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Jennifer Cheavens, assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University and Laura Dreer of the University of Alabama at Birmingham say that hope can battle depression and discussed some of the latest research during a symposium Saturday Aug. 16 in Boston at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Boston.

How do you measure 'hope' in people, depressed or not?

Cheavens uses a 12-item questionnaire developed by her mentor, the late C.R. Snyder of the University of Kansas. In this measure, hope has two components: a map or pathway to get what you want, and the motivation and strength to follow that path.

“If you feel you know how to get what you want out of life, and you have that desire to make that happen, then you have hope,” Cheavens said.

While many studies have examined cheating among college students, new research looks at the issue from a different perspective – identifying students who are least likely to cheat.

The study of students at one Ohio university found that students who scored high on measures of courage, empathy and honesty were less likely than others to report their cheating in the past – or intending to cheat in the future.

Moreover, those students who reported less cheating were also less likely to believe that their fellow students regularly committed academic dishonesty.

A possible future way to prevent relapses into drug dependence has been discovered by researchers at Linköping University and the German cancer research center DKFZ. The target is the dopamine-producing nerve cells in the midbrain.

Earlier research has shown that these cells become more excitable when a person takes drugs. To find out the functional meaning of this, these researchers used a mouse model for cocaine dependence. When they blocked the cells’ receptors for glutamate - the brain’s most important signal substance -the risk of relapsing into addiction vanished. The findings are being published in the highly ranked journal Neuron.

Dopamine-producing nerve cells are central to the brain’s reward system.

Preliminary research led by Dr. Lawrence Cheskin, MD, Director of John Hopkins Weight Management Center, suggests increasing intake of low-energy density foods like mushrooms in place of high-energy-density foods like lean ground beef is a strategy for preventing or treating obesity. This is good news for the more than one-third of U.S. adults age 20 and older who are obese, according to the Center for Disease Control and who therefore have a greater risk factor for cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes. (1)

In a Mushroom Council study led by Dr. Cheskin, study participants were randomly chosen to receive either beef or mushroom lunch entrées over four days – lasagna, napoleon, sloppy Joe and chili. Subjects then switched entrées to consume the other ingredient (mushroom or beef) the following week.

Scientists at Michigan State University have identified a new protein necessary for chloroplast development that they say could ultimately lead to plant varieties tailored specifically for biofuel production.

Chloroplasts, which are specialized compartments in plant cells, convert sunlight, carbon dioxide and water into sugars and oxygen ("fuel" for the plant) during photosynthesis. The newly discovered protein, trigalactosyldiacylglycerol 4, or TGD4, offers insight into how the process works.

When a cell begins to multiply in a dangerously abnormal way, a series of death signals trigger it to self-destruct before it turns cancerous. In research in the August 15th issue of Genes & Development, Rockefeller University scientists using mice have figured out a way to amplify the signals that tell these precancerous cells to die. The trick: Inactivating a protein that normally helps cells to avoid self-destruction.

The work, led by Hermann Steller, Strang Professor and head of the Laboratory of Apoptosis and Cancer Biology, is the first to reveal the mechanism by which a class of proteins called IAPs regulates cell death. By exposing the mechanism in a living animal, the finding also marks a breakthrough in the field and opens the door for developing a new class of drugs that could aid in cancer therapy and prevention.