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New model org? Cluck cluck

By | March 10, 2010

The humble chicken has provided humanity with meat, eggs, and wake-up calls for centuries, and new research probing the bird's DNA may point to an expansion of another role for the flightless fowl: biomedical model organism. Image: Michael Gäbler via Wikipedia CommonsUppsala University functional genomicist linkurl:Leif Andersson; and colleagues used cutting-edge sequencing technology to comb the chicken genome and identified some gene


Stem cell regs to become law?

By | March 10, 2010

US President Barack Obama's 2009 executive order to allow the federal funding of research using new human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines may become law. Human embryonic stem cellsImage: Wikimedia commons, Nissim BenvenistyYesterday (March 9), on the one-year anniversary of Obama's announcement, members of Congress Diana DeGette of Colorado and Mike Castle of Delaware reintroduced the Stem Cell Research Advancement Act to "ensure a lasting ethical framework" for such research. DeGette and Cas


Defunct CF drug reborn

By | March 8, 2010

A cystic fibrosis drug that seemed destined for death when its company faced financial troubles (and eventually linkurl:went belly up; last year) is being revived by another company. Image: Wikipedia A new company launched by a veteran of the defunct company (Altus Pharmaceuticals, which linkurl:we profiled; last year) plans to submit the drug, a pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy, to the US Foo


Journal editor facing axe

By | March 8, 2010

Elsevier has asked the editor-in-chief of its only non-peer-reviewed journal, linkurl:Medical Hypotheses,; to either resign immediately or implement a series of changes, including a traditional peer-review system. Image: flicker/linkurl:meviola; The journal's editor-in-chief linkurl:Bruce Charlton; told The Scientist tha


News in a nutshell

By | March 8, 2010

Hand (de)sanitizer?The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uncovered a nasty little additive in some Puerto Rican hand sanitizers: bacteria. The FDA linkurl:warned; consumers to use neither Bee-Shield Hand Sanitizer nor MD Quality Hand Sanitizer -- which are only distributed in the Caribbean territory -- because the two products may contain __Burkholderia cepacia__, a bacterium that can cause serious infections if used on c


Stem cells: home of HIV?

By | March 7, 2010

Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) can infect bone marrow cells -- including, possibly, hematopoietic stem cells, according to a study published online today (March 7) in Nature Medicine. Human Immunodeficiency VirusImage: Wikimedia commons, NIAIDThe findings suggest the virus can hide in an inactive state for long periods of time, evading treatment, even in individuals without detectable viral loads. "It's a little bit surprising to see that [HIV infects] progenitor cells, and [possibly] ste


Painting climate change

By | March 5, 2010

In a remarkable union of science and art, landscape painter linkurl:Diane Burko; shows how the planet's glaciers have changed form over the last century in her latest exhibit linkurl:"Politics of Snow."; To tell the story, Burko tracked down glaciologists from the US Geological Survey's linkurl:National Snow and Ice Data Center; at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and others. She then painted a series


AZ cuts hundreds of scientists

By | March 4, 2010

Drug maker AstraZeneca is pink-slipping approximately 550 Wilmington, Delaware-based researchers and their support staff in a move to help balance the company's books and save it $1.9 billion per year by 2014. Image: B.gliwa via Wikipedia CommonsThe company told the linkurl:__Philadelphia Inquirer__; yesterday (March 3rd) that the layoffs are part of a plan to shutter an entire research group, focused on identifying candidate compounds for psyc


Brain cells' new role defunct?

By | March 4, 2010

New findings are challenging the current understanding of how non-neural brain cells contribute to brain signaling, by showing that calcium levels in these cells do not affect synaptic activity. An astrocyteImage: Wikimedia commons, DantecatThe results appear in this week's Science. In the past couple of years, the idea that these non-neural brain cells, known as glial cells, participate in neurotransmission "had been widely accepted," linkurl:Frank Kirchhoff,;

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Surprising mtDNA diversity

By | March 3, 2010

Mitochondrial genomes are not uniform across cells of the body as previously believed, but vary between different tissue types, according to a study published online today (March 3) in Nature. Image: Wikimedia commons, NationalHuman Genome Research InstituteThe findings may affect forensics and the search for biomarkers, both of which utilize mitochondrial DNA. "I was surprised," said molecular cell biologist linkurl:Hans Spelbrink; of the University of Tam


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