Παρασκευή, 30 Μαΐου 2014

ScienceDaily: Top News

ScienceDaily: Top News

Powerful tool combs family genomes to find shared variations causing disease

Posted: 29 May 2014 03:27 PM PDT

A powerful tool called pVAAST that combines linkage analysis with case control association has been developed to help researchers and clinicians identify disease-causing mutations in families faster and more precisely than ever before. The researchers describe cases in which pVAAST (the pedigree Variant Annotation, Analysis and Search Tool) identified mutations in two families with separate diseases and a de novo or new variation in a 12-year-old who was the only one in his family to suffer from a mysterious and life threatening intestinal problem.

Glow-in-the-dark tool lets scientists find diseased bats

Posted: 29 May 2014 03:27 PM PDT

Scientists working to understand the devastating bat disease known as white-nose syndrome now have a new, non-lethal tool to identify bats with WNS lesions -- ultraviolet, or UV, light. Millions of bats have died from this rapidly spreading disease and this new method allows for accurate detection of the disease without killing any more bats.

New tools help protect world's threatened species

Posted: 29 May 2014 03:27 PM PDT

New tools to collect and share information could help stem the loss of the world's threatened species, according to a paper. The study -- by an international team of scientists -- reviewed recent studies in conservation science, looking at rates of species extinction, distribution and protection to determine where there were crucial gaps in knowledge, where threats to species are expanding and how best to tailor protection efforts to be successful.

Smells like deceit: A record number of species use the same odor to exploit each other

Posted: 29 May 2014 03:26 PM PDT

Ecologists discover a fascinating story of hijacked signals, deceit, stowaways, and eavesdropping in the natural world. It involves the citrus tree, an infectious plant disease called huánglóngbìng, a sap-sucking plant louse, and a predatory wasp -- all communicating with each other through a single odor.

New coronavirus inhibitor exhibits antiviral activity by blocking viral hijacking of host

Posted: 29 May 2014 03:26 PM PDT

Since the SARS epidemic in 2003, coronaviruses have been on the watch list for emerging pathogens, and the ongoing outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) confirmed that they represent a serious threat. No specific drugs exist against coronaviruses so far, but a new article introduces a new inhibitor of coronaviruses and implicates a specific process in the life cycle of these viruses that it blocks.

Pleasant smells increase facial attractiveness

Posted: 29 May 2014 03:16 PM PDT

Women's faces are rated as more attractive in the presence of pleasant odors, according to new research. In contrast, odor pleasantness had less effect on age evaluation. The findings suggest that perfumes and scented products may, to some extent, alter how people perceive one another.

Domestication of dogs may explain mammoth kill sites and success of early modern humans

Posted: 29 May 2014 12:41 PM PDT

A new analysis of European archaeological sites containing large numbers of dead mammoths and dwellings built with mammoth bones has led to a new interpretation of these sites -- that their abrupt appearance may have been due to early modern humans working with the earliest domesticated dogs to kill the now-extinct mammoth.

Neural transplant reduces absence epilepsy seizures in mice

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:25 AM PDT

The areas of the cerebral cortex that are affected in mice with absence epilepsy have been pinpointed by research that also shows that transplanting embryonic neural cells into these areas can alleviate symptoms of the disease by reducing seizure activity. Absence epilepsy primarily affects children. These seizures differ from "clonic-tonic" seizures in that they don't cause muscle spasms; rather, patients "zone out" or stare into space for a period of time, with no memory of the episode afterward.

Tool to better screen, treat aneurysm patients

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:25 AM PDT

New research may help physicians better understand the chronological development of a brain aneurysm. Simplified, a cerebral aneurysm is a blood-filled bulge formed in response to a weakness in the wall at branching brain arteries. If the bulge bursts, the person can undergo a brain hemorrhage, which is a subtype of stroke and a life-threatening condition.

New approach to HIV vaccine explored by scientists

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:25 AM PDT

A promising new approach to a live attenuated HIV-1 vaccine is being pursued by scientists, using a genetically modified form of the HIV virus. The new method involves manipulating the virus' codons -- a sequence of three nucleotides that form genetic code -- to rely on an unnatural amino acid for proper protein translation, which allows it to replicate. Because this amino acid is foreign to the human body, the virus cannot continue to reproduce, researchers report.

NASA missions let scientists see moon's dancing tide from orbit

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:25 AM PDT

Scientists combined observations from two NASA missions to check out the moon's lopsided shape and how it changes under Earth's sway -- a response not seen from orbit before. The lopsided shape of the moon is one result of its gravitational tug-of-war with Earth. The mutual pulling of the two bodies is powerful enough to stretch them both, so they wind up shaped a little like two eggs with their ends pointing toward one another. On Earth, the tension has an especially strong effect on the oceans, because water moves so freely, and is the driving force behind tides.

Amber discovery indicates Lyme disease is older than human race

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:25 AM PDT

Lyme disease is a stealthy, often misdiagnosed disease that was only recognized about 40 years ago, but new discoveries of ticks fossilized in amber show that the bacteria which cause it may have been lurking around for 15 million years -- long before any humans walked on Earth. The findings were made by researchers who studied 15-20 million-year-old amber from the Dominican Republic that offer the oldest fossil evidence ever found of Borrelia, a type of spirochete-like bacteria that to this day causes Lyme disease.

Huge tooth fossil shows marine predator had plenty to chew on

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:24 AM PDT

A fossilized tooth belonging to a fearsome marine predator has been recorded as the largest of its kind found in the UK, following its recent discovery. A team of palaeontologists have verified the tooth, which was found near Chesil Beach in Dorset, as belonging to a prehistoric relative of modern crocodiles known as Dakosaurus maximus. The tooth, which has a broken tip, is approximately 5.5 cm long.

Improved identification of war wound infections promises more successful treatment

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:24 AM PDT

War wounds that heal successfully frequently contain different microbial species from those that heal poorly, according to a paper. These and other findings have important implications for improving wound healing, says the first author. The investigators examined 124 wound samples from 61 wounds in 44 patients injured in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. They used a microbial detection microarray that contains DNA probes capable of detecting any microorganisms that have previously been sequenced.

'Free choice' in primates altered through brain stimulation

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:24 AM PDT

When electrical pulses are applied to the ventral tegmental area of their brain, macaques presented with two images change their preference from one image to the other. The study is the first to confirm a causal link between activity in the ventral tegmental area and choice behavior in primates.

There's more than one way to silence a cricket: Co-evolution of crickets who lost their chirp

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:24 AM PDT

For most of us, crickets are probably most recognizable by the distinctive chirping sounds males make with their wings to lure females. But some crickets living on the islands of Hawaii have effectively lost their instruments and don't make their music anymore. Now researchers report that crickets living on different islands quieted their wings in different ways at almost the same time.

How breast cancer 'expresses itself'

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:24 AM PDT

'Gene regulation,' the process that shuts off certain parts of a cell's DNA code or blueprint in healthy breast tissue cells, may also play a critical role in the development of breast cancer, scientists have found. Their research proves a significant link between breast-specific genes and the pathology of cancer.

Keloid development: New genes identified may unlock its mystery

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:24 AM PDT

Previously unidentified genes that may be responsible for keloid scarring have been uncovered by researchers, a discovery that could unlock the mystery of keloid development and provide insight for more effective treatment. Keloid scars form raised, firm skin areas that may become itchy, tender, and painful. Unlike regular scars, keloids do not subside over time and often extend outside the wound site. Keloids most often occur on the chest, shoulders, earlobes (following ear piercing), upper arms and cheeks.

Unexpected water explains surface chemistry of nanocrystals

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Researchers have found unexpected traces of water in semiconducting nanocrystals that helps answer long-standing questions about their surface chemistry. The water as a source of small ions for the surface of colloidal lead sulfide (PbS) nanoparticles allowed the team to explain just how the surface of these important particles are passivated, meaning how they achieve an overall balance of positive and negative ions. This has been a big question for some fifteen years, and the answer washes up in hydroxyl groups from water that had been thought not to be there.

Common semiconductors stabilized for solar fuels generation

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Researchers have devised a method for protecting technologically important semiconductors from corrosion even as the materials continue to absorb light efficiently. The finding paves the way for the use of these materials in solar-fuel generators.

Unprecedented detail of intact neuronal receptor offers blueprint for drug developers

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Biologists have succeeded in obtaining an unprecedented view of a type of brain-cell receptor that is implicated in a range of neurological illnesses, including Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, depression, schizophrenia, autism, and ischemic injuries associated with stroke. The team's atomic-level picture of the intact NMDA receptor should serve as template and guide for the design of therapeutic compounds.

New technologies making it easier to protect threatened species

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:23 AM PDT

Online databases, smart phone apps, crowd sourcing and new hardware devices are making it easier to collect data on species. When combined with data on land-use change and the species observations of millions of amateur citizen scientists, technology is increasingly allowing scientists and policymakers to more closely monitor the planet's biodiversity and threats to it.

Engineering a better way to rebuild bone inside the body

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:22 AM PDT

Traumatic bone injuries such as blast wounds are often so severe that the body can't effectively repair the damage on its own. To aid the recovery, clinicians inject patients with proteins called growth factors. The treatment is costly, requiring large amounts of expensive growth factors. The growth factors also disperse, creating unwanted bone formation in the area around the injury. A new technology under development could one day provide more efficient delivery of the bone regenerating growth factors with greater accuracy and at a lower cost.

Toward smarter underwater drones

Posted: 29 May 2014 11:20 AM PDT

With better brains, underwater drones would spend less time searching and more time finding their target, including airliners lost at the bottom of the ocean. If one scientist has her way, the next generation of autonomous underwater vehicles will have a much better chance of getting it right.

Melanoma of the eye caused by two gene mutations

Posted: 29 May 2014 10:20 AM PDT

A therapeutic target for treating the most common form of eye cancer in adults has been identified by researchers. They have also, in experiments with mice, been able to slow eye tumor growth with an existing FDA-approved drug. The researchers looked specifically at uveal melanoma. Uveal collectively refers to parts of the eye, notably the iris, that contain pigment cells. As with melanoma skin cancer, uveal melanoma is a malignancy of these melanin-producing cells.

Lost in translation? Not when it comes to control of gene expression during Drosophila development

Posted: 29 May 2014 10:20 AM PDT

In any animal's lifecycle, the shift from egg cell to embryo is a critical juncture that requires a remarkably dynamic process that ultimately transforms a differentiated, committed oocyte to a totipotent cell capable of giving rise to any cell type in the body. Scientists have now conducted perhaps the most comprehensive look yet at changes in translation and protein synthesis during a developmental change, using the oocyte-to-embryo transition in Drosophila as a model system.

Four-billion-year-old rocks yield clues about Earth's earliest crust

Posted: 29 May 2014 08:20 AM PDT

It looks like just another rock, but what researchers are examining is a four-billion-year-old chunk of an ancient protocontinent that holds clues about how Earth's first continents formed. Continents today form when one tectonic plate shifts beneath another into Earth's mantle and cause magma to rise to the surface, a process called subduction. It's unclear whether plate tectonics existed 2.5 billion to four billion years ago or if another process was at play.

Scientists Pinpoint the Creeping Nanocrystals Behind Lithium-Ion Battery Degradation

Posted: 29 May 2014 08:12 AM PDT

Batteries do not age gracefully. The lithium ions that power portable electronics cause lingering structural damage with each cycle of charge and discharge, making devices from smartphones to tablets tick toward zero faster and faster over time. To stop or slow this steady degradation, scientists must track and tweak the imperfect chemistry of lithium-ion batteries with nanoscale precision. Scientists have mapped the nanoscale dynamics of lithium-ion charge cycles and discovered never-before-seen evolution and degradation patterns in two key battery materials.

New laser sensing technology for self-driving cars, smartphones and 3-D video games

Posted: 29 May 2014 07:07 AM PDT

A new twist on 3-D imaging technology could one day enable your self-driving car to spot a child in the street half a block away, let you answer your Smartphone from across the room with a wave of your hand, or play "virtual tennis" on your driveway.

Heavy airplane traffic potentially a major contributor to pollution in Los Angeles

Posted: 29 May 2014 07:07 AM PDT

Congested freeways crawling with cars and trucks are notorious for causing smog in Los Angeles, but a new study finds that heavy airplane traffic can contribute even more pollution, and the effect continues for up to 10 miles away from the airport. The report has serious implications for the health of residents near Los Angeles International Airport and other airports around the world.

'Listening' helps scientists track bats without exposing animals to disease

Posted: 29 May 2014 07:07 AM PDT

A sampling technique known as acoustic monitoring -- listening to bats in their environment -- has been improved, thanks to new research. The noninvasive tracking technique avoids transmission of diseases that could occur with handling bats. Acoustic monitoring -- listening to bats in their environment as they commute between feeding areas using echolocation to "see" their surroundings and find insect prey -- has become commonplace over the last decade.

Rare skin cancer on palms, soles more likely to come back compared to other melanomas

Posted: 29 May 2014 07:07 AM PDT

A rare type of melanoma that disproportionately attacks the palms and soles and under the nails of Asians, African-Americans, and Hispanics, who all generally have darker skins, and is not caused by sun exposure, is almost twice as likely to recur than other similar types of skin cancer, according to results of a study in 244 patients.

Stress degrades sperm quality, study shows

Posted: 29 May 2014 07:07 AM PDT

Psychological stress is harmful to sperm and semen quality, affecting its concentration, appearance, and ability to fertilize an egg, according to a study. It is not fully understood how stress affects semen quality. It may trigger the release of steroid hormones called glucocorticoids, which in turn could blunt levels of testosterone and sperm production. Another possibility is oxidative stress, which has been shown to affect semen quality and fertility.

Creatures of habit: Disorders of compulsivity share common pattern, brain structure

Posted: 29 May 2014 07:07 AM PDT

People affected by binge eating, substance abuse and obsessive compulsive disorder all share a common pattern of decision making and similarities in brain structure, according to new research. "Compulsive disorders can have a profoundly disabling effect of individuals. Now that we know what is going wrong with their decision making, we can look at developing treatments, for example using psychotherapy focused on forward planning or interventions such as medication which target the shift towards habitual choices," authors said.

Spruce up your selfie: A new algorithm could transfer acclaimed photographers' signature styles to cellphone photos

Posted: 29 May 2014 06:28 AM PDT

Celebrated portrait photographers like Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, and Martin Schoeller made their reputations with distinctive visual styles that sometimes required the careful control of lighting possible only in the studio. Now researchers have developed an algorithm that could allow you to transfer those distinctive styles to your own cellphone photos.

Zinc deficiency before conception disrupts fetal development

Posted: 29 May 2014 06:28 AM PDT

Female mice deprived of dietary zinc for a relatively short time before conception experienced fertility and pregnancy problems more than mice that ingested zinc during the same times, according to researchers. Zinc deficiency caused a high incidence of pregnancy loss, and embryos from the zinc-deficient diet group were an average of 38 percent smaller than those from the control group. Preconception zinc deficiency also caused approximately half of embryos to exhibit delayed or aberrant development.

Delving into the spread of marine life: Understanding deep-sea limpets

Posted: 29 May 2014 06:26 AM PDT

Deep-sea limpets are conches with shells about 1 cm long. They have been confirmed to live in the long, narrow seabed known as the Okinawa Trough, located at an average of depth of 1000 meters and northwest of the Nansei and Ryukyu Islands. In a new article, three major findings are reported: new limpet habitats in the Okinawa Trough, the process of limpet population formation surmised from their shell length, and limpet reproduction patterns.

Circumcision linked to reduced risk of prostate cancer in some men

Posted: 29 May 2014 06:26 AM PDT

Circumcision is performed for various reasons, including those that are based on religion, aesthetics, or health. New research indicates that the procedure may help prevent prostate cancer in some men. The findings add to a growing list of advantages to circumcision Besides advanced age, African ancestry, and family history of prostate cancer, no other risk factors for prostate cancer have been definitively established. This has fueled the search for modifiable risk factors.

Clues to stillbirths may be found in marmoset monkeys

Posted: 29 May 2014 06:22 AM PDT

The marmoset monkey may offer clues to reducing stillbirths in human mothers, according to new research. The marmoset, a squirrel-sized monkey indigenous to South America, reaches sexual maturity by 15 months of age. They have multiple births, usually twins and triplets. Adult females who were born into triplet litters get pregnant just as often as twin females, but they lose three times as many fetuses. Nearly half of the losses occur during labor and delivery.

Diesel bus alternative: Electric school buses that power grid could save school districts millions

Posted: 29 May 2014 06:22 AM PDT

Electric school buses that feed the power grid could save school districts millions of dollars — and reduce children's exposure to diesel fumes — based on recent research. A new study examines the cost-effectiveness of electric school buses that discharge their batteries into the electrical grid when not in use and get paid for the service. The technology, called vehicle-to-grid (V2G), was pioneered at UD and is being tested with electric cars in a pilot project.

Most physicians would forgo aggressive treatment for themselves at the end of life

Posted: 28 May 2014 03:02 PM PDT

Most physicians would choose a do-not-resuscitate or 'no code' status for themselves when they are terminally ill, yet they tend to pursue aggressive, life-prolonging treatment for patients facing the same prognosis, according to a study. It's a disconnect that needs to be better understood, said the lead author of the study. "Why do we physicians choose to pursue such aggressive treatment for our patients when we wouldn't choose it for ourselves?"

Cure for dry eye could be a blink away

Posted: 28 May 2014 12:06 PM PDT

The basic motion of tear film traversing the eye has been the focus of recent study. Dry eye -- a burning, gritty condition that can impair vision and damage the cornea -- is a common condition without a cure. Many causes, including the aging process, contribute to discomfort resulting from either a lack of tears or tears that evaporate too quickly. A treatment for dry eye could some day result from computer simulations that map the way tears move across the surface of the eye.

Value of epigenetic test for markers of prostate cancer affirmed in study

Posted: 28 May 2014 11:58 AM PDT

A commercial test designed to rule out the presence of genetic biomarkers of prostate cancer may be accurate enough to exclude the need for repeat prostate biopsies in many — if not most — men, a new article reports. "Often, one biopsy is not enough to definitively rule out prostate cancer," says a study researcher. "Our research finds that by looking for the presence or absence of cancer in a different way, we may be able to offer many men peace of mind without putting them through the pain, bleeding and risk of infection that can come with a repeat biopsy."

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