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Cancer research, stimulated

By | April 21, 2009

The US federal agency tasked with tackling cancer has laid out a plan to double the number of cancer research projects it funds, prioritizing first-time grants to young researchers and emphasizing genomic approaches to understanding the disease. These goals are attainable, according to linkurl:John Niederhuber,;http://www.cancer.gov/aboutnci/directorscorner/jen director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), thanks to an infusion of government funding from an increased annual budget and recent

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Sebelius clears Senate committee

By | April 21, 2009

Kathleen Sebelius, President Barack Obama's pick to lead the US Department of Health and Human Services, has moved one step closer to being confirmed for the position by the US Senate. Sebelius's nomination was endorsed by all the Democrats and two Republicans in the Senate's Finance Committee. The final vote was 15-8, with some prominent Republicans, such as ranking member Charles Grassley (R-IA), voting against the Kansas governor's nomination. According to the linkurl:__Los Angeles Times__,;

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DNA repeats hold RNA starts

By | April 20, 2009

DNA sequences that don't code for proteins and are repeated thousands or millions of times in the genome are more than just genomic deadwood: These regions contain promoter sequences that can instigate not only their own transcription, but the transcription of protein-coding genes as well, a study published online in Nature on Sunday (April 19th) reports. The paper is likely to spur a slew of new research into repetitive elements in the genome, said Philip Kapranov, principal genomicist at lin

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Plug and play genes

By | April 20, 2009

Researchers have designed a way to streamline the construction of synthetic gene networks, a paper published online this week in Nature Biotechnology reports. The technique could speed up the process of building such networks, the authors say. The study was "very solidly executed," said J. Christopher Anderson, a bioengineer at the University of California, Berkeley. Image: Liz_Henry/flickr Synthetic biology, the process of combining genes to create artificial networks, holds promise for numer

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NIH, stem cells: IVF ok, not SCNT

By | April 17, 2009

Stem cell lines eligible for US federal research dollars must be derived from embryos created for reproductive purposes that are no longer needed for those purposes, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced this afternoon (April 17). The agency will not fund research on cell lines derived from embryos created via in vitro fertilization for research rather than reproductive purposes, nor those created using somatic cell nuclear transfer or parthenogenesis. "This represents unequivocall

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Icebound microbes breathe iron

By | April 16, 2009

Members of a microbial community from a pool of water deep under the Arctic ice power their metabolism by "breathing" iron, a study in this week's Science reports. The previously unknown mechanism may explain how microbes survived during a period 600 million years ago, when the earth's oceans were covered in ice, the authors say. Blood Falls at the Taylor Glacier Image: Benjamin Urmston The identification of the bacterial ecosystem's oddball respiration is a "remarkable discovery," said Alan

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Night vision inverts chromatin

By | April 16, 2009

Researchers have discovered a cellular mechanism that helps nocturnal mammals see in the dark. Mice, cats, deer, lemurs, and other mammals that are active at night remodel the DNA within their eyes to turn photoreceptor cells into light-collecting lenses, according to a linkurl:study;http://www.cell.com/abstract/S0092-8674(09)00137-8 published today (Apr. 16) in__ Cell__. Image: striatic and Animal Photos! In nearly all eukaryotic nuclei, chromatin -- the structural building block of chromosome

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Brain maps define diseases

By | April 15, 2009

Researchers have identified well-delineated brain networks that are linked to five distinct neurodegenerative diseases, according to a paper published in Neuron today (April 15). Image: flicker/linkurl:twitchcraft;http://www.flickr.com/photos/twitchcraft "I think our data gives researchers a road map -- hopefully a treasure map -- saying this is where we should be looking" when studying both neurodegenerative diseases and cognition in non-diseased brains, said linkurl:William Seeley,;http://w

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FDA censures lax IRB

By | April 14, 2009

A company that serves as an independent review board for clinical trials and was the center of a recent Congressional "sting operation" was linkurl:reprimanded;http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/news/2009/NEW01996.html today (April 14) by the US Food and Drug Association (FDA) for violating rules protecting research subjects. The company has agreed to freeze some of its key operations. Specifically, under pressure from the FDA, the company, Coast IRB, voluntarily agreed not to approve any new stu

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New tools tell wine's ancient tales

By | April 14, 2009

Chemical traces of medicinal herbs identified in ancient Egyptian wine jugs demonstrate that the culture employed herbal remedies 1500 years earlier than previously thought, reports linkurl:a study;http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/04/13/0811578106 in this week's PNAS. Yellow residue visible on a pieceof a wine vessel from about 3150 BC Image: German Archaeological Institute, Cairo The findings directly confirm the use of remedies described in a series of medical papyri written around 185

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