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Q&A: Copenhagen's united front

By | December 14, 2009

In the months leading up to Copenhagen, developing world leaders met multiple times to strategize and solidify their position on climate change. Because of their poverty levels, populations in developing regions are generally seen as the most vulnerable to changes in climate and subsequent extreme weather, such as droughts, flood, heat waves and rising sea levels. Calestous Juma Image: Harvard University, Belfer Center But since arriving at the conference, these developing world negotiators hav

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New hope for EU patent plan

By | December 11, 2009

A planned redesign of the European patent system, announced last week (December 4th), could reduce the cost and strengthen the legal weight of European patents -- a change that biotechnology companies have long awaited. Image: WikipediaCurrently, a European patent can cost companies up to 11 times as much as they would pay in the United States, while providing far fewer legal certainties. The existing patent system is simply a bundle of 4-6 national patents; applicants must choose the countries

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2010 NIH budget bump

By | December 10, 2009

Congress has inched closer to finalizing the budgets for key federal science agencies in the 2010 fiscal year, with a small boost for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a larger increase for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the works.Image: US Dept. of the Treasury A combined House and Senate appropriations committee linkurl:agreed;http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=882f239d-0df8-4adf-b707-0f407783eddd on a 2.3% bump for the NIH, which will have a

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One gene keeps ovaries female

By | December 10, 2009

Knocking down a single gene in an adult mouse makes ovaries develop the characteristics of a male gonad and produce testosterone, according to a study linkurl:published today;http://www.cell.com/abstract/S0092-8674(09)01433-0 (December 10th) in __Cell.__ The study suggests that the signal is required to maintain the female phenotype throughout adulthood, and may provide clues to female infertility. "I think this is a very important finding" identifying a key regulator of the genes involved in

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New NIH forms raise concerns

By | December 8, 2009

The new, shortened National Institutes of Health grant applications, designed to make the process easier on applicants and reviewers, may have an unintended downside, some researchers say. Specifically, some critics say the new, shorter forms -- down from 25 to 12 pages for R01 grants -- will favor better writers, making it more difficult for younger investigators to compete for NIH funding. "[The new grant applications] are going to focus people's words, and I do think it will favor better wr

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New giant virus discovered

By | December 7, 2009

Scientists have discovered a new family of giant viruses -- created within amoebae, they linkurl:report;http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0911354106 in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Structural analysis of giant virus Image: Xiao C, Kuznetsov YG, Sun S, Hafenstein SL, Kostyuchenko VA, et al. (2009) The new virus type is uniquely comprised of genes from a variety of origins, including bacteria, eukaryotes and viruses. Amoebae are not an uncomm

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Remodeling replaces cut axons

By | December 7, 2009

Neurons in the fly can radically remold their cytoskeleton to rebuild a severed axon -- a finding that might provide clues to how neurons recover from injury, researchers reported yesterday at the American Society for Cell Biology meeting in San Diego. Image: Wikipedia To rebuild the severed axon, neurons in the fly ramp up their production of microtubules -- the main structural elements of the cytoskeleton -- and recreate the microtubules characteristic of the axon in a nearby part of the ce

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27 more hESC lines head for OK

By | December 4, 2009

Twenty-seven human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines are ethically derived and should be approved for use in research funded by the US linkurl:National Institutes of Health;http://www.nih.gov/ (NIH), a committee advising the NIH director linkurl:recommended today (December 4).;http://acd.od.nih.gov/agendas/Tab-1-Agenda-FINAL.pdf These findings come just two days after the approval of the first 13 lines linkurl:earlier this week.;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/56196/ Human embryonic st

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A robotic arm breakthrough?

By | December 3, 2009

We at __The Scientist__ are always on the lookout for overhyped research, and we suspect we've run across an example in an linkurl:Associated Press;http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091202/ap_on_sc/eu_italy_robotic_hand story about a brain-controlled prosthetic arm published yesterday (December 2). The article stated that researchers in Italy had used a robotic arm, controlled via electrodes implanted in the nerves of an amputee's arm, that allowed him "to feel sensations in the artificial limb an

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NIH OKs 13 stem cell lines

By | December 2, 2009

Thirteen human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines have received approval for use in federally funded research, with the promise of more to come as soon as this Friday, linkurl:the National Institutes of Health announced;http://www.nih.gov/news/health/dec2009/od-02.htm today (December 2). Human embryonic stem cellsImage: Wikimedia commons, Nissim Benvenisty"This is a significant day," NIH director Francis Collins said at a teleconference. "These [new lines] now becoming available we believe will

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