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Killing me softly with his sperm

By | November 20, 2000

Inducing death in the mother of your future children may not be the wisest way to maximize your contributions to the gene pool. And yet male flies do just that: their sperm (or, more correctly, their seminal fluid) increases the death rate of recipient females. In the November 21 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Civetta and Clark suggest that the polygamous nature of fly society provides an explanation for this puzzling behavior. They find that male flies that induce a greater mo

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Nice and open

By | November 20, 2000

The UK's National Institute for Clinical Excellence has opted to remove confidentiality from its appraisal process as a means of pre-empting information leaks.

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Patent knowledge

By | November 20, 2000

A special report just published in the UK reveals the extent and pace of the gene patent rush.

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Nearly a million children die each year of malaria, but the parasite became resistant to the cheapest drug. Now we know why.

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Skim before you fly

By | November 17, 2000

How does gradual evolutionary change come up with a complex trait such as flying? One possible intermediate state for insects is surface-skimming, in which the insect's weight is borne by water, meaning that the wings must deal only with generating forward motion. A limited analysis suggested, however, that present-day surface skimmers were evolutionary latecomers, and had lost their previous ability to fly. In the November 21 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Thomas et al. analyz

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Europe had ten Adams

By | November 16, 2000

In the 10 November Science Semino et al. use haplotypes from the non-recombining portion of the Y chromosome (NRY) of 1007 individuals to determine that ten lineages can account for 95% of European Y chromosomes (Science 2000, 290:1151-1155). Based on the geographic distribution of the haplotypes, and their age (estimated using the variation of associated microsatellites), Semino et al. identify two major haplotypes as belonging to Paleolithic peoples who migrated from the Iberian peninsula and

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The ESTs from Brazil

By | November 16, 2000

Guesses about the number of genes in the human genome vary wildly and may continue to do so even when the entire genome sequence is available. Computational methods for picking out exons that are scattered amongst vast introns yield both false positives and false negatives. This has prompted a Brazilian sequencing group to generate a quarter of a million open reading frame (ORF) expressed sequence tags (ORESTES), as they report in the November 7 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (P

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Batting for both teams

November 15, 2000

A gene has been identified that could predict the susceptibility of an individual to contracting HIV or developing AIDS, a report in the Journal of AIDS reveals. Scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases discovered the gene, called RANTES. Variations in the gene means it works in two ways: while it could double a person's susceptibility to contracting HIV, it also delays the length of time for progression to AIDS in HIV infected people by about 40%. Dr Philip Murphy

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Modifying genetic research

By | November 15, 2000

GM food has provoked much protest but GM medicine has more public approval: the difference lies in approaches to research.

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Many drugs effective against tropical diseases are no longer available or in danger of being pulled from the market because they are unprofitable.

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