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Muscle-like fat?

By | August 20, 2008

All fat is not not created equal: In the past couple years researchers have come to realize that there's good fat and bad fat, and a study in this week's __Nature__ points to a biological reason for this difference. White fat, the main type of fat in the body, develops from fat precursor cells and stores excess energy. Brown fat, however, burns energy rather than storing it, and the new findings suggest it originates from muscle precursor cells. That means that "brown fat is one gene away from


Pharma's presidential picks

By | August 19, 2008

In an industry known for backing Republicans, Sen. Barack Obama has emerged as a surprising pharma favorite in the US presidential election. In April, Obama won a mock election at the annual DTC national meeting, a drug advertising conference, with a 53% to 46% victory over Sen. John McCain. Drug companies have also put the money where their mouth is: Pharma has donated three times more to the Obama campaign than to McCain's. According to a linkurl:Bloomberg News report;http://www.bloomber


The following is a post by Eric Vance, a freelancer for Scientific American, who sent us this story. PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA -- It was perhaps the most highly touted linkurl:press conference; of the week, but it didn't reveal much in the way of evidence: Three Bigfoot enthusiasts announced today that a series of genetic tests performed on samples taken from a carcass they claim is a linkurl:Sasqu


Calif. bill to protect researchers

By | August 15, 2008

A bill that would criminalize some of the key methods used by animal rights protestors to target researchers cleared a California senate committee yesterday (Aug 14). Bill linkurl:AB 2296; makes it a misdemeanor to enter a researcher's home or publish their personal information or that of their immediate families to encourage violent crime against them. University of California administrators ye


Did Elsevier break its own rules?

By | August 15, 2008

A science publisher that holds copyright supreme has a double standard, a science blogger is arguing. This week, science blogger Mike Dunford of linkurl:The Questionable Authority; posted a linkurl:blog; saying that Reed Elsevier had copied some of the content from his blog without permission. While checking out links to his blog, Dunford came across a page run by LexisNexis (a Reed El


Psychiatry researcher steps down

By | August 15, 2008

Embattled Stanford psychiatrist and president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association, linkurl:Alan Schatzberg,; has resigned leadership of an NIH-funded research project studying the effects of mifepristone (also known as linkurl:RU-486); on patients with depression. The drug is made by Corcept Therapeutics, a company which Schatzberg co-founded, and in which he owns mo


A robot with a real brain

By | August 14, 2008

Researchers have introduced the world to Gordon, the first robot that operates on real brain tissue, according to a linkurl:news release; from University of Reading in the UK yesterday (August 13). The robot moves only under direction from his brain, which is a collection of 50,000-100,000 rat neurons. The researchers separated the neurons from rat fetuses, cultured them, and then spread them on a nutrient-rich array panel with 6


Arsenic and old...photosynthesis?

By | August 14, 2008

A previously unknown form of photosynthesis discovered in purple bacteria scooped from a Californian hot spring may be an ancient process that arose before the evolution of oxygenic photosynthesis, according to a paper published on Friday (August 15) in linkurl:Science.; The bacteria use arsenic instead of water for photosynthesis. "It's a fundamental, exciting observation," said linkurl:Tim McDermott,; a professor of


Stem cell study trouble

By | August 14, 2008

linkurl:Ethical lapses; and procedural breakdowns plagued an Austrian clinical trial of a linkurl:stem cell therapy; that used patients' own cells to treat urinary incontinence, according to a report recently released by the country's Agency for Health and Food Safety (AGES). The AGES report says that urologists involved in the study engaged in a series of questionable activities: They designed th


Genentech: No thanks, Roche

By | August 13, 2008

Roche won't be acquiring Genentech in the near future. Roche's bid to purchase the remaining public shares of the biotech company undermines the value of the company, Genentech's board of directors linkurl:announced today; (August 13). Last month, Roche linkurl:put in a bid; to buy up the remaining 44% of Genentech's shares it does not already own for $89 a share. A spe


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