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miRNA controls skin cell growth

By | March 2, 2008

A linkurl:microRNA;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/25713/ mechanism may lie at the heart of why some skin cell growth goes unchecked, according to a paper published linkurl:today; in Nature. The authors found that one microRNA regulates the differentiation of progenitor skin cells into the stratified outer layers of the skin. linkurl:Elaine Fuchs,;http://www.rockefeller.edu/labheads/fuchs/intro.php from Rockefeller University, led the study and tracked the expression of each skin-as

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Big tobacco stubs out research money

By | February 29, 2008

Big tobacco is pulling its money out of academic research -- kind of. Tobacco company Philip Morris told researchers in September of last year that it was ending its controversial extramural research program, Science linkurl:reported;http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/319/5867/1173a today. But some funding from the company remains. The news of the ended sponsorship spread this month when University of California President Robert Dynes noted in a February 5 letter to the UC chancell

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Conflict policies raise data challenges

By | February 29, 2008

Developing policies on conflicts regarding financial interests held by US medical colleges, teaching hospitals and research institutions has proven a much thornier task than targeting conflicts among individual faculty members. Institutions "are struggling with determining how best to deal with these kinds of institutional conflicts," David Korn, point man on conflicts of interest at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), told __The Scientist__. "The uptake of those policies has

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Milestone for RNAi therapeutics?

By | February 29, 2008

A company developing therapeutics using RNA interference (RNAi) today (February 29) linkurl:announced;http://phoenix.corporate-ir.net/phoenix.zhtml?c=148005&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=1113937&highlight= positive results of a clinical trial in humans ? marking a first for the much-touted promise of RNAi-based therapies. Alnylam, based in Cambridge, Mass., exposed 88 male volunteers to respiratory syncytial virus, which affects mostly young children and the elderly. Half of the subjects received the

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Biotech claims for safer stem cells

By | February 28, 2008

A California biotech announced at the Stem Cell Summit in New York City on Tuesday that they have successfully reprogrammed human skin, kidney, and retina cells to a stem-cell-like state without using potentially cancer-causing retroviruses. But experts say their claims are impossible to evaluate since the work has not been peer-reviewed. The company researchers did not say these new cells produced teratomas -- the sign that cells are truly pluripotent. The company, PrimeGen Biotech based in

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Chimp's gestures share language roots

By | February 28, 2008

In the first ever functional imaging study of the communicating chimpanzee brain, researchers have found that brain function in grunting and gesturing chimpanzees closely parallels that in actively communicating humans, according to a linkurl:paper;http://www.current-biology.com/content/article/abstract?uid=PIIS0960982208000961 published online today in __Current Biology__. "A set of brain areas were active in the chimps that have also been reported to be active when humans are communicating,"

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Groups call for strict conflict rules

By | February 28, 2008

Two national academic associations have called on US academic institutions to develop and implement rules that manage institution-wide conflicts of interest and refine rules that deal with conflicts among faculty of medical schools, teaching hospitals, and research universities. The linkurl:report,;https://services.aamc.org/Publications/index.cfm?fuseaction=Product.displayForm&prd_id=220&prv_id=268 issued today (Feb. 28) by the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American A

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MA debates life sciences bill

By | February 28, 2008

Massachusetts' $1 billion linkurl:life sciences bill;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53359/ is inching closer to approval. A preliminary vote yesterday in the House of Representatives supported the measure, which is being debated further today, according to the House clerk's office. The bill, which is expected to pass in both the House and the Senate, would provide $500 million toward building facilities and buying equipment, and $250 million would go towards creating tax benefits an

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USPTO upholds stem cell patent

By | February 28, 2008

One of three stem cell patents held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is valid, according to a non-final ruling issued on Monday by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The three WARF patents have been under examination by the USPTO, beginning in linkurl:October, 2006,;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/home/25037/ when challenges were brought by the Public Patent Foundation in New York and the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) in Los Angeles. Decisio

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Listening to prozac, for autism

By | February 27, 2008

Just what is it about autism that produces the three hallmark behaviors of social impairment, language difficulties, and rigidity, or an "insistence on sameness'? Scientists at this year's Keystone meeting on the pathophysiology of autism in Santa Fe, NM, are looking for clues from a molecule we hear an awful lot about in discussions of non-autistic brain activity: Serotonin. It turns out that a significant number of children with autism -- up to 30% -- have elevated levels of serot

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