• 30/07/2006

sterilising produce: A new method to sterilise fruits and vegetables has been developed, which literally sucks life out of germs. It could replace ozone-depleting chemicals, like methyl bromide, which are currently used to sterilise fresh produce. Called metabolic stress disinfection, the technique was developed by Manuel Lagunas-Solar and his team at University of California, Davis. It works by subjecting insects on fruit and vegetables to alternating vacuum and carbon dioxide. This effectively suffocates organisms because they require oxygen to live.

body clock: The first gene known to control the internal clock of humans and other mammals works much differently than previously believed, according to a US study. The surprising discovery means scientists must change their approach to designing new drugs to treat jet lag, insomnia, some forms of depression, sleep problems in shift workers and other circadian rhythm disorders, according to researchers at the University of Utah's Huntsman Cancer Institute and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

radioactivity risk: Exposure to radioactive iodine increases the risk of thyroid cancer in children and adolescents, a study of thyroid cancer prevalence after the Chernobyl accident shows. Geoffrey R Howe of Columbia University in New York, and colleagues screened 13,127 people for thyroid cancer who were under 18 at the time of the Chernobyl accident in 1986 and lived in highly contaminated areas of Ukraine. The researchers found 45 cases of thyroid cancer in the screened group in comparison with 11.2 cases expected without the accident.

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