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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Today in the News (10 Sep 09)

Evolution:
Molecular Decay Of Enamel-specific Gene In Toothless Mammals Supports Theory Of Evolution. Biologists at the University of California, Riverside report new evidence for evolutionary change recorded in both the fossil record and the genomes (or genetic blueprints) of living organisms, providing fresh support for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. The researchers were able to correlate the progressive loss of enamel in the fossil record with a simultaneous molecular decay of a gene, called the enamelin gene, that is involved in enamel formation in mammals. Enamel is the hardest substance in the vertebrate body, and most mammals have teeth capped with it.

Scientists Use MicroRNAs To Track Evolutionary History For First Time. The large group of segmented worms known as annelids, which includes earthworms, leeches and bristle worms, evolved millions of years ago and can be found in every corner of the world. Although annelids are one of the most abundant animal groups on the planet, scientists have struggled to understand how the different species of this biologically diverse group relate to each other in terms of their evolutionary history. Now a team of scientists from Yale University and Dartmouth College has used a groundbreaking method to untangle some of that history.

Vaccines:
New Vaccine Shows Promise For COPD Patients At Risk For Pneumonia. A new vaccine against pneumonia may offer better protection from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients than the currently accepted vaccine, according to recent research that will be published in the September 15 issue of the American Journal of the Respiratory and Critical Care Journal, a publication of the American Thoracic Society. Because pneumonia disproportionately affects patients with COPD and frequently causes exacerbations, the Centers for Disease Control currently recommend that all adults with COPD receive the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccination (PPSV23). However, the efficacy of PPSV23 is not well established in the COPD patient population.

Researchers Seek Better Vaccine Procedure To Combat Flu. As manufacturers work furiously to make a vaccine to protect against 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus, a Rice University bioengineer is trying to improve the process for future flu seasons. The goal is to shorten the time it takes to identify targeted flu strains and manufacture the vaccines for them. In a paper published this summer in the journal Protein Engineering, Design & Selection, Rice researchers described a new method to predict the efficacy of H1N1 vaccines.

Autism:
Autistic teens master social cues, find friends. Thirteen-year-old Andrea Levy ticked off a mental list of rules to follow when her guest arrived: Greet her at the door. Introduce her to the family. Offer a cold drink. Above all, make her feel welcome by letting her choose what to do. "Do you want to make pizza now or do you want to make it later?" the lanky, raven-haired teen rehearsed in the kitchen, as her mother spread out dough and toppings.

How To Connect With An Autistic Child. For fathers coming home from work and find it impossible to connect with their autistic child, it can typically be the straw that breaks the family's back. Now an autism expert and parent shares tips of how to develop affection in autistic children. Where most children will greet Daddy with a hug or a smile, many autistic children aren’t capable of the normal affectionate interactions that keep a family intact. As Dad walks in, his son is busy lining up his toys or engrossed in the spinning wheels of an overturned toy truck. Dad calls his name over and over in hopes of those bright eyes and wide mouth to come running to him with open arms, but to no avail. He even gets down on his knees in a desperate attempt for some eye contact, but his son turns away and even pushes off his father's touch with disturbing grunts.

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