Stem cells, drinking water, and drug marketing.

Human uterine stem cells can be induced to become neurons that may someday offer a way to counter the effects of Parkinson's disease. At the annual meeting of the Society for Gynecologic Investigation in late March, Hugh S. Taylor, a reproductive endocrinologist at the School of Medicine, and his colleagues described research in which these nerve cells were injected into the brains of mice with an experimental form of Parkinson's. The cells triggered an increase in dopamine, the neurotransmitter whose decrease in Parkinson's patients leads to immobility and death.


An international team led by cardiology researcher Harlan Krumholz ’80 has exposed a triumph of drug marketing that had dubious health results. The well-advertised and expensive drugs Vytorin and Zetia use a combination of a statin and a compound called ezetimibe to lower cholesterol levels. From 2002 to 2006 the market share of ezetimibe-containing drugs rose from 0.2 to 15.2 percent of lipid-lowering medications prescribed in the United States. But in Canada, which bans direct-to-consumer advertising and was slower to approve the drugs, they rose to only 3.4 percent of the total. The drugs' effectiveness has recently been put in doubt. (The study appears in the March 30 New England Journal of Medicine.)


Worldwide, 1.2 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water, and the problem may worsen because of global climate change. In a special March 20 issue of Nature on water issues and research, Yale environmental engineer Menachem Elimelech and a group of experts reviewed technologies, including advanced, lower-energy techniques Elimelech is developing to desalinate sea water, that are aimed at alleviating the shortage.


Are young men clueless? Not much more so than young women. In a study in April's Psychological Science, Yale researcher Teresa Treat, Indiana University graduate student Coreen Farris, and their colleagues showed a series of 280 pictures of women to 280 heterosexual undergraduates. "Men were more likely than women to misperceive friendliness as sexual interest, but they were also quite likely to misperceive sexual interest as friendliness," the researchers write. Men misread 12 percent of the friendly images as sexually interested; the women's misreading rate was 8.7 percent.  

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