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Q&A: Is stem cell research misguided?

By | September 29, 2009

Searching for a set of molecular characteristics common to all stem cells is, at best, a quixotic quest, argues a systems biologist in an opinion linkurl:piece; recently published in the __Journal of Biology__. This overly-simplified view of stem cells, the article notes, may be leading science down unfruitful paths and holding back clinical research. Instead, the author of the review, University of California, Irvine, researcher linkurl:Arthur Lander;http://lan


Short-term stress stops cancer

By | September 28, 2009

Stress is commonly thought to increase susceptibility to disease, but a new study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity finds short-term stress can actually boost the immune system and help reduce the number of skin cancer tumors in mice. Squamous cell carcinoma Image: Wikimedia Commons "It does not make sense that stress should always or necessarily be harmful since its most basic form is the fight-or-flight response," linkurl:Firdaus Dhabhar,;


2009 Nobel predictions go public

By | September 25, 2009

The identities of top contenders for annual Nobel Prizes are kept under wraps during the nomination and selection process, no one quite knowing what happens behind the committees' closed doors. That secrecy doesn't stop a few brave organizations from trying to predict the winners every year, often with varying degrees of success. Alfred NobelImage: Wikipedia Publishing and information company Thomson Reuters released their linkurl:list of finalists; yest


A cancerous melody

By | September 25, 2009

A linkurl:project; at Harvard Medical School aims to bring music to medicine in a way that goes beyond setting the mood in the waiting room. Gene transcription and translation are anything but simple. But by combining modern statistics with the sounds of a sweet melody, bioinformatician linkurl:Gil Alterovitz; may make interpreting these complex phenomena and diagnosing the diseases that result from abnormalities in


HIV vax testers react to Thai trial

By | September 24, 2009

Positive results in an HIV vaccine trial conducted in more than 16,000 Thai volunteers, announced this morning, need to be examined more closely to analyze data on subgroup analyses and specific immune responses so that subsequent trials can absorb that information, says the principal investigator of the only other ongoing efficacy trial of an HIV vaccine. "It's basically a shot in the arm for the HIV vaccine field," Columbia University clinical virologist linkurl:Scott Hammer;http://asp.cpmc.c


Late nights linked to Alzheimer's

By | September 24, 2009

Insomnia, late-night habits, and irregular sleep schedules may be linked to the onset of Alzheimer's disease, says a new linkurl:study; published online today in ScienceExpress. Image: FlickrCreativeCommons, CraigMDennis"Our results are preliminary evidence that sleep abnormalities midlife could put people at risk of Alzheimer's disease later," said linkurl:David Holtzman,;, a co


The young and the bold, funded

By | September 24, 2009

The National Institutes of Health awarded more than 100 new grants for high-risk research or innovative work being done by young investigators, the agency linkurl:announced; today (September 24). Approximately $350 million was awarded as part of the NIH director's High-Risk Research Awards program. The 115 new grants come in three flavors: 42 Transformative R01 (T-R01) Awards to researchers who make innovative ideas central to their work, 18 Pion


Nature to launch OA journal

By | September 23, 2009

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is adding an online-only, open-access publication to its roster of scientific journals, the publishing juggernaut announced today (September 23). __Nature Communications__ is set to launch in April 2010, and the hybrid open-access publication will be the first online-only title in __Nature__'s family of journals. Authors will have the choice of submitting research articles to __Nature Communications__ via the traditional subscription route, or by paying an article


Swine flu windfall

By | September 23, 2009

Though a worrisome flu season is knocking at the Northern Hemisphere's door, the five biopharmaceutical companies awarded massive contracts by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for development and production of more than 195 million doses of swine flu vaccine can't really complain. The companies -- Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline, MedImmune, Australian drug maker CSL, and Sanofi-Pasteur -- have been hard at work developing and testing vaccines since the H1N1 surfaced in the US, Mex


Centralize biolab oversight: GAO

By | September 22, 2009

A new government body should be formed to oversee the increasing number of high-containment laboratories that work with dangerous pathogens, according to a linkurl:Government Accountability Office (GAO) report; released yesterday (September 21). Bacillus anthracis Image:P Paul Keim, linkurl:CDC EID,; via WikipediaIn the report, the GAO pointed out that such laboratories have proliferated since 2001; in 200


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