Science News

Bird Flu Reemerges in China

China's top health officials have just confirmed the death of a 16-year-old boy from the deadly bird flu virus H5N1, as reported by the Associate Press. The boy became the third victim this month to have died from the disease. These three cases are the first reports of the reemergence of bird flu in China since February of 2007. China's top health officials are urging for immediate awareness and prevention measures against the deadly infection, which has already killed a 27-year- old woman in the Shandong province and a 19-year-old woman in Beijing this month. In addition, there have been 34 other reported cases of infection as well.

DNA extraction may uncover medieval manuscripts' secrets

Centuries have gone by leaving aside an exquisite collection of carefully handwritten books. However, for most of them, the present dating techniques based on the handwriting and dialect of the scribe have not been able to tell us their either their age or origin. After a long time of neglecting the fact that most parchments are made of animal skin, a young researcher has decided to extract and compare their DNA. Timothy Stinson from North Carolina State University presented his first findings at the annual meeting of the Bibliographical Society of America, held last week in New York.

Inhibiting an enzyme enables mice to stay lean on a high fat diet, without exercise

Eating a high-fat diet and staying lean without exercise is something that many people wish for. Now this dream is a reality, if you are, say, a genetically engineered mouse. Researchers at the University of California, Berkley, led by Dr. Hei Sook Sul, identified an enzyme that plays a key role in fat metabolism and when disabled, allowed mice to gorge on a high-fat diet without the consequences of weight-gain. Published in the January 11th issue of Nature Medicine, these findings might be an early step toward finding a treatment for some forms of human obesity.

Hormone-Disrupting Chemical Pollutants Linked to Male Fertility Problems

A new class of chemicals with anti-androgenic properties have been identified in UK river waters, according to a recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. Anti-androgenic chemicals inhibit the normal function of androgens, or male sex hormones that are responsible for male sexual characteristics. The study suggests that these chemicals cause decreased fertility in wildlife, and could have further implications in human reproductive health

Could Female Mice Be the Reason for Increased Fertility in Male Mice?

Have you ever caught yourself singing Bobby Vinton's classic, Mr. Lonely? If so, maybe you should consider some companionship – some female companionship that is. It might have more benefits than one might think, such as improving male fertility. A study performed at the University of Pennsylvania set out to understand the impact female mice had on the production of sperm cells in male mice.

Black Coating on New World Wolves Due to Genetic Mutation in Domestic Canines

A collaboration of scientists led by Gregory S. Barsh, a professor of pediatrics and genetics at the Stanford University School of Medicine, recently determined that the black coating on North American coyotes and wolves originated from a genetic mutation in domesticated dogs. This black coating, found mostly in the species inhabiting in the forests (as opposed to the tundra), signifies a rare moment in evolution where the genes from the domestic species became beneficial to the wild species.

PARK 9 Gene: the Rescue Against Manganese-induced Parkinson's Disease

Assistant Professor Aaron D. Gitler and colleagues, from the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine, claim to have found a gene which can prevent manganese-induced Parkinson's disease as reported in Nature Genetics. The gene called PARK9, localized in the vacuole membrane of a cell, helps to store manganese and thereby prevent its toxicity, Gitler explained.