Science News: Week of September 27, 2009

Our weekly compilation of science news for the week of September 27, 2009.

A step toward better brain implants using conducting polymer nanotubes: Brain implants that can more clearly record signals from surrounding neurons in rats have been created at the University of Michigan. The findings could eventually lead to more effective treatment of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and paralysis.

To read the study:

Abidian, M., Ludwig, K., Marzullo, T., Martin, D., & Kipke, D. (2009). Interfacing Conducting Polymer Nanotubes with the Central Nervous System: Chronic Neural Recording using Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) Nanotubes Advanced Materials, 21 (37), 3764-3770 DOI: 10.1002/adma.200900887

Doctors hope to make artificial face: Doctors in Oregon say they hope to give a woman a new face to replace the one she lost to a shotgun blast when she was 16.

Excreted Tamiflu found in rivers: If birds hosting flu virus are exposed to the waterborne pollutant, they might develop drug-resistant strains, chemists worry.

Gut worms may protect against allergies: British and Vietnamese scientists say they’ve discovered parasitic gut worms, such as hookworms, might help prevent and treat asthma and other allergies.

Mystery solved: Marine microbe is source of rare nutrient: Trichodesmium has important role in nitrogen cycle and carbon sequestration.

Non-TB lung disease increasing in the U.S.: The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases says incidents of non-tuberculosis mycobacteria lung disease are increasing across the nation.

To read the study:

Billinger, M. (2009). Nontuberculous Mycobacteria–associated Lung Disease, United States in Hospitalized Persons, 1998–2005 Emerging Infectious Diseases DOI: 10.3201/eid1510.090196

People in vegetative state can learn: Patients in vegetative or minimally conscious states may not be able to speak for themselves or report that they are aware of their surroundings, but some can learn, according to a new study.

To read the study:

Bekinschtein, T., Shalom, D., Forcato, C., Herrera, M., Coleman, M., Manes, F., & Sigman, M. (2009). Classical conditioning in the vegetative and minimally conscious state Nature Neuroscience, 12 (10), 1343-1349 DOI: 10.1038/nn.2391