Science News: Week of June 21, 2009

Our weekly compilation of science news for the week of June 21, 2009.

A breath mint made from… coffee?: Tel Aviv University researchers brew a cup to fight bad breath.

A genetic link between anorexia and autism?: Researchers in London say eating disorders are not social in nature but are caused by the same predispositions that lead to autism.

ADHD genes found, known to play roles in neurodevelopment: Missing DNA segments may suggest future drug targets.

To read the study:

Elia, J., Gai, X., Xie, H., Perin, J., Geiger, E., Glessner, J., D’arcy, M., deBerardinis, R., Frackelton, E., Kim, C., Lantieri, F., Muganga, B., Wang, L., Takeda, T., Rappaport, E., Grant, S., Berrettini, W., Devoto, M., Shaikh, T., Hakonarson, H., & White, P. (2009). Rare structural variants found in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are preferentially associated with neurodevelopmental genes Molecular Psychiatry DOI: 10.1038/mp.2009.57

DNA template could explain evolutionary shifts: Rearrangements of all sizes in genomes, genes and exons can result from a glitch in DNA copying that occurs when the process stalls at a critical point and then shifts to a different genetic template, duplicating and even triplicating genes or just shuffling or deleting part of the code within them.

Fish protein link to controlling high blood pressure: Medical scientists at the University of Leicester are investigating how a species of fish from the Pacific Ocean could help provide answers to tackling chronic conditions such as hereditary high blood pressure and kidney disease.

How mitochondria get their membranes bent: Researchers have identified two proteins linked in an antagonistic manner that are relevant for governing inner membrane structure.

To read the study:

Rabl, R., Soubannier, V., Scholz, R., Vogel, F., Mendl, N., Vasiljev-Neumeyer, A., Korner, C., Jagasia, R., Keil, T., Baumeister, W., Cyrklaff, M., Neupert, W., & Reichert, A. (2009). Formation of cristae and crista junctions in mitochondria depends on antagonism between Fcj1 and Su e/g The Journal of Cell Biology, 185 (6), 1047-1063 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.200811099

Huge dinosaur tooth found in Spain: An allosaurid tooth as long as a tall man’s finger has been found in Spain, a researcher said, making it the largest tooth of a carnivorous dinosaur ever found in that country.

Measuring intellectual disability: Researchers from the University of California, Davis have developed a specific and quantitative means of measuring levels of the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) protein (FMRP), which is mutated in fragile X syndrome.

To read the study:

Iwahashi, C., Tassone, F., Hagerman, R., Yasui, D., Parrott, G., Nguyen, D., Mayeur, G., & Hagerman, P. (2009). A Quantitative ELISA Assay for the Fragile X Mental Retardation 1 Protein Journal of Molecular Diagnostics, 11 (4), 281-289 DOI: 10.2353/jmoldx.2009.080118

NASA readies ‘sandbox’ to plot Mars rover’s escape : The agency plans to fill a test bed with simulated Martian soil this week to try out escape maneuvers for the Mars rover Spirit, which has been stuck in a sand trap since early May.

New research discovers link between smoking and brain damage: Researchers, led by Debapriya Ghosh and Dr Anirban Basu from the Indian National Brain Research Center (NBRC), have found that a compound in tobacco provokes white blood cells in the central nervous system to attack healthy cells, leading to severe neurological damage.

To read the study:

Ghosh, D., Mishra, M., Das, S., Kaushik, D., & Basu, A. (2009). Tobacco carcinogen induces microglial activation and subsequent neuronal damage Journal of Neurochemistry DOI: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2009.06203.x

Science takes to the ice: Science is aiming to help ice skaters meet the sport’s physical challenges without sacrificing their health.

Wildlife faces cancer threat: High cancer levels in wildlife should concern humans, says the Wildlife Conservation Society.

To read the study:

McAloose, D., & Newton, A. (2009). Wildlife cancer: a conservation perspective Nature Reviews Cancer, 9 (7), 517-526 DOI: 10.1038/nrc2665