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UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News

April 29, 2009 at 5:44 PM   |   Comments

Study: Fish may feel pain much like humans

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., April 29 (UPI) -- A U.S. researcher says he has developed a test that suggests fish can feel pain and they react to it much as do humans.

Purdue University Assistant Professor Joseph Garner and Janicke Nordgreen, a doctoral student in the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, attached small foil heaters to goldfish and slowly increased the temperature.

Half of the fish were injected with morphine, and the others received saline. The researchers believed those with the morphine would be able to withstand higher temperatures before reacting if they actually felt pain. However, both groups of fish showed a response at about the same temperature.

But later observed in their home tanks, the researchers noticed fish from each group were exhibiting different behaviors.

"The fish given the morphine acted like they always had: swimming and being fish," Garner said. "The fish that had gotten saline -- even though they responded the same in the test -- later acted different, though. They acted with defensive behaviors, indicating wariness, or fear and anxiety."

Nordgreen said those behavioral differences showed fish can feel both reflexive and cognitive pain.

The scientists said their findings could raise questions about slaughter methods and standards of care could be revisited to ensure fish are being treated humanely.

A paper detailing the finding appears in the early online issue of the journal Applied Animal Behavior Science.


Re-awakened old genes help fight HIV

ORLANDO, Fla., April 29 (UPI) -- University of Central Florida scientists say they have developed a vaginal cream containing a re-awakened protein that might prevent the transmission of HIV.

Assistant Professor Alexander Cole, who led the study, said his team revived a dormant gene found in humans and coaxed it to produce retrocyclin, a protein that resists the human immunodeficiency virus. Cole said aminoglycosides -- drugs commonly used to fight bacterial infections -- were used to trigger the production of the sleeping protein expressed by the retrocyclin gene.

"It could make a huge difference in the fight against HIV," Cole said. "Much more work would be needed to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of this approach. We would certainly have to have human trials, but these findings represent a promising step in that direction."

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. The disease, most often transmitted sexually, affects 4.3 million people worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

The findings from the three-year investigation appear in the journal PLoS Biology.


Study shows cooling lengthens tool's life

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., April 29 (UPI) -- A Purdue University researcher says he's discovered cooling cutting tools can result in a longer life, with sharper cutting capability.

Professor Rado Gazo found cryogenically treating router bits, as well as cooling them while they cut, increased the tools' lives -- in some cases doubling them.

He said cryogenically treating the bits to harden them, blowing cooled air on them during use -- or doing both -- improved the life of the tools and kept cuts clean longer.

Cryogenic treating requires cooling the tools to minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit and then bringing them back to ambient temperature.

Gazo said he used a router bit that had not been cryogenically frozen or exposed to cool air during use as a control and cut more than 100 miles of tool path in a medium-density fiberboard.

Bits that were not frozen, but were subjected to 40-degree and 20-degree Fahrenheit air during use, had as much as a 25 percent increased tool life.

A bit cryogenically frozen, but not cooled during use, showed an increased tool life of about 65 percent over the control.

The research appears in the early online edition of the Journal of Materials Processing Technology.


Genetic marker may ID head, throat cancer

CORVALLIS, Ore., April 29 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they have discovered a genetic regulator that might help lead physicians to an earlier diagnosis of head and neck cancers.

Pharmacy researchers at Oregon State University said the genetic regulator is expressed at higher levels in the most aggressive types of head and neck cancers and might even offer a new therapy at some point in the future.

The "transcriptional regulator" is called CTIP2, and in recent research it's been demonstrated to be a master regulator that has important roles in many biological functions. But in the study, scientists found for the first time that levels of CTIP2 were more than five times higher in the "poorly differentiated" tumor cells that cause the most deadly types of squamous cell carcinomas in the larynx, throat, tongue and other parts of the head. They discovered a high correlation between greater CTIP2 expression and the aggressive nature of the cancer.

"Serious head and throat cancer is pretty common, and mortality rates from it haven't improved much in 20 years, despite new types of treatments," said Assistant Professor Gitali Indra. "With these new findings, we believe it should be possible to create an early screening and diagnostic tool to spot these cancers earlier, tell physicians which ones need the most aggressive treatments and which are most apt to recur."

The study appears in the online journal PLoS One.

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