Efforts to grow neurons from schizophrenia patients, surprising facts about the latest E. coli outbreaks and reindeer's UV-seeing ability are among the issues addressed in the Advances section of Scientific American's August issue. For readers interested in learning more about any of these developments, a selected list of further resources follows below.
"Mental Illness in a Dish"
"Modeling schizophrenia using human-induced pluripotent stem cells," by Kristen J. Brennand and colleagues, describes their schizophrenia neuron-growing experiment. The paper was published May 12 in Nature.
"Induction of human neuronal cells by defined transcription factors," published on Nature's web site on May 26 by Zhiping P. Pang and colleagues, describes their success at turning human skin cells directly into neurons.
The March 2011 issue of Scientific American covered other efforts at modeling diseases in cells gathered from people suffering from the disease being studied: "Diseases in a Dish: Stem Cells for Drug Discovery."
"A Skill Better than Rudolph's"
Glen Jeffery, Christopher Hogg and their colleagues wrote about how reindeer eyes process UV light in "Arctic reindeer extend their visual range into the ultraviolet," published June 15 in The Journal of Experimental Biology.
To learn more about evolutionary roots of UV vision—and why it disappeared in many organisms—check out this 2003 paper, "Molecular analysis of the evolutionary significance of ultraviolet vision in vertebrates," published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"Ageless. No Plastic Surgery Required"
Søren Meibom wrote about some of his research on measuring stars' ages by their rotations in "The Kepler Cluster Study: Stellar Rotation in NGC6811" and in "Chandra Observations of the Well-Studied 180 Myr Old Open Cluster M35." He presented both papers at the American Astronomical Society's meeting in May.
"Parsing the Twitterverse"
The AAAI-11 Workshop on Analyzing Microtext web site lists the titles of papers that will be presented August 8 at the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence's annual meeting.
Check out some interesting ways people are trying to use the natural language processing of Twitter for responding to natural disasters and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and for finding how people feel about an item or topic (You can try running your own searches at this last link).
"Anatomy of an Outbreak"
In "Chikungunya virus emergence is constrained in Asia by lineage-specific adaptive landscapes," Konstantin A. Tsetsarkin, Scott C. Weaver and their colleagues wrote about how one strain of the Chikungunya virus has adapted and spread. The paper was published May 10 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA.
"All Together Now"
Read the contentious "#arseniclife" paper online at "A Bacterium That Can Grow by Using Arsenic Instead of Phosphorus." The study, by Felisa Wolfe-Simon and colleagues, was published on Sciencemag.org in December, then in Science's June 3 issue. Science published critiques in the same issue, under "Technical Comments."
A Nature reviewer who publicly critiqued a published paper spoke to Greenwire, a news web site. His quotes appear in "Endangered Species: Scientists clash on claims over extinction 'overestimates'."
"E. coli on the March"
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collates outbreak information and important papers on its E. coli page.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced its approval of two new drugs for hepatitis C in separate online reports: "Approval of Victrelis (boceprevir) a direct acting antiviral drug (DAA) to treat hepatitis C virus (HCV)" and "Approval of Incivek (telaprevir), a direct acting antiviral drug (DAA) to treat hepatitis C (HCV)."
In 1997, Charles Rice and colleagues presented research that showed that disrupting hepatitis C proteases stopped the virus in chimpanzees. They published their findings in 2000 in the Journal of Virology: "Hepatitis C virus-encoded enzymatic activities and conserved RNA elements in the 3' nontranslated region are essential for virus replication in vivo."
In 2005, Ralf Bartenschlager and colleagues confirmed that hepatitis C needs its protease to multiply. They published "Hepatitis C virus NS2/3 processing is required for NS3 stability and viral RNA replication" in the Journal of Biological Chemistry. More recently, in 2010, Bartenschlager reviewed everything researchers now know about the structure of the virus in Trends in Microbiology: "Assembly of infectious hepatitis C virus particles."
"Mouth Wide Open"
Christopher Kenaley curates a database of photos, drawings and measurements of deep sea creatures: Deep-Sea Fishes of the World.
"The Mind-Reading Salmon"
Article author Charles Seife uses "Habitual intake of flavonoid subclasses and incident hypertension in adults," published in February in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by Aedín Cassidy and colleagues, as an example of "fishing" for statistical significance.
Read about the eponymous mind-reading salmon at "Neural correlates of interspecies perspective taking in the post-mortem Atlantic Salmon: An argument for multiple comparisons correction." Craig M. Bennett and colleagues created this poster to demonstrate the power of false, but apparently statistically significant results. They presented at the 2009 Human Brain Mapping conference
"Where House Cats Roam"
Jeff A. Horn and colleagues tracked the wanderings of house cats and feral cats in "Home range, habitat use, and activity patterns of free-roaming domestic cats." They published their results in July in The Journal of Wildlife Management.
Liquid nitrogen drops bounce along under a veil of gas in a YouTube video by W. Wayt Gibbs and Nathan Myhrvold.
"'Cooking' with Cold: Liquid Nitrogen and Dry Ice" by Jeff Potter offers safety advice and a recipe for making ice cream with liquid nitrogen.