Software assesses terror threat … to cows

Software developed at the federal Sandia National Laboratories could help farmers keep the nation’s dairy supply safer from bioterrorism. The system asses factors such as dairy location, numbers of buildings, how many cows there are and the types of shelters present. It then provides a risk assessment. Dull, you say? Maybe. But dairy is a multibillion dollar industry in the U.S. and no one wants to eat anthrax-tainted ice cream.

Single-drug epilepsy treatment shows promise

Physicians have identified what they say is a promising new treatment for epilepsy that reduces the number of seizures while helping patients lead more productive lives.
The study is the first to show that an antiepileptic drug typically used in combination with other drugs, might be successful as a standalone. That’s important; single-drug therapies are often more successful because patients find it easier to stay on the course of treatment compared to therapies involving multiple drugs.

Schmoozing good for the brain

Michigan researchers say they’ve found that shooting the bull with friends has measurable benefits for the brain, keeping it sharp in later life. “Most advice for preserving and enhancing mental function emphasizes intellectual activities such as reading, doing crossword puzzles, and learning how to use a computer,” says the lead researcher. “But my research suggests that just getting together and chatting with friends and family may also be effective.”

Common diabetes drug successfully used to treat pituitary tumor

Using a common diabetes drug, researchers in Los Angeles have successfully treated pituitary tumors that cause a potentially life-threatening condition known as Cushing’s syndrome. The most common type of Cushing’s syndrome is caused by prolonged high-level exposure of a hormone called ACTH (adrenocorticotropin), which is secreted in excess by tumors of the pituitary gland, situated at the base of the brain and, which controls growth, metabolism and reproduction. Although the disorder is rare, it affects more women than men by a ratio of 5:1. Symptoms include weight gain with rounding of the face; increased fat in the neck; thinning skin; excess hair growth on the face neck, chest abdomen and thighs; muscle weakness and bone loss (osteoporosis); high blood sugar; diabetes; and high blood pressure.

Study: Coils cut death, disability from brain aneurysms

Brain aneurysms, in which an artery wall balloons out abnormally, can lead to death or disability. Inserting small metal coils into burst aneurysms can decrease by 25 percent the risk of patient death and disability during the first year after the procedure, according to preliminary results of a long-term study published in the The Lancet. The coils are like “miniature slinkies that are folded gently into the aneurysm like a ball of yarn one by one to stop the bleeding,” said one of the researchers, noting that the procedure also can be used to prevent aneurysms from bursting. “With coiling, we can either help fix the damage or prevent it from occurring.” Surgical clipping is currently the most common method of treating brain aneurysms.

Aluminum shows strange behavior; research solves old mystery

Aluminum — one of nature’s best conductors of electricity conductors of electricity — may behave like a ceramic or a semiconductor in certain situations, according to an Ohio State University scientist and his colleagues. Among the findings that appear in the current issue of the journal Science: When it comes to forming tiny structures in computer chip circuits and nanotechnology, aluminum may endure mechanical stress more than 30 percent better than copper, which is normally considered to be the stiffer metal

Non-invasive sensor can detect brainwaves remotely

Now I can see what you really think about meScientists have developed a sensor that can record brainwaves without the need for electrodes to be inserted into the brain or even for them to be placed on the scalp. Conventional electroencephalograms (EEGs) monitor electrical activity in the brain with electrodes placed either on the scalp (involving hair removal and skin abrasion) or inserted directly into the brain with needles. Now a non-invasive form of EEG has been devised by Professor Terry Clark and his colleagues in the Centre for Physical Electronics at the University of Sussex. Instead of measuring charge flow through an electrode (with attendant distortions, in the case of scalp electrodes) the new system measures electric fields remotely, an advance made possible by new developments in sensor technology.

Mild Injury May Render Brain Cells Vulnerable to Immune Attack

A seemingly mild “insult” to the brain could sensitize neurons to attack by immune system proteins that are otherwise protective, researchers have found. The finding could explain why sufferers of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases significantly worsen following such insults. The scientists believe that drugs to selectively inhibit the immune proteins could reduce the rate of neural damage in a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases. Such drugs could also protect other organs against damage from autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, in which the immune system attacks body tissues.

Researchers Discover ‘Doorways’ Into Brain Cells

Come on in, we saved a place for youBrain cell membranes have established “doorways” that accept or reject molecules trying to pass into the cell, researchers have founbd. The discovery fundamentally changes how researchers think about the behavior of neurons. It had been long believed that surface molecules such as receptors are enveloped right where they rest in the fatty membrane, to be drawn into the cell’s interior.

Geneticists Find Location of Major Gene in ADHD; Also Linked to Autism

Researchers in Los Angeles have localized a region on chromosome 16 that is likely to contain a risk gene for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the most prevalent childhood-onset psychiatric disorder. The scientists say their finding suggest that the suspected risk gene may contribute as much as 30 percent of the underlying genetic cause of ADHD and may also be involved in a separate childhood onset disorder, autism.

New strategy may protect brain against stroke, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s

Federal researchers say they’ve developed several drug candidates that show promise in protecting the brain against damage from stroke, with the potential to fight chronic neurodegenerative conditions like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease as well.. The drugs, called p53 inhibitors, attack a key protein involved in nerve cell death and represent a new strategy for preserving brain function following sudden injury or chronic disease.