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The Nutshell

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Collins prepares for budget battle

By | August 17, 2009

Francis Collins, the new director of the National Institutes of Health, said today (17th August) that making sure the NIH's newly-invigorated budget does not "drop off a cliff" once $10 billion in stimulus funding expires at the end of 2010 will be his top priority as he takes the reins of the biomedical research agency. "FY '11 battles are going to be tough," Collins said. "This is the [issue] that wakes me up in the middle of the night." After being officially sworn in as the NIH's 16th dire

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Worm glue to repair bones

By | August 17, 2009

Mimicking an adhesive naturally produced by marine worms, researchers have created a new glue that may help surgeons reconstruct shattered bone, they reported today (August 17) at the linkurl:American Chemical Society (ACS) 238th National Meeting;http://portal.acs.org/portal/acs/corg/content?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=PP_TRANSITIONMAIN&node_id=2053 in Washington, DC. Sandcastle wormImage: Russell Stewart"It's a wonderful advance," said biophysicist linkurl:Bob Baier;http://www.sdm.buffalo.edu/home.a

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Polar researchers fouling nature

By | August 14, 2009

Research stations in Antarctica are sullying the pristine environment by improperly disposing of sewage waste, reports linkurl:a study;http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/121413758/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0 published this month in Polar Research. Downtown McMurdo Station Image: Wikimedia Commons via linkurl:Flickr;http://www.flickr.com/photos/elisfanclub/tags/mcmurdo/ The study found that more than half of the research stations that operate on the continent lack sewage systems to prop

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Conflicts brewing at the FDA

By | August 13, 2009

The US Food and Drug Administration's chief drug approver has been hit with allegations of a conflict of interest, and the head of the agency's division on medical devices is resigning amid claims that he was making decisions that betrayed close ties to industry.Image: FDA linkurl:Janet Woodcock,;http://www.fda.gov/ScienceResearch/SpecialTopics/CriticalPathInitiative/FacesBehindCriticalPath/ucm077470.htmthe director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, has apparently landed under

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Is HIV progression sex-linked?

By | August 13, 2009

A genetic variant on the X chromosome may explain why some HIV-infected women are slower to develop full-blown AIDS than men. Although several human genetic variants have been implicated in the control and spread of HIV within a host, this is the first time that a sex chromosome has been found to harbor a suspect stretch of genome related to the disease.HIV-1 budding from cultured lymphocyte Image: C. Goldsmith, courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "I think it's a fasci

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Two stem cell lines lead studies

By | August 12, 2009

In a decade of research on human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), scientists have largely depended on just two cell lines, greatly limiting the diversity of research in the budding field, according to a linkurl:survey published;http://bert.lib.indiana.edu:2146/nbt/journal/v27/n8/full/nbt0809-696.html in the August issue of Nature Biotechnology. Human embryonic stem cellsImage: Wikimedia commons/PLoS Nissim Benvenisty"It's been sort of common lore that those [two lines] have been the most widely u

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deCODE close to broke

By | August 11, 2009

Icelandic biotech deCODE Genetics may become another casualty of tough economic times. The company linkurl:announced today;http://tinyurl.com/rcf3pb (August 11) that it has only $3.8 million dollars left in its coffers -- enough to fund operations "into the latter half of the third quarter," which in Iceland runs through September. In a conference call this morning, the company said it was restructuring its business, dropping its medicinal chemistry and structural biology operations, and inste

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Avian flu promotes Parkinson's?

By | August 10, 2009

Avian influenza can cause a predisposition to Parkinson's disease, according to research linkurl:published;http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0900096106 this week in the __Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.__ "It's an exciting finding," said linkurl:Malu Tansey;http://www.pdonlineresearch.org/members/profiles/266 from Emory University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research. Influenza A virusImage: Wikimedia Commons, CDC, Erskine Palmer Epidemiological s

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One biotech gasps for breath

By | August 10, 2009

Around noon on a sunny Wednesday in mid-May, 25 or so employees of the Waltham, Mass-based biotech linkurl:Altus Pharmaceuticals;http://www.altus.com/ are unwrapping their offerings for a company-wide potluck; orzo salad, meatballs, curried cauliflower, chicken wings, fancy fruits, and an assortment of sweets soon cover a long table by the kitchen's window. "What is this, the last supper?" quips Nazer Khalaf, a small, round-faced man with a salt and pepper moustache, and at 15 years, Altus's mo

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Collins confirmed as NIH head

By | August 7, 2009

Geneticist Francis Collins was confirmed by the US Senate this afternoon (7th August) as the next director of the National Institutes of Health, a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told __The Scientist__. Collins's confirmation proceeded via unanimous consent, without the need for a hearing in the US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions or a roll-call vote on the Senate floor. "Dr. Collins will be an outstanding leader," said Department of Health and Human

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