SciTech Briefs

The sun rises over planet Earth and our protective atmosphere blocks dangerous sun rays to keep us safe. (credit: Courtesy of NASA via Wikimedia Commons) The sun rises over planet Earth and our protective atmosphere blocks dangerous sun rays to keep us safe. (credit: Courtesy of NASA via Wikimedia Commons)

Genetic risk for second cancer in pediatric patients

Scientists now believe there is a genetic component to account for the higher risk of childhood cancer survivors getting a second cancer later in life. When researchers examined data from 3,007 childhood cancer survivors, they found that 11.5 percent of them carry genetic mutations in at least one of the 156 genes the researched look at.

On April 3, the researchers presented their findings at a meeting for the American Association of Cancer Research. Of the survivors they examined, a third had had childhood leukemia; by age 45, 20 percent had developed new tumors on the skin, breast, or thyroid. Some were due to effects of chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Of the 156 genes examined, there exists a subset of 60 genes in which a single mutation is highly likely to lead to cancer; 6 percent of the survivors had mutations in these 60 genes.

Genetic counseling is now advised if a second cancer develops for these patients. “This is a nice first step,” says David Malkin, a pediatric oncologist at the University of Toronto. “The results validate the thoughts of those of us who believe there is a genetic risk that increases the risk of second malignancies.”

Source: ScienceNews

Pesticides found in Iowa tap water

Pesticides have long been controversial. For the first time, traces of insecticide in the form of neonicotinoid chemicals have been discovered in tap water in Iowa, in a study published in the Journal of Environmental Science & Technology Letters.

Despite treatment, the level of chemicals was discovered to remain constant. With various types of filtration, it was discovered that 0.24 to 57.3 nanograms of individual neonicotinoids per liter remained. While it is currently unknown whether the chemicals will have harmful effects relating to human health, the uncertainty that goes along with chemical treatment is what makes this discovery a large setback for pesticide use.

Neonicotinoids were originally used as a seed coating for crops, harmful to insects but not other species. “Based on some of the literature that has been published, the nitro group has the potential to be removed in the filtration processes and that is the group that confers the selectivity to insects,” said lead author Kathryn Klarich from the University of Iowa.

Source: BBC

Atmosphere is detected around planet

An astronomy team at Keele University in England has recently discovered an atmosphere surrounding an Earth-like planet. The planet is called GJ 1132b, residing in the southern constellation Vela.

Dr. John Southworth, who led the team, said, “While this is not the detection of life on another planet, it’s an important step in the right direction: the detection of an atmosphere around the super-Earth GJ 1132b marks the first time that an atmosphere has been detected around an Earth-like planet other than Earth itself.”

The team consisted of researchers from Keele University, the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA, Germany), and the University of Cambridge. To take images of the planet and its host star, GJ 1132, the team used a GROND imager telescope at the 2.2 m ESO/MPG in Chile. The researchers examined the planet at seven wavelengths, detecting decreases in brightness as the planet absorbed light from the host star. This discovery makes the planet a high priority for powerful telescopes like the Hubble Space Telescope to examine further.

Source: ScienceDaily