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The Nutshell

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Fate-swapping cells drive deadly tumor

By | May 13, 2010

The reason melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer stems from the curious ability of all of its cells to swap fates, according to a study publishing in __Cell__ this week. MelanomaImage: National Cancer Institute"This is an important study," linkurl:David Fisher,;http://www.massgeneral.org/dermatology/doctors/doctor.aspx?id=17718 a researcher and dermatologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said in an email. "The work [helps] to explain several key feature

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Playing doctor

By | May 13, 2010

Far far away, on the mythical world of Soma, an epic battle rages. Heroic warriors are locked in mortal combat with an army of depraved villains, hell bent on infecting the planet and wreaking awful destruction. The fate of Soma hangs in the balance.Coxiella burnettiImage: The Healing Blade, Nerdcore Learning Though Soma isn't real -- it's actually the setting for a new fantasy card game developed by two physicians/self-professed geeks -- it may help medical students learn important lessons abo

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Warming extinguishing lizards

By | May 13, 2010

The worst-case scenario of the consequences of global warming - mass extinctions - appears to be a reality for lizards, according to a new report in Science. The authors found that 12 percent of local populations of lizards have already disappeared from hundreds of sites in Mexico. Furthermore, within the next 70 years, the authors predict that 1 in 5 lizard species will no longer exist anywhere on the planet, all the result of rising global temperatures.Sceloporus occidentalisImage: Wikimedia

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DNA robots get sophisticated

By | May 12, 2010

Scientists are one step closer to creating molecular robots that may eventually perform complex tasks, such as building nanomolecules or delivering drugs to target tissues. A DNA spider follows a path on a DNAorigami scaffold towards the red-labeledgoal by cleaving the visited substrates.Image: Paul MichelottiThey have constructed DNA-based robots that can walk along a specific path unaided or collect various nanoparticles along an assembly line, according to two studies published this week in

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Biosecurity laws hobble research

By | May 10, 2010

Ever since the U.S. government has taken steps to protect and encourage research involving pathogens that could be used as biological weapons, that research has become much less efficient, according to a new analysis. Image: Wikimedia CommonsThough funding for research on so-called "select agents," or pathogens that can be used as weapons, has shot through the roof, and the number of papers using those organisms has risen in recent years, the work has become up to five times less efficient -- m

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News in a nutshell

By | May 10, 2010

Negativity, paperwork at NSFNational Science Foundation Director Arden Bement is not optimistic that the funding agency will receive the president's request for a $552 million (8 percent) budget increase in 2011. "I won't be surprised to see us operating under a continuing resolution" until well after the November congressional elections, linkurl:Bement told ScienceInsider.;http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2010/05/nsf-director-gloomy-about-2011-b.html "In fact, anything else would be a

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YouTube yields data

By | May 7, 2010

At first, the YouTube videos seemed hilarious -- young people smoking Salvia divinorum, laughing uncontrollably, falling over furniture. But the more Jason Daniel, a fourth-year PhD candidate in public health at San Diego State University, watched, the more it was simply disconcerting -- people lying on the ground, losing control of their limbs, convulsing. "They didn't look like they were having a terribly good time," says Daniel. After weeks of watching YouTube videos three to four hours per

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Epigenetic change ups dementia?

By | May 6, 2010

A specific epigenetic switch appears to cause age-related memory loss in mice, suggesting this dysregulation could eventually serve as a biomarker for dementia, according to this week's Science. linkurl:Andre Fischer;http://www.uni-goettingen.de/de/57944.html at the linkurl:European Neuroscience Institute in Goettingen, Germany;http://www.eni.gwdg.de/ and his team found that older and younger mice exhibited marked differences in one type of epigenetic change to a specific region of one histone,

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Math explains HIV immunity

By | May 5, 2010

A mathematical model has revealed part of the secret to why some people linkurl:infected with HIV never get sick,;http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature08997.html providing a new target in the attempt to harness that ability in a vaccine, according to research published in __Nature.__ HIV particles (green) budding from a lymphocyte.Image: C. Goldsmith, CDC People who can control their HIV infections carry a specific subtype of the gene for the major histocompatability co

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Q&A: Why cutting science is good

By | May 5, 2010

As stimulus funds run out and other federal programs take priority over science research and development, academic research programs will soon feel the squeeze, says linkurl:Diane Auer Jones,;http://www.washcampus.edu/index.php?src=gendocs&ref=Diane%20Auer%20Jones&category=Staff%20List CEO of the Washington Campus, a non-profit business leadership and education organization, and former assistant secretary for postsecondary education at the US Department of Education. But the culling of academic

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