Currents

    Flash Heating Kills HIV in Breast Milk

    In a new study led by UC Berkeley and UC Davis researchers, a simple method of flash heating HIV-infected breast milk effectively inactivated the virus.

    The process – performed by heating a glass jar of breast milk over an oven burner or flame – can be easily implemented in lower-income communities. The method provides hope that HIV-positive mothers will soon be able to naturally and safely feed their babies.

    “”We conducted this research to help HIV-positive mothers and their infants who do not have safe alternatives to breastfeeding,”” said Kiersten Israel-Ballard, a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health and lead author of the study.

    Current methods for pasteurizing breast milk require thermometers and timers that are difficult to obtain in resource-poor communities.

    Israel-Ballard found that the flash-heating method kills bacteria, while retaining the nutritional values and important antibodies of milk.

    Low Number of Latinos Transfer to Four-Years

    A majority of Latino students are concentrated in California’s community college system, but far lower numbers actually transfer to four-year universities, according to findings from UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center.

    The study shows that while 40 percent of the Latino students enrolled in a community college during the 2002-03 academic year expressed plans to transfer to a four-year institution, only about 10 percent actually did so.

    Additionally, 28 percent of Latino community college students did not have set educational goals for the future.

    “”These findings reveal an ongoing mismatch – between students’ aspirations and the institutional support needed to meet these goals – that must be examined and modified,”” the authors said.

    Explosion May Replicate Demise of First Stars

    The most luminous supernova ever seen may be the first example of a type of exploding star common in the universe’s orgins, according to UC Berkeley astronomers.

    While typical supernovas reach peak brightness in a matter of days and disappear a few months later, SN2006gy took 70 days to reach its peak brightness, and stayed brighter than any supernova previously observed.

    Eight months later, it is as bright as any typical supernova, and outshines its host galaxy 240 million light-years away.

    “”This was a truly monstrous explosion, a hundred times more energetic than a typical supernova,”” UC Berkeley study author Nathan Smith said. “”That means the star that exploded might have been as massive as a star can get, about 150 times that of our sun. We’ve never seen that before.””

    Researchers say that the supernova is a modern-day version of how stars ended their lives when the universe was extremely young.

    Tests Reveal Humans Unharmed by Tasers

    Many law enforcement agencies use the Taser to control agitated suspects despite a controversial belief that the device could potentially lead to suspect death.

    However, emergency medicine physicians at UCSD have concluded that Tasing has no lasting effects on healthy test subjects.

    A Taser delivers an electrical current that restrains a person by interfering with the neuromuscular system, thereby temporarily incapacitating the recipient.

    “”I have been Tased,”” study director and professor of clinical medicine at UCSD Gary Vilke said. “”The experience is painful while it’s happening but afterward, you only feel sore, like you might after a tough workout.””

    Researchers monitored the reactions of 32 healthy volunteers, who recieved a five-second exposure from Taser X26, the device use by over 30 percent of U.S. police agencies.

    The second phase of the two-year study is underway, and will test the effects of Tasering on subjects that are already under additional stress.

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