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The first test

October 11, 2000

Genetic testing for Huntingdon's disease by insurance companies is to be sanctioned by UK ministers this week. Opposition to this decision by members of parliament and consumer groups raised concerns that DNA testing for insurance purposes would create a 'genetic underclass' of people unable to gain cover, or having to pay higher premiums. People would be forced to disclose the results of a DNA test or risk rendering their cover null or void.A spokeswoman for the National Consumer Council warned

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Case reports and observational studies have suggested that patients who take antipsychotic drugs have an increased risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE). Using a case-control design, Zornberg and Jick (Lancet 2000 356:1219-1223) evaluated patterns of conventional antipsychotic drug use in 42 patients suffering a first idiopathic VTE (cases) and 168 patients matched for factors including age, sex and index date (controls); all patients had filled at least one prescription for an antipsychotic drug

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Children's clinical drug trials now mandated in US

By | October 10, 2000

A new law in the US requiring new adult drugs to be tested for use in children could result in a three-fold increase in the number of pediatric clinical trials.

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Screening with X-rays

By | October 10, 2000

In the October Nature Biotechnology, Nienaber et al. demonstrate that drug or inhibitor leads can be identified by high throughput X-ray crystallography (Nat. Biotech. 2000, 18:1105-1108). Pre-formed protein crystals are soaked in solvents containing mixtures of 100 compounds before the crystals are examined by X-ray crystallography. Nienaber et al. look for changes in the electron-density map caused by ligand binding. The compounds in each mixture are chosen to be diverse in shape so that they

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Sweet scent for CF sufferers

October 10, 2000

A simple sugar used in inhalers could prevent the onset of bacterial infections in cystic fibrosis (CF) sufferers. Bacterial infections in CF sufferers occur because the level of salt concentration in the surface airway liquid is too high, preventing the production of an effective immune response to the invading bacteria. In a study published in the 10 October issue of PNAS, a team from the University of Iowa, USA, found that a sugar called xylitol could be used to lower the salt concentration i

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Watch out for the neighbors

By | October 10, 2000

Radiation induces DNA breaks, leading to chromosomal rearrangements. But do the breaks come first, followed by a wandering through the nucleus to find a suitable partner for the free DNA end? Or is the partner already nearby at the time of the break? In the 6 October Science, Nikiforova et al. provide evidence for the latter theory (Science 2000, 290:138-141). They look at papillary thyroid cancer, in which a radiation-induced inversion often fuses the genes for H4 and the RET receptor tyrosine

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Slow synaptic transmission grabs the Nobel for Physiology or Medicine.

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Cambridge chemist to be new UK chief scientist

By | October 9, 2000

David King, Head of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Cambridge, is the new Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Government.

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Going from gene sequence to protein function presents a great challenge to genome biology. In the September 15 EMBO Reports, Simpson et al. suggest that the systematic identification of subcellular localization can significantly enhance our ability to assign functions to unknown ORFs (EMBO Reports 2000, 1:287-292). Simpson et al. outline a strategy for such an approach. They adapted the Gateway cloning system to allow rapid, directional cloning of ORFs by recombination, and generate amino- and c

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Magnetic susceptibility

By | October 6, 2000

The state of the art in spectrometry - an ultra-highfield wide-bore NMR machine - will soon allow scientists to take a close look at thousands of membrane proteins with unprecedented resolution

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