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Losers Fight Back

By | February 1, 2011

By Richard P. Grant Losers Fight Back Dr Adam Schindler and Dr David Sherwood (Anchor cell invasion initiates uterine-vulval attachment during C. elegans larval development) The paper M. Portela et al., “Drosophila SPARC is a self-protective signal expressed by loser cells during cell competition,” Dev Cell, 19:562-73, 2010. Free F1000 Evaluation The finding During development and aging, animal cells that have been weakened by mutation, infe

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Opening a Can of Worms

By | February 1, 2011

A father’s determination to help his son resulted in an experimental treatment for autism that uses roundworms to modulate inflammatory immune responses. Can the worms be used to treat other diseases?

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Parasites Unite!

By | February 1, 2011

By Cristina Luiggi Parasites Unite! Gabriele Sorci discusses how invaders can band together to more effectively infect hosts. Any given mammalian immune system mixes it up with trillions of individual microorganisms, viruses, and macroparasites on a regular basis. These foreign invaders can cooperate with each other to create conditions favorable for the colonization of their host. University of Bourgogne evolutionary ecologist and Faculty of 1000 Member, Gabriele S

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Puzzle Me This

By | February 1, 2011

By Graeme Stemp-Morlock Puzzle Me This VisualField / ISTOCKphoto.com What substance is supposed to have no effect but can make people feel better, has no chance for a big monetary payoff but is worth billions, and is used in virtually every rigorous clinical trial but has no single, universal formulation? The answer is the placebo. Hallmarks of good biomedical research, placebos are used throughout the world in double-blind, randomized controlled trials. A

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Rewards of Risk

By | February 1, 2011

By Megan Scudellari Rewards of Risk Secrets to scoring big money grants for innovative, out-of-the-box research Charles Lieber, 2008 National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award Winner Photo by Stu Rosner Photography Charles Lieber was ready to do something new. A renowned nanoscientist at Harvard, he had developed a number of nanoscale materials for electronic and computing applications, but had long wanted to try his hand at biological p

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Speaking of Science

By | February 1, 2011

Speaking of Science Fertnig / ISTOCKphoto.com Even the most unreasonable postdoc is more reasonable than a two-year-old. And the distraction strategies you apply to a two-year-old work equally well in the lab. So being a mum has probably made me a better lab manager. —Cambridge University molecular geneticist Fiona Watt, profiled in The Scientist (Jan. 2011) We cannot escape the troubling conclusion that some—perhaps many—cherished g

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The Evolution of Credibility

By | February 1, 2011

By Frederick Grinnell The Evolution of Credibility The winding path that an interesting result takes to become a bona fide discovery is just one of the topics covered in this new book on the practice of science. Oxford University Press, 2011 When I was a graduate student in biochemistry at Tufts University School of Medicine, I read an abridged version of Montaigne’s Essays. My friend Margaret Rea (a.k.a. Marci Trindle) and I spent hours wandering around B

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The Genes of Parkinsons Disease

By | February 1, 2011

By Bobby Thomas and M. Flint Beal The Genes of Parkinson’s Disease The minority of Parkinson’s cases now known to have genetic origins are shedding light on the cellular mechanisms of all the rest, bringing researchers closer to a cause—and perhaps a cure. Gerald Slota It took centuries for the slumped posture, trembling hands, poor balance, and cognitive impairments that characterize Parkinson’s disease (PD) to be recognized as manifest

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The Great Escape

By | February 1, 2011

By Richard P. Grant The Great Escape 3D4Medical / Photo Researchers, Inc. The paper L.A. Knodler et al., “Dissemination of invasive Salmonella via bacterial-induced extrusion of mucosal epithelia.” PNAS, 107:17733-38, 2010. Free F1000 Evaluation The finding When the Salmonella bacterium infects eukaryotic cells, it becomes encased in membrane-bound vacuoles. How it escapes from these vacuoles and infects other cells was a mystery until now

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Time and Temperature

By | February 1, 2011

By Richard P. Grant Time and Temperature Joseph Takahashi (An artistic representation of the SCN in black on a colorful background) The paper E. D. Buhr et al., “Temperature as a universal resetting cue for mammalian circadian oscillators,” Science, 330:379-85, 2010. Free F1000 Evaluation The finding The body’s circadian rhythms are regulated by a “master clock” in the brain, whose tempo is set by light-dark cycles, while t

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