Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Scientists discover gene that 'cancer-proofs' rodent's cells

Scientists discover gene that 'cancer-proofs' rodent's cells

Despite a 30-year lifespan that gives ample time for cells to grow cancerous, a small rodent species called a naked mole rat has never been found with tumors of any kind—and now biologists at the University of Rochester think they know why.

The findings, presented in today's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that the mole rat's cells express a gene called p16 that makes the cells "claustrophobic," stopping the cells' proliferation when too many of them crowd together, cutting off runaway growth before it can start. The effect of p16 is so pronounced that when researchers mutated the cells to induce a tumor, the cells' growth barely changed, whereas regular mouse cells became fully cancerous.

"We think we've found the reason these mole rats don't get cancer, and it's a bit of a surprise," say Vera Gorbunova and Andrei Seluanov, professors of biology at the University of Rochester and lead investigators on the discovery. "It's very early to speculate about the implications, but if the effect of p16 can be simulated in humans we might have a way to halt cancer before it starts."


Gorbunova and Seluanov are now planning to delve deeper into the mole rat's genetics to see if their cancer resistance might be applicable to humans.

More from eurekalert

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Trips to Mars Possible in 39 Days

Trips to Mars in 39 Days

Using traditional chemical rockets, a trip to Mars – at quickest — lasts 6 months. But a new rocket tested successfully last week could potentially cut down travel time to the Red Planet to just 39 days. The Ad Astra Rocket Company tested a plasma rocket called the VASIMR VX-200 engine, which ran at 201 kilowatts in a vacuum chamber, passing the 200-kilowatt mark for the first time. "It's the most powerful plasma rocket in the world right now," says Franklin Chang-Diaz, former NASA astronaut and CEO of Ad Astra. The company has also signed an agreement with NASA to test a 200-kilowatt VASIMR engine on the International Space Station in 2013.

more (with video)

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Scientists discover massive ring around Saturn

(CNN) Scientists at NASA have discovered a nearly invisible ring around Saturn -- one so large that it would take 1 billion Earths to fill it.

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted a massive, nearly invisible ring around Saturn.

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has spotted a massive, nearly invisible ring around Saturn.

Its diameter is equivalent to 300 Saturns lined up side to side. And its entire volume can hold one billion Earths, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said late Tuesday.

The obvious question: Why did it take scientists so long to discover something so massive?

The ring is made up of ice and dust particles that are so far apart that 'if you were to stand in the ring, you wouldn't even know it,' Verbiscer said in a statement.

Also, Saturn doesn't receive a lot of sunlight, and the rings don't reflect much visible light.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Cyborgs Among Us: Enhancing Eye Surgeies

Custom Eyeballs Can Tailor Your Eyesight to Your Career : "Stephen Trokel, who helped pioneer laser eye surgery, operated on a soprano who wanted to be able to read the music in the front row of the orchestra, as well as a New York Yankees catcher who needed to be able to see the ball coming out of the light. Another group that favors the occupational ocular enhancements? US presidential candidates, several of whom have received 'monovision,' which allows them to easily read with one eye and see far away with the other. This combination eliminates the need for reading glasses or bifocals, and some politicians hope it creates a sense of youthfulness."

Need to see a thousand meters in the dark?

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