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Science Updates Archive 8

For today's breaking news please see Today's Health and Bioscience News. For more Science Updates please see our Science Updates Archives

Top Ten for 1996 - Every December the journal Science names what it considers the top science story of the year, along with nine runners-up. The envelope please...and the winner is... "New Weapons Against HIV". 12/20/96

Polar Weather Report - A certain jolly old elf and his reindeer may be able to steer around magnetic storms thanks to a new kind of high resolution images of the near-Earth space environment provided by the NASA POLAR scientific satellite. 12/16/96

Buckyballs Battle Bacteria - Buckyballs, those spherical arrangements of carbon atoms that won...the Nobel prize in chemistry have never been observed in the structure of living organisms. Now, however, scientists have learned how to use the curious molecules against a variety of microorganisms that cause disease in humans. 12/15/96

Master Fly Sex Gene - A single gene appears to control virtually all aspects of sexual behavior in male fruit flies, according to a team of US researchers. The research is the first to pinpoint a single gene controlling a complex behavior in adult animals. 12/13/96

Fast E.Coli Test - A new inexpensive diagnostic test will for the first time allow instantaneous detection of the toxic strain of E. coli bacteria responsible for several recent food-poisoning outbreaks. 12/13/96

Diabetes Genes - The discovery of two diabetes-associated genes in an unlikely part of the genome will cause a reconsideration of the genetics and treatment of this disease 12/5/96

Moon Water - When man first walked on the moon 27 years ago not a single molecule of water was found. Now a US satellite has sent back information suggesting they may not have been looking in the right place. 12/03/96

Drugs From Worms - Researchers have found a surprising new source of potential disease-fighting agents in the form of chemical released by nematodes. 11/24/96

Antibiotic Dance - A new atomic view of the interactions between common antibiotics and bacteria they target, should help researchers to better understand antibiotic resistance and to design more effective drugs 11/24/96

Wild Rice Genes - A batch of genes freshly isolated from variety of wild rice greatly increase production of domestic species when inserted into the plants' genome. The discovery provides a possible new way to reduce global hunger. 11/22/96

Deformed Frog Mystery - Cases of deformed frogs reported from all parts of the country might be caused by parasitic worm infection.11/22/96

Oldest Fossil Tools - A 2.33 million- year-old fossil along with primitive stone tools represents the oldest firmly dated association of stone tools with a fossil human ancestor. 11/22/96

Parkinson's Gene Localized - The discovery of a gene associated with Parkinson's disease provides an important new avenue of research into the cause and potential treatment of the debilitating neurological ailment. 11/14/96

MHC Immune Puzzle Solved - The long-awaited description of the three-dimensional structure of the complex between the human T-cell receptor and the antigenic peptide as linked to a major histocompatibility complex molecule should provide new understanding of how specific immunity is achieved and regulated. 11/14/96

Heart Disease/Gene Therapy - Successful results introducing a missing gene into animal and human tissue bodes well for gene therapy prospects for a fatal childhood heart disease. 11/13/96

Just Say NO - A consensus that boosting nitric oxide production might benefit patients with cardiovascular disease has some new support. 11/13/96

Heart Disease: Misguided Inflammation? - Heart attacks might be triggered by misguided elements of the inflammatory response, according to new studies. 11/13/96

Heart Cell Close-up - A close-up look of living heart cells provided by atomic force microscopy is providing new insights into the importance of the the protein fiber network or "skeleton" supporting the cell membranes. 11/13/96

C&E for CVD - Antioxidant vitamins C and E appear to have therapeutic potential in the treatment of cardiovascular disease 11/13/96

Putting Anthrax to Work - Harvard researchers have developed an experimental vaccine utilizing anthrax (Bacillus anthracis) one of the most toxic microorganisms known to man.11/04/96

Genetics and Society - As geneticists zero in on the workings of the human genome and gene therapy enters clinical testing, the public continues to regard the field with a combination of fear and mistrust, according to the president of the American Society of Human Genetics. 11/01/96

Migraine Gene - A new gene discovery should help researchers who are looking for better understanding of the cause of migraine headache, along with better treatments. 11/01/96

Frost on Ganymede - Ganymede, the largest of Jupiter's moons, appears to possess a thin oxygen atmosphere. The finding was announced by the same astronomers who previously discovered oxygen in the atmosphere of a smaller Jovian moon, Europa. .10/28/96

Mad Cow Disease/Human Link Stronger - Sophisticated genetic analyses now indicate that human victims of a recent wave of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) in England did indeed become infected through the consumption of beef.10/23/96

Ribozyme Snapshots - New X-ray crystallography "snapshots" of ribozymes will aid research ranging from the search for the origins of life to the latest genetic engineering efforts. 10/19/96

Frog Prince in the Lab - The development of a "no frills" method for generating transgenic frogs could make Xenopus laevis the prince among lab animals used for studying genetic development.10/8/96

Tropical Ice Age - An analysis of 40,000 years worth of pollen data challenges long-accepted concepts about the climate and vegetation in the Amazon region during the last Ice Age..10/8/96

Nobel to Immunologists - Two pioneering immunologists whose work helped determine how the immune system recognizes foreign invaders have themselves been recognized by a foreigh body, the Nobel Foundation.10/7/96

Green Slime- Beyond Halloween - Glow-in-the-dark green slime, a Halloween staple, is also proving to be a useful research tool, report researchers working with the National Science Foundation.10/19/96

Jack O'Lantern Cancer Killer - The poisonous Jack-O'Lantern mushroom, also known as Omphalotus illudens, is not one you want to put in your Halloween soup. However, a new compound derived from the mushroom's toxin appears to have very potent and specific anticancer activity.10/19/96

Cold Virus A Cancer Killer? - Dramatic therapeutic results against human cancers grown in laboratory mice suggest that mutated versions of a common cold virus might be used to treat various human tumors. 10/19/96

New Gene Turns Aspens Red - As Autumn falls in the West, the foliage of the aspen trees turns a brilliant yellow. Meanwhile, thanks to an unexpected discovery by a genetic engineer, it may be possible to change the color of the wood of this, and possibly other tress, to more commercially appealing shades.9/24/96

Gorilla Diet Antibiotic? - A bacteria-fighting fruit forms part of the regular diet of the mountain gorillas of Uganda. Now researchers are trying to determine if the animals use the fruit therapeutically, a process known as zoopharmacognosy.9/24/96

Meteor Dino Death Link - Geochemical studies of the element iridium are providing new insights into the hypothetical link between meteors and the mass extinctions of prehistory.9/24/96

Oversensitive DNA Test - A new DNA-based test for chlamydia infection is almost too sensitive for its own good, reported researchers from Johns Hopkins at the 36th Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.9/24/96

Fruit Flavored Pesticide - Synthetic versions of the same chemicals that make fresh fruit taste and smell so good might also be useful for protecting and preserving many food plants- while reducing dependence on pesticides.9/24/96

Muscular Dystrophy Advance - The successful delivery of a missing gene into the muscle cells of mice represents a major step forward in the development of a gene-therapy strategy to treat Duchenne and other muscular dystrophies.9/17/96

Brain Tumor Immunotherapy - An experimental cancer vaccine appears to help the immune systems of test animals kill brain tumor cells once considered outside the reach of therapy.9/17/96

Growing Bacterial Threat - An ever increasing rise in the number of cases of bacterial infection resistant to all antibiotics has researchers on the defensive. Resistant organisms, once limited to hospitals, appear to be spreading into the community.9/17/96

Chernobyl: Wildlife Follow-up - Serious long-term genetic consequences are evident in the wildlife near the site of the world's worst nuclear reactor disaster in Chernobyl, Ukraine.9/08/96

Stormy Weather - As many students file back into classrooms in September, another annual cycle also gets underway, hurricane season. In addition to demonstrating the sheer force of nature, hurricanes also employ an ever increasing number of scientific researchers interested in everything from how the storms develop to how they effect local ecosystems and human behavior. 9/05/96

Molecular Sized Wires - Researchers at Cornell University have created the world's smallest wires, only six angstroms in diameter. The next objective will be to find uses for the molecular-sized wires.9/06/96

Tower of (Clean) Power - Huge fiberglass towers could someday help cool cities like Los Angeles while also cleaning up the air and providing electricity.9/05/96

Archaic Genome - The sequencing of the genome of ancient organisms found in inhospitable climates deep in thermal vents under the sea should greatly advance understanding of the evolution of life on Earth.

Galapagos Endangered - Human fascination with one of Darwin's best known examples of evolution, the Galapagos, is contributing to the rapid extinction of many rare species on those islands.

T-Rex No Vulture - Over the years some paleontologists have questioned whether Tyrannosaurus Rex was indeed a fierce predator, suggesting it might have been a mere reptilian hyena living off of carrion. A new study confirms that T-Rex was indeed a mighty chomper easily capable of munching on its fellow dinosaurs.

Water on Europa? - Close on the heels of the discovery of bacterial fossils from Mars comes another compelling suggestion of life in the solar system, the discovery that water may have existed, or might even still exist on Jupiter's moon Europa.

Life On Mars? - Analysis of a small meteorite that landed on Antarctica some 15 million years ago has sparked what may be the greatest scientific discoveries ever, possible evidence of life on Mars.

Proof of Life On Mars? - At least one of the researchers who worked on the meteorite which researchers say may contain signs of microscopic life on Mars says he has no doubts that a crucial link in the chain of evidence is scientifically sound.

Source of Life On Mars? - The identification of two possible sources on Mars for the Martian meteorite ALH84001 could help NASA focus its efforts during upcoming unmanned trips to Mars, report researchers.

Moving Proteins - Proteins vital to life and long thought to be immobilized within the sack-like cell structures of the Golgi apparatus do in fact move freely and rapidly within the structures, report researchers.

DNA on the Assembly Line - The discovery of a method for assembling nanoparticles (particles with a diameter 1 billionth of a meter) into materials using artificial DNA chould make it possible to tailor the optical, electrical, mechanical, and structural properties of new materials much more precisely.

Gene Therapy of Arthritis? - The first clinical study of gene therapy for people with arthritis is now underway at the University of Pittsburgh. While the test is primarily designed to measure the safety of the procedure, researchers should also get some idea of the therapeutic potential for this approach.

Bee Shortage=Food Crisis? - The recent sharp decline in honey bee populations means more than a lack of honey on the store shelves, it could lead to serious consequences for many food crops along with higher prices at the checkout counter.

OLYMPICS '96: Whitewater Engineering - The Ocoee river will make history at the Olympics as the first natural river ever to serve as the site for the whitewater canoe and kayak competition events. But human engineers have also added their own historic contributions to the otherwise natural rapids.

OLYMPICS '96: Sport Drinks Really Do Help - Those sports drinks touted in all the ads really can offer a competive advantage to elite athletes, confirms a new study.

OLYMPICS '96: Training? Use Your Brain - Couchbound wannabees motivated by performances of Olympic champions will benefit from using similar training principles to avoid overtraining and injury.

OLYMPICS '96: New Tests, Newer Drugs - As the world's athletes gather in Atlanta for tests of strength and speed, toxicologists are using more accurate screening methods than ever to find banned substances, but new substances and new strategies continue to create challenges for those charged with keeping the Games fair.

OLYMPICS '96: Food for Thought - Many athletes focus too much on the metaphysical aspects of food and not enough on the physical realities, according to nutrition authority Paul Saltman, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, University of California at San Diego.

OLYMPICS '96: Giving Jumpers A Boost - University of Illinois researchers have developed simple and effective training methods to help give American athletes a jump on the competition.

OLYMPICS '96: Athletes Feel the Heat - The heat will be a major factor in athletic performance in Atlanta. Moreover, some strategies to beat the heat could have the reverse effect, according to new research.

Researchers Hit A Triple with Therapy - Researchers are happy to have hit a triple, in the form of triple therapy regimens for AIDS patients, but have yet to hit the elusive home run of a cure.

New HIV Receptor, New Hope - The identification of a new receptor protein required for HIV infection could open up a new avenue in AIDS therapy research.

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