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Why we need a reactome

By | January 12, 2010

A powerful new tool to assess the functionality of the active proteins in any given cell -- the so-called reactome -- has been called into question. How would this recently developed "reactome array," described in a study published last October in Science, advance the field of functional genomics, and if it should fail, what would the ramifications be? A biochipImage: Flickr, linkurl:Argonne Laboratory;http://www.flickr.com/photos/argonne/3397932229/ When Nobel Laureate linkurl:Richard Roberts

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Monday round-up

By | January 11, 2010

-A newly released linkurl:government report;http://www.hhs.gov/aspr/omsph/biosecurity/biosecurity-report.pdf calls for changing the rules for conducting research on certain biological materials that could potentially be used as bioterror agents. Though the current list of "select agents" includes 82 pathogens and toxins, the report says, they don't all pose the same level of threat; the panel recommended stratifying the list based on the level of risk. The report also calls for beefing up securi

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A break for cane toads?

By | January 7, 2010

A new and unexpected obstacle is thwarting efforts to control the invasive cane toad populations in Australia: a potential ban on the most commonly used method for killing the animals -- carbon dioxide. Image: Wikimedia commonsThe linkurl:Kimberley Toad Busters;http://www.canetoads.com.au/ (KTB) have been using carbon dioxide exposure to euthanize the toads for five years, successfully eliminating more than half a million pests. But last year, after the cane toad populations made their way into

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A new breed of viral invasion

By | January 6, 2010

Traces of genetic material from non-retroviruses have unexpectedly turned up in the genomes of several mammal species, including humans. Image: National Human GenomeResearch InstituteResearchers linkurl:report;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v463/n7277/abs/nature08695.html in this week's issue of __Nature__ that bornaviruses, a group of negative sense RNA viruses, integrated into the DNA of humans and other primates, rodents, and elephants millions of years ago. These snippets represent a

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Test a vax, fly to Mexico

By | January 6, 2010

Want to go to Central America for free? All it takes is your participation in a linkurl:clinical trial for a diarrhea vaccine.;http://www.trekstudy.com/europe/index.html A patch worn on the arm can earn you a complimentary trip to one of nine cities in Mexico and Guatemala, courtesy of linkurl:Intercell AG.;http://www.intercell.com/main/ Image: Wikimedia commons, Andrew HitchcockThe Austrian drug company is recruiting 1800 volunteers for the phase III clinical trial of a vaccine against enterot

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Tetrapods' old age revealed

By | January 6, 2010

Newly discovered tetrapod footprints suggest that the evolution of limbed vertebrates may have occurred nearly 20 million years earlier than scientists previously believed, according to a study published this week in Nature. Pencil drawing of Acanthostegagunnari, an early tetrapodImage: Wikimedia commons, linkurl:Nobu Tamura;http://www.palaeocritti.com "This is a very important discovery," said paleontologist Philippe Janvier of the linkurl:Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle;http://www.m

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Biogen Idec CEO to retire

By | January 5, 2010

Cambridge-based biotech Biogen Idec, the maker of the multiple sclerosis drug Tysabri, linkurl:announced;http://investor.biogenidec.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=148682&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1370474&highlight=] yesterday that its president and CEO, James Mullen, will retire in June. The search is on for a new head. Mullen rose through the ranks at Biogen after coming on as director of facilities and engineering in 1989. He became head of Biogen in 2000, and kept that post when Biogen merged with San Die

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New NIH grants announced

By | January 4, 2010

The New Year is already looking pretty rosy over at the National Institutes of Health. On December 28th the agency announced a new round of grants made possible through last year's NIH stimulus boost. The $80 million program, dubbed the NIH Director's Opportunity for Research in Five Thematic Areas, will fund research projects in a handful of areas - genomics and other high throughput technologies, translational science, enabling health care reform, global health, and "Reinvigorating the Biomed

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While you were away...

By | January 4, 2010

As a new year stretches before us and the holidays are nothing but a nog-scented memory, here are a few of the life science stories you may have missed while you were enjoying your winter vacation. 1) James Goddard died On December 18, we linkurl:lost;http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/02/health/02goddard.html the James Goddard, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration who toughened up the agency and forced pharmaceutical companies to supply more rigorous scientific evidence for

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Consent issues nix blood samples

By | December 23, 2009

More than 5 million blood samples used by researchers in Texas since 2002 must be destroyed because they were stored without parental consent, according to a lawsuit settlement signed by a federal court judge in Texas earlier this month (December 14). Image: Wikimedia commons, Nevit Dilmen"The fact that the court case ruled to have all of them destroyed takes Texas back to square one," linkurl:Richard Finnell;http://genetics.tamu.edu/faculty/rick_finnell of Texas A&M Health Science Center wrot

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