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New test to study proteins involved in neurodegenerative diseases

2011-02-02
Researchers from the Institute of Biotechnology and Biomedicine and the UAB Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology have developed and patented a method using Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast to detect in human proteins the formation of oligomers, small toxic aggregations of molecules which can initiate the assembly of amyloid fibres found in neurodegenerative diseases. The test allows validating the efficacy of compounds which could dissolve or inhibit these aggregates, as well as studying at basic level the therapeutic potentiality of a large number of molecules. ...

Home and away: How do invasive plant species dominate native species?

2011-02-02
Invasive plant species present a serious environmental, economic and social problem worldwide as their abundance can lead to lost native biodiversity and ecosystem functions, such as nutrient cycling. Despite substantial research, little is known about why some species can dominate new habitats over native plants that technically should have the advantage. A common but rarely tested assumption is that these plants are more abundant in introduced versus native communities, because they are behaving in special way. If this true and introduced species are behaving in a special ...

Protracted abstinence revisited

2011-02-02
Philadelphia, PA, 1 February 2011 - Opiate abuse is a chronic disorder and maintaining abstinence represents a major challenge for addicts. Individuals recovering from opiate dependence have long reported that while the acute withdrawal symptoms from opiates may pass relatively quickly, they do not feel quite right for several weeks or even months thereafter. Called the "protracted abstinence syndrome," this cluster of vague depressive-like symptoms can include reduced concentration, low energy level, poor sleep quality, and anhedonia. New data in animals, reported ...

2 genes better than 1 for important plant pest

2011-02-02
Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) have revealed a novel molecular mechanism that triggers plant infection by Pseudomonas syringae, the bacteria responsible for bacterial speck in tomatoes. The scientists from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London have revealed how two genes in the bacteria work together to launch the infection process that ultimately kills the plant's cells and causes disease, significantly reducing crop quality and yield. Pseudomonas syringae is responsible for major disease ...

A new model for studying Parkinson's

A new model for studying Parkinsons
2011-02-02
Evidence is steadily mounting that genetic factors play an important role in many cases of Parkinson's disease (PD). In a study published February 2, 2011, online in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland report a new mammalian model for studying a specific gene mutation commonly found in PD sufferers, opening the door to new drugs to fight the malady. "This is a great step forward toward a more comprehensive understanding of how the disease works, and how it can be diagnosed and treated," explains ...

Temporary employment reduces productivity of technology and energy companies

Temporary employment reduces productivity of technology and energy companies
2011-02-02
"Our study proves that one of the leading factors affecting progress in Spanish productivity is the high rate of temporary hiring among workers in highly technologically intense industries. These sectors are also those that most contribute to overall productivity growth (of all sectors) in the country's economy", Bienvenido Ortega, co-author of the study and a researcher at the UMA, tells SINC. The 1984 overhaul of Spain's employment legislation led to the possibility of various forms of temporary contracting, and since further reforms in 1994, 1997 and 2001, the use ...

'Negative democratic gap' serves as predictor for instability such as in Egypt, say Hebrew University researchers

2011-02-02
Jerusalem, February 1, 2011-- Research carried out at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem shows that it was possible already in 2008 to predict that countries such as Egypt and Iran were headed for dangerous periods of instability because of citizens' demands for democratization. The researchers were able to make this observation on the basis of a "democratic gap" scale of measurement between the level of freedom existing and the desire of citizens for more freedom, which was analyzed in about 90 countries around the world. In their research, Prof. Tamir Sheafer ...

Scientists make key step in the development of a norovirus treatment

Scientists make key step in the development of a norovirus treatment
2011-02-02
With the number of norovirus infection cases rising across the country, scientists from the University of Southampton have successfully crystallised a key norovirus enzyme, which could help in the development of a norovirus treatment. Noroviruses are recognised world-wide as the most important cause of epidemic nonbacterial gastroenteritis (stomach bugs) and pose a significant public health burden, with an estimated one million cases per year in the UK. In the past, noroviruses have also been called 'winter vomiting viruses'. By crystallising the key protease enzyme, ...

Maturitas publishes important position statements from European Menopause and Andropause Society

2011-02-02
Amsterdam, 1 February 2011 - Elsevier announced today the publication of two further important position statements from the European Menopause and Andropause Society (EMAS) in the journal Maturitas (http://www.maturitas.org/ ) on common management problems in the post-reproductive health of women. EMAS is providing clear guidance in its position statements covering both hormone and non hormone therapy (HT) options as well as complementary and alternative therapies . The latest two position statements cover the management of the menopause in the context of Cardiovascular ...

The first mission to Mercury

2011-02-02
As the team of scientists behind NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft eagerly awaits the craft's entry into Mercury's orbit on 17 March, we could soon get answers to questions about the origin, composition, interior structure and geological history of this mysterious planet. Louise Prockter, deputy project scientist on the mission, writes exclusively in February's Physics World about the challenges the craft has been designed to face, the early successes of the mission and her own triumphant voyage over the past decade's work. A journey to Mercury faces once-thought insurmountable ...

What a ride! Researchers take molecules for a spin

2011-02-02
"This is no cartoon. It's a real molecule, with all the interactions taking place correctly," said Anatoly Kolomeisky as he showed an animation of atoms twisting and turning about a central hub like a carnival ride gone mad. Kolomeisky, a Rice University associate professor of chemistry, was offering a peek into a molecular midway where atoms dip, dive and soar according to a set of rules he is determined to decode. Kolomeisky and Rice graduate student Alexey Akimov have taken a large step toward defining the behavior of these molecular whirligigs with a new paper ...

Bilinguals find it easier to learn a third language

2011-02-02
The study also found that Russian speakers had a better grasp of Hebrew than Hebrew speakers themselves. "Learning a mother tongue and preserving it does not compromise the ability to learn an additional language. The opposite is true: Knowing Russian enforces Hebrew fluency and command of both languages increases skills in English," the researchers noted. Bilinguals find it easier to learn a third language, as they gain a better aptitude for languages, a new study from the University of Haifa reveals. Prof. Salim Abu-Rabia and Ekaterina Sanitsky of the Department of ...

Compound may prevent sickle cell pain crises

Compound may prevent sickle cell pain crises
2011-02-02
AUGUSTA, Ga. – A new compound appears to prevent the traffic jam of cells that causes debilitating pain crises and associated mortality in sickle cell disease, Georgia Health Sciences University (formerly Medical College of Georgia) researchers report. The aptamer, developed by Archemix Corporation in Cambridge, Mass., appears to work by occupying sticky receptors lining the walls of small blood vessels where sickle-shaped red blood cells and white blood cells can pile up, according to the study published in Blood. The cell traffic jam occludes blood and oxygen flow, ...

Researchers test inhalable measles vaccine

2011-02-02
Sustained high vaccination coverage is key to preventing deaths from measles. Despite the availability of a vaccine, measles remains an important killer of children worldwide, particularly in less-developed regions where vaccination coverage is limited. A team of researchers, led by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Colorado, developed and successfully tested a dry powder, live-attenuated measles vaccine that can be inhaled. The novel vaccine was studied in rhesus macaques. Results of the study are published in the January ...

Secret life of bees now a little less secret

Secret life of bees now a little less secret
2011-02-02
Many plants produce toxic chemicals to protect themselves against plant-eating animals, and many flowering plants have evolved flower structures that prevent pollinators such as bees from taking too much pollen. Now ecologists have produced experimental evidence that flowering plants might also use chemical defences to protect their pollen from some bees. The results are published next week in the British Ecological Society's journal Functional Ecology. In an elegant experiment, Claudio Sedivy and colleagues from ETH Zurich in Switzerland collected pollen from four plant ...

Taking unpleasant surprises out of cosmetic surgery

2011-02-02
For some plastic surgery patients, expectations are unrealistically high. Basing their hopes on the before-and-after albums offered in surgeons' offices, they expect to achieve a perfect body or to look just like a favorite celeb. But those albums only show how someone else's liposuction, breast augmentation, or Beyonce bum enhancement turned out. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher is developing software based on real clinical data to give patients a more accurate — and three-dimensional — before-and-after picture before the scalpel comes down. Tackling a very difficult ...

Breast cancer cells outsmart the immune system and thrive

2011-02-02
Scientists discovered a new way breast cancer cells dodge the immune system and promote tumor growth, providing a fresh treatment target in the fight against the disease. While comparable mechanisms to avoid the immune system have been identified in mice with breast and other cancers, the study tested human breast tumor cells, putting researchers closer to understanding how the disease progresses in real patients. The study, published in the journal Cancer Research, found high levels of the protein Hsp27 (heat shock protein 27) are released from human breast cancer cells ...

Can you teach an old doctor new tricks?

Can you teach an old doctor new tricks?
2011-02-02
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – When it comes to changing the way physicians practice, guidelines and educational initiatives alone are not effective. An editorial by James A. Arrighi, M.D., a cardiologist with Rhode Island Hospital, explains the effective methods to change physician behavior and improve compliance to guidelines. The editorial is published online in advance of print of the February 8 edition of the American Heart Association's journal Circulation. Arrighi's editorial is a response to an article on the implementation of appropriate use criteria (AUC) for a medical ...

Preschool beneficial, but should offer more, study finds

Preschool beneficial, but should offer more, study finds
2011-02-02
EAST LANSING, Mich. — As more states consider universal preschool programs, a new study led by a Michigan State University scholar suggests that two years of pre-K is beneficial – although more time should be spent on teaching certain skills. In the current issue of the Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Lori Skibbe and colleagues argue that pre-K programs generally do a good job of teaching literacy and that two years of preschool is better than one. However, the researchers also recommend that preschool teachers focus more on vocabulary instruction and exercises ...

Arranged unions and distrust: The influence of parental choice on mate guarding

2011-02-02
Groningen, The Netherlands —February 1, 2011— Mate guarding is classified as excessive or unwarranted jealous or protective behavior towards a spouse or mate. This is common among many different species and can be useful to defend territory, guarantee paternity, or prevent disease. The authors of a new study published in Personal Relationships have discovered that this behavior is more common in societies which practice arranged marriages or in cultures that place a high value on parental influence in the choice of mate for their children. Furthermore, the authors comment ...

Microbubble ultrasound and breast biopsies

2011-02-02
Using "microbubbles" and ultrasound can mean more targeted breast biopsies for patients with early breast cancer, helping to determine treatment and possibly saving those patients from undergoing a second breast cancer surgery, a new study in shows. Patients with early breast cancer undergo a sentinel lymph node biopsy to determine if their cancer has spread, said Dr. Ali Sever, lead author of the study. Ultrasound, on its own, can't distinguish the sentinel lymph node from other lymph nodes, Dr. Sever said. However, "our study found that microbubble contrast- enhanced ...

Early tests find nanoshell therapy effective against brain cancer

2011-02-02
HOUSTON -- (Feb. 1, 2011) -- Rice University bioengineers and physician-scientists at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital have successfully destroyed tumors of human brain cancer cells in the first animal tests of a minimally invasive treatment that zaps glioma tumors with heat. The tests involved nanoshells, light-activated nanoparticles that are designed to destroy tumors with heat and avoid the unwanted side effects of drug and radiation therapies. The results of the new study are available online in the Journal of Neuro-Oncology. The researchers ...

Brain can learn to overcome sleep apnea: U of T scientist

2011-02-02
TORONTO, ON – New research from the University of Toronto could provide some restful nights for the 18 million North Americans who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. In a recent study that appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience, scientists from the University demonstrated that repeated obstruction of the airways requires release of the brain chemical noradrenaline. The release of this chemical helps the brain learn to breathe more effectively and purposefully. "What we showed is that repeated disruption of normal lung activity – what happens during sleep apnea – ...

A possible cause of Parkinson's disease discovered

2011-02-02
"Nucleolus", or small nucleus, is the term coined by early biologists for the tiny structure within the nucleus which they saw under the microscope. In this structure within the nucleus, RNA molecules and proteins are assembled to form ribosomes, the true protein factories of cells. Defective nucleoli have been implicated in several rare hereditary diseases, most recently also in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's and Huntington's disease. Despite intense research efforts around the world, the molecular causes of Parkinson's disease are still unclear. Under ...

New approach suggested for monitoring child health in developing countries

2011-02-02
BOSTON (February 1, 2011) -- In a paper published in the January issue of the journal Economics and Human Biology, a team of applied economists including William A. Masters, a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, suggests a new approach to monitoring the relationship between nutrition and child mortality in developing countries. Based on dozens of surveys compiled over 20 years, changes in the number of mildly underweight children could be used as an early-warning signal of underlying public health threats that are difficult ...
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