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Friday, January 16, 2015

ScienceDaily: Most Popular News

ScienceDaily: Most Popular News

Study reveals lack of data on opioid drugs for chronic pain

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 01:35 PM PST

Researchers have found little to no evidence for the effectiveness of opioid drugs in the treatment of long-term chronic pain, despite the explosive recent growth in the use of the drugs.

When used effectively, discharge summaries reduce hospital readmissions

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 01:35 PM PST

For heart failure patients making the transition from hospital to home, a discharge summary that gets to their primary doctors quickly and contains detailed and useful information can mean the difference between recovering quickly or returning to the hospital, according to two studies.

Century-old drug reverses autism-like symptoms in fragile X mouse model

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 01:35 PM PST

Researchers previously reported that a drug used for almost a century to treat trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness, reversed environmental autism-like symptoms in mice. Now, a new study suggests that a genetic form of autism-like symptoms in mice are also corrected with the drug, even when treatment was started in young adult mice.

Nearly half the systems crucial to stability of planet compromised

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 01:35 PM PST

Almost half of the processes that are crucial to maintaining the stability of the planet have become dangerously compromised by human activity. That is the view of an international team of 18 researchers who provide new evidence of significant changes in four of the nine systems which regulate the resilience of the Earth.

Planets outside our solar system may be more hospitable to life than thought, research suggests

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 01:35 PM PST

Astrophysicists suggest that exoplanets are more likely to have liquid water and be more habitable than once thought. If correct, there would be no permanent, cold night side on exoplanets causing water to remain trapped in a gigantic ice sheet. Whether this new understanding of exoplanets' climate increases the ability of these planets to develop life, however, remains an open question.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft begins first stages of Pluto encounter

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 01:34 PM PST

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft recently began its long-awaited, historic encounter with Pluto. The spacecraft is entering the first of several approach phases that culminate July 14 with the first close-up flyby of the dwarf planet, 4.67 billion miles (7.5 billion kilometers) from Earth.

Space station worms’ research potential is anything but flat

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 01:31 PM PST

For years, it was assumed the world was flat. Now, we have a laboratory that orbits our big, blue marble. So, it's funny to think of returning to flatness aboard the International Space Station, but this outpost currently houses flatworms for research. The study of these creatures has the potential to be rather robust in implications for regenerative medicine, an area of treatment for repairing or replacing human cells, tissues or organs on Earth to restore normal function. A new study launched aboard SpaceX's fifth commercial resupply services (CRS) mission to the space station examines the reparative processes of flatworms in microgravity.

Rice-sized laser, powered one electron at a time, bodes well for quantum computing

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:23 AM PST

Researchers have built a rice grain-sized microwave laser, or 'maser,' powered by single electrons that demonstrates the fundamental interactions between light and moving electrons. It is a major step toward building quantum-computing systems out of semiconductor materials.

Wildlife loss in the global ocean not as dire as on land

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:22 AM PST

Over the past 500 years, approximately 500 land-based animal species have gone the way of the dodo, becoming extinct as a result of human activity. In the ocean, where scientists count only 15 or so such losses, the numbers currently aren't nearly as dire.

Tiny plant fossils a window into Earth's landscape millions of years ago

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:22 AM PST

Scientists have discovered a way to determine the tree cover and density of trees, shrubs and bushes in locations over time based on clues in the cells of plant fossils preserved in rocks and soil. Quantifying vegetation structure throughout time could shed light on how the Earth's ecosystems changed over millions of years.

Roller coaster geese: Insights into high altitude bird flight physiology and biomechanics

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:22 AM PST

A study of the migratory biology of bar-headed geese, during their high altitude flights across the Tibetan plateau and Himalayan Mountains, has revealed how these birds cope with flying in the relatively low-density mountain atmosphere. The study shows that the geese perform a 'roller coaster' ride through the mountains, tracking the underlying terrain even if this means repeatedly shedding hard-won altitude only to have to regain height later in the same or subsequent flight.

Inventors choose to reveal their secret sauce before patent approval

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:22 AM PST

Common wisdom and prior economic research suggest that an inventor filing a patent would want to keep the technical know-how secret as long as possible. But a new study of nearly 2 million patents in the United States shows that inventors are not as concerned with secrecy as previously thought. Researchers found that since 2000, most inventors when given the choice opted to disclose information about their patents before patent approval -- even small inventors -- and this disclosure correlates with more valuable patents.

New planetary dashboard shows 'great acceleration' in human activity since 1950

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:22 AM PST

Human activity, predominantly the global economic system, is now the prime driver of change in the Earth System (the sum of our planet's interacting physical, chemical, biological and human processes), according to a set of 24 global indicators, or 'planetary dashboard.'

Physicists detect 'charge instability' across all flavors of copper-based superconductors

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:17 AM PST

Physicists have detected 'charge ordering' in electron-doped cuprate superconductors for the first time. Charge ordering is a ripple-like instability at the electron level that competes with superconductivity and likely suppresses the temperature at which materials demonstrate superconducting properties. Until now, researchers had only observed the phenomenon in other forms of cuprate materials.

Obesity experts recommend weight loss drugs, surgery as supplement to lifestyle interventions

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:16 AM PST

A Clinical Practice Guideline (CPG) has been released by experts on strategies for prescribing drugs to manage obesity and promote weight loss. Obesity is a worsening public health problem. According to the 2012 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, about 33.9 percent of adults ages 19-79 were overweight, 13.4 percent were obese and 6.4 were extremely obese.

In the Mood to Trade? Weather May Influence Institutional Investors' Stock Decisions

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 11:16 AM PST

Weather changes may affect how institutional investors decide on stock plays, according to a new study. Their findings suggest sunny skies put professional investors more in a mood to buy, while cloudy conditions tend to discourage stock purchases.

Liquids and glasses relax, too -- but not like you thought

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 10:48 AM PST

A new insight into the fundamental mechanics of the movement of molecules offers a surprising view of what happens when you pour water out of a glass.

Eczema woes not just skin deep

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 10:48 AM PST

Adults who have eczema -- a chronic itchy skin disease that often starts in childhood -- have higher rates of smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages and obesity and are less likely to exercise than adults who don't have the disease. They also have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. About 10 percent of US adults have eczema.

Folic acid saves 1,300 babies each year from serious birth defects of brain, spine

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 10:48 AM PST

Fortifying grain foods with the B vitamin folic acid has saved about 1,300 babies every year from serious birth defects of the brain and spine known as neural tube defects. All women capable of having a baby should take a multivitamin containing folic acid every day, experts say. Women who had a previous pregnancy affected by an NTD should take high-dose folic acid beginning at least four weeks before becoming pregnant and through the first trimester.

Environment, not genes, dictates human immune variation, study finds

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 10:47 AM PST

A study of twins shows that our environment, more than our heredity, plays the starring role in determining the state of our immune system, the body's primary defense against disease. This is especially true as we age, the study indicates.

For sea turtles, there's no place like magnetic home

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 10:47 AM PST

Adult sea turtles find their way back to the beaches where they hatched by seeking out unique magnetic signatures along the coast, according to new evidence.

Prolonging lifespan: Researchers create 'Methuselah fly' by selecting best cells

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 10:46 AM PST

Scientists have managed to considerably prolong the lifespan of flies by activating a gene which destroys unhealthy cells. The results could also open new possibilities in human anti-aging research.

Tumor suppressor protein plays key role in maintaining immune balance

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 10:46 AM PST

A protein widely known for suppressing tumor formation also helps prevent autoimmune diseases and other problems by putting the brakes on the immune response.

Gold nanoparticles show promise for early detection of heart attacks

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 09:21 AM PST

A novel colloidal gold test strip is demonstrating great potential for early detection of certain heart attacks. Researchers are developing the strip to test for cardiac troponin I (cTn-I); its level is several thousand times higher in patients experiencing myochardial infarctions. The new strip uses microplasma-generated gold nanoparticles. Compared to AuNPs produced by traditional chemical methods, the surfaces of thesenanoparticles attract more antibodies, which results in significantly higher detection sensitivity.

Doctors who use health information technology are 'slightly' more likely to get patient data

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 09:21 AM PST

Physicians who use health information technology systems are only slightly more likely to receive the patient information they need to provide coordinated care, report investigators. Although more than 70 percent of US doctors use electronic health records (EHR), up to half don't routinely receive the data necessary to coordinate patient care effectively, they say.

Long-acting drug effectively prevents HIV-like infection in monkeys

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 09:21 AM PST

HIV infection can be prevented with regimens of antiretroviral drugs, however, their effectiveness depends on a patient's ability to take the pills as prescribed. HIV researchers hope cabotegravir would make compliance easier for some by requiring only one injection every three months.

Facebook sharing can boost involvement with news, information

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 09:21 AM PST

People who share news on social media sites may connect more with that information -- and stay connected longer -- than people who casually read the news, according to a team of researchers.

No technological replacement exists for bulk data collection

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 09:21 AM PST

No software-based technique can fully replace the bulk collection of signals intelligence, but methods can be developed to more effectively conduct targeted collection and to control the usage of collected data, says a new report.

FDA approves first medical device for obesity treatment targeting brain-to-stomach signaling

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 09:20 AM PST

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved EnteroMedic's VBLOC® vagal blocking therapy, delivered via the Maestro® System, which is the first medical device approved for obesity treatment that targets the nerve pathway between the brain and the stomach. The Obesity Society calls this a "a novel device that interrupts signals from the stomach to the brain that are believed to be involved with stomach emptying and feelings of fullness."

World's most powerful electrical testing system

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 09:20 AM PST

Researchers have unveiled a new 24,000-volt direct current power test system, the most powerful of its kind available at a university research center throughout the world.

How melanoma can resist newly approved drug combo therapy

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 09:20 AM PST

Researchers have uncovered how melanoma becomes resistant to a promising new drug combo therapy utilizing BRAF+MEK inhibitors in patients after an initial period of tumor shrinkage.

Scientists find how cancers can evade treatment

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 09:20 AM PST

An unexpected observation has been made by a researcher while studying the locations inside cells where EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) can be found. His subsequent investigation revealed how some cancers evade clinical drugs: by sneaking through the cellular back door. Cancer cells are able to use the inactive EGFR form to thrive, the scientist reports.

The secret of empathy: Stress from the presence of strangers prevents empathy, in both mice and humans

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 09:20 AM PST

The ability to express empathy -- the capacity to share and feel another's emotions -- is limited by the stress of being around strangers, according to a new study. Empathy is increasingly being studied by scientists because of its known role in psychological disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder and psychopathy.

Discovery of new signaling intermediates provides clues to novel therapies in pancreatitis

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 08:15 AM PST

Signaling initiated by pancreatic digestive enzyme-producing (acinar) cells is essential to development of both pain and inflammation in pancreatitis, according to research. Pancreatitis is a common disorder that complicates many ailments, including cystic fibrosis and alcoholism. Few therapies exist, and management of the severe pain associated with inflammation is a major obstacle that often requires strong narcotics.

Opioids administered in ER don't influence patient satisfaction, study shows

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 08:15 AM PST

There is no correlation between opioids administered in the emergency room setting and patient satisfaction scores, researchers report. Other factors such as wait time and physician and nurse communication play a far greater role in patient satisfaction, according to authors.

Hirschsprung's disease: Research offers novel insight

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 08:15 AM PST

Defects in the protein Sox10, a transcription factor that regulates gene expression, may play a role in the development of post-operative GI dysfunction in Hirschsprung's disease patients, according to new research. Hirschsprung's disease is a congenital disorder caused by the absence of ganglion cells in the colon, which causes problems with passing stool.

Yak dung burning pollutes indoor air of Tibetan households

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 08:15 AM PST

Tibet, the highest region on Earth and one of the most remote, is associated with vivid blue skies and the crystal clear air of the Himalayas. During the long cold season, however, the traditional nomadic people spend much of their time in snug dwellings where they cook and stay warm by burning yak dung. Their indoor air can be filled with dangerous levels of fine particulate matter, including black carbon, a new study finds.

Smart farming technique to boost yields, cut fertilizer pollution

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 08:13 AM PST

Researchers are using X-rays to help farmers increase yields and cut water pollution following an unexpected discovery in a pea and bean crop. Scientists hope to combine two new technologies to provide a rapid "same day" measurement of soil phosphorus availability, enabling farmers and growers to make more informed decisions about fertilizer application.

Improved solar panels and printed electronics on the horizon with new material discovery

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:32 AM PST

New and improved solar panels could result from the discovery of a new liquid crystal material, making printable organic solar cells better performing.

Harnessing bacteria to move microscopic gears and ratchets

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:31 AM PST

Computer simulations suggest new applications in industry by harnessing active microscopic particles in fluids. Previous research has already demonstrated that substantial quantities of self-motile or active agents such as bacteria in a fluid environment can be harnessed to do mechanical work like moving microscopic gears and ratchets. Bacteria as well as algae can also be used to transport or displace matter in fluidic environments.

New approach to preventing fibrosing strictures in IBD

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:28 AM PST

A natural protein made by immune cells may limit fibrosis and scarring in colitis, according to research. Fibrosing strictures that can obstruct the intestines are a major complication of Crohn's disease. Although these obstructions can be removed surgically, disease tends to recur at those sites.

Hope for muscular dystrophy patients: Harnessing gene helps repair muscle damage

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:28 AM PST

Researchers have successfully improved the ability of muscle to repair itself -- by artificially increasing levels of the BMI1 gene in the muscle-specific stem cells of mice with muscular dystrophy.

Huge 3-D displays without 3-D glasses

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:28 AM PST

A new kind of display uses laser beams to send out different pictures into different directions. Each pixel contains lasers and a moving mirror, which directs the laser light. Different pictures can be sent to the right and the left eye of each viewer, so that 3-D effects become possible without the need for special glasses. A prototype has successfully been built, the technology is expected to become widely available in 2016.

People can be convinced they committed a crime that never happened

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:28 AM PST

Innocent adult participants can be convinced, over the course of a few hours, that they had perpetrated crimes as serious as assault with a weapon in their teenage years. This research indicates that the participants came to internalize the stories they were told, providing rich and detailed descriptions of events that never actually took place. fictitious

Damaged DNA amplified by activities such as smoking

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:28 AM PST

For the first time, researchers have succeeded in amplifying genes altered by activities such as smoking -- with changes that can lead to lung cancer. As the amplified genes retain the altered information, this marks an important step towards quickly and efficiently localizing this type of genetic alteration and improving our ability to analyze causes of cancer.

When heavy metals go off-kilter: Study in C. elegans shows excess iron promotes aging

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:28 AM PST

It's been long known that some metals, including iron, accumulate in tissues during aging and that toxic levels of iron have been linked to neurologic diseases, including Parkinson's. Common belief has held that iron accumulation happens as a result of the aging process. But research in C. elegans shows that iron accumulation itself may also be a significant contributor to the aging process causing dysfunction and malfolding of proteins already implicated in the aging process.

Emerald ash borer confirmed as threat to white fringetree

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:28 AM PST

The emerald ash borer, an invasive insect pest from Asia that has killed millions of ash trees in the United States and Canada, is also attacking the white fringetree according to a new study.

No more neuronal gibberish: How 100 billion nerve cells produce a clear thought or an action

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:27 AM PST

We have approximately 100 billion nerve cells in our brains, all of which communicate with one another. Why do they lead to clear thoughts or purposeful actions instead of mere gibberish? The reason lies, among other things, in a small group of inhibitory nerve cells that can use the messenger GABA to curb the activity of other nerve cells, scientists say.

What makes pancreatic cancer so aggressive? New study sheds light

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:26 AM PST

New research helps explain why pancreatic cancer is so lethal, with fewer than a third of patients surviving even early stage disease. The researchers found a gene known to be involved in nearly 90 percent of pancreatic cancers promotes cancer growth and spread. The gene, ATDC, plays a key role in how a tumor progresses from a preinvasive state to an invasive cancer to metastatic cancer.

Good Cosmetic Results, Safety with Liposculpture of the Hips, Flanks and Thighs

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 07:26 AM PST

Two decades of experience by senior plastic surgeons in different parts of the world show excellent cosmetic results and low complication rates with liposculpture of the hips, flanks, and thighs, reports a new paper.

New sulfate-breathing species discovered beneath ocean crust: Third of Earth's biomass in largely uncharted environment

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 06:19 AM PST

Two miles below the surface of the ocean, researchers have discovered new microbes that "breathe" sulfate. The microbes, which have yet to be classified and named, exist in massive undersea aquifers -- networks of channels in porous rock beneath the ocean where water continually churns. About one-third of the Earth's biomass is thought to exist in this largely uncharted environment.

Extra-short nanowires best for brain

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 06:19 AM PST

If in the future electrodes are inserted into the human brain -- either for research purposes or to treat diseases -- it may be appropriate to give them a 'coat' of nanowires that could make them less irritating for the brain tissue. However, the nanowires must not exceed a certain length, according to new research.

Lassa fever controls need to consider human-human transmission and role of super spreaders

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 06:19 AM PST

One in five cases of Lassa fever -- a disease that kills around 5,000 people a year in West Africa -- could be due to human-to-human transmission, with a large proportion of these cases caused by 'super-spreaders,' according to new research.

Up to eight percent of Asians carry gene mutation that causes heart failure

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 06:18 AM PST

Up to 8 percent of people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and other South Asian countries carry a mutated gene that causes heart failure and potentially fatal heart attacks. A new study demonstrates how this gene mutation impairs the heart's ability to pump blood.

Imaging test for autism spectrum disorder under development

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 06:18 AM PST

A two-minute brain-imaging test that may be able to aid in the diagnosis of children with autism spectrum disorder is currently under development in the United States. Usually, diagnosis -- an unquantifiable process based on clinical judgment -- is time consuming and trying on children and their families. That may change with this new diagnostic test.

Out of the pouch: Ancient DNA extracted from extinct giant kangaroos

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 06:18 AM PST

Scientists have finally managed to extract DNA from Australia's extinct giant kangaroos, the mysterious marsupial megafauna that roamed Australia over 40,000 years ago. They have extracted DNA sequences from two species: a giant short-faced kangaroo (Simosthenurus occidentalis) and a giant wallaby (Protemnodon anak).

Novel approach to visualize, measure protein complexes in tumors

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 06:18 AM PST

Cancer diagnosis and treatment decisions are often hampered by a lack of knowledge of the biological processes occurring within the tumor. Now researchers have developed a new approach to analyze these processes with a technique called proximity ligation assays (PLA). PLA allows specific protein complexes to be visualized and measured in cancer specimens. This may aid in patient treatment decisions in the future.

Alzheimer's plaques reduced by targeting sugar attachment to the BACE1 enzyme

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 05:31 AM PST

Hallmark symptoms of Alzheimer's disease can be reduced when sugars are prevented from binding to one of the key enzymes implicated in the disease, scientists report. The new findings show that abnormal attachment of a particular sugar to the enzyme BACE1 is a critical factor leading to the formation of plaques in the brain.

Holistic assessment needed for wheelchair users with multiple sclerosis

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 05:31 AM PST

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) need to be holistically assessed when being offered an electric wheelchair, a study suggests. The unique study of 91 wheelchair users, each severely affected by MS, found that 15% of the trial group had problematic pain, showing the need for a much more professional assessment.

Did the Anthropocene begin with the nuclear age?

Posted: 15 Jan 2015 05:30 AM PST

Humans are having such a marked impact on the Earth that they are changing its geology, creating new and distinctive strata that will persist far into the future. This is the idea behind the Anthropocene, a new epoch in Earth history. But if the Anthropocene is to be a geological epoch -- when should it begin? Scientists have now identified July 16, 1945 as key time boundary in Earth history.

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