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The Embryo Corrections

By | August 25, 2006

When Robert Lanza?s group at Advanced Cell Technology reported linkurl:this week; creating so-called ethically clean ES cell lines (establishing colonies from an early human embryo without destroying it) they didn?t make clear whether they had actually accomplished this feat. This work might have potential, but the numbers speak to a logical smoke and mirror show. Using 16 blastomeres (embryos in the 8-to-10-cell stage), Lanza?s group extracted 9


Decoding the code code

By | August 21, 2006

A few weeks ago linkurl:I chided Nick Wade; (lovingly! I?m a huge fan, after all) for invoking the ?code? word when describing a study on nucleosome positioning. It surprised me when my post spurred some comments on the nature of the __Nature__ press office, and their proclivity for hyping, but ?not overhyping,? the research papers within. Wade can be forgiven. I didn?t realize how pervasive the word code had been in __Nature__ until I saw the di

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Government lab unites science journalists

By | August 16, 2006

Earlier this week, I and several other editorial staffers here at __The Scientist__ started receiving Emails titled ?User Quarantine Release Notification? from an ? address, presumably from the Idaho National Laboratory. Nothing terribly unusual about such spam, which requested that we click on a link to view a list of all of our quarantined messages. Someone had been attacked by a virus. What happened after that, however, was more unusual: __The New York Times?__ George Johnson respo

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Cloning in Iran

By | August 11, 2006

Iranian biosciences aren?t exactly top of the news agenda these days, so I was interested to linkurl:read;,,1839217,00.html this week that researchers at Tehran?s linkurl:Royan Institute; have "succeeded" in producing what is apparently the Middle East's first cloned sheep. The sheep died minutes after it was delivered at the institute, which specializes in fertility issues (Royan meaning Embryo in


Stem cell reprogramming clues revealed

By | August 11, 2006

During one of the most linkurl:memorable; conference sessions I attended, a researcher from Japan wowed an entire Keystone meeting on stem cells by announcing he had found a way to reprogram adult stem cells into embryonic stem cells using only a few factors. What those factors were, however, Shinya Yamanaka from Kyoto University wouldn?t say -- even after numerous probing questions from the audience. Now, Yamanaka is revealing his secrets in the


Another sad anniversary

By | August 9, 2006

It?s been a summer of depressing anniversaries, but not until now have I had the occasion to remember, vividly, the actual events. I was too young to remember the first reports of linkurl:AIDS, 25 years ago.; Legionnaire?s disease, happened (just a few blocks from where I now work) linkurl:five years earlier; than that. But I still remember quite vividly watching President Bush give his linkurl:firs


Consumer genetic tests on trial

By | August 2, 2006

I was glad to see that someone?s taking direct-to-consumer genetic testing to trial. Nutrigenetics and nutrigenomics is a burgeoning experimental science as we?ll be writing about in September, but the common refrain among many experts -- ?It?s not ready for prime-time? -- hasn?t stopped several companies from marketing store bought genetic tests which are used with a lifestyle inventory to provide customized nutritional guidance. I?ve been linkurl:skeptical, to say the least,;http://www.the-s


A second code?

By | July 25, 2006

Nicholas Wade extols the virtues of chromatin organization and regulation in today?s linkurl:__Science Times__; hitting on a topic that I always love reading and writing about. Here he talks about DNA directed nucleosome positioning. Certain DNA sequences, perhaps because of their relative bendability, might be more or less amenable to histone wrapping making some regulatory sequences more or less accessible. A linkurl:recent paper;http://www


Join the discussion(s) on science in TV

By | July 19, 2006

A linkurl:piece; we ran on July 7 has given birth to a great forum linkurl:thread;; on LabLit -- created by Jennifer Rohn, one of our contributing editors -- on Stephen Gallagher's work and science on television. Gallagher himself has even taken part. Join it, and add your comments to our story (see linkurl:comment link; at the end of the story, where se


Senate okays expanded stem cell funding

By | July 18, 2006

In a largely symbolic victory for biomedical research, the Senate today (July 18) approved a linkurl:controversial bill; (HR 810) to extend Federal research funding to newly derived human embryonic stem cells (hESC). The legislation faces a veto from President Bush, who opposes the expansion of funding on ethical grounds. Indeed, on Monday (July 17) the White House reaffirmed the president?s intention to veto the bill. After 12 hours of discussi


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