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A biotech's battle lost

By | September 16, 2009

Altus Pharmaceuticals, a 17-year-old Boston-area biotech whose struggle for survival we linkurl:profiled last month,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55882/ will join the boneyard of companies that have not made it through the current economic crisis. Yellow stickers in the company's lab mark equipment to be sold"Very simply, we have not been able to secure financing," Georges Gemayel, Altus's CEO, told The Scientist this morning. The company announced in a linkurl:Securities and Ex

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Colorblind monkeys see new light

By | September 16, 2009

Gene therapy has successfully given colorblind adult monkeys the ability to see red and green, according to a study published this week in Nature, demonstrating a striking plasticity in the adult visual system and providing new hope for treating vision disorders that until now were thought to be incurable in adults. Monkey taking color vision testImage: Neitz Laboratory"The surprise is that you can do it with an adult animal," said neuroscientist linkurl:Jerry Jacobs;http://www.psych.ucsb.edu/

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Q&A: Hail to the chief (of staff)

By | September 15, 2009

At the beginning of September, the new director of the National Institutes of Health, linkurl:Francis Collins,;http://www.nih.gov/about/director/index.htm welcomed a friend and colleague back into the NIH fold. He named linkurl:Kathy Hudson;http://www.bioethicsinstitute.org/mshome/?ID=89 -- who had been simultaneously wearing the hats of bioethicist, geneticist and public policy guru at Johns Hopkins University -- his new chief of staff, a position that's never before formally existed at NIH. Hu

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2009 Lasker Awards announced

By | September 14, 2009

linkurl:John Gurdon;http://www.gurdon.cam.ac.uk/gurdon.html of Cambridge University and linkurl:Shinya Yamanaka;http://www.gladstone.ucsf.edu/gladstone/site/yamanaka/ of Kyoto University and the University of California, San Francisco, will share the 2009 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award for their contributions to stem cell research -- specifically, for their work in reverting adult cells to an embryonic-like state, the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation announced today (September 14).

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Norman Borlaug dies

By | September 14, 2009

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning researcher who developed a high-yielding variety of disease resistant wheat and improved varieties of other crop plants that fed legions of starving people died this Saturday (September 12). Norman Borlaug won the 1970 peace prize for launching the green revolution -- which more than doubled world food production from the 1960s to the 1990s -- from his post at a research institute in Mexico. According to Texas A&M University, where Borlaug was a distinguished profes

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Critter cams

By | September 11, 2009

What happens in the far corners of the animal kingdom when no one is looking? A lot, as you might imagine. Armadillos scamper, tripod fish sit at the bottom of the ocean, waiting for prey to pass by, laughing kookaburras nest in gum trees. And you can watch it all from the comfort of your cubicle at a recently launched online museum called the linkurl:Museum of Animal Perspectives.;http://www.sameasterson.com/map "I feel like if people see this footage -- because it's so immersive -- they

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Neurons don't waste energy

By | September 10, 2009

A classical model of how neurons power their chemical messages may need revision. Neurons from the rat hippocampus use three times less energy to propagate an action potential down an axon than was previously believed, according to a new study published in this week's issue of Science -- providing important clues for interpreting brain imaging techniques. Golgi staining of pyramidal cells in human hippocampusImage: Wikimedia commons, MethoxyRoxy"Many people will be surprised by this," said neur

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PNAS scraps special submission

By | September 10, 2009

A leading scientific journal has done away with a manuscript submission option that allowed members of the National Academy of Sciences to usher papers from non-members through the peer review process. The __Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences__ (__PNAS__) offered the option, called "Track I," to members of the Academy as a way to bring papers written by non-members to the journal's attention. Members were allowed to "communicate" two Track I papers per year, and were responsible fo

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Stem cell co. faked success: SEC

By | September 9, 2009

A stem cell company is in hot water with the linkurl:US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC);http://www.sec.gov/ for falsely representing an early-stage experimental stem cell therapy as nearing human trials. Image: Wikimedia commons, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Public Health Image LibraryThe SEC yesterday (September 8) linkurl:filed charges;http://www.sec.gov/news/press/2009/2009-195.htm against linkurl:CellCyte,;http://www.cellcyte.com/ based in Bothell, Wash., as well a

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School sued for fake cancer test

By | September 8, 2009

A biotechnology company is suing the University of Pittsburgh over a test for prostate cancer, linkurl:the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported last week.;http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_641304.html The lawsuit claims the test is "no more accurate in distinguishing cancerous tissue from normal tissue than flipping a coin," according to the newspaper. After researcher Robert Getzenberg said he had identified a new biomarker for prostate cancer in 2001, the University of Pitt

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