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New tools tell wine's ancient tales

By | April 14, 2009

Chemical traces of medicinal herbs identified in ancient Egyptian wine jugs demonstrate that the culture employed herbal remedies 1500 years earlier than previously thought, reports linkurl:a study; in this week's PNAS. Yellow residue visible on a pieceof a wine vessel from about 3150 BC Image: German Archaeological Institute, Cairo The findings directly confirm the use of remedies described in a series of medical papyri written around 185

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Texas profs settle lawsuit

By | April 14, 2009

The University of Texas System linkurl:settled; a linkurl:lawsuit; yesterday (Apr. 13) agreeing to give hiring priority to more than 2,400 University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) employees who were fired in the wake of Hurricane Ike, which decimated the island campus in Galveston. "There were concrete things gained here but it remains a horrible labor relations and employ


Old ovaries, new eggs

By | April 12, 2009

Are female mammals born with all the eggs they'll ever have, or can they produce new eggs into adulthood? The question has been vociferously debated, but now, a study published online in Nature Cell Biology today (April 12) reports that at least in mice, adult female ovaries have a store of stem cells that have the potential to generate new eggs. Human oocyte Image: Wikimedia CommonsThe study "is a huge step in quelling this debate," Jonathan Tilly, a reproductive biologist at Harvard Medical


Molly mating mystery

By | April 10, 2009

Researchers have proposed an explanation for how three species of tiny fish manage to coexist despite having seemingly incompatible modes of reproduction, according to a study published in __Oikos__ last week. The Amazon molly (__Poecilia formosa__) is an asexually reproducing species in which females produce only female clones via parthenogenesis. To initiate embryogenesis, however, Amazon mollies require sperm from the males of one of two closely related, but sexually reproducing, species sha


Genentech pulls Raptiva

By | April 9, 2009

Genentech withdrew its psoriasis drug Raptiva from the market yesterday, citing the risk of developing progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare, often fatal brain infection. The drug will be phased out by June 8 of this year, according to a statement by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The decision comes after Genentech reported a fourth case of PML diagnosed in a 47 year old man in Germany in February, and a subsequent warning by the FDA. Three other people taking Rap


Harvard prof falsified sleep data

By | April 9, 2009

A former assistant professor at the Harvard Medical School (HMS) and the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston falsified and fabricated data in a study of sleep apnea, the Office of Research Integrity linkurl:reported; last week. linkurl:Robert Fogel,; a pathophysiologist who worked in the Brigham's division of sleep medicine from 1998 to 2004, fiddled with approximately


NIH and NASA ready for take-off

By | April 9, 2009

After a couple years of discussion, NIH and NASA are teaming up to send your biomedical experiments into space. The two agencies are accepting proposals for a two-phased linkurl:5-year grants; that would first give investigators $150,000 to make their lab experiments feasible in space, and then provide a follow-on $300,000 for the "flight phase." Nine NIH institutes will be participating in the grant. Experiments in space have already

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UK unis to release primate data

By | April 9, 2009

Five leading British research universities were ordered yesterday (Apr. 8) by the government to reveal information about experiments involving primates after a three-year battle with an animal rights organization. Image: flickr/thebuffafamilyThe ruling applies to Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester universities, plus University College London and King's College London. All five must now release the numbers and species of primates used in current and previous research dating back to 2004. Universit


Economy hits senior Salk prof

By | April 8, 2009

A senior-level tenured neuroscientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., is teetering on the edge of closing his lab after Salk administrators pulled hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding that was tied to a dwindling endowment. linkurl:Stephen Heinemann; has seen tough financial times. As president of the linkurl:Society for Neuroscience; in 2005-06, he had a front-row seat in Washington to watch t


Brain diseases are genomic opposites

By | April 6, 2009

Autism and schizophrenia may be two sides of the same genomic coin. Copy number variations in the exact same genes determine whether patients suffer from one condition or the other, according to data presented on Friday (Apr. 3) at the linkurl:Sackler Colloquium on Evolution in Health and Medicine; in Washington, DC. Both autism and schizophrenia involve disturbances in brain areas linked to social functions, bu



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