The Nutshell

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Journal editor facing axe

By | March 8, 2010

Elsevier has asked the editor-in-chief of its only non-peer-reviewed journal, linkurl:Medical Hypotheses,; to either resign immediately or implement a series of changes, including a traditional peer-review system. Image: flicker/linkurl:meviola; The journal's editor-in-chief linkurl:Bruce Charlton; told The Scientist tha


News in a nutshell

By | March 8, 2010

Hand (de)sanitizer?The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uncovered a nasty little additive in some Puerto Rican hand sanitizers: bacteria. The FDA linkurl:warned; consumers to use neither Bee-Shield Hand Sanitizer nor MD Quality Hand Sanitizer -- which are only distributed in the Caribbean territory -- because the two products may contain __Burkholderia cepacia__, a bacterium that can cause serious infections if used on c


Stem cells: home of HIV?

By | March 7, 2010

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can infect bone marrow cells -- including, possibly, hematopoietic stem cells, according to a study published online today (March 7) in Nature Medicine. Human Immunodeficiency VirusImage: Wikimedia commons, NIAIDThe findings suggest the virus can hide in an inactive state for long periods of time, evading treatment, even in individuals without detectable viral loads. "It's a little bit surprising to see that [HIV infects] progenitor cells, and [possibly] ste


Painting climate change

By | March 5, 2010

In a remarkable union of science and art, landscape painter linkurl:Diane Burko; shows how the planet's glaciers have changed form over the last century in her latest exhibit linkurl:"Politics of Snow."; To tell the story, Burko tracked down glaciologists from the US Geological Survey's linkurl:National Snow and Ice Data Center; at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and others. She then painted a series


AZ cuts hundreds of scientists

By | March 4, 2010

Drug maker AstraZeneca is pink-slipping approximately 550 Wilmington, Delaware-based researchers and their support staff in a move to help balance the company's books and save it $1.9 billion per year by 2014. Image: B.gliwa via Wikipedia CommonsThe company told the linkurl:__Philadelphia Inquirer__; yesterday (March 3rd) that the layoffs are part of a plan to shutter an entire research group, focused on identifying candidate compounds for psyc


Brain cells' new role defunct?

By | March 4, 2010

New findings are challenging the current understanding of how non-neural brain cells contribute to brain signaling, by showing that calcium levels in these cells do not affect synaptic activity. An astrocyteImage: Wikimedia commons, DantecatThe results appear in this week's Science. In the past couple of years, the idea that these non-neural brain cells, known as glial cells, participate in neurotransmission "had been widely accepted," linkurl:Frank Kirchhoff,;

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Surprising mtDNA diversity

By | March 3, 2010

Mitochondrial genomes are not uniform across cells of the body as previously believed, but vary between different tissue types, according to a study published online today (March 3) in Nature. Image: Wikimedia commons, NationalHuman Genome Research InstituteThe findings may affect forensics and the search for biomarkers, both of which utilize mitochondrial DNA. "I was surprised," said molecular cell biologist linkurl:Hans Spelbrink; of the University of Tam


Dean axed for ethics slip

By | March 2, 2010

Administrators at Sweden's premier medical university, the Karolinska Institute, announced today (March 2nd) that they've fired the institution's dean of research for exerting "undue influence" over the allocation of funds to top Karolinska professors.Image: Camilla Svensk Clinical pathologist linkurl:Karl Tryggvason; reportedly tried to influence the decisions of an independent panel regarding which researchers at the Karolinska Institute should rec


News in a nutshell

By | March 1, 2010

UMass leader steps downJack Wilson is expected to announce today that linkurl:he will retire as president of the University of Massachusetts; in 2011. Over his nearly 8 year tenure, Wilson helped unify the five-campus system, and encouraged research collaboration between faculty at different schools. According to the Boston Globe, Wilson, a physicist by training, plans to begin "speak

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New sugar protein tool - for real

By | February 28, 2010

Scientists have devised a new way to make sugar-linked proteins, an important step towards understanding a key type of protein modification and refining drug therapies that utilize the so-called glycoproteins -- as well as the subject of two high-profile papers that were recently retracted. Image: Wikimedia commons, S. Jähnichen"It's a pretty important thing that they've done," said synthetic biologist linkurl:Jason Chin; of the Med



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