Science

Dark Matter
5:01 am
Thu January 30, 2014

Did UW Researchers Back The Right Horse In One Of Physics' Hottest Questions?

UW researchers assemble the complex ADMX detector, built to search for dark matter axions.
ADMX Collaboration

Think of the immense amount of stuff in the cosmos: stars, planets, interstellar dust and clusters of galaxies. Now consider this: all that stuff is probably only about one-sixth of the matter in the universe.

The rest is thought to be a mysterious invisible substance called dark matter — something scientists have been hunting for decades. Now an unexpected turn of events has put a low-key research team in Seattle right at the center of the dark matter search.

Read more
Brain Training
5:07 pm
Mon January 13, 2014

10 Hours Of Brain Training Keeps Elderly Sharper Even 10 Years Later, Study Finds

istockphoto.com

Scientists have long known that brain training can help older adults stay sharp, but a new study co-authored by a Seattle scientist shows those benefits also have remarkable staying power.

The advantages from just a little bit of training — about 10 total hours — can last at least a full decade, according to a large national study called the Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly, or ACTIVE study. 

Read more
Brain Injuries
5:01 am
Thu January 2, 2014

NFL Money Will Fund Seattle Doctor's Concussion Research

Concussions often don't show up on brain scans.
Matthew Purdy Flickr

The National Football League is paying for a Seattle scientist to study head injuries in student athletes, testing a solution to the problem of how to diagnose and measure concussions.

With all the focus on sports and head trauma lately, it may come as a surprise that medicine actually doesn’t have great ways to measure common brain injuries. They don’t usually show up on brain scans, even though we know they can cause serious and lasting neurological problems.

Read more
Project Violet
5:01 am
Wed December 18, 2013

Seattle Scientists Look To Make Drug Research More Like Fantasy Football

Steve Brooks shows his three-year old daughter Eliza a drug scaffold based on a Petunia protein.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

Editor's Note: This is the second installment of a two-part series. Learn how scorpion vemon led local researchers to the brink of discovery of a new class of drugs in Part 1.

Consider the chemical elegance of a potato. Or a petunia. Or a horseshoe crab.

Somewhere in each of those organisms is a special little protein uniquely equipped to do what medicines do: barge in on biological processes and mess with them. With a little tweaking, it’s possible they could be trained to, say, keep cancer cells from spreading.

A few years ago, Dr. Jim Olson and his team at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center had figured out how to make those proteins by the thousands, but they hadn’t yet figured out how to pay for it.

Read more
Drug Discovery
5:01 am
Tue December 17, 2013

How A Scorpion's Sting Led Seattle Scientists To The Brink Of Discovery

Dr. Jim Olson is exploring a whole new class of drugs, based on his work with a scorpion toxin that helps fight cancer.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

The Deathstalker scorpion is about the size of your palm. It’s yellow and surly, its venom a seething cocktail of neurotoxins.

And somewhere in that poison soup is a very special little molecule, called chlorotoxin, designed to penetrate a prey animal’s brain. That effect happens to come in very handy: while it’s in there, it sticks to cancer cells while slipping right by healthy ones.

Jim Olson, a pediatric oncologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital and a researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, put that toxin to work.

Read more
Human-Animal Health
5:01 am
Wed December 11, 2013

Treating the Cow to Save the Kid: Where Human and Animal Health Intersect

Dr. Peter Rabinowitz will study how livestock and children affect each other's health.
Gabriel Spitzer KPLU

People fighting hunger in the developing world have noticed a troubling mystery: malnourished children sometimes fail to get healthier even when given a lot of extra nutrients.

The key to helping them may be to focus not on the kids, but on their cows, according to a team led by a University of Washington professor.

The researchers from UW, Washington State University and CDC-Kenya just received a Gates Foundation grant to examine the values of a holistic approach—one that focuses on the intersection of human, animal and environmental health.

Read more
Organic Food
2:00 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Organic Milk More Nutritious than Regular Milk, WSU Study Finds

Cows who graze on grass and pasture forage may give milk with healthier fats than conventionally raised cattle.
adstream Flickr

Organic dairy products may have a major nutritional advantage over conventional milk, Washington researchers have found in a study that could affect the ongoing debate about the health benefits of organics.

A Washington State University-led team studied about 400 samples of whole milk, both traditionally-produced and organic, and found a key difference in the balance of fatty acids. Organic milk seems to have a much higher proportion of omega-3s compared with omega-6s.

Read more
biotechnology
2:07 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Research Groups Team Up to Fight Cancer with 'Ninja Warrior T-Cells'

File image
Gerry Broome AP Photo

Seattle researchers and investors are making a massive bet on a new cancer-fighting technology.

The new startup, called Juno Therapeutics, is working on ways to take T-cells out of a patient’s body and genetically engineer them to attack his or her specific tumor.

Read more
Martian Chronicles
3:10 pm
Wed November 27, 2013

Martian Mystery: How Water Could Have Flowed on Chilly Mars

A NASA photo shows gully channels on teh surface of Mars, thought to have been caused by flowing water.
NASA

A University of Washington researcher may have helped solve a Martian mystery by explaining how the chilly surface of Mars could have once flowed with water.

Pictures of Mars clearly show features that look like valleys and old lakebeds, suggesting liquid water once churned on the planet's surface. And yet that surface is really cold, at -80 degrees Fahrenheit, on average.

Read more
Snow Science
5:01 am
Mon November 25, 2013

Strange Snow Finding Suggests Fewer Trees Mean More Water

UW reserahcres found that in temperate climates, snow melts faster under trees than in clearings.
Kael Martin University of Washington

Quick quiz: In springtime, does snow melt faster out in the open or in the shade? 

You might figure it melts faster in the sunshine, and that seems to be the case for cold climates. But in places with temperate winters, like the Pacific Northwest, it might be just the opposite.

Read more
Happy Accidents
3:31 pm
Fri November 15, 2013

Chance Finding at WSU Lights Up Possibilities in Physics, Computing

Researcher Marianne Tarun seals an ampoule containing a unique crystal.
Washington State University

An accidental breakthrough by Washington State University researchers might someday lead to much more powerful computers.

It began when graduate student Marianne Tarun was working with a particular kind of crystal, strontium titanate, in a WSU physics lab. The crystal has strange electrical properties, which interests engineers and computer scientists.

One day she discovered, to her surprise, that something had changed.

Read more
Marijuana DUI
9:15 am
Thu November 7, 2013

A Timeline of Wash. State's Changing Drugged Driving Laws

Associated Press

Before December, 2012: 

It's a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana if the intoxicant impairs your driving "to an appreciable degree." Prosecutors can use blood analysis, along with other evidence, to prove a person is impaired. But even though marijuana itself is illegal, there's no agreement on what level of THC in the blood constitutes a crime. 

As of December, 2012: 

Read more
health alert
2:03 pm
Thu October 24, 2013

Health Officials Perplexed by Spike in Number of Gonorrhea Cases

Steven Hurd Flickr

Health officials officials across the Northwest are trying to figure out why they’re seeing a big upswing in the number of people with gonorrhea this year. Washington announced Thursday five counties are in the midst of an outbreak of the infection.

The Washington outbreaks are in Spokane, Benton, Yakima, Kitsap, and Thurston counties. Overall, the state has seen a 34 percent increase in gonorrhea cases over this time last year.

Read more
Brain Health
1:59 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Brains Sweep Themselves Clean Of Toxins During Sleep

Katherine Streeter for NPR

Originally published on Fri October 18, 2013 2:35 pm

While the brain sleeps, it clears out harmful toxins, a process that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's, researchers say.

During sleep, the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain increases dramatically, washing away harmful waste proteins that build up between brain cells during waking hours, a study of mice found.

Read more
Science
5:01 am
Mon October 14, 2013

UW Engineer's Design Could Help Deaf People Enjoy Music

Cochlear implants are a lifesaver for many deaf people, but they can't recognize changes in pitch.
National Institutes of Health

Engineers at the University of Washington have developed a way for some deaf people to enjoy music. The findings could help people with cochlear implants, a bionic inner ear that allows deaf or hearing-impaired people to hear speech, albeit in kind of a robot voice.

Cochlear implants can be a lifesaver for people without hearing, but when it comes to music, this very practical device can’t carry a tune to save its life.

The implants simply aren’t sensitive to pitch and what’s called timbre—the qualities of a sound that make, say, a guitar sound different from a harp.

Read more

Pages