SciTech Briefs

Heart pill designed for black patients

A pill that combines two drugs reduces deaths in black patients with heart failure, and is expected to gain FDA approval soon. NitroMed, the drug?s maker, tested it among 1050 black patients, and found that the group of patients who received the drug had 43% fewer deaths due to heart failure than the group who didn?t. NitroMed did not test the drug on non-blacks, a move that black cardiologists hailed as a positive step because medical studies often exclude minorities. Blacks are two and a half times more likely to suffer from heart failure than other racial groups. If approved, the new drug would be the first ever approved for a specific race.

Source: KATC-TV

Tonal languages, perfect pitch linked

Young musicians who speak certain Asian languages identify isolated musical notes much better than English speakers, according to a University of California study. In a comparison of musicians who have similar ability, about 60 percent of Chinese subjects who started studying music between the ages of four and five had perfect pitch, but only 14 percent of the American subjects analyzed did. Students who started studying music later were also less likely to have the ability.
Perfect pitch is defined as the ability to identify between notes that differ in frequency by six percent. Only one in 10,000 Americans has perfect pitch. Researchers theorized that developing perfect pitch is like learning a second language for speakers of tonal languages and like learning a first language for others.

Source: Scientific American

Mothers should mimic kangaroos

Premature babies could benefit a lot from being treated like joeys, or baby kangaroos, according to Colombian researchers. Premature infants need to stay warm, and are often placed in incubators to keep them from getting cold. The new ?kangaroo therapy? places the baby, wearing only a diaper and a bonnet, against a parent?s bare chest, where constant skin-to-skin contact will keep it warm. The technique could save many lives in third-world countries, where incubators may not be available for all premature babies.

Source: New Scientist

Gmail to gain POP e-mail support

Gmail, the popular e-mail service provided by web search giant Google, will soon gain support for the e-mail protocol POP, company sources said on Wednesday. POP (Post Office Protocol) support will allow users to download their mail to programs like Mozilla Thunderbird, Eudora, or Microsoft Outlook and read it offline. Google is still tweaking and adding features to Gmail, which is still in a beta release. The service is free, but people can only get accounts by invitation. Gmail distinguished itself from other free e-mail services such as Yahoo! Mail and Hotmail when it was introduced by offering a gigabyte of storage space.

Source: CNN