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Above and Beyond

By | December 9, 2002

Photo: Courtesy of NASA ON THE HORIZON: New technologies will protect the health of astronauts on long space flights. Researchers at the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) are developing technologies to identify and monitor anticipated and unanticipated microorganisms in space--technologies, they suggest, that could also help to more efficiently diagnose medical conditions down here on Earth, as well as help detect biological hazards in this post-Sept. 11 world.1-3 Geo

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ACEs Wild

By | December 9, 2002

Photo: Courtesy of King Pharmaceuticals OLD DRUG, NEW USES: Ace inhibitor ALTACE Clinical trials are under way in the United States to test new uses for angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, as lab researchers around the world continue to compile evidence of further possibilities for the antihypertensive drugs. Meanwhile, a paper to be published this month presents a detailed theory that ACE functions at the start of a signaling pathway common to major diseases that are other

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Harmless Energizers or Dangerous Drugs?

By | December 9, 2002

Photo: Barry Palevitz HELP OR HINDRANCE? Ephedra-containing products like those pictured above are coming under increased scrutiny. You've probably seen the ads in the supermarket checkout aisle, or on radio and TV. "I lost 63 pounds with Hydroxycut," screams the headline in Cosmopolitan, above pictures of a woman going from corpulent to bathing-beauty trim in 19 weeks. "Diet Fuel changes the shape of your life," claims another ad, this time sporting an ab-flashing model in boxing gloves

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Activists Broaden Efforts

By | November 25, 2002

Animal welfare activists, smarting from a defeat in Congress, plan to campaign across the United States to convince state legislators that laboratory rats, mice, and birds used in biomedical research require greater protection than afforded by federal law. Most major US research organizations, however, maintain that the 15 to 20 million animals used in labs--about 95% in biomedical research--are adequately protected under existing public and private regulations. More federal oversight, they sa

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Flower of a Find

By | November 25, 2002

Photo: Courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden AN ENTREATING FIND: Flowers of the Hooglandia tree, a newly discovered plant genus from New Caledonia When Peter Lowry and Gordon McPherson explored the rich flora of New Caledonia last May, the last thing they expected to find was a new genus. Discovering new species isn't unusual, but a new genus? "It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience," admits Lowry, a head curator for the Missouri Botanical Garden. Lowry is based at the Natural History Muse

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Out of Africa: A Database of 7,000 Useful Plants

By | November 25, 2002

Photo: Courtesy of G.J.H. Grubben GENETIC DIVERSITY: Fruits of the Scarlett eggplant (Solanum aethiopicum), of which the immature fruits and leaves are used as vegetables. European and African scientists have launched an ambitious project to review the current literature about useful plants of tropical Africa. From 2003 to 2013, researchers will examine and update all written documentation about approximately 7,000 commodity plants in 47 African countries and islands from the Tropic of C

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An Odyssey in Science and Art

By | November 11, 2002

Artwork ©2001 Alan Campbell Studios COSTA RICA BEAUTY: Campbell's work includes images like this Costa Rican banana tree. Alan Campbell's studio in a second-story loft overlooking downtown Athens, Ga., has the unmistakable stamp of a painter. Daylight streams through large windows; brushes, paints, and tools sit in assorted cans and mugs; canvasses and prints stand on easels, lean against walls, and lie flat on tables. The University of Georgia's (UGA) north campus quad, home to th

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Biofuels for Fuel Cells

By | November 11, 2002

Photo: Courtesy of Lee Petersen Researchers from Ascent Power Systems examine a large-area fuel cell component. Could the world's waste--peanut shells from Georgia, coconut shells from the Philippines, pig-farm waste from China, or even left-over gas from Japanese-beer kegs--be the answer to the next energy crisis? Probably not, but a number of companies and individuals are touting the benefits in a variety of ways. Talk abounds about fuel cells and the "hydrogen economy," spurred by rec

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Chaperones to the Rescue

By | November 11, 2002

Image by Joel Ito and P. Michael Conn The first clinical trials to test protein misfolding therapies are so new that researchers haven't yet agreed on a collective name for the compounds being administered. Variously dubbed chemical chaperones, pharmacological chaperones, and pharmacoperones, these small molecules correct the misfolding of proteins that recent research has implicated in a host of diseases, both rare and prevalent. In such "conformational" diseases, misfolded proteins may lose

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UK Biobank to go on the Political Agenda

By | November 11, 2002

Image: Erica P. Johnson The UK Biobank aims to recruit 500,000 people for population studies of the interactions among lifestyle, genes, and disease, but some opponents question whether the massive effort is structured properly to do an adequate and ethical job. Ian Gibson (Labour, Norwich North), chair of the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology, is to host a meeting in December of members of parliament and the project's funding bodies and critics. UK Biobank has yet to

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