Latest research news

March 17, 2004

Superstrain of TB may be on way to Europe
A superstrain of tuberculosis that is resistant to conventional treatments has emerged in alarming levels in Eastern Europe, raising fears that it will spread with the enlargement of the European Union. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and other parts of the former Soviet Union have among the worst rates of drug-resistant TB in the world, according to the largest survey of the deadly infectious disease.
( The Times )

Astronomers dismiss Nasa's claim to have found a new planet
A new planet has been discovered ­ the first to be found since Pluto in 1930 ­ Nasa, the US space agency, said on Monday night. There is just one problem: most astronomers do not think it is a planet, and they are sure that schoolchildren will continue to learn that there are nine, not ten, planets in the solar system.
( The Independent )
Warning over breast density
Changes in the density of women's breasts have made it harder to pick up cancers, according to findings presented at a breast cancer conference in Hamburg. Dutch researchers said women giving birth later in life, and to fewer children, may be the cause of those in their 50s being increasingly more likely to have "dense" breast tissue.
( The Guardian )

Anti-obesity drug can also treat cancer
A drug used to combat obesity may also be effective in slowing prostate cancer, research has shown. Orlistat, sold by Roche under the brand name Xenical, works by targeting an enzyme that helps to absorb fat in the diet. But it also inhibits another enzyme, fatty acid synthase, which converts dietary carbohydrate to fat, and scientists in the US have found that this enzyme encourages prostatic tumours to grow.
( The Times )
Dozing mice key to sleep disorder
People who suffer from an uncontrollable tendency to fall asleep during the day may be treated by mimicking the action of a protein they lack in their brains. Narcolepsy is a condition in which sufferers suddenly fall asleep, even in the middle of a conversation or a meal. It affects about one in 5,000 people and can be so severe that victims cannot drive or keep a job. Scientists in California have found that the condition can be reversed in mice genetically engineered to suffer it if the chemical orexin is introduced into their brains.
( The Times )
Sumatran tigers face final days on earth
The Sumatran tiger will disappear in a few years unless poaching, trading and the destruction of its forest habitat are halted immediately, a report published today says. According to the wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic and the environmental group WWF, fewer than 500 of the critically endangered species remain in the wild and more than 50 were killed annually in 1998-2002 .
( The Guardian )

Put your feet up in an English GM garden
According to a leading botanist, traditional gardens are about to get a GM makeover. Within a few years, lawns will need mowing once or twice a month, geraniums will survive the harshest winter frosts, roses will bloom longer and watering cans will be banished to the shed along with the shears, hoe and sprinkler. Some scientists believe the benefits to horticulture from genetic modification will be so clear that garden centres will achieve what the biotech industry has so far failed to do - make GM acceptable.
( Daily Telegraph )

Tutankhamun wine mystery is solved
The tomb of King Tutankhamun has given up another secret: the boy king eased his arduous journey to the afterlife with a tipple of red wine, according to a study reported yesterday. Spanish scientists have developed a technique that can determine the colour of wine and used it to study residues from the tomb of King Tut, who became Pharaoh in about 1333 BC and reigned for less than a decade.
( Daily Telegraph )

Pharaohs just sat on their ass
A find at Abydos, 240 miles south of Cairo, shows ancient Egyptian kings used donkeys as a main source of transport, not palanquins borne by servants, Egypt's antiquities chief reported.
( The Guardian )

Guinness research proves that beer bubbles really sink
Bubbles in a pint of Guinness really do sink, Edinburgh University scientists have proved. They have told revellers celebrating St Patrick’s Day tomorrow that the phenomenon occurs in any liquid - it’s just more noticeable in Ireland’s national drink. The researchers used a high-speed digital camera to prove for the first time that the bubbles are dragged to the bottom of the glass.
( The Scotsman )

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