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When a supplier switches

By | March 31, 2008

At the end of last year, The Scientist editors spotted a linkurl:warning notice; on the Quanta Biosciences Web site that their supply relationship with Bio-Rad had been terminated. In particular, certain PCR reagents that Quanta had been manufacturing for Bio-Rad were no longer the same and Bio-Rad was now making its own formulations. The key question is: Are the reagents any different? If so, how? The answer, so far, has proved elusive. I heard from severa


CIRM to pay for eggs?

By | March 27, 2008

Recent comments by California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) President Alan Trounson imply that the agency may be looking for ways to pay women for their eggs for stem cell research. Currently, laws in California and Massachusetts — two leader states in stem cell research — prohibit compensation for eggs. But with a shortage of available human eggs for research purposes, the issue remains a national sticking point to the progress of stem cell research and linkurl:cloning


Congressional pork fatter than ever

By | March 26, 2008

In FY2008, more Congressional pork-barrel project money flowed into US academic institutions that ever before, according to an linkurl:analysis; published in this week's issue of __The Chronicle of Higher Education__. __The Chronicle's__ data showed that lawmakers directed more than two billion non-competitive dollars from more than 2,300 projects to 920 universities and colleges, an increase of 25 percent in the number of institutions receiving Con

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Retinal cells see up

By | March 26, 2008

A new type of retinal cell with tree-like dendrites detects upward motion, researchers report in today's linkurl:issue;; of __Nature.__ The method used in the current study to detect cell subtypes may prove useful in finding molecular markers of other retinal cells, as well as brain neurons. It was a fortuitous discovery, said author Markus Meister from Harvard University. The researchers had set out to look for retinal ce


Rumblings over Science retractions

By | March 26, 2008

The conversation is not over regarding two recent retractions of papers on enzyme engineering. Two letters linkurl:published; this month in Science say that the explanation of retraction issued by linkurl:Homme Hellinga's; group at Duke University does not account for many of the errors in the original publications. The linkurl:Grantsmanship blog;


Tobacco sponsors tomato work, too

By | March 26, 2008

The New York Times linkurl:reported; today (March 26) that a major tobacco company -- the Liggett Group -- sponsored a controversial lung cancer study last year totaling about $3.6 million in grants. Interestingly enough, I got an Email a couple of weeks ago from linkurl:Stanton Glantz,; University of California researcher and

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Conscientious embryo vote ok: UK

By | March 25, 2008

Labour party politicians can vote with their conscience on three "ethical" parts of the linkurl:proposed legislation; on embryo research, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced today (March 25). The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which has been mired in linkurl:controversy,; proposes to legalize new areas of research, including the creation of hybrid animal-human embryos, and to refo


HIV vaccines: Back to basics?

By | March 25, 2008

With the recent linkurl:failure; of HIV vaccine clinical trials, the HIV/AIDS research community has resolved to concentrate more on the basic science behind the disease, shifting the main focus from vaccine product development towards immunology and virology research, they said at a meeting in Maryland held today (March 25). "We need to turn the knob towards discovery," said linkurl:Anthony Fauci,;


Fungi-farming ants: a new phylogeny

By | March 24, 2008

Species of ants that practice a complex form of fungi agriculture developed their knack for farming about 50 million years ago and have employed several different, successful strategies to culture their crops in the intervening millennia, according to a linkurl:study; published in __PNAS__ today. Smithsonian Institution entomologist linkurl:Ted Schultz; told __The Scientist__ that humans - who de


Synaptic activity protects neurons

By | March 23, 2008

Chatter between neurons can help protect them from the ravages of free radical damage, according to a linkurl:report; published today (Mar 23) in __Nature__. Free radical, or oxidative, damage besets neurons as they linkurl:age; normally or degenerate due to chronic disorders, such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, or in acute events, such as strokes. University of Edinburgh neurosci


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