Latest research news

April 19, 2006

New pathogenic bacterium pinpointed
Scientists have discovered a previously unknown bacterium lurking in human lymph nodes, a finding that suggests there are many more disease-causing bacteria still to be discovered. The bacterium is thought to cause chronic infections in patients with a rare immune disorder called chronic granulomatous disease, and the research team is now investigating whether it might be involved in conditions that are more common, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Nature

Mediterranean diet shown to cut risk of Alzheimer's by 40%
One of the largest studies of the impact of food and drink on mental decline has found that eating a Mediterranean diet cuts the risk of Alzheimer's disease by up to 40 per cent. The diet of southern France, Italy and Spain, rich in olive oil and red wine, is known to protect against heart disease and high blood pressure but this is the first time it has been shown to prevent Alzheimer's disease. Researchers monitored 2,258 healthy, elderly people in New York who were part of a research project into ageing. Their medical and neurological history was assessed, they had standard physical and neurological tests and their cognitive function was measured every 18 months.
The Independent, The Daily Mail

UK scientists attack oil firms' role in huge Arctic project
British scientists are at loggerheads with US colleagues over a controversial plan to work alongside oil companies to hunt for fossil fuel reserves in the Arctic. The US Geological Survey is lining up a project with BP and Statoil to find oil and gas in the Arctic Ocean, under the auspices of a flagship scientific initiative intended to tackle global warming. But the head of the British Antarctic Survey, which coordinates UK activity at the poles, has said he is "very uncomfortable" with the idea and has questioned its ethical and scientific justification.
The Guardian

Genome-in-a-day promised as DNA is put through hoops
It took a decade of hard slog to produce the first, momentous read-out of the human genome, but researchers think they will soon be able to do the job in a day. An instrument capable of reading thousands of DNA fragments per second is being developed by researchers led by Tony Bland of the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge. The concept behind it was unveiled last week at a briefing in London. Reading a person's genome in just a day brings closer the possibility of cheap, personalised sequencing to reveal gene variants that might lead to disease.
New Scientist

Long-term stress 'can lead to depression'
Long-term stress has been shown for the first time to be a direct cause of depression, in a breakthrough that could lead to a new generation of psychiatric drugs. Scientists at Harvard Medical School in the United States discovered that prolonged exposure to a stress hormone called cortisol made mice show signs of anxiety that has been linked to depression. High levels of cortisol have been previously linked to depression, but it was not known whether it was a cause of the condition or a consequence of it.
The Scotsman

Giant dino-predators may have hunted in packs
Giant predatory dinosaurs may have hunted in packs to bring down the biggest plant-eating prey. The evidence comes from the first detailed analysis of the remains of giant predatory dinosaurs uncovered in Patagonia over a span of five years, starting in 1997. The 100-million-year-old bones come from a previously unknown species closely related to Giganotosaurus , a huge and slightly older creature also unearthed in Argentina. The discoverer, Rodolfo Coria of Museo Carmen Funes in Neuquen, Argentina, has named the new species Mapusaurus roseae .
New Scientist

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