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Research gems in Botswana

By | April 8, 2006

Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, is a small city with roughly 200,000 residents. After Windhoek in linkurl:Namibia;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/23270/, where I was yesterday, it seems a little rough around the edges. I'm in town as part of a 10 day linkurl:trip to Africa;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/23265/ on behalf of The Scientist to talk to researchers about the linkurl:state of science;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/23266/ on the continent. The city ma

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Is bird flu in the UK?

By | April 6, 2006

British scientists are expected to reveal today (Thursday) whether a dead swan found on the Scottish coast was infected with H5N1 avian influenza, Scottish authorities said last night. linkurl:Preliminary tests;http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2006/04/05231331 on the swan showed that it was infected with highly pathogenic H5 avian flu, but the exact strain is not yet known. With infected birds having turned up elsewhere in Europe, the UK has been anticipating the possible arrival of th

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Namibia's academic appeal

By | April 5, 2006

I arrived in Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia, this morning, as part of a 10 day linkurl:trip to Africa;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/23265/ on behalf of The Scientist to talk to researchers about the state of science on the continent. In no time, I was being whisked over to the linkurl:University of Namibia;http://www.unam.na/ by molecular biologist Kazhila Chinsembu. Chinsembu is originally from Zambia but has been at the University of Namibia for four years. As we drove t

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Meeting key figure in African science

By | April 4, 2006

Today was the first day of a 10 day trip to Africa on behalf of The Scientist to talk to researchers about the linkurl:state of science;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/22793/ on the continent. On my inaugural stop, I visited John Mugabe, director of the science and technology council of the linkurl:New Economic Partnership for African Development;http://www.nepad.org/ (NEPAD), whose office is in a research campus on the edge of Pretoria, South Africa. Mugabe is not a vociferous man

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The state of science in South Africa

By | April 4, 2006

Sixty-one years ago, South Africa's linkurl:Council for Scientific and Industrial Research;http://www.csir.co.za/plsql/ptl0002/ptl0002_pge001_home was established by a parliamentary decree that specifically required it to undertake research that improves the linkurl:wellbeing;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/23120/ of the country's people. Given this, I wasn't really surprised, on visiting CSIR's sprawling campus on the outskirts of the city of Pretoria, to find biosciences researchers

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Epi-embryonic stem cells?

By | April 1, 2006

Researchers have provided clues about a potentially new source of human stem cells that are physically close to the actual embryo, but miles away from the controversy surrounding its use in research. Last night, at the linkurl:Keystone meeting;http://www.keystonesymposia.org/Meetings/ViewMeetings.cfm?MeetingID=786 on stem cells, linkurl:Ursula Manuelpillai;http://www.med.monash.edu.au/ob-gyn/staff/ursulam.html at the Monash Institute of Medical Research in Victoria, Australia presented a poster

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Glimpses of stem cell medicine

By | April 1, 2006

After three days of discussions about stem cell machinery, the organizers concluded the linkurl:Keystone meeting;http://www.keystonesymposia.org/Meetings/ViewMeetings.cfm?MeetingID=786 on stem cell biology today by treating participants to data showing what these cells can already do in humans. These efforts appear not quite as differentiated as stem cells themselves, but are hopefully on their way to becoming so. Tonight, Michele De Luca from the Veneto Eye Bank Foundation and the University o

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Using the liver to make the pancreas

By | March 30, 2006

Who would guess that it kind of makes sense to use the liver to produce beta cells, the vehicles for easing the problem of type 1 diabetes? Well, I was convinced of just that during a talk I attended yesterday at this year?s linkurl:Keystone meeting;http://www.keystonesymposia.org/Meetings/ViewMeetings.cfm?MeetingID=786 on stem cell biology. linkurl:Jonathan M.W. Slack;http://www.bath.ac.uk/bio-sci/slack.htm of the University of Bath in the UK and his colleagues have been studying the use of li

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More reprogramming clues (maybe)

By | March 29, 2006

One of the biggest holy grails in biology involves finding a means to generate pluripotent and infinitely replicating stem cells without generating an embryo. One Japanese team presented some potent clues last night at the linkurl:Keystone conference;http://www.keystonesymposia.org/Meetings/ViewMeetings.cfm?MeetingID=786 on stem cell biology -- but stem cell researchers will need a few more bread crumbs before they can put this potentially exciting information to use. linkurl:Shinya Yamanaka;ht

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Sending stem cells back in time

By | March 29, 2006

Scientists at the University of Central Florida have devised a creative way to obtain stem cells with embryonic properties -- by coaxing mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to return to their roots, and display embryonic qualities. To achieve this, linkurl:Angel Alvarez;http://sugaya.ucf.edu/members.html and his co-author Kiminobu Sugaya "dedifferentiated" MSCs by over expression of the ESC gene nanog, using gene transfection. The resulting cells developed a reduced size and formed cellular

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