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Going against the group

By | May 27, 2009

A new theoretical model of parasite virulence linkurl:published;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature08071.html in this week's __Nature__ puts a chink in the armor of group selection theory, the idea that organisms act altruistically for the betterment of groups as a whole. Image: flickr/polandezeThe study "contributes to this debate that evolutionary biologists really seem to enjoy, which is at what level selection seems to act," linkurl:Geoff Wild,;http://www.apmaths.

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Immunity can be lymph-less

By | May 27, 2009

Researchers have overturned the long-standing notion that lymph nodes are always necessary for launching the mammalian immune response. Fluorescently-labeled mouse liver Image: Burkhard Becher According to a linkurl:study;http://www.plosbiology.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pbio.1000109 published in this month's issue of PLoS Biology, in the absence of lymph nodes, cell-mediated immunity can be activated in the liver. The findings undercut immunology "dogma," which says the immun

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Transgenic primates transmit DNA

By | May 27, 2009

Japanese researchers have successfully generated the world's first transgenic primates capable of passing on a foreign gene to their offspring. The feat, linkurl:reported;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v459/n7246/abs/nature08090.html in tomorrow's (May 28) issue of __Nature__, should pave the way for more sophisticated models of human disease, though the monkey models still have many hurdles to overcome. Transgenic marmoset twins Kei and Kou("keikou" means fluorescence in Japanese)Image:

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Report: Collins to lead NIH

By | May 26, 2009

Francis Collins, the geneticist who led the Human Genome Project, is close to taking over the top spot at the National Institutes of Health, according to a linkurl:report;http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-na-nih-collins23-2009may23,0,5889122.story by __Bloomberg News__. Collins, who was the director of the NIH's National Human Genome Research Institute from 1993 to 2008, is in the final stages of being screened by the administration of US President Barack Obama, an unnamed source told _

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New tool for African genomics

By | May 24, 2009

Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in Africa are not as straightforward as such research among populations of people of European or Asian ancestry, because African populations are much more genetically diverse. But researchers studying malaria resistance in western Africa say they've found a way to make African GWAS work. An international team of researchers report in this week's issue of __Nature Genetics__ that it's possible to perform genome-wide studies to probe for genes behind disease

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Video: The oceans of old

By | May 24, 2009

In the distant past giant cod (1.5 meters long) ruled the North Sea. Southern oceans boiled with massive pods of right whales. Gangs of 4-meter-long porpoises cavorted off the British Isles. These are but a few of the surprises turned up by an international team of marine researchers who scoured old ship logs, fishbone-littered middens, Latin and Greek verse, tax accounts, dusty legal documents, and even mounted trophies to paint a picture of oceans past. Marine scientists compiled the data as

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Fossil frenzy

By | May 21, 2009

On Tuesday, the world met "Ida" -- a 47-million-year-old primate fossil touted as a "REVOLUTIONARY SCIENTIFIC FIND THAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING," according to a press release. The media went berserk.__ linkurl:Google News;http://news.google.com/news/more?um=1&ned=us&cf=all&ncl=d7C9QQwOhm44kwMjlfMWOc4TlTr4M __now lists more than 750 articles relating to little ol' __Darwinius masillae__ -- and the search engine itself even changed the lettering on its linkurl:logo;http://ksjtracker.mit.edu/wp-cont

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NIH's new rare disease push

By | May 21, 2009

The National Institutes of Health has thrown its hat into the drug development ring with the announcement of a new program that will seek to bring drugs that treat rare and neglected diseases onto the market. "This is a tremendously important initiative for people with rare diseases," Peter Saltonstall, president of the linkurl:National Organization for Rare Disorders;http://www.rarediseases.org/ (NORD), said in a linkurl:statement.;http://www.rarediseases.org/news/TRND "There are nearly 7,000

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To wake or not to wake?

By | May 21, 2009

New evidence provides clues about the role of a key sleep-related brain activity pattern in the brain: this waveform may help keep the mind asleep through nonthreatening disturbances, rather than wake it up as previous studies have suggested, a paper in this week's Science reports. Image: Wikipedia The brain pattern in question, called the K-complex (KC), is the largest characterized neurological event in the healthy human brain. Common throughout certain sleep stages, the KC is defined by a br

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Magneto-ants pump iron

By | May 20, 2009

Researchers have discovered the basis for the magnetic personalities of migratory ants. These social insects integrate magnetic soil nanoparticles into their antennae to help them navigate the forests of South America, according to a study published online today (May 20) in the __Journal of the Royal Society Interface__. A Pachycondyla marginata antattacking a termiteImage: Alex WildThe study is a "great integration of physics and biology," linkurl:Robert Srygley,;http://www.ars.usda.gov/pandp/

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