Latest research news

June 7, 2006

Key to future stem cell production may lie inside the testicles
British scientists have been granted permission to investigate whether stem cells found deep inside testicles can be used to repair damaged tissues and organs. Researchers led by fertility specialist Robert Winston at the Hammersmith hospital in London will pluck cells from testicular tissue to see if they are as versatile as embryonic stem cells, which can potentially grow into any tissue in the body. If the scientists succeed in harvesting the cells and keeping them alive, they could pave the way for powerful new therapies for conditions as diverse as heart disease, Parkinson's and spinal cord injuries, without the need to destroy human embryos to collect them.
The Guardian

Glaxo HPV vaccine shows promise
An experimental cervical cancer vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline Plc produced immune responses in all women ages 15 to 55 in a clinical study, the first evidence that a cervical cancer vaccine may work in women ages 26 and older, the company said on Monday. The vaccine, called Cervarix, is designed to prevent infection with the human papilloma virus, or HPV, which causes most cervical cancer. Researchers in the Phase 3 trial studied 666 women who received Cervarix injections and found 100 percent of them had developed antibodies to the two HPV types the vaccine targets, Glaxo said in a statement. The antibodies were detected seven months after the first of three doses and remained 12 months after the first shot.
The Scotsman

Why we need a siesta after dinner
The mystery of why we often feel sleepy after eating a big meal may finally have been resolved. Researchers have discovered that high blood glucose levels, similar to those after eating a big meal, can switch off the brain cells that normally keep us awake and alert. The findings make evolutionary sense since sleepiness could be the body’s way of telling us to relax and conserve energy once we have found and eaten our food, says Denis Burdakov of the University of Manchester, UK, who led the research. “It has been known for a while that people and animals can become sleepy and less active after a meal, but the brain signals responsible for this were poorly understood,” he says.
New Scientist

Obese pregnant women 'risk baby's health'
Overweight mothers-to-be are risking the health of their unborn child, scientists have said. They are also risking their own health and putting an extra strain on the National Health Service. However, the scientists stressed that overweight or obese pregnant mothers should not embark on crash dieting. They began their research after being repeatedly contacted by midwives and other maternity unit staff across the North East of England who were concerned about the apparent increase in the number of women who were obese at the start of their pregnancy.
The Daily Mail

Fridge magnet research
Researchers at the University of Cambridge have discovered an inexpensive and non-toxic alloy which gets colder when placed in a magnetic field and claim the material could usher in a new type of refrigerator that would be up to 40 per cent more efficient than current models. The alloy, which is a blend of cobalt, manganese, silicon and germanium, is susceptible to the magnetocaloric effect (MCE), whereby a magnetic field causes certain materials to get warmer (a positive MCE) or cooler (a negative MCE). Although the effect was discovered more than 120 years ago, it is only recently that magnetocaloric materials have been known with the right properties for use in everyday refrigeration.
The Financial Times

Anger disorder is common in US population
Explosive outbursts of uncontrollable rage may affect more people than previously thought, a new study suggests. More than 7 per cent of people in the US have experienced "intermittent explosive disorder" at some point in their lives, says Ronald Kessler of the Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, US, who led the study. This means they will respond to certain situations with inappropriate levels of anger, for example resulting in road rage or irrational, violent acts such as throwing a television out of a window during an argument with a spouse or parent.
New Scientist

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