Science News: Week of September 20, 2009

Our weekly compilation of science news for the week of September 20, 2009.

Antigen could speed HIV vaccine creation: U.S. scientists say they have created the first antigen that induces protective antibodies capable of blocking strains of the human immunodeficiency virus.

Changing charges make for squid rainbow: Study finds how proteins self assemble to reflect different wavelengths of light.

Fish fend off invading germs with an initial response similar to the one found in people: New similarities identified between the zebrafish and human response to viruses and bacteria suggest that this small fish could help us understand how humans battle infectious disease.

How good are tests for E. coli in streams?: Unexpected research findings show resource managers and researchers may have to rethink how they determine if water will make people sick.

To read the study:

Duris, J., Haack, S., & Fogarty, L. (2009). Gene and Antigen Markers of Shiga-toxin Producing E. coli from Michigan and Indiana River Water: Occurrence and Relation to Recreational Water Quality Criteria Journal of Environmental Quality, 38 (5), 1878-1886 DOI: 10.2134/jeq2008.0225

Icy rings at equinox: Cassini portraits reveal new details of Saturn’s rings.

Linking obesity with leukemia relapses: Fat may offer sanctuary for cancerous cells, a study in mice shows.

To read the study:

Behan, J., Yun, J., Proektor, M., Ehsanipour, E., Arutyunyan, A., Moses, A., Avramis, V., Louie, S., Butturini, A., Heisterkamp, N., & Mittelman, S. (2009). Adipocytes Impair Leukemia Treatment in Mice Cancer Research DOI: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-0800

Plant converts cow manure to electricity: A plant that turns cow manure into electrical power has opened in Washington state, developers said.

Researchers identify new brain pathway for regulating weight and bone mass: Contrary to the prevailing view, the hormone leptin, which is critical for normal food intake and metabolism, appears to regulate bone mass and suppress appetite by acting mainly through serotonin pathways in the brain.

Trimming rabies shots: A new vaccine might achieve protection against the virus with fewer injections, a study in monkeys finds.

To read the study:

Cenna, J., Hunter, M., Tan, G., Papaneri, A., Ribka, E., Schnell, M., Marx, P., & McGettigan, J. (2009). Replication?Deficient Rabies Virus–Based Vaccines Are Safe and Immunogenic in Mice and Nonhuman Primates The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 200 (8), 1251-1260 DOI: 10.1086/605949

UCLA scientists make paralyzed rats walk again after spinal-cord injury: UCLA researchers have discovered that a combination of drugs, electrical stimulation and regular exercise can enable paralyzed rats to walk and even run again while supporting their full weight on a treadmill.