Latest research news

October 5, 2005

Australian pair wins Nobel prize for stomach ulcer research
Two Australian scientists were yesterday awarded this year's Nobel prize for physiology and medicine for their "unexpected" discovery that has saved millions of people from the pain of stomach ulcers. Robin Warren, a pathologist from Perth, and Barry Marshall, a senior research fellow at the University of Western Australia, share the prize for their 1982 discovery of a bacterium, helicobacter pylori , which causes stomach inflammations and ulcers. Prior to this discovery, it was generally believed that stress and lifestyle were the chief causes of stomach infections.
The Guardian, New Scientist, The Independent

Satellite set to survey Earth's poles
The first satellite to accurately measure how fast the Earth's polar ice caps are shrinking will launch on 8 October. Unlike previous radar satellites, CryoSat carries twin radar antennae that give it three-dimensional vision, so it can see not only how much of the planet's surface is covered with ice, but also how thick the ice is. The satellite should be able to detect changes in thickness of just a few centimetres, and can even see through thick cloud. The result is the most precise radar system ever sent into space, according to the chief scientist on the project, Duncan Wingham of University College London.
Nature, New Scientist

Giant rats to be used to sniff out TB victims
Rats trained to sniff out landmines are to branch out into diagnosing tuberculosis in HIV patients and catching smugglers bringing drugs or guns across borders. Scientists at a Tanzanian university pioneered the use of giant pouched rats to spot plastic landmines missed by metal detectors far faster than human mine spotters. Now the same training methods will be used to teach the rats to detect TB in samples sent from hospitals, or smuggled guns or drugs from border posts. Early tests at the Apopo Centre, a Belgian research programme at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, suggest that the rats are more accurate and much faster than humans.
The Daily Telegraph

Scientists close to safer testing of unborn babies
The ability to test a pregnant woman's blood to assess the health of her unborn child with high reliability, without risk and much earlier, moves a step closer today. Scientists have found a way to locate the traces of foetal DNA in a mother's blood, allowing the ability to diagnose serious genetic disorders without invasive procedures such as amniocentesis. Researchers have known for more than three decades that a few foetal cells are present in a pregnant woman's blood. Then in 1997 it was found that foetal DNA also circulates.
The Daily Telegraph

Don’t pepper food with all that salt, say health experts
The public has been urged to reject processed food that contains too much salt. A report, published by the Medical Research Council, claims that, despite reductions by the food industry, people are still eating too much salt. The average adult consumes 9.5g a day, but the recommended level is 6g, according to Susan Jebb, head of nutrition and health research at the MRC’s centre in Cambridge.
The Times

Moon discovered orbiting tenth planet
The tenth planet in the solar system has a moon at least a tenth of its size. The discovery, made on 10 September with an adaptive optics system on the Keck II telescope, will allow astronomers to pin down the mass of both objects. The tenth planet is not officially a planet - for now its only official designation is 2003 UB313. By convention, its moon - announced by the International Astronomical Union on Sunday - is designated S/2005 (2003 UB313) 1. But Mike Brown, the Caltech astronomer who revealed 2003 UB313 in July and nicknamed it Xena after the television warrior princess, is calling the moon Gabrielle, after the princess's companion.
New Scientist

It works out less is more when exercising
Researchers at the Health and Exercise Unit of the University of Glamorgan found people can exercise less while still achieving the same results and spending extra hours working out in the gym can be a waste of time. The study found it was unproductive to spend large amounts of time training and the amount of time spent at the gym could be cut by up to two-thirds with the same level of fitness achieved. "It is counter-productive to spend hours at the gym and a shorter work-out can achieve exactly the same results," says researcher Dr Julien Steven Baker. "Muscles can get tired and a maximum is reached - beyond that the sample group doing three sets weren't achieving extra results."
The Scotsman

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