome were unintentionally depleted in genetic variation: for example, in DNA around genes conferring larger fruit size or genes for resistance to diseases afflicting tomato plants.

Dinosaur breathing study shows that noses enhanced smelling and cooled brain

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 02:08 PM PDT

It's been millions of years since T. rex took its last breath, but a team led by Ohio University scientists is breathing life back into dinosaurs using high-powered computer simulations to model airflow through dinosaur snouts. The research has important implications for how dinosaurs used their noses to not only breathe but to enhance the sense of smell and cool their brains.

Study warns swift action needed to curb exponential climb in Ebola outbreak

Posted: 22 Sep 2014 08:11 AM PDT

Unless Ebola control measures in west Africa are enhanced quickly, experts from the WHO and Imperial College, London, predict numbers will continue to climb exponentially, and more than 20,000 people will have been infected by early November, according to a new article in the New England Journal of Medicine released 6 months after WHO was first notified of the outbreak in west Africa.

Fish oil supplements have little effect on irregular heartbeat

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 01:04 PM PDT

High doses of fish oil supplements, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, do not reduce atrial fibrillation, a common type of irregular heartbeat in which the heart can beat as fast as 150 beats a minute, results from a clinical trial indicate.

New information about how neurons act could lead to brain disorder advancements

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 12:26 PM PDT

Neurons are electrically charged cells, located in the nervous system, that interpret and transmit information using electrical and chemical signals. Now, researchers have determined that individual neurons can react differently to electrical signals at the molecular level and in different ways -- even among neurons of the same type. This variability may be important in discovering underlying problems associated with brain disorders and neural diseases such as epilepsy.

New 'tree of life' traces evolution of a mysterious cotinga birds

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 12:26 PM PDT

They are some of the brightest, loudest, oddest-looking, least-understood birds on the planet, and thanks to a comprehensive new evolutionary 'tree of life' generated for the tropical cotinga family of South America, the door is now open to new discoveries about the more than 60 species in this amazingly diverse group of birds.

Rediscovering Venus to find faraway Earths: Measuring gravitational pull of a planet should speed search

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 12:25 PM PDT

As the search for Earth-like planets wages on, a team of researchers may have found a way to speed up the process. The team is developing a new laser-based technology known as the green astro-comb to obtain information about the mass of a distant planet. Using this information, astronomers will be able to determine whether distant exoplanets are rocky worlds like Earth or less dense gas giants like Jupiter.

Potential drug that could help treat cystic fibrosis identified by researchers

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 12:25 PM PDT

By screening over 2,000 approved drugs and natural products, scientists have shown that tannic acid may help ease the impact of bacterial lung infections in cystic fibrosis patients. Tests completed using experimentally modified frog oocytes show that tannic acid counteracts the harmful effect of an enzyme produced by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus). However, more research is needed to find out if tannic acid can help treat S. aureus infections in humans.

Immune cells in liver drive fatty liver disease, liver cancer

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 12:25 PM PDT

Immune cells that migrate to the liver and interact there with liver tissue cells get activated by metabolic stress (e.g. through lipids of a high fat diet) and drive the development of fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and liver cancer. Scientists made this discovery and thus identified the previously unknown mechanism underlying these serious and widespread diseases.

NASA study finds 1934 had worst North American drought of last thousand years

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 12:07 PM PDT

A new study using a reconstruction of North American drought history over the last 1,000 years found that the drought of 1934 was the driest and most widespread of the last millennium. Using a tree-ring-based drought record from the years 1000 to 2005 and modern records, scientists found the 1934 drought was 30 percent more severe than the runner-up drought (in 1580) and extended across 71.6 percent of western North America.

NASA mission provides its first look at Martian upper atmosphere

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 12:03 PM PDT

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft has provided scientists their first look at a storm of energetic solar particles at Mars, produced unprecedented ultraviolet images of the tenuous oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon coronas surrounding the Red Planet, and yielded a comprehensive map of highly variable ozone in the atmosphere underlying the coronas.

New treatment designed to save more eyes from cancer

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 11:28 AM PDT

A new technique for treating the eye cancer retinoblastoma has been developed to improve the odds for preventing eye loss, blindness or death in children with advanced forms of the disease. The new procedure is credited saving the eyesight of a 4-year-old girl.

Molecular 'breadcrumb trail' that helps melanoma spread found

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 11:27 AM PDT

Melanoma cells are drawn to follow the 'trail' of a naturally-occurring molecule in the body, which directs this serious type of skin cancer to spread, scientists have discovered.

Future computers could be built from magnetic 'tornadoes'

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 11:27 AM PDT

Computers of the future could be built from 'magnetic tornadoes,' according to new research into nanotechnology. Using computer simulations, the team have shown it is possible to create magnetic 'logic gates', the fundamental building blocks of a CPU, using magnetic materials.

Meteorite fragments discovered 20 years after bolide event in Czech Republic

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 11:27 AM PDT

Scientists have discovered meteorite fragments 20 years after the corresponding bolide was seen in the skies of the Czech Republic. This discovery was made possible by reanalyzing the trajectory, which moved the impact line by 330 meters. Interestingly, the meteorites found on the ground are of different types, pointing to a parent asteroid of heterogeneous composition.

Electric vehicle technology packs more punch in smaller package

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Using 3-D printing and novel semiconductors, researchers have created a power inverter that could make electric vehicles lighter, more powerful and more efficient.

Helping outdoor workers reduce skin cancer risk

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 10:04 AM PDT

Skin cancer is one of the biggest fears for one in two outdoor workers, and when the boss and staff work together the sun safe message gets through, a study has found.

Defective gene renders diarrhea vaccine ineffective

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 10:04 AM PDT

Every year rotavirus causes half a million diarrhea-related deaths amongst children in developing countries. Existing vaccines provide poor protection. The reason could be a widespread genetic resistance amongst children, according to virologists.

Taking infestation with a grain of salt: Salinity plays role in insect grazing

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:43 AM PDT

Salinity plays a major role in salt marsh grass's response to insect grazing, new research shows. Plants are always trying to deal with infestation by overcompensating and growing more, researchers say. "But when the plant gets too stressed by the salt, it doesn't care about the insects anymore."

New discovery will enhance yield and quality of cereal and bioenergy crops

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:43 AM PDT

A team of scientists have developed a new way of identifying genes that are important for photosynthesis in maize, and in rice. Their research helps to prioritize candidate genes that can be used for crop improvement and revealed new pathways and information about how plants fix carbon.

Earliest-known lamprey larva fossils unearthed in Inner Mongolia

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:40 AM PDT

Few people devote time to pondering the ancient origins of the eel-like lamprey, yet the evolutionary saga of the bloodsucker holds essential clues to the biological roots of humanity. Scientists now have a description of fossilized lamprey larvae that date back to the Lower Cretaceous -- at least 125 million years ago. They're the oldest identified fossils displaying the creature in stages of pre-metamorphosis and metamorphosis.

Discovery of cellular snooze button advances cancer, biofuel research

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:40 AM PDT

The discovery of a cellular snooze button has allowed a team of scientists to potentially improve biofuel production and offer insight on the early stages of cancer.

Grapes of wrath: Stomping out grape disease one vineyard at a time

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:39 AM PDT

Cracking the genetic code of a common disease affecting grape production could improve vineyard management and help protect the multibillion-dollar grape and wine industry. Scientists are close to completing the genetic blueprint, or microbiome, of grape crown gall tumor disease -- the bane of vineyards worldwide.

Scientists create new protein-based material with some nerve

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:39 AM PDT

Scientists have taken proteins from nerve cells and used them to create a 'smart' material that is extremely sensitive to its environment. The work could lead to new types of biological sensors, flow valves and controlled drug release systems, they report.

Mediterranean diet, olive oil and nuts can help reverse metabolic syndrome

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 09:39 AM PDT

For people with metabolic syndrome, a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts may help reverse the condition, indicate findings from a clinical trial.

Is matter falling into the massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way or being ejected from it?

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 08:47 AM PDT

Is matter falling into the massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way or being ejected from it? No one knows for sure, but astrophysicists are searching for an answer.

Uncertain reward more motivating than sure thing, study finds

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 08:47 AM PDT

Researchers compared the time, money and effort that people put into winning a certain reward versus an uncertain reward, and found that the uncertain reward was more motivating.

How metastases develop in the liver

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 08:47 AM PDT

Most tumors are only fatal if the cancer cells spread in the body and form secondary tumors, known as metastases, in other organs, such as the liver. Scientists have now shown that increased amounts of a particular protein in the liver create favorable conditions for the implantation of cancer cells and thus for the formation of metastases. The researchers have already succeeded in preventing these processes in an animal model.

Dental anxiety leads cause for moderate sedation

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 08:46 AM PDT

Dental anxiety can be so extreme for some patients that a simple cotton swab on the gums makes them flinch. And others, fearful of pain, simply avoid seeing the dentist, according to a new study by dental researchers on when and how to use sedatives during dental procedures.

Beyond LEDs: Brighter, new energy-saving flat panel lights based on carbon nanotubes

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 08:27 AM PDT

Scientists have developed a new type of energy-efficient flat light source based on carbon nanotubes with very low power consumption of around 0.1 Watt for every hour's operation -- about a hundred times lower than that of an LED.

Charged graphene gives DNA a stage to perform molecular gymnastics

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:53 AM PDT

When researchers investigated a method to control how DNA moves through a tiny sequencing device, they did not know they were about to witness a display of molecular gymnastics. The researchers found that a positive charge applied to a graphene nanopore speeds up DNA movement, while a negative charge stops the DNA in its tracks. However, the DNA seemed to dance across the graphene surface, pirouetting into sequence-specific shapes they had never seen.

Older women more likely to have multiple health conditions

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:52 AM PDT

In the context of an aging population, the number of cases of people with multimorbidity, or multiple health conditions, is increasing, creating significant healthcare challenges. Now, the first comprehensive systematic review in this field has found higher levels of multimorbidity in women.

Scientists sniff out unexpected role for stem cells in the brain

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:52 AM PDT

For decades, scientists thought that neurons in the brain were born only during the early development period and could not be replenished. More recently, however, they discovered cells with the ability to divide and turn into new neurons in specific brain regions. Scientists now report that newly formed brain cells in the mouse olfactory system -- the area that processes smells -- play a critical role in maintaining proper connections.

More physical activity improved school performance in Swedish study

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:47 AM PDT

Just two hours of extra physical activity each week can improve school performance, researchers report. This has been shown by a study of approximately 2,000 twelve-year-olds.

Diet, exercise during pregnancy has hidden benefits

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 06:47 AM PDT

It might not be obvious on the scales, but healthy eating and increased physical activity from walking during pregnancy is directly associated with a range of improved outcomes at birth, according to researchers.

Rising sea levels of 1.8 meters in worst-case scenario, researchers calculate

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:59 AM PDT

The climate is getting warmer, the ice sheets are melting and sea levels are rising -- but how much? The report of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013 was based on the best available estimates of future sea levels, but the panel was not able to come up with an upper limit for sea level rise within this century. Now researchers have calculated the risk for a worst-case scenario. The results indicate that at worst, the sea level would rise a maximum of 1.8 meters.

Stenting safe, effective for long-term stroke prevention

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:51 AM PDT

Using stents to keep neck arteries open is just as effective as invasive neck surgery for long-term prevention of fatal and disabling strokes, reports an international trial.

Fly genome could help improve health, environment

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:51 AM PDT

The house fly might be a worldwide pest, but its genome will provide information that could improve our lives. From insights into pathogen immunity, to pest control and decomposing waste, the 691 Mb genome has been sequenced and analyzed by a global consortium of scientists.

Memories of pain during childbirth tied to intensity rather than length of labor

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:51 AM PDT

Childbirth is physically intense and, for many women, it is the most painful experience they will have. And yet, new research shows that the amount of time a woman spends in labor doesn't seem to impact how she remembers her labor pain afterwards. The research reveals that the peak and end levels of pain women experienced, and whether they received an epidural, impacted their recall of labor pain afterward.

New forecasting method: Predicting extreme floods in the Andes mountains

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:51 AM PDT

Predicting floods following extreme rainfall in the central Andes is enabled by a new method. Climate change has made these events more frequent and more severe in recent decades. Now complex networks analysis of satellite weather data makes it possible to produce a robust warning system for the first time.

Factors that may contribute to pancreatic cancer: New insight

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:51 AM PDT

New research provides a better understanding of pancreatic cancer, and may help identify individuals at increased risk. Pancreatic cancer is a stealthy cancer that is usually detected at very late stages and has a 5-year survival rate of less than 5 percent.

Chlamydia: New clues behind resilience of leading sexually transmitted pathogen

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:51 AM PDT

Factors behind the resilience of the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US, chlamydia, have been explored through new research. Chlamydia affects an estimated 1 million people who are infected.

Teenage baseball pitchers at risk for permanent shoulder injury

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:51 AM PDT

Young baseball pitchers who throw more than 100 pitches per week are at risk for a newly identified overuse injury that can impede normal shoulder development and lead to additional problems, including rotator cuff tears, according to a new study.

Archaeologists discover bronze remains of Iron Age chariot in the UK

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:50 AM PDT

Archaeologists in the UK have discovered the decorated bronze remains of an Iron Age chariot. The rare set of decorated chariot fittings appear to have been buried as a religious offering. The archaeologists found the remains during their ongoing excavation of the Burrough Hill Iron Age hillfort, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

Personalized treatment for stress-related diabetes

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:50 AM PDT

A treatment for type 2 diabetes that targets the disease mechanism itself -- and not just the symptoms -- has been developed by researchers. For the first time, knowledge about the individual patient's genetic risk profile is being used. The treatment completely restores the capacity to secrete insulin, which is impaired by the risk gene.

Fossilized bird egg offers clues to Brazil's prehistoric past

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:49 AM PDT

Brazilian scientists have discovered a near-intact fossilized bird egg -- the country's first -- in Sao Paulo State. Compared to the abundance of eggs from non-avian dinosaurs, finds of complete eggs from Mezosoic birds are relatively scarce.

Institutional rearing may increase risk for attention-deficit disorder by altering cortical development

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:49 AM PDT

Over the past decades, we have seen numerous tragic examples where the failure of institutions to meet the needs of infants for social contact and stimulation has led to the failure of these infants to thrive. Infancy and childhood are critical life periods that shape the development of the cortex. A generation of research suggests that enriched environments, full of interesting stimuli to explore, promote cortical development and cognitive function. In contrast, deprivation and stress may compromise cortical development and attenuate some cognitive functions.

Are there enough fish to go around?

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:49 AM PDT

The gap between declining wild fish supplies and healthy eating advice recommending more seafood has been addressed in a new report. Today, domestic fish supplies fall far below consumption levels recommended by experts, supplying just one fifth of the two portions per week advice. The shortfall has been masked in part by increased imports and aquaculture, which together raise the figure to four fifths.

Solar activity impacts polar ozone

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:38 AM PDT

The increase in greenhouse gases explains, to a large extent, the rise in the average temperature of the Earth. According to a new research study, the Sun affects middle atmosphere ozone with potential implications on smaller scale to regional, but not global, climate.

How to train a robot: Can we teach robots right from wrong?

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:38 AM PDT

From performing surgery and flying planes to babysitting kids and driving cars, today's robots can do it all. With chatbots such as Eugene Goostman recently being hailed as "passing" the Turing test, it appears robots are becoming increasingly adept at posing as humans. While machines are becoming ever more integrated into human lives, the need to imbue them with a sense of morality becomes increasingly urgent. But can we really teach robots how to be good?

Unique catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells synthesized in ordinary kitchen microwave oven

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:35 AM PDT

Researchers have shown how a unique nano-alloy composed of palladium nano-islands embedded in tungsten nanoparticles creates a new type of catalysts for highly efficient oxygen reduction, the most important reaction in hydrogen fuel cells.

Light-activated drug could reduce side effects of diabetes medication

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:35 AM PDT

Scientists have created a drug for type 2 diabetes that is switched on by blue light, which they hope will improve treatment of the disease. The drug would be inactive under normal conditions, but a patient could in theory switch it on using blue LEDs stuck to the skin. Only a small amount of light would need to penetrate the skin to change the drug's shape and turn it on. This change is reversible, so the drug switches off again when the light goes off.

Side effects of cancer prevention surgery can be helped with a single-day education program, study finds

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 05:33 AM PDT

More women are having ovary-removing surgery as a cancer prevention measure, but many are often unaware of sexual or psychological side effects of the procedure. A new study shows a half-day educational program can help successfully deal with these issues by educating women on how to address them.

Some sections of the San Andreas Fault system in San Francisco Bay Area are locked, overdue

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 04:06 PM PDT

Four urban sections of the San Andreas Fault system in Northern California have stored enough energy to produce major earthquakes, according to a new study that measures fault creep. Three fault sections -- Hayward, Rodgers Creek and Green Valley -- are nearing or past their average recurrence interval, according to the new study.

How deadly MERS virus enters human cells

Posted: 13 Oct 2014 04:03 PM PDT

Details of how the deadly Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) enters host cells have been uncovered by researchers. These findings offer possible new avenues for treatment.

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