Science News: Week of June 28, 2009

Our weekly compilation of science news for the week of June 28, 2009.

Aerobic activity may keep the brain young: In a UNC study, to be published July 9 in the American Journal of Neuroradiology, physically active elderly people showed healthier cerebral blood vessels than those who are not active.

El Niño variant is linked to hurricanes in Atlantic: The discovery that a periodic warming pattern in the central Pacific Ocean is linked to more frequent hurricanes in the Atlantic may help improve forecasts.

FDA advises lower dosage for popular painkiller: An FDA advisory panel has recommended that the maximum over-the-counter dose of the popular pain reliever acetaminophen, known as Tylenol, be lowered.

New biomarker method could increase the number of diagnostic tests for cancer: A team of researchers has demonstrated that a new method for detecting and quantifying protein biomarkers in body fluids may ultimately make it possible to screen multiple biomarkers in hundreds of patient samples, thus ensuring that only the strongest biomarker candidates will advance down the development pipeline.

New flu vaccine approved — for dogs: A vaccine has been approved for a new form of the flu virus which has affected horses first, then dogs, but no humans so far.

New MRI technique could mean fewer breast biopsies in high-risk women: A University of Wisconsin-Madison biomedical engineer and colleagues have developed a method that, applied in MRI scans of the breast, could spare some women with increased breast cancer risk the pain and stress of having to endure a biopsy of a questionable lump or lesion.

Rheumatoid arthritis drug clears hurdle: A new drug knocks down rheumatoid arthritis symptoms in patients who have failed to benefit from other medications, according to a study released online June 29 in The Lancet.

To read the study:

III trial The Lancet DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60506-7

Schizophrenia risk gets more complex: Large collections of common genetic variants, rather than the harmful actions of just a few key mutations, probably predispose people to schizophrenia, three large genetic studies suggest.

To read the study:

Nature DOI: 10.1038/nature08185

Salamanders don’t regrow limbs from scratch: Tissues in axolotl amputees regenerate themselves by “memory.”

To read the study:

Kragl, M., Knapp, D., Nacu, E., Khattak, S., Maden, M., Epperlein, H., & Tanaka, E. (2009). Cells keep a memory of their tissue origin during axolotl limb regeneration Nature, 460 (7251), 60-65 DOI: 10.1038/nature08152

Study of flower color shows evolution in action: Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have zeroed in on the genes responsible for changing flower color, an area of research that began with Gregor Mendel’s studies of the garden pea in the 1850’s.

The incredible shrinking sheep of Scotland: According to a new study in Science, it seems that at least one animal — the wild sheep of Soay Island — is adapting to climate change.

Tuberculosis: TB Vaccine too dangerous for babies with AIDS virus, study says: A common tuberculosis vaccine is too risky to give to those born infected with the AIDS virus, says a new study published by the World Health Organization.

To read the study:

Hesseling, A. (2009). Disseminated bacille Calmette-Guerin disease in HIV-infected South African infants Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 87 (7), 505-511 DOI: 10.2471/BLT.08.055657