Science News: Week of January 10, 2009

Our weekly compilation of science news for the week of January 10, 2009.

A deadly scorpion provides a safe pesticide: Scorpions deliver a powerful, paralyzing venom – a complex cocktail of poisonous peptides that immobilize animal prey on the spot. Some of the toxins in this cocktail damage only insects, which is why a Tel Aviv University researcher is harnessing them to create a safe and ecologically sound pesticide.

Delivering Stem Cells Improves Repair Of Major Bone Injuries In Rats: A study published this week reinforces the potential value of stem cells in repairing major injuries involving the loss of bone structure.

Excess DNA damage found in cells of patients with Friedreich’s ataxia: Elevated levels of DNA damage have for the first time been found in the cellular mitochondria and nuclei of patients with the inherited, progressive nervous system disease called Friedreich’s ataxia (FRDA).

Gene variant might guard against Alzheimer’s, other dementia: Carrying a variant form of the CETP gene is looking more and more like holding a winning genetic lottery ticket. This version of the gene might protect against Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

Genome sequencing speeds ability to improve soybeans: Purdue University scientists led an effort to sequence the soybean genome, giving researchers a better understanding of the plant’s genes and how to use them to improve its characteristics.

Key piece of puzzle sheds light on function of ribosomes: When ribosomes produce protein in all living cells, they do so through a chemical reaction that happens so fast that scientists have been puzzled. Using large quantum mechanical calculations of the reaction center of the ribosome, researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden can now provide the first detailed picture of the reaction.

Sea slug steals genes for greens, makes chlorophyll like a plant: Animal shown to manufacture a key photosynthetic compound.

Surplus of serotonin receptors may explain failure of antidepressants in some patients: An excess of one type of serotonin receptor in the center of the brain may explain why antidepressants fail to relieve symptoms of depression for 50 percent of patients.