Insects and other flying animals are somehow able to maintain appropriate flying heights and execute controlled takeoffs and landings despite lacking the advantage of sophisticated instrumentation available to human aviators. By characterizing the behavior of a specially designed flying robot, researchers have now been able to test a theory that helps explain how visual cues are used by insects during flight to ensure appropriate distance from the ground.

Intradiscal biacuplasty is an effective procedure to treat chronic discogenic pain, report researchers at the 23rd annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine in New Orleans. Improvement in pain scores and functional capacity can be observed much earlier with intradiscal biacuplasty than with intradiscal electrothermal therapy suggesting some additional or/and different mechanisms of action. It also appears to be more effective than intradiscal electrothermal therapy producing more than 50% of the pain relief in more than 50% of patients.

Researchers have identified new genetic variations that may be associated with the risk of developing nonfatal venous thrombosis in postmenopausal women, according to a study in the February 7 issue of JAMA.

Using a unique weaving machine of their design, Duke University Medical Center researchers have created a three-dimensional fabric "scaffold" that could greatly improve the ability of physicians to repair damaged joints with the patient's own stem cells.

Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center scientists have found a set of "master switches" that keep adult blood-forming stem cells in their primitive state. Unlocking the switches' code may one day enable scientists to grow new blood cells for transplant into patients with cancer and other bone marrow disorders.

Pity the molecular biologist.

The object of fascination for most is the DNA molecule. But in solution, DNA, the genetic material that hold the detailed instructions for virtually all life, is a twisted knot, looking more like a battered ball of yarn than the famous double helix. To study it, scientists generally are forced to work with collections of molecules floating in solution, and there is no easy way to precisely single out individual molecules for study.

Findings published in Science will accelerate the search for genes involved in human disease. The report provides a first genome-wide view of how the unique composition of genetic variation within each of us leads to unique patterns of gene activity.

In recent years, scientists have discovered that a family of enzymes called sirtuins can dramatically extend life in organisms as diverse as yeast, worms, and flies. They may also be able to control age-associated metabolic disorders, including obesity and type II diabetes.

New research may provide insight as to why, despite progress over the last few decades, women remain underrepresented in math-heavy majors and professions.

In an article published in the January issue of Psychological Science, psychologists Amy Kiefer of the University of California, San Francisco and Denise Sekaquaptewa of the University of Michigan point to an interaction between women's own underlying "implicit" stereotypes and their gender identification as a source for their underperformance and lowered perseverance in mathematical fields.

Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute and the University of Wisconsin have identified two small molecules with promising activity against neurotoxins produced by the Clostridium botulinum, a compound so deadly it has been labeled one of the six highest-risk bioterrorism agents by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Because of the high cost and limited applicability of currently available treatments, the newly identified compounds have the potential to fill the existing therapy gap and to provide protection against a bioterrorism attack using the toxin.