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Custom-made human embryos for medical research

By | July 19, 2001

Scientists in the US have created stem cells from human embryos derived from germ cells donated explicitly for providing tissue for medical research.

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BRCA2-repair

By | July 18, 2001

Mutations in the human BRCA2 gene are associated with susceptibility to early-onset breast cancer, but it is unclear how the wild-type BRCA2 protein works. In the July 17 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Xia et al. describe investigation of the role of BRCA2 in DNA repair (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2001, 98:8644-8649). They expressed BRCA2 in Capan-1 carcinoma cells, the only human cell line that has non-functional BRCA2. BRCA2 expression increased homologous recombination ten-fold,

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New light on seasonal variation in infection outbreaks

By | July 18, 2001

Seasonal cycles of infectious diseases are universal and no single theory based on pathogen appearance, disappearance, or environmental changes has proved satisfactory. In June Emerging Infectious Diseases Scott Dowell of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta suggests a novel theory, saying that the seasonal variation in infectious disease outbreaks are related to changes in host susceptibility mediated by the annual light/dark cycle and patterns of melatonin secretion. Dr Do

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Modified two-hybrid

By | July 17, 2001

The yeast two-hybrid system is one of the most widely used functional genomic tools for studying protein-protein interactions. But transcriptional activators cannot be used as 'bait' proteins in the assay as they can activate the reporter gene, usually used as an indicator of protein interaction, even in the absence of protein interactions. In the July 17 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Hirst et al. describe a modified two-hybrid assay that is based on transcriptional repression

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c-Jun N-terminal kinase role in rheumatoid arthritis

By | July 16, 2001

The c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) is a critical convergent point in metalloproteinase expression and joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis.

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Roving sharks

By | July 16, 2001

In a Brief Communication in the July 12 Nature, Pardini et al. report the use of genetic analysis to track the movements of great white sharks, Carcharodon carcharias (Nature 2001, 412:139-140). Analysis of DNA sequences from the maternally inherited mitochondrial genome provided evidence for long-term isolation of female sharks in three distinct populations (off the coasts of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand). In contrast, they found no sequence differentiation for microsatellite loci in

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US debates care standards for small laboratory animals

By | July 16, 2001

The US Animal Welfare Act for humane care of research animals excludes rats, mice and birds. Efforts to remedy this are in progress.

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APOE E4 increases risk of heart disease in smokers

By | July 13, 2001

Apolipoprotein E (apoE) isoforms E2, E3, and E4, are important determinants of plasma lipid concentrations, with the ε4 allele particularly associated with heightened risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). However the inherited apoE genotype interactions with environmental risk factors such as smoking are not known. In 14 July Lancet, Steve Humphries and colleagues from University College London Medical School show that the E4 isoform of apoE is associated with a significantly increased risk

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Cape flora

By | July 13, 2001

The Cape province of South Africa is considered a continental ' hotspot' with a rich diversity of species of flora. In the July 12 Nature, Richardson et al., from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Richmond, UK, report the results of a molecular phylogenetic analysis that dates the era of speciation to about 7-8 million years ago (Nature 2001, 412:181-182). They sequenced nuclear ribosomal and plastid DNA from island species of the buckthorn Phylica, as well as continental species from the Cape, and

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Could the Black Death protect against HIV?

By | July 13, 2001

People who survived the Black Death could have passed on a mutation that prevents the human immunodeficiency virus entering cells.

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