When adolescents perceive religion as important in their lives, it may lower rates of cigarette smoking, heavy drinking and marijuana use, according to a study that tracked urban adolescents from middle school through high school. The researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that the perceived importance of religion was particularly important for teens who were facing a lot of life stressors. These findings are reported in the March issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).
U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, M.D., sees dentists as equal partners in war on terrorism, he told dental leaders March 27 at a conference on “Dentistry’s Role in Responding to Bioterrorism and Other Catastrophic Events.” The conference was co-sponsored by the American Dental Association and the U.S. Public Health Service. Dr. Carmona, a high school dropout and Army enlistee who later retrieved his education, is the 17th Surgeon General of the USPHS, sworn into office last Aug. 5. He opened the two-day conference with an overview of current threat that invited dentist participation in war on terror.
A neurologist has used an advanced form of brain imaging to identify changes in small regions of the brains of living Parkinson’s disease patients for the first time. These scientists analyzed positron emission tomography (PET) scans of the brains of 41 Parkinson’s patients and 16 normal individuals obtained at the Hammersmith Hospital, part of the Imperial College of Medicine in London, England. The scans focused on two small areas found deep in the brain called the locus coeruleus and raphe, areas that control attention and wakefulness. The analysis found positive evidence of degeneration of nerve cells in these areas.
Using a lab technique called domain insertion, researchers have joined two proteins in a way that creates a molecular “switch.” The result, the researchers say, is a microscopic protein partnership in which one member controls the activity of the other. Similarly coupled proteins may someday be used to produce specialized molecules that deliver lethal drugs only to cancerous cells. They also might be used to set off a warning signal when biological warfare agents are present.
Men who smoke increase their risk for hemorrhagic stroke every time they light up, and smoking more than a pack of cigarettes a day doubles their risk compared to nonsmokers or men who’ve kicked the habit, according to a long-term prospective study reported in today’s rapid access issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.
American children whose genetic roots strongly reach back to Africa are less sensitive to insulin-a factor important in the development of type 2 diabetes-than those whose ancestors hailed heavily from Europe, according to study results released today. Rather than relying on broad categories of race, such as black or white, researchers in diabetes and obesity from the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the University of Alabama at Birmingham analyzed a group of children for 20 key genetic markers found far more often in those of African descent than those of European descent. They found that the more African-origin markers in children’s genetic makeup, the less their bodies responded to insulin-and the more insulin in their blood.
A new non-invasive therapy for liver cancer patients who cannot be helped by surgery or organ transplantation is being evaluated by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine. The Phase I clinical trial at the IU Cancer Center uses extracranial stereotactic radioablation (SRA) as a potential new treatment for hepatocelluar carcinoma, a cancer that originates in the liver, or for liver metastasis from other sites.
Sometimes finding out what doesn?t matter in science is just as important as finding what does. That?s the case for a study that looked at the function of the viral protein, MTase1. Researchers found that the rate of virus replication in tissue culture was not affected when MTase1 was removed. The finding is important as researchers look for what proteins are essential and how they function in cells, potentially providing answers to everything from insect control to the control of human diseases such as smallpox.
Researchers have discovered how to transfer the optical properties of silicon crystal sensors to plastic, an achievement that could lead to the development of flexible, implantable devices capable of monitoring the delivery of drugs within the body, the strains on a weak joint or even the healing of a suture. The discovery is detailed in the March 28 issue of Science by a team that pioneered the development of a number of novel optical sensors from silicon wafers, the raw starting material for computer chips.
A better understanding of the new “smelling” capabilities of human sperm cells may lead to advances in contraception and fertility treatments. A new study identifies a novel odorant receptor on human sperm and shows how activating this receptor causes the sperm to make a beeline for a target. In a study appearing in the 28 March issue of the journal, Science, German and U.S. researchers report that the binding of certain compounds to the new odorant receptor (hOR17-4) found on the surface of sperm cells, triggers a series of physiological events that may result in the directed movement of human sperm. In this chemosensory response, the sperm cells travel toward elevated concentrations of a sperm-attracting substance called “bourgeonal.”
Researchers have completed sequencing the genome of Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, one of the most prevalent bacteria that live in the human intestine. “Now that the draft sequence of the human genome is complete, it’s critical that we study the environmental forces that regulate our gene expression,” says principal investigator Jeffrey I. Gordon. “Humans enjoy mutually beneficial relationships with billions of bacteria that live in our gut. Discovering how these microbes manipulate our biology to benefit themselves and us should provide new insights about the foundations of our health and new therapeutic strategies for preventing or treating various diseases.”
Patchy woods–common in cities and suburbia, and even in rural areas–may have more Lyme disease-carrying ticks, which could increase risk of the disease in these forest remnants, scientists have found. While forest fragments generally have fewer species than continuous habitat does, some species actually fare better in small patches, according to biologist Felicia Keesing of Bard College in Annandale, NY, and her colleagues. Lyme disease incidence is rising in the United States, and is in fact far more common than West Nile fever and other insect-borne diseases. Forest fragmentation could explain the increase.