Latest research news

June 28, 2006

Pacemaker may avert epileptic seizures, say US researchers
Scientists in America have developed a treatment for epilepsy which they say could help millions of people with the condition. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology hope to try out the neurological pacemaker, which detects and treats seizures before they happen, this summer. "Unlike so many other illnesses where we can easily measure what's going on, epilepsy has been difficult to understand," said Professor John Guttag of MIT, who is supervising the project. "It's one of the main reasons there has been so much of a stigma attached to the condition - for centuries epileptics were even thought to be possessed by the devil."
The Guardian

Tag project will track ocean life
A proposal to track a vast range of marine life large and small across the planet with low-cost devices that vary in size from an almond to an AA battery is unveiled today. An international conference in Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada, including British experts, will be told of a proposal to expand two North America-based efforts that follow the movements of species to the Strait of Gibraltar and elsewhere to form an £82 million Ocean Tracking Network. Electronic tags can record water temperatures, salinity and even light conditions encountered at various depths and locations.
The Daily Telegraph

How is dingo urine gathered? Carefully, study says
Australian researchers say they have discovered a new repellent that can help with everything from rehabilitating old mine sites to reducing the amount of roadkill. It's dingo urine. Researchers at Curtin University have been startled by the effectiveness of urine from Australia's wild dogs in scaring off kangaroos which chew through areas of new-growth vegetation. The university's Michael Parsons said the discovery could have important applications in helping to re-establish plant life on old mine sites by repelling kangaroos, unique Australian marsupials which number in the tens of millions.
The Scotsman

Coffee drinking may lower diabetes risk
Consumption of coffee, particularly the decaffeinated variety, is associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, according to a report in the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study is not the first to document this association. However, in previous studies it was unclear if the relationship was true among people of different ages and body weights and if the caffeine component was the ingredient primarily responsible for the anti-diabetes effect.
The Scotsman

Gay men are 'born with big brothers'
A man’s sexual orientation can be determined before he is born, according to research that provides the strongest evidence yet of a biological basis for male homosexuality. Scientists in Canada have discovered that the probability of a man being gay rises significantly according to the number of elder brothers he has, but only when these brothers are true biological siblings. The link between having older brothers and homosexuality has long been established, but the new findings indicate firmly that conditions in the womb before birth, and not the subsequent family environment, are responsible.
The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Guardian

Pesticide exposure raises risk of Parkinson’s
Exposure to pesticides – even at relatively low levels – may increase an individual’s risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 70 per cent, according to a study of more than 140,000 people. Researchers say that the findings strengthen the hypothesis that such chemicals somehow promote the development of the disease. In recent years, experts have identified genetic mutations that apparently predispose people to develop Parkinson’s. But some mystery remains because not everyone with the mutations will get the devastating neurological disorder.
New Scientist

Cellphone radiation makes brain more excitable
Cellphone radiation can make nearby areas of the brain more excitable, according to a study carried out by Italian researchers. The scientists say their study suggests that people with conditions related to brain excitability, such as epilepsy, could be adversely affected by cellphone use. Other experts, however, question whether the radiation generated is powerful enough to have any ill effect. A team led by Paolo Rossini at Fatebenefratelli Hospital in Milan tested the effect of cellphone radiation on brain activity in 15 healthy male volunteers.
New Scientist

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