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See-through Mummies

By | March 24, 2003

Frontlines | See-through Mummies Thanks to a new take on an old technology, scientists now can unravel secrets of Egypt's mummies without undoing any bandages. Using multidetector computerized tomography (MDCT), a group of Italian researchers took a noninvasive, yet highly accurate virtual tour of the mummies' bodies (F. Cesarani et al., "Whole-body three-dimensional multidetector CT of 13 Egyptian human mummies," Am J Roentgenol, 180:597-606, March 2003). The instrument scanned along the

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Botulism from Blubber

By | March 10, 2003

Frontlines | Botulism from Blubber Corbis Botulism, usually associated with eating improperly canned foods, get its name from the Latin botulus for sausage, a source when the illness was first described in Europe in the late 19th century. A recent report chronicles another source and route: consuming raw beached marine mammals (J. Middaugh et al., "Outbreak of botulism type E associated with eating a beached whale - Western Alaska, July 2002," Morbid Mortal Wkly Rep, 52:24-6, Jan. 17, 2003)

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Fleeing Monkey Fuels Simmering Fire

By | March 10, 2003

Frontlines | Fleeing Monkey Fuels Simmering Fire A monkey that split from the California National Primate Research Center at University of California, Davis, caused one group of protestors to go bananas last month. On Feb. 13, a rhesus macaque escaped from its cage during a cage change; researchers believed that the female animal had slipped down a drain. After a scan of the center's entire drainage system and a search of the local area, her whereabouts were still unknown in late February,

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RNA Interference Maintained in Stem Cells

By | March 10, 2003

Frontlines | RNA Interference Maintained in Stem Cells Short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) offer a new way to silence genes, courtesy of RNA interference (RNAi). A study from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, home of the discovery of the RNAi enzyme dicer, indicates that these RNAs can be more than "off" switches. Different RNA hairpins corresponding to the same gene can squelch expression to different degrees, modulating a phenotype in a controlled way by tagging messenger RNAs for destruction. Gre

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Better Rap for Bilirubin

By | February 24, 2003

Frontlines | Better Rap for Bilirubin Erica P. Johnson The yellow bile pigment bilirubin has a bad reputation. The normal end-product of hemoglobin breakdown, in excess it causes jaundice, lethargy, seizures, and death. Yet, people with only slightly elevated levels are less prone to heart disease. Neuroscientist Solomon Snyder and colleagues at Johns Hopkins Medical School in Baltimore discovered why the body makes bilirubin at all, when its immediate precursor, biliverdin, is easily excr

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Collaborations Become Innate

By | February 24, 2003

Frontlines | Collaborations Become Innate Courtesy of The Scripps Research Institute A five-year, $24 million National Institutes of Health grant to study innate immunity could supply a bounty of new reagents and animal models as well as a free database of experimental information to immunologists. Innate immunity, the once unappreciated first-line defense against infections, has recently been implicated in sepsis and inflammatory disorders such as Crohn disease. As more scientists got hook

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Frontlines | What Does the Manatee Say to the Aardvark? Ancient Auntie. The aardvark or "earth pig" may be the closest living relative to the ancestral placental mammal, a new chromosomal comparison suggests. Molecular sequence analyses group it with tenrecs, hyraxes, elephant shrews, manatees, elephants, and golden moles as "Afrotheria," the oldest of four groups of placental mammals that originated, according to fossil evidence, on the supercontinent Gondwana 105 million years ago. Terr

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Look Out Broadway (or Maybe Not)

By | February 10, 2003

Frontlines | Look Out Broadway (or Maybe Not) New York City has historically been fertile ground for innovative dramatic and musical performances. So, after Helen Davies brings her adaptations of classic songs to Greenwich Village, can a Broadway musical be far behind? Or are there enough angels out there to fund the "Yesterdays" of leprosy, or other tunes of herpes? What started off as mnemonic aids for Davies, professor of microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania, to get her studen

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Out of Agonists Comes an Antagonist

By | February 10, 2003

Frontlines | Out of Agonists Comes an Antagonist Reprinted with permission from Nature Pseudomonas aeruginosa can devastate the lungs of a person with cystic fibrosis or a suppressed immune system, for these bacteria are more than the sum of their parts. When their numbers reach a critical mass, signaling from accumulated microbial "autoinducers" triggers production of virulence factors and formation of a biofilm, a polysaccharide shield that protects the bacterial colony from an immune re

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The Worm that Turned

By | February 10, 2003

Frontlines | The Worm that Turned Reproduced with permission from The Institute of Biology from Arme The unisex contraceptive is a slippery fish for Big Pharma. Chris Arme of Keele University, UK, reckons the parasite Ligula intestinalis could provide some clues, however. Apparently, tapeworm secretions switch off egg and sperm production in freshwater carp. As reproduction can kill female carp, some suggest that host sterilization increases the worm's chances of being passed on to fish-ea

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