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Researchers Blast Open Pathogen Genome

By | August 19, 2002

Image: Courtesy of Tim Elkins BRUTE FORCE: Remnant of an appressorium formed on Mylar. The appressorium produced a peg-like extension that penetrated the film, leaving a round hole. (Reprinted with permission, Annual Review of Microbiology, 50:491-512, 1996.) "The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with BLASTING, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish." Deuteronom

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Insights for Conservation

By | July 22, 2002

Like some coevolutionary SWAT team, John Thompson, Bradley Cunningham, and colleagues have headed out every spring and summer for the last decade to the wilds of western Idaho and bordering areas in Oregon and Washington to camp out and infiltrate the world of the prairie starflower, Lithophragma parviflorum, and a little gray moth known as Greya politella. Now, their published rare case study in coevolution describes how the two species have coevolved in a variety of habitats, from open grass

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Legal Issues in the Lab

By | July 22, 2002

Genentech, the South San Francisco, Calif., biotech powerhouse, suffered a legal setback in June when a court ordered the company to pay more than $500 million (US) in damages to the nonprofit City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, Calif. A Los Angeles County Superior Court jury ruled that Genentech breached a 1976 contract with the institution when the company failed to pay the cancer center royalties from numerous third-party licenses that the company fraudulently concealed. In 197

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New Patent Worries Professors

By | July 22, 2002

A new patent on disease treatments that operate through a key biological trigger, the NF-kB messenger protein, has lawyers, university researchers, and technology transfer officers bracing for an intellectual property crackdown that they fear could reach into academia. Issued June 25, 2002, to a dozen researchers including David Baltimore, who identified the NF-kB signaling pathway, the patent was granted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Rese

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Planning the Future of Plant Genomics

By | July 22, 2002

Image: Courtesy of National Sciences Foundation Arabidopsis Plant genomics researchers stand at a crossroads. Behind them are the completed genome sequences of rice1 and the model mustard plant Arabidopsis thaliana.2 Now, armed with insights gained from both plant and animal sequencing projects, plant biologists must decide how to proceed with future sequencing, proteomics, and functional genomics endeavors--and how to allot precious basic research dollars while, at the same time, keeping

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Sensing Evil

By | July 22, 2002

Worst-case scenarios don't come much uglier than the plume of an aerosolized biowarfare agent infiltrating a city. What happens then? Do alarms ring, evacuations and vaccinations begin? Or will anyone even know what the cloud contains? The answer could depend on efforts to improve molecular recognition systems that identify biowarfare agents in the air, water, or food. Problems of accuracy and efficiency that have dogged such technologies for decades are approaching resolution, but even then,

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EU Database Directive Draws Fire

By | July 8, 2002

A list of the EU's intellectual property directives, including the Database Protection Directive, 96/9/EC, is available online at: www.europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/intprop/docs/index.htm The blessings of an increasingly advanced digital world are many: faster data processing, massive data storage. But with these newfound capabilities come new questions about ownership. Who owns the mountains of data contained in databases--whether stock prices, real estate values, or countless genom

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Photo: Courtesy of Carl Feldbaum Carl Feldbaum Financiers and biotechnology business leaders suspended their networking for a few minutes at the BIO 2002 annual convention in Toronto as Carl Feldbaum, chairman of the powerful US Biotechnology Industry Organization, urged them to cooperate with their competitors and assist the poor. Feldbaum's 10-point Biotechnology Foreign Policy,1 introduced over a sumptuous lunch, would provide appropriate and affordable vaccines and drugs for developi

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Frontlines

By | July 8, 2002

Six of Europe's Nobel laureates chastised the European Union's policies on research funding with a letter to all 12 EU leaders demanding action. The six--three winners of the medicine prize in the 1970s and 1980s, two physicists, and a chemist--want funds doubled to stem the flow of talented young scientists from Europe to the United States. "Brain drain--young talented scientists leaving their countries--is making itself felt in most EU countries," the letter warns. The EU has pledged to raise

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Impossible Vaccine Tames Staphylococcus aureus

By | July 8, 2002

Image: Courtesy of Ali Fattom THE END IS NEAR: S. aureus attached to tissue If Scottish surgeon Alexander Ogsten ever daydreamed that discovering Staphylococcus aureus would win acclamation, it was before he crossed paths with the British Medical Journal and came away the worse for it, squashed like a cockroach caught scurrying across a tray of tea and crumpets. Upbraiding the upstart for daring to step beyond his place, the editor dismissed Ogsten's 1881 paper on the bacterium, jotting

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