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Bush's stem cell ban to end?

By | January 30, 2009

The rumors around Washington, DC say that President Barack Obama could overturn George W. Bush's 2001 federal funding ban on embryonic stem cell research using lines that were derived after August 9 of that year as soon as next week. linkurl:Rick Weiss,;http://www.americanprogress.org/experts/WeissRick.html senior fellow at liberal think tank the Center for American Progress, wrote in an email to __The Scientist__ that, while he has no inside information, there is "a lot of buzz in the advocacy

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Follow the fish leader

By | January 29, 2009

Followers bring out the best in their leaders, and leaders elicit better following skills in their minions, according to a new study of stickleback fish published online today (Jan. 29) in__ linkurl:Current Biology.;http://www.cell.com/current-biology/home __"Actually having good followers helps leaders get on with their tasks," said linkurl:Andrea Manica,;http://www.zoo.cam.ac.uk/zoostaff/manica/people/am.htm an evolutionary biologist at the University of Cambridge who led the study. "They wer

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No funds for Genome Canada?

By | January 29, 2009

"Big science" genetics research in Canada may be left high and dry after the main agency that funds such work was left out of this year's federal budget. linkurl:Genome Canada,;http://www.genomecanada.ca/ a nonprofit established in 2000 to support large-scale genomics and proteomics research, was expecting a level of financing this year in the ballpark of C$120 million ($98m), which would be on par with its last two budgets. Instead, Genome Canada was completely absent from the linkurl:2009 bu

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Baby neurons glue new memories

By | January 28, 2009

New findings suggest a hypothesis for a much-debated question in neuroscience : what exactly is the role of new neurons born in the adult human brain? These brain cells may help link memories of events that occurred within a week or two of each other, a paper published in Neuron reports. "It's really novel, and I think it's quite informative," said behavioral neuroscientist linkurl:Andrea Chiba;http://neurograd.ucsd.edu/faculty/detail.php?id=21 of the University of California, San Diego, who w

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Dutch evolutionary biologists fired

By | January 28, 2009

Evolutionary biologists are the latest victims of the global economic downturn. In a move that has generated a worldwide outcry, Leiden University in the Netherlands is firing nine evolutionary biologists, half of its total evolution-related staff. Leiden officials say the layoffs are in response to a smaller annual science budget, following the Dutch government's reallocation of €100 million ($133 million) last year to fund the linkurl:Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research.;ht

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Norway bails out biotech

By | January 27, 2009

The Norwegian government hopes to stop its country's biotech from going out of business with a $418 million boost. The money is included in a new stimulus package released by the government Monday (Jan 26). "This is the most active political move in Europe regarding support to the biotech industry," Bjarte Reve, chief executive of the Oslo Cancer Cluster, which represents 25 Norwegian biotech groups told linkurl:Financial Times.;http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/522b1038-ebb5-11dd-8838-0000779fd2ac.htm

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Take drug additive, not drug?

By | January 26, 2009

A compound used to solubilize drugs surprisingly improves the symptoms of a rare genetic disorder, Niemann-Pick type C, and a new study in PNAS provides some clues as to how. Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas fed NPC mice a form of cyclodextrin, a doughnut-shaped chemical with a water-soluble ring and a fat-soluble hole that enables the compound to solubilize an otherwise insoluble molecule, such as a drug. The hallmark of NPC is disrupted cholestero

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FDA OKs stem cell trial

By | January 23, 2009

California-based biotech company Geron Corp. announced today (Jan. 23) that it has received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin trials for the world's first clinical study on human embryonic stem cell-based therapy. linkurl:Geron;http://www.geron.com/ plans to initiate a Phase I multicenter clinical trial in up to 10 patients paralyzed due to spinal cord injury. Its treatment -- currently referred to as "GRNOPC1" -- uses embryonic stem cells coaxed to become nerve cell

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Right on Geron

By | January 23, 2009

The US Food and Drug Administration's linkurl:decision;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55353/ to green light a human embryonic stem cell-based therapy for spinal cord injury isn't just good news for the biotech in question, Geron Corp., analysts say -- instead, they argue, the move opens the door to an entire market that has heretofore been stymied. "It's the first clear evidence of the FDA's willingness to permit cells derived from pluripotent stem cells to go into human trials," lin

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Bugs hold clues to human origins

By | January 22, 2009

An unlikely source has provided the answer to a long-standing question over how the geographically isolated Pacific Islands became populated: bacteria. By analyzing both genetic variations in human gut bacteria and linguistic evidence, scientists found that people migrated to the Pacific Islands approximately 5,000 years ago from Taiwan, two papers in this week's Science report. "This is the first paper where bacteria were specifically used for human migration patterns," says Mark Achtman, a p

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