Discovered: Botox lifts faces and moods; papers retracted due to fraud more often than error; climate change could decimate fish; African salmonella outbreak connected to HIV.
Botox lifts depression. Botulinum toxin injections may smooth out skin and clear up wrinkles, but many say that the cosmetic procedure leaves faces looking emotionless. But whatever emotions is (or isn't) registered on the outside, those who get Botox shots are likely to feel a positive mood adjustment. M. Axel Wollmer of the University of Basel conducted a study on the effect of Botox on patients suffering from major depressive disorder, and found that symptoms of depression alleviated by 47 percent after six weeks. Wollmer says that since Botox "interrupts feedback from the facial musculature to the brain, which may be involved in the development and maintenance of negative emotions," it may be able to regulate depression. Basically, since you can't frown, you can't be depressed! [Scientific American]
More papers being retracted due to researcher fraud. The kind of scientific misconduct we've written about may be trending upwards, according to a study of over 2,000 papers retracted from PubMed in recent years. Since 1975, retractions have become ten times more likely to stem from fraud, not error, according to a paper published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And that might be an optimistic account, says study author Arturo Casadevall of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He says, "The better the counterfeit, the less likely you are to find it—whatever we show, it is an underestimate." Over two-thirds of the retractions Casadevall and his colleagues studied arose due to scientific misconduct, and only 21.3 percent came about from errors. Of the misconduct retractions, 43.3 percent were due to fraud, 14.2 percent to duplicated publications, and 9.8 percent from plagiarism. [The Guardian]
There won't be plenty of fish in the sea, thanks to climate change. Seafood lovers might have to start shelling out bigger bucks for their delicacies of choice. Researchers led by the University of British Columbia's Dr. William Cheung predict that fish species will shrink by up to 24 percent by 2050. Cheung and his colleagues modelled this decline on the impact rising temperatures have had—and will continue to have—on over 600 fish species. Decreased oxygen in the ocean would cause a corresponding decrease in fish body weight. The effects are "unexpectedly large," writes Cheung. "Rising temperatures directly increase the metabolic rate of the fish's body function," he explains. "This leads to an increase in oxygen demand for normal body activities. So the fish will run out of oxygen for growth at a smaller body size." As oceans heat up, these shrunken fish will likely migrate towards Earth's poles, leading to lower fishery yields. [BBC]
Salmonella spreads with HIV. Salmonella is perhaps best known as the culprit in food poisoning cases brought on by uncooked meat and eggs. But other strains of salmonella can lead to even worse afflictions, such as typhoid or iNTS, the abbreviation for invasive nontyphoidal salmonella. iNTS has been spreading through sub-Saharan Africa in recent decades, causing high fevers and killing nearly half of infected adults. Researchers led by the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute's Gordon Dougan now believe that the outbreak may be linked to HIV. Like HIV, iNTS can spread from person to person, and Dougan finds that the weakened immune systems in HIV positive people is fertile ground for the spread of iNTS. Dougan and colleagues collected samples of the iNTS bacteria throughout Africa, trying to trace its epidemiology. They found that iNTS was indeed transferable between humans—a point that has been contested by many scientists—and that it became an epidemic by piggybacking on HIV. "It's a compelling demonstration of how techniques of evolutionary analysis developed for viruses can be applied to bacterial pathogens, provided full genome data are available," comments Oliver Pybus, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Oxford. [ScienceNow]