Πέμπτη, 22 Μαΐου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News

Training brain patterns of empathy using functional brain imaging

Posted: 21 May 2014 03:00 PM PDT

An unprecedented research conducted by a group of neuroscientists has demonstrated that it is possible to train brain patterns associated with empathic feelings. Volunteers who received neurofeedback about their own brain activity patterns whilst being scanned inside a functional magnetic resonance machine were able to increase empathic brain states. These findings could open new possibilities for treatment of clinical situations, such as antisocial personality disorder and postpartum depression.

New, fossil-fuel-free process makes biodiesel sustainable

Posted: 21 May 2014 10:38 AM PDT

A new fuel-cell concept will allow biodiesel plants to eliminate the creation of hazardous wastes while removing their dependence on fossil fuel from their production process. The platform, which uses microbes to glean ethanol from glycerol and has the added benefit of cleaning up the wastewater, will allow producers to reincorporate the ethanol and the water into the fuel-making process.

Weak chemical forces combined to strengthen novel imaging technology

Posted: 21 May 2014 10:38 AM PDT

Increasing the effectiveness of certain contrast agents is often used for imaging blood vessels and internal bleeding by associating them with nanoparticles, biomedical researchers report. The contrast agent being used is packaged inside or bonded to the surface of microscopic particles, which can be designed to target certain regions of the body or prolong the agent's activity.

Very distant galaxy cluster confirmed

Posted: 21 May 2014 10:37 AM PDT

The structures and star populations of massive galaxies appear to change as they age, but much about how these galaxies formed and evolved remains mysterious. Many of the oldest and most massive galaxies reside in clusters, enormous structures where numerous galaxies are found concentrated together. Galaxy clusters in the early universe are thought to be key to understanding the lifecycles of old galaxies, but to date astronomers have located only a handful of these rare, distant structures.

Functional nerve cells from skin cells

Posted: 21 May 2014 10:37 AM PDT

Research will make the study of diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's easier, and could lead to personalized therapies for a variety of neurodegenerative disorders. The nerve cells generated by this new method show the same functional characteristics as the mature cells found in the body, making them much better models for the study of age-related diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, and for the testing of new drugs.

A new way to harness waste heat: Electrochemical approach has potential to efficiently turn low-grade heat to electricity

Posted: 21 May 2014 10:36 AM PDT

Vast amounts of excess heat are generated by industrial processes and by electric power plants; researchers around the world have spent decades seeking ways to harness some of this wasted energy. Now researchers have found a new alternative for low-temperature waste-heat conversion into electricity.

Breakthrough: Nasal spray may soon replace pills for delivering drugs to the brain

Posted: 21 May 2014 10:36 AM PDT

When the doctor gives us medicine, it is often in the shape of a pill. But when it comes to brain diseases, pills are actually an extremely inefficient way to deliver drugs to the brain, and according to researchers, we need to find new and more efficient ways of transporting drugs to the brain. Spraying the patient's nose could be one such way.

Violent stellar explosion: Stellar behemoth self-destructs in a Type IIb supernova

Posted: 21 May 2014 10:35 AM PDT

For the first time, astronomers have direct confirmation that a Wolf-Rayet star -- sitting 360 million light years away -- died in a violent explosion known as a Type IIb supernova. Using the iPTF pipeline, researchers caught supernova SN 2013cu within hours of its explosion.

New target for chronic pain treatment found

Posted: 21 May 2014 10:35 AM PDT

The enzyme PIP5K1C controls the activity of cellular receptors that signal pain, researchers have found. By reducing the enzyme, researchers showed that levels of a lipid called PIP2 is also lessened. They also found a compound that can dampen the activity of PIP5K1C. These findings could lead to a new kind of pain reliever for the more than 100 million people who suffer from chronic pain in the US.

Soil bacteria may provide clues to curbing antibiotic resistance

Posted: 21 May 2014 10:31 AM PDT

Bacteria that naturally live in the soil have a vast collection of genes to fight off antibiotics, but they are much less likely to share these genes, a new study has revealed. Drug-resistant bacteria annually sicken 2 million Americans and kill at least 23,000. A driving force behind this growing public health threat is the ability of bacteria to share genes that provide antibiotic resistance.

Lipid transport: Research breakthrough paves way for understanding serious diseases

Posted: 21 May 2014 07:20 AM PDT

New basic research reveals how the body's cells transport lipid. Defects in the mechanism can lead to serious neurological diseases, liver diseases and involuntary childlessness, and the new knowledge is an important step on the way to understanding and treating these diseases.

Device for stopping uncontrolled seizures implanted in patient

Posted: 21 May 2014 07:18 AM PDT

Last month the first hospital outside of a clinical trial site implanted a pacemaker-like device in the brain of a patient. This may be a game-changer for patients with epilepsy. The device, called the RNS System, was implanted April 17, 2014 in a patient with seizures that previously could not be controlled with medication, or intractable epilepsy. The patient has recovered completely from the surgery.

New anticancer compound discovered

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:49 AM PDT

A previously unknown Cent-1 molecule that kills cancer cells has been discovered by scientists. The objective of the research was to accelerate the drug development process by identifying new compounds that would possess similar binding properties and cellular phenotype, but a different chemical structure, as the selected drugs in clinical use or investigational compounds in development. The scientists combined computer-based screening and cell-based assays to create a method that can significantly accelerate drug discovery and thereby lower development costs.

In your genes: Family history reveals predisposition to multiple diseases

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:49 AM PDT

Nine simple questions can be used to identify people who may be at increased risk of various cancers, heart disease and diabetes because of their family history of these conditions, research shows. The family history screening questionnaire can be used to provide insight into people's susceptibility to breast, ovarian, bowel and prostate cancer, melanoma, ischaemic heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

More maternal mental health surveillance needed, suggests new study

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:49 AM PDT

Maternal depression is more common at four years following childbirth than at any other time in the first 12 months after childbirth, and there needs to be a greater focus on maternal mental health, suggests a new study. Results show that almost one in three women reported depressive symptoms in the first four years after birth. The prevalence of depressive symptoms at four years postpartum was 14.5%, and was higher than at any time-point in the first 12 months postpartum.

Iron from melting ice sheets may help buffer global warming

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:49 AM PDT

A newly-discovered source of oceanic bioavailable iron could have a major impact our understanding of marine food chains and global warming. Scientists have discovered that summer meltwaters from ice sheets are rich in iron, which will have important implications on phytoplankton growth.

Scientists have identified for the first time what kind of explosive was used after detonation

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:47 AM PDT

There are objects we cannot see within the range of the visible but which we can with imaging systems that use the terahertz (THz) wavelength. Within this range we can detect, for example, not only a foreign body hidden under clothing, but also determine what material it is made of. Scientists have now been able to identify explosive components not only in their pure state, but also, and for the first time, after the detonation has taken place.

Astronomy: Revealing the complex outflow structure of binary UY Aurigae

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:47 AM PDT

Astronomers have revealed a complicated outflow structure in the binary UY Aur (Aurigae). The team observed the binary using the Gemini North"s NIFS (Near-Infrared Integral Field Spectrometer) with the Altair adaptive optics system. They found that the primary star has a wide, open outflow, while the secondary star has a well-collimated jet.

Shattering past of the 'island of glass': Pantelleria, a little-known island near Sicily, was once covered in a searing-hot layer of green glass

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:47 AM PDT

A tiny Mediterranean island visited by the likes of Madonna, Sting, Julia Roberts and Sharon Stone is now the focus of a ground-breaking study by geologists. Pantelleria, a little-known island between Sicily and Tunisia, is a volcano with a remarkable past: 45 thousand years ago, the entire island was covered in a searing-hot layer of green glass.

Cholesterol plays key role in cell migration, study shows

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:47 AM PDT

Cholesterol plays a key role in cell mobility and tissue invasion, scientists have concluded. The results of a study prove that the accumulation of LDL cholesterol cells —- the one carried by low-density lipoproteins -— may play a crucial role in promoting cell mobility. On the contrary, high levels of HDL cholesterol —- the one carried by high-density lipoproteins -— may avoid cell propagation. This is a key study to better understand cancer metastasis, the process in which cancer cells invade healthy tissues, and foster the discussion on the relationship between cholesterol levels and cancer incidence.

Fungi clean oil-polluted soil, study shows

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:47 AM PDT

Fungi can be harnessed to clean polluted soil which cannot be cleaned using traditional composting, researchers have found, demonstrating that soil that has been polluted by organic pollutants such as oil can be treated by composting. However, it is not effective against many other organic pollutants such as polyaromatic hydrocarbons and dioxins. Soil polluted with other organic pollutants than oil accounts for as much as 45% of excavated contaminated soil.

Microsatellites: Making light work of orbit and attitude control

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:45 AM PDT

Microsatellites have to be very light – every gram counts. The same applies to the gyroscopes used to sense the satellite's orientation when in orbit. A novel prototype is seven times lighter and significantly smaller than earlier systems.

Interruption of biological rhythms during chemotherapy worsen its side effects

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:45 AM PDT

The circadian system, better known as our biological clock, is responsible for coordinating all the processes that take place in our organism. If it does not function correctly, what is known as a circadian disruption or chronodisruption, has for years been linked to an increased incidence of cancer, obesity, diabetes, depression, cognitive problems or cardiovascular diseases. "Also, circadian disruption in cancer patients aggravates the prognosis of the disease and the chance of survival for these patients diminishes," a researcher noted.

Circuits and sensors direct from the printer

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:45 AM PDT

Printers are becoming more and more versatile. Now they can even print sensors and electronic components on 2D and 3D substrates. A new, robot-assisted production line allows the process to be automated.

Shaping ultrashort laser pulses: Laser light needs more bass

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:45 AM PDT

They shed light on atomic and molecular processes: ultrashort laser pulses are required to study extremely fast quantum phenomena. For years, scientists have been trying to tune the shape of light waves so as to, for instance, steer an electron on exactly the right path. An extraordinarily powerful new method to influence the shape of the laser light wave has now been developed.

A star cluster in the wake of Carina

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:44 AM PDT

This colorful new image from the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile shows the star cluster NGC 3590. These stars shine brightly in front of a dramatic landscape of dark patches of dust and richly hued clouds of glowing gas. This small stellar gathering gives astronomers clues about how these stars form and evolve — as well as giving hints about the structure of our galaxy's pinwheeling arms.

Nasal bacteria may be predictor of skin infections

Posted: 21 May 2014 06:43 AM PDT

Bacteria found in the nose may be a key indicator for future development of skin and soft-tissue infections in remote areas of the body, researchers say. The nose is the primary S. aureus reservoir in humans and nearly 80% of the time, an individual's colonizing strain is the same strain that causes subsequent remote skin infections. Establishing a nose "marker microbiome" associated with development of SSTI infections may pave the way for focused preventive treatments that target the microbiome, rather than S. aureus itself.

Vitamin E in canola, other oils hurts lungs

Posted: 20 May 2014 07:04 PM PDT

A large new study advances our understanding of vitamin E and ties increasing consumption of supposedly healthy, vitamin E-rich oils -- canola, soybean and corn -- to the rising incidence of lung inflammation and, possibly, asthma. The good news: vitamin E in olive and sunflower oils improves lungs. The study shows drastically different health effects of vitamin E depending on its form: gamma-tocopherol in soybean, canola and corn oil and alpha-tocopherol in olive and sunflower oils.

Humpback whale subspecies revealed by genetic study

Posted: 20 May 2014 07:04 PM PDT

A new genetic study has revealed that populations of humpback whales in the oceans of the North Pacific, North Atlantic and Southern Hemisphere are much more distinct from each other than previously thought, and should be recognized as separate subspecies. Understanding how connected these populations are has important implications for the recovery of these charismatic animals that were once devastated by hunting.

Adults who lose weight at any age could enjoy improved cardiovascular health

Posted: 20 May 2014 03:48 PM PDT

Weight loss at any age in adulthood is worthwhile because it could yield long-term heart and vascular benefits, suggests new research. For the first time, the findings indicate that adults who drop a BMI category -- from obese to overweight, or from overweight to normal -- at any time during adult life, even if they regain weight, can reduce these cardiovascular manifestations.

Increasing severity of heart failure linked to increased risk of developing diabetes

Posted: 20 May 2014 03:47 PM PDT

Increasing severity of heart failure is associated with an increased risk of developing diabetes, a new study has found. The authors conclude: "This study suggests an increased risk of development of diabetes in patients with heart failure, with increasing loop-diuretic dosage used as a proxy for heart failure severity. It emphasizes the need to monitor and treat patients with heart failure to prevent diabetes development. Future strategies for heart failure management should include increased awareness of risk of diabetes in patients with severe heart failure."

Experiments using virulent avian flu strains pose risk of accidental release

Posted: 20 May 2014 03:47 PM PDT

Experiments creating dangerous flu strains that are transmissible between mammals pose too great a risk to human life from potential release, according to an editorial by experts. The researchers are calling for greater scrutiny of experiments that make virulent influenza strains transmissible, and for future studies on flu transmission to use safer and more effective alternative approaches.

Evolution of venomous centipedes: First widespread look by researchers

Posted: 20 May 2014 03:47 PM PDT

Venomous creatures usually conjure up images of hissing snakes or stinging scorpions. But for a team of scientists, an overlooked group -- centipedes -- are all the rage. Centipedes prey on bugs and other pests by stinging them with venom secreted from and injected from their first pair of pincer-like legs, called forcipules.

Red queen hypothesis: Does exposure to parasites makes species resilient?

Posted: 20 May 2014 03:46 PM PDT

In a new study, researchers addressed whether a particular prediction of the Red Queen hypothesis was met -— that exposure to parasites increases multiple mating in New Zealand freshwater snails. The conclusion? One researcher speculates that multiple mating could increase genetic diversity among offspring, thereby making them more resistant to the risk of infection from parasites found in nature.

Antipsychotic medications for schizophrenia compared: Similar results

Posted: 20 May 2014 01:30 PM PDT

Among adults with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder, treatment with the newer, more costly antipsychotic paliperidone palmitate, compared with the older antipsychotic haloperidol decanoate, found no significant difference on a measure of effectiveness, according to a recent study. Long-acting injectable antipsychotic medications are prescribed to reduce nonadherence to drug therapy and relapse in people diagnosed with a schizophrenia-spectrum disorder. The relative effectiveness of long-acting injectable versions of second-generation and older antipsychotic medications has not been previously assessed.

Stroke recovery should include exercise prescription, experts say

Posted: 20 May 2014 01:29 PM PDT

Exercise prescriptions could significantly reduce disability and the risk of recurrent stroke in survivors who also may face other barriers such as fatigue and depression. The research suggests that stroke survivors should be prescribed exercise because they experience physical deconditioning and lead inactive lifestyles after stroke. That decreases their ability to perform daily living activities and increases their risk of having another stroke.

Executive function deficits can lead to attentional impairments during alcohol dependence

Posted: 20 May 2014 01:29 PM PDT

Three brain attentional networks -- alerting, orienting, and executive control -- have been studied among alcohol-dependent (AD) individuals. Results indicate that AD individuals have particularly pronounced deficits in executive control. These deficits were strongly correlated with duration of AD habits, number of previous detoxification treatments, and mean alcohol consumption prior to detoxification.

'Supermodel' mouse reveals mechanisms that regulate metabolism

Posted: 20 May 2014 12:29 PM PDT

A lean "Supermodel" mouse type has revealed the potentially critical role played by a largely unknown gene that regulates metabolism, findings that could provide new insight into diseases ranging from diabetes to obesity. The Supermodel mouse's phenotype -- the physical characteristics that result from its gene makeup -- include being very small in size, with an unusual body form caused by abnormal distribution of fat.

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