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The genomics of ethnicity

By | March 24, 2009

Researchers have assembled the first-ever map of copy number variants (CNV)-- duplications, deletions or rearrangements in the genome that result in different gene copy numbers -- in African Americans. The study, appearing in linkurl:__BMC Genetics__; today, also identified two CNVs that differed in frequency between African American genomes and those in people of European descent. linkurl:Joseph McElroy,;


Are cavers killing bats?

By | March 23, 2009

The continued spread of a mysterious disease that has killed thousands of bats in the Northeast United States may have a surprising human cause. Scientists are suggesting that cavers may be inadvertently transporting fungal spores on their clothing or gear and contributing to the deadly march of White Nose Syndrome (WNS), named for the downy coat of fungus covering the muzzles of its victims. Little brown bats with WNS"It appears that there's been a significant tracking via cavers," linkurl:De


Breaching the blood-brain barrier

By | March 23, 2009

Researchers have identified a novel mechanism by which immune cells wiggle their way across the blood-brain barrier in diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). A type of T-cell involved in autoimmune disease leads the way, entering the brain and perhaps priming the blood-brain barrier's membrane to attract other immune cells -- opening the door for those cells to do their inflammatory damage, according to a study published online yesterday (Mar 22) in Nature Immunology. The choroid plexus is


Science groups ramp up NIH advocacy

By | March 20, 2009

As the FY2010 federal budget readies for Congressional battles and public debate, science advocacy groups are upping their recommendations for funding increases at the National Institutes of Health. But are their calls realistic? The Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research, which is composed of the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the linkurl:Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology; (FASEB), the Campaign


Double-duty antibodies

By | March 19, 2009

In a study challenging a long-held doctrine of antibody binding -- which states that a single antibody corresponds to just one antigen, fitting it like a lock fits a key -- researchers have created a designer version of an antibody that can bind two completely different targets. Two-in-one antibodiesImage: Allison Bruce & Jenny BostromThe findings, reported in this week's Science, raise the possibility that antibodies with dual specificity could occur naturally, the authors say. The result


Flagellar friendship

By | March 19, 2009

A bacterium found in sewage sludge uses its tail-like flagellum to lasso a symbiotic archaeon and keep it close at bay so that the two microbial partners can synchronize their metabolism, a Japanese research team reports in the Mar. 20 issue of __Science__. Scanning electron micrograph ofPelotomaculum thermopropionicumImage: PNNLThe paper is "important for understanding how organisms that are so incredibly different, at least phylogenetically, are able to cooperate," linkurl:Joseph Grzymski,;ht

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Mental health means new neurons?

By | March 19, 2009

A gene strongly associated with schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders regulates the birth of new neurons in the adult brain, according to new research. linkurl:The study,; published in Cell this week, supports a controversial theory linking diseases such as schizophrenia and depression to neurogenesis and provides new targets for the treatment of psychiatric conditions. Image: flicker/linkurl:Staurland;


Schools in energy states flourish

By | March 18, 2009

Science programs in many state schools are feeling the pinch of hard times, but there's an exception to the suffering: Universities in big energy-producing states are thriving, with some even gaining a competitive edge over their hurting counterparts by luring senior level faculty. Times are tough at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UTK). After taking a 5.8% hit in their approximately $750 million budget last year, they are facing an 8 to 20% cut in state funding this year, said Willia


Did lefty molecules seed life?

By | March 16, 2009

The molecular orientation of compounds brought to Earth by meteorites could have determined the world's chemistry long before life began, according to a new linkurl:study; published online today (Mar. 16) in the __Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences__. Artist's impression of the origins ofleft-handedness (click to enlarge)Image: NASA/Pat RawlingsAmino acids come in left-handed and right-handed forms, which, like a pair of human hand


Cancer center fires researchers

By | March 13, 2009

Facing budget cuts of around $34 million, linkurl:Roswell Park Cancer Institute; in Buffalo, NY, laid off 24 of its staff scientists last week. Roswell Park Cancer CenterImage: flickr/Roswell ParkThe fired researchers -- who fall under three titles: research affiliate, lab technician and research associate -- were "physically walked out of the building" last Friday (Mar. 6) with "no warning," Darcy Wells, a spokesperson for the linkurl:New York State Public Employees



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