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Biotech funding bill hits Senate

By | July 31, 2008

After linkurl:clearing;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54608/ the House of Representatives in April, a bill meant to extend the life of programs that stimulate innovation at linkurl:small biotech companies;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54816/ has finally found its way onto the floor of the Senate. The Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship linkurl:passed the bill,;http://sbc.senate.gov/press/record.cfm?id=301536& which tacks on 14 years to the lifespans of

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Diseased cells made pluripotent

By | July 31, 2008

Researchers have for the first time been able to generate a pluripotent stem cell line from the cells of a patient with a genetic disease, according to a study appearing tomorrow (August 1) in Science. The scientists successfully reprogrammed skin cells from an 82-year-old patient with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) into healthy motor neurons. "It's a stunning accomplishment," Neil Cashman, professor of neurology at the University of British Columbia who was not involved in the study, told

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Nerves of sponge?

By | July 31, 2008

The unassuming cells of a sea sponge may hold a clue to the origin of the nervous system, according to a paper published next Tuesday, August 5th, in linkurl:Current Biology.;http://www.current-biology.com/ The detection of proneural pathways in the ancient organism suggests that genes for neurogenesis evolved earlier than previously believed. Researchers have widely believed that nerve cells evolved after the divergence of sponges, which lack organs and nervous systems, from the rest of the a

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A mouse with postpartum depression?

By | July 30, 2008

Researchers have developed a transgenic mouse model for postpartum depression which hints at medical interventions for the mood disorder, according to a study published this week in linkurl:__Neuron.__;http://www.neuron.org/ "For the first time we have a linkurl:useful model;http://www.the-scientist.com/2007/7/1/44/1/ to look at therapeutic interventions," said first author Jamie Maguire from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Postpartum depression is thought to be caused when

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Stem cell strength in numbers

By | July 30, 2008

Embryonic stem cells are a tricky business, as evidenced by Advanced Cell Technology's linkurl:recently announced;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54884/ financial woes. The technology is too nascent for guaranteed returns, but potential payoffs could be huge. Increasingly, biotechs are looking to navigate the uncertain funding waters by forging partnerships with pharmaceutical companies. Some biotechs working on embryonic stem cells have been able to get start up money from the state

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A micro-microscope

By | July 28, 2008

Engineers at the California Institute of Technology have designed a dime-sized lensless microscope able to capture high-resolution images of cells and pathogens. The low-cost, portable technology could be an ideal tool for use in developing countries, according to the linkurl:paper,;http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0804612105 published online today (July 28) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Despite the trend towards miniaturization evident in the popularity of l

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Researchers may abandon stem cell lines

By | July 28, 2008

Leading US research institutions may stop studying several federally-fundable linkurl:embryonic stem cell;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54749/ lines due to potential ethical problems surrounding the creation of the lines. As linkurl:reported;http://chronicle.com/daily/2008/07/3996n.htm by __The Chronicle of Higher Education__ today (July 28), Stanford and Johns Hopkins Universities, and the linkurl:California Institute for Regenerative Medicine;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/disp

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Tackling peer review bias

By | July 28, 2008

New statistical analyses of the National Institutes of Health's peer review process suggest that the current system may be missing the mark on funding the right proposals. Reviews of as many as 25% of all proposals are biased, according to a study led by linkurl:Valen Johnson,;http://gsbs.uth.tmc.edu/tutorial/johnson_v.html from MD Anderson Cancer Center to be published tomorrow (July 29) in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Johnson collected about 14,000 reviewers' scoring data

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Duke investigating misconduct?

By | July 25, 2008

The Duke University Medical Center has agreed to conduct an inquiry into allegations of misconduct against Duke protein biochemist linkurl:Homme Hellinga,;http://www.biochem.duke.edu/faculty/homme-hellinga according to a linkurl:letter;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v454/n7203/full/454397b.html Hellinga wrote to Nature, which was published in the journal this week. Hellinga retracted two papers earlier this year that claimed to have redesigned ribose-binding protein (RBP) to catalyze trio

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Fauci lays out HIV research plan

By | July 24, 2008

A week after suspending a major HIV vaccine trial set to commence soon, linkurl:Anthony Fauci,;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/13734/ head of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has laid out a plan for reshuffling priorities in HIV/AIDS vaccine development in an article appearing in Science tomorrow (July 25), coauthored by a slew of HIV vaccine researchers. "The general trend will be funding a bit more fundamental discovery research," Fauci said,

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