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Could injecting a gene into a patient with severe heart failure reverse their disabling and life-threatening condition? Physician-scientists are setting out to answer that question in a first-ever clinical trial of gene therapy to treat severe heart failure.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center is the only center in the New York City area where the therapy is currently available.

Patients enrolled in the multicenter CUPID trial (Calcium Up-Regulation by Percutaneous Administration of Gene Therapy in Cardiac Disease) will undergo a minimally invasive cardiac catheterization procedure that will introduce a specially engineered gene that stimulates production of an enzyme necessary for the heart to pump more efficiently.

The International Council for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM), the International Mathematical Union (IMU) and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics (IMS) today released the Citation Statistics report. The report is written from a mathematical perspective and states that while citation-based statistics such as impact factor are often used to assess scientific research they are not the best measures of research quality.

The use of citations in assessing research quality is a topic that is of increasing interest throughout the world's scientific community. The report cautions against the over-reliance on citation statistics such as the impact factor and h-index. These are often promoted because of the belief in their accuracy, objectivity, and simplicity, but these beliefs are unfounded.

Among the report’s key findings:

Male homosexuality is difficult to explain under strictly Darwinian evolutionary models, because carriers of genes predisposing towards male homosexuality would be likely to reproduce less than average, suggesting that alleles influencing homosexuality should progressively disappear from a population.

Partly due to that, homosexuality in males is thought to have both psycho-social factors and genetic components. This is suggested by the high concordance of sexual orientation in identical twins and the fact that homosexuality is more common in males belonging to the maternal line of male homosexuals. These effects have not been shown for female homosexuality, indicating that these two phenomena may have very different origins and dynamics.

An Italian research team, consisting of Andrea Camperio Ciani and Giovanni Zanzotto at the University of Padova and Paolo Cermelli at the University of Torino, found that the evolutionary origin and maintenance of male homosexuality in human populations could be explained by a model based around the idea of sexually antagonistic selection, in which genetic factors spread in the population by giving a reproductive advantage to one sex while disadvantaging the other.

Previous work by Camperio Ciani and collaborators, published in 2004, showed that females in the maternal line of male homosexuals were more fertile than average, giving less weight to the idea that alleles influencing homosexuality should progressively disappear from a population.

Want to get a male mouse excited? A group of steroids found in female mouse urine is all it takes, say researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. They found the compounds activate nerve cells in the male mouse's nose with unprecedented effectiveness.

"These particular steroids, known as glucocorticoids (GCCs), are involved in energy metabolism, stress and immune function," says senior author Timothy E. Holy, Ph.D., assistant professor of neurobiology and anatomy. "They control many important aspects of the mouse's physiology and theoretically could give any mouse that sniffs them a detailed insider's view of the health of the animal they came from."

Holy plans further research to see if activating the nerves in the male mouse's nose leads to particular behavioral responses. He probes the male mouse's reaction to chemical signals from female mice to advance understanding of pattern recognition and learning in the much more complex human brain. In 2005, he found that female mice or their odors cause male mice to sing. He doesn't know yet if the GCC steroids' effects on the male mouse nose help to trigger this behavior.

Female chimps think sleeping around is more important than finding the strongest mate, according to University of St Andrews scientists. They even go so far as to keep quiet during sex so that other females don't find out about it, thus preventing any unwanted competition.

The research, by psychologists Simon Townsend and Klaus Zuberbühler, sheds new light on the sophisticated mental capacities and social intelligence of our closest living relatives.

The researchers observed the behavior of chimps in the Budongo Forest, Uganda, in collaboration with Tobias Deschner of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.

We like to think that newer ideas are always better and indoor plumbing may be one newer idea that should be reconsidered in the developing world, according to Michigan researchers.

Clean water scarcity is not as critical an issue as often thought say Michigan Technological University Associate Professor David Watkins, Professor James Mihelcic and PhD student Lauren Fry of the University's Sustainable Futures Institute. But installing water-guzzling appliances such as toilets can actually promote unsanitary conditions when the effluent is discharged untreated into once-clean rivers and streams.

Instead, a properly built latrine keeps sewage safely separate from drinking water. Diseases such as dysentery attack millions of people every year, often fatally, largely as a result of poor sanitation.