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For 4-year-olds, interactions with teacher key to gains

Pre-kindergartners who spend much of their classroom day engaged in so-called free-choice play with little input from teachers make smaller gains in early language and math skills than children who receive input from teachers in a range of different...

Bt found to kill parasitic roundworm

Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered that Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt -- a bacterium that produces natural protein insecticides that have been used by organic farmers for five decades -- can also produce similar natural proteins that kill nematodes. The discovery could pave the way for the development of an inexpensive and environmentally safe means of controlling the parasitic roundworms that each year destroy billions of dollars in crops, cause debilitating diseases in farm animals and pets, and now infect a quarter of the world's human population.

Diamonds found to contain evidence of ancient atmosphere

A team of scientists has discovered that diamonds can be natural time capsules, preserving information about the cycling of sulfur between the Earth's crust, atmosphere, and mantle some three billion years ago. "These findings show diamonds are much more than jewels," said Mark Thiemens, Dean of the Division of Physical Sciences at UCSD and a co-author of the paper. "They are valuable crystals through which geologists and atmospheric chemists can peer to gain insights into the earth's atmosphere as it existed billions of years ago. The fact that you can make measurements of the atmosphere some two to three billion years ago by looking at the composition of sulfur in diamonds is remarkable and especially valuable for those studying the ancient earth's geological processes."

Full-body CT Scans May Benefit Only Select Group

A full-body computed tomography (CT) scan may be beneficial to fewer people than previously thought, according to a study presented December 3, 2002 at the 88th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) in Chicago. The results of a second study pointed out the need to establish guidelines and standardized reporting systems for this hotly debated diagnostic procedure.

Human, mouse genomes show more genomic rearrangements than expected

An expert in computational biology at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) estimates that it took many more evolutionary genome rearrangements than previously thought -- both large and small -- to account for differences in the human and mouse genomes. The findings are included in two landmark papers announced today.

Higher Death Rate Seen in ICU Patients Given Diuretics

A substantially higher death rate and inability to recover from kidney failure was documented in a study of 552 critically ill, hospitalized patients who were given diuretics, the most commonly used therapy for kidney failure. Published in the November 27, 2002 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the study suggests that physicians treating patients in acute kidney failure should reassess the use of diuretics, particularly when there is a limited response in terms of increased urine output.

Progesterone Causes Less Bleeding than Most Hormone Replacement Therapies

Excessive bleeding, a troublesome side-effect that causes many women to stop taking hormone replacement therapies (HRT), is less likely with progesterone than with more commonly used synthetic versions. Results from a national clinical trial published in the November issue of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, show that a combination of estrogen and micronized progesterone (MP) causes fewer days and less intense bleeding than the most commonly used combination. Previous studies have shown that unacceptable bleeding is the reason that most women discontinue HRT during the first year of therapy.

Gov’t to establish national schizophrenia brain image database

Brain images from hundreds of people with schizophrenia at 10 research sites nationwide will be shared in a first-of-its-kind research project funded by the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a branch of the National Institutes of Health. The project will create an extensive database of brain information that it is hoped will expand understanding of disabling brain illnesses such as schizophrenia and speed the development of new treatments.

‘Heartbeats’ may keep galaxies churning

Until now, astronomers haven't been able to offer a full explanation for why the Milky Way and other galaxies produce new stars at a relative snail's pace. While they have known for decades that high turbulence keeps huge clouds of hydrogen gas from condensing into stars, they haven't identified all the causes of the galactic perturbations. In a coming report researchers in San Diego say they have discovered that a well-known, but overlooked source of heating?regular outbursts of ultraviolet radiation from clusters of very large, bright stars?may play a significant role in keeping the Milky Way's gas continually stirred up.

Cancer Researchers Develop New Anti-Leukemia Strategy

Cancer researchers in San Diego have developed a 3-step process in which human leukemia cells and neighboring immune-system T cells are manipulated together in the laboratory to create a powerful and specific cancer-killing cocktail. "For reasons that are not yet entirely clear, leukemia cells fail to trigger immune responses," said the study's senior author, Edward D. Ball, M.D., of the Rebecca and John Moores UCSD Cancer Center. "We have developed a method in which we induce the leukemia cell to change its behavior and stimulate the immune system. At the same time, we persuade the immune system to wake up and attack only the leukemia cells." The details of this approach, known as adoptive immunotherapy or cellular therapy, are reported in the October issue of the journal Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation.

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