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UPI NewsTrack Health and Science News

Atlantis begins journey home atop a 747

EL PASO, Texas, June 1 (UPI) -- U.S. space shuttle Atlantis began a cross-country trip Monday, en route to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida while mounted on top a modified 747 aircraft.

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The airplane, known as the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California Monday morning and arrived at its first stop -- Biggs Army Airfield in El Paso, Texas -- at 1:22 p.m. EDT. The plane and its crew were to remain overnight in Texas, before departing Tuesday on what might be the trip's last leg, depending upon weather conditions.

Atlantis and a crew of seven astronauts landed at the Air Force base May 24, concluding a 13-day journey of about 5.3 million miles in space to service the Hubble Space Telescope for the last time.


Silver nanoparticles aid clotting therapy

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VARANASI, India, June 1 (UPI) -- Scientists in India report the discovery of a potential alternative to aspirin and other anti-platelet agents used to prevent blood clots.

The researchers said they've found the use of silver nanoparticles might prevent blood clots in coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke patients.

The scientists said low levels of nanosilver particles injected into mice reduced the ability of platelets to clump together by as much as 40 percent with no apparent harmful side effects.

Debabrata Dash and colleagues at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India, said patients urgently need new anti-thrombotic agents because traditionally prescribed medications often cause dangerous bleeding.

The nanoparticles "hold immense potential to be promoted as an antiplatelet agent," the researchers said. "Nanosilver appears to possess dual significant properties critically helpful to the health of mankind -- antibacterial and antiplatelet -- which together can have unique utilities, for example in coronary stents."

The scientists are to report their research in the June 23 issue of the journal Nano.


Radio supernova discovered

BERKELEY, Calif., June 1 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they've discovered a radio supernova -- an exploding star seen only at radio wavelengths and undetectable by optical or X-ray telescopes.

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"This supernova is the nearest supernova in five years, yet it is completely obscured in optical, ultraviolet and X-rays due to the dense medium of the galaxy," said University of California-Berkeley Assistant Professor Geoffrey Bower. "This just popped out. In the future, we want to go from discovery of radio supernovas by accident to specifically looking for them."

The radio supernova was discovered April 8 in a small irregular galaxy nearly 12 million light years from Earth by the Very Large Array, a New Mexico facility operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

Bower said future sky surveys will look for bright, but short-lived, radio bursts from supernovas, thereby providing better estimates of the rate of star formation in nearby galaxies.

Radio emissions from supernovas also can help astronomers understand how stars explode and what happens before their cores collapse, he said.

The study that included astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, Harvard University's Center for Astrophysics and the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands appears in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.


New DNA compounds could help treat lupus

IOWA CITY, Iowa, June 1 (UPI) -- A U.S. research team led by the University of Iowa says it has created DNA-like compounds that inhibit the cells responsible for developing lupus.

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Using human cell lines and isolated mouse cells, Dr. Petar Lenert, an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Iowa, said he and his colleagues showed the DNA-like compounds were able to selectively reduce the activity of two types of immune cells called autoreactive B cells and dendritic cells. When given to mice with lupus, the compounds delayed death and reduced kidney damage, proving their effectiveness.

"With further testing, we hope that class R inhibitory oligonucleotides may become another weapon in the fight against lupus," Lenert said in a release.

The study, which included researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine, is reported in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy.

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