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The Nutshell

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Early fish had live birth

By | February 25, 2009

Giving birth to live young is thought to mainly occur in mammals and sharks, but a new study suggests that it was once a common mechanism for reproduction. A large group of ancient fish carried its embryos internally and bore live offspring, says a study published in Nature this week. Reconstructed Arhtrodira anatomy Image: Peter Trusler A team led by John Long, a paleontologist at the Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, identified embryos in extinct, jawed fish from a group called Arthro

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New wrinkle for HIV vaccine

By | February 25, 2009

Developing a vaccine for HIV may be harder than researchers thought, according to linkurl:a study;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature07746.html published online in Nature. Just as the virus develops resistance to antiviral drugs, it also evolves to evade the human immune system on a population-wide level, the researchers report.Human Immunodeficiency Virus Image: NIAID Previous studies have examined the interaction of viral evolution with the human immune system in s

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NIH: stimulated but flat

By | February 24, 2009

The National Institutes of Health -- the happy recipient of about $10 billion from the recently-passed economic stimulus bill -- is staring down the barrel of another year of flat funding, according to the draft linkurl:FY2009 budget;http://appropriations.house.gov/FY2009_consolidated.shtml released yesterday by the House of Representatives. Image: linkurl:flickr/borman818;http://www.flickr.com/photos/dborman2/ The FY2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act includes a paltry 3% increase to NIH's FY200

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Calif. animal activists arrested

By | February 23, 2009

FBI agents have nabbed four people suspected of harassing University of California life science researchers over the past two years. Federal agents arrested twenty-somethings Adriana Stumpo, Nathan Pope, Joseph Buddenberg, and Maryam Khajavi late last week and charged them with using "force, violence, or threats to interfere with the operation of the University of California in violation of the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act," according to an FBI linkurl:release.;http://sanfrancisco.fbi.gov/pr

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Ethics body questions Cell

By | February 23, 2009

A UK ethics organization that focuses on fairness and honesty in scientific publication has lent some support to researchers who complained that a 2008 __Cell__ linkurl:paper;http://www.cell.com/abstract/S0092-8674(08)00680-6 failed to adequately recognize their work and includes substandard experimentation. But the gesture seems unlikely to result in any concrete action regarding the researchers' complaints. The London-based Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) has weighed in on the row invo

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Flat funding for NIH in 2009

By | February 23, 2009

The National Institutes of Health received a 3% increase in funds in the draft 2009 budget, released today (Feb 23) by the US House of Representatives, giving the agency a total of $30.3 billion, linkurl:ScienceInsider;http://blogs.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2009/02/2009-budget-win.html reports. Adjusted for inflation, the sum essentially leaves the agency's funding flat. The announcement comes after last week's decision to provide a two-year infusion of $10 billion for the NIH as part of t

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Iran investing in stem cells

By | February 23, 2009

Thirty years after the toppling of the Shah in Iran, the nation is undergoing another revolution of sorts. Iran is investing heavily in stem cell research, and despite researchers working with limited access to laboratory equipment and resources, the country may emerge as a scientific force to be reckoned with in the stem cell field. Image: flickr/youngrobvEven with their limited infrastructure, Iranian scientists have managed to isolate linkurl:six human;http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/jour

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Psoriasis drug sickens patient

By | February 23, 2009

The FDA issued a warning yesterday confirming that another patient taking the psoriasis drug Raptiva developed a rare form of brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). The warning came after Genentech reported that a 47 year old man in Germany had been hospitalized for the infection. Two other patients--a 70 year old and a 73 year old--died of PML in October and November of last year. All of the patients who developed PML were taking the psoriasis drug for more th

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Sex sickens female flies?

By | February 23, 2009

Love hurts -- especially for the female fruit fly. A new linkurl:study;http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122208568/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0 published online in the __Journal of Evolutionary Biology__ shows that after fruit flies mate, females ramp up their immune systems in roughly the same fashion as they do when fighting bacterial and fungal infections. "Of course the immune system is there to fight pathogens, but it might be there to protect you against members of your own species

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Single-handed flu combat?

By | February 23, 2009

A single antibody may soon provide a one-size-fits-all antiviral for multiple strains of influenza. Researchers in the online version of Nature Structural and Molecular Biology have identified a human antibody that disarms the flu virus by jamming the machinery it uses to fuse with host cells. Hemagglutinin and antibody in complex Image: William Hwang Genes that code the influenza surface protein hemagglutinin are constantly reshuffled and tweaked, helping the virus hide from the immune syst

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