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Doctor, Heal Thyself--Literally

By | January 27, 2003

Frontlines | Doctor, Heal Thyself--Literally Courtesy of IAVI Seth Berkley travels the world trying to arrange HIV vaccine clinical trials and stimulate HIV vaccine research. Much of the time, the only way to reach him is via his international cell phone number. But his traveling came to a screeching halt when he suffered a serious fracture of the fibula and torn ligaments in both legs while hiking in the Namibian desert last spring. The president of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiati

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No Life Raft for HIV

By | January 27, 2003

Frontlines | No Life Raft for HIV Courtesy of Pagsanjan.org The way to plot a story, goes the old saw, is to put people on a raft in the water and put a hole in it. A similar situation faced HIV-1 researcher Marilyn Resh, but with a twist: She had to knock off the occupants while preserving the raft. These rafts--so named because they are insoluble in nonionic detergent--are domains within a cell membrane. The HIV glycosaminoglycan (Gag) proteins occupy these rafts. To build a new HIV part

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Physics Rules

By | January 27, 2003

Frontlines | Physics Rules One wonders what force Dylan Thomas was pondering when he wrote: "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/ Drives my green age." Chances are the poet wasn't considering genetics, but that shouldn't bother researchers Paul Kulesa and Scott Fraser. They've discovered that physical forces may be more important than gene expression during the development of chick somites, or embryonic segments. The prevailing view has been that molecular biology driv

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A State of Stemness: What if ...?

By | January 13, 2003

As researchers track the signals that lure stem cells along apparent developmental detours, it is beginning to look like the cells' plasticity is a natural response to injury. At first, the stem cells seemed to breach the boundaries set in the early embryo, morphing from mesoderm to endoderm, ectoderm to mesoderm, and variations on that theme. This transdifferentiation was originally thought to be a rarity, but cases have accumulated and a new view is emerging: What if everything can turn int

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Flies Model While They Nap?

By | January 13, 2003

What a yawn that old horror flick The Fly might have been, had the screenwriter known then about a new piece of Drosophila research. In the movie, a fly gets trapped with a half-mad inventor inside his "matter transporter," an accident that somehow results in a fly-man whose over-amped style includes no apparent need for sleep. But flies do enjoy a "sleep-like state," says Douglas Nitz of the Neuroscience Institute in San Diego. Indeed, his group's work suggests that the fruit fly may be a g

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Mouse Patent Fails in Canada

By | January 13, 2003

Courtesy of Charles River Laboratory Interpretations of the recent Canadian Supreme Court ruling denying Harvard University's OncoMouse patent protection in Canada depends on which side of the patent the interpreter is on. Harvard, in a statement, said the institution would appeal to the Canadian Parliament and predicted that the inability to get protection for genetically engineered mammals will hold back scientific research. Some bench scientists disagreed. "We do the experiments we want to

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Frontlines

By | December 9, 2002

Frontlines Photo: Courtesy of Jokn Tooker Imagine the gall Humans don't usually select mates on the basis of their gall, but the male gall wasp does. Antistrophus rufus can search through a maze of dead plants and locate an inconspicuous gall that houses his intended bride, thanks to his ability to detect modified plant chemicals. Graduate student John Tooker and adviser Lawrence Hanks were studying wasp sympatric speciation, examining the chemical cues that gall wasps use to distinguish pla

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Frontlines

By | November 25, 2002

Frontlines Image: Erica P. Johnson Artificial cell signaling Cells rely on chemical signals triggered by external change to keep them informed. Christopher Hunter, Nick Williams, and colleagues at Sheffield University, England, tested the cells' abilities against a chemical system that transmits information signals into an artificial cell without a single molecule passing through the membrane (P. Barton et al., "Transmembrane signaling," Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 41:3878-81,

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Frontlines

By | November 11, 2002

Frontlines Image: Erica P. Johnson But will the tooth fairy expand operations? Pamela Yelick is not an evil scientist; she is not creating rats that eat themselves alive. Rather, she and her group at Boston's Forsyth Institute have grown tooth crowns in rodents' abdomens to demonstrate the feasibility of bioengineering mammalian teeth from dissociated cells (C.S. Young et. al; "Tissue engineering of complex tooth structures on biodegradable polymer scaffolds," Journal of Dental Researc

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Frontlines

By | October 28, 2002

Frontlines Image: Anne MacNamara The source of body asymmetry How can a developing body tell its right from its left? An ion pump creates a voltage gradient in embryos that is crucial in determining body asymmetry, according to a team of scientists at the Forsyth Institute and Harvard Medical School (M. Levin et al., "H+/K+-ATPase activity comprises an early step of left-right asymmetry during development," Cell, 111:77-89, Oct. 4, 2002). "We have identified a completely novel mechanism tha

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