Σάββατο, 26 Απριλίου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News


Star is discovered to be a close neighbor of the Sun and the coldest of its kind

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 01:23 PM PDT

A 'brown dwarf' star that appears to be the coldest of its kind -- as frosty as Earth's North Pole -- has been discovered by astronomers. The object's distance at 7.2 light-years away, making it the fourth closest system to our Sun.

'Beneficial inflammation' may promote healing in pulmonary fibrosis

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 10:40 AM PDT

Inflammation has long been considered an integral part of the biological process that leads to deadly scarring in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. New research, however, suggests that a little inflammation may also be crucial to the healing and repair processes in the lungs. "The role of inflammation in the development of scarring has been hotly debated in recent years," said one researcher. "Our findings show for the first time that TNF-alpha actually promotes inflammation during the resolution of established scarring. A little inflammation may actually be a good thing in the right place and time."

Genome regions once mislabeled 'junk' linked to heart failure

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 10:40 AM PDT

Large sections of the genome that were once referred to as 'junk' DNA have been linked to human heart failure, according to research. So-called junk DNA was long thought to have no important role in heredity or disease because it doesn't code for proteins. But emerging research in recent years has revealed that many of these sections of the genome produce RNA molecules that, despite not being proteins, still have important functions in the body. RNA is a close chemical cousin to DNA.

Aging linked to cellular interactions that occur across generations

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 10:40 AM PDT

By studying the reproductive cells of nematodes -- tiny worms found in soil and compost bins -- a researcher identified the Piwi/piRNA genome silencing pathway, the loss of which results in infertility after many generations. This study also found a signaling pathway -- a series of molecular interactions inside cells -- that could be tweaked to overcome infertility while also causing the worms to live longer adult lives.

Almost half of homeless men had traumatic brain injury in their lifetime

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 07:47 AM PDT

Almost half of all homeless men who took part in a study had suffered at least one traumatic brain injury in their life and 87 percent of those injuries occurred before the men lost their homes. While assaults were a major cause of those traumatic brain injuries, or TBIs, (60 per cent) many were caused by potentially non-violent mechanisms such as sports and recreation (44 per cent) and motor vehicle collisions and falls (42 per cent).

Function found for mysterious heart disease gene

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 07:47 AM PDT

A mysterious gene that likely influences cardiovascular health has become a little more understood, thanks to recent research. After five years, researchers now know how one genetic variant works and suspect that it contributes to the development of heart disease through processes that promote chronic inflammation and cell division.

Know your enemy: Deciphering oligomers' role in Parkinson's

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 07:47 AM PDT

The most detailed 'image of the enemy' to date has been developed of one of the body's most important players in the development of Parkinson's disease. This provides much greater understanding of the battle taking place when the disease occurs -- knowledge that is necessary if we are to understand and treat the disease. Parkinson's disease is one of the most common neurological disorders.

Nitrogen pollution, climate and land use: Why what we eat matters

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 06:36 AM PDT

A new report quantifies for the first time how much our food choices affect pollutant nitrogen emissions, climate change and land-use across Europe. The Special report provides an assessment of what would happen if Europe were to decrease its consumption of meat and dairy products.

Climate change: Don't wait until you can feel it

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 06:36 AM PDT

Despite overwhelming scientific evidence for the impending dangers of human-made climate change, policy decisions leading to substantial emissions reduction have been slow. New research shows that even as extreme weather events influence those who experience them to support policy to address climate change, waiting for the majority of people to live through such conditions firsthand could delay meaningful action by decades.

Civil war inside our cells: Scientists show how our bodies fight off 'jumping genes'

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 06:18 AM PDT

There's a civil war going on inside every one of the 37 trillion cells in your body. Now, scientists have uncovered how your cells keep this war from causing too much collateral damage. On one side of the battle: your "regular" DNA, which provides the day-to-day instructions for life. On the other side: tiny bits of rogue DNA that hide like spies between genes in your own DNA. From time to time, these rogue bits of DNA spin off a copy of themselves and "jump" to another DNA location – often causing harmful mutations when they land.

Gene mutation, key symptoms of autism appear to be linked

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 06:18 AM PDT

Abnormal brain growth is associated with autism spectrum disorder -- this scientists know. However, the relationship between the two has not been well understood. Now, research has shown that mutations in a specific gene that is disrupted in some individuals with autism results in too much growth throughout the brain, and yet surprisingly specific problems in social interactions, at least in mouse models that mimic this risk factor in humans.

Reconstructed ancient ocean reveals secrets about the origin of life

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 04:52 AM PDT

Researchers have published details about how the first organisms on Earth could have become metabolically active. The results permit scientists to speculate how primitive cells learned to synthesize their organic components -- the molecules that form RNA, lipids and amino acids. The findings also suggest an order for the sequence of events that led to the origin of life.

Small-scale, urban allotments yield food, healthy soil, study finds

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 04:50 AM PDT

Soils under Britain's allotments are significantly healthier than intensively farmed soils, researchers have found. This is the first study to show that by growing at small-scale in urban areas, it is possible to produce food sustainably without damaging the soil. As a result of the findings, planners and policy makers should increase the number of allotments available, the authors say.

Traces of recent water on Mars: Liquid water on Mars as recently as 200,000 years ago

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 04:50 AM PDT

New research has shown that there was liquid water on Mars as recently as 200,000 years ago. The southern hemisphere of Mars is home to a crater that contains very well-preserved gullies and debris flow deposits. The geomorphological attributes of these landforms provide evidence that they were formed by the action of liquid water in geologically recent time.

Two breath compounds could be associated with larynx cancer

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 04:50 AM PDT

Volatile substances exhaled by eleven people with cancer of larynx have been compared with those of another twenty healthy people. The results show that the concentrations of certain molecules, mainly ethanol and 2-butanone, are higher in individuals with carcinoma, therefore they act as potential markers of the disease. Human breath contains thousands of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and some of them can be used as non-invasive biomarkers for various types of head and neck cancers as well as cancer of the larynx.

Seeking causes of hyperactivity

Posted: 25 Apr 2014 04:50 AM PDT

The 60 trillion cells that comprise our bodies communicate constantly. Information travels when chemical compounds released by some cells are received by receptors in the membrane of another cell. Mice lacking an intracellular trafficking protein called LMTK3, are hyperactive, research shows. Hyperactivity is a behavioral disorder that shows symptoms including restlessness, lack of coordination, and aggressive behavior. Identifying the genetic factors that contribute to such behaviors may help to explain the pathological mechanisms underlying autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, in humans.

Genetic legacy of rare dwarf trees is widespread

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 07:31 PM PDT

Genetic evidence that one of Britain's native tree species, the dwarf birch found in the Scottish Highlands, was once common in England has been found by researchers. The genes reflect a much wider distribution occupied by the "wee tree" when the British climate was colder. "As dwarf birch moved north, some of its genes were picked up by downy birch trees, which spread through Britain at the cost of dwarf birch. The two species cross-pollinated in many parts of Britain after the last glacial maximum as the climate warmed and ice age glaciers melted away," they noted.

New high-detail atlas offers tool to explore local environment, health

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 07:30 PM PDT

A detailed atlas with environment and health maps at a fine scale across England and Wales has been developed and launched by researchers. This is the first time in the UK that researchers have produced these maps at such high spatial resolution. By inputting a postcode to the online version of the atlas, users can zoom into a neighborhood (around 6,000 people) and toggle between the health and environment maps for that local area.

Chernobyl's birds adapting to ionizing radiation

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 07:30 PM PDT

Birds in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl are adapting to -- and may even be benefiting from -- long-term exposure to radiation, ecologists have found. The study is the first evidence that wild animals adapt to ionizing radiation, and the first to show that birds which produce most pheomelanin, a pigment in feathers, have greatest problems coping with radiation exposure.

Asteroids as seen from Mars -- A Curiosity rover first

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 04:41 PM PDT

A new image from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is the first ever from the surface of Mars to show an asteroid, and it shows two: Ceres and Vesta. These two -- the largest and third-largest bodies in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter -- are the destinations of NASA's Dawn mission. Dawn orbited Vesta in 2011 and 2012, and is on its way to begin orbiting Ceres next year. Ceres is a dwarf planet, as well as an asteroid.

Increasing consumption of coffee associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, study finds

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 04:05 PM PDT

Increasing coffee consumption by on average one and half cups per day over a four-year period reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 11 percent, research shows. Coffee and tea consumption has been associated with a lower type 2 diabetes risk but little is known about how changes in coffee and tea consumption influence subsequent type 2 diabetes risk, until now.

Low-dose natural antimicrobial exacerbates chronic lung infection in cystic fibrosis

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 04:05 PM PDT

Respiratory failure caused by chronic lung infection with Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria is a common cause of death in patients with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that is common in individuals of European descent. A new study demonstrates that an antimicrobial peptide produced by human immune cells can promote mutations in the bacterium that make it more lethal.

Researchers trace HIV adaptation to its human host

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 04:05 PM PDT

In a new study that traces the evolution of HIV in North America, researchers have found evidence that the virus is slowly adapting over time to its human hosts. However, this change is so gradual that it is unlikely to have an impact on vaccine design.

'Horsing around' reduces stress hormones in youth

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 02:05 PM PDT

New research reveals how youth who work with horses experience a substantial reduction in stress -- and the evidence lies in kids' saliva. "We were coming at this from a prevention perspective," said a developmental psychologist working on this study. "We are especially interested in optimizing healthy stress hormone production in young adolescents, because we know from other research that healthy stress hormone patterns may protect against the development of physical and mental health problems."

Controlling brain waves to improve vision

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 02:05 PM PDT

A novel technique to test brain waves is being used to see how the brain processes external stimuli that do and don't reach our awareness. "When we have different things competing for our attention, we can only be aware of so much of what we see," said a researcher on the study. "For example, when you're driving, you might really be concentrating on obeying traffic signals." But say there's an unexpected event: an emergency vehicle, a pedestrian -- will you actually see the unexpected, or will you be so focused on your initial task that you don't notice?

New guidelines aim to improve care for babies with heart problems in the womb

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 01:15 PM PDT

Heart experts have developed the first scientific statement on detecting, managing and treating heart abnormalities in the womb. Medicines, fetal procedures, careful monitoring and strategies for delivery room care are improving the health of babies with heart abnormalities from before birth and beyond. Providers should help families overcome anxiety and depression, so they can transition from grief to acceptance and become active members of the team that cares for their baby.

Targeting B cells may help with multiple sclerosis, study shows

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 01:15 PM PDT

A new study suggests that targeting B cells, which are a type of white blood cell in the immune system, may be associated with reduced disease activity for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). The researchers found that when B cells were reduced to below a threshold of 64 cells per microliter, disease activity, as measured by appearance of new brain lesions, was significantly reduced.

Ancient Maya and virtual worlds: Different perspectives on material meanings

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 12:18 PM PDT

The Mayan perspective on the material world has been explored in science, and begins to uncover parallels with today's online culture. The Maya believed that part of your identity could inhabit material objects. Maya might even name these objects, talk to them or take them to special events. They considered these items to be alive. The practice of sharing your identity with material possessions might seem unusual in a modern context. But is it that different from today's selfie-snapping, candy-crushing online culture, where social media profiles can be as important to a person's identity as his or her real-world interactions?

Untangling Brazil's controversial new forest code

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 11:37 AM PDT

Brazil's new Forest Code has few admirers. A newly published study seeks to clarify the new law. Agricultural interests argue that it threatens the livelihoods of farmers. Environmentalists counter that it imperils millions of hectares of forest, threatening to release the billions of tons of carbon they contain. The article is the first to quantify the implications of recent changes to the Forest Code and identify new opportunities and challenges for conservation.

Three-banded panther worm debuts as new model in study of regeneration

Posted: 24 Apr 2014 09:47 AM PDT

The three-banded panther worm (Hofstenia miamia), a small organism with the ability to regenerate any missing body part, is being introduced to the scientific community. As a model, Hofstenia could help further our understanding of regeneration, how its mechanisms have evolved over millennia, and what limits regeneration in other animals, including humans.

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