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Science News
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In weird Brazilian cave insects, male-female sex organs reversed

The female penis of the Neotrogla aurora insect species is seen in an undated handout photoBy Will Dunham WASHINGTON (Reuters) - This may be the role reversal to end all role reversals. That's why I was really surprised to see the structure," entomologist Kazunori Yoshizawa of Japan's Hokkaido University said by email. Yoshizawa said that although sex-role reversal has been documented in several different types of animals, these insects are the sole example in which the "intromittent organ" - the male sex organ - is reversed, Yoshizawa said. Yoshizawa said the females of Neotrogla can hold male mates coercively using their gynosome.

Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:05:07 -0400
In a cloning first, scientists create stem cells from adults

A handout picture shows the process by which scientists created patient-specific stem cell lines out of the skin cells of two adult men. REUTERS/Robert Lanza/Advanced Cell Technology/HandoutBy Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - Scientists have moved a step closer to the goal of creating stem cells perfectly matched to a patient's DNA in order to treat diseases, they announced on Thursday, creating patient-specific cell lines out of the skin cells of two adult men. The advance, described online in the journal Cell Stem Cell, is the first time researchers have achieved "therapeutic cloning" of adults. Technically called somatic-cell nuclear transfer, therapeutic cloning means producing embryonic cells genetically identical to a donor, usually for the purpose of using those cells to treat disease. But nuclear transfer is also the first step in reproductive cloning, or producing a genetic duplicate of someone - a technique that has sparked controversy since the 1997 announcement that it was used to create Dolly, the clone of a ewe.

Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:36:20 -0400
Scientists find Earth-sized world in orbit friendly to life

Kepler-186f planet seen in NASA artist's conceptThe discovery, announced on Thursday, is the closest scientists have come so far to finding a true Earth twin. The star's outermost planet, designated Kepler-186f, receives about one-third the radiation from its parent star as Earth gets from the sun, meaning that high noon on this world would be roughly akin to Earth an hour before sunset, said astronomer Thomas Barclay, with NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. "This planet is an Earth cousin, not an Earth twin," said Barclay, who is among a team of scientists reporting on the discovery in the journal Science this week. NASA launched its Kepler space telescope in 2009 to search about 150,000 target stars for signs of any planets passing by, or transiting, relative to the telescope's point of view.

Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:03:19 -0400
Brutish and short? DNA 'switch' sheds light on Neanderthals

To match Reuters Life! NEANDERTHAL-CROATIA/MUSEUMHundreds of Neanderthals' genes were turned off while the identical genes in today's humans are turned on, the international team announced in a paper published online in Science. They also found that hundreds of other genes were turned on in Neanderthals, but are off in people living today. Among the hundreds: genes that control the shape of limbs and the function of the brain, traits where modern humans and Neanderthals differ most. "People are fundamentally interested in what makes us human, in what makes us different from Neanderthals," said Sarah Tishkoff, an expert in human evolution at the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the new study.

Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:02:50 -0400
Oh baby: Scientists find protein that lets egg and sperm hook up

Doctor Katarzyna Koziol injects sperm directly into an egg during IVF procedure called Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection at Novum clinic in WarsawIf you really want to learn how babies are made, you need to know about Juno and Izumo. Fertilization takes place when an egg cell and a sperm cell recognize one another and fuse to form an embryo. Researchers said on Wednesday they have identified a protein on the egg cell's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of a sperm cell, allowing the two cells to join. This protein, dubbed Juno in honor of the ancient Roman goddess of fertility and marriage, and its counterpart in sperm, named Izumo after a Japanese marriage shrine, are essential for reproduction in mammals including people, they said.

Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:48:12 -0400
Wikipedia beats Google in helping researchers track flu season

A flu vaccine rests on a table with a bandage during the Flu + You clinic sponsored by the National Council on Aging and Sanofi Pasteur on Friday, September, 6, 2013 at the Williams YMCA in Jacksonville, Fl. The goal of the Flu + You program is to educate older adults about influenza and prevention as well as provide vaccines. (Rick Wilson/AP Images for Flu + You)By monitoring the number of times people look for flu information on Wikipedia, researchers may be better able to estimate the severity of a flu season, according to a new study. Researchers created a new data-analysis system that looks at visits to Wikipedia articles, and found the system was able to estimate flu levels in the United States up to two weeks sooner than the flu data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were released. The new system examined visits to Wikipedia articles that included terms related to flulike illnesses, whereas Google Flu Trends looks at searches typed into Google. The research team wanted to use a database that is accessible to everyone and create a system that could be more accurate than Google Flu Trends, which has flaws.

Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:50:29 -0400
New Ragweed Allergy Pill Clears FDA

A new oral medication to treat ragweed allergies has been approved by the Food and Drug administration, the agency announced today (April 17). The medication, called Ragwitek (a drug from Merck and Co.), is a tablet taken once a day by placing it under the tongue, where it dissolves. Patients should start taking the medication 12 weeks before ragweed season, and use it throughout the season, the FDA said. The drug is an alternative to allergy shots or medications that relieve allergy symptoms, the FDA said.

Thu, 17 Apr 2014 17:16:13 -0400
Flight 370: Oil in Indian Ocean Not from Missing Jetliner

Flight 370: Oil in Indian Ocean Not from Missing JetlinerThe ongoing search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner has suffered yet another setback, as officials confirmed today (April 17) that an oil slick discovered earlier this week in the southern Indian Ocean did not come from the plane. An Australian ship, called Ocean Shield, spotted the slick on Sunday (April 13), and investigators collected a sample of the water to try to determine the oil's origin. "Preliminary analysis of the sample collected by [Australian Defense Vessel] Ocean Shield has confirmed that it is not aircraft engine oil or hydraulic fuel," officials from Australia's Joint Agency Coordination Center, which is overseeing the search operations, said in a statement. "This expansion of the operating parameters allows the Bluefin-21 to search the seafloor within the predicted limits of the current search area," Joint Agency Coordination Center officials said in a statement.

Thu, 17 Apr 2014 15:07:21 -0400
5 Exoplanets Most Likely to Host Alien Life

5 Exoplanets Most Likely to Host Alien LifeKepler-186f is a rocky world just 10 percent bigger than Earth. It's the outermost of five planets known to orbit Kepler-186, a red dwarf star that's considerably smaller and dimmer than Earth's own sun. This "super-Earth" is at least 3.9 times more massive than our own planet.

Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:53:34 -0400
Scientists discover first Earth-sized planet that could support life

Found! First Earth-Size Planet That Could Support LifeFor the first time, scientists have discovered an Earth-sized alien planet in the habitable zone of its host star, an "Earth cousin" that just might have liquid water and the right conditions for life. The newfound planet, called Kepler-186f, was first spotted by NASA's Kepler space telescope and circles a dim red dwarf star about 490 light-years from Earth. "One of the things we've been looking for is maybe an Earth twin, which is an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a sunlike star," Tom Barclay, Kepler scientist and co-author of the new exoplanet research, told Space.com.

Thu, 17 Apr 2014 14:10:57 -0400
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