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Activating Genes On Demand

March 8, 2015 - 10:34pm

When it comes to gene expression - the process by which our DNA provides the recipe used to direct the synthesis of proteins and other molecules that we need for development and survival - scientists have so far studied one single gene at a time. A new approach developed by Harvard geneticist George Church, Ph.D., can help uncover how tandem gene circuits dictate life processes, such as the healthy development of tissue or the triggering of a particular disease, and can also be used for directing precision stem cell differentiation for regenerative medicine and growing organ transplants.


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Smoking During Pregnancy Increases Cancer Risk In Daughters

March 8, 2015 - 10:34pm

A new study has found women who smoke when pregnant are putting their daughters at a greater risk of developing ovarian and breast cancer later in life.

The Australian National University (ANU) study, published in Human Reproduction, found mothers who reported smoking most days while pregnant had daughters who had an earlier age of first menstruation, or menarche.

Lead researcher Dr Alison Behie said reaching menarche at an earlier age increases the number of ovulation cycles a woman will have in her life, and puts her at greater risk of developing reproductive cancers possibly due to increased exposure to hormones such as oestrogen.


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Grand Tree Of Life: Clock-like Trend In New Species Emergence And Diversity

March 8, 2015 - 6:12pm

Temple University researchers have assembled the largest and most accurate tree of life calibrated to time, and surprisingly, it reveals that life has been expanding at a constant rate.

"The constant rate of diversification that we have found indicates that the ecological niches of life are not being filled up and saturated," said Temple professor S. Blair Hedges, a member of the research team's study, published in the early online edition of the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution. "This is contrary to the popular alternative model which predicts a slowing down of diversification as niches fill up with species."


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Omega-3 Fatty Acids Reduce Inflammation, Protect Damaged Heart After Heart Attack

March 8, 2015 - 6:12pm

Taking omega-3 fatty acids appeared to lower inflammation and guard against further declines in heart function among recent heart attack survivors already receiving optimal standard care, according to results from a randomized, controlled trial to be presented at the American College of Cardiology's 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego.


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New Method Detects Drug Abuse In Exhaled Breath

March 8, 2015 - 3:41pm
Drug testing is most commonly performed using urine samples and its accuracy has made it the gold standard, but collecting samples is inconvenient so a group of researchers from the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have been working on developing an alternative to urine testing that focuses on exhaled breath.

Professor Olof Beck, lead researcher of the study, and his team have developed the first fully validated and robust screening method for the routine measurement of drugs of abuse in exhaled breath. The procedure involves a simple method of sample collection and preparation, which is followed by a highly sensitive analytical technique known as LC-MS (Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry).
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'Switches' That Shaped The Evolution Of The Human Brain Mapped

March 8, 2015 - 3:26pm

Thousands of genetic "dimmer" switches, regions of DNA known as regulatory elements, were turned up high during human evolution in the developing cerebral cortex, according to new research from the Yale School of Medicine.

Unlike in rhesus monkeys and mice, these switches show increased activity in humans, where they may drive the expression of genes in the cerebral cortex, the region of the brain that is involved in conscious thought and language. This difference may explain why the structure and function of that part of the brain is so unique in humans compared to other mammals.

The research, led by James P. Noonan, Steven K. Reilly, and Jun Yin, is published March 6 in the journal Science.


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Brain Structure Varies With Trust Level

March 8, 2015 - 3:26pm

A recent study shows differences in brain structure according to how trusting people are of others.

The psychologists used two measures to determine the trust levels of 82 study participants. Participants filled out a self-reported questionnaire about their tendency to trust others. They also were shown pictures of faces with neutral facial expressions and asked to evaluate how trustworthy they found each person in the picture. This gave researchers a metric, on a spectrum, of how trusting each participant was of others.

Researchers then took MRI scans of the participants' brains to determine how brain structure is associated with the tendency to be more trusting of others. What they found were differences in two areas of the brain.


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Synthetic Drugs: Legal Doesn't Mean Safe

March 8, 2015 - 3:24pm

In recent years, hundreds of new synthetic recreational drugs have emerged – drugs that neither the general public nor the scientific community know very much about.

Many of these new synthetic drugs – often referred to as “legal highs” – are dangerous and continue to lead to poisonings throughout the US and the rest of the world.

These drugs provide similar highs to other, more well-known drugs, like marijuana and cocaine. Many are still legal and others have only recently become illegal.

So why would people use these potentially harmful new drugs?

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Study Identifies Teens At-risk For Synthetic Marijuana Use

March 8, 2015 - 6:30am

Synthetic cannabinoids ("synthetic marijuana"), with names like Spice, K2, Scooby Doo and hundreds of others, are often sold as a "legal" alternative to marijuana. Often perceived as a safe legal alternative to illicit drug use, synthetic marijuana use was associated with 11,561 reports of poisonings in the United States between January 2009 and April 2012.

Popular among teens, in 2011, synthetic marijuana was used by more than one out of ten (11.4%) high school seniors in the US, making it the most commonly used drug after real marijuana.


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Sad Movies Make You Fat, Watch Big Hero 6 Instead

March 8, 2015 - 4:04am

Sad movies are bad news for diets. A newly reported study from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab showed movie-goers watching tearjerkers ate between 28% and 55% more popcorn both in the lab and in a mall theater during the Thanksgiving holiday.

According to findings published in a JAMA Internal Medicine research letter, movie goers ate 28% more popcorn (125 versus 98 grams) when watching the tragedy Love Story than when watching the comedy Sweet Home Alabama.


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New Studies Fail To Find Cardiovascular Risk With Testosterone Therapy

March 7, 2015 - 9:18pm

Two studies scheduled for presentation at the American College of Cardiology's 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego failed to find a connection between testosterone therapy in men and heart problems, contradicting research that prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate its safety. The new studies include a meta-analysis of data from 29 studies involving more than 120,000 men and an observational study from a Wisconsin health system.


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Antiseptic Prevents Deaths In Newborns

March 7, 2015 - 8:09pm

A low-cost antiseptic used to cleanse the cord after birth could help reduce infant death rates in developing countries by 12%, a systematic review published in The Cochrane Library suggests. Authors of the review found that when chlorhexidine was used on babies born outside of a hospital, it reduces the number of newborn babies who died or suffer from infections.


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Gout Linked To Lower Chances Of Developing Alzheimer's Disease

March 7, 2015 - 6:49pm

Gout appears to have a protective effect for the brain, possibly thanks to uric acid, the chemical in a person's blood that can crystallize, leading to gout, said a team of researchers from north America.

Gout, the most common inflammatory arthritis, is linked to a higher risk of heart and kidney problems and their resulting health issues, but previous studies have theorised that the antioxidant properties of uric acid may protect against the development or progression of neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson's disease (PD).


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Healthy Heart Years Gained By Avoiding Risk Factors Quantified

March 7, 2015 - 6:40pm

Obesity, hypertension and diabetes are known risk factors for heart failure, a chronic condition in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body's needs. For the first time, scientists have quantified the average number of heart failure-free years a person gains by not developing those risk factors by age 45, according to a study scheduled for presentation at the American College of Cardiology's 64th Annual Scientific Session in San Diego.


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Giant Methane Storms Raging On Uranus

March 7, 2015 - 6:00pm

Most of the times we have looked at Uranus, it has seemed to be a relatively calm place. Well, yes its atmosphere is the coldest place in the solar system.

But, when we picture the seventh planet in our solar system invariably the image of a calming blue hazy disc that the spacecraft Voyager 2 took in 1986 comes to mind.

However, all we have previously known about the atmosphere of Uranus has been ’thrown to the wind’ with observations made last year.

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This Dog Can Detect Thyroid Cancer - By Sniffing Human Urine Samples

March 7, 2015 - 4:00pm
A trained scent dog has been found to accurately distinguish between benign and cancerous urine samples of thyroid cancer patients a terrific 88.2 percent of the time, according to a new study.

That canine diagnostic accuracy is only slightly less than that of fine-needle aspiration biopsy, the method generally used first to test thyroid nodules for cancer - but it is noninvasive and inexpensive. 
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GC-1: It's Experimental, It's Untested, And It Could Be The Future Of Weight Loss

March 7, 2015 - 3:37pm
An experimental compound known as GC-1 causes loss of weight and fat in mice in lab tests. The drug speeds up metabolism, or burning off, of fat cells, by activating the receptors for thyroid hormone, which play a role in regulating metabolism - the body's conversion of food into energy. Thyroid hormone receptors also help with adaptive thermogenesis, in which the body converts excess energy (calories and fat) to heat.

Until recently, there was no evidence that human adults had  energy-burning, "good" brown fat. It was only known that animals and human infants did  but now it is known that human adults do have brown fat, but it appears to lose its calorie-burning activity over time.
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Bee Bailout: If Dollars Rule The World, Why Isn't The Ecosystem 'Too Big To Fail'?

March 7, 2015 - 3:24pm

Attempts to put a dollar value on the natural world – so-called “natural capital” or “ecosystem services” – have produced some frankly staggering numbers. A seminal 1997 paper valued the world’s ecosystem services at US$33 trillion (A$42 trillion) a year. This estimate was controversial, given that it dwarfed the entire global market economy, which at the time stood at roughly US$18 trillion a year.


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Statins Increase Risk Of Developing Diabetes By 46 Percent

March 7, 2015 - 3:15pm

New research published in Diabetologia shows that use of statins is associated with a 46% increase in the risk of developing diabetes, even after adjustment for confounding factors. The study is by Professor Markku Laakso, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Eastern Finland and Kuopio University Hospital, Finland, and colleagues.


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50 Percent Of Management Is Women, Why So Few CEOs?

March 7, 2015 - 3:00pm

The number of women in paid employment has risen significantly over the past 40 years. In developed countries especially, there are increasing numbers of women reaching top positions in different fields of work. And new research shows how girls are doing far better than boys educationally across the world.

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