Body

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The health of people who never marry is improving, narrowing the gap with their wedded counterparts, according to new research that suggests the practice of encouraging marriage to promote health may be misguided.

Hui Liu, assistant professor of sociology at Michigan State University and lead researcher on the project, said sociologists since the 1970s have emphasized that marriage benefits health more so for men than for women.

A study of 228 women has revealed genetic variants responsible for body shape. Based on work in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, research published today in the open access journal BMC Genetics identifies natural variation in the human LAMA5 gene as a key determinant of weight.

Scientists have discovered a new species of bacteria in the mouth. The finding could help scientists to understand tooth decay and gum disease and may lead to better treatments, according to research published in the August issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology.

FINDINGS:

UCLA and Intrinsic LifeSciences, a San Diego biotech company, developed the first method to measure the hormone, hepcidin, which regulates the absorption of dietary iron and its distribution in the body. This new blood test will help clinicians manage chronic conditions affecting millions of people worldwide such as anemias and iron overload diseases.

IMPACT:

Non-invasive coronary CT angiography (CTA) is more cost-effective than current tests for diagnosing women with low risk of a heart attack who come to the emergency room with acute chest pain, according to a recent study conducted by researchers at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.

Montreal, August 8, 2008 - Canadian researchers have shown that patients who receive early treatment for Hepatitis C virus (HCV) within the first months following an infection, develop a rapid poly-functional immune response against HCV similar to when infection is erradicted spontaneously, according to a new study published in the Journal of Virology. Therefore, early treatment can restore immune response against HCV and help eliminate the virus rapidly. This new discovery of the mechanisms of viral eradication could contribute to the development of new treatments.

There are few things more irritating than a fly buzzing around the house. South Africans have an unconventional solution to the problem. They hang up a bunch of Roridula gorgonias leaves. Attracted to the shiny adhesive droplets on the leaf's hairs, the hapless pest is soon trapped by the natural flypaper. However, this is not the end of the story. Each R. gorgonias plant is home to a population of Pameridea roridulae (mirid bugs), which dine on the trapped insects. Yet the mirid bugs successfully evade their host's sticky clutches.

Boston, MA -- Barry R. Bloom, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, today expressed "deep concern regarding the detention by Iranian authorities of Dr. Kamiar Alaei, a 2007 Masters of Science graduate of our School, and of his brother, Dr. Arash Alaei. The brothers are Iranian physicians working on the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, an important public health problem in their country."

Many sports teams select their uniforms based on the mascot, city or country they are representing, not on a referee's preference or bias. But a new study has found that choosing the color red for a uniform in competitive sports can actually affect the referee's split-second decision-making ability and even promote a scoring bias.

Eating oily fish once a week may reduce age-related macular degeneration(AMD) which is the major cause of blindness and poor vision in adults inwestern countries and the third cause of global blindness, according toa study published today in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

More than 20 grass-roots standardisation groups, led by scientists at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), have combined forces to form the "Minimum Information about a Biomedical or Biological Investigation" (MIBBI) initiative (www.mibbi.org). Their aim is to harmonise standards for high-throughput biology, and their methodology is described in a Commentary article, published today in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

Australian scientists have identified a way to 'switch off' a molecule, a key player in the molecular processes that trigger breast cancer and certain forms of leukaemia.

The molecule, known as Gab2, operates downstream of a major breast cancer oncogene, HER2, the target of the drug Herceptin.

A research team from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, led by Professor Roger Daly, has found a novel way of blocking signals to and from Gab2, preventing it from fulfilling its role in cell proliferation. The finding is published online today in the EMBO Journal.

As we come close to the Beijing Olympic Games, a review article, http://www.cmaj.ca/cgi/rapidpdf/cmaj.080982, in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) reminds us that the heat and humidity in the Beijing region will present a formidable challenge to all athletes. Moreover, poor quality of air can also affect all athletes, especially those with asthma.

Long a problem in the western U.S., the New Zealand mud snail currently inhabits four of the five Great Lakes and is spreading into rivers and tributaries, according to a Penn State team of researchers. These tiny creatures out-compete native snails and insects, but are not good fish food replacements for the native species.