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But What About the Others?

By | October 28, 2002

Image: Anne MacNamara "The history of modern science might be written without going outside the names of the Nobels." --Cosmopolitan, 19061 The Nobel Prize earned universal prestige a mere five years after its inception. With the 102nd Nobel awards this month, the Nobel Foundation continues to lavish acclaim among a thin upper crust of innovators in the life sciences. But the tradition of the science community's grumbling at the Foundation for its omissions will no doubt proceed unabated i

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Gene Therapy Trials Hit Obstacle

By | October 28, 2002

For nearly three years, a child with a deadly genetic disease, which left him without functioning B or T cells, has led a relatively normal life. Doctors in France virtually engineered a working immune system for him through gene therapy.1 Early this month, however, researchers revealed that the gene therapy technique used to treat this child's X-linked severe combined immune deficiency (SCID) probably led to a leukemia-like syndrome. The engineered T cells inevitably began proliferating out o

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Imaging Early Alzheimer Disease

By | October 28, 2002

Image: Courtesy of Dan Skovronsky  The radioactive thioflavin T derivative specifically labels amyloid plaques in the brain of a living mouse (arrows, panel a). Postmortem specimen labeled with a flourescent dye for amyloid (panel b) confirms specific labeling of plaques in vivo. When actor Charlton Heston announced in August that he is "suffering symptoms consistent with Alzheimer's disease," he used qualified language because diagnosis is possible only postmortem. The lack of a clear s

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Solid Gold Sheepstakes

By | October 28, 2002

Photo: Courtesy of Agricultural Research Service Move over, Dolly. In the famous sheepstakes, Solid Gold (1983-1993) came first. Solid Gold is the first known sheep to have the callipyge condition--Greek for "beautiful buttocks"--and his descendants are shedding light on genomic imprinting, the difference in expression of a gene depending on which parent transmits it. In humans, derailed genomic imprinting causes cancer, autism, bipolar disorder, and other conditions. In 1983, a lamb was born

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A Lindbergh Legacy in Life Sciences

By | October 14, 2002

Photo: Courtesy of Yale University Library Charles Lindbergh Seventy-five years ago, Charles A. Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic in what aviators still deem the greatest solo flight of all time. Although his influence is indelibly stamped on virtually all aspects of commercial aviation, another Lindbergh legacy may be emerging in the realm of life sciences. Recently, on the anniversary of the aviator's return home to Little Falls, Minn., a group of scientists, engineers, and environmen

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Acrylamide in French Fries

By | October 14, 2002

Finding acryl-amide--a reagent biochemists use to separate proteins, and a neurotoxin and suspected carcinogen--in fried and baked foods was surprising enough.1 What really puzzled food chemists was how it gets there. Now four research groups may have solved the mystery. In papers from the University of Reading in England and the Nestle Research Center in Lausanne, Switzerland,2,3 and a report from Proctor & Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio, delivered before the Association of Official Analyti

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Gene Therapy Marches Forward

By | October 14, 2002

Illustration: Erica P. Johnson After years of methodically lumbering along with antisense and gene knockout technologies, gene therapy has been given fresh legs. Techniques such as RNA interference (RNAi)--small nuclear RNAs to mask aberrant splice sites--and transposon technologies that extend the lives of transgenes are offering more applications than previously thought possible. A trio of recent papers highlights these approaches to gene therapy. RNAi is being used to boost gene therapy ef

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Phenotype Database Opens for Business

By | October 14, 2002

Graphic: Courtesy of PharmGKB  THE PYRAMID: A summary of the phenotypes that can be related to genotypes in pharmaco-genomics. Why does the cold medication that makes you sleepy give your friend the jitters? Diet, perhaps, or gender, but equally likely are your respective genetic backgrounds. With the era of personalized medicine approaching, individual responses to drugs are set to capture ever more attention from scientists and practitioners, and as a harbinger of the trend, the world'

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Righting the Rainbow

By | October 14, 2002

Photo: Courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service, Thomas L. Wellborn, Jr. DEADLY PARASITE: Myxobolus cerebralis causes whirling disease, a trout-killing infection that is devastating in some wild trout populations. In a Quonset hut dubbed the "parasite factory" on the University of California's sprawling Davis campus, the bed in a tankful of water is strewn with what looks like snippets of rusty thread: worms that harbor a deadly European parasite called Myxobolus cerebralis. It causes wh

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Scientists, Government Clash Over Reforms in Italy

By | October 14, 2002

Even before the Silvio Berlusconi government took over last year, major reforms of Italy's scientific infrastructure were under way. The National Science Council (CNR), Italy's largest scientific organization that employs about 3,650 researchers and 2,680 technicians, already had embarked on a reform program to bring it in line with the other research organizations in Europe, such as the National Scientific Research Center (CNRS) in France or the Max Planck Institutes in Germany. The CNR is c

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