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$10 billion for vax research

By | January 29, 2010

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said today (January 29) that they will donate $10 billion over the next 10 years to develop vaccines and deliver them to the world's poorest countries. The donation, announced at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, is the foundation's largest contribution to vaccine research and distribution, more than doubling the $4.5 billion sum it has given over the last five years. Image: Wikimedia commonsWith the money, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates hopes to ra

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Seeking Henrietta

By | January 29, 2010

linkurl:Rebecca Skloot,; author of the new book linkurl:__The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks__,; loves HeLa cells. The cancerous cells adorn her desktop computer background, the banner image on her cell phone, and the walls of her Memphis home. "I just think they're the most beautiful things in the world," Skloot tells __The Scientist__. It's no wonder that Skloot has become enamored with the immortal ce

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Science on the map

By | January 28, 2010

Mapping genetic interactions is old hat, but now scientists are mapping science itself, and looked to see how it's been changing. According to the results of a mathematical model, neuroscience, for example, has only evolved into a mature scientific discipline, like molecular biology and medicine, in the last decade, according to linkurl:the study published online today; (January 28) in PLoS ONE. A set of scientific fields t


Pluripotency not required

By | January 27, 2010

In a striking demonstration of cellular flexibility, scientists have created functioning neurons from fibroblasts, without going through an intermediate pluripotent stage, according to a study published online this week in Nature. Mouse cingulate cortex neuronsImage: Wikimedia commons"It's really exciting," said molecular geneticist Mathias Treier of the linkurl:European Molecular Biology Laboratory; and the linkurl:University of Cologne in Germany,;http://www.presso


Radical journal's fate at risk

By | January 27, 2010

A panel has recommended that life science publishing giant Elsevier tame its most radical journal by making it choose papers via peer review -- not editor's choice -- and limiting the topics it covers. Image: flicker/linkurl:meviola; linkurl:Medical Hypotheses; is currently Elsevier's only non-peer-reviewed journal. linkurl:Its mandate;


Will Obama's freeze chill science?

By | January 27, 2010

When he addresses the nation tonight (27th January), US President Obama is expected to call for a three-year freeze on federal spending for any programs not dealing with the military or homeland defense. But with the budget boosts for federal science agencies provided by 2009's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act drying up in 2011, science advocates are concerned that Obama's funding freeze may spell the steep budgetary drop-off in the next fiscal year that many dread.Image: US Senate "Certa


Balancing oversight

By | January 26, 2010

Last month, the linkurl:California Institute for Regenerative Medicine; (CIRM) linkurl:pulled 3 of the 76 SEED grants; it had given in one of its very first rounds of funding due to inadequate progress -- a 4% revocation rate. On the flip side, the linkurl:National Institutes of Health; (NIH), which funds nearly 10,000 research grants each year, says it hardly ever pulls basic research grants. What's the ri


News in a nutshell

By | January 25, 2010

- The number of orphan drug designations granted by the US Food and Drug Administration has risen sharply over the past 10 years, according to a new linkurl:study; from the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. There were 208 products designated as treatments for neglected diseases in 2000-2002; that number grew to 425 drugs or vaccines by 2006-2008. - A leading stem cell research advocate this weekend linkurl:called on;http


Sonar links bats and whales

By | January 25, 2010

In a striking example of evolutionary convergence, bats and whales appear to have at least two things in common: their ability to use biosonar to navigate and explore their environments and the molecular sequence of a protein that helps them do so, according to two new papers published online today (January 25) in Current Biology. An echolocating bat (Myotis bechsteinii)avoiding collision with a plantImage: Wikimedia commons, PLoS Computational Biology"It's a nice example" of convergence at the


A review of Extraordinary Measures

By | January 22, 2010

Rare diseases and drug discovery don't usually make for Hollywood blockbusters. But today (January 22) a film about a genetic affliction that strikes fewer than 10,000 people worldwide hits movie screens, and it has some serious star power behind it. Harrison Ford and Brendan Fraser head up the cast of Extraordinary Measures, a new movie that may lift Pompe disease from the shadows of obscurity into the spotlight, as the focal point of an inspirational story of paternal love and scientific innov


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