New technique to treat varicose veins
November 12, 2007 12:43 PM - Rachel Champeau

Los Angeles - Dr. Peter Lawrence, UCLA's chief of vascular surgery, picks up size 7 crochet hooks from a fabric store — not to make sweaters or scarves but to use in a new technique he has developed to treat varicose veins.  

Early results of the new outpatient procedure, called light-assisted stab phlebectomy, or LASP, appear in a study in the October issue of the journal The American Surgeon.   More than 250 patients at UCLA have undergone Lawrence's procedure, which is designed to remove branch varicose veins from the thighs, calves and ankles.


Drug injecting triggers most Mauritius HIV cases
November 12, 2007 12:35 PM -

ROCHE BOIS, Mauritius (Reuters) - Drug abuse accounts for 92 percent of new HIV infections in Mauritius, up from just 14 percent in 2002, the government said on Monday.

The Indian Ocean island nation has an estimated HIV prevalence rate of 1.8 percent, which is low for the region. On the African mainland, HIV infection rates stand at 16.1 percent in Mozambique and 18.8 percent in South Africa, for example.

But officials say risky practices like sharing needles used for injecting drugs are causing many more infections. Mauritius suffers the second highest rate of heroin and opiate use in the world, according to U.N. figures.

St. Jude defibrillator wires under scrutiny: report
November 12, 2007 08:14 AM - Reuters

Reports are emerging that some defibrillator wires made by St. Jude Medical Inc are in rare instances puncturing holes in the hearts of cardiac patients, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday in its online edition.

The devices in question -- the Riata line of defibrillator leads from St. Jude -- are wires that connect to patients' hearts, according to the Journal.

Study charts genomic landscape of lung cancer
November 11, 2007 10:39 PM - Nicole Davis, The Broad Institute

An international team of scientists has produced the most comprehensive view yet of the abnormal genetic landscape of lung cancer, the world's leading cause of cancer deaths. Appearing in the Nov. 4 advance online issue of Nature, the research reveals more than 50 genomic regions that are frequently gained or lost in human lung tumors.

While one-third of these regions contain genes already known to play important roles in lung cancer, the majority harbor new genes yet to be discovered. Flowing from this work, the scientists uncovered a critical gene alteration--not previously linked to any form of cancer--that is implicated in a significant fraction of lung cancer cases, shedding light on the biological basis of the disease and a potential new target for therapy.





HIV Vaccine Target Could Solve Mutation Problem
November 11, 2007 10:17 PM - UC Newswire

Researchers at UCSF and the University of Toronto have identified a potential new way of fighting against HIV infection that relies on the remnants of ancient viruses, human endogenous retroviruses (HERV), which have become part of the genome of every human cell.


Mounting evidence suggests that HIV infection could enable HERV expression by disrupting the normal controls that keep HERV in check. In some HIV-infected individuals, infection fighting T-cells are able to target HERV expressing cells.

Researchers believe that their findings, published in the Nov. 9, 2007 issue of the journal PLoS Pathogens, could lead to a vaccine targeting HERV that kills HIV-infected cells.





World faces choice on human cloning: U.N. study
November 11, 2007 10:09 PM - Reuters

OSLO (Reuters) - The world faces a stark choice between banning cloning of humans or preparing ways to protect them from potential abuse or discrimination, a U.N. study said on Sunday.

Experts at the U.N. University's Institute of Advanced Studies said it would only be a matter of time before scientists manage to clone a human if governments do not impose a ban.

"Whichever path the international community chooses it will have to act soon -- either to prevent reproductive cloning or to defend the human rights of cloned individuals," said A.H. Zakri, head of the Institute, which is based in Yokohama, Japan.

Drug-resistant bacteria found to trick immune system
November 11, 2007 10:06 PM - Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Drug-resistant bacteria called methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, may be able to first lure and then destroy immune system cells when they are the most vulnerable, researchers said on Sunday.

The study may help explain why MRSA spread outside of hospitals are harder to fight and seem to be spreading more easily.

But the findings may also lead to new and better antibiotics to fight the bacteria, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Medicine.

Scientists strive to pinpoint warming forecasts
November 11, 2007 09:50 PM - By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO (Reuters) - Moving on from the risk of global warming, scientists are now looking for ways to pinpoint the areas set to be affected by climate change, to help countries plan everything from new crops to hydropower dams.

Billion-dollar investments, ranging from irrigation and flood defenses to the site of wind farms or ski resorts, could hinge on assessments about how much drier, wetter, windier or warmer a particular area will become.

But scientists warn precision may never be possible. Climate is so chaotic and the variables so difficult to compute that even the best model will be far from perfect in estimating what the future holds.

Click a mouse, feed a mouth in U.N. campaign
November 10, 2007 06:14 PM - Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) - A food-linked word game put on the Internet a month ago has proved a runaway success and has already generated enough rice to feed 50,000 people, the United Nations World Food Programme said on Friday.

FreeRice offers participants multiple choice definitions to the meaning of a word, with each correct click generating 10 grains of rice for the WFP.

The brainchild of American online fundraising pioneer John Breen, the Web site ( relies on advertising revenue to underwrite its rice campaign.

Toyota Eyes the Plug-in Prius
November 10, 2007 06:10 PM - By Bernie Woodall

TORRANCE, California (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp on Friday detailed plans to study U.S. consumer demand for a version of its hot-selling Prius hybrid that could be recharged at a standard outlet and run on electric power only.

A senior Toyota executive declined to say when a plug-in Prius would be launched or whether it could beat rival General Motors Corp to market with a technology seen as capable of slashing fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

Bob Carter, who heads the Toyota brand in the United States, said it was more important for Toyota to understand consumer expectations and hone the battery-centered technology behind plug-in cars than to race to bring them to showrooms.

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