Science News

Monkey Virus Yields New Insight into Evolution of HIV

An important step in combating infectious diseases like HIV is exploring the origin and evolution of the disease. Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) is the equivalent of HIV for monkeys and chimpanzees. It is believed that HIV arose from SIV, which was then transmitted to humans by contact with chimpanzees. In a study published in PLoS Pathogens, scientists from the University of Arizona in Tucson have found that SIV may have infected the African green monkey population much later than previously thought.

Easy Come Easy Go for Breast Cancer Therapy

On Wednesday, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced a new radiation therapy for early stage breast cancer, designed by oncology group Xoft, Inc. The new treatment, called Axxent® Electronic Brachytherapy System, allows for Medicare patients to receive treatment while delivering minimal radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.

Hope for Allergy Sufferers

Scientists at the Institute of Food Research have identified a molecule that could explain why some people are affected by food allergies while others remain allergy-free. Led by Claudio Nicoletti, the scientists determined that a molecule Interleukin-12 (IL-12) plays a key role in resisting food allergies in mice. Published online last month by the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, their research could eventually lead to a treatment for food allergies.

Glial Cells: More than What Meets the Afferent Neuron of the Eye?

Scientists at the Department of Neuroscience and Center for Neuroscience Research (CNR) at Tufts University School of Medicine recently showed that glial cells of the nervous system may have a more active role in neuronal activity than previously thought. In their research, published in the August 2 edition of Neuron, the scientists found that a specific group of glial cells is required to control Drosophilia circadian behavior, the flies' internal 24-hour clock.

Newly Discovered Planet Helps Explain Our Solar System

Last week, scientists at Penn State University announced the discovery of a new planet orbiting a star ten times larger than our sun. The find will help astronomers determine the evolution of a solar system, resembling our own, as the central star ages and expands, and will be published in the November issue of the journal Astrophysics.

Deep Brain Stimulation Awakens a Man in Minimally Conscious State

Deep brain stimulation (DBS) may help patients with severe brain injuries who are in the minimally conscious state (MCS). This comes after a team of researchers led by Dr. Nicholas Schiff of Cornell University and Joseph T. Giacino of the JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute and the New Jersey Neuroscience Institute, in conjunction with a team from The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, achieved dramatic results with the technique. They reported their work in last week's issue of Nature.

Drink Up! More Evidence for the Power of Green Tea

In exploring the benefits of green tea, researchers at the Arizona Cancer Center determined that chemicals from the drink can increase the level of key detoxification enzymes in humans. Because these enzymes help rid the body of toxins, the increase could explain why green tea seems to play a role in preventing cancer. The research was published in the August issue of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

DNA Vaccine Provides New Hope for Treatment of Multiple Sclerosis

A study, lead by Amit Bar-Or of the Montreal Neurological Institute, investigating a new DNA vaccine could eventually lead to great advancements in treating multiple sclerosis (MS), one of the most common diseases of the central nervous system. This research, to be published in the October 2007 edition of Archives of Neurology, showed that the vaccine known as BHT-3009 both countered some ill effects of MS and improved patients' lives.

Genetic Craving for a Drink or Smoke

Last week, a study was published by researchers at the University of Montreal linking genomic factors to alcohol and tobacco consumption. This study explored the theory that an individual's alcohol and tobacco intake is due to a genetic predisposition rather than the influence of external forces. Researchers taking part in this discovery managed to pinpoint specific chromosomes in human DNA that link a person's desire to consume alcohol or tobacco. The results were published in the study, Genome-wide Scan for Genomic Determinants of Alcohol and Tobacco Use in French Canadian Families.