Scientific Earth Conscientious

Scientific progress makes moral progress a necessity; for if man's power is increased, the checks that restrain him from abusing it must be strengthened (Madame de Stael)

Archive for January, 2013

UGA researchers invent new material for warm-white LEDs. Discovery brings hope to the widespread use of LEDs for indoor lighting

Posted by Scientific Earth Conscientious on January 18, 2013

UGA researchers invent new material for warm-white LEDsLight emitting diodes, more commonly called LEDs, are known for their energy efficiency and durability, but the bluish, cold light of current white LEDs has precluded their widespread use for indoor lighting.

Now, University of Georgia scientists have fabricated what is thought to be the world’s first LED that emits a warm white light using a single light emitting material, or phosphor, with a single emitting center for illumination. The material is described in detail in the current edition of the Nature Publishing Group journal “Light: Science and Applications.”

“Right now, white LEDs are mainly used in flashlights and in automotive lamps, but they give off a bluish, cool light that people tend to dislike, especially in indoor lighting,” said senior author Zhengwei Pan, an associate professor in the department of physics in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and in the College of Engineering. “Our material achieves a warm color temperature while at the same time giving highly accurate color rendition, which is something no single-phosphor-converted LED has ever been shown to do.”

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Severity of emphysema predicts mortality

Posted by Scientific Earth Conscientious on January 18, 2013

HRCT scan imaging of a patient with IPF and emphysema. Upper zones of the lungs showing paraseptal emphysema and mild patchy peripheral reticular lesions (A). Lower zones of the lungs showing patchy peripheral reticular and honeycombing lesions (B).

HRCT scan imaging of a patient with IPF and emphysema. Upper zones of the lungs showing paraseptal emphysema and mild patchy peripheral reticular lesions (A). Lower zones of the lungs showing patchy peripheral reticular and honeycombing lesions (B).

Severity of emphysema, as measured by computed tomography (CT), is a strong independent predictor of all-cause, cardiovascular, and respiratory mortality in ever-smokers with or without chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study from researchers in Norway. In patients with severe emphysema, airway wall thickness is also associated with mortality from respiratory causes.

“Ours is the first study to examine the relationship between degree of emphysema and mortality in a community-based sample and between airway wall thickness and mortality,” said lead author Ane Johannessen, PhD, post-doctoral researcher at Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen, Norway. “Given the wide use of chest CT scans around the world, the predictive value of these measures on mortality risk is of substantial clinical importance.”

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Researchers find that simple blood test can help identify trauma patients at greatest risk of death. Study of more than 9,500 patients discovered that some trauma patients are up to 58 times more likely to die than others, regardless of the severity of their original injuries

Posted by Scientific Earth Conscientious on January 18, 2013

Researchers find that simple blood test can help identify trauma patients at greatest risk of deathA simple, inexpensive blood test performed on trauma patients upon admission can help doctors easily identify patients at greatest risk of death, according to a new study by researchers at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City.

The Intermountain Medical Center research study of more than 9,500 patients discovered that some trauma patients are up to 58 times more likely to die than others, regardless of the severity of their original injuries.

Researchers say the study findings provide important insight into the long-term prognosis of trauma patients, something not previously well understood.

“The results were very surprising,” said Sarah Majercik, MD, an Intermountain Medical Center surgeon and trauma researcher, whose team discovered that a tool developed at Intermountain Medical Center, called the Intermountain Risk Score, can predict mortality among trauma patients.

Dr. Majercik will present the findings from the study Friday at the 27th annual Scientific Session of the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma in Phoenix.

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A quantum leap in gene therapy of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Posted by Scientific Earth Conscientious on January 15, 2013

Dongsheng Duan, University of Missouri, and his research team have been able to reduce muscle disease and improve muscle strength in a dystrophic dog.Credit: Christian Basi/University of Missouri

Dongsheng Duan, University of Missouri, and his research team have been able to reduce muscle disease and improve muscle strength in a dystrophic dog.
Credit: Christian Basi/University of Missouri

Usually, results from a new study help scientists inch their way toward an answer whether they are battling a health problem or are on the verge of a technological breakthrough. Once in a while, those results give them a giant leap forward. In a preliminary study in a canine model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), University of Missouri scientists showed exactly such a leap using gene therapy to treat muscular dystrophy. The results of the study will be published in the journal Molecular Therapy on Jan. 15, 2013.

Muscular dystrophy occurs when damaged muscle tissue is replaced with fibrous, bony or fatty tissue and loses function. Duchenne muscular dystrophy is the most common type of muscular dystrophy predominantly affecting boys. Patients with DMD have a gene mutation that disrupts the production of dystrophin, a protein essential for muscle cell survival and function. Absence of dystrophin starts a chain reaction that eventually leads to muscle cell degeneration and death. For years, scientists have been working to find the key to restoring dystrophin, but they have faced many challenges.

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Kaiser Permanente study: Change in PSA levels over time can help predict aggressive prostate cancer

Posted by Scientific Earth Conscientious on January 15, 2013

Kaiser Permanente study Change in PSA levels over time can help predict aggressive prostate cancerMeasurements taken over time of prostate specific antigen, the most commonly used screening test for prostate cancer in men, improve the accuracy of aggressive prostate cancer detection when compared to a single measurement of PSA, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published today in the British Journal of Urology International.

The retrospective study examined the electronic health records of nearly 220,000 men ages 45 and older over a 10-year period who had at least one PSA measurement and no previous diagnosis of prostate cancer. The study found that annual percent changes in PSA more accurately predicted the presence of aggressive prostate cancer when compared to single measurements of PSA alone, but only marginally improved the prediction of prostate cancer overall.

“The use of a single, elevated PSA level to screen for prostate cancer is considered controversial given the questionable benefits of PSA screening on prostate cancer mortality. The screening may also result in unnecessary prostate biopsies and subsequent treatments for localized prostate cancer, as it does not distinguish well between slow-growing and aggressive disease,” said Lauren P. Wallner, PhD, MPH, study lead author and post-doctoral research fellow at Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s Department of Research & Evaluation. “Our study demonstrates that repeated measurements of PSA over time could provide a more accurate – and much needed – detection strategy for aggressive forms of prostate cancer.”

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Borderline personality disorder: The “perfect storm” of emotion dysregulation

Posted by Scientific Earth Conscientious on January 15, 2013

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Abnormal Brain Structures

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) Abnormal Brain Structures

Originally, the label “borderline personality disorder” was applied to patients who were thought to represent a middle ground between patients with neurotic and psychotic disorders. Increasingly, though, this area of research has focused on the heightened emotional reactivity observed in patients carrying this diagnosis, as well as the high rates with which they also meet diagnostic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder and mood disorders.

New research now published in Biological Psychiatry from Dr. Anthony Ruocco at the University of Toronto and his colleagues paints perhaps the sharpest picture we have so far of the patterns of brain activity which may underlie the intense and unstable emotional experiences associated with this diagnosis.

In their report, the investigators describe two critical brain underpinnings of emotion dysregulation in borderline personality disorder: heightened activity in brain circuits involved in the experience of negative emotions and reduced activation of brain circuits that normally suppress negative emotion once it is generated.

To accomplish this, they undertook a meta-analysis of previously published neuroimaging studies to examine dysfunctions underlying negative emotion processing in borderline personality disorder. A thorough literature search identified 11 relevant studies from which they pooled the results to further analyze, providing data on 154 patients with borderline personality disorder and 150 healthy control subjects.

Ruocco commented, “We found compelling evidence pointing to two interconnected neural systems which may subserve symptoms of emotion dysregulation in this disorder: the first, centered on specific limbic structures, which may reflect a heightened subjective perception of the intensity of negative emotions, and the second, comprised primarily of frontal brain regions, which may be inadequately recruited to appropriately regulate emotions.”

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Researchers identify genetic mutation for rare cancer. Gene sequencing program gives researchers new leads to improve cancer treatment

Posted by Scientific Earth Conscientious on January 15, 2013

Dan Robinson, research fellow with the Michigan Center for Translational PathologyRead: going to a new website Identification of recurrent NAB2-STAT6 gene fusions in solitary fibrous tumor by integrative sequencing

Dan Robinson, research fellow with the Michigan Center for Translational Pathology
Read: going to a new website Identification of recurrent NAB2-STAT6 gene fusions in solitary fibrous tumor by integrative sequencing

By looking at the entire DNA from this one patient’s tumor, researchers have found a genetic anomaly that provides an important clue to improving how this cancer is diagnosed and treated.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center sequenced the tumor’s genome through a new program called MI-ONCOSEQ, which is designed to identify genetic mutations in tumors that might be targeted with new therapies being tested in clinical trials.

The sequencing also allows researchers to find new mutations. In this case, an unusual occurrence of two genes – NAB2 and STAT6 – fusing together. This is the first time this gene fusion has been identified.

“In most cases, mutations are identified because we see them happening again and again. Here, we had only one case of this. We knew NAB2-STAT6 was important because integrated sequencing ruled out all the known cancer genes. That allowed us to focus on what had been changed,” says lead study author Dan R. Robinson, research fellow with the going to a new website Michigan Center for Translational Pathology.

Once they found the aberration, the researchers looked at 51 other tumor samples from benign and cancerous solitary fibrous tumors, looking for the NAB2-STAT6 gene fusion. It showed up in every one of the samples. Results are published online in going to a new website Nature Genetics.

“Genetic sequencing is extremely important with rare tumors,” says study co-author going to a new website Scott Schuetze, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School. “Models of rare cancers to study in the laboratory are either not available or very limited. The sequencing helps us to learn more about the disease that we can use to develop better treatments or to help diagnose the cancer in others.”

The NAB2-STAT6 fusion may prove to be a difficult target for therapies, but researchers believe they may be able to attack the growth signaling cycle that leads to this gene fusion.

“Understanding the changes induced in the cell by the NAB2-STAT6 gene fusion will help us to select novel drugs to study in patients with advanced solitary fibrous tumors. Currently this is a disease for which there are no good drug therapies available and patients are in great need of better treatments,” Schuetze says.

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