Jef Akst

Recent Articles

When does oversight overstep?

By | November 16, 2009

When vascular biologist linkurl:John Cooke; of Stanford University received a grant in 2007 from the linkurl:California Institute for Regenerative Medicine; (CIRM) to launch stem cell research in his lab, he never expected the agency to linkurl:take back the money; -- especially not when his research was just starting to take him in some exciting new directions. Human embryonic stem ce

Early stress alters epigenome

By | November 8, 2009

Scientists have figured out how stress experienced early in life can cause long-lasting changes in physiology and behavior -- via epigenetics. Image: Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry, MunichSpecifically, early stress appears to induce epigenetic changes in a specific regulatory region of the genome, affecting the expression of a hormone important in controlling mood and cognition into adulthood, according to a study published online today (November 8) in Nature Neuroscience. This is the fi

New mechanism for nano damage?

By | November 5, 2009

Nanoparticles can damage DNA even in cells that are not directly exposed to them, according to an in vitro study published online today (November 5) in Nature Nanotechnology -- raising further questions about the safety of nanomaterials used in clinical therapies. Image: Wikimedia commons, Jerome Walker, Dennis Myts"DNA damage due to nanoparticles has been described for many types of nanoparticles, but that's done in a primary or direct sense," said linkurl:Andre Nel,;

Scientific song and dance

By | November 5, 2009

What started as a creative idea for a video contest about nanotechnology is now growing into a full-fledged science music video production team. Composed of four University of California, Berkley, students and one alumnus, linkurl:The Sounds of Science; is making a quite a splash with its Broadway-style musical numbers, which enliven the realities of the laboratory through song, dance, and puppetry. Glory Liu and her puppet studentsImage: The Sounds of S

3 Calif stem cell grants revoked

By | November 3, 2009

California's stem cell funding agency giveth and it taketh away: Just last week, the agency awarded more than $250 million to stem cell researchers -- the largest research grant round in its five-year history -- but it also terminated three grants awarded in a previous round due to slow progress earlier this year. Human embryonic stem cellsImage: Wikimedia commons, Nissim BenvenistyThe California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) identified the underperforming projects by reviewing gr

Malaria vaccine hits Phase III

By | November 3, 2009

The first-ever Phase III trial for a malaria vaccine has officially begun.

Pioneering protein chemist dies

By | November 3, 2009

Mildred Cohn, a renowned chemist who battled sexual discrimination for much of her career, died last month (October 12) at age 96, succumbing to pneumonia at a hospital in Philadelphia. Combining chemistry, biology, and physics, Cohn opened up new avenues for interdisciplinary biology and helped found the emerging fields of biochemistry and biophysics. Image: Erica P. Johnson"Mildred was a pioneer in many ways," linkurl:Joshua Wand; of

Can it be?

By | November 1, 2009

By Jef Akst Can it be? Courtesy of Huei-Ying Chen, Ken Mackie, & Hui-Chen Lu The paper: E. Ryberg et al., “The orphan receptor GPR55 is a novel cannabinoid receptor,” British Journal of Pharmacology, 152:1092–101. (Cited in 99 papers) The finding: Expressing the orphan receptor GPR55 on the membranes of human embryonic kidney cells, biochemist Peter Greasley and his colleagues at AstraZeneca discovered that it b

First Primate Brain Map, circa 1917

By | November 1, 2009

By Jef Akst First Primate Brain Map, circa 1917 Scale drawing of the left hemisphere of one of Leyton’s and Sherrington’s experiments on a gorilla showing which areas correspond with movements of which parts of the body. Courtesy of the Journal of Experimental Physiology At the turn of the 20th century, British physiologists Charles Scott Sherrington and Albert Sidney Frankau Leyton started poking around in the brains

Geron trial may resume next year

By | October 30, 2009

The Geron Corporation could be cleared to resume its stalled human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-trial for spinal cord injury in the third quarter of next year, linkurl:the company announced today; (October 30). Human embryonic stem cellsImage: Wikimedia commons, Nissim BenvenistyThe Phase I trial, which received clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in January to administer hESC-derived progenitors of neural support tissue into

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Mettler Toledo
BD Biosciences
BD Biosciences