Making Strides in Breast Cancer Research
This is Science Today. October is National Breast
Cancer Awareness Month - a time when women across
the nation are reminded about the prevention and
early detection of the disease. It's also a time
to raise awareness about breast cancer research.
At the University of California, San Francisco there's
a clinical an ongoing clinical trial using a drug
that blocks new blood vessel growth. Dr. Laura Esserman,
director of the university's Breast Cancer Center,
says the field is called angiogenesis.
What that means is, the blood vessels that support
the growth of tumors. Tumors can't bet big if they
don't have food and food comes from the blood. And
there's specific ways in which tumors recruit the
growth of blood vessels to help support them. It's
like they're building roads to themselves so they
can get supplies in. So the idea is, if you can
block the road or destroy the roads or the bridges,
that you can stop tumors from growing.
The ultimate goal of this research is to determine
whether an anti-angiogenic agent can effectively
starve tumors in women with earlier stages of breast
cancer. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.
Don't Always Count on End-of-life Decisions
This is Science Today. Various studies have found
that family members and doctors are often unaware
of patient preferences when it comes to do-not-resuscitate
orders or other life-and-death decisions. Peter Ditto,
a professor of psychology and social behavior at the
University of California, Irvine, found this to be
the case in a study of living wills, or advance directives.
Ditto: What I'm really interested
in is getting sort of the psychology of advance directives.
How is it that people can try to decide in advance
what sort of medical treatments they would want if
they're in a very serious medical condition - a state
very different from the one they're in now.
Narrator: Ditto found that for the most
part, advance directives did not significantly help
people accurately predict patient preferences.
The point that the research makes is that if you believe
that a simple statement like that is going to communicate
your wishes with somebody else, that's not a good
assumption. That it's going to at least take a more
elaborate process. It's an ongoing process of discussion
sort of examining the reasons for people's wishes,
the values that underlie their wishes.
Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.
The Possible Spread of Sudden Oak Death Syndrome
This is Science Today. Plant biologists are working
hard to learn more about a fast spreading disease
called sudden oak death syndrome, which has already
affected tens of thousands of trees in California
and has jumped to Oregon. Researchers, including Dr.
David Rizzo of the University of California, Davis,
fear it may be able to spread to the Midwest and east.
We don't have definitive answers on how the pathogen
has moved from one tree to another, but we have evidence
that the fungus can be found in the soil, therefore
it may be moved within a stand by people, by animals.
So those are areas where we're working now that we
have preliminary evidence, but the definitive evidence
we're still working on that.
the meantime, Rizzo says it would be wise for hikers,
bikers and off-road drivers to wash their shoe soles
and tires after possible exposure to contaminated
So if somebody is getting mud in the tires, before
they head to an area that does not have the disease,
they should probably run their car through a car wash
to get the mud off their tires.
Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.
Women and Children Suffer Most from Indoor Air Pollution
This is Science Today. Indoor air pollution from cooking
fires in Third World countries, cause an estimated
3 to 4 million deaths worldwide each year. Daniel
Kammen, a professor in the Energy and Resources Group
at the University of California, Berkeley, says women
and children are much more affected by particulate
matter caused by inefficient, indoor stoves.
Women are exposed to so much pollution in this situation
because they do all of the cooking, they put their
face over the fire, children who are on their backs
frequently in many developing countries are also highly
exposed. Children are the most vulnerable segment
of the population.
Kammen conducted field studies in Africa to demonstrate
that improved, clean-burning stoves, which cost only
a dollar apiece, dramatically reduce pollution levels.
And now the EPA is working to get these stoves in
This EPA effort will provide funds for countries
who are partners with the U.S. in this effort to popularize
these stoves, explain their use, basically do the
process we did in this rural community on a much larger,
For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.
New Technology Tracks Hazardous Releases from the
This is Science Today. Researchers at the Lawrence
Livermore National Laboratory have developed new Internet
and web technology that makes it possible to predict
the downwind hazard zones from radioactive and nuclear
releases into the atmosphere. John Nasstrom, one of
the program leaders, says they have recently added
chemical and biological materials into their capability.
The heart of our system, there are three-dimensional,
atmospheric models. They include terrain, the land-use
characteristics; they use meteorological data - we
have real-time access to meteorological observations
and forecasts that cover the globe.
Those models are used to predict a three-dimensional
understanding of materials in the atmosphere, including
how they are spread, how they decay and hazardous
air concentration levels.
And that's used by decision makers to decide: Who
are the affected populations? Who needs to be evacuated?
Where is it safe? Where is it not safe? How many people
can we be expected to have been affected by some accident
or in the case of a terrorist event, some intentional
Science Today, Larissa Branin.