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New targeted lung cancer drug produces 'dramatic' symptom improvement

2010-10-28
A clinical trial of a potential new targeted treatment drug has provided powerful evidence that it can halt or reverse the growth of lung tumors characterized by a specific genetic abnormality. In their report in the October 28 New England Journal of Medicine, a multi-institutional research team reports that daily doses of the investigational drug crizotinib shrank the tumors of more than half of a group patients whose tumors were driven by alterations in the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene. In another one-third of study participants, crizotinib treatment suppressed ...

Into Africa? Fossils suggest earliest anthropoids colonized Africa

Into Africa? Fossils suggest earliest anthropoids colonized Africa
2010-10-28
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania…Today in the journal Nature, a new discovery described by a team of international scientists, including Carnegie Museum of Natural History paleontologist Christopher Beard, suggests that anthropoids—the primate group that includes humans, apes, and monkeys—"colonized" Africa, rather than originally evolving in Africa as has been widely accepted. According to this paper, what is exceptional about these new fossils—discovered at the Dur At-Talah escarpment in central Libya—is the diversity of species present: the site includes three distinct families ...

Astronomers discover most massive neutron star yet known

2010-10-28
Astronomers using the National Science Foundation's Green Bank Telescope (GBT) have discovered the most massive neutron star yet found, a discovery with strong and wide-ranging impacts across several fields of physics and astrophysics. "This neutron star is twice as massive as our Sun. This is surprising, and that much mass means that several theoretical models for the internal composition of neutron stars now are ruled out," said Paul Demorest, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). "This mass measurement also has implications for our understanding of all ...

New evidence supports 'Snowball Earth' as trigger for early animal evolution

New evidence supports Snowball Earth as trigger for early animal evolution
2010-10-28
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A team of scientists, led by biogeochemists at the University of California, Riverside, has found new evidence linking "Snowball Earth" glacial events to the rise of early animals. The controversial Snowball Earth hypothesis posits that the Earth was covered from pole to pole by a thick sheet of ice lasting, on several occasions, for millions of years. These glaciations, the most severe in Earth history, occurred from 750 to 580 million years ago. The researchers argue that the oceans in the aftermath of these events were rich in phosphorus, a nutrient ...

Sodas, other sugary beverages linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome

2010-10-28
Boston, MA—A new study has found that regular consumption of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with a clear and consistently greater risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. According to the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers, the study provides empirical evidence that intake of sugary beverages should be limited to reduce risk of these conditions. The study appears online October 27, 2010, in the journal Diabetes Care and will appear in the November print edition. "Many previous studies have examined the relationship between ...

Surprise finding: Pancreatic cancers progress to lethal stage slowly

2010-10-28
Pancreatic cancer develops and spreads much more slowly than scientists have thought, according to new research from Johns Hopkins investigators. The finding indicates that there is a potentially broad window for diagnosis and prevention of the disease. "For the first time, we have a quantifiable estimate of the development of pancreatic cancer, and when it would be best to intervene," according to Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of pathology and oncology at Hopkins' Sol Goldman Pancreatic Cancer Research Center, "so there is potentially ...

A speed gun for the Earth's insides

2010-10-28
Researchers at the University of Bristol reveal today in the journal Nature that they have developed a seismological 'speed gun' for the inside of the Earth. Using this technique they will be able to measure the way the Earth's deep interior slowly moves around. This mantle motion is what controls the location of our continents and oceans, and where the tectonic plates collide to shake the surface we live on. For 2,900 km (1800 miles) beneath our feet, the Earth is made of the rocky mantle. Although solid, it is so hot that it can flow like putty over millions of years. ...

Research rejects green tea for breast cancer prevention

2010-10-28
Green tea does not protect against breast cancer. A study of data from approximately 54,000 women, published in BioMed Central's open access journal Breast Cancer Research, found no association between drinking green tea and breast cancer risk. Motoki Iwasaki, from the National Cancer Center, Tokyo, worked with a team of researchers to carry out the study. He said, "Although in vitro and animal-based studies have suggested that green tea may have beneficial protective effects against breast cancer, results from human studies have been inconclusive. Our large-scale, population-based ...

Forces for cancer spread: Genomic instability and evolutionary selection

2010-10-28
In new research published today, researchers uncover evolution in action in cancer cells. They show the forces of evolution in pancreatic tumours mean that not only is cancer genetically different between different patients, but each new focus of cancer spread within a patient has acquired distinct mutations. Effectively, ten different foci of cancer spread are ten different, but related, tumours. The complexity of pancreatic cancer genetics uncovered in this work helps to explain the difficulty of treating the disease but also strengthens the need for improved methods ...

60 Utahns are among landmark large-scale genome sequencing study

2010-10-28
(SALT LAKE CITY)—Just seven months after University of Utah geneticists took part in a landmark study that sequenced for the first time the genome of an entire Utah family, U of U researchers have taken part in another historic study that is the first large-scale genome sequencing project – 179 people representing three continents – and 60 Utahns played a major role in this study, too. Published Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010, in Nature, the study demonstrates how quickly the science of genome sequencing is expanding – first from individuals, then to families, and now to large ...

'Smart drug' targets new mutation, dramatically shrinks aggressive sarcoma and lung cancer

Smart drug targets new mutation, dramatically shrinks aggressive sarcoma and lung cancer
2010-10-28
BOSTON--A new oral drug caused dramatic shrinkage of a patient's rare, aggressive form of soft-tissue cancer that was driven by an abnormally activated protein, physician-scientists from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute report in the Oct. 28 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. A second patient who had a similar tumor that was not fueled by the mutant protein, called ALK (named for the first disease in which it was found, anaplastic lymphoma kinase), failed to respond to the drug, said the researchers, confirming the inhibitor's specificity for the abnormal protein. ...

New methods detect subtleties in human genomes' repetitive landscapes

New methods detect subtleties in human genomes repetitive landscapes
2010-10-28
Scientists have invented methods to scout the human genome's repetitive landscapes, where DNA sequences are highly identical and heavily duplicated. These advances, as reported today in Science, can identify subtle but important differences among people in the number and content of repeated DNA segments. These copy number variations partly account for the normal diversity among people. Copy number variations might also be why some people, and not others, have certain disorders or disease susceptibilities, and might also determine how severely they are affected. Until ...

Certain cancer therapies' success depends on presence of immune cell, Stanford study shows in mice

2010-10-28
STANFORD, Calif. — The immune system may play a critical role in ensuring the success of certain types of cancer therapies, according to a new study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine. The research showed treatments that disable cancer-promoting genes called oncogenes are much more successful in eradicating tumors in the presence of a signaling molecule secreted by kind of immune cell called a T helper cell. The finding is important because many drugs now in use in humans are often tested in lab animals with weakened immune systems and many human ...

Controlling individual cortical nerve cells by human thought

Controlling individual cortical nerve cells by human thought
2010-10-28
PASADENA, Calif.—Five years ago, neuroscientist Christof Koch of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), neurosurgeon Itzhak Fried of UCLA, and their colleagues discovered that a single neuron in the human brain can function much like a sophisticated computer and recognize people, landmarks, and objects, suggesting that a consistent and explicit code may help transform complex visual representations into long-term and more abstract memories. Now Koch and Fried, along with former Caltech graduate student and current postdoctoral fellow Moran Cerf, have found ...

Revising the timeline for deadly pancreatic cancer

2010-10-28
Pancreatic tumors are one of the most lethal cancers, with fewer than five percent of patients surviving five years after diagnosis. But a new study that peers deeply into the genetics of pancreatic cancer presents a bit of good news: an opportunity for early diagnosis. In contrast to earlier predictions, many pancreatic tumors are, in fact, slow growing, taking nearly 20 years to become lethal after the first genetic perturbations appear. "There have been two competing theories explaining why pancreatic cancers are so lethal," says Bert Vogelstein, the Howard Hughes ...

1000 Genomes Project publishes analysis of completed pilot phase

2010-10-28
Small genetic differences between individuals help explain why some people have a higher risk than others for developing illnesses such as diabetes or cancer. Today in the journal Nature, the 1000 Genomes Project, an international public-private consortium, published the most comprehensive map of these genetic differences, called variations, estimated to contain approximately 95 percent of the genetic variation of any person on Earth. Researchers produced the map using next-generation DNA sequencing technologies to systematically characterize human genetic variation ...

Large-scale fish farm production offsets environmental gains

2010-10-28
VICTORIA – Industrial-scale aquaculture production magnifies environmental degradation, according to the first global assessment of the effects of marine finfish aquaculture (e.g. salmon, cod, turbot and grouper) released today. This is true even when farming operations implement the best current marine fish farming practices. Dr. John Volpe and his team at the University of Victoria developed the Global Aquaculture Performance Index (GAPI), an unprecedented system for objectively measuring the environmental performance of fish farming. "Scale is critical," said Dr. ...

Spiral galaxies stripped bare

Spiral galaxies stripped bare
2010-10-28
HAWK-I [1] is one of the newest and most powerful cameras on ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). It is sensitive to infrared light, which means that much of the obscuring dust in the galaxies' spiral arms becomes transparent to its detectors. Compared to the earlier, and still much-used, VLT infrared camera ISAAC, HAWK-I has sixteen times as many pixels to cover a much larger area of sky in one shot and, by using newer technology than ISAAC, it has a greater sensitivity to faint infrared radiation [2]. Because HAWK-I can study galaxies stripped bare of the confusing effects ...

Singapore scientist leads team to discover origin of brain immune cells

2010-10-28
A team of international scientists led by Dr Florent Ginhoux of the Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN) of Singapore's Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), have made a breakthrough that could lead to a better understanding of many neurodegenerative and inflammatory brain disorders. Their work, published in top scientific journal Science, uncovered the origins of microglia, which are white blood cells specific to the brain, and showed that, in mice, microglia had a completely different origin than other white blood cells. This understanding may lead to the ...

Narcotics and diagnostics overused in treatment of chronic neck pain

2010-10-28
Duke University and University of North Carolina (UNC) researchers report in the November issue of Arthritis Care & Research that narcotics and diagnostic testing are overused in treating chronic neck pain. Their findings indicate clinicians may overlook more effective treatments for neck pain, such as therapeutic exercise. According to reviews cited in the study, evidence to support the effectiveness of therapeutic exercise in treating chronic neck pain is good, yet only 53% of subjects were prescribed such exercise. This information was based upon reported data from a ...

Learning the truth not effective in battling rumors about NYC mosque, study finds

2010-10-28
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Evidence is no match against the belief in false rumors concerning the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque near Ground Zero in New York City, a new study finds. Researchers at Ohio State University found that fewer than one-third of people who had previously heard and believed one of the many rumors about the proposed center changed their minds after reading overwhelming evidence rejecting the rumor. The false rumor that researchers used in the study was that Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Imam backing the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque, ...

Victims of child abuse present higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder

2010-10-28
In cases of child sexual abuse, there are children and teenagers that blame themselves (for example, after the thought that the abuse was led by them) or their family (thinking that their family should have protected them) for the abuse suffered in their childhood. This type of victims resort more frequently to avoidance coping. Thus, they try to sleep more than usual, avoid thinking on the problem, or resort to alcohol and drug abuse –in the case of teenagers. This behaviour leaves important psychological after-effects on victims: concretely, they present more symptoms ...

Introducing the 'A-Train'

2010-10-28
Mention the "A-Train" and most people probably think of the jazz legend Billy Strayhorn or perhaps New York City subway trains — not climate change. However, it turns out that a convoy of "A-Train" satellites has emerged as one of the most powerful tools scientists have for understanding our planet's changing climate. The formation of satellites — which currently includes Aqua, CloudSat, Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations (CALIPSO) and Aura satellites — barrels across the equator each day at around 1:30 p.m. local time each afternoon, giving ...

Glucosamine causes the death of pancreatic cells

2010-10-28
Quebec City, October 27, 2010—High doses or prolonged use of glucosamine causes the death of pancreatic cells and could increase the risk of developing diabetes, according to a team of researchers at Université Laval's Faculty of Pharmacy. Details of this discovery were recently published on the website of the Journal of Endocrinology. In vitro tests conducted by Professor Frédéric Picard and his team revealed that glucosamine exposure causes a significant increase in mortality in insulin-producing pancreatic cells, a phenomenon tied to the development of diabetes. Cell ...

Heavy drinkers consume less over time, but not at 'normal' levels

2010-10-28
PISCATAWAY, NJ – Problem drinkers in the general population may reduce the amount of alcohol they consume over a period of years but not to the level of the average adult, according to a new study in the November issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. Given that heavy drinkers often don't become "normal" drinkers on their own, the takeaway message for clinicians and family members is to help connect a problem drinker to a community social service agency or Alcoholics Anonymous. Simply telling someone that they had a drinking problem did not seem to be helpful ...
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