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Article Released Wed-14th-May-2008 18:16 GMT
Contact: Ruth Institution: Nature Publishing Group
 Bird flu: A need to stockpile different drugs?

Summaries of newsworthy papers include Atmosphere: Message in a bubble, Climate change: Huge analysis shows warming is changing the world, Planetary science: Pole to pole and Materials: Practical polaritonics


This press release is copyright Nature.

VOL.453 NO.7193 DATED 15 May 2008

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Atmosphere: Message in a bubble

Climate change: Huge analysis shows warming is changing the world

Bird flu: A need to stockpile different drugs?

Planetary science: Pole to pole

Materials: Practical polaritonics

· Mention of papers to be published at the same time with the same embargo

· Geographical listing of authors

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[1] & [2] Atmosphere: Message in a bubble (pp 379-382; 383-386; N&V)

The record of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane concentrations is extended by two complete glacial cycles in two papers in Nature this week. The new data are from the lowest 200 metres of the EPICA Dome C ice core in Antarctica and take our atmospheric knowledge back to 800,000 years ago.

The air bubbles trapped in ice cores provide composite records of Antarctic atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane levels, and previous research has covered the past 650,000 years. Here the record of atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane concentrations has been extended – going down to just a few meters above bedrock and providing data for an extra 150,000 years.

The papers by Thomas Stocker and colleagues report analyses of this new data, including the lowest carbon dioxide concentration so far measured in an ice core. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is strongly correlated with Antarctic temperature throughout the past eight glacial cycles, but with significantly lower concentrations between 650,000 and 750,000 years before present. Interactions between climate and methane emissions from wetlands in the tropical and boreal regions probably controlled the atmospheric methane budget.


Thomas Stocker (University of Bern, Switzerland) Author papers 1 & 2
Tel: +41 31 631 44 62; E-mail:

Jérôme Chappellaz (CNRS-Université Joseph Fourier, St Martin d'Hères, France) Author paper 2
Tel: +33 476 82 42 64; E-mail:

Ed Brook (Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, USA) N&V author
Tel: +1 541 737 8197; E-mail:

[3] Climate change: Huge analysis shows warming is changing the world (pp 353-357; N&V)

A vast array of physical and biological systems are being affected by the world's warming temperatures, says a large-scale analysis incorporating almost 30,000 data sets stretching back to 1970. The effects can be seen worldwide, report researchers led by Cynthia Rosenzweig in this week's Nature.

Rosenzweig and her colleagues compiled data on 829 physical systems, such as the timing of spring river runoff, and roughly 28,800 plant and animal systems, all of which have shown documented changes over the past few decades. In around 90% of cases, the trends are consistent with the predicted effects of a warming climate, the researchers report.

The analysis builds on the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which last year concluded that anthropogenic climate warming is "likely" to have had a discernible effect on physical and biological systems. The new research shows that climate warming is the overriding factor in changes to the world's natural systems, outstripping the more modest effects of other factors such as deforestation and other land-use changes. Moreover, the researchers conclude that the temperature increases observed at continental scales cannot be explained by natural climate variations alone.


Cynthia Rosenzweig (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York, NY, USA) or
Tel: +1 212 678 5562; E-mail:

Anton Imeson (3D-Environmental Change, Heiloo, Netherlands) Co-author
Tel: +31 72 533 4594; E-mail:

Chunzen Liu (China Water Information Center, Beijing, China) Co-author
Tel: +86 10 8041 7710; E-mail:

Francis Zwiers (Environment Canada, Toronto, Canada) N&V author
Tel: +1 416 739 4767; E-mail:

[4] Bird flu: A need to stockpile different drugs? (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature06956

***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 14 May at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern time (which is also when the embargo lifts) as part of our AOP (ahead of print) programme. Although we have included it on this release to avoid multiple mailings it will not appear in print on 15 May, but at a later date. ***

Stockpiles of antiviral drugs are an important weapon against the threat of an influenza pandemic, particularly if the deadly H5N1 avian influenza virus moves in earnest into the human population. The problem is which drugs should be amassed, given the notorious mutation rate of influenza viruses and their rapid transformation into drug-resistant variants. A paper in this week’s Nature tackles this conundrum by solving the molecular basis of resistance in samples taken from H5N1-infected patients.

Oseltamivir (also known as Tamiflu) and zanamivir (also called Relenza) are the drugs in the armoury so far — with oseltamivir being stockpiled against any future outbreak. Both target the viral protein neuraminidase, which helps release newly made viruses so that they can spread to uninfected host cells and propagate the infection. Steven Gamblin and his colleagues have studied the detailed structure and properties of neuraminidase mutants from H5N1 patients. They found that the mutants were resistant to oseltamivir but still strongly inhibited by zanamivir.

On the basis of their results, the team advise against stockpiling only supplies of oseltamivir, suggesting that these should be augmented with other antiviral drugs, including zanamivir, keeping open options for effective drug-combination treatments.


Steven Gamblin (National Inst for Medical Research, London, UK)
Tel: +44 208 816 2553; E-mail:

[5] Planetary science: Pole to pole (pp 368-371)

A series of large, circular concentric troughs on the surface of Europa may present evidence for true polar wander, suggests a paper in Nature this week. The troughs, identified from spacecraft imaging data, form a pattern not seen anywhere else in the Solar System.

Europa, a moon of Jupiter, is primarily composed of silicate rock, making it comparable to terrestrial planets. It has an icy surface covered in cracks and streaks, above what is thought to be an ocean of liquid water. Many of the large-scale surface features remain unexplained and point to a complicated tectonic history. True polar wander, involving rotation of Europa’s outer ice shell about the tidal axis with Jupiter, has been suggested as a possible explanation for some of these features, but until now no convincing match has been found.

Paul Schenk and colleagues describe two groups of broad, arcuate troughs and depressions at diametrically opposite (that is, antipodal) points on Europa’s surface. The depressions have unusual symmetry and are almost perfectly circular in shape, stretching for hundreds of kilometres across and up to 1.5 kilometres deep. The global nature of the features and their symmetry suggest that stresses affecting the whole moon are involved.

The authors propose that the features provide an excellent match to the stresses caused by an episode of about 80° true polar wander and strengthen arguments for similar rotations on Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons. True polar wander on Europa also provides an independent line of evidence that the icy crustal shell is, or once was, floating on an ocean of sub-surface water.


Paul Schenk (Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston, TX, USA)
Tel: +1 281 486 2157; E-mail:

[6] Materials: Practical polaritonics (pp 372-375; N&V)

The ability to demonstrate electrically driven polariton light-emitting devices would be of considerable technological interest. In Nature this week it is accomplished in a gallium arsenide diode that emits light directly from polariton states held at the relatively high temperature of 235 K (–38 °C).

The unique properties of polaritons, giving rise to exotic lasing and quantum condensation effects, have the potential to spawn a new generation of semiconductor lasers. Previously, polariton lasing and nonlinearities had only been demonstrated in optically driven experiments, but Pavlos Savvidis and co-workers have now done so in electrically pumped light-emitting devices.

The authors believe that the findings represent a significant step towards the realization of a new class of ultra-efficient polaritonic devices with unprecedented characteristics.


Pavlos Savvidis (University of Crete, Heraklion, Crete, Greece)
Tel: +30 2810 394 147; E-mail:

Benoit Deveaud-Pledran (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland) N&V author
Tel: +41 21 693 5496; E-mail:


[7] Crystal structure of squid rhodopsin (pp 363-367; N&V)


***These papers will be published electronically on Nature's website on 14 May at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern time (which is also when the embargo lifts) as part of our AOP (ahead of print) programme. Although we have included them on this release to avoid multiple mailings they will not appear in print on 15 May, but at a later date. ***

[8] A two-tiered mechanism for stabilization and immobilization of E-cadherin
DOI: 10.1038/nature06953

[9] A myocardial lineage derives from Tbx18 epicardial cells
DOI: 10.1038/nature06969

[10] Hippocampus-independent phase precession in entorhinal grid cells
DOI: 10.1038/nature06957


The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. For example, London: 4 - this means that on paper number four, there will be at least one author affiliated to an institute or company in London. The listing may be for an author's main affiliation, or for a place where they are working temporarily. Please see the PDF of the paper for full details.

Melbourne: 3

Valdivia: 3

Beijing: 3

Copenhagen: 1, 2

Avignon: 3
Gif-sur-Yvette: 1, 2
Marseille: 8
St Martin d’Heres: 1, 2

Bremerhaven: 1
Freising: 3

Crete: 6

Hyogo: 7
Nagoya: 7
Tokyo: 1

Heiloo: 3

Trondheim: 10

Poznan: 3

Bern: 1, 2

Port of Spain: 3

Bristol: 2
London: 4, 9
St Andrews: 4


La Jolla: 9
Santa Cruz: 5
Stanford: 3

District of Columbia
Washington: 5

Athens: 9

New York
New York: 3, 9

Norman: 3

Houston: 5


From North America and Canada
Katherine Anderson, Nature New York
Tel: +1 212 726 9231; E-mail:

Katie McGoldrick, Nature Washington
Tel: +1 202 737 2355; E-mail:

From Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan
Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo
Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; E-mail:

From the UK/Europe/other countries not listed above
Jen Middleton, Nature London
Tel: +44 20 7843 4502; E-mail

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Keywords associated to this article: Atmosphere, Climate change, Bird flu, Planetary science, Materials
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