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Glucose yields sweet pest control

By | June 8, 2009

The key to fighting the ravages of termites and other insect pests could lie in the ubiquitous glucose molecule, tweaked to weaken insect immune systems, say researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Formosan subterranean termites Photo by Scott BauerThe scientists have shown that the glucose relative, D-δ-gluconolactone (GDL), can disrupt the activity of a termite protein crucial for sensing and killing invading microbes, making the pests susceptible to pathogenic bacter


Egg size matters for lizard sex

By | June 4, 2009

New findings add a surprising twist to the already complex mechanism that determines whether reptile embryos develop to be males or females. An egg-laying lizard found in the hills of southeastern Australia controls the sex of its young through the size of its eggs, suggesting that female reptiles may actively dole out yolk to fine-tune the sex ratio of their offspring, researchers linkurl:report; online today (June 4) in __Curren


Elsevier tweaks custom pub rules

By | June 4, 2009

Publishing company Elsevier is revising its policies and procedures for partnering with pharmaceutical companies to create custom publications in response to recent media attention over a fake journal, called the __Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine__ (__AJBJM__), created by the company and paid for by Merck. Elsevier provided __The Scientist__ with the names of additional custom publications produced by the company's Australia office from 2000-2005, that an Elsevier spokesperson a


Can monkeys mislead?

By | June 3, 2009

Capuchin monkeys cry "predator" to trick more senior members of their troop into fleeing the dinner table, leaving more food for themselves, according to a linkurl:study published online this week; in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Image: Brandon Wheeler"This is one of the only studies which has actually [used] an experimental paradigm to look at tactical deceptio


Texas school under investigation

By | June 1, 2009

A leading American faculty organization is formally investigating the mass termination of tenured and tenure-track professors on grounds of financial exigency made by the University of Texas System and its Medical Branch in Galveston in the wake of Hurricane Ike. These layoffs "raise key issues of academic freedom, tenure, and due process," the linkurl:American Association of University Professors; (AAUP) wrote in a linkurl:letter;


Patched-up human stem cells

By | May 31, 2009

For the first time, researchers have combined gene therapy and cellular reprogramming technologies in human cells to correct a genetic defect. After taking skin and hair cells from patients with a rare genetic disorder and fixing the aberrant mutation, the investigators successfully reprogrammed the cells to an embryonic-like state and then turned them into the very cell types that usually go awry, according to a linkurl:study;


Geckos invade Philly museum

By | May 29, 2009

Geckos get around. They're among the most diverse and widely distributed lizards, populating every continent except Antarctica and inhabiting everything from tropical beaches and humid rainforests to chilly mountain ranges and arid deserts. This Saturday (May 30), geckos are making an appearance at The Academy of Natural Sciences (ANS) in Philadelphia. The traveling exhibit, "Geckos -- Tails to Toepads" will be open for public viewing until Labor Day (September 7). The exhibit, operated by link


Is tenure worth saving?

By | May 28, 2009

The economy is depressed, money is tight, and universities are feeling the pinch. One radical proposal for trimming budgets is to eliminate tenure-track positions, shifting faculty to part-time and full-time non-tenure-track positions. The move away from tenure has been slowly brewing for decades. While core tenure-system positions comprised approximately 55% of all faculty in 1970s, by 2003 that number had dropped to 41% and further still to 31% in 2007. Dan Clawson Image: University of Massa


Of men, not mice

By | May 28, 2009

Researchers have identified a protein that plays a central and hitherto-undescribed role in glucose trafficking in humans but isn't even expressed in mice, they report in this week's __Science__. "We always knew that mice and humans were different from each other," said Yale Medical School cell biologist linkurl:Jonathan Bogan,; who was not involved in the study. "This gives us some insight into perhaps how, specifically, they're diffe


Patient-ready iPS cells?

By | May 28, 2009

For the first time, human skin cells have been reprogrammed without using DNA, according to a linkurl:study; published online today (May 28) in __Cell Stem Cell__. Although further optimization is still required, this new technique, which involves only four genetically engineered proteins, could yield the first clinic-ready human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. Human iPS cells generatedby direct protein deliveryImage: Kwang-

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