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First estimate of total viruses in mammals

Scientists estimate there are at least 320,000 mammalian viruses, and identifying them could help mitigate disease outbreaks for a fraction of the economic impact of a major pandemic like SARS.

Scientists estimate that there is a minimum of 320,000 viruses in mammals awaiting discovery. Collecting evidence of these viruses, or even a majority of them, they say, could provide information critical to early detection and mitigation of disease outbreaks in humans. This undertaking would cost approximately $6.3 billion, or $1.4 billion if limited to 85% of total viral diversity -- a fraction of the economic impact of a major pandemic like SARS.

This psychoactive drugs trip isn't working

By Craig Motbey

The increasing pace and diversity of recreational drug development makes conventional approaches to drug control dangerous.

Recreational drug use has been with us forever, and so have the challenges that this use brings to medicine and society. But the nature of the modern drug scene has changed to such an extent that the health systems of the developed world face catastrophe if we fail to respond.

How antibiotics enable pathogenic gut infections

Study pinpoints ways to counter the effects of the antibiotics-driven depletion of friendly, gut-dwelling bacteria.

A number of intestinal pathogens can cause problems after antibiotic administration, said Justin Sonnenburg, PhD, assistant professor of microbiology and immunology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, and the senior author of a study published in Nature.

"Antibiotics open the door for these pathogens to take hold. But how, exactly, that occurs hasn't been well understood," Sonnenburg said.

Shroom to grow: Australia's missing psychedelic science

By Stephen Bright (Curtin University) and Martin Williams (Monash University)

A recent Norwegian study on psychedelic drugs and psychological well-being not only highlighted fewer mental health issues among users of these drugs but also underscored the reinvigoration of scientific research in a field maligned since the moral panic of the 1960s.

A recent Norwegian study on psychedelic drugs and psychological well-being not only highlighted fewer mental health issues among users of these drugs but also underscored the reinvigoration of scientific research in a field maligned since the moral panic of the 1960s.

Frankenfooty: Essendon's mixed bag of supplements

By Ian Musgrave

Essendon's players were exposed to worthless or unproven treatments at best, and rank pseudoscience at worst.

The list of charges by the AFL against the Essendon Football Club for its alleged supplements program makes for compelling reading. Early on in the Essendon charge sheet is this paragraph, which sets the stage for the tragedy that is the whole doping scandal:

Australian Antarctic science is being frozen out by budget cuts

By Matt King, University of Tasmania

Despite rising costs, the government this year handed an 8% budget cut to the Australian Antarctic Division.

A hundred years after Australian explorer and geologist Douglas Mawson returned from his epic scientific adventures in Antarctica, Australia’s scientific exploration of the icy southern continent has all but ground to a halt, for reasons I’ll discuss below.

Exposing dopers in sport: is it really worth the cost?

By Aaron Hermann and Maciej Henneberg

If the achievements of confirmed cheaters and other athletes are similar does it mean the drugs don't work or is everyone cheating?

On the back of an interim report by the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) into the Essendon Football Club’s controversial supplements program in 2011-12, the AFL last night charged the club and four key officials, including coach James Hird and doctor Bruce Reid, with bringing the game of football into disrepute.

Sugar is toxic to mice in 'safe' doses

Three soft drinks daily affect lifespan, reproduction

When mice ate a diet of 25 percent extra sugar – the mouse equivalent of a healthy human diet plus three cans of soda daily – females died at twice the normal rate and males were a quarter less likely to hold territory and reproduce, according to a toxicity test developed at the University of Utah.

"Our results provide evidence that added sugar consumed at concentrations currently considered safe exerts dramatic adverse impacts on mammalian health," the researchers say in a study set for online publication Tuesday, Aug. 13 in the journal Nature Communications.

Brain scans may help diagnose dyslexia

Differences in a key language structure can be seen even before children start learning to read.

About 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from dyslexia, a condition that makes learning to read difficult. Dyslexia is usually diagnosed around second grade, but the results of a new study from MIT could help identify those children before they even begin reading, so they can be given extra help earlier.

The study, done with researchers at Boston Children's Hospital, found a correlation between poor pre-reading skills in kindergartners and the size of a brain structure that connects two language-processing areas.

Can people really be addicted to sex?

By Neil Levy

Is there a neurological basis to hypersexuality?

Is sex addiction real? That is, is it really a disorder, involving diminished control over behaviour?

Questions such as these are difficult to answer because it’s always difficult to distinguish diminished capacity to resist a temptation from a diminished motivation to resist. People who tell us they literally can’t resist might be deceiving themselves, or they might be looking for a convenient excuse.