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Stem cell trial nearly a go?

By | October 17, 2008

The first clinical trial treatment based on embryonic stem cells may soon get the go ahead. In May, the Food and Drug Administration linkurl:placed a hold;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54647/ on a clinical trial application submitted by Geron Corporation, a California-based biotech. The company submitted a 22,500-page Investigational New Drug application to the FDA for an embryonic stem cell-derived compound -- called GRNOPC1 -- to treat spinal cord injury. Geron president and CEO

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A computer for living cells

By | October 16, 2008

In a boost to the field of linkurl:synthetic biology,;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/18854/ researchers have created an RNA-based device that can control gene expression of target genes, thus regulating molecular processes in living cells, a linkurl:paper;http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/322/5900/456 in this week's Science reports. The paper "shows this design approach for the first time in a biological system," linkurl:Christina Smolke;http://www.che.caltech.edu/gr

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Pathogen labs lack security: GAO

By | October 16, 2008

Two of the five US labs that conduct research on the world's most dangerous pathogens suffer from serious security shortfalls, according to a linkurl:report;http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d081092.pdf released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) today (October 16). What's more, the labs were given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) stamp of approval despite these shortcomings, the report states. The two labs were not named in the report, but the linkurl:Associated

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Invitrogen and AB postpone merger

By | October 15, 2008

The sharp downturn in markets over recent weeks is delaying a final shareholder vote on the linkurl:merger;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54747/ of biotech companies linkurl:Invitrogen;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/18238/ and linkurl:Applied Biosystems;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/15680/ (ABI). The delay "is a direct consequence of the dramatic drop in share prices across the board since June," Peter Dworkin, vice president of investor relations and cor

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Single neuron power

By | October 15, 2008

Training the brain to control a single neuron 's activation could restore motion in paralyzed limbs, according to a study to be published tomorrow in linkurl:__Nature.__;http://www.nature.com/news/2008/081015/full/news.2008.1170.html The study represents a novel approach for developing neuroprosthetics. "This paper demonstrates that simple methods can be very useful," said Leigh Hochberg, a clinician and researcher at Brown University and other institutions, who was not involved with the study.

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Slow sensing ages stem cells

By | October 15, 2008

Adult stem cells become slower at dividing as they age because they get less efficient at sensing their microenvironment, according to a study to be published in Nature tomorrow. The findings suggest a mechanism to explain why production of adult stem cells such as sperm drops as an organism gets older. "I think this is a fantastic piece of work that begins to explain" how adult stem cells age, said linkurl:Leanne Jones,;http://www-biology.ucsd.edu/faculty/jonesl.html a stem cell biologist at

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BU biolab ups security plans

By | October 14, 2008

The recent linkurl:suicide;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54907/ of microbiologist Bruce Ivins, pegged by the US government as the culprit in a spate of deadly anthrax mailings in 2001, is already spurring a boost in linkurl:security procedures;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53626/ and screening at labs working on deadly pathogens. Boston University's biolab, a controversial high-security facility under construction in the city's South End neighborhood, plans to vet prosp

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NIH $ frozen amid conflict probe

By | October 14, 2008

An Emory University psychiatrist under investigation by a Senate committee for allegedly failing to disclose more than a million dollars in pharmaceutical company pay has stepped down as principal investigator on a $9.3 million National Institutes of Health research grant. The researcher, Charles Nemeroff, is the linkurl:second;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54935/ scientist who has recently stepped down from an NIH grant amid Senate scrutiny of undisclosed conflicts of interest. Ac

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Trouble for deCODE

By | October 14, 2008

Iceland biotech linkurl:deCODE Genetics;http://www.the-scientist.com/2008/4/1/20/1/ is taking a hit from the global financial downswing. The company's stock price has plunged 54% since September to $0.45 a share. According to NASDAQ's s regulations, companies must keep their share prices over $1. DeCODE dipped below $1 on September 10, and has 180 days to bounce back to maintain a NASDAQ listing. (The company's net worth, $27.88 million, puts it above the $5 million -- not $50 million, as lin

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The regenerative heart

By | October 13, 2008

A diseased mammalian embryonic heart boosts its production of heart muscle cells to spur its own regeneration, according to a linkurl:study;http://www.developmentalcell.com/content/article/abstract?uid=PIIS1534580708003882 appearing tomorrow in Developmental Cell. "The mammalian heart has a phenomenal capacity to fix itself," linkurl:Timothy Cox;http://depts.washington.edu/chdd/iddrc/res_aff/cox.html at the University of Washington, the study's lead author, told The Scientist, "which is importa

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