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Friday, October 17, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News

Cellular self-destruct program has deep roots throughout evolution

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 04:28 PM PDT

In what seems like a counter-intuitive move against survival, within animals, some cells are fated to die from the triggering of an elaborate cell death program, known as apoptosis. Now, researchers have honed in on understanding the evolution of caspase-8, a key cell death initiator molecule that was first identified in humans.

Blood Test Helps Predict Relapse in Patients with Autoimmune Disease Affecting the Kidneys

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 04:27 PM PDT

Among patients with an autoimmune disease called ANCA-associated vasculitis, autoantibody increases were linked with an 11-fold increased risk of relapse in patients whose kidneys were affected, a study concludes. Among patients without kidney involvement, such increases were associated only weakly with relapses.

NASA spacecraft provides new information about sun's atmosphere

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 03:54 PM PDT

NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) has provided scientists with five new findings into how the sun's atmosphere, or corona, is heated far hotter than its surface, what causes the sun's constant outflow of particles called the solar wind, and what mechanisms accelerate particles that power solar flares.

How a molecular Superman protects genome from damage

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 02:06 PM PDT

A new role for the RNAi protein Dicer has been found in preserving genomic stability. Researchers discovered that Dicer helps prevent collisions during DNA replication by freeing transcription machinery from active genes. Without Dicer function, transcription and replication machinery collide, leading to DNA damage and massive changes across the genome – changes that are associated with aging and cancer.

Tiny 'nanoflares' might heat the Sun's corona

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 02:06 PM PDT

Why is the Sun's million-degree corona, or outermost atmosphere, so much hotter than the Sun's surface? This question has baffled astronomers for decades. Today, a team led by Paola Testa is presenting new clues to the mystery of coronal heating. The team finds that miniature solar flares called 'nanoflares' -- and the speedy electrons they produce -- might partly be the source of that heat, at least in some of the hottest parts of the Sun's corona.

Cells' powerhouses were once energy parasites: Study upends current theories of how mitochondria began

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 01:59 PM PDT

Parasitic bacteria were the first cousins of the mitochondria that power cells in animals and plants -- and first acted as energy parasites in those cells before becoming beneficial, according to a new study.

Sugared soda consumption, cell aging associated in new study

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 01:59 PM PDT

Sugar-sweetened soda consumption might promote disease independently from its role in obesity, according to UC San Francisco researchers who found in a new study that drinking sugary drinks was associated with cell aging.

Journey to the center of the Earth: Geochemist uses helium and lead isotopes to gain insight into makeup of planet’s deep interior

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:40 AM PDT

A geochemist studying Samoan volcanoes has found evidence of the planet's early formation still trapped inside Earth. Known as hotspots, volcanic island chains such as Samoa can ancient primordial signatures from the early solar system that have somehow survived billions of years.

Modeling tumor dormancy: What makes a tumor switch from dormant to malignant?

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:40 AM PDT

A new computational model may help illuminate the conditions surrounding tumor dormancy and the switch to a malignant state. The so-called cellular automaton model simulated various scenarios of tumor growth leading to tumor suppression, dormancy or proliferation.

'Paradigm shift' in understanding of potassium channels

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:40 AM PDT

A new discovery relating to one of the most common processes in human cells is being described as a 'paradigm shift' in understanding. Researchers have observed ion permeation in potassium channels which does not follow previously predicted pathways.

Loss of big predators could leave herbivores in a thorny situation

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:37 AM PDT

Global declines in carnivore populations could embolden plant eaters to increasingly dine on succulent vegetation, driving losses in plant and tree biodiversity, according to new research published in Science.

Scientists find 'hidden brain signatures' of consciousness in vegetative state patients

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:37 AM PDT

Scientists in Cambridge have found hidden signatures in the brains of people in a vegetative state, which point to networks that could support consciousness even when a patient appears to be unconscious and unresponsive. The study could help doctors identify patients who are aware despite being unable to communicate.

Protons hog the momentum in neutron-rich nuclei

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:37 AM PDT

Protons and neutrons that have briefly paired up in the nucleus have higher-average momentum, leaving less for non-paired nucleons. Researchers have now shown for the first time that this phenomenon exists in nuclei heavier than carbon, including aluminum, iron and lead and also surprisingly allows a greater fraction of protons than neutrons to have high momentum in these neutron-rich nuclei, contrary to long-accepted theories and with implications for ultra-cold atomic gas systems and neutron stars.

Cosmic jets of young stars formed by magnetic fields

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:37 AM PDT

Astrophysical jets are counted among our universe's most spectacular phenomena: From the centers of black holes, quasars, or protostars, these rays of matter sometimes protrude several light years into space. Now, for the first time ever, an international team of researchers has successfully tested a new model that explains how magnetic fields form these emissions in young stars.

Myelin vital for learning new practical skills

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:37 AM PDT

New evidence of myelin's essential role in learning and retaining new practical skills, such as playing a musical instrument, has been uncovered by research. Myelin is a fatty substance produced by the brain and spinal cord into early adulthood as it is needed for many developmental processes, and although earlier studies of human white matter hinted at its involvement in skill learning, this is the first time it has been confirmed experimentally.

New front in war on Alzheimer's, other protein-linked brain diseases

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:36 AM PDT

Proteins must fold into the right 3-D structure to work, and the body produces many chaperone molecules to refold misfolded proteins. Heat shock boosts the number of these chaperones. Research now shows that, equally important, heat shock also boosts a protein that stabilizes actin, the building block of the cytoskeleton. This opens new avenues for therapies to prevent protein misfolding and its associated diseases -- Alzheimer's, Huntington's and Parkinson's.

Wobbling of a Saturn moon hints at what lies beneath

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:36 AM PDT

Using instruments aboard the Cassini spacecraft to measure the wobbles of Mimas, the closest of Saturn's regular moons, an astronomer has inferred that this small moon's icy surface cloaks either a rugby ball-shaped rocky core or a sloshing sub-surface ocean.

To wilt or not to wilt: MicroRNAs determine tomato susceptibility to Fusarium fungus

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:36 AM PDT

Plant breeders have long identified and cultivated disease-resistant varieties. A new study reveals the molecular basis for resistance and susceptibility to a common fungus that causes wilt in susceptible tomato plants.

Staph 'gangs' share nutrients during infection

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:09 AM PDT

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can share resources to cause chronic infections, investigators have discovered. Like the individual members of a gang who might be relatively harmless alone, they turn deadly when they get together with their 'friends.' The findings shed light on a long-standing question in infectious diseases and may inform new treatment strategies.

Personalized ovarian cancer vaccines developed

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:09 AM PDT

New genomic analysis techniques were used by researchers to identify specific protein sequences, called epitopes, that the immune system can use to identify cancer cells. Their key insight was that the most effective epitopes to include in a personalized vaccine are not those that react most strongly with the immune system, but rather the epitopes that differ most from the host's normal tissue.

Hubble finds extremely distant galaxy through cosmic magnifying glass

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:08 AM PDT

Using the Hubble Space Telescope and the lensing power of giant galaxy cluster Abell 2744, astronomers may have made the most reliable distance measurement yet of an object that existed in the very early universe. The galaxy, estimated to be over 13 billion light-years away, is one of the farthest, faintest, and smallest galaxies ever seen.

Diabetic men with low testosterone run higher risk of developing atherosclerosis

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:08 AM PDT

Men who have low testosterone and Type 2 diabetes face a greater risk of developing atherosclerosis – a condition where plaque builds up in the arteries – than men who have diabetes and normal testosterone levels, according to a new study.

Resveratrol boosts spinal bone density in men with metabolic syndrome

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:08 AM PDT

Resveratrol, a natural compound found in red wine and grapes, increased spinal bone density in men with metabolic syndrome and could hold promise as a treatment for osteoporosis, according to a new study.

Engineers find a way to win in laser performance by losing

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 11:08 AM PDT

Engineers have shown a new way to reverse or eliminate loss by, ironically, adding loss to a laser system to actually reap energy gains. To help laser systems overcome loss, operators often pump the system with an overabundance of photons, or light packets, to achieve optical gain. But now engineers have shown a new way to reverse or eliminate such loss by, ironically, adding loss to a laser system to actually reap energy gains. In other words, they've invented a way to win by losing.

Simple test may predict surgical wound healing complications

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 10:28 AM PDT

A simple test called transcutaneous oximetry may be able to predict which patients with soft tissue sarcomas will experience complications while healing from surgery, potentially enabling surgeons to take extra precautions, a study has found.

Mysterious Midcontinent Rift is a geological hybrid

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 10:28 AM PDT

Geologists have a new explanation for the formation of the Midcontinent Rift, an ancient 2,000-mile-long underground crack that starts in Lake Superior and runs south. The rift is a geological hybrid, having formed in three stages: it started as an enormous narrow crack in the Earth's crust; that space then filled with an unusually large amount of volcanic rock; and, finally, the igneous rocks were forced to the surface, forming some of the Upper Midwest's beautiful scenery.

Dispelling a misconception about Mg-ion batteries

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:36 AM PDT

Researchers used supercomputer simulations to dispel a popular misconception about magnesium-ion batteries that should help advance the development of multivalent ion battery technology.

Stem cells discovered in the esophagus

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:36 AM PDT

Despite previous indications to the contrary, the esophagus does have its own pool of stem cells, say researchers. The findings could lead to new insights into the development and treatment of esophageal cancer and the precancerous condition known as Barrett's esophagus.

MicroRNA molecules serve as on/off switches for inflammation

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:36 AM PDT

Two microRNA molecules that control chronic inflammation have been found by researchers, a discovery that one day may help researchers prevent certain fatal or debilitating conditions before they start.

Myth-conceptions: How myths about the brain are hampering teaching

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:36 AM PDT

Myths about the brain are common among teachers worldwide and are hampering teaching, according to new research. The report highlights several areas where new findings from neuroscience are becoming misinterpreted by education, including brain-related ideas regarding early educational investment, adolescent brain development and learning disorders such as dyslexia and ADHD.

That pregnant feeling makes a fly start nesting

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Across the animal kingdom, it's not uncommon for pregnancy to change an expectant mom's behavior. Even female flies have their own rudimentary way of 'nesting,' which appears to be brought on by the stretch of their egg-filled abdomens rather than the act of mating, according to a study.

Cell architecture: Finding common ground

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

When it comes to cellular architecture, function follows form. Plant cells contain a dynamic cytoskeleton, which is responsible for directing cell growth, development, movement, and division. Over time, changes in the cytoskeleton form the shape and behavior of cells and, ultimately, the structure and function of the organism. New work hones in on how one particular organizational protein influences cytoskeletal and cellular structure in plants, findings that may also have implications for animal cytoskeletal organization, scientists report.

Are male brains wired to ignore food for sex? Nematode study points to basic biological mechanisms

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Choosing between two good things can be tough. When animals must decide between feeding and mating, it can get even trickier. In a discovery that might ring true even for some humans, researchers have shown that male brains -- at least in nematodes -- will suppress the ability to locate food in order to instead focus on finding a mate.

Human cancer prognosis related to newly identified immune cell

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

A newly discovered population of immune cells in tumors is associated with less severe cancer outcomes in humans, and may have therapeutic potential, according to a new study of 3,600 human tumors of 12 types, as well as mouse experiments.

Amphibian communities collapse in wake of viral outbreak

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Two closely related viruses that have been introduced to northern Spain in recent years have already led to the collapse of three different species of amphibian -- the common midwife toad, the common toad, and the alpine newt -- in the protected area of Picos de Europa National Park. In all, six amphibian species have suffered from severe disease and mass mortality and researchers say that the viruses appear to be on the move.

Male and female brains aren't equal when it comes to fat

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Researchers have found that male and female brains respond in remarkably different ways to high-fat meals. Those differences in the brain lead to greater inflammation and increased health risks in males that indulge on fatty foods in comparison to females, a new study in mice shows. The findings may help to explain observed differences in obesity outcomes between women and men and suggest that dietary advice should be made more sex-specific.

Human genetic research uncovers how omega-6 fatty acids lower bad cholesterol

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Research based on the genetic information from over 100,000 individuals of European ancestry has uncovered a gene that affects blood cholesterol levels through the generation of a compound from omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, called lipoxins. The new study also provides additional evidence that aspirin assists in preventing heart attacks by promoting lipoxin production. These insights could change the way doctors care for patients at increased risk for heart disease.

Jet lag can cause obesity by disrupting the daily rhythms of gut microbes

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:35 AM PDT

Organisms ranging from bacteria to humans have circadian clocks to help them synchronize their biological activities to the time of day. A study now reveals that gut microbes in mice and humans have circadian rhythms that are controlled by the biological clock of the host in which they reside. Disruption of the circadian clock in the host alters the rhythms and composition of the microbial community, leading to obesity and metabolic problems.

Light bending material facilitates the search for new particles

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:33 AM PDT

Particle physicists have a hard time identifying all the elementary particles created in their particle accelerators. But now researchers have designed a material that makes it much easier to distinguish the particles.

Trigger for crucial immune system cell identified

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 09:32 AM PDT

The long-sought activating molecules for a rare but crucial subset of immune system cells that help rally other white blood cells to fight infection have been identified by researchers.

Brain's compass relies on geometric relationships, say researchers

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 08:20 AM PDT

The brain has a complex system for keeping track of which direction you are facing as you move about; remembering how to get from one place to another would otherwise be impossible. Researchers have now shown how the brain anchors this mental compass. Their findings provide a neurological basis for something that psychologists have long observed about navigational behavior: people use geometrical relationships to orient themselves.

Cryptic clues drive new theory of bowel cancer development

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 07:04 AM PDT

Researchers have challenged conventional thinking on how the bowel lining develops and, in the process, suggested a new mechanism for how bowel cancer starts. The researchers produced evidence that stem cells are responsible for maintaining and regenerating the 'crypts' that are a feature of the bowel lining, and believe these stem cells are involved in bowel cancer development, a controversial finding as scientists are still divided on the stem cells' existence.

Oh, brother! Having a sibling makes boys selfless, study suggests

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 07:04 AM PDT

A study found that siblings uniquely promote sympathy and altruism. Boys and girls benefited equally -- a surprise since girls generally benefit more from friendships. However, researchers found that hostile relationship with a sibling made boys more likely to have behavior problems.

Evidence for huge mountains that fed early life discovered

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Scientists have found evidence for a huge mountain range that existed in the supercontinent of Gondwana some 600 million years ago. It ran from modern west Africa to northeast Brazil, and as it eroded it fed the oceans with nutrients that fueled an explosion of early life on Earth.

New catalyst could improve biofuels production

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a new catalyst that could lead to making biofuels cheaply and more efficiently. The researchers mixed inexpensive iron with a tiny amount of rare palladium to make the catalyst.

Pre-eclampsia may be caused by the fetus, not the placenta, says expert

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Pre-eclampsia, the potentially deadly condition that affects pregnant women, may be caused by problems meeting the oxygen demands of the growing fetus, according to experts. The researchers believe that pregnancy is uneventful in women who are able to maintain a sustained, balanced oxygen supply to meet the changing metabolic demands of the fetus. It is when a woman has a reduced capacity to provide oxygen to the fetus that it can become deadly to the mother and baby.

Magnetic mirrors enable new technologies by reflecting light in uncanny ways

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Scientists have demonstrated, for the first time, a new type of mirror that forgoes a familiar shiny metallic surface and instead reflects infrared light by using an unusual magnetic property of a non-metallic metamaterial. Using nanoscale antennas, researchers are able to capture and harness electromagnetic radiation in ways that have tantalizing potential in new classes of chemical sensors, solar cells, lasers, and other optoelectronic devices.

Mild traumatic brain injury can have lasting effects for families

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 07:02 AM PDT

Families of patients with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) may expect them to return to normal quickly — after all, it's "just a concussion." But mild TBI can have a lasting impact on families as well as patients, according to research.

Rivers flow differently over gravel beds

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:59 AM PDT

River beds, where flowing water meets silt, sand and gravel, are critical ecological zones. Yet how water flows in a river with a gravel bed is very different from the traditional model of a sandy river bed, according to a new study that compares their fluid dynamics. The findings establish new parameters for river modeling that better represent reality, with implications for field researchers and water resource managers.

Simple and versatile way to build 3-D materials of the future

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:58 AM PDT

Researchers have developed a novel yet simple technique, called 'diffusion driven layer-by-layer assembly,' to construct graphene into porous three-dimensional structures for applications in devices such as batteries and supercapacitors.

Some rice-based foods for people with celiac disease contain relevant amounts of arsenic

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:57 AM PDT

Rice is one of the few cereal grains consumed by people with celiac disease, as it does not contain gluten. However, it can have high concentrations of a toxic substance - arsenic - as revealed by the analyses of flour, cakes, bread, pasta and other foods made with rice, research shows. This is important for those suffering from celiac disease, which affects almost 1% of the population of the western world. These people cannot tolerate gluten and are thus obliged to consume products without it, such as rice.

Neglected tropical diseases: Looking at Ebola through a different lens

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:56 AM PDT

The current Global Ebola crisis presents a multitude of challenges in terms of our capacity to respond; the future is even less predictable. Statements from the World Bank President and the Director General of WHO highlight the potential devastation of Ebola: its long term economic and social impact and the reasons for the epidemic spread - the neglect of the health services and lack of human capacity.

New way to lose weight: Scientists stimulate brown fat to burn more energy from food

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:56 AM PDT

The number of overweight persons is greatly increasing worldwide - and as a result is the risk of suffering a heart attack, stroke, diabetes or Alzheimer's disease. For this reason, many people dream of an efficient method for losing weight. Scientists have now come one step closer to this goal. The scientists discovered a new way to stimulate brown fat and thus burn energy from food: The body's own adenosine activates brown fat and "browns" white fat.

Turning humble seaweed into biofuel

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:56 AM PDT

The sea has long been a source of Norway's riches, whether from cod, farmed salmon or oil. Now one researcher hopes to add seaweed to this list as he refines a way to produce "biocrude" from common kelp. "What we are trying to do is to mimic natural processes to produce oil," he said. "However, while petroleum oil is produced naturally on a geologic time scale, we can do it in minutes."

Inexplicable signal from unseen universe provides tantalizing clue about one of astronomy's greatest secrets - dark matter

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:54 AM PDT

The first potential indication of direct detection of Dark Matter – something that has been a mystery in physics for over 30 years -- has been attained. Astronomers found what appears to be a signature of 'axions', predicted 'Dark Matter' particle candidates.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus: New perspectives for development of a vaccine

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:54 AM PDT

Respiratory Syncytial Virus causes severe respiratory tract infections and worldwide claims the lives of 160,000 children each year. Scientists have succeeded in developing a promising vaccination strategy to counteract this common virus infection. "We discovered a new vaccination strategy that paves the way for the development of a novel approach to vaccination against RSV, a virus that causes suffering in numerous small children and elderly people," experts report.

Plant communities produce greater yield than monocultures

Posted: 16 Oct 2014 05:54 AM PDT

Diverse plant communities are more successful and enable higher crop yields than pure monocultures, a research team has discovered. The scientists are convinced that the cultivation of crop mixtures in agriculture and forestry will play a key role in food safety in the future.

Follow the leader: Insects benefit from good leadership too

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 06:09 PM PDT

When insect larvae follow a leader to forage for food, both leaders and followers benefit, growing much faster than if they are in a group of only leaders or only followers, scientists have shown for the first time. The work gives new insight into why such social relationships evolve in insects, and why they are maintained.

Ovarian cancer: New test can help doctors choose best treatment

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 06:08 PM PDT

A new test to help doctors diagnose ovarian tumors and choose the most appropriate treatment has been devised by researchers. Successful treatment depends in part on accurately identifying the type of tumor, but this can be difficult. The new test can discriminate between benign and malignant tumors, and identify different types of malignant tumor, with a high level of accuracy.

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