Science News: Week of September 6, 2009

Our weekly compilation of science news for the week of September 6, 2009.

After Hubble repair, new images from Space: The pictures and observations from the Hubble telescope were the first since a crew replaced, refurbished and rebuilt its vital components in the spring.

Breakthrough discoveries of Alzheimer’s genes: Fifteen years since the last discovery of its kind, scientists have finally identified a new set of genes that may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease.

Dopamine primes kidneys for a new host: Transplant patients may fare better if brain-dead organ donors receive an infusion of the compound before surgery

To read the study:

JAMA: the journal of the American Medical Association, 302 (10), 1067-75 PMID: 19738091

Dozens of new species found in island crater: A chance discovery by a BBC documentary team on the island of Papua New Guinea reveals dozens of new species, including a housecat-size rat and a frog with fangs.

Endothelin receptor may play role in sickle cell pain: Researchers believe vaso-occlusion is caused by a blockage of the blood vessels that occurs when sickle shaped red cells attempt to pass through the round blood vessels. Research team suggests that a naturally occurring chemical in the body, endothelin may lead to pain.

Eyes see trouble coming before brain notices: Newly discovered eye cells can warn us that an object is coming nearer, and do so without the brain’s help.

To read the study:

Münch, T., da Silveira, R., Siegert, S., Viney, T., Awatramani, G., & Roska, B. (2009). Approach sensitivity in the retina processed by a multifunctional neural circuit Nature Neuroscience DOI: 10.1038/nn.2389

First stem cell drug fails 2 late-stage clinical trials: The failure of Prochymal, from Osiris Therapeutics, is a setback for the use of adult stem cells to fight organ rejection.

New biosensor can detect bacteria instantaneously: A research group has developed a biosensor that can immediately detect very low levels of Salmonella typhi, the bacteria that causes typhoid fever.

To read the study:

Zelada-Guillén, G., Riu, J., Düzgün, A., & Rius, F. (2009). Immediate Detection of Living Bacteria at Ultralow Concentrations Using a Carbon Nanotube Based Potentiometric Aptasensor Angewandte Chemie International Edition DOI: 10.1002/anie.200902090

One coral alga explodes with temperature increase: When Caribbean coral reefs are in hot water, one alga takes advantage of the situation — and possibly comes to the rescue.

Pandemic flu can infect cells deep in the lungs, says new research: Researchers say this may explain why people infected with the pandemic strain of swine-origin H1N1 influenza are more likely to suffer more severe symptoms than those infected with the seasonal strain of H1N1.

To read the study:

Nature Biotechnology, 27 (9), 797-799 DOI: 10.1038/nbt0909-797

Potato famine pathogen packs unusual, sneaky genome: Quick-changing zones may be key to the microbe’s vexing adaptability.

Study spells out spread of brain illness in animals: The infectious agent that leads to chronic wasting disease is spread in the feces of infected animals long before they become ill, new research indicates.