science + technology news

Study Is Setback for Some RNA-Based Drugs

April 8, 2008

University of Kentucky researchers have found that RNA-interference-activating drugs now being tested in clinical trials do not work by silencing genes but by activating the immune system.

That could mean these drugs are not really precise tools and could have unexpected side effects.

The drugs aim to inactivate a gene contributing to leaky blood vessels in the back of the eye, the hallmark of the severe form of… read more

Study Lends Support to Mad Cow Theory

July 30, 2004

Scientists have made an artificial prion that can, by itself, produce a deadly infectious disease in mice and may help explain the roots of mad cow disease.

The findings are strong evidence for the “protein-only hypothesis,” the controversial idea that a protein, acting alone without the help of DNA or RNA, can cause certain kinds of infectious diseases.

Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Type 2 diabetes and at least… read more

Study links aerobic fitness, thinner gray matter, and better math skills in kids

August 12, 2015

Cortical thickness regions of interest. Starred regions are areas in which higher-fit children showed decreased cortical thickness compared to lower-fit children. (credit: Laura Chaddock-Heyman et al./PLOS ONE)

A new study reveals that 9- and 10-year-old children who are aerobically fit tend to have significantly thinner gray matter than their “lower-fit” peers. Thinning of the outermost layer of brain cells in the cerebrum is associated with better mathematics performance, researchers report in an open-access paper in the journal PLOS ONE.

The study suggests, but does not prove, that cardiorespiratory fitness contributes to gray matter thinning —… read more

Study links diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease

May 1, 2008

Salk Institute researchers have identified a probable molecular basis for the connection between diabetes and a higher risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.

In young mice with diabetes, beta amyloid (found in Alzheimer’s) and elevated blood glucose appeared to interact. This caused an overproduction of free radicals, leading to oxidative damage to the cells lining the brain’s blood vessels.

Diabetic patients have a 30 to 65 percent higher risk… read more

Study links lower vitamin D levels with type 1 diabetes

June 6, 2008

University of California San Diego researchers have found an association between lower sun exposure and higher type 1 diabetes rates in children, which they attribute to vitamin D levels.

The researchers plotted incidence rates by latitude, using worldwide data available through GLOBOCAN (a database of cancer incidence, mortality and prevalence for 175 countries) and found higher rates of type 1 diabetes at the highest north and south latitudes. They… read more

Study Links More Time Spent Sitting to Higher Risk of Death

July 23, 2010

A new study from American Cancer Society researchers finds it’s not just how much physical activity you get, but how much time you spend sitting that can affect your risk of death.

Researchers say time spent sitting was independently associated with total mortality, regardless of physical activity level. They conclude that public health messages should promote both being physically active and reducing time spent sitting. The study appears earlyread more

Study links vitamin D, race and cardiac deaths

January 6, 2010

Vitamin D deficiency may contribute to a higher number of heart and stroke-related deaths among black Americans compared to whites, according to a University of Rochester Medical Center study.

Study locates the source of key brain function

June 1, 2011

Scientists at the University of Southern California have pinned down the region of the brain responsible for a key survival trait: people’s ability to comprehend a scene, even one never previously encountered, in a fraction of a second.

The brain’s ability to understand a whole scene on the fly gives us an enormous edge on an organism that would have to look at objects one… read more

Study matches brain scans with topics of thoughts

September 1, 2011

(Credit: iStockphoto)

Princeton researchers have for the first time matched images of brain activity with categories of words related to the concepts a person is thinking about.

The research may lead to a better understanding of how people consider meaning and context when reading or thinking.

The researchers worked from fMRI images of brain activity. For those scans, nine people were presented with the word and picture of five… read more

Study of protein folds adds to evidence that viruses are alive and ancient

Scientists estimate there are more than a million viral species, but less than 4,900 viruses have been identified and sequenced
October 1, 2015


Viruses are actually living entities that share a long evolutionary history with cells, researchers report in a study that traces viral evolution back to a time when neither viruses nor cells existed in the forms recognized today.

The new findings appear in an open-access paper in the journal Science Advances.

Some scientists have argued that viruses are nonliving entities, bits of DNA and RNA shed by… read more

Study offers new clue on how brain processes visual information

Provides insight into neural mechanisms of attention
July 24, 2012

Schematic diagram of the monkey brain and areas in which recordings were performed. AS, arcuate sulcus; IPS, intraparietal sulcus; PS, principal sulcus; STS, superior temporal sulcus. (Credit: /Nature Neuroscience)

Researchers at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center have discovered an important clue to how the human brain — which is constantly bombarded with millions of pieces of visual information, can filter out what’s unimportant and focus on what’s most useful.

Evidence from an animal study shows that the prefrontal cortex is involved in a previously unknown way.

“Our findings suggest that both the ability to focus attention intentionally… read more

Study pinpoints area in brain linked to smoking addictions

January 26, 2007

An unusual study of people with brain damage, caused in most cases by a stroke, suggests the compulsion to light up might be driven by the same little-studied brain region, the insula, that helps us make sense of hunger pangs, nervous twitches and all sorts of visceral body signals.

Researchers said the findings identify an important new target for research into the biological underpinning of addiction. It might even… read more

Study pinpoints protective mutations for type 2 diabetes

March 5, 2014

In the new study, researchers describe the genetic analysis of 150,000 patients showing that rare mutations in a gene called SLC30A8 reduce risk of type 2 diabetes by 65 percent (credit: Lauren Solomon, Broad Communications)

An international team led by researchers at the Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) has identified mutations in a gene that can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even in people who have risk factors such as obesity and old age.

The results focus the search for developing novel therapeutic strategies for type 2 diabetes; if a drug can be developed that mimics the… read more

Study predicts imminent irreversible planetary collapse

June 11, 2012


Using scientific theories, toy ecosystem modeling and paleontological evidence as a crystal ball, 21 scientists predict we’re on a much worse collision course with Mother Nature than currently thought.

In Approaching a state-shift in Earth’s biosphere, a paper just published in Nature, the authors, whose expertise spans a multitude of disciplines, suggest our planet’s ecosystems are careenng towards an imminent, irreversible collapse.

Earth’s accelerating loss of biodiversity,… read more

Study predicts nanoscience will greatly increase efficiency of next-generation solar cells

August 13, 2010

Incorporating quantum dots and photovoltaics into solar cells could increase the efficiency of present-day solar cells by a very significant amount of 50-100%, while lowering the capital cost of solar cell production, according to an analysis by Arthur Nozik, a researcher at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and professor at the University of Colorado.

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