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News in Science

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  • News in Science

    Instead of making a seperate thread for each story i figured a science news thread woukd make things neater. Feel free to post news regarding science here and if the mods want to add some of the other posts under this thread then great.

    Discerning pancreatic cancer from pancreatitis
    Test shows patients with autoimmune pancreatitis more likely to have telltale antibodyBy Nathan Seppa Web edition : Sunday, November 29th, 2009 Text Size A new test puts doctors one step closer to distinguishing between pancreatic cancer and a troublesome inflammation of the organ called autoimmune pancreatitis. Making that call can be difficult because in autoimmune pancreatitis, a lump of hardened tissue can form in the pancreas and is sometimes mistaken for a tumor.

    Reporting in the November 26 New England Journal of Medicine, researchers in Italy show that patients who have been diagnosed with autoimmune pancreatitis are very likely to make antibodies that mistakenly attack a harmless enzyme found in the pancreas. In this disease, a person’s own immune troops target pancreatic tissue, causing inflammation and damaging this vital organ.

    In contrast, these antibodies were absent in healthy people and rare in pancreatic cancer patients, says study coauthor Antonio Puccetti, a physician and immunologist at Giannina Gaslini Institute in Genoa.

    Short of a biopsy, there is currently no single test that physicians can use to identify autoimmune pancreatitis and distinguish it from pancreatic cancer.

    Roughly one in 10 surgeries to remove a pancreatic tumor find a hardened mass arising from autoimmune pancreatitis — not cancer. These lumps result from inflammation-based tissue damage.

    In the new study, Puccetti and his colleagues analyzed blood from patients with autoimmune pancreatitis, adding an array of proteins to see whether these patients had made antibodies against any of the compounds. Antibodies targeting a bacterial compound called plasminogen binding protein, or PBP, stood out.
    Next, the scientists tested blood from healthy people and from pancreatic cancer patients for antibodies directed against PBP.

    The tests showed that 33 of 35 people with autoimmune pancreatitis had made antibodies against PBP, compared with only five of 120 pancreatic cancer patients and none of 40 healthy people.

    When the researchers compared PBP with compounds typically found in the human pancreas, they found a match — an enzyme called UBR2.

    The cause of autoimmune pancreatitis is unknown. But a closer look at the biology underlying these new findings suggests it might arise from a coincidence in nature, Puccetti says.

    PBP is found on a bacterium, Helicobacter pylori, that is a common hitchhiker in the human stomach. PBP’s similarity to UBR2 stems from a stretch of amino acids that shows up on both. Puccetti says the human enzyme UBR2 seems to get targeted by the same antibodies directed against PBP. Thus, in some people, this molecular mimicry means that cells making UBR2 enzymes risk winding up in the crosshairs of an attack by the immune system.

    “Apparently these auto-antibodies cross-react with the [pancreatic] cells and damage the tissue,” says William Brugge, a physician at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

    Since a few people with pancreatic cancer also tested positive for antibodies to PBP, this test constitutes a “good but not perfect” means for distinguishing between the cancer and pancreatitis, Brugge says.

    Puccetti asserts that the test “is of great help in discriminating the disease from pancreatic cancer.” He says it’s likely to be used in conjunction with other tests. “The antibody test should precede the biopsy, which remains the best diagnostic test.”
    Hayastan or Bust.

  • #2
    Re: News in Science

    Sub-fertility linked to flame retardant exposure
    by Kate Melville

    The first study to investigate the impact of flame retardants - commonly found in household consumer products - on human fertility has linked exposure to the chemicals with reduced fertility in women. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, who conducted the study said that a 10-fold increase in the blood concentration of any of the four most common chemicals (PBDEs) resulted in a 30 percent decrease in the odds of becoming pregnant each month. "These findings need to be replicated, but they have important implications for regulators," said the study's lead author, Kim Harley.

    PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) are a class of organobromine compounds that became commonplace after the 1970s when new fire safety standards were implemented in the United States. The flame retardants are used in foam furniture, electronics, fabrics, carpets, plastics and other common items in the home.

    Previous studies have found widespread contamination of house dust by PBDEs, which are known to leach out into the environment and accumulate in human fat cells. Worryingly, 97 percent of the U.S. population have levels of PBDEs in their blood that are 20 times higher than in their European counterparts. According to the researchers, residents in California are among those experiencing the highest exposures.

    The researchers measured PBDE levels in blood samples from 223 pregnant women and recorded the number of months it took for them to get pregnant. When the analysis was limited to women who were actively trying to become pregnant, the researchers found that they were half as likely to conceive in any given month if they had high levels of PBDE in their blood. "We aren't looking at infertility, just sub-fertility, because all the women in our study eventually became pregnant," explained Harley. "Had we included infertile couples in our study, it is possible that we would have seen an even stronger effect from PBDE exposure."

    It is not clear how PBDEs might impact fertility. A number of animal studies have found that PBDEs can impair neurodevelopment, reduce thyroid hormones, and alter levels of sex hormones. Both high and low thyroid hormone levels can disrupt normal menstrual patterns in women.

    "Although several types of PBDEs are being phased out in the United States, our exposure to the flame retardants is likely to continue for many years," said co-researcher Brenda Eskenazi. "PBDEs are present in many consumer products, and we know they leach out into our homes. In our research, we have found that low-income children in California are exposed to very high levels of PBDEs, and this has us concerned about the next generation of Californians."

    Is Your Carpet Making You Fat?
    Plastics workers risk impotence, ejaculation difficulties
    BPA found to have "dramatic" effect on adult hormone levels

    Source: University of California - Berkeley
    Hayastan or Bust.


    • #3
      Re: News in Science

      26 January 2010
      Traveling into the future... with sugar
      by Kate Melville

      Researchers looking into how blood glucose levels impact our thought processes have found that when we have more energy available (higher levels of blood glucose), we tend to be more future-oriented in our decision-making.

      Specifically, scientists X.T. Wang and Robert D. Dvorak, from the University of South Dakota, investigated how blood glucose levels impact the way we think about present and future rewards. In their study, published in Psychological Science, volunteers answered a series of questions asking if they would prefer to receive a certain amount of money tomorrow or a larger amount of money at a later date. They responded to seven of these questions before and after drinking either a regular soda (containing sugar) or a diet soda (containing artificial sweetener). Blood glucose levels were measured at the start of the experiment and after the volunteers drank the soda.

      The results showed that people's preferences for current versus later rewards appear to be influenced by blood glucose levels. The volunteers who drank the regular sodas were more likely to select receiving more money at a later date while the volunteers who drank the diet sodas were likelier to opt for receiving smaller sums of money immediately. The researchers say these findings are suggestive of an adaptive mechanism linking decision making to metabolic cues.

      The study notes that; "the future is more abstract than the present and thus may require more energy to process. Blood glucose as brain fuel would strengthen effortful cognitive processing for future events."

      Conversely, having low blood glucose levels may make an individual focus more on the present. The finding that a diet soda drink increased the degree of future discounting suggests that artificial sweeteners may alarm the body of imminent caloric crisis, leading to increased impulsivity.

      The authors conclude by suggesting that "reducing the degree of fluctuation in blood glucose may offer a possible means for the treatment and intervention of some impulsive disorders, anorexia, drug addiction, and gambling addiction."

      Surreal experiences boost brain power
      Striking differences between brains of rich and poor
      Brain Wired For Adventure
      This Is Your Brain On Jazz

      Source: University of South Dakota
      Hayastan or Bust.


      • #4
        Re: News in Science

        Stillbirth linked directly to mother's oral bacteria
        by Kate Melville

        Confirming long-held suspicions, a Case Western Reserve University researcher has for the first time established a direct link between a mother's oral bacteria and the death of her fetus. Researcher Yiping Han's revelations about Fusobacterium nucleatum and its likely role in pre-term labor and stillbirths appear in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

        The mother in question carried the baby fullterm, but during the 35-year-old's pregnancy she reported excessive gum bleeding, a symptom of pregnancy-associated gingivitis. Around 75 percent of pregnant women experience gum bleeding due to the hormonal changes during pregnancy.

        The bleeding associated with the gingivitis allowed the bacteria - normally contained to the mouth because of the body's defense system - to enter the blood and work its way to the placenta. Even though the amniotic fluid was not available for testing, Han suspects that the bacteria entered the immune-free amniotic fluid and eventually were ingested by the baby.

        Han explained that normally a mother's immune system takes care of the bacteria in the blood before it reaches the placenta. But in this case, the mother also experienced an upper respiratory infection just a few days before the stillbirth. "The timing is important here because it fits the time frame of hematogenous [through the blood] spreading," Han said.

        Postmortem microbial studies of the baby found the presence of F. nucleatum in the lungs and stomach. The baby had died from a septic infection and inflammation caused by bacteria. After questioning the mother about her health during the pregnancy, Han arranged for her to visit a periodontist, who collected plaque samples from her teeth.

        Using DNA cloning technologies, Han found a match in the bacterium in the mother's mouth with the bacterium in the baby's infected lungs and stomach. "The testing strongly suggested the bacteria were delivered through the blood," Han said.

        Happily, with preventative periodontal treatment and oral health care, the mother has now given birth to a healthy baby. Han suggests women who are considering a pregnancy seek dental care to take care of any oral health problems before conceiving.

        Brush Your Teeth And Prevent Heart Attack
        Fatness And Bad Teeth - Inseparable

        Source: Case Western Reserve University
        Hayastan or Bust.


        • #5
          Re: News in Science

          Alcohol distills aggression in large men
          Study supports notion that bigger men are meaner drunksBy Bruce Bower Web edition : Friday, March 5th, 2010 Text Size As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, it may pay to keep in mind that there is a kernel of truth to the stereotype that large men are especially prone to being DWI — dangerous while intoxicated.

          When they were drunk, bigger men became especially aggressive when given the opportunity to administer electric shocks to a fictitious opponent in a laboratory contest, say psychologist Nathan DeWall of the University of Kentucky in Lexington and his colleagues. Yet larger men showed no aggression increases after downing a nonalcoholic placebo drink.

          Intoxicated women showed little taste for shocking another person in the same experimental contest regardless of their weight, DeWall’s team reports in a paper published online February 25 in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

          Big men under the influence don’t always behave badly, DeWall emphasizes. “There will inevitably be scrawny, intoxicated brawlers and big, nice boozed-up imbibers,” he says.

          But the new findings suggest that, in general, the bigger the guy, the greater the chances of alcohol-related mayhem.

          His findings fit with a theory proposed by psychologist Aaron Sell of the University of California, Santa Barbara, that physically imposing individuals — usually men — can get their way in interpersonal disputes through force, making them prone to anger and to feeling entitled to special treatment.

          “I would have predicted that larger men would become more aggressive even when sober,” Sell says. The laboratory task used by DeWall’s group may not have provoked sober big men enough to trigger aggressive responses, he suggests.

          Researchers have already noted that large men report more previous incidents of physical aggression than anyone else, remarks psychologist John Archer of the University of Central Lancashire in Preston, England. Alcohol use might contribute to that pattern, but a general association between physical size and antagonistic tendencies is also possible, Archer says.

          DeWall’s team recruited 438 men and 442 women, all of whom drank alcohol socially. Participants ranged in age from 21 to 35.

          Volunteers were randomly assigned to quaff either an orange juice xxxxtail equivalent to two or three typical drinks, or a placebo containing just a dash of alcohol as well as a spray of alcohol on the glass rim for flavor.

          Participants then competed against a fictitious, unseen opponent in a contest that involved pressing a computer key as fast as possible after seeing a cue on a computer screen. Participants were told that the winner could press a button that delivered a shock to the loser’s finger. But in reality, the researchers predetermined for each round whether a volunteer would end up on the receiving end of a shock.

          Upon “losing,” participants received one-second shocks that increased from mild to intense in order to mimic the escalation of real-life violent clashes.

          Previous research suggests that people who behave aggressively in daily life deliver the biggest shocks in this kind of contest. In this study, the length and intensity of shocks delivered by intoxicated men rose sharply as the body weight of those men increased from 130 to 215 pounds.

          DeWall’s group has yet to examine whether men weighing more than 215 pounds, extremely tall men or men with muscular physiques also react especially harshly when buzzed on alcohol.

          I fit into the over 215lb catagory and am fairly tall yet alchohol has the opposit effect on me. It makes me mellow. Alchohol brings out whatever your hiding. If your a jerk you will be a bigger jerk when drunk.
          Hayastan or Bust.


          • #6
            Re: News in Science

            Some interesting research shows that exercising in the afternoon/early evening helps keep bloodpressure down while exercising in the morning can actualy increase it a bit. Also the brain seems to be more alert and responsive during 10am-12pm then any other time of day.
            Hayastan or Bust.


            • #7
              Re: News in Science


              2010-03-09 20:41:00

              ArmInfo. On March 10 an exhibition "Darwin Now" dedicated to the 200th
              anniversary of Charles Darwin and 150th of his work "The Origin of
              Species by Means of Natural Selection" will be held in Yerevan.

              The British Council press-service told ArmInfo that the exhibition will
              allow taking a new view of the impact of Darwin's evolution theory on
              development of biology and other spheres of science. The exhibition
              has already been presented in over 25 countries. Alongside with the
              exhibition, with the support of "Association of Young Women" various
              events will be organized at 10 schools of Yerevan. The events will
              include games and puzzles and increase the schoolchildren's interest
              in biology and natural sciences.
              Hayastan or Bust.


              • #8
                Re: News in Science

                I was very interested in biology when I was in grade school... always pulling down my classmates skirts
                "Nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you're a man, you take it." ~Malcolm X


                • #9
                  Re: News in Science

                  Climate Change Killed Dinosaurs, Scientist SaysUpdated: 4 hours 26 minutes ago
                  Print Text Size E-mail More
                  Joseph Schuman
                  Senior Correspondent

                  AOL News (March 28) -- Was it long-term climate change, rather than a rogue asteroid, that killed off the dinosaurs?

                  That's the conclusion of German paleontologist Michael Prauss, who studied 65-million-year-old fossils drilled out of the earth in the Brazos River area of Texas and argues that radical changes to the flora and fauna of the era began long before arrival of the massive space rock widely associated with one of the largest mass extinctions in the history of the planet.

                  That impact, at what is now Chicxulub, Mexico, in the past 30 years has become the primary suspect in the death of the dinosaurs. And it was the subject of an article in the journal Science earlier this month in which 41 scientists from around the world argued that a wealth of global data show the extinctions began at the same time that the asteroid's crash sent debris across the atmosphere and blocked out the sun for years.

                  DEA Picture Library/Getty Images
                  A German scientist refutes the widely accepted theory that an asteroid led to dinosaurs' extinction, saying long-term climate change was to blame instead. Above, an illustration shows a herd of Hadrosaurus running away from fire.
                  But Prauss, writing in next month's edition of the journal Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology and working with Princeton paleontologist Gerta Gerta Keller -- a well-known critic of the Chicxulub theory -- maintained the impact was just one in a chain of catastrophic events that caused substantial environmental upheaval.

                  "The resulting chronic stress, to which of course the meteorite impact was a contributing factor, is likely to have been fundamental to the crisis in the biosphere and finally the mass extinction," Prauss said.

                  Those events include the massive, years-long volcanic activity in what is now the Deccan Plateau of India, and which, like the Chicxulub asteroid impact, is conventionally used by paleontologists to separate the Cretaceous period from the Paleogene period.

                  The Cretaceous, with a relatively warm climate a high sea levels, was the last era of the dinosaurs and the large marine reptiles that lived at the same time. And Prauss also takes issue with other paleontologists' use of Chicxulub as the historical demarcation point.

                  "The actual impact took place well before the geochemically and micropaleontologically defined Cretaceous Paleogene boundary," he said.

                  In support of his theories, Prauss cites his analysis of samples taken from drill cores and rock sections dating to the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary near Brazos, which is about 620 miles from the Chicxulub crater.

                  The appearance and distribution of microfossils -- the remains of algae, pollen and plant spores -- demonstrate that significant and persistent variations of the ecosystem built steadily over the late Cretaceous and continued over several million years, Prauss said. They can especially be seen in the fluctuation of sea levels and productivity of marine algae, and the so-called fern spike -- a widespread surge in fern spores that signaled landscapes were repopulating after an ecosystem was destroyed.

                  Prauss said the fern spike began well before the Paleogene period began, and that the Cretaceous-Paleogene boundary -- and the asteroid impact -- marked only the peak of a trend that began millions of years earlier.

                  "In the light of the new data, both of these points have to be refuted," Prauss said.

                  Earlier this month, when the Chicxulub paper appeared in Science, one of its authors told AOL News that a goal of the team's work was to respond to arguments coming from the minority of paleontologists who cast doubt on the asteroid's role in killing the dinosaurs.

                  "It is almost impossible to change the skeptics' minds," Tamara Goldin said. "But we hope we can communicate to the scientific community and the public that this impact-induced environmental catastrophe did happen."

                  Still, it's important to note that both papers are using geological data to tie environmental events to the period that produced the latest dinosaur fossils scientists have found. In other words, paleontologists are dating the scene of the crime and placing environmental suspects at the scene with some pretty strong arguments.

                  But there's no direct evidence showing what killed the dinosaurs, leaving open a debate that's likely to continue.
                  Filed under:
                  Hayastan or Bust.


                  • #10
                    Re: News in Science

                    Junk food addiction info
                    Track your personal stock portfolios and watch lists, and automatically determine your day gain and total gain at Yahoo Finance
                    Hayastan or Bust.