Program 915,
  November 8, 2005


A. A Global Observing System is Two-thirds Complete

Narrator: This is Science Today. An internationally coordinated global observing system called ARGO, which was set up to monitor Earth's oceans, is two-thirds complete. The free-floating, robotic devices have already collected nearly 55 thousand profiles from over 2,000 floats around the world.

Roemmich: We're trying to deploy at least 750 to 800 instruments every year, in order to both reach the three thousand float plateau and to hold it at that level.

Narrator: Dean Roemmich, a scientist at the University of California , San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, explains the program will eventually deploy 3,000 temperature and salinity profiling floats.

Roemmich: The profiling float is an autonomous instrument, self-contained, which can operate for about five years in the open ocean. And it makes a profile, every ten days, from about two thousand meters depth, measuring temperature and salinity as it goes up and then transmitting that data immediately back home.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.

B. A Cancer Center with a Unique Research Partnership

Narrator: This is Science Today. When the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory formed a research partnership with the University of California , Davis Cancer Center , it was the first of its kind in the nation. Rod Balhorn, leader of the Lab's Biomedical Division, says in the last five years, they've been working very closely in a program called the integrated cancer research program.

Balhorn: The main focus of this is to take technology that's being developed at Livermore for biodefense, for national defense, other application and when appropriate, apply it to healthcare. There are examples where someone here might be working on developing mass spectrometry methods for analyzing samples that may be contaminated with bacteria or viruses or toxins and identify that they're present or not and what they've done is try to use similar technology and apply it to clinical applications.

Narrator: The UC Davis Cancer Center is a National Cancer Institute-designated center. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.

C. Virtual Colonoscopy Reveals Disease Outside of the Colon

Narrator: This is Science Today. Virtual colonoscopy, a new radiology technique that uses a CAT scan to less invasively study the colon, also reveals diseases outside of the colon. Dr. Judy Yee, chief of radiology at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center , led the study.

Yee: Some of the things that we identified were lung nodules, because we do scan at the base of the lungs. We did find some lung cancers, some kidney cancers, liver masses and splenic lesions as well.

Narrator: Because patients tested in this study were not symptomatic for these other problems, Yee says they were able to identify disease outside of the colon at an earlier stage, when it is more curable.

Yee: I think that we need to perform additional cost-effectiveness analyses, probably in a larger number of patients. Our patient cohort included only males because we were dealing with the veteran population. So, looking at it in women would be important as well, so it would include in women, for example, the uterus and the ovaries.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.

D. New Insight into Why the Elderly Suffer More Fractures

Narrator: This is Science Today. Using sophisticated imaging and testing techniques, scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have gained better insight into why older people suffer more from bone fractures a finding that may lead to new therapeutic measures. Robert Ritchie, a senior scientist at the Lab who led the study, says as people grow older, they lose bone quality.

Ritchie: We took bone from 30-year olds, 50 to 60-year olds and we have some 90 to 100-year old bone. And what we found was there was dramatic reduction in the toughness of bone with age dramatic. In fact, the resistance to a crack that's growing in bone is almost nothing in 100-year old bone. So, there's a huge reduction in toughness of the bone.

Narrator: As we age, our bones lose density, and that was considered to be the main reason why the elderly were more prone to fracture: due to less bone quantity .

Ritchie: In fact, bone density or bone quantity was perhaps only five, ten percent of the problem. There was something else going on as well. The bone itself is diminishing in quality, making it more prone to fracture.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.

E. High Vegetable Diets Linked to a Lower Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

Narrator: This is Science Today. Eating a high-vegetable diet has been associated with close to a fifty percent reduction in the risk of developing pancreatic cancer. Elizabeth Holly, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California , San Francisco , says the study was one of the largest of its kind.

Holly: The association that we found was reduced risk for pancreatic cancer with eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, mostly vegetables were important. This is just really quite interesting to see that if you eat a lot of vegetables or a lot of fruits and vegetables, you can reduce your risk of pancreatic cancer.

Narrator: Pancreatic cancer is difficult to diagnose and hard to treat, so patients often die very rapidly.

Holly: It's really fabulous if we can find anything that impacts pancreatic cancer because it's such a devastating disease. It is the fourth and fifth most common cause of death in cancers in the United States .

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.




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