Facts, not Fantasy

Friday, July 17, 2009

Today in the News (17 Jul 09)

Male Sex Chromosome Losing Genes By Rapid Evolution, Study Reveals. Scientists have long suspected that the sex chromosome that only males carry is deteriorating and could disappear entirely within a few million years, but until now, no one has understood the evolutionary processes that control this chromosome's demise. Now, a pair of Penn State scientists has discovered that this sex chromosome, the Y chromosome, has evolved at a much more rapid pace than its partner chromosome, the X chromosome, which both males and females carry. This rapid evolution of the Y chromosome has led to a dramatic loss of genes on the Y chromosome at a rate that, if maintained, eventually could lead to the Y chromosome's complete disappearance. The research team, which includes Associate Professor of Biology Kateryna Makova, the team's leader, and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow Melissa Wilson, will publish its results in the 17 July 2009 issue of the journal PLoS Genetics.

Global Model For The Origin Of Species Independent Of Geographical Isolation
. The tremendous diversity of life continues to puzzle scientists, long after the 200 years since Charles Darwin's birth. However, in recent years, consistent patterns of biodiversity have been identified over space, time organism type and geographical region. Two views of the process of "speciation" -- the evolutionary process by which new biological species arise -- dominates evolutionary theory. The first requires a physical barrier such as a glacier, mountain or body of water to separate organisms enabling groups to diverge until they become separate species. In the second, an environment favors specific characteristics within a species, which encourages divergence as members fill different roles in an ecosystem.

Most people have no immunity to Swine Flu, new research warns. New research into Swine Flu has shown that only those who lived through the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 are likely to have immunity against the virus, contradicting research by the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC). Furthermore, the research, performed by the University of Tokyo's Institute of Medical Science and other groups, showed through animal testing that unlike seasonal flu the Swine Flu virus is capable of reproducing in the lungs, making it a much more virulent infection.

Inviragen in quest for second-gen vaccines. Dan Stinchcomb and his team of researchers at Inviragen are closely watching the worldwide race to develop and manufacture an H1N1 vaccine for the coming influenza season. Inviragen is also a player in the quest to develop a vaccine that could be effective against multiple flu strains, including H1N1 or swine flu and seasonal flu. The Fort Collins company, formed in 2003, has previously taken on dengue fever, the West Nile virus and avian influenza.

Social reasoning, brain growth and autism. People with autism seem to have special difficulty understanding false beliefs, but research may help understand this disorder, Canadians researchers say. The study finds electroencephalogram recording of brain electrical activity linked how preschool children deal with the sometime discrepancy between how people think about the world and the way the world really is to brain development.

Autism medical problem not a physiological one. Autism is a brain development disorder that begins at birth or within the first three years of a child’s life, and typically involves delays and impairment in basic social skills, language skills, and behavior. The illness currently has no cure although less severe cases may be diagnosed as a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) or the neuro–biological disorder: Asperger’s syndrome – both of which are less severe versions of autism. Variable in its clinical presentation, the spectrum of autism – known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASD) – ranges from mild cognitive changes and behaviors to severe emotional withdrawal.

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