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Cancer genomes sequenced

By | December 16, 2009

Scientists have charted the most complete cancer genomes to date, according to two studies published in Nature this week, providing a catalog of some 90% of all the somatic mutations in melanoma and a type of lung cancer, as well as a starting point for identifying potentially causal mutations common to these types of cancer. Cross section of a human lung with cancerImage: Wikimedia commons"For the first time we have a really quite comprehensive view of two different common tumor types," said l

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27 more hESC lines approved

By | December 15, 2009

National Institutes of Health (NIH) director Francis Collins linkurl:approved 27 more human embryonic stem cell lines;http://grants.nih.gov/stem_cells/registry/current.htm as eligible for federal funding on Monday, bringing the total number of new lines to 40 -- almost double the number of previously okayed lines under the administration of former President George W. Bush. Human embryonic stem cellsImage: Wikimedia commons, Nissim Benvenisty"I am hopeful that this will be an important boost to

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2009 in review

By | December 14, 2009

Perhaps more so than most years to date, 2009 has repeatedly raised the specter of misdeeds in research -- both in academia and industry. New year's celebrations in Taipei Image: Wikimedia CommonsWith more and more academic research linkurl:funded by industry;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/55506/ and few universities having consistent policies on how their researchers must report their financial ties, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) this year linkurl:continued his probe;http://www.t

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2010 budget on Obama's desk

By | December 14, 2009

Yesterday (13th December), the US Senate linkurl:OKed;http://appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=6ec79f1e-cf92-489d-8af2-ab90deac394b a proposal to up the National Institutes of Health's 2010 budget by $692 million, or 2.3 percent.Image: Kevin McCoy via WikimediaCommons The joint-committee appropriations conference report passed by a vote of 57-35. The report cleared the House on Thursday, and now the $446.8 billion 2010 linkurl:omnibus appropriations bill,;http://thomas.loc.

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Fake blood 2.0?

By | December 14, 2009

Newly created synthetic particles that mimic red blood cells may one day carry drug molecules and/or oxygen through bloodstreams, according to researchers linkurl:writing;http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.090712710 in this week's issue of the __Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences__ (__PNAS__). What's more, the team of scientists in Michigan and California say the particles could also be used to improve the resolution of magnetic resonance imaging.The synthetic red blood cells

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Q&A: Copenhagen's united front

By | December 14, 2009

In the months leading up to Copenhagen, developing world leaders met multiple times to strategize and solidify their position on climate change. Because of their poverty levels, populations in developing regions are generally seen as the most vulnerable to changes in climate and subsequent extreme weather, such as droughts, flood, heat waves and rising sea levels. Calestous Juma Image: Harvard University, Belfer Center But since arriving at the conference, these developing world negotiators hav

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New hope for EU patent plan

By | December 11, 2009

A planned redesign of the European patent system, announced last week (December 4th), could reduce the cost and strengthen the legal weight of European patents -- a change that biotechnology companies have long awaited. Image: WikipediaCurrently, a European patent can cost companies up to 11 times as much as they would pay in the United States, while providing far fewer legal certainties. The existing patent system is simply a bundle of 4-6 national patents; applicants must choose the countries

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2010 NIH budget bump

By | December 10, 2009

Congress has inched closer to finalizing the budgets for key federal science agencies in the 2010 fiscal year, with a small boost for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and a larger increase for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the works.Image: US Dept. of the Treasury A combined House and Senate appropriations committee linkurl:agreed;http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=882f239d-0df8-4adf-b707-0f407783eddd on a 2.3% bump for the NIH, which will have a

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One gene keeps ovaries female

By | December 10, 2009

Knocking down a single gene in an adult mouse makes ovaries develop the characteristics of a male gonad and produce testosterone, according to a study linkurl:published today;http://www.cell.com/abstract/S0092-8674(09)01433-0 (December 10th) in __Cell.__ The study suggests that the signal is required to maintain the female phenotype throughout adulthood, and may provide clues to female infertility. "I think this is a very important finding" identifying a key regulator of the genes involved in

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New NIH forms raise concerns

By | December 8, 2009

The new, shortened National Institutes of Health grant applications, designed to make the process easier on applicants and reviewers, may have an unintended downside, some researchers say. Specifically, some critics say the new, shorter forms -- down from 25 to 12 pages for R01 grants -- will favor better writers, making it more difficult for younger investigators to compete for NIH funding. "[The new grant applications] are going to focus people's words, and I do think it will favor better wr

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