Saturday, December 6, 2008

Spliced feed for The Science Network

Spliced feed for The Science Network

Flu Structure, Mp3s, and Magnetic Minestrone [Sciencebase Science Blog]

Posted: 05 Dec 2008 07:00 AM CST

You can read my latest science news updates in

One flu over - X-ray studies have revealed details of the structure of a protein used by the avian influenza, H5N1, that allows it to hide its RNA from the infected host’s immune system. The structure could provide a new target for the development of antiviral drugs against this potentially lethal virus

Minestrone and magnetic resonance - Researchers in the US and France may have overturned decades of theory in magnetic resonance studies by spotting a discrepancy in the way nuclear spins behave. Their new mathematical model of the process improves our understanding of atomic behaviour and could lead to better NMR spectra, sharper magnetic resonance images, and perhaps one day a fully portable MRI machine.

Organic soil matters - Could the earth beneath our feet hold the key to climate change? According to scientists at the University of Toronto Scarborough their NMR results show that global warming is changing the molecular structure of organic matter in soil.

Battery capacity is full of holes - Researchers in Korea have developed a novel material for the anode in rechargeable batteries, which they say could make them much more efficient and extend significantly the length of time between charges.

And on ChemWeb for science news with a chemical element:

First on the list in this week’s Alchemist, more on the new anode material, which is potentially good news for the iPod generation. In analytical research, HPLC has been used to spot dummy tequila and in medical chemistry US radiologists suggest that a dose of modified vitamin D could protect citizens from a dirty bomb attack. Next up, a new approach to addressing qubits allows for faster measurements that could take us a step closer to a quantum computer, while Yorkshire chemists are working out the best mix of starting materials to get the maximum height yield on their tasty products. Finally, this week’s award is a record breaker in the State where big is everything.

Flu Structure, Mp3s, and Magnetic Minestrone

Top Ten SNPs [Sciencebase Science Blog]

Posted: 05 Dec 2008 07:00 AM CST

dna-testIf you ever thought genetics was only about disease, then check out the popular SNPs list on SNPedia. A SNP (pronounced “snip”) is a single nucleotide polymorphism, which in BradSpeak(TM) is basically a difference in a bit of your DNA that makes you different from the rest.

Anyway, here’s the Top Five SNPs that might be described as having no obvious direct medical importance.

  • rs1815739 sprinters vs endurance athletes (I reckon I lack both)
  • rs7495174 green eye color and rs12913832 for blue eye color
  • rs6152 can prevent baldness (this was discovered far too late for me)
  • rs1805009 determines red hair (some “comedians” might suggest this be swapped to the second list below)
  • rs17822931 determines earwax (and presumably how well your ears stay clear of insect infestation)

And, here’s the more sober list of SNPs that could have serious medical implications should you happen to discover you have one of these when you have your genome read by the likes of 23andMe.

  • rs9939609 triggers obesity (not a genetic excuse for eating too much)
  • rs662799 prevents weight gain from high fat diets (ditto)
  • rs4420638 and rs429358 can raise the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by tenfold or more
  • rs7903146 and rs12255372 linked to type-2 diabetes, the latter also to breast cancer
  • rs324650 influences alcohol dependence, rs1799971 makes alcohol cravings stronger (it would not be funny to say, “Mine’s a pint, with a whisky chaser”, right now)

It was a twitter discussion between SNP experts mza and attilacsordas that led me to the SNP list.

Top Ten SNPs

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