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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News

'Integrated Play Groups' help children with autism

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:29 PM PDT

'Integrated Play Groups,' which focus on collaborative rather than adult-directed play, are successful in teaching children with autism the skills needed to engage in symbolic play and to interact with their typically developing peers, according to new research. The new study offers hope to parents and providers of children with autism who are helping those children learn how to socialize.

Deepwater Horizon spill: Much of the oil at bottom of the sea

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:29 PM PDT

Due to its unprecedented scope, the damage assessment caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been a challenge. One unsolved puzzle is the location of 2 million barrels of submerged oil thought to be trapped in the deep ocean.

Maintenance therapy for injection-drug users associated with lower incidence of hepatitis C

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:28 PM PDT

In a group of young users of injection drugs, recent maintenance opioid agonist therapy with methadone or buprenorphine for opioid use disorders, such as heroin addiction, was associated with a lower incidence of hepatitis C virus infection and may be an effective strategy to reduce injection-drug use and the resulting spread of HCV, according to a study.

Traumatic brain injury associated with increased dementia risk in older adults

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:28 PM PDT

Traumatic brain injury appears to be associated with an increased risk of dementia in adults 55 years and older, according to a study. "Whether a person with TBI recovers cognitively or develops dementia is likely dependent on multiple additional risk and protective factors, ranging from genetics and medical comorbidities to environmental exposures and specific characteristics of the TBI itself," the authors note.

Prescription opioids involved in most overdoses seen in emergency departments

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:28 PM PDT

In an American national study of hospital emergency department visits for opioid overdoses, 67.8 percent of the overdoses involved prescription opioids (including methadone), followed by heroin, other unspecified opioids and multiple opioids, according to research.

Initial choice of oral medication to lower glucose in diabetes patients examined

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:28 PM PDT

Patients diagnosed with diabetes and initially prescribed metformin to lower their glucose levels were less likely to require treatment intensification with a second oral medicine or insulin than patients treated first with sulfonylureas, thiazolidinediones or dipeptidyl peptidase 4 inhibitors, according to a study.

Ultrafast electron diffraction experiments open a new window on the microscopic world

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:22 PM PDT

Researchers have succeeded in simultaneously observing the reorganizations of atomic positions and electron distribution during the transformation of the "smart material" vanadium dioxide from a semiconductor into a metal – in a timeframe a trillion times faster than the blink of an eye.

Whites of their eyes: Infants respond to social cues from sclera, study finds

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:22 PM PDT

Infants at 7 months old are able to unconsciously pick up on eye cues, based on the size of the whites of a person's eyes – a vital foundation for the development of social interactive skills, a new psychology study shows.

Reducing population is no environmental 'quick fix'

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:19 PM PDT

New multi-scenario modelling of world human population has concluded that even stringent fertility restrictions or a catastrophic mass mortality would not bring about large enough change this century to solve issues of global sustainability.

How culture influences violence among the Amazon's ‘fierce people'

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:19 PM PDT

When Yanomamö men in the Amazon raided villages and killed decades ago, they formed alliances with men in other villages rather than just with close kin like chimpanzees do. And the spoils of war came from marrying their allies' sisters and daughters, rather than taking their victims' land and women.

First atlas of body clock gene expression informs timing of drug delivery

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 03:19 PM PDT

A new effort mapping 24-hr patterns of expression for thousands of genes in 12 different mouse organs – five years in the making – provides important clues about how the role of timing may influence the way drugs work in the body. This study, detailing this veritable "atlas" of gene oscillations, has never before been described in mammals. Nearly half of all genes in the mouse genome oscillate on a 24-hour schedule somewhere in the mouse body.

Lack of transcription factor FoxO1 triggers pulmonary hypertension

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:50 AM PDT

Pulmonary hypertension is characterised by uncontrolled division of cells in the blood vessel walls. As a result, the vessel walls become increasingly thick. Scientists have discovered that transcription factor FoxO1 regulates the division of cells and plays a key role in the development of pulmonary hypertension. The researchers were able to cure pulmonary hypertension in rats by activating FoxO1.

Prostate cancer, kidney disease detected in urine samples on the spot

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:50 AM PDT

A new device screens for kidney disease and prostate cancer on the spot. The tiny tube is lined with DNA sequences that latch onto disease markers in urine. While healthy samples flow freely, a diseased sample gets clogged and stops short of the mark.

Physicists closer to understanding balance of matter, antimatter in universe

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:50 AM PDT

Physicists have made important discoveries regarding Bs meson particles -- something that may explain why the Universe contains more matter than antimatter.

Synapses always on the starting blocks: Neurotransmitter rapid-fire release better understood

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:50 AM PDT

Vesicles filled with neurotransmitters touch the cell membrane, thereby enabling their rapid-fire release, scientists report. They have succeeded in demonstrating that fusionable vesicles have a very special characteristic: they already have close contact with the cell membrane long before the actual fusion occurs. In addition, the research team also decoded the molecular machinery that facilitates the operation of this docking mechanism.

Using microscopic bugs to save the bees

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:49 AM PDT

For decades, honeybees have been battling a deadly disease that kills off their babies -- larvae -- and leads to hive collapse. It's called American Foulbrood and its effects are so devastating and infectious, it often requires infected hives to be burned to the ground. Now researchers have produced a natural way to eliminate the scourge, and it's working: Using tiny killer bugs known as phages to protect baby bees from infection.

Hot on the trail of the Asian tiger mosquito

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:48 AM PDT

The Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) was spotted in Houston in 1985 but can now be found in all of the southern states and as far north as Maine. To reconstruct its spread, scientists turned to the new discipline of landscape genetics. Correlating genetic patterns with landscape patterns, they concluded that the mosquito had hitched a ride along highways. One of only a handful of landscape genetics studies to track an invasive species, this is the first to detect hitchhiking.

Why targeted drug doesn't benefit patients with early-stage lung cancer

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:48 AM PDT

The drug erlotinib is highly effective in treating advanced-stage lung cancer patients whose tumors have a particular gene mutation, but when the same drug is used for patients with early-stage tumors with the same gene change, they fare worse than if they took nothing. This study might explain why.

Slowing the biological clock: neutralizing immune system gene could improve success of fertility treatments

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:48 AM PDT

Difficulty in conceiving a child is a major challenge for one in seven couples in America, especially for those over the age of 35. Now a new discovery could boost the chances of conception in women undergoing in vitro fertilization treatments. Their new research reveals a linkage between the genes of the innate immune system -- immunity with which human beings are born, rather than immunity they acquire during their lives -- and ovarian longevity.

Penguin chick weights connected to local weather conditions

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:46 AM PDT

Oceanographers have reported a connection between local weather conditions and the weight of Adélie penguin chicks. Adélie penguins are an indigenous species of the West Antarctic Peninsula (WAP), one of the most rapidly warming areas on Earth. Since 1950, the average annual temperature in the Antarctic Peninsula has increased 2 degrees Celsius on average, and 6 degrees Celsius during winter.

Blood vessel growth in brain relies on a protein found in tumor blood vessels

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:45 AM PDT

Fourteen years ago, several genes were discovered that are more active in tumor-associated blood vessels than in normal blood vessels. New research now reveals the normal function of one of those genes and suggests it could be a good target for anticancer drug therapy.

Delivering a one-two punch: New drug combination shows promise as powerful treatment for breast cancer

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 11:45 AM PDT

The uncontrolled growth of cancer cells arises from their ability to hijack the cell's normal growth program and checkpoints. After therapy, a second cancer-signaling pathway will open after the primary one shuts down. The answer, say researchers, is to block the back-up track.

Key to aortic valve disease prevention: Lowering cholesterol early

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 09:05 AM PDT

New evidence has been uncovered that aortic valve disease may be preventable. These findings show that so-called 'bad' cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C) is a cause of aortic valve disease -- a serious heart condition that affects around five million people in North America and is the most common cause for valve replacement.

Menopausal symptoms may be lessened with young children in the house

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 09:04 AM PDT

The timeless, multicultural tradition of grandmothering might have an unexpected benefit: helping some women temper their hot flashes and night sweats during menopause, researchers say. Their study focused on the relationship between mid-life women and young children, and found that women who underwent rapid menopause, caused by the surgical removal of ovaries, had fewer hot flashes and night sweats when young children lived in their homes.

Citizen science network produces accurate maps of atmospheric dust

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 09:03 AM PDT

Measurements by thousands of citizen scientists in the Netherlands using their smartphones and the iSPEX add-on are delivering accurate data on dust particles in the atmosphere that add valuable information to professional measurements. The research team analyzed all measurements from three days in 2013 and combined them into unique maps of dust particles above the Netherlands. The results match and sometimes even exceed those of ground-based measurement networks and satellite instruments.

Hail storms: Automatic detection and measurement of crop damage

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 08:57 AM PDT

Using data from an instrument aboard a 3-year-old satellite, a graduate student hopes to develop a system that will automatically detect and measure crop damage caused by hail storms anywhere in the U.S.

Combating parasitic worm infections by adapting breakthrough technologies

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 08:57 AM PDT

Experts are calling for researchers to adapt new technologies to research neglected parasitic flatworms. "It took several years of work to sequence the genomes of the major species of flatworm parasites. However, now that we have this information, we can focus on genes of interest," said a co-author.

New view on how cells control what comes in and out

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 08:57 AM PDT

A common protein plays a different role than previously thought in the opening and closing of channels that let ions flow in and out of our cells, researchers report. Those channels are critical to life, as having the right concentrations of sodium and calcium ions in cells enables healthy brain communication, heart contraction and many other processes. The new study reveals that a form of calmodulin long thought to be dormant actually opens these channels wide. The finding is likely to bring new insight into disorders caused by faulty control of these channels, such as cardiac arrhythmias, epilepsy and Parkinson's disease, the researchers say.

Ultrasound guides tongue to pronounce 'R' sounds

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 08:57 AM PDT

Using ultrasound technology to visualize the tongue's shape and movement can help children with difficulty pronouncing "r" sounds, according to a small study. The ultrasound intervention was effective when individuals were allowed to make different shapes with their tongue in order to produce the "r" sound, rather than being instructed to make a specific shape.

One drop will do: Researchers develop simple new test for vitamin B12 deficiency

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:05 AM PDT

A novel method to test for vitamin B12 deficiency that is sensitive enough to work on anyone, including newborn babies and large swaths of the general population, scientists say.

Emergent behavior lets bubbles 'sense' environment

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:05 AM PDT

Tiny, soapy bubbles can reorganize their membranes to let material flow in and out in response to the surrounding environment, according to researchers. This behavior could be exploited in creating microbubbles that deliver drugs or other payloads inside the body -- and could help us understand how the very first living cells on Earth might have survived billions of years ago.

Cell membranes self-assemble

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:04 AM PDT

A self-driven reaction can assemble phospholipid membranes like those that enclose cells. The new process is specific and non-toxic, and can be used in the presence of biomolecules one might want to study within artificial cells. The technique could also be used to assemble packets for drug delivery.

Tremendously bright pulsar may be one of many

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:04 AM PDT

A newly found pulsar, the brightest ever seen, raises questions about a mysterious category of cosmic objects called ultraluminous X-ray sources. A member of the team that announced the discovery now discusses the likelihood of additional ultra-bright pulsars and considers how astrophysicists will align this new find with their understanding of how pulsars work.

Vaccine candidate highly efficacious against bacterial diarrhea, clinical results indicate

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:04 AM PDT

A live attenuated enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli vaccine candidate, given in combination with a novel adjuvant, provided significant protection against disease, new results from a safety and immunogenicity study, which included a challenge phase to test efficacy, indicate.

A GPS from the chemistry set

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:03 AM PDT

You don't always need GPS, a map or a compass to find the right way. What demands a tremendous amount of computational power from today's navigation computers can also be achieved by taking advantage of the laws of physical chemistry and practicing so-called "chemical computing". The trick works as follows: A gel mixed with acid is applied at the exit of a labyrinth – i.e. the destination – filled with alkaline liquid. Within a shorttime, the acid spreads through the alkaline maze, although the majority of it remains together with the gel at the exit. When an alkaline solution mixed with dyes is now added to the other end of the maze, i.e. the entrance, it automatically seeks the way to the exit – the point with the highest acidity. 

Zero gravity experiments on the International Space Station shed some light on thermodiffusion effects

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:03 AM PDT

Thermodiffusion, also called the Soret effect, is a mechanism by which an imposed temperature difference establishes a concentration difference within a mixture. Two studies now provide a better understanding of such effects.

Persistent pain estimated in 19 percent of U.S. Adults

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:02 AM PDT

39 million people in the United States, or 19 percent have persistent pain, and the incidence varies according to age and gender, a new study reports. The authors noted that persistent pain correlated with other indices of health-related quality of life, such as anxiety, depression and fatigue. Individuals with those conditions were far more likely to report persistent pain.

Pain intensity can predict head and neck cancer survival

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:02 AM PDT

Pre-treatment pain intensity is an independent survival predictor for patients with head and neck cancer, according to new research.

Obese youth with leukemia more likely to have persistent disease

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:02 AM PDT

Following induction chemotherapy, obese patients were more than twice as likely to have minimal residual disease, than non-obese patients, new research suggests. "Induction chemotherapy provides a patient's best chance for remission or a cure," said the principal investigator. "Our findings indicate that a patient's obesity negatively impacts the ability of chemotherapy to kill leukemia cells, reducing the odds of survival."

How staph infections elude the immune system

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 07:02 AM PDT

By tricking the immune system into generating antibodies specific for only one bacterial protein, Staphylococcus aureus dodges the production of antibodies that might otherwise protect against infection. Vaccine approaches must be designed to side-step this bacterial subterfuge, experts say.

Chest radiation to treat childhood cancer increases patients' risk of breast cancer

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 05:54 AM PDT

Patients who received chest radiation for Wilms tumor, a rare childhood cancer, face an increased risk of developing breast cancer later in life due to their radiation exposure, scientists have found.

Newly donated blood reduces complications from heart surgery, study shows

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 05:54 AM PDT

Heart surgery patients who received newly donated blood have significantly fewer post-operative complications than those who received blood that had been donated more than two weeks before their surgery.

People with mental health disorders twice as likely to have heart disease or stroke

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 05:54 AM PDT

People facing mental health challenges are significantly more likely to have heart disease or stroke, according to a study. "This population is at high risk, and it's even greater for people with multiple mental health issues," says the lead author of the study.

The Ebola epidemic: Is there a way out?

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 05:54 AM PDT

Although no licensed vaccines against Ebola exist on the market, 'significant progress' has been made in the last few months, according to immunology experts.

Brain development in utero observed by researchers

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 05:52 AM PDT

New investigation methods using functional magnetic resonance tomography (fMRT) offer insights into fetal brain development. These "in vivo" observations will uncover different stages of the brain's development. A research group has observed that parts of the brain that are later responsible for sight are already active at this stage.

Record data transmission over a specially fabricated fiber demonstrated

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 05:52 AM PDT

Researchers report the successful transmission of a record high 255 Terabits/s over a new type of fibre allowing 21 times more bandwidth than currently available in communication networks. This new type of fiber could be an answer to mitigating the impending optical transmission capacity crunch caused by the increasing bandwidth demand.

New nanodevice to improve cancer treatment monitoring

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 05:52 AM PDT

In less than a minute, a miniature device can measure a patient's blood for methotrexate, a commonly used but potentially toxic cancer drug. Just as accurate and ten times less expensive than equipment currently used in hospitals, this nanoscale device has an optical system that can rapidly gauge the optimal dose of methotrexate a patient needs, while minimizing the drug's adverse effects.

Feathers in flight inspire anti-turbulence technology

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 05:52 AM PDT

Inspired by nature's own anti-turbulence devices – feathers – researchers have developed an innovative system that could spell the end of turbulence on flights.

How cells know which way to go

Posted: 27 Oct 2014 05:50 AM PDT

Amoebas aren't the only cells that crawl: Movement is crucial to development, wound healing and immune response in animals, not to mention cancer metastasis. In two new studies, researchers answer long-standing questions about how complex cells sense the chemical trails that show them where to go — and the role of cells' internal "skeleton" in responding to those cues.

Heart drug may help treat ALS, mouse study shows

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 04:54 PM PDT

Digoxin, a medication used in the treatment of heart failure, may be adaptable for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a progressive, paralyzing disease, suggests new research.

Activity in dendrites critical in memory formation

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 04:53 PM PDT

Researchers have discovered how neurons in the brain might allow some experiences to be remembered while others are forgotten. Using a unique microscope, they peered into the brain of a living animal navigating a virtual reality maze. Images of individual neurons called place cells showed that, surprisingly, the activity of the cell body and its dendrites can be different. A lasting memory of an experience was not formed by neurons when cell bodies were activated but dendrites were not.

Unsuspected gene found frequently mutated in colorectal, endometrial cancers

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 04:53 PM PDT

Scientists say they have identified in about 20 percent of colorectal and endometrial cancers a genetic mutation that had been overlooked in recent large, comprehensive gene searches. With this discovery, the altered gene, called RNF43, now ranks as one of the most common mutations in the two cancer types.

Turning loss to gain: Cutting power could dramatically boost laser output

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 04:53 PM PDT

Re-examining longstanding beliefs about the physics of lasers, engineers have shown that carefully restricting the delivery of power to certain areas within a laser could boost its output by many orders of magnitude.

New evidence for an exotic, predicted superconducting state

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 04:53 PM PDT

Physicist have produced new evidence for an exotic superconducting state, first predicted a half-century ago, that can arise when a superconductor is exposed to a strong magnetic field.

A switch to dampen malignancy

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 04:53 PM PDT

A key mechanism has been found that governs how cells of the epithelia, the soft lining of inner body cavities, shift between a rigid, highly structured and immobile state and a flexible and motile form.

Right place, right time: Cellular transportation compartments

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 04:53 PM PDT

Proteins are the machinery that accomplishes almost every task in every cell in every living organism. The instructions for how to build each protein are written into a cell's DNA. But once the proteins are constructed, they must be shipped off to the proper place to perform their jobs. New work describes a potentially new pathway for targeting newly manufactured proteins to the correct location.

Breakthrough in molecular electronics paves way for new generation of DNA-based computer circuits

Posted: 26 Oct 2014 04:52 PM PDT

Scientists have announced a significant breakthrough toward developing DNA-based electrical circuits. Molecular electronics, which uses molecules as building blocks for the fabrication of electronic components, has been seen as the ultimate solution to the miniaturization challenge. However, to date, no one has actually been able to make complex electrical circuits using molecules. Now scientists report reproducible and quantitative measurements of electricity flow through long molecules made of four DNA strands, signaling a significant breakthrough towards the development of DNA-based electrical circuits.

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