Body

Railway sleepers made from waste plastic, including recycled bumper scrap and old computer cases could be putting in an appearance on UK railway tracks soon, writes Patrick Walter in Chemistry & Industry, the magazine of the SCI.

Preterm related deaths accounted for more than 10,000 of the nearly 28,000 infant deaths in 2004, according to the NCHS. Birth defects remain the leading cause of infant death, followed by prematurity, according to official reporting systems. But, using this new classification, premature birth would be the most frequent cause of infant death. The traditional methods cannot accurately gauge the true impact of preterm birth on the infant mortality rate, the NCHS said.

Hamilton College researchers have identified molecules that have been shown to be effective in the fight against breast cancer.

The Hamilton researchers used state-of-the-art computational techniques in a novel way to design molecules that they predicted would be effective lead compounds for breast cancer research. Scientists from the Albany Medical College subsequently synthesized the predicted molecules and showed that they were indeed potential anti-breast cancer compounds in animal systems.

A team of Australian, American and French coral reef scientists has achieved a world breakthrough in tracking fish that could revolutionize the sustainable management of coral reefs and help restore threatened fisheries. Working on coral reefs in a marine protected area in Papua New Guinea, the team has pioneered a new way to study fish populations by "tagging" adult fish with a minute trace of a harmless isotope, which they pass on to their offspring.

With funding provided by the Wisconsin Partnership Fund for Health and the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, Jennifer Eddy of UW Health's Eau Claire Family Medicine Clinic is currently conducting the first randomized, double-blind controlled trial of honey for diabetic ulcers. Eddy first successfully used honey therapy a few years ago with a patient who was facing amputation after all medical options had been exhausted.

Adults with recurrent sore throats may benefit from having a tonsillectomy in the short term, but the overall longer term benefit is still unclear, and any benefits have to be balanced against the side effects of the operation, according to this week's BMJ.

A small study of adults from Finland, published on bmj.com last month, showed that tonsillectomy significantly reduced the likelihood of further infection after 90 days, compared with watchful waiting.

The identification of a cluster of essential genes on mouse chromosome 11 as well as similar clusters on the chromosomes of other organisms – including humans – buttresses the argument that there may be rules as to how genes are structured or laid out on chromosomes, said the Baylor College of Medicine senior author of a report that appears online today in the Public Library of Science Genetics, an open-access publication.

Regular as clockwork, the flu arrives every year. And, according to the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population on average will come down with it. About 36,000 people will die.

But among health experts, a bigger concern than the seasonal flu is an outright flu pandemic, such as a human strain of avian flu. And officials say it is not a question of if such a health crisis will come but when. Are we prepared? In a word, say three UCLA researchers, no.

Cellular survival relies crucially on the ability to receive and communicate signals from and to the outside world. A major part of this regulation and communication is performed by proteins within the membrane of a cell. How these proteins work is an important topic in biology, and one which these scientists have excellently clarified by computational techniques.

Imagine taking a vitamin for longevity! Not yet, but a Dartmouth discovery that a cousin of niacin prolongs lifespan in yeast brings the tantalizing possibility a step closer.

The research, reported in the May 4 issue of Cell, shows how a new vitamin extends lifespan in yeast cells, much like calorie restriction does in animals. It could pave the way for developing supplements to benefit humans.