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Can biotech tackle swine flu?

By | April 27, 2009

As reported cases of swine flu continue to accumulate (as of today, 40 had been linkurl:reported;http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/index.htm in the US) and mainstream media outlets dust off their foreboding music tracks and positively scary taglines, a biotechnology company in Maryland says that its approach may speed development of a successful vaccine. Influenza A/South Carolina/1918 (H1N1) VLPsImage: Novavax, Inc.Researchers at Novavax have been developing vaccines for the H5N1 strain of avian flu

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Meteor didn't do in the dinos

By | April 27, 2009

The giant meteor that crashed off the coast of Mexico around 65 million years ago hit the Earth too early to explain the dinosaurs' demise and was too tame to even hurt a protist, according to a new study published today (Apr. 27) in the__ linkurl:Journal of the Geological Society.;http://intl-jgs.geoscienceworld.org/ __Some researchers, however, maintain that the study's authors are needlessly wishing away the shooting star. Image: NSF/Zina DeretskyThe linkurl:Chicxulub crater;http://en.wikipe

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Texas to sue over biolab site

By | April 24, 2009

A much-contested plan to build a $450 million government biodefense research lab has hit another snag: A group of Texas research organizations that lobbied for San Antonio to house the lab says it will sue the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over its choice of site -- Manhattan, Kansas. Cattle being inspected for ticks Image: USDA, via Wikipedia linkurl:The Texas Biological and Agro-Defense Consortium;http://www.nbafsanantonio.org/aboutTBAC.html earlier this week (April 22) filed a notic

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Following the flock

By | April 23, 2009

Scientists have used traces of retrovirus DNA to map ancient sheep migration across Asia, Europe, and Africa, a paper in this week's Science reports. The results may help settle a debate about where humans first bred sheep for their white, fleecy coats, the researchers say. Soay sheep on St. Kilda, Outer Hebrides Image: Arpat Ozgul "What's neat about [the study] is that you're learning something about humans indirectly by studying animals that they brought along with them," said Welkin Johnson

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New cell cycle complexities

By | April 23, 2009

New findings are calling into question a long-held theory for how a dividing cell decides to stop the process of mitosis and restart the cell cycle. Chromosomes (blue) and mitoticspindle (green) during cell division Image: Oak Ridge Nat'l Lab, via Wikipedia Science textbooks have long claimed that what drives this decision is the breakdown of cell cycle-related proteins called cyclins at the end of the cycle's mitosis phase, but a linkurl:study published online;http://www.nature.com/nature/jou

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Purely protein pluripotency

By | April 23, 2009

Researchers have attained the holy grail of cellular reprogramming: inducing pluripotency without using any DNA-based materials. Using only a cocktail of purified proteins and a chemical additive, investigators have generated induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells that don't carry the potential burden of unexpected genetic modifications, according to a new study published online today (Apr. 23) in__ linkurl:Cell Stem Cell.;http://www.cell.com/cell-stem-cell __iPS cellsImage: flickr/CIRM"This new

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Science doesn't believe in MAGIC

By | April 23, 2009

Following a final report from a prominent South Korean university, __Science__ formally retracted a paper today (Apr. 23) from Korean researcher Kim Tae-kook purportedly reporting a new technology to identify drug targets called magnetism-based interaction capture (MAGIC). Kim Tae-kookImage: AFP/KAISTIn linkurl:February 2008,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54398/ Kim was suspended from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), where he was a faculty member, afte

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The healing arts

By | April 23, 2009

After weeks of eating nothing, a patient being treated at the National Institutes of Health was recently able to suck on a lifesaver for about 20 minutes. He has a rare condition that prevents him from eating for long stretches, but when art therapist Megan Robb asked him to paint a picture of what his experience was like, he painted that lifesaver. "He said it was really meaningful to think about what he is grateful for in his life, rather than thinking of complications of his illness," said Ro

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Earliest fossil seal found

By | April 22, 2009

Researchers have found a fossilized ancestor of modern seals and sea lions that they say represents an evolutionary step in the organisms' transition from land-dwelling mammals to the aquatic creatures they are today. The fossil skeleton is thought to be more than 20 million years old, making it the earliest fossil pinniped -- the taxonomic name for seals, sea lions and walruses -- yet discovered, they report in the latest issue of __Nature__. An artist's recreation of__Puijila darwini__Illustr

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Troubled IRB closes shop

By | April 22, 2009

A company that serves as an independent review board for clinical trials and was caught approving a fake medical device study will close, the Wall Street Journal linkurl:reports.;http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124042341694744375.html The company, Colorado-based linkurl:Coast IRB,;http://www.coastirb.com/ was exposed in a government sting operation last month. Based on the undercover investigation's findings, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent Coast a formal reprimand on April 14 f

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