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Researchers led by scientists at the Medical Genetics Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have identified a gene mutation and molecular mechanism causing an inherited form of scoliosis.

Mutations in the TRPV4 gene cause a type of brachyolmia, a skeletal dysplasia. Those inheriting the disorder have a shorter-than-average trunk, limbs and fingers and toes, and are affected by scoliosis, primarily in the lumbar vertebrae.

Mutations of the TRPV4 gene appear to cause increased calcium in the cells of the developing skeleton. This is the first study to identify this mechanism as a contributor to skeletal dysplasias. The findings suggest that calcium channel balance is important in normal spine development. Also, for skeletal abnormalities caused by TRPV4 gene mutations, the use of calcium channel inhibitors could represent a future approach to treatment.

Research by two Kansas State University scientists could help with the large-scale cultivation and manufacturing of oil-rich algae in the oceans.

Algae are a diverse and simple group of organisms that live in or near water. Certain algal species are high in oil content that could be converted into such fuels as biodiesel, according to Pei and Yuan. Algae also have several environmentally-friendly advantages over corn or other plants used for biofuels, including not needing soil or fresh water to grow.

Nearly one in 10 obstetricians in a new study has considered giving up obstetric practice because of the emotional toll of stillbirths and infant deaths.

"In the beginning" were more than just words — they were the beginning of printing presses and typography that brought new depths of meaning and creativity to language. For some designers and printers, the ultimate challenge is the Bible, the design of which could be affected by politics and religious beliefs, as well as by aesthetic and commercial concerns.

Patsy Watkins studied five bibles created from the mid-15th through the 20th centuries to see if the designers’ motives could be discerned within their design and typefaces. The Visual Communication Quarterly published her findings, “Designing the Holy Bible: Arguing the TEXT Through the Form,” in its latest issue devoted to typography.

She chose the Gutenberg Bible, the Martin Luther Bible, the Doves Press Bible, the Washburn College Bible and the Pennyroyal Caxton Press Bible. What she found was that form indeed revealed function as well as the designers’ desire to shape the meaning and hence a reader’s understanding of this ancient text.

Homosexual behavior is largely shaped by genetics and random environmental factors, according to findings from the world's largest study of twins.

Researchers from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences and Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm report in the Archives of Sexual Behavior that genetics and environmental factors (which are specific to an individual, and may include biological processes such as different hormone exposure in the womb), are important determinants of homosexual behavior.

The team led by Dr Niklas Långström at Karolinska Institutet conducted the first truly population-based survey of all adult (20-47 years old) twins in Sweden. Studies of identical twins and non-identical, or fraternal, twins are often used to untangle the genetic and environmental factors responsible for a trait. While identical twins share all of their genes and their entire environment, fraternal twins share only half of their genes and their entire environment. Therefore, greater similarity in a trait between identical twins compared to fraternal twins shows that genetic factors are partly responsible for the trait.

Scientists at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center are about to embark on a human trial to test whether a new cancer treatment will be as effective at eradicating cancer in humans as it has proven to be in mice.

The treatment will involve transfusing specific white blood cells, called granulocytes, from select donors, into patients with advanced forms of cancer. A similar treatment using white blood cells from cancer-resistant mice has previously been highly successful, curing 100 percent of lab mice afflicted with advanced malignancies.

Zheng Cui, Ph.D., lead researcher and associate professor of pathology, will be announcing the study June 28 at the Understanding Aging conference in Los Angeles.