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Monday, August 03, 2009

Today in the News (3 Aug 09)

Evolution:
So, if someone denies both Evolution and Global Warming, I wonder what they will think of this article? In a matter of years or decades, researchers believe, animals and plants already are adapting to life in a warmer world. Some species will be unable to change quickly enough and will go extinct, but others will evolve, as natural selection enables them to carry on in an altered environment.

Unlocking The Key To Human Fertility. Scientists at Leeds and Bradford have discovered a unique ‘DNA signature’ in human sperm, which may act as a key that unlocks an egg’s fertility and triggers new life. Drs David Miller and David Iles from the University of Leeds, in collaboration with Dr Martin Brinkworth at the University of Bradford, have found that sperm writes a DNA signature that can only be recognised by an egg from the same species. This enables fertilisation and may even explain how a species develops its own unique genetic identity.

Vaccines:
New, Faster Way To Diagnose, Fight Flu. Researchers at Emory University are using a new and faster method of rapidly producing highly targeted monoclonal antibodies for use in diagnostic tests as well as a temporary therapy to stave off infectious diseases such as the H1N1 (swine flu) virus. Rafi Ahmed, PhD, director of the Emory Vaccine Center and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar, and his collaborators generated high-affinity monoclonal antibodies against a strain of the influenza virus only a month after vaccinating human volunteers.

Scientists Report Original Source Of Malaria. Researchers have identified what they believe is the original source of malignant malaria: a parasite found in chimpanzees in equatorial Africa. UC Irvine biologist Francisco Ayala and colleagues think the deadly parasite was transmitted to humans from chimpanzees perhaps as recently as 5,000 years ago – and possibly through a single mosquito, genetic analyses indicate. Previously, malaria's origin had been unclear. This discovery could aid the development of a vaccine for malaria, which sickens about 500 million people and kills about 1.5 million each year. It also furthers understanding of how infectious diseases such as HIV, SARS, and avian and swine flu can be transmitted to humans from animals.

Autism:
If you have access to the American Journal of Psychiatry, I recommend this article. Not because it shows some incredibly new earthshaking development in the understanding of autism itself, but rather how we are studying it.

And this article from the Boston Globe had a very interesting paragraph
. Basically it said, autistic children seem to have overly folded brains. This extra folding is significant enough that it actually increases the surface area of the cortex, said Antonio Hardan, a child psychiatrist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., who conducted the research.

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