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hInfluences in migration



Published: Fri, February 18, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



hInfluences in migration

PROVE, Utah -- A breath test for doves? That's just what biologist Kent Hatch, above, is conducting in his lab at Brigham Young University. While migratory bird routes may be a lot like highways in the sky, they aren't riddled with guardrails or perilous hairpin turns demanding high levels of sobriety. But Hatch believes giving breathalyzer tests to migrating songbirds and pigeons is a good idea. Hatch wants to know whether the birds are migrating under the influence of bayberries, gnats, or other foods, and his goal is to help protect those habitats.

Spit test is catching on

WASHINGTON -- If you hate needle pricks just to get a sample of blood, or find urine testing more than a bit unsettling, don't despair -- just get ready to spit. Researchers at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting here this week are drooling over the prospect of a new generation of screening tests that relies on saliva or tissue swabs from the mouth. While spit tests to screen for drug and alcohol abuse are already a growing trend in the workplace, experts presenting a seminar on salivary diagnostics say they're readily to do much more. "Saliva has not really been used in the mainstream," said David Wong, a researcher at the University of California-Los Angeles. "As a scientific community, it's time to bring oral fluid testing to the front line and look at what value it will bring." Research has shown that fluids in the mouth contain detectable levels of drugs, bacteria, viruses, hormones, antibodies, growth factors, DNA and RNA, among other things.

Sunshine and the prostate

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Getting a little sunshine may be one way for men to cut their risk of prostate cancer. A large study presented at a cancer conference Thursday found that men with higher levels vitamin D in their blood were half as likely to develop aggressive forms of the disease than those with lower amounts. Doctors are not ready to recommend the "sunshine vitamin" without more study, but many see little harm in getting the 15 minutes a day that the body needs to make enough of this nutrient.

O'Keefe faces probe

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Congress' investigative arm is looking into Sean O'Keefe's tenure as NASA chief, including whether he misused government airplanes and went on too many expensive getaways with underlings, former and current senior NASA officials say. The focus of the Government Accountability Office investigation is not fraud, but waste, one of the four NASA officials told The Associated Press. The four -- two still with NASA, two recently departed -- asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals. Two said they had been questioned by the GAO.




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