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Should India's Quacks Be Trained To Deliver Basic Patient Care?

January 22, 2016 - 12:21pm

Should unqualified practitioners be trained to deliver basic patient care to alleviate India's doctor shortage, asks a special report published by The BMJ today?

Unqualified practitioners posing as qualified doctors, and who administer potentially dangerous treatments to patients -- so called quacks -- are numerous throughout India, particularly in rural areas, writes Bangalore journalist Priyanka Pulla.

Although punishment for quackery can be up to seven years in prison, officials from state medical councils say state governments and police aren't taking action to reign in the problem.


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Two Proteins Control The Growth Of The Heart And Its Adaptation To High Blood Pressure

January 22, 2016 - 12:21pm

Researchers at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC) have identified how two proteins control the growth of the heart and its adaptation to high blood pressure (hypertension). Lead investigator Dr. Guadalupe Sabio explains that the results, described in Nature Communications, not only increase our understanding of the mechanisms used by cardiac cells to grow and adapt, but could also help in the design of new strategies to treat heart failure caused by excessive growth of the heart. The study, carried out by Dr. Sabio and CNIC investigator Bárbara Gonzalez-Terán, shows for the first time that two proteins, p38 gamma and p38 delta, control heart growth.


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Gloop From The Deep Sea

January 22, 2016 - 3:08am

This animal has done everything right. It has been around for 300 million years, outlived the dinosaurs and survived the catastrophic meteorite impact, warm phases and glacial periods. Even today, it continues to populate the sea at depths where it eats carrion and hunts prey. The Atlantic hagfish (Myxine glutinosa) is not really attractive at first glance. In fact, most people probably consider it quite disgusting. Nevertheless, the hagfish - or rather its slime - has caught the attention of a group of ETH researchers at the Laboratory of Food Process Engineering of Professor Erich Windhab.


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Chemical Fingerprints Confirm The Saffron Fraud

January 22, 2016 - 3:08am

Saffron from Spain is one of the world's most superior varieties, but the majority of this product which is labelled and exported as such originates in other countries. Scientists from the Czech Republic and Spain confirmed this false labelling after analysing 44 commercial products. By using a new technique based on each type of saffron's unique chemical 'fingerprint', the scientists have proved that over 50% of the samples were fraudulent.

The crimson stigma of the saffron flower (Crocus sativus) is one of the oldest and most expensive spices in the world, particularly those varieties which are internationally recognised for their quality, such as saffron grown in Spain. This has led to the fraudulent labelling of non-Spanish saffron.


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Empathy More Common In Animals Than Thought

January 21, 2016 - 8:40pm

A new study reveals that prairie voles console loved ones who are feeling stressed - and it appears that the infamous "love hormone," oxytocin, is the underlying mechanism. Until now, consolation behavior has only been documented in a few nonhuman species with high levels of sociality and cognition, such as elephants, dolphins and dogs. Prairie voles are particularly social rodents, causing them to be the focus of many studies. This led James Burkett and colleagues to explore their potential for empathy-motivated behaviors. The researchers created an experiment where relatives and known individuals were temporarily isolated from each other, while one was exposed to mild shocks.


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Guidelines For Human Genome Editing

January 21, 2016 - 8:40pm

Human genome editing for both research and therapy is progressing, raising ethical questions among scientists around the world.

On the one hand, technical advances could enable doctors to modify germline genes - those contained in sperm and eggs - to prevent offspring from developing devastating genetic diseases. At the same time, the potential for gene editing to alter human inheritance also alarms many scientists, prompting some to argue that germline editing should be prohibited indefinitely.


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Moms, You Think Babies Are Tough? Wait Until Middle School

January 21, 2016 - 8:40pm

Tempe, Ariz., (Jan. 21, 2016) - Mothers are deeply invested in the well being of their children, so when children go through trying times so do their moms, according to a new study by Arizona State University researchers Suniya Luthar and Lucia Cicolla.


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The Aliens Are Silent Because They're Dead

January 21, 2016 - 4:19pm

Life on other planets would likely be brief and become extinct very quickly, say astrobiologists from The Australian National University (ANU).

In research aiming to understand how life might develop, the scientists realised new life would commonly die out due to runaway heating or cooling on their fledgling planets.

"The universe is probably filled with habitable planets, so many scientists think it should be teeming with aliens," said Dr Aditya Chopra from the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences and lead author on the paper, which is published in Astrobiology.


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Study: Controlling Parents Create Mean College Kids

January 21, 2016 - 4:19pm

College students whose parents lay on the guilt or try to manipulate them may translate feelings of stress into similar mean behavior with their own friends, a new study by a University of Vermont psychologist has found.

Those students' physical response to stress influences the way they will carry out that hostility - either immediately and impulsively or in a cold, calculated way, concluded Jamie Abaied, a UVM assistant professor of psychological science.


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Diagnosing Depression Before It Starts

January 21, 2016 - 4:19pm

CAMBRIDGE, MA - A new brain imaging study from MIT and Harvard Medical School may lead to a screen that could identify children at high risk of developing depression later in life.

In the study, the researchers found distinctive brain differences in children known to be at high risk because of family history of depression. The finding suggests that this type of scan could be used to identify children whose risk was previously unknown, allowing them to undergo treatment before developing depression, says John Gabrieli, the Grover M. Hermann Professor in Health Sciences and Technology and a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT.


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Alcohol Consumption In The West Has A Genetic Component

January 21, 2016 - 12:30pm
How much alcohol you drink and how hard it affects you are rooted in your DNA, specifically, a “lazy” variant of the Alcohol Dehydrogenase 1B (ADH1B) gene, known to regulate the activity of a key group of enzymes.

When we drink, the alcohol rushes into our bloodstream, where the alcohol dehydrogenase enzymes metabolize, or break down, the ethanol into acetaldehyde. If this happens quickly, lots of acetaldehyde accumulates in a short amount of time, which can lead to adverse effects such as flushing, nausea, and headaches. Conversely, if the ethanol is metabolized slowly, the alcohol remains intact in the blood for longer periods, prolonging its more pleasant, euphoric effects.
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Why This New "Planet X" Is No Threat To Earth :).

January 21, 2016 - 7:42am

Just a short post, since I do articles here from time to time to reassure those who worry about collisions with Earth for every new discovery. This new planet X is not even proved to exist yet. But if it is - it orbits way beyond Neptune. It is no more of a threat to us than Neptune was when it was discovered in the nineteenth century. Rather it's fun and exiting, and we could learn new things from it if it exists.

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Eating Less Meat Won't Fix Greenhouse Gas Emissions

January 21, 2016 - 2:32am

Reduced meat consumption might not lower greenhouse gas emissions from one of the world’s biggest beef producing regions, new research has found.

The finding may seem incongruous, as intensive agriculture is responsible for such a large proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions.

According to research by University of Edinburgh, Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) and Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa), reducing beef production in the Brazilian Cerrado could actually increase global greenhouse gas emissions. The findings were published this week in the journal Nature Climate Change.


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New Test Could Predict Dementia Risk During Routine GP Visits

January 21, 2016 - 2:32am

It may be possible to assess the risk of developing dementia by analyzing information gathered during routine visits to the family doctor, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Medicine.


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Building A Health Care Information Economy Based On Patients' Control Of Data

January 20, 2016 - 11:40pm

The time is right for a broad range of stakeholders to push for a health care information economy founded on the basic principle that patients should have control over their data, Boston Children's Hospital informatics researchers say in a Perspective article in The New England Journal of Medicine. The technologies, demand and benefits are there, they note; what remains are the incentives and will to make it happen.


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Biomarker Predicts Which Stage II Colon Cancer Patients May Benefit From Chemotherapy

January 20, 2016 - 11:40pm

NEW YORK, NY (January 20, 2016)--A multicenter research team has identified a biomarker that predicts which stage II colon cancer patients may benefit from chemotherapy after surgery to prevent a recurrence of their disease.

The study was published today in the online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The majority of patients with stage II colon cancer--cancer that has grown into or through the outer layer of the colon but has not spread to lymph nodes or distant organs--are cured by surgery alone. However, about 15 to 20 percent of these patients eventually relapse and die of metastatic disease.


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Can Performance Brands Cause A Placebo Effect?

January 20, 2016 - 10:09pm

From the middle-school child considering the premier brands of soccer shoes, to the college graduate weighing which graduate test prep course to take, a common marketing message from consumer brands is "you will perform better with us."

In a new study, Frank Germann, of the Department of Marketing in the University of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business, and colleagues Aaron Garvey of the University of Kentucky and Lisa Bolton of Penn State University examine if such performance brands can cause a placebo effect.


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Genetics And Environment Impact Familial Depression

January 20, 2016 - 9:46pm

Building on a 30-year, three-generation study of depressed individuals, their children and offspring, a study published in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging provides a better understanding of the familial risk for depression and the role neuroplasticity might have in increasing the risk of developing depression.

The research by scientists at Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Columbia University shows a link between a particular allele for serotonin found at a higher frequency in those at risk of depression because of family history, and those who go on to develop major depressive disorder.


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Planet Nine: Not Pluto, A New Planet Discovered In Our Solar System

January 20, 2016 - 7:42pm

Caltech researchers have found evidence of a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit in the outer solar system. The object, which the researchers have nicknamed Planet Nine, has a mass about 10 times that of Earth and orbits about 20 times farther from the sun on average than does Neptune (which orbits the sun at an average distance of 2.8 billion miles). In fact, it would take this new planet between 10,000 and 20,000 years to make just one full orbit around the sun.

The researchers, Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown, discovered the planet's existence through mathematical modeling and computer simulations but have not yet observed the object directly.


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Zuckerberg Or Buffett -- Is Youth Or Experience More Valuable In The Boardroom?

January 20, 2016 - 7:41pm

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Approximately half of the companies listed with Standard & Poor have adopted policies mandating retirement based on age. A new study from the University of Missouri has found that although these mandatory retirement polices represent an effective way to address underperforming CEOs, accumulated job experience improves performance and counters age-related declines.


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