Body

This week the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a division of the World Health Organization (WHO), released updated cancer death projections in a call to action, asking the government to help fund cancer prevention and research initiatives and international tobacco control policies. According to the report, the burden of cancer doubled globally between 1975 and 2000, and cancer is expected to become the leading cause of death worldwide in 2010.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore have discovered a novel gene mutation among the Old Order Amish population that significantly reduces the level of triglycerides in the blood and appears to help prevent cardiovascular disease. The results of the study will be published in the Dec. 12, 2008, issue of the journal Science.

Biologists have known for decades that cells use tiny molecular motors to move chromosomes, mitochondria, and many other organelles within the cell, but no one has been able to understand what "steers" these engines to their destinations. Now, researchers at the University of Rochester have shed new light on how cells accomplish this feat, and the results may eventually lead to new approaches to fighting pathogens and neurological diseases.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Dec. 12, 2008) — Meiosis, the process of halving a germ cell's chromosomes in preparation for egg or sperm production, has been one of the most studied areas of cell biology. But in mammals, the field has been divided over the question of whether meiosis is triggered by a signal within a cell or by a signal coming from the cell's environment.

Now new research from the lab of Whitehead Director David Page reveals that both sets of signals are needed to initiate meiosis.

PITTSBURGH—People said it couldn't be done, but researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) in Pittsburgh demonstrated a molecular chain reaction on a metal surface, a nanoscale process with sizable potential in areas from nanotechnology to developing information storage technology. The researchers report in the Dec. 12 edition of Science that a single electron caused a self-perpetuating chain reaction that rearranged the bonds in 10 consecutive molecules positioned on a gold surface.

Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore and Washington DC (December 11, 2008) As a way to help both the sick and their medical care providers to make the best healthcare decisions possible, a special section of the current November/December 2008 issue of Medical Decision Making examines three current evidenced-based theories that can help to improve assessments, assist in prevention programs, and help with intervention efforts.

Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) have explained how certain key mutations occur in human lymphomas—a process that has, until now, remained a mystery.

The findings of the study, published in the Dec. 12 issue of the journal Cell, will have a significant impact on future study of how human lymphoma occurs.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — With help from newly developed equipment designed and built at Michigan State University, MSU researchers have been able to make first-of-its-kind measurements of several rare nuclei, one of which has been termed a "holy grail" of experimental nuclear physics.

The discoveries, made at MSU's National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory using an isotope purification device, will help to refine theoretical models about how elements are created in the cosmos. Until now, this was beyond the technical reach of nearly all of the world's nuclear science facilities.

People who use weight training to ease their lower back pain are better off than those who choose other forms of exercise such as jogging, according to a University of Alberta study.

The study, done in conjunction with the University of Regina, showed a 60 per cent improvement in pain and function levels for people with chronic backache who took part in a 16-week exercise program of resistance training using dumbbells, barbells and other load-bearing exercise equipment.

Despite appearances, Hawaii's five species of recently extinct songbirds known as honeyeaters bore no close relationship at all to the honeyeaters found in Australia and New Guinea, according to a genetic analysis reported online on December 11th in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication. Rather, similarities in the way the two groups of birds act and look – including their long bills and brush-tipped tongues specially adapted for gathering nectar – arose independently in the two geographical regions.

A new study shows that atrial fibrillation--the most common form of sustained heart arrhythmia--can be caused in an unexpected way. Researchers report in the December 12th issue of the journal Cell, a Cell Press publication, the first evidence that a rare and particularly severe form of the disease stems from a gene involved in shuttling other molecules in and out of the cell nucleus, where the DNA that serves as the blueprint for life is housed.

LA JOLLA, CA, December 9, 2008— Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute have solved one of biology's neatest little tricks: they have discovered how a cell's outer membrane pinches a little pouch from itself to bring molecules outside the cell inside—without making holes that leak fluid from either side of the membrane.

In the cover story of the December 26 issue of the journal Cell, the scientists describe creating a system in which they can watch, in real time under a light microscope, cell membranes bud and then pinch off smaller sack-like "vesicles."

A group of five endemic and recently extinct Hawaiian songbird species were historically classified as "honeyeaters" due to striking similarities to birds of the same name in Australia and neighboring islands in the South Pacific.

A University of Iowa study provides insight into a calcium-sensing enzyme already known to play a role in irregular heartbeats and other critical functions. The researchers showed that the enzyme, calmodulin kinase II (CaM kinase II), contributes to arrhythmia in an extremely rare disease called Timothy syndrome and that inhibiting the enzyme prevents irregular heartbeats.

WASHINGTON --The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture should jointly establish a Nutrient Control Implementation Initiative (NCII) to learn more about the effectiveness of actions meant to improve water quality throughout the Mississippi River basin and into the northern Gulf of Mexico, says a new report from the National Research Council.