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Science-ish links, 2007-09-20

Evidence from a sudden climate warming 55 million years ago suggests that increased production of methane by warming bogs accelerated the warming. Feedback loops are something scientists have been worrying about for years. They could speed up warming beyond any hope of controlling it. One of the scary loops is coral reef dieback, and the millions of tons of carbon locked up there dissolving into the ocean. The other real biggie is what happens when all the carbon locked up in frozen northern bogs starts unfreezing. Well, roads in Alaska are buckling as the permafrost melts. The Northwest Passage is opening up. So far, scientists have just been predicting what it all means. Now there’s geological evidence that they’re perfectly right. (Speaking as a scientist: DUH!)

Chronic fatigue syndrome may be due to an intestinal virus. “Eighty-two percent of stomach biopsy samples from 165 chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients tested positive for enterovirus infection versus 7% of samples from controls (P<0.001), John K.S. Chia, M.D., and Andrew Chia, of EV Med Research, reported in the Journal of Clinical Pathology." (The p<0.001 means there's less than one in a thousand chance that the results are meaningless.) Another "it's all in your head" explanation falling by the wayside? White blood cell transplant may help fight cancer. From the BBC. These are not the usual T-cells and B-cells that stem cell and monoclonal antibody research has worked with. These cells are granulocytes, which people had thought acted only against bacteria. Turns out, some people have cancer-killing granulocytes that keep working even in a petri dish. Transplanted to patients, maybe they could do the same thing. The bad news (there’s always bad news) is that foreign cells lead to rejection, which can be so severe it kills the patient. Another therapy where embryonic stem cells (which don’t have the same rejection issues) might be the answer?

[First posted at Shakesville]