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Impotent B cells

By | January 30, 2001

In chronic lymphocytic leukaemia the non-malignant B cells do not mature to produce IgG and IgA because of an interaction with CD30+ T cells.In patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia antibody production by B cells is severely impaired and this is associated with increased susceptibility to bacterial infections. The mechanisms behind the immune defects have remained elusive. In the February issue of Nature Immunology, researchers from Cornell University, New York, show how leukaemia cells in

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Stimulatory sonic hedgehog

By | January 30, 2001

Current bone marrow transplant treatment of cancer patients does not include agents to amplify the number of repopulating stem cells. A step closer to developing an appropriate drug has been made by Mickie Bhatia and colleagues from the John P. Robarts Research Institute, London, Canada who report in the February issue of Nature Immunology how the sonic hedgehog protein is involved in the regulation of the human stem cell pool.Their research indicates that the cytokine-induced proliferation of p

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Transcriptional targets

By | January 30, 2001

In the January 25 Nature, Iyer et al. describe an elegant technique to identify transcriptional target genes throughout the genome (Nature 2001, 409:533-538). They combined chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) with microarray analysis (DNA chips) to probe individual protein-genome interactions. The technique involved cross-linking, immunoprecipitation, PCR amplification and fluorescent labeling, followed by hybridization to microarrarys containing genomic DNA. They searched the yeast genome fo

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Depleted uranium: key reports awaited

By | January 29, 2001

Forthcoming WHO and UNEP reports won't answer the question of whether DU weapons have an impact on human health. There's still plenty of research needed, say UN agencies.

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Goldfish calculus

By | January 29, 2001

The concept that neurons can perform calculations and store information temporarily by exciting each other in a reciprocal way has been around for some time, but has been difficult to test experimentally. A team from the New York University School of Medicine presents evidence in the February issue of Nature Neuroscience, that may help to prove this intriguing hypothesis.Aksay and colleagues worked on a group of neurons in the brainstem of goldfish that are involved in controlling eye movements.

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New treatment for diabetics undergoes trial

By | January 29, 2001

A treatment that could mean the end of daily insulin injections for diabetics is about to undergo trials in the UK.

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Sir silencing

By | January 26, 2001

Chromatin silencing depends on passage through the S-phase of the cell cycle and was widely believed to depend on DNA replication. In two papers in the January 26 Science, Kirchmaier and Rine and Li et al. challenge this dogma by reporting that the establishment of transcriptional silencing can occur in the absence of replication (Science 2001, 291:646-650; Science 2001, 291:650-653). Both groups used an ingenious genetic trick, involving site-specific recombination, to generate non-replicating

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Thalidomide to be tested for use against lung cancer

By | January 26, 2001

Research into the efficacy of Thalidomide as a treatment for small cell lung cancer, which is backed by the Cancer Research Campaign (CRC), will be carried out on a total of 30 patients in London and Leeds, UK. Patients will receive one 100 mg tablet of the drug every night for two years alongside traditional chemotherapy.Thalidomide seems to work by stabilising blood flow around tumours, thereby allowing better supply of the chemotherapy agents to the cancerous cells. It then goes on to prevent

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The weakest link

By | January 26, 2001

No single genetic cause links inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer.

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Ephrin-B3 protein linked to mirror-movement disorder

By | January 25, 2001

Researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center found that mice lacking the protein ephrin-B3 showed signs of a rare condition known as mirror-movement disorder.The main symptom of the disease is an involuntary symmetrical movement of the limbs so, for example, when the right hand is moved the left involuntarily moves with it.Previous research has suggested that mirror movement is caused by defects in the corticospinal tract, and ephrins are known to regulate nerve growth wi

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