Earth

LA JOLLA, Calif., April 3, 2009 -- Investigators at Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Burnham) have demonstrated that attacks on the mitochondrial protein Drp1 by the free radical nitric oxide—which causes a chemical reaction called S-nitrosylation—mediates neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer's disease. Prior to this study, the mechanism by which beta-amyloid protein caused synaptic damage to neurons in Alzheimer's disease was unknown. These findings suggest that preventing S-nitrosylation of Drp1 may reduce or even prevent neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's patients.

If Isaac Newton had access to a supercomputer, he'd have had it watch apples fall – and let it figure out the physical matters. But the computer would have needed to run an algorithm, just developed by Cornell researchers, which can derive natural laws from observed data.

Salivary diagnostics has come of age. In a mere six years, research supported by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) has sprung to the forefront of basic, translational, and clinical research.

Special proteins known as prions, which are perhaps best known as the agents of mad cow and other neurodegenerative diseases, can also serve as an important source of beneficial variation in nature, confirms a new study in the April 3rd issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication. After an extensive search through the genome of yeast for proteins with prion-like character, the researchers found two dozen prion-forming proteins, most of which had never been seen before.

Since the days of Charles Darwin, researchers are interested in reconstructing the "Tree of Life", and in understanding the development of animal and plant species during their evolutionary history. In the case of vertebrates, this research has already come quite a long way. But there is still much debate about the relationships between the animal groups that made their apparation very early in evolutionary history, probably in the late Precambrian, some 650 million years ago.

6 out of every 10 university students, regardless their field of study, present any symptom of anxiety when it comes to deal with Mathematics, according to a research work carried out at the University of Granada. In addition, there are significant differences between men and women in this sense, as men suffer less anxiety when it comes to deal with mathematical tasks (47% of men against 62% of women).

New York, NY, April 1, 2009—One of five Medicare beneficiaries discharged from the hospital is readmitted within 30 days, and half of non-surgical patients are readmitted to the hospital without having seen an outpatient doctor in follow-up, according to a Commonwealth Fund-supported study in today's New England Journal of Medicine. All told, unplanned rehospitalizations cost Medicare $17.4 billion in 2004, the study says. The study, "Rehospitalizations Among Patients in the Medicare Fee-for-Service Program," by Stephen Jencks, M.D., M.P.H., Mark V. Williams, M.D., and Eric A.

A couple's sexual orientation determines whether or not they prefer to adopt a boy or a girl. Gay men are more likely to have a gender preference for their adopted child whereas heterosexual men are the least likely. What's more, couples in heterosexual relationships are more likely to prefer girls than people in same-gender relationships, according to Dr. Abbie Goldberg from Clark University in the US. These couples also have very different reasons for their preferences, depending on their sexuality.

A team of astronomers, led by Stefan Kraus and Gerd Weigelt from the Max-Planck-Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) in Bonn, used ESO's Very Large telescope Interferometer (VLTI) to obtain the sharpest ever image of the young double star Theta 1 Ori C in the Orion Trapezium Cluster, the most massive star in the nearest high-mass star-forming region.