UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News

England may face more severe winters

READING, England, April 19 (UPI) — British and German scientists say a link between low solar activity and Atlantic jet streams might explain Europe’s colder than usual past winter.


Scientists at the University of Reading, the U.K. Science and Technology Facilities Council and the Max-Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany said people living in regions northeast of the Atlantic Ocean might need to brace themselves for more frequent cold winters in coming years. The researchers said the sun is moving into an era of lower solar activity, which is likely to result in winter temperatures in that area more like those seen at the end of the 17th century.

“This year’s winter in the U.K. has been the 14th coldest in the last 160 years and yet the global average temperature for the same period has been the 5th highest,” Lecturer Michael Lockwood of the University of Reading said. “We have discovered that this kind of anomaly is significantly more common when solar activity is low.”

Lockwood said the trends do not guarantee colder winters, but they do suggest colder winters will become more frequent.

The study appears in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Routine kidney test not cost-effective

HERSHEY, Pa., April 19 (UPI) — U.S. researchers recommend discontinuing the use of a routine kidney test done by pediatricians for decades.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State College of Medicine in Hershey say the screening urine dipstick to diagnose chronic kidney disease in healthy children is not cost effective. They found the cost of finding one case of diagnosed chronic kidney disease per 800 screening tests came to $2,997.50.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics made the recommendation to discontinue screening urine dipsticks in healthy children to test for chronic kidney disease in 2007,” Deepa Sekhar says in a statement. “However, the practice has still been in use.”

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, concludes the test is not effective, especially since it has not been shown early detection alters a child’s course from chronic kidney disease to end-stage renal disease.

Sekhar and colleagues used data on screening urine dipsticks from 8,954 healthy school children ages 8-15, of whom 1,264 children — 14.2 percent — had abnormal results so the dipstick test was repeated. Only 319 of the repeated tests had an abnormality, with 11 of the 8,954 children — 0.1 percent — found to have some form of chronic kidney disease.

Brain implant essentially melts into place

PHILADELPHIA, April 19 (UPI) — U.S. medical researchers say they have developed a brain implant that essentially melts into place, snugly fitting onto the brain’s surface.

Dr. Brian Litt of the University of Pennsylvania, an associate professor of neurology, said the silk-based implant he and his team developed can hug the brain like shrink wrap, collapsing into its grooves and stretching over its rounded surfaces.

“The focus of our study was to make ultrathin arrays that conform to the complex shape of the brain, and limit the amount of tissue damage and inflammation,” Litt said.

He said the technology could pave the way for better devices to monitor and control seizures, and to transmit signals from the brain past damaged parts of the spinal cord.

The scientists said their findings show the ultrathin flexible implants can record brain activity more faithfully than thicker implants embedded with similar electronics.

Besides its flexibility, the researchers said silk was chosen as the base material because it is durable enough to undergo patterning of thin metal traces for electrodes and other electronics. It can also be engineered to avoid inflammatory reactions, and to dissolve at controlled time points, from almost immediately after implantation to years later.

The research that included Professor John Rogers at the University of Illinois and Professors David Kaplan and Fiorenzo Omenetto at Tufts University appears in the early online edition of the journal Nature Materials.

Proteins linked to ovarian cancer outcomes

BETHESDA, Md., April 19 (UPI) — U.S. government scientists say they’ve found a link between the presence of certain proteins in ovarian cancer tissues and poor survival rates.

Nuclear Factor- kappa Beta family. Researchers said the NF-kB proteins control many processes within the cells, including survival and proliferation, inflammation, immune responses and cellular responses to stress.

“This study sheds light on the distinctive genetic features of the NF-kB pathway and may provide targets for the development of novel therapies for ovarian cancer,” said Dr. Christina Annunziata, who led the study at the National Institutes of Health facility.

The study is reported in the early online edition of the journal Cancer.

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Categorized | Nuclear, Other, Solar
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