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In a study published in the October issue of the Journal of Medical Genetics, the same genetic defect that occurs in familial primary pulmonary hypertension has been found in sporadic cases of the disease, where there is no family history.Recent research has implied that in familial instances defects in the BMPR-II gene affect cell-signalling processes that may be vital for growth and turnover. Professor Richard Trembath and his team at the University of Leicester studied 50 patients with primar

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Preliminary trials have identified a protein that could be useful in pinpointing some women who are at greater risk of dying from breast cancer

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Gene expression profiles of mouse brains

By | October 13, 2000

Inbred mouse strains have been shown to vary considerably in neurobehavioral testing. In the September 26 Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Sandberg et al. describe the first use of DNA microarrays to determine the genetics events that might explain these phenotypic differences (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2000, 97:11038-11043). They compared two common inbred mouse strains (C57BL/6 and 129SvEv) by examining the expression profiles of over 10,000 genes in six different brain regions. Th

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Gene therapy with histones

By | October 13, 2000

In the October 10 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Balicki et al. report that histone H2A can be used to increase the efficacy of gene therapy (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2000, 97:11500-11504). Histone H2A has been used in the past to coat DNA prior to transfection. It appears to work both because of its positive charge and some other property, which is presumed to be its nuclear-localizing activity. Balicki et al. use H2A for in vitro delivery of the gene for interleukin-2 (IL-2) to

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A ten-year study of a Japanese rural community (published in the October issue of Stroke) has found an inverse relationship between serum vitamin C concentrations and subsequent stroke incidence.The Shibata study, conducted by a multicenter team of Japanese researchers, followed a cohort of 880 men and 1,241 women who were free of stroke in 1977. Subjects were stratified into four groups according to serum vitamin C levels, and interviewed yearly to determine incidence of stroke. Strong inverse

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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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