Published: Thursday 31 August 2006

leukaemia breakthrough: A study by a team of scientists at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children's Hospital in Boston, USA, shows that cancer stem cells are different from normal blood stem cells. Led by Scott Armstrong, the team suggests that targeting these cells would be an effective way to treat leukaemia. Stem cells can develop into any kind of cell and it was earlier believed that malfunction in these cells leads to leukaemia. The disease is caused by the bone marrow producing white blood cells in excess.

smelly words: Reading words such as 'garlic' and 'stink' which have strong connotations to odours not only triggers activity in the brain areas related to language, but also those linked to the sense of smell. This is the finding of a joint research project carried out by scientists from Spain's Universitat Jaume I and the Cognition and Brain Sciences unit at the Medical Research Council in the UK. The researchers were led by Julio Gonzlez.

pool risk: The prevalence of childhood asthma and wheeze rises 2-3 per cent for every indoor swimming pool per 100,000 people across Europe, suggests a recent study. Researchers from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium analysed the rates of wheezing, asthma, hay fever, allergic rhinitis, and atopic eczema, reported in the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood, by video or written questionnaire. The study involved almost 190,000 teenagers (13- and 14-year olds) from 21 countries across Europe.

low dose harmful, too: In a study with wide ramifications for cancer therapy, a scientist at the Clemson University in the US has found that low levels of ionising radiation (used in cancer treatment) can harm a living organism. Ted Bateman found that in mice, such radiation can destroy a large amount of the "spongy" part of bones, potentially increasing the risk of fracture.

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