A Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory scientist is shattering theories that asteroids are just barren chunks of space rock.

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(Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– A team of scientists at UC Santa Barbara that helped pioneer research into the quantum properties of a small defect found in diamonds has now used cutting-edge computational techniques to produce a road map for studying defects in alternative materials.

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Hydrogen would command a key role in future renewable energy technologies, experts agree, if a relatively cheap, efficient and carbon-neutral means of producing it can be developed. An important step towards this elusive goal has been taken by a team of researchers with the U. S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California, Berkeley. The team has discovered an inexpensive metal catalyst that can effectively generate hydrogen gas from water.

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CINCINNATI—The hormone leptin, typically associated with body weight regulation, works within the central nervous system (CNS) to aid the immune system’s defense against sepsis, researchers say.

Sepsis is a life-threatening medical condition in which the entire body is overwhelmed by infection.

A study led by Matthias Tschop, MD, of UC’s Metabolic Diseases Institute, and Charles Caldwell, PhD, of UC’s surgery department, is the first to describe leptin’s role in the control of immune response via the CNS. Results are published this week in the Journal of Neuroscience, the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience.

"Indirect evidence has previously indicated that the central nervous system might have a role in maintaining the immune system,” says Tschop. "For example, people with brain injuries appear to be at a higher risk for infection and sepsis. Sepsis is also a serious complication for stroke patients. What was lacking was any molecular mechanism to explain that relationship.”

Researchers know that obesity causes an overproduction of leptin. High leptin levels make receptors "deaf” to the hormone, resulting in a loss of leptin function (leptin resistance) that leads to higher food intake.

Diet-induced induced obese mice have a survival advantage in sepsis. Because of this, the team hypothesized that leptin resistance, which is seen at neurons regulating body weight, may not be happening at the brain centers that regulate the immune system.

To prove this, the team studied several leptin-deficient mouse models, including one that was missing leptin receptors everywhere except within the CNS. They report that leptin, long thought to act directly on immune cells themselves, also mediates actions in the CNS. They showed that leptin replacement improved the host response to a standard model of sepsis.

Leptin-dependent neurocircuitry, the authors say, is required for a proper immune response to sepsis, and damage to this circuitry, or even leptin deficiency, may lead to higher risk of death from sepsis.

"Human congenital leptin deficiency is rare,” the authors say, "with less than a few dozen patients reported worldwide to date. But there is a stunning number of recorded cases of death due to sepsis in this patient population.”

In addition, Tschop says, this new finding gives researchers clues that could help in developing therapeutic targets for treating infection in people with damaged leptin-dependent neurocircuitry.

This study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Co-authors include Tamara Castaneda, Streamson Chua Jr., Iain Clarke, Sadaf Farooqi, Kelsey Guanciale, Sarah Haas-Lockie, Kirk Habegger, Nadine Huber, Kevin Kasten, Ruben Nogueiras, Brian Oldfield, Stephen O’Rahilly, Nickki Ottaway, Diego Perez-Tilve, Johannes Tschop and Stephen Woods.

UC’s Metabolic Diseases Institute, named in 2009, is located on UC’s Reading Campus, formerly the Genome Research Institute, and is home to a team of researchers who focus on the genetic, molecular and cellular mechanisms of metabolic disorders, cancer and cardiovascular disease.

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(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Smokers who don’t quit before radiation therapy for throat, mouth and other head and neck cancers fair significantly worse than those who do, research from the UC Davis Cancer Center has found.

Allen Chen, an assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at the UC Davis Cancer Center, found that head - and neck-cancer patients who continue to smoke during radiation therapy have poorer 5-year overall survival and higher rates of disease recurrence than those who quit smoking prior to treatment.

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BRONX, NY – Tiny, melanin-covered nanoparticles may protect bone marrow from the harmful effects of radiation therapy, according to scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University who successfully tested the strategy in mouse models. Infusing these particles into human patients may hold promise in the future. The research is described in the current issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics.

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Finding could help target treatments to avoid unnecessary side effects.

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Just months after the soybean genome was sequenced, a Purdue University scientist has discovered a long-sought gene that controls the plant's main stem growth and could lead to the creation of new types of soybean plants that will allow producers to incorporate desired characteristics into their local varieties.

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Scientists have identified new genes and pathways that influence an individual's typical pattern of brain electrical activity, a trait that may serve as a useful surrogate marker for more genetically complex traits and diseases. One of the genes, for example, was found to be associated with alcoholism.

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A team of scientists in Spain and the UK have identified the final piece in the jigsaw of how phytate is produced in plants.

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – Scientists have combined chemistry and biology research techniques to explain how certain bacteria grow structures on their surfaces that allow them to simultaneously cause illness and protect themselves from the body’s defenses.

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AUGUSTA, Ga. – The stage for osteoporosis is set well before menopause—but exercise can help rewrite the script, according to Medical College of Georgia researchers.

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Scientists have for the first time succeeded in extracting vital stem cells from sections of vein removed for heart bypass surgery. Researchers funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) found that these stem cells can stimulate new blood vessels to grow, which could potentially help repair damaged heart muscle after a heart attack.

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The largest ever trial of fish oil supplements has found no evidence that they offer benefits for cognitive function in older people. The OPAL study investigated the effects of taking omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid supplements over a two year period on the cognitive function of participants aged 70-80 years.

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As existing oil supply reaches its peak and begins to dwindle, rather than investing in clean alternatives, oil companies are seeking to continue profiteering from remaining stocks that are locked up in remote, sensitive and fragile biomes such as the Amazon. The western Amazon, (which includes Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Brazil and Columbia) is relatively untouched, yet plans have been hatched to open up the region to scout for and extract oil.

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The director general of the International Livestock Research Institute, Carlos Sere has urged policy makers not to impose policies on farmers in developing countries to curb livestock use and production. The institute recognises that livestock production is responsible for an estimated 18% of global greenhouse gases (GHGs), whilst transport contributes 13% overall.

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New research published in Nature indicates that tropical Atlantic cyclones are increasing strength, concurrently with warming oceans. The suggestion is that as sea surface temperatures (SST) rise, the seas have more energy and thus increase the likelihood of more severe hurricanes occurring.

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Speaking from the IUCN conference in Barcelona, William Karesh of the Wildlife Conservation Society spoke of potential fresh outbreaks of various diseases as a result of the effects of climate change. Changes in rainfall patterns and temperature variation could be important contributory factors to a rise in diseases.

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Cod is historically one of the most popular commercial fish species in the UK, not to mention popular across the European continent. Because of this, major commercial fisheries have been forced to close, and existing fisheries may also soon face closure.

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This year's report by the IUCN suggests that in excess of 25% of the world's mammals could become extinct by the turn of the century. The number probably exceeds a quarter given that over 800 species status have not been assessed due to lack of data.

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Two non-native invasive species; the chinese mitten crab and the non-native crayfishs' ranges are set to overlap in the near future. Both crustaceans are formidable predators, with a tendency to damage the ecology of their local environment.

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The 2008 BA Science Festival has begun in Liverpool. Professor Sir David King, President of the BA, is due to address the Festival this evening and is expected to call for a shift in focus of science research in the UK, with the nation's most innovative minds applied to the world's most significant challenges, such as climate change.

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Writing in a special edition of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, published today, scientists from around the world warn that radical solutions are needed to tackle climate change if the planet is to avert catastrophic global warming. The scientists call for more research on geo-engineering options, including seeding the oceans with iron to stimulate the growth of marine algae and phytoplankton; thus capturing carbon dioxide through photosynthesis, and seeding artificial clouds over the oceans to reflect sunlight back into space.

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The Prince of Wales has called upon hard-nosed city financiers to invest in Rainforests. Top city officials including Robert Swannell, Vice President of Citi Europe and Chris Gibson-Smith, chairman of the London Stock Exchange are among invitees to Mansion House tonight to discuss methods of investing billions in conservation schemes globally.

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Interview by Katy Puga, Rainforest Alliance

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Interviewed by Pablo Hernandez and Yessenia Soto, Rainforest Alliance

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In the dry forest of southern Mexico, two thousand farmers are not only fighting global climate change but are also profiting from their efforts. They are adapting sustainable farming and forestry techniques and covering their costs by selling credits for the carbon dioxide their forests sequester to international companies seeking to offset their own emissions.

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