The most-visited story on EurekAlert! in 2010 was the discovery of a "golden ratio" in the nanoscale symmetry of solid matter. The finding put forth the new suggestion that matter on the quantum level may possess its own unique, orderly patterns as opposed to chaos.
Stories on the health sciences and medicine also drew significant attention from EurekAlert! users in 2010. The most popular topics varied from neurological diseases including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, to reproductive health, and how proteins and genes influence diabetes and cancer.
Website traffic statistics recorded between January and December 2010 identified the 10 most heavily trafficked news releases posted on EurekAlert! during the year. The most visited press release received nearly 130,000 views.
Finding the golden mean
The top story concerned a breakthrough reported in Science. Researchers from Germany and the United Kingdom discovered that the "golden mean," previously seen only in mathematics and the arts, exists in solid matter - on the nanoscale. The finding is a culmination of over a decade's worth of collaborative work.
One of the paper's authors, Alan Tennant of the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie in Berlin, Germany, remarked that "Such discoveries are leading physicists to speculate that the quantum, atomic scale world may have its own underlying order."
Innovative medical treatments
Chinese researchers' significant contributions to the advancement of stem cell therapies and regenerative medicine were the focus of the second most-visited press release on EurekAlert! in 2010.
According to Canada's McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health, China has made it a priority to become a world leader in regenerative medicine. The study, published in the journal Regenerative Medicine, highlights the increasing number of scientific contributions in stem cell research. The study's authors warn that, although the advances are remarkable, the availability of untested therapies from some clinics is controversial and calls for greater regulatory oversight. The paper also highlighted the strengths and challenges of the Chinese regenerative medicine sector, including regulations that have allowed stem cell tourism clinics to offer unproven therapies to patients from around the world.
The third and fifth most-visited stories concerned the relationship between proteins and disease. A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism reveals that leptin, a hormone that reduces body weight, may also reverse diabetes in humans. Mouse models show that leptin treatment regulates a liver gene in mice so well that it dramatically improved their diabetes, observed Jeffrey Friedman of Rockefeller University. Friedman says that future experiments are necessary to confirm the results, but it is a potential candidate for treating human diabetes.
A second study, the topic of the fifth most-visited story, found that increased levels of certain gene variants associated with inflammation are not associated with a higher risk of developing cancer. This research appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Discoveries in the health sciences
Two branches of medicine - neurology and reproductive health - also drew significant traffic among EurekAlert! readers in 2010.
The fourth and eighth most-visited stories concerned discoveries related to human reproductive health. Researchers found that women who reported partner violence and coercion against using contraceptives are at twice the risk of having an unintended pregnancy. The findings can be used to better help women in these high-risk groups.
According to lead author Elizabeth Miller from the University of California - Davis, "This study confirms that women experiencing partner violence are more likely to have greater need for sexual and reproductive health services. Thus, clinical settings that offer reproductive health services likely offer the greatest opportunity to identify women experiencing partner violence and to ensure that women receive the counseling and support they may need."
In the eighth most-visited story, published in the Lancet, the drug misoprostol delivered in tablet form is found to be an effective alternative in controlling post-birth bleeding. Oxytocin, administered through an IV, is the most commonly used drug for this type of post-partum treatment, but its use is not feasible in many developing regions, the study authors explained. The researchers point out that because it is a tablet, misoprostol may be ideal for remote or poorly equipped health service providers.
The ninth and tenth most-visited stories of 2010 looked at Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, respectively.
Developing neuroimaging techniques can provide a glimpse into the early accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques in the living brain, according to a review article published in Behavioral Neurology. The screening procedure could lead to early detection of Alzheimer's and, consequently, the possibility for treatment to delay or prevent the disease's onset.
The tenth most-visited story reported that, in Parkinson's disease patients, there is a positive relationship between pathological gambling and abnormal social behavior. These patients are more likely to make poor or risky decisions and have trouble maintaining relationships.
Rounding out the list, the sixth most-visited story focuses on a new safety device for skiers. The seventh reports that, after educational intervention from living liver donors, the rate of new liver donors increased by 42 percent.
10 Most-Visited Stories List
Below are the 10 most-visited press releases posted on EurekAlert! in 2010, in order of the highest number of views. The list begins with the press release that received the most views.
1. Golden ratio discovered in a quantum world
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
2. China a rising star in regenerative medicine despite world skepticism of stem cell therapies
Program on Life Sciences, Ethics and Policy, McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health
3. Leptin-controlled gene can reverse diabetes
4. Reproductive coercion often is accompanied by physical or sexual violence, study finds
University of California - Davis - Health System
5. News brief: SNPs in C-reactive protein are not associated with increased risk of cancer
Journal of the National Cancer Institute
6. Staying safe in the snow
7. Liver donations from living donors increase 42 percent after educational intervention
8. Misoprostol tablets can be used in place of intravenous oxytocin to stop post-birth bleeding
9. Neuroimaging may shed light on how Alzheimer's disease develops
10. Parkinson's patients who are pathological gamblers also display abnormal social behavior
Founded by AAAS in 1996, EurekAlert! is an editorially independent, online news service focused on science, medicine and technology. Thousands of reporters around the globe use EurekAlert! to access news and resources from the world's top research organizations. For free access to EurekAlert!, visit www.EurekAlert.org.