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Geneticist Ray Wu dies

By | February 19, 2008

Geneticist and genetic engineering pioneer Ray Wu died on February 10 of cardiac arrest. He was 79. In 1970, Wu developed a new location-specific primer-extension technique that became the first method of sequencing DNA. In the following decade, Frederick Sanger adapted the approach for faster sequencing, and received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the work in 1980. Wu's lab also devised other approaches that were used to analyze genetic sequences and to construct vectors for cloning genes,

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Help wanted: Science advisors

By | February 19, 2008

Who should the next US president appoint as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy? That and more than 50 other science-related linkurl:positions;http://www.the-scientist.com/news/display/53457/ in the executive branch will more than likely be up for grabs come next January. The scientific community has already called for a linkurl:science debate;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54084/ by presidential candidates. But policy experts at this weekend's meeting of the Ame

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Another HIV microbicide a bust

By | February 18, 2008

Another microbicide to prevent linkurl:HIV;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/23586/ transmission has been deemed ineffective. The Population Council, a nonprofit research organization, which has been developing the microbicide Carraguard, announced today that phase III clinical results show it ineffective in linkurl:preventing HIV;http://www.the-scientist.com/article/daily/53516/ transmission. The trial, which ended in March of last year, involved 6,202 women and cost around $40 mil

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Animal studio portraits: Slideshow

By | February 15, 2008

The images you see in [Creature, a new book of photographs by Andrew Zuckerman] are the product of a journey of discovery and of learning how to connect with the soul and essence of all creatures. In animals, as in humans, the eye connects the creature to the outside world and centers our focus to see deeper into the heart and very nature of the creature. The goal of these images is to intensify the viewer's connection to the animals and inspire new perspectives on the familiar and immediate lin

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Pet dog to be cloned by Korean biotech

By | February 15, 2008

A South Korean biotech company has announced it will, for the first time ever, commercially clone a pet dog, according to linkurl:reports;http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/tech/2008/02/133_18963.html coming out of the country. RNL Bio said last week that it received an order from Californian Bernann McKunney, to clone her deceased pet pitbull, Booger, to the tune of $150,000. Booger died in 2005, but not before McKinney had tissue from his ear preserved. The Korean company told the linkurl:

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Autoimmunity in plants?

By | February 14, 2008

Can plants suffer from autoimmunity? The term is generally reserved for organisms with an adaptive immune system, but one of the speakers last night at the Keystone meeting on plant signaling and immunity described a scenario that she called "the plant world version of autoimmunity." Farmers as well as plant researchers have long known that every once in a while, when two healthy plants are crossbred, the offspring (called F1) is inexplicably sickly - maybe its leaves are necrotic, or maybe it

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Epithelial cells made pluripotent

By | February 14, 2008

A team of Japanese researchers has changed epithelial cells from the livers and stomachs of adult mice into pluripotent cells that resemble embryonic stem cells, according to a linkurl:paper;http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/1154884 in this week's __Science__. In 2006, the Kyoto University team, led by linkurl:Shinya Yamanaka,;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/23254/ used retroviruses to transfect adult mouse fibroblasts and embryonic cells with four transcription factors,

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Ocean global warming tool sinks

By | February 14, 2008

A company that aimed to reduce global warming by creating blooms of carbon dioxide-absorbing phytoplankton in the ocean has sunk, linkurl:according to;http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/14/technology/14planktos.html?_r=1&oref=slogin the New York Times. The company, Planktos, posted a linkurl:statement on its Web site;http://planktos.com/ yesterday (February 13) saying that it had decided to "indefinitely postpone its ocean fertilization efforts" as a result of a "highly effective disinf

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Plant signaling gets complex

By | February 14, 2008

Last night's session (February 12) on hormones networks at the joint Keystone meeting on plant signaling and immunity in Keystone, Co, began with Charlie Chaplin. Specifically, the audience was treated to a video clip of the scene in Modern Times where Chaplin, a worker on a factory assembly line, becomes curious about the gears that drive the machinery, and to the horror of other workers, dives onto the assembly line and down the chute to explore. It was a clear metaphor for what's going on in

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Variation at the start

By | February 14, 2008

Some organisms adopt an unusual strategy to make sure the genetic code is translated accurately, according to study that will be published tomorrow in linkurl:__Molecular Cell.__;http://www.molecule.org/ These findings suggest that ancient organisms may have used different techniques to maintain accuracy in translation before settling on the predominant strategy. In most organisms, the start of translation is coded by the sequence AUG. This sequence triggers the binding of tRNA that carries t

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