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Dec. 12, 2012 at 7:02 PM
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'Nile-like' river seen on Saturn moon

PARIS, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- An alien version of the Nile River stretching more than 250 miles from its "headwaters" to a large sea has been seen on the Saturn moon Titan, scientists say.

It is the first river system this vast and in such high resolution seen anywhere beyond Earth, a release from the Paris headquarters of the European Space Agency said Wednesday.

Astronomers say they believe the river, captured in radar images by the orbiting Cassini spacecraft, is filled with liquid because it appears dark along its entire length in the high-resolution image, suggesting a smooth surface.

The river contains not water but liquid ethane and methane, they said.

"Though there are some short, local meanders, the relative straightness of the river valley suggests it follows the trace of at least one fault, similar to other large rivers running into the southern margin of this same Titan sea," said Jani Radebaugh, a Cassini scientist at Brigham Young University.

Titan is the only other world in the solar system with stable liquid on its surface, the researchers said.

Frogs in milk could lead to new drugs

MOSCOW, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- An old Russian way of keeping milk from going sour by putting a frog in the bucket of milk has led to the finding of new antibiotic substances, scientists say.

Organic chemist A.T. Lebedev of Moscow State University and colleagues have identified a number of potential new antibiotic compounds in the skin of the Russian Brown frog, a study published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Proteome Research reported.

Amphibians secrete antimicrobial substances called peptides through their skin, the researchers said, as a first line of defense against bacteria and other microorganisms that thrive in the wet places frogs, toads, salamanders and other amphibians live.

A previous study identified 21 substances with antibiotic and other potential medical activity in the frogs' skin, and Lebedev and his colleagues say by using sensitive laboratory techniques they've discovered 76 additional compounds.

In lab tests, they said, some of the substances performed as well against salmonella and staphylococcus bacteria as some prescription antibiotic medicines.

"These peptides could be potentially useful for the prevention of both pathogenic and antibiotic resistant bacterial strains while their action may also explain the traditional experience of rural populations," the researchers wrote.

Blood vessel 'glue' inspired by nature

VICTORIA, British Columbia, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- A gel based on a compound mussels use to cling to rocks can be painted onto the walls of blood vessels to create a life-saving glue, Canadian scientists say.

Similar to the amino acid that enables mussels to resist the power of churning water, the biological "glue" can withstand the flow of blood through arteries and veins and could reinforce weakened blood vessel walls at risk of rupturing, the University of British Columbia reported Wednesday.

UBC professor Christian Kastrup helped develop the compound while a postdoctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

It can shore up the walls of arteries much like the way putty can fill in dents in a wall, Kastrup said.

By forming a stable barrier between blood and the vessel walls, the gel could prevent the inflammation that typically occurs when a stent is inserted to widen a narrowed artery or vein, the researchers said.

"By mimicking the mussel's ability to cling to objects, we created a substance that stays in place in a very dynamic environment with high flow velocities," Kastrup, a member of UBC's Centre for Blood Research, said.

FBI reveals arrests in botnet probe

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The FBI announced arrests in an investigation of the so-called Butterfly Botnet that has stolen computer users' credit card, bank account and other information.

The Department of Justice and international law enforcement partners said arrests were made of 10 individuals from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, New Zealand, Peru, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Butterfly Botnet has been linked to multiple variants of the Yahos malware responsible for more than 11 million compromised computer systems and over $850 million in losses, an FBI release said Tuesday.

Yahos targeted Facebook users from 2010 to October 2012, the FBI said.

Facebook's security team provided help to law enforcement agencies conducting the investigation by providing assistance in identifying the perpetrators and those affected by the malware, the bureau said.

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