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New NIH stimulus grants go live

By | March 4, 2009

The National Institutes of Health is inviting researchers to apply for newly created grants, funded by the $10 billion that the agency netted in the recently-signed economic stimulus legislation. The new initiative, called the NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research, will make a pot of $200 million of that stimulus cash available for projects focusing on a broad array of more than one hundred topics, from behavioral sciences and genomics to stem cells and translational science. Thes

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Piggybacking to pluripotency

By | March 1, 2009

Researchers have for the first time reprogrammed human skin cells to a pluripotent state without using viruses, according to twin studies published online today in __Nature__. The approach "is truly epigenetic," linkurl:Richard Young,;http://web.wi.mit.edu/young/ a geneticist at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Mass., who was not involved in the research, told __The Scientist__. "You introduce a set of master regulators, they're expressed, they reprogram the cell, and then you successfully

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Stem cell bill is back

By | February 27, 2009

Two senior senators reintroduced a Senate bill yesterday (Feb. 26) that would lift the US ban on federal funding for stem cell research. Senators Tom Harkin (left), ArlenSpecter and Orrin HatchImage: A.C. Glenn/UPI/Newscom/APThe bipartisan measure by Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Arlen Specter (R-Penn.) would permit research on human embryonic stem cell lines regardless of the date the tissue was obtained and allow new cell lines to be derived from human embryos left over from fertility trea

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Can biofuels boost economy?

By | February 26, 2009

Biofuels may be one of the key ways to pump immediate life into the flaccid US economy over the next few years, according to a new report from a research and advisory firm focused on the economics of biotechnology. The linkurl:report,;http://www.bio.org/news/pressreleases/newsitem.asp?id=2009_0225_02 produced by Bio Economic Research Associates and titled "U.S. Economic Impact of Advanced Biofuels Production: Perspectives to 2030," indicates that refineries specializing in next generation biofu

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Dire stats for biotech

By | February 26, 2009

The Biotech Industry Organization (BIO) this morning released a set of statistics that give a rather dire snapshot of the industry's health. Here are some of the highlights -- or, should I say, lowlights -- straight from their roundup: Image: linkurl:flicker:Kaibara87;http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaibara/ - 120 companies (30%) are now trading with less than 6 months of cash on hand. This represents a jump of 90% over the number of companies with less than 6 months cash on hand in 2007. (source

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Life science scores in 2010 budget

By | February 26, 2009

The National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation make out pretty well in the FY2010 federal linkurl:budget request;http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/ that President Barack Obama released today (Feb. 26). Should the president gets his 2010 druthers (which is unlikely after the budget grinds through Congress later this year), NSF will get a 16% increase over its 2008 funding levels with a budget of more than $7 billion, and NIH would get $6 billion towards cancer research

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Ranbaxy falsified drug data

By | February 26, 2009

The generic drug giant Ranbaxy falsified data on shelf life and efficacy on products made in their Paonta Sahib plant in India, the FDA said in a press conference today (Feb.26). In response, the FDA has invoked a regulatory action called the Application Integrity Policy (AIP). Until the company complies with the FDA, the "FDA will stop all scientific review of pending applications at Paonta Sahib, and no new applications will be reviewed," said Doug Throckmorton, a supervisory medical office

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Early fish had live birth

By | February 25, 2009

Giving birth to live young is thought to mainly occur in mammals and sharks, but a new study suggests that it was once a common mechanism for reproduction. A large group of ancient fish carried its embryos internally and bore live offspring, says a study published in Nature this week. Reconstructed Arhtrodira anatomy Image: Peter Trusler A team led by John Long, a paleontologist at the Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, identified embryos in extinct, jawed fish from a group called Arthro

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New wrinkle for HIV vaccine

By | February 25, 2009

Developing a vaccine for HIV may be harder than researchers thought, according to linkurl:a study;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature07746.html published online in Nature. Just as the virus develops resistance to antiviral drugs, it also evolves to evade the human immune system on a population-wide level, the researchers report.Human Immunodeficiency Virus Image: NIAID Previous studies have examined the interaction of viral evolution with the human immune system in s

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NIH: stimulated but flat

By | February 24, 2009

The National Institutes of Health -- the happy recipient of about $10 billion from the recently-passed economic stimulus bill -- is staring down the barrel of another year of flat funding, according to the draft linkurl:FY2009 budget;http://appropriations.house.gov/FY2009_consolidated.shtml released yesterday by the House of Representatives. Image: linkurl:flickr/borman818;http://www.flickr.com/photos/dborman2/ The FY2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act includes a paltry 3% increase to NIH's FY200

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