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A reason for neurone death

By | January 4, 2001

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an inherited disease in which spinal cord neurones die for no known reason. The disease is inevitably fatal in childhood due to an inability to breathe or swallow. Michael Sattler and colleagues from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany points out that the neurones' death may be caused only by a change in the binding structure of "survival of motor neurone" (SMN) protein (Nat Struct Biol. 2001 8: 27-31). Researchers identified the thre

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Brain cancer independent of cellular phones

By | January 4, 2001

The use of handheld cellular telephones is not associated with risk of brain cancer according to a paper published in JAMA (JAMA 2000 284:3001-3007).Between 1994 and 1998, Dr Joshua Muscat and colleagues from New York conducted a case-controlled study on the effects of cellular phones in 5 US academic medical centers. They interviewed 469 patients with primary brain cancer and 422 matched controls. They found that the median monthly hours of cellular telephone use was 2.5 for cases, not statisti

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Cosmic radiation and leukaemia

By | January 4, 2001

Deletion or loss of the long arm of chromosome 7 in myelodysplasia and acute myeloid leukaemia could indicate previous exposure to ionising radiation, says Dr Maryanne Gundestrup from the University of Copenhagen (Lancet 2000; 356: 2158). This finding can be used as a marker for an increased risk of acute myeloid leukaemia due to increased exposure to radiation in persons, such as aircrew members exposed to cosmic radiation or patients after radiotherapy. Researchers studied the karyotype of sev

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Stop in the name of ethics

By | January 4, 2001

A French research team is criticised for allowing a clinical trial to continue even though preliminary results suggested the drug therapies were ineffective.

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Developing nations to receive low-cost access to research information

By | January 3, 2001

WHO pilots an initiative to give developing nations access low-cost internet access for scientific information.

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Fluoroquinolones may reduce the risk of myocardial infarction

By | January 3, 2001

Antibiotic treatment for infections of Chlamydia pneumoniae has been associated with protection against myocardial infarction, probably via a stabilizing effect on the cytoskeleton of endothelial cells and on chondrocytes in humans. Dr Herings et al from the Netherlands decided to test this association through a case-control study to see whether patients receiving antibiotics for Chlamydia pneumoniae infections were less likely to have been admitted for a first acute MI (JAMA 2000 284:2998-2999)

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Mummy's been given a toe job?

By | January 3, 2001

Research of human remains in the necropolis of Thebes-West suggests that ancient Egyptians were the pioneers of amputation and prosthetic surgery (Lancet 2000; 356: 2176-79).Professor Andreas Nerlich and colleagues from Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany, investigated the mummified remains of a woman aged about 50-55 who died between 1550 and 700 BC. Close pathological examination revealed that her right big toe had been amputated during her lifetime, because an intact layer of soft

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Pseudomonas aeruginosa

By | January 3, 2001

Now that the structure of the N-terminal domain of exotoxin S has been revealed, perhaps a drug target will present itself.

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Calling all binding sites

By | December 29, 2000

In the 22 December Science Ren et al. combine chromatin immunoprecipitation with DNA microarrays to identify all binding sites for two budding yeast transcription activators (Science 2000, 290:2306-2309). They start by breaking open cells, cross-linking bound protein to DNA, sonicating, and immunoprecipitating with an antibody against a particular transcription factor. The isolated DNA is amplified, and the abundance of the amplified fragments is compared with a whole genome amplification using

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Keeping up the weight loss

By | December 29, 2000

Just in time for the New Year's resolution. A randomised, double blind trial suggests that the drug, sibutramine, previously known for inducing dose-dependent weight loss and enhancing the effects of a low-calorie diets, is effective in sustaining weight loss (Lancet 2000; 356: 2119-25). The international team of researchers, lead by Professor W Philip T James from Aberdeen, UK, studied 605 obese patients recruited from eight European centres. The patients were enrolled in a 6-month period of we

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