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Early Warning

By | April 29, 2002

Stung by anthrax mailings after suicide skyjackings, the United States is hurrying to erect an electronic line of defense against further bioterrorism. At least five sophisticated biosurveillance systems are under development with federal funding to nonprofit and to proprietary ventures; two other groups already have products on the market. The goal is to install a national sentinel network that can detect suspicious trends in medical data and in illness behavior before diagnosis, to help contai

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Frontlines

By | April 29, 2002

Researchers are homing in on genetics as a potential cause of obesity, but to date, few obesity-related genes have been discovered, and those tend to be very rare in the population (See " Genes Do Play a Role in Obesity,"). But a group including scientists from Myriad Genetics and University of Utah, both in Salt Lake City, and Bayer Corp., West Haven, Conn., has identified a locus that is significantly linked to high body mass index (BMI) in obese women; this locus will likely yield a gene that

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Kids, Crystals, and Space Research

By | April 29, 2002

When space shuttle Atlantis last launched from Cape Canaveral this month, more than 200 students and teachers from across the nation had particular reason to be excited. They had helped prepare the nearly 300 protein and viral samples which the space shuttle delivered to the International Space Station (ISS). Students and perhaps even a politician or two have taken part in space experiments in the past, but this experiment takes the concept of lab assistants to new heights. As principal investi

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Birth of a Giant Arum: Follow-Up

By | April 15, 2002

Amorphophallus titanum—the botanical mouthful is the Latin name for Titan arum, a Sumatran cousin of the common philodendron. Unlike the diminutive houseplant, Titan lives up to its label by producing giant leaves more than 20 feet long and 50 feet around. Only one leaf appears each growing season, springing from an underground storage organ, or tuber, that can weigh more than 100 pounds. The tropical Titan doesn't do sex very often—just a few times in its 40-year life span—but

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Frontlines

By | April 15, 2002

For some children, science is as palatable as brussels sprouts. To elevate the topic in the minds of primary and secondary students, the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia and the Science Museum of London have collaborated to publish an online science gallery entitled "Pieces of Science," www.fi.edu/pieces. The 16 featured objects, from a beginner's guide to genetic engineering to the story of the mold Sir Alexander Fleming discovered and transformed into penicillin has its own its Web page, com

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Once Promising Proteomics Market Sags

By | April 15, 2002

The once white-hot investment climate for proteomics has cooled, sending companies scrambling to recast themselves. Biotech analysts and investors say interest in proteomics companies peaked about a year ago with a rash of them competing in the technology and database sectors. In Europe, proteomics companies have also experienced a downturn, with biotech stocks falling 40% from their peak in 2000. Developing a new generation of technology and digitally mapping the proteome was, relatively speaki

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Software Zeroes In on Ovarian Cancer

By | April 15, 2002

Ben A. Hitt is living proof that you can leave biomedical research without saying goodbye forever. More than 20 years since turning out the lights in the lab for what he thought was the last time, Hitt is not only back, he's in demand. Now chief scientist for Correlogic Systems, in Bethesda, Md., his phone hasn't stopped ringing since Feb. 16, when a paper in The Lancet1 announced that Proteome Quest, the pattern-recognition software he created, had identified a pattern among five serum proteins

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The Continuing Saga of Invasive Species

By | April 15, 2002

The Ames, Iowa-based Council for Agricultural Science and Technology recently issued a report on the dangers posed by invasive pests to agriculture, public health, and natural ecosystems. A six-member task force co-chaired by Don Huber of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and Martin Hugh-Jones of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, documented research on the problem and recommended how to alleviate it. "If a pest can enter the United States, over time, it will find a way here, s

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Toward a Global Proteome

By | April 15, 2002

If mapping the entire human proteome isn't challenge enough, consider this: The Human Proteome Organization, created this past year, aims to coordinate the efforts of the many public and private groups moving into the proteomic field.1 HUPO president Samir Hanash hopes an April 29 meeting at the National Institutes of Health will solidify plans and collaborations to characterize all blood serum proteins, create a library of antibodies to every human protein, and put the data collected in a user

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Toxicologists Label GM Foods Safe

By | April 15, 2002

A study group appointed by the 5,200-member Society of Toxicology, based in Reston, Va., recently issued a draft position paper affirming the safety of foods made from genetically modified (GM) crops. If approved by the society's full membership and council, the report should make biotech enthusiasts happy: It supports key principles governing federal regulatory policy and nixes pet arguments made by the technology's critics. The draft report was posted on a 'members only' page of the society'

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