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TGen study finds genes associated with improved survival for pancreatic cancer patients

2015-08-20
PHOENIX, Ariz. -- Aug. 20, 2015 -- A study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) and other major research institutes, found a new set of genes that can indicate improved survival after surgery for patients with pancreatic cancer. The study also showed that detection of circulating tumor DNA in the blood could provide an early indication of tumor recurrence. In conjunction with the Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) Pancreatic Cancer Dream Team, the study was published in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications. Using whole-exome sequencing ...

Experiment attempts to snare a dark energy 'chameleon'

Experiment attempts to snare a dark energy chameleon
2015-08-20
If dark energy is hiding in our midst in the form of hypothetical particles called "chameleons," Holger Müller and his team at the University of California, Berkeley, plan to flush them out. The results of an experiment reported in this week's issue of Science narrows the search for chameleons a thousand times compared to previous tests, and Müller, an assistant professor of physics, hopes that his next experiment will either expose chameleons or similar ultralight particles as the real dark energy, or prove they were a will-o'-the-wisp after all. Dark energy ...

Boreal forests challenged by global change

2015-08-20
Management of boreal forests needs greater attention from international policy, argued forestry experts from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Natural Resources Canada, and the University of Helsinki in Finland in a new article published this week in the journal Science. The article, which reviews recent research in the field, is part of a special issue on forests released in advance of the World Forestry Congress in September. "Boreal forests have the potential to hit a tipping point this century," says IIASA Ecosystems Services and Management ...

Humans as predators: An unsustainable appetite for adults and carnivores

Humans as predators: An unsustainable appetite for adults and carnivores
2015-08-20
This news release is available in Japanese. Humans are just one of many predators in this world, but a new study highlights how their intense tendency to target and kill adult prey, as well as other carnivores, sets them distinctly apart from other predators. As humans kill other species in their reproductive prime, there can be profound implications -- including widespread extinction and restructuring of food webs and ecosystems--in both terrestrial and marine systems. To evaluate the nature of human predation compared to nonhuman predation, Chris Darimont et al. conducted ...

Special issue: Forest health

Special issue: Forest health
2015-08-20
This news release is available in Japanese. In this special issue, the editors of Science invite experts to provide closer looks at how natural and human-induced environmental changes are affecting forests around the world, from the luscious, diverse forests of the tropics, to the pristine, resilient boreal forests of the north. The special issue is complemented by a package from Science's news department. Amid extreme environmental and climate changes, Susan Trumbore and colleagues highlight the urgency of monitoring forest health, especially ...

Disagreement among experts over bioweapons threat

2015-08-20
This news release is available in Japanese. Amid continued difficulties around assessing bioweapons threats, especially given limited empirical data, Crystal Boddie and colleagues took another route to gauge their danger: the collective judgment of multiple experts. The experts' opinions on bioweapons-related risks were quite diverse, the Policy Forum authors say, adding to the challenge around developing a regulatory system for legitimate dual use research. Boddie et al. explain how they employed a Delphi Method study to query the beliefs and opinions of 59 experts ...

Unique genes in Khoe-San people may lower risk of some pregnancy hazards

2015-08-20
An examination of the immune genes of the southern African Khoe-San people has revealed a completely new kind of mutation, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The gene variant likely contributes to healthier babies, although the variant can also lower resistance to disease. The findings grew out of a long-term effort by Peter Parham, PhD, professor of structural biology and of microbiology and immunology, to understand how immune system genes make us reject organ transplants. A paper detailing the findings will be published online ...

Regulatory, certification systems creating paralysis in use of genetically altered trees

2015-08-20
CORVALLIS, Ore. - Myriad regulations and certification requirements around the world are making it virtually impossible to use genetically engineered trees to combat catastrophic forest threats, according to a new policy analysis published this week in the journal Science. In the United States, the time is ripe to consider regulatory changes, the authors say, because the federal government recently initiated an update of the overarching Coordinated Framework for the Regulation of Biotechnology, which governs use of genetic engineering. North American forests are suffering ...

The unique ecology of human predators

The unique ecology of human predators
2015-08-20
Are humans unsustainable 'super predators'? Want to see what science now calls the world's "super predator"? Look in the mirror. Research published today in the journal Science by a team led by Dr. Chris Darimont, the Hakai-Raincoast professor of geography at the University of Victoria, reveals new insight behind widespread wildlife extinctions, shrinking fish sizes and disruptions to global food chains. "These are extreme outcomes that non-human predators seldom impose," Darimont's team writes in the article titled "The Unique Ecology of Human Predators." "Our ...

Discovery of trigger for bugs' defenses could lead to new antibiotics

2015-08-20
Scientists have exposed a chink in the armour of disease-causing bugs, with a new discovery about a protein that controls bacterial defences. Bacteria react to stressful situations - such as running out of nutrients, coming under attack from antibiotics or encountering a host body's immune system - with a range of defence mechanisms. These include constructing a resistant outer coat, growing defensive structures on their surface or producing enzymes that break down the DNA of an attacker. The new research shows that a protein called sigma54 holds a bacterium's defences ...

A detector shines in search for dark matter

2015-08-20
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Results of the XENON100 experiment are a bright spot in the search for dark matter. The team of international scientists involved in the project demonstrated the sensitivity of their detector and recorded results that challenge several dark matter models and a longstanding claim of dark matter detection. Papers detailing the results will be published in upcoming issues of the journals Science and Physical Review Letters. Dark matter is an abundant but unseen matter in the universe considered responsible for the gravitational force that keeps the ...

School vacations and humidity linked to multiple waves of influenza in Mexico during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic

2015-08-20
Scientists studying the 2009 A/H1N1 influenza pandemic have found that the inconsistent regional timing of pandemic waves in Mexico was the result of interactions between school breaks and regional variations in humidity. The research published in PLOS Computational Biology, led by Dr. James Tamerius at the University of Iowa and Dr. Gerardo Chowell at Georgia State University, applied mathematical models to understand the social and environmental processes that generated two distinct pandemic outbreaks ("waves") in Mexico during the summer and fall of 2009. The summer ...

Maltreated children's brains show 'encouraging' ability to regulate emotions

2015-08-20
Children who have been abused or exposed to other types of trauma typically experience more intense emotions than their peers, a byproduct of living in volatile, dangerous environments. But what if those kids could regulate their emotions? Could that better help them cope with difficult situations? Would it impact how effective therapy might be for them? A University of Washington-led team of researchers sought to address those questions by studying what happens in the brains of maltreated adolescents when they viewed emotional images, and then tried to control their ...

Cellphone data can track infectious diseases

Cellphone data can track infectious diseases
2015-08-20
PRINCETON, N.J.--Tracking mobile phone data is often associated with privacy issues, but these vast datasets could be the key to understanding how infectious diseases are spread seasonally, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Princeton University and Harvard University researchers used anonymous mobile phone records for more than 15 million people to track the spread of rubella in Kenya and were able to quantitatively show for the first time that mobile phone data can predict seasonal disease patterns. Harnessing ...

Study finds e-cigarette use linked to cough reflex sensitivity

2015-08-20
Glenview, Ill. (August 20, 2015)--The popularity of electronic cigarettes has steadily increased worldwide, but little is known about their effects on health. New research suggests that the single use of an electronic cigarette approximating the nicotine exposure of one tobacco cigarette reduces the sensitivity of the cough reflex. The study tested 30 adult lifetime nonsmokers with no history of asthma or respiratory diseases and used cough tests to determine how e-cigarettes affect the cough reflex. Capsaicin, the pungent extract of red peppers, was used to induce a ...

Patent expirations for blockbuster antipsychotic meds could save billions

2015-08-20
Medicaid is expected to save billions of dollars a year as patents for several blockbuster antipsychotic medications expire and use of generic versions of these drugs increases, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. These savings may provide relief from the high costs of these medications and allow policymakers to lift restrictions on patients' access, the researchers argue. The study forecast that annual Medicaid payments for antipsychotic medicines will decrease by nearly $1.8 billion (or nearly 50 percent) by 2016 ...

Laser-burned graphene gains metallic powers

Laser-burned graphene gains metallic powers
2015-08-20
HOUSTON - (Aug. 20, 2015) - Rice University chemists who developed a unique form of graphene have found a way to embed metallic nanoparticles that turn the material into a useful catalyst for fuel cells and other applications. Laser-induced graphene, created by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour last year, is a flexible film with a surface of porous graphene made by exposing a common plastic known as polyimide to a commercial laser-scribing beam. The researchers have now found a way to enhance the product with reactive metals. The research appears this month in the ...

The Sumatran rhino is extinct in the wild in Malaysia

The Sumatran rhino is extinct in the wild in Malaysia
2015-08-20
Leading scientists and experts in the field of rhino conservation state in a new paper that it is safe to consider the Sumatran rhinoceros extinct in the wild in Malaysia. The survival of the Sumatran rhino now depends on the 100 or fewer remaining individuals in the wild in Indonesia and the nine rhinos in captivity. Despite intensive survey efforts, there have been no signs of the wild Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) in Malaysia since 2007, apart from two females that were captured for breeding purposes in 2011 and 2014. Scientists now consider the species ...

Study provides hope for some human stem cell therapies

2015-08-20
An international team of scientists headed by biologists at UC San Diego has discovered that an important class of stem cells known as human "induced pluripotent stem cells," or iPSCs, which are derived from an individual's own cells, can be differentiated into various types of functional cells with different fates of immune rejection. The scientists also found that these cells may not be rejected by the immune system if iPSCs are turned into retinal pigment epithelium cells destined for the eye. Their discovery provides hope for the development of human stem cell therapies ...

The human genome: A complex orchestra

2015-08-20
A team of Swiss geneticists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), and the University of Lausanne (UNIL) discovered that genetic variation has the potential to affect the state of the genome at many, seemingly separated, positions and thus modulate gene activity, much like a conductor directing the performers of a musical ensemble to play in harmony. These unexpected results, published in Cell, reveal the versatility of genome regulation and offer insights into the way it is orchestrated. Chromatin, a ...

Carnegie Mellon-led team identifies structure of tumor-suppressing protein

Carnegie Mellon-led team identifies structure of tumor-suppressing protein
2015-08-20
An international group of researchers led by Carnegie Mellon University physicists Mathias Lösche and Frank Heinrich have established the structure of an important tumor suppressing protein, PTEN. Their findings provide new insights into how the protein regulates cell growth and how mutations in the gene that encodes the protein can lead to cancer. The study is published online in Structure, and will appear in the Oct. 6 issue. Phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) is a known tumor suppressing protein that is encoded by the PTEN gene. When expressed normally, the ...

'Memory region' of the brain also involved in conflict resolution

2015-08-20
The hippocampus in the brain's temporal lobe is responsible for more than just long-term memory. Researchers have for the first time demonstrated that it is also involved in quick and successful conflict resolution. The team headed by Prof Dr Nikolai Axmacher from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), together with colleagues from the University Hospital of Bonn as well as in Aachen and Birmingham, reported in the journal "Current Biology". Decision conflicts occur often in everyday life In their everyday life, people are constantly confronted with decision conflicts, ...

Study examines breast cancer mortality after ductal carcinoma in situ diagnosis

2015-08-20
Researchers estimate the 20-year breast cancer-specific death rate for women diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ to be 3.3 percent, although the death rate is higher for women diagnosed before age 35 and for black women, according to an article published online by JAMA Oncology. Ductal carcinoma in situ breast (DCIS) cancer, which is also referred to as stage 0 breast cancer, accounts for about 20 percent of the breast cancers detected through mammography. Some women with DCIS experience a second breast cancer (DCIS or invasive) and a small proportion of patients ...

People with psychopathic traits are less likely to 'catch' a yawn than empathetic folks

2015-08-20
People with psychopathic characteristics are less likely to be affected by "contagious yawning" than those who are empathetic, according to a Baylor University psychology study. Yawning after spotting someone else yawn is associated with empathy and bonding, and "catching" yawns happens with many social mammals, among them humans, chimpanzees and dogs, researchers say. The study -- "Contagious yawning and psychopathy" -- involved 135 college student respondents and was published online in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. "You may yawn, even if you ...

Multiple strains of C. difficile cause severe patient outcomes

2015-08-20
NEW YORK (August 20, 2015) - No single genetic strain of the widespread Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) bacteria appears to be any more harmful than other strains, according to new research published online today in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America. The findings contradict previous research suggesting that the emergence of the most severe C. difficile infections (CDI) could be linked with a particular strain known as Ribotype 027 (R027). C. difficile is a highly infectious diarrhea that ...
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