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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS WEEKLY

Biomedicine: A Senator's Illness in America, Hybrid Embryos in Britain

The announcement last week that U.S. senator Edward Kennedy has a malignant brain tumor (a glioma) prompted many media outlets to report on the treatment options and prognosis for this medical condition.

In other news, the British parliament approved research using hybrid embryos that contain human and animal material. Experts said cytoplasmic hybrids are never likely to be transplanted into sick patients, and any insights about diseases revealed through this line of research are probably years away.

Meanwhile, U.S. health officials expressed concern that narcotic painkillers and other legitimate pharmaceuticals are replacing illegal substances as the drugs of choice among drug abusers.

According to a study released at the American Urological Association's annual meeting, a "wait-and-see" approach is appropriate for men who have low-risk prostate tumors that have not spread. But many patients still opt for treatment, preferring not to take any chances.

And a Mayo Clinic study found a sharp rise after 2003 in the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer there who decided to have mastectomies rather than lumpectomies. Researchers said one possible explanation is that magnetic resonance imaging is detecting more growths than mammography.


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PODCAST & VIDEO: Engineering Around Extreme Events

Extreme events, such as super floods and hurricanes, are becoming more common, so civil engineers are trying to adapt civil infrastructure such as bridges to these unpredictable and sometimes devastating meteorological events. Engineer Ana Barros discusses how engineering can prepare us for extreme weather events, but also how changing climate and population conditions can affect the ability of infrastructure to hold up over time.

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