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Identifying the Black Death

By | November 10, 2000

In just four years in the mid-fourteenth century, the medieval pandemic of 'Black Death' killed 17-28 million Europeans, or 30-40% of the total population. Further resurgences later in the century eliminated 90% of the households around Montpellier in southern France. It is in this region that Raoult et al. went searching for the causative agent of the Black Death. Although this agent has been presumed to be Yersinia pestis, the pattern of the disease's spread has led others to suggest alternati

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Metabolite profiling

By | November 9, 2000

In the November Nature Biotechnology Fiehn et al. offer an alternative to the profiling of messenger RNA and protein levels. They use gas chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (GC/MS) to assay the relative levels of 326 small compounds from a plant leaf extract (Nat Biotech 2000, 18:1157-1161). A simple methanol extraction is followed by derivitization to increase metabolite stability and volatility. Approximately half of the chromatographed compounds can be identified based on retention t

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Reeling in DNA

By | November 9, 2000

The Bacillus subtilis SpoIIIE protein is required for DNA segregation during the asymmetric cell division that produces a mother cell and a pre-spore. In the 3 November Science, Bath et al. confirm that SpoIIIE is targeted to the leading edge of the septum that divides the two cells, and suggest that the protein pumps DNA into the pre-spore by tracking along DNA (Science 2000, 290:995-997). They find that SpoIIIE is a DNA-dependent ATPase that can introduce unconstrained supercoils into a DNA su

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Ritalin gets vote of approval in the UK

By | November 9, 2000

A new UK directive supports use of the controversial drug Ritalin in severe Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but only under specialist supervision.

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A game of monopoly

By | November 8, 2000

Reed Elsevier's proposed takeover of Harcourt has provoked an outcry from librarians and academics alike - but do they have the muscle to influence it?

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Insights into paracetamol poisoning

By | November 8, 2000

Glutathione S-transferases (GST) may provide a means for treating fatal liver damage caused by paracetamol overdose. In a paper published in 7 November Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Henderson et al provide a new insight into how the enzyme GST Pi may moderate the toxic effects of paracetamol (acetaminophen).When overdoses of paracetamol are taken, too much of the compound N-acetyl-p-benzoquinoneimine (NAPQI) is produced; it covalently binds to proteins and other macromolecules

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An association between phenylpropanolamine and stroke has prompted the US FDA to pull cold medicines from the market.

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Therapeutic cloning endorsed by Royal Society

By | November 8, 2000

The UK's Royal Society yesterday released a report backing continued research into the use of cloned embryonic stem cells.

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Architectural role for BCL6

By | November 7, 2000

Nuclear BTB/POZ proteins are often concentrated into discrete nuclear subdomains, but the role of these nuclear compartments is unclear. The BCL6 proto-oncogene, frequently altered in non-Hodgkin lymphoma, encodes a POZ/zinc finger protein that shows a characteristic localization in nuclear aggregates. In the November Molecular and Cellular Biology Albagli et al. used a tetracycline-regulated, epitope-tagged BCL6 allele to explore the significance of BCL6 aggregates (Mol Cell Biol 2000, 20:8560-

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Creating kingdoms

By | November 7, 2000

Analysis of four conserved proteins allows a better prediction of eukaryotic phylogeny.

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