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Dying brain cells cue new brain cells to grow in songbird

Dying brain cells cue new brain cells to grow in songbird
2014-09-24
Brain cells that multiply to help birds sing their best during breeding season are known to die back naturally later in the year. For the first time researchers have described the series of events that cues new neuron growth each spring, and it all appears to start with a signal from the expiring cells the previous fall that primes the brain to start producing stem cells. If scientists can further tap into the process and understand how those signals work, it might lead to ways to exploit these signals and encourage replacement of cells in human brains that have lost neurons ...

Being sheepish about climate adaptation

2014-09-24
For thousands of years, man has domesticated animals, selecting the best traits possible for survival. Now, livestock such as sheep offer an intriguing animal to examine adaptation to climate change, with a genetic legacy of centuries of selected breeding and a wealth of livestock genome-wide data available. In a first-of-its kind study that combined molecular and environmental data, professor Meng-Hua Li et al., performed a search for genes under environmental selection from domesticated sheep breeds. Their results were published in the advanced online edition of the ...

First drink to first drunk

2014-09-23
An early age of onset (AO) of drinking is a risk factor for subsequent heavy drinking and negative outcomes. New research looks at both an early AO, as well as a quick progression from initial alcohol use to drinking to the point of intoxication, as risk factors. Findings indicate that both are associated with high-school student alcohol use and binge drinking. Although starting to drink at an early age is one of the most frequently studied risk factors for subsequent heavy drinking and related negative outcomes, findings have been inconsistent. An alternative ...

Best friends' drinking can negate the protective effects of an alcohol dehydrogenase 1B gene variant

2014-09-23
Alcohol use that begins during adolescence affects the development of alcohol use disorders during adulthood. A new study looks at the effects of interplay between peer drinking and the functional variant rs1229984 in the alcohol dehydrogenase 1B gene (ADH1B) among adolescents. Peer drinking reduces the protective effects of this ADH1B variant. Patterns of alcohol use that begin during adolescence are important factors in the development of alcohol use disorders (AUDs) during adulthood. While researchers know that adolescent drinking is influenced by both genetic and ...

Higher cigarette taxes and stronger smoke-free policies may reduce alcohol consumption

2014-09-23
Increasing cigarette taxes and smoke-free policies are known to reduce smoking prevalence. New findings show that these measures may also lead to a decrease in alcohol consumption. These findings apply to beer and spirits, but not wine. Smoking and drinking are often complementary behaviors: smokers are more likely than non-smokers to drink alcohol, and heavy smokers are more likely to be heavy drinkers. While increasing state cigarette excise taxes and strengthening smoke-free air laws are known to reduce smoking prevalence, it is less clear if such policies may also ...

Alcohol-evoked drinking sensations differ among people as a function of genetic variation

2014-09-23
Taste strongly influences food and beverage intake, including alcohol. Furthermore, genetic variation in chemosensory genes can explain variability in individual perception of and preference for alcoholic drinks. A new study has examined the relationship between variation in alcohol-related sensations and polymorphisms in bitter taste receptors genes previously linked to alcohol intake, and for the first time, polymorphisms in a burn receptor gene. The findings indicate that genetic variations in taste receptors influence intensity perceptions. Results will be published ...

Rate of diabetes in US may be leveling off

2014-09-23
Following a doubling of the incidence and prevalence of diabetes in the U.S. from 1990-2008, new data suggest a plateauing of the rate between 2008 and 2012 for adults, however the incidence continued to increase in Hispanic and non-Hispanic black adults, according to a study in the September 24 issue of JAMA. Although there has been an increase in the prevalence and incidence of diabetes in the United States in recent decades, no studies have systematically examined long-term, national trends of this disease, according to background information in the article. Linda ...

Effect of intervention, removal of costs, on prenatal genetic testing

2014-09-23
An intervention for pregnant women that included a computerized, interactive decision-support guide regarding prenatal genetic testing, and no cost for testing, resulted in less prenatal test use and more informed choices, according to a study in the September 24 issue of JAMA. Since the introduction of amniocentesis, prenatal genetic testing guidelines have focused on identifying women at increased risk of giving birth to an infant with Down syndrome or other chromosomal abnormalities, for whom invasive diagnostic testing should be recommended. Prenatal genetic testing ...

Lung cancer test less effective in areas where infectious lung disease is more common

2014-09-23
An analysis of 70 studies finds that use of the diagnostic imaging procedure of fludeoxyglucose F18 (FDG)-positron emission tomography (PET) combined with computed tomography (CT) may not reliably distinguish benign disease from lung cancer in populations with endemic (high prevalence) infectious lung disease compared with nonendemic regions, according to a study in the September 24 issue of JAMA. Depending on the risk for cancer, diagnostic guidelines suggest or recommend FDG combined with PET as a noninvasive test to assess the risk of cancer or benign disease, according ...

Study questions accuracy of lung cancer screens in some geographic regions

2014-09-23
A new analysis of published studies found that FDG-PET technology is less accurate in diagnosing lung cancer versus benign disease in regions where infections like histoplasmosis or tuberculosis are common. Misdiagnosis of lung lesions suspicious for cancer could lead to unnecessary tests and surgeries for patients, with additional potential complications and mortality. Histoplasmosis and other fungal diseases are linked to fungi that are often concentrated in bird droppings and are found in soils. The study by investigators at Vanderbilt University and the Tennessee ...

Asteroid named for University of Utah makes public debut

Asteroid named for University of Utah makes public debut
2014-09-23
SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 23, 2014 – What's rocky, about a mile wide, orbits between Mars and Jupiter and poses no threat to Earth? An asteroid named "Univofutah" after the University of Utah. Discovered on Sept. 8, 2008, by longtime Utah astronomy educator Patrick Wiggins, the asteroid also known as 391795 (2008 RV77) this month was renamed Univofutah by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "It's neat," Wiggins says. "There aren't too many other universities on the whole planet with asteroids named after them. So that ...

Does size matter? MRI imaging sheds light on athletes most at risk for severe knee injury

2014-09-23
The successful rise and fall of an athlete's moving body relies on an orchestrated response of bones, joints, ligaments and tendons, putting the many angles and intersecting planes – literally the geometry – of a critical part like a knee joint to the test. But it's more than just a footfall error at the root of one of the most devastating of sports injuries: the ACL or anterior cruciate ligament tear. In fact, size – of the femoral notch that sits at the center of the knee joint – and volume of the ACL combine to influence the risk of suffering a noncontact ACL injury. ...

Infant cooing, babbling linked to hearing ability, MU researcher finds

2014-09-23
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Infants' vocalizations throughout the first year follow a set of predictable steps from crying and cooing to forming syllables and first words. However, previous research had not addressed how the amount of vocalizations may differ between hearing and deaf infants. Now, University of Missouri research shows that infant vocalizations are primarily motivated by infants' ability to hear their own babbling. Additionally, infants with profound hearing loss who received cochlear implants to help correct their hearing soon reached the vocalization levels of their ...

Solar energy-driven process could revolutionize oil sands tailings reclamation

Solar energy-driven process could revolutionize oil sands tailings reclamation
2014-09-23
Edmonton—Cleaning up oil sands tailings has just gotten a lot greener thanks to a novel technique developed by University of Alberta civil engineering professors that uses solar energy to accelerate tailings pond reclamation efforts by industry. Instead of using UV lamps as a light source to treat oil sands process affected water (OSPW) retained in tailings ponds, professors Mohamed Gamal El-Din and James Bolton have found that using the sunlight as a renewable energy source treats the wastewater just as efficiently but at a much lower cost. "We know it works, so now ...

Antifreeze proteins in Antarctic fish prevent both freezing and melting

Antifreeze proteins in Antarctic fish prevent both freezing and melting
2014-09-23
Antarctic fish that manufacture their own "antifreeze" proteins to survive in the icy Southern Ocean also suffer an unfortunate side effect, researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) report: The protein-bound ice crystals that accumulate inside their bodies resist melting even when temperatures warm. "We discovered what appears to be an undesirable consequence of the evolution of antifreeze proteins in Antarctic notothenioid fish," said University of Oregon doctoral student Paul Cziko, who led the research with University of Illinois animal biology ...

NYU-Mount Sinai Beth Israel study explores drug users' opinions on genetic testing

2014-09-23
Genomic medicine is rapidly developing, bringing with its advances promises of individualized genetic information to tailor and optimize prevention and treatment interventions. Genetic tests are already guiding treatments of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis c virus (HPC), and emerging research is showing genetic variants may be used to screen for an individual's susceptibility to addiction to a substance, and even inform treatments for addiction. While there appear to be many benefits inherent in the development of this field and related research, ...

Slight alterations in microRNA sequences hold more information than previously thought

2014-09-23
(PHILADELPHIA) – Researchers have encountered variants or isoforms in microRNAs (miRNAs) before, but assumed that these variants were accidental byproducts. A recent study, published in the journal Oncotarget this month, shows that certain so called isomiRs have abundances that depend on geographic subpopulations and gender and that the most prevalent variant of a given miRNA may not be the one typically listed in the public databases. "This study shows that microRNA isoforms are much more common than we had previously assumed. The fact that some isoforms are shared by ...

Mefloquine fails to replace SP for malaria prevention during pregnancy

2014-09-23
In this issue of PLOS Medicine, Clara Menendez from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), Spain, and colleagues report results from two large randomized controlled trials conducted in Africa to test an alternative drug for malaria prevention in HIV-negative and HIV-positive pregnant women. Pregnant women and their unborn children are at a high risk for complications from malaria infection, and finding new treatment options is important because the malaria parasites are becoming increasingly resistant to the existing WHO-recommended drug sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine ...

Patients accept false-positives to achieve diagnostic sensitivity

2014-09-23
OAK BROOK, Ill. (September 23, 2014) – Both patients and healthcare professionals believe diagnosis of extracolonic malignancy with screening computed tomography (CT) colonography greatly outweighs the potential disadvantages of subsequent radiologic or invasive follow-up tests precipitated by false-positive diagnoses, according to a new study published in the October issue of the journal Radiology. Diagnostic tests used for cancer screening programs usually target a specific organ. However, when screening for colorectal cancer with CT colonography, abdominal and pelvic ...

Medical students who attended community college likelier to serve poor communities

2014-09-23
IMPACT The community college system represents a potential source of student diversity for medical schools and physicians who will serve poor communities; however, there are significant challenges to enhancing the pipeline from community colleges to four-year universities to medical schools. The authors recommend that medical school and four-year university recruitment, outreach and admissions practices be more inclusive of community college students. FINDINGS Researchers from UCLA, UC San Francisco and San Jose City College found that, among students who apply to and ...

Study helps assess impact of temperature on belowground soil decomposition

2014-09-23
Hilo, Hawai`i–The Earth's soils store four times more carbon than the atmosphere and small changes in soil carbon storage can have a big effect on atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations. A new paper in the journal Nature Climate Change concludes that climate warming does not accelerate soil organic carbon decomposition or affect soil carbon storage, despite increases in ecosystem productivity. The research, led by U.S. Forest Service Research Ecologist Dr. Christian Giardina, with the agency's Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, Pacific Southwest Research Station, ...

Facial masculinity not always a telling factor in mate selection

Facial masculinity not always a telling factor in mate selection
2014-09-23
EUGENE, Ore. -- Women living where rates of infectious disease are high, according to theory, prefer men with faces that shout testosterone when choosing a mate. However, an international study says not so much, says University of Oregon anthropologist Lawrence S. Sugiyama. The new study, on which Sugiyama is one of 22 co-authors, ended with that theory crumbling amid patterns too subtle to detect when tested with 962 adults drawn from 12 populations living in various economic systems in 10 nations. The study -- coordinated by Ian S. Penton-Voak of the School of Experimental ...

The mechanics of tissue growth

2014-09-23
PITTSBURGH – When the body forms new tissues during the healing process, cells must be able to communicate with each other. For years, scientists believed this communication happened primarily through chemical signaling. Now researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh have found that another dimension – mechanical communication – is equally if not more crucial. The findings, published in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could lead to advancements in treatments for birth defects and therapies for cancer ...

Insects' fear limits boost from climate change, Dartmouth study shows

Insects fear limits boost from climate change, Dartmouth study shows
2014-09-23
Scientists often measure the effects of temperature on insects to predict how climate change will affect their distribution and abundance, but a Dartmouth study shows for the first time that insects' fear of their predators, in addition to temperature, ultimately limits how fast they grow. "In other words, it's less about temperature and more about the overall environmental conditions that shape the growth, survival and distribution of insects." says the study's lead author Lauren Culler, an Arctic postdoctoral researcher at Dartmouth. The study appears in the journal ...

Kessler Foundation researchers find foot drop stimulator beneficial in stroke rehab

Kessler Foundation researchers find foot drop stimulator beneficial in stroke rehab
2014-09-23
West Orange, NJ. September 23, 2014. Kessler Foundation scientists have published a study showing that use of a foot drop stimulator during a task-specific movement for 4 weeks can retrain the neuromuscular system. This finding indicates that applying the foot drop stimulator as rehabilitation intervention may facilitate recovery from this common complication of stroke. "EMG of the tibialis anterior demonstrates a training effect after utilization of a foot drop stimulator," was published online ahead of print on July 2 by NeuroRehabilitation (doi:10.3233/NRE-141126). The ...
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