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Plum Island for sale?

By | August 5, 2009

Looking for a little island property near the Hamptons in New York? How about a charming old Biosafety Level 3 facility? Plum Island Animal Disease Center Image: Wikipedia The US government is taking steps to sell Plum Island Animal Disease Center, the government-run lab which has conducted experiments on pathogens such as foot and mouth disease. The town board of Southold in Long Island, New York, received a visit this week from representatives of the United States General Services Administrat


Severed axons regrow to target

By | August 2, 2009

Scientists have met one of the long-standing challenges of regenerative medicine: For the first time, they have succeeded in coaxing an injured spinal cord to regenerate sensory axons in rats that reinnervate the specific place they would need to reach in order to regain function. Human vertebral columnImage: Gray's Anatomy, via Wikipedia However, the paper, published online in Nature Neuroscience, showed that the regenerated axons, which also formed synapses, showed little to no activity. "


Newton the gumshoe

By | July 31, 2009

Everyone knows the story about Sir Isaac Newton's run-in with an apple. But when you read linkurl:Newton and the Counterfeiter; by Thomas Levenson, you realize that there was more to the man than an extraordinary understanding of physics and philosophy. The book tells the story of how, in the author's words: "Newton, only months removed from the life of a Cambridge philosopher, managed incredibly swiftly to mast


NIH 2010 budget tweaked

By | July 30, 2009

A U.S. Senate panel has okayed President Barack Obama's request for next year's funding for the National Institutes of Health -- a $442 million boost, for a total of $30.8 billion. According to linkurl:a statement; released by the Senate, lawmakers decided not to award the agency a huge amount of funding because of the recent stimulus package, which passed $10 bi


Stressed brains rely on habit

By | July 30, 2009

Exposure to chronic stress causes alterations in brain anatomy that may compel rats to rely too much on routine, even when a change in circumstances calls for a change in behavior, according to a new study published this week in Science. Image: Wikimedia commons, Janet StephensThe study provides "a really nice animal model for a subtle, important problem with cognition that can be caused by chronic stress in humans," neuroscientist linkurl:Robert Sapolsky;


Alzheimer's clue found

By | July 29, 2009

Researchers report a step forward in understanding the pathology of Alzheimer's disease. Two genes that are commonly mutated in the early-onset form of Alzheimer's may cause the disorder by altering how presynaptic neurons release neurotransmitters, according to a study published this week in Nature. Image: Wikimedia commonsThe mechanism may apply to other neurodegenerative disorders as well, the researchers say. "This is a new concept that's interesting to know," said molecular neurobiologi


Butterfly sperm explained

By | July 29, 2009

New research has proposed a genetic explanation for the evolution of a bizarre method used by male butterflies to ensure the success of their sperm. Image: Flickr/linkurl:Dave-F; The sperm of male butterflies has a strange property. About 90% of it is non-fertile -- essentially filler for the females' sperm storage organs that tricks females into thinking they have all the sperm they need to fertilize their eggs. The males' ploy reduces the likeliho


Curves guide bacterial proteins

By | July 29, 2009

Researchers are puzzling out a central mechanism for how some proteins navigate inside bacterial cells: Rather than using biochemical cues, they appear to rely on the cells' geometry, sensing the membrane's curvature, two recent studies suggest. Gram-stained Bacillus subtilis Image: Wikipedia "This is an important and fundamental observation," said linkurl:Lucy Shapiro; at Stanford University, who did not participate in the research. Because bacterial cel

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Retracted: stem cell paper

By | July 29, 2009

A journal editor has linkurl:retracted; a linkurl:paper published this month; that showed sperm could be made from human embryonic stem cells, claiming the authors plagiarized portions of the paper. According to linkurl:ScienceInsider,;


Biolab site choice flawed: report

By | July 27, 2009

A government report to be released later this week slams the plan to build a contested high security pathogen lab in Kansas, saying the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not properly evaluate the risks of conducting such research in the mainland, the linkurl:Washington Post reports.; The report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said the idea of building the National Bio and Agro Defense F

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