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Sep 25, 2014

Experts unveil plan to end rabies globally via dog vaccinations

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Rabies experts on Thursday unveiled a blueprint for eliminating the pernicious disease, which almost always is caused by bites from rabid dogs and kills tens of thousands of people a year worldwide, through a program of mass dog vaccinations in targeted regions.

The viral disease is rare in developed countries thanks to routine vaccination of pet dogs, but still kills about 69,000 people globally every year, mostly in poor and rural parts of Africa and Asia. About a third of rabies-related deaths are in India alone.

Sep 23, 2014

U.S. agency moves to end sex bias in biomedical research

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. National Institutes of Health began putting in place on Tuesday its new policy aimed at ending long-standing sex bias in biomedical research favoring male lab animals and cells in the pivotal studies that are done before human clinical trials.

The NIH, the U.S. government’s medical research agency, said it had approved about $10 million in funds to supplement grants already given to 82 recipients from various universities and hospitals to expand studies to better explore possible sex differences in numerous types of medical conditions.

Sep 18, 2014

It’s not a small world after all: world population will soar

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Contrary to some earlier projections, the world’s population will soar through the end of the 21st century thanks largely to sub-Saharan Africa’s higher-than-expected birth rates, United Nations and other population experts said on Thursday.

There is an 80 percent likelihood that the number of people on the planet, currently 7.2 billion, will increase to between 9.6 billion and 12.3 billion by 2100, the researchers said. They also saw an 80 percent probability that Africa’s population will rise to between 3.5 billion and 5.1 billion by 2100 from about 1 billion today.

Sep 17, 2014

Genetic history of modern Europeans a tangled tale, research finds

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The genetic origins of modern Europeans may be more complicated than previously thought.

Ancient people from Siberia who were related to the first humans to enter the Americas during the Ice Age also mingled with prehistoric populations in Europe and left their mark on the DNA of today’s Europeans, scientists said on Wednesday.

Sep 14, 2014

U.S. sees Middle East help fighting IS, Britain cautious after beheading

WASHINGTON/LONDON, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Washington said
countries in the Middle East had offered to join air strikes
against Islamic State militants and Australia said it would send
troops, but Britain held back even after the group beheaded a
British hostage and threatened to kill another.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has been touring the
Middle East to try to secure backing for U.S. efforts to build a
coalition to fight the Islamic State militants who have grabbed
territory in Syria and Iraq.

Sep 14, 2014

Liberal Vermont Senator Sanders may seek U.S. presidency in 2016

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Bernie Sanders, one of the Senate’s leading liberals, said on Sunday he is thinking about running for U.S. president in 2016 as either a Democrat or an independent in a move that could complicate Hillary Clinton’s path to the White House.

Sanders, an independent from Vermont, could pose a challenge from the left to Clinton, widely seen as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. She has not officially said she is a candidate but has acted very much like one.

Sep 11, 2014

Ancient flying reptile named after ‘Avatar’ creature

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some of the most visually stunning sequences from director James Cameron’s blockbuster movie “Avatar” involved graceful flying creatures that were ridden by blue human-like beings facing ecological destruction on a moon called Pandora.

It turns out that an animal very similar to those “Avatar” creatures, called Ikran, actually did exist here on Earth long ago.

Sep 11, 2014

Largest dinosaur predator was a water-loving quadruped

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The biggest dinosaur predator that ever stalked the Earth was also the weirdest.

Scientists announced on Thursday the discovery in Moroccan desert cliffs of new fossil remains of Spinosaurus aegyptiacus, a 50-foot (15-meter) long, seven-ton African monster that breaks the mold for how a dinosaur predator looked and behaved.

Sep 10, 2014

Squirrel-like Jurassic critters shed light on mammal origins

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – It may not have been the friendliest place for furry little creatures, but three newly identified squirrel-like mammals thrived in the trees of the Jurassic Period, with dinosaurs walking below and flying reptiles soaring above.

Scientists announced on Wednesday the discovery in China of fossils belonging to three critters in a find that sheds light on a poorly understood collection of ancient mammals, and indicates that mammals as a group appeared earlier than some experts thought.

Sep 10, 2014

Planet of the apes: Gibbons are last ape to have genome revealed

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Gibbons – the small, long-armed tree swingers that inhabit the dense tropical forests of Southeast Asia – have become the last of the planet’s apes to have their genetic secrets revealed.

“We now have whole genome sequences for all the great apes and, with this work, also the small apes – gibbons,” said Jeffrey Rogers, a primate genetics researcher at the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.