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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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PODCASTS: From Balloons to Space Stations: Studying Cosmic Rays

CREAM Inflating

Cosmic rays have mysterious qualities about them that scientists continue to research in order to better understand their origins and composition. Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, a professor of physics at the University of Maryland, and her colleagues, fly enormous balloons as large as a football stadium and a volume of 40-million-cubic feet for extended periods over Antarctica to study particles coming from cosmic rays before they break up in the atmosphere.

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