Richard Harris http://kunm.org en Feds Tighten Lab Security After Anthrax, Bird Flu Blunders http://kunm.org/post/feds-tighten-lab-security-after-anthrax-bird-flu-blunders In the course of trying to understand a laboratory accident involving anthrax, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stumbled upon another major blunder — involving a deadly flu virus.<p>The flu incident apparently posed no health risk, but it went unreported to top brass for six weeks. Those officials now recognize a <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/07/09/330038131/researchers-aghast-over-discovery-of-smallpox-vials">pattern of problems</a> in their world-class laboratory. Fri, 11 Jul 2014 22:26:00 +0000 Richard Harris 47907 at http://kunm.org Feds Tighten Lab Security After Anthrax, Bird Flu Blunders Declining Domestic Sales Speed Talks For Tobacco Mega-Merger http://kunm.org/post/declining-domestic-sales-speed-talks-tobacco-mega-merger Transcript <p>MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: <p>From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block. The U.S. tobacco industry could be in for a shakeup. Reynolds American, the maker of cigarette brands such as Camel and Pall Mall, confirmed today that it's in talks to buy its smaller rival, Lorillard. As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports, the potential merger comes as the industry feels the pinch of declining sales.<p>YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: The U.S. Fri, 11 Jul 2014 20:11:00 +0000 Richard Harris 47893 at http://kunm.org Like All Animals, We Need Stress. Just Not Too Much http://kunm.org/post/all-animals-we-need-stress-just-not-too-much Ask somebody about stress, and you're likely to hear an outpouring about all the bad things that cause it — and the bad things that result. But if you ask a biologist, you'll hear that stress can be good.<p>In fact, it's essential.<p>For example, the adrenal glands of all animals have evolved to pump out <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3079864/">stress hormones</a> in unexpected situations — the hormones spur action and increase fuel to the brain, helping the animal react to danger appropriately. Wed, 09 Jul 2014 07:32:00 +0000 Richard Harris 47734 at http://kunm.org Like All Animals, We Need Stress. Just Not Too Much Smallpox Virus Found In Unsecured NIH Lab http://kunm.org/post/smallpox-virus-found-unsecured-nih-freezer Scientists cleaning out an old laboratory on the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, Md., last week came across a startling discovery: vials labeled "variola" — in other words, smallpox.<p>Under international convention, there are supposed to be only two stashes of this deadly virus: one at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and another at a similar facility in Russia.<p>The CDC swooped in to collect the vials and carted them off to a secure lab at its Atlanta headquarters.<p>In a statement Tuesday, the agency said scientists did indeed find smallp Tue, 08 Jul 2014 17:29:00 +0000 Richard Harris 47704 at http://kunm.org Smallpox Virus Found In Unsecured NIH Lab Quick DNA Tests Crack Medical Mysteries Otherwise Missed http://kunm.org/post/quick-dna-tests-crack-medical-mysteries-otherwise-missed Researchers are developing a radical way to diagnose infectious diseases. Thu, 05 Jun 2014 21:07:00 +0000 Richard Harris 46237 at http://kunm.org Quick DNA Tests Crack Medical Mysteries Otherwise Missed Once A Year, Cancer Research News Comes In A Flood, Not A Trickle http://kunm.org/post/once-year-cancer-research-news-comes-flood-not-trickle News about cancer therapies usually comes out in medical journals with the regular rhythm of an IV drip. But every now and then information comes out in a flood.<p>That's the case this weekend. The <a href="http://www.asco.org/">American Society of Clinical Oncology </a>is holding its 50<sup>th</sup> annual meeting in Chicago. The convention typically attracts 30,000 attendees, making it one of the biggest cancer meetings of the year. Sun, 01 Jun 2014 11:31:00 +0000 Richard Harris 46020 at http://kunm.org Once A Year, Cancer Research News Comes In A Flood, Not A Trickle Measles Hits Amish Communities, And U.S. Cases Reach 20-Year High http://kunm.org/post/measles-hits-amish-communities-and-us-cases-reach-20-year-high Members of Amish communities in Ohio traveled to the Philippines for heartfelt reasons: They were there on service projects to help less fortunate people. Unfortunately, they came home with unwelcome hitchhikers: measles viruses.<p>Those travelers hadn't been vaccinated against this highly contagious disease, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday. Thu, 29 May 2014 18:28:00 +0000 Richard Harris 45918 at http://kunm.org Measles Hits Amish Communities, And U.S. Cases Reach 20-Year High Experimental Malaria Vaccine Blocks The Bad Guy's Exit http://kunm.org/post/experimental-malaria-vaccine-blocks-bad-guys-exit <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrNL27eWKOI</p> Thu, 22 May 2014 18:21:00 +0000 Richard Harris 45604 at http://kunm.org Experimental Malaria Vaccine Blocks The Bad Guy's Exit Medicine Needs More Research On Female Animals, NIH Says http://kunm.org/post/medicine-needs-more-research-female-animals-nih-says Many potential new drugs look like they could be big winners — at least when judged by how well they work in mice or other lab animals. Over the years, there have been a number of promising cancer "cures," possible Alzheimer's treatments, and candidate drugs for holding back the ravages of various degenerative diseases.<p>But, time after time, these great promises fade away once the potential treatments are tried in people. There are lots of reasons for that. Thu, 15 May 2014 18:18:00 +0000 Richard Harris 45262 at http://kunm.org Medicine Needs More Research On Female Animals, NIH Says Even Penguins Get The Flu http://kunm.org/post/even-penguins-get-flu When you think of bird flu, you may conjure up images of chickens being slaughtered to stem an outbreak, or of migrating ducks, which can carry flu viruses from one continent to the next. Well, it's time to add penguins to your list of mental images.<p>Yes, <a href="http://www.penguinworld.com/types/adelie.html">Adelie penguins</a>, which breed in huge colonies on the rocky Antarctic Peninsula, also harbor a version of the avian influenza virus, according to a <a href="http://mbio.asm.org/">study published</a> in the journal, <em>mBio</em>.<p>Fret not. Tue, 06 May 2014 04:03:00 +0000 Richard Harris 44821 at http://kunm.org Even Penguins Get The Flu You Love The Cloud, But It May Not Be As Secure As You Think http://kunm.org/post/family-tree-pertussis-traced-could-lead-better-vaccine People are storing more and more stuff online: photos, music, personal documents — even books. The business of cloud storage is growing 30 percent a year, Forrester Research says. But if you're storing your digital belongings in the cloud, you should know you're giving up some rights.<p>A year ago, I talked to Kyle Goodwin about one of those scary computer moments — he was saving important videos from his business to an external hard drive.<p>"Right in the middle of a save, I knocked it off my coffee table and it hit the floor and it's destroyed," he said.<p>Goodwin was flipping out. Fri, 25 Apr 2014 20:22:00 +0000 Richard Harris 44390 at http://kunm.org You Love The Cloud, But It May Not Be As Secure As You Think First Embryonic Stem Cells Cloned From A Man's Skin http://kunm.org/post/first-embryonic-stem-cells-cloned-mans-skin Eighteen years ago, scientists in Scotland took the nuclear DNA from the cell of an adult sheep and put it into another sheep's egg cell that had been emptied of its own nucleus. The resulting egg was implanted in the womb of a third sheep, and the result was Dolly, the first clone of a mammal.<p>Dolly's birth set off a huge outpouring of ethical concern — along with hope that the same techniques, applied to human cells, could be used to treat myriad diseases.<p>But Dolly's birth also triggered years of frustration. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 18:14:00 +0000 Richard Harris 43993 at http://kunm.org First Embryonic Stem Cells Cloned From A Man's Skin Ebola Drug Could Be Ready For Human Testing Next Year http://kunm.org/post/ebola-drug-could-be-ready-human-testing-next-year The <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/04/08/300509073/the-ebola-outbreak-three-weeks-in-dire-but-not-hopeless">Ebola outbreak</a> in West Africa is terrifying because there's no drug to treat this often fatal disease. But the disease is so rare, there's no incentive for big pharmaceutical companies to develop a treatment.<p>Even so, some small companies, given government incentives, are stepping into that breach. The result: More than half a dozen ideas are being pursued actively.<p>And these are boon days for drugs that can treat viruses. Fri, 11 Apr 2014 20:30:00 +0000 Richard Harris 43756 at http://kunm.org Ebola Drug Could Be Ready For Human Testing Next Year How Mouse Studies Lead Medical Research Down Dead Ends http://kunm.org/post/how-mouse-studies-lead-medical-research-down-dead-ends Most experimental drugs fail before they make it through all the tests required to figure out if they actually work and if they're safe. But some drugs get fairly far down that road, at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, based on poorly conducted studies at the outset.<p>Medical researchers reviewing this sorry state of affairs say the drug-development process needs serious improvement.<p>Consider drugs that are being developed to treat <a href="http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/amyotrophiclateralsclerosis.html">ALS</a>, or Lou Gehrig's disease. Tue, 08 Apr 2014 07:44:00 +0000 Richard Harris 43560 at http://kunm.org How Mouse Studies Lead Medical Research Down Dead Ends Simple Blood Test To Spot Early Lung Cancer Getting Closer http://kunm.org/post/simple-blood-test-spot-early-lung-cancer-getting-closer One of these days, there could well be a simple blood test that can help diagnose and track cancers. We aren't there yet, but a burst of research in this area shows we are getting a lot closer.<p>In the latest of these studies, scientists have used blood samples to identify people with lung cancer.<p>At the Stanford School of Medicine, <a href="http://stemcell.stanford.edu/about/Laboratories/diehn/index.html">Dr. Maximilian Diehn</a> spends some of his time as a radiation oncologist treating patients with cancer, and some of his time delving into the world of DNA. Sun, 06 Apr 2014 17:22:00 +0000 Richard Harris 43499 at http://kunm.org Simple Blood Test To Spot Early Lung Cancer Getting Closer Custom Chromo: First Yeast Chromosome Built From Scratch http://kunm.org/post/custom-chromo-first-yeast-chromosome-built-scratch Using the labor of dozens of undergraduate students, scientists have built a customized yeast chromosome from scratch.<p>It's a milestone in the rapidly growing field of synthetic biology, where organisms can be tailored for industrial use. In this case, the near-term goal is to understand the genetics of yeast, and eventually the genetics of us.<p>This was quite an undertaking. Yeast have about 6,000 genes packed in 16 tidy bundles called chromosomes. Thu, 27 Mar 2014 21:05:00 +0000 Richard Harris 43076 at http://kunm.org Custom Chromo: First Yeast Chromosome Built From Scratch Fewer People Are Getting Infections In Hospitals, But Many Still Die http://kunm.org/post/fewer-people-are-getting-infections-hospitals-many-still-die Hospital-acquired infections continue to be a big problem in health care, with 4 percent of patients getting a new infection while hospitalized, a study finds. And 11 percent of those infections turn deadly.<p>It's the first time that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has attempted to catalog all hospital infections, not just the infections with germs on their watch list. Wed, 26 Mar 2014 16:18:00 +0000 Richard Harris 43002 at http://kunm.org Fewer People Are Getting Infections In Hospitals, But Many Still Die Never Mind Eyesight, Your Nose Knows Much More http://kunm.org/post/never-mind-eyesight-your-nose-knows-much-more The human eye can distinguish more than 2 million distinct colors. But scientists studying smell now say they have their vision colleagues beat: The human nose, they say, can distinguish more than a trillion different smells.<p>Yes, trillion with a T.<p>That new figure displaces a much more modest estimate. Thu, 20 Mar 2014 20:28:00 +0000 Richard Harris 42736 at http://kunm.org Never Mind Eyesight, Your Nose Knows Much More Google's Flu Tracker Suffers From Sniffles http://kunm.org/post/googles-flu-tracker-suffers-sniffles If you want to know what's up with the flu at the moment, you have a few choices: You can get the latest information at <a href="https://www.google.org/flutrends/us/#US">Google Flu Trends</a>. Thu, 13 Mar 2014 20:23:00 +0000 Richard Harris 42434 at http://kunm.org Google's Flu Tracker Suffers From Sniffles Ancient DNA Ties Native Americans From Two Continents To Clovis http://kunm.org/post/ancient-dna-ties-native-americans-two-continents-clovis The mysterious Clovis culture, which appeared in North America about 13,000 years ago, appears to be the forerunner of Native Americans throughout the Americas, according to <a href="http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v506/n7487/full/nature13025.html">a study</a> in <em>Nature</em>. Thu, 13 Feb 2014 08:03:00 +0000 Richard Harris 41269 at http://kunm.org Ancient DNA Ties Native Americans From Two Continents To Clovis Neanderthal Genes Live On In Our Hair And Skin http://kunm.org/post/neanderthal-genes-live-our-hair-and-skin Neanderthals died out long ago, but their genes live on in us. Scientists studying human chromosomes say they've discovered a surprising amount of Neanderthal DNA in our genes. And these aren't just random fragments; they help shape what we look like today, including our hair and skin.<p>These genes crept into our DNA tens of thousands of years ago, during occasional sexual encounters between Neanderthals and human ancestors who lived in Europe at the time. Wed, 29 Jan 2014 20:56:00 +0000 Richard Harris 40671 at http://kunm.org Ancient And Vulnerable: 25 Percent Of Sharks And Rays Risk Extinction http://kunm.org/post/ancient-and-vulnerable-25-percent-sharks-and-rays-risk-extinction There are more than a thousand species of sharks and rays in the world, and nearly a quarter of them are threatened with extinction, according to a new study. Wed, 22 Jan 2014 08:44:00 +0000 Richard Harris 40347 at http://kunm.org Ancient And Vulnerable: 25 Percent Of Sharks And Rays Risk Extinction An Old Tree Doesn't Get Taller, But Bulks Up Like A Bodybuilder http://kunm.org/post/old-trees-grow-faster-every-year Like other animals and many living things, we humans grow when we're young and then stop growing once we mature. But trees, it turns out, are an exception to this general rule. In fact, scientists have discovered that trees grow faster the older they get.<p>Once trees reach a certain height, they do stop getting taller. So many foresters figured that tree growth — and girth — also slowed with age.<p>"What we found was the exact opposite," says <a href="http://www.werc.usgs.gov/person.aspx?personid=138">Nate Stephenson</a>, a forest ecologist with the U.S. Thu, 16 Jan 2014 08:27:00 +0000 Richard Harris 40147 at http://kunm.org An Old Tree Doesn't Get Taller, But Bulks Up Like A Bodybuilder Whales, Dolphins Are Collateral Damage In Our Taste For Seafood http://kunm.org/post/thousands-whales-dolphins-killed-satisfy-our-seafood-appetite Hundreds of thousands of marine mammals are injured or killed every year by fishermen around the world. And because most seafood in the U.S. is imported, that means our fish isn't as dolphin-friendly as you might expect.<p>Under pressure from conservation groups, federal regulators are preparing to tighten import standards to better protect marine mammals.<p>There was a time, more than 40 years ago, when U.S. fishermen killed millions of dolphins while fishing for tuna. Wed, 08 Jan 2014 16:05:00 +0000 Richard Harris 39842 at http://kunm.org Whales, Dolphins Are Collateral Damage In Our Taste For Seafood Arctic Methane Bubbles Not As Foreboding As Once Feared http://kunm.org/post/arctic-methane-bubbles-not-foreboding-once-feared European scientists were alarmed in 2008 when they discovered streams of methane bubbles erupting from the seafloor in Norway's high Arctic. This gas, which contributes to global warming, was apparently coming from methane ice on the seafloor. A follow-up study finds that methane bubble plumes at this location have probably been forming for a few thousand years, so they are not the result of human-induced climate change. But continued warming of ocean water can trigger more methane releases in the Arctic, with potentially serious consequences to the climate. Mon, 06 Jan 2014 21:27:00 +0000 Richard Harris 39756 at http://kunm.org West Coast's Early Warning System For Quakes Still Spotty http://kunm.org/post/west-coasts-early-warning-system-quakes-still-spotty Earthquake scientists on the West Coast would like to build a system that would give people a bit of warning before they get jolted with strong shaking from a distant quake.<p>Seismic waves take time to travel from the epicenter, which means such a warning system could issue alerts ranging from a few seconds to a few minutes. Thu, 26 Dec 2013 23:01:00 +0000 Richard Harris 39400 at http://kunm.org West Coast's Early Warning System For Quakes Still Spotty Could Big Batteries Be Big Business In California? http://kunm.org/post/could-big-batteries-be-big-business-california The California Public Utilities Commission has called on utilities and private companies to install about $5 billion worth of batteries and other forms of energy storage to help the state power grid cope with the erratic power supplied by wind and solar energy.<p>The need to store energy has become urgent because the state is planning to get a third of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade. Mon, 23 Dec 2013 08:24:00 +0000 Richard Harris 39259 at http://kunm.org Could Big Batteries Be Big Business In California? Environmentalists Split Over Need For Nuclear Power http://kunm.org/post/environmentalists-split-over-need-nuclear-power California is regarded as the leading state when it comes to addressing climate change. But in 2012, according to analysts at <a href="http://rhg.com/">Rhodium Group</a>, California's carbon emissions actually increased more than 10 percent, bucking the national trend of decreases. Tue, 17 Dec 2013 08:04:00 +0000 Richard Harris 39009 at http://kunm.org Environmentalists Split Over Need For Nuclear Power Big Batteries Needed To Make Fickle Wind And Solar Power Work http://kunm.org/post/big-batteries-needed-make-fickle-wind-and-solar-power-work Giant batteries are coming to a power grid near you. In fact, they're already starting to appear on the grid in California.<p>That's because California is planning to rely increasingly on power supplies that aren't necessarily available every minute of every day. The state plans to get one-third of its electricity from wind and solar energy by 2020.<p>Utilities in the state are trying to figure out how they can cope with that uncertain power supply. Batteries aren't a panacea, but they could help.<p>Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Wed, 11 Dec 2013 21:58:00 +0000 Richard Harris 38799 at http://kunm.org Big Batteries Needed To Make Fickle Wind And Solar Power Work Ready — Or Not. Abrupt Climate Changes Worry Scientists Most http://kunm.org/post/ready-or-not-quick-climate-changes-worry-scientists-most An expert panel at the National Academy of Sciences is <a href="http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=18373">calling for an early warning system</a> to alert us to abrupt and potentially catastrophic events triggered by climate change.<p>The committee says science can anticipate some major changes to the Earth that could affect everything from agriculture to sea level. But we aren't doing enough to look for those changes and anticipate their impacts.<p>And this is not a matter for some distant future. The Earth is already experiencing both gradual and abrupt climate change. Tue, 03 Dec 2013 22:01:00 +0000 Richard Harris 38457 at http://kunm.org Ready — Or Not. Abrupt Climate Changes Worry Scientists Most