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Pro-apoptotic influenza protein

By | December 4, 2001

Severe influenza infections can kill, particularly neonates and the elderly, but despite this little is known about the viral proteins involved in pathogenicity. In December Nature Medicine, Weisan Chen and colleagues from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, US, describe a novel influenza A virus mitochondrial protein that induces cell death in host immune cells sent to destroy the influenza virus.Chen et al. searched for alternative peptides encoded by influenza

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New lipid-lowering drugs

By | December 3, 2001

Drugs such as statins can reduce high plasma levels of the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol that is a significant risk factor for atherosclerosis. In December Nature Medicine Thierry Grand-Perret and colleagues from GlaxoSmithKline, France showed that compounds that bind directly to the sterol regulating protein SCAP, could lower cholesterol levels via a mechanism other than that employed by the statins.Grand-Perret et al. administered SCAP ligands to hyperlipidemic hamsters and found t

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The missing link

By | December 3, 2001

The increasing prevalence of asthma in industrialized societies may be a consequence of improved hygiene levels and a reduction in the incidence in infections such as tuberculosis and hepatitis A. But, the molecular mechanisms that would help to explain these theories remain elusive. In November 28 Nature Immunology Jennifer McIntire and colleagues from Stanford University, Stanford, US show that Tim1 gene on chromosome 5q may explain the inverse relationship between hepatitis A virus (HAV) infe

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Wood genomics

By | December 3, 2001

Transcript profiling identifies groups of genes associated with different developmental stages during the formation of wood in trees.

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Bacteriolytic therapy for cancer

By | November 30, 2001

Tumors often do not respond to chemotherapy because they contain large poorly vascularized areas that limit the efficacy of radiation and chemotherapeutic drugs. In November 27 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences early edition, Long Dang and colleagues from The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine show that administration of anaerobic bacteria in addition to chemotherapy can efficiently destroy large tumors.Dang et al. created a strain of anaerobic bacteria (Clostridium novyi-NT) lacking

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Transgene transfer

By | November 30, 2001

The use of genetically-modified crops has generated concern about the safety of transgenic plants and about the potential for gene flow to related wild species. In the November 29 Nature, David Quist and Ignacio Chapela from the University of California, Berkeley report evidence for the presence of introgressed transgenic DNA in maize plants grown in the remote Mexican mountains of Oaxaca (Nature 2001, 414:541-543).They collected cobs of native landraces of maize from different locations in the

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Genetic control over MS progression

By | November 29, 2001

Genes influence not only susceptibility to multiple sclerosis, but also the processes underlying its progression.

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Human cloning success triggers review of regulations

By | November 29, 2001

The announcement that a human embryo has been cloned reignites the legal and moral debates.

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Regulating the hypoxia response

By | November 29, 2001

Hypoxia-inducible transcription factors (HIFs) control the changes in gene expression that are critical for allowing cells to adapt to limited oxygen levels. In the November 29 Nature, Yuichi Makino and colleagues describe the cloning of a new inhibitor of the transcriptional response to hypoxic conditions (Nature 2001, 414:550-554).Makino et al. mined mouse EST databases in search of HIF homologues and identified a new gene, IPAS, encoding a protein containing a motif (bHLH PAS) that is found i

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Predicting promoters

By | November 28, 2001

Finding the beginning of genes within genomic sequence presents a formidable challenge to projects to annotate the human genome sequence. In the Advanced Online Publication of Nature Genetics Ramana Davuluri and colleagues at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, in New York describe a bioinformatic strategy to predict gene promoters and first exons (Nat Genet 2001, DOI: 10.1038/ng780).They developed a new program, called FirstEF, that attempts to predict the starts of genes. They collected over two th

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