December 2006

Volume 20 Issue 12

The Scientist December 2006 Cover

Departments

Uncategorized

Flash Test

var FO = { movie:"http://www.the-scientist.com/supplementary/flash/test/ball.swf", width:"550", height:"200", majorversion:"8", build:"0", xi:"true"}; UFO.create(FO, "ufoDemo"); Replacement content

Ajit Varki: Big Brains are Overrated

In our September issue, Karen Hopkin profiled glycomics superstar Ajit Varki. Watch an excerpt. var FO = { movie:"http://www.the-scientist.com/supplementary/flash/37162/varki1.swf", width:"400", height:"350", majorversion:"8", build:"0", xi:"true"}; UFO.create(FO, "ufoDemo"); Please download the Adobe Flash Player to view this content:

Ajit Varki Video: The Fascination of Glycans

Ajit Varki: The Fascination of Glycans var FO = { movie:"http://www.the-scientist.com/supplementary/flash/37162/varki2.swf", width:"400", height:"350", majorversion:"8", build:"0", xi:"true"}; UFO.create(FO, "ufoDemo"); Please download the Adobe Flash Player to view this content:

Ajit Varki Video: Humans vs. chimps: Ajit Varki speaks

Humans vs. chimps: Ajit Varki speaks var FO = { movie:"http://www.the-scientist.com/supplementary/flash/37162/varki3.swf", width:"400", height:"350", majorversion:"8", build:"0", xi:"true"}; UFO.create(FO, "ufoDemo"); Please download the Adobe Flash Player to view this content:

Ajit Varki: Unique human infections

Ajit Varki: Unique human infections var FO = { movie:"http://www.the-scientist.com/supplementary/flash/37162/varki4.swf", width:"400", height:"350", majorversion:"8", build:"0", xi:"true"}; UFO.create(FO, "ufoDemo"); Please download the Adobe Flash Player to view this content:

Contributors

Contributors

Alexander Rich elucidated the double helix structure of RNA 50 years ago. "The puzzle came straight out of the Watson and Crick paper," says Rich. "There's a statement in there that says it is probably impossible to form this structure with ribose rather than deoxyribose." On page 34, Rich describes that discovery, as well as what's next for the field of RNAi and others related to his findings. Rich earned an MD from Harvard in 1949 and went on spend five years at CalTech worki

Editorial

Just One Vote

The new US political landscape might be just different enough to boost stem cell research.

Mail

Mail

Is Bush science's nemesis? Sure, George Bush has joined a line of presidents who, for political gain, act contrary to the best interests of science.1,2 But a full accounting of the Bush administration shows it distinguishes itself from the others in two significant ways: 1) its ruthless political efficiency, and 2) its unwavering moral certitude. The two are tightly linked, and embryonic stem cell research bears the brunt of this holy alliance. Consider Bush's SWAT squad, rappelli

Notebook

Filter my blood, please

Aethlon Medical's blood filter Credit: Courtesy of Kerry Grens" />Aethlon Medical's blood filter Credit: Courtesy of Kerry Grens It's World War III, vaccine shortages have plagued the country, and a suspicious-looking cloud hangs over the city. Bioterror has been a serious threat, and you wonder if maybe that cloud is full of pathogens, or perhaps it's just going to rain. Better not take a chance: You reach for your stash of Hemopurifiers, clasp one to your belt, plug it into your blo

Uncategorized

The Agenda

Credit: Courtesy of Prometheus Books" /> Credit: Courtesy of Prometheus Books NEW ANTIMICROBIALS » Two of this month's features look at ways to combat infectious disease: artemisinin to fight malaria on page 26 and developing a cytomegalovirus vaccine on page 40. For more on how the battle is evolving, pick up DNA: How the Biotech Revolution is Changing the Way We Fight Disease, by Frank H. Stevenson (pictured above) published this month by Prometheus Books. AN RNA BI

Notebook

The frog robot condom

Robo-staurois under construction. Credit: Photo: Markus Böckle" />Robo-staurois under construction. Credit: Photo: Markus Böckle Peter Narins needed a way to convince real frogs that a male intruder has just hopped into their territory and is croaking boldly. So the animal communication researcher came up with the obvious choice: condoms. In 2000, Narins, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and his colleagues at the University of Vienna glued a condom to the jaw

When biodiversity makes you sick

CATALOGING BIODIVERSITY: Workers examine soil in the Otonga rainforest for new taxa. Credit: Courtesy: World Biodiversity Association, www.biodiversityassociation.org http://www.biodiversityassociation.org _blank" />CATALOGING BIODIVERSITY: Workers examine soil in the Otonga rainforest for new taxa. Credit: Courtesy: World Biodiversity Association, www.biodiversityassociation.org http://www.biodiversityassociation.org _blank For a group of Italian resea

Use the force, bacteria

A couple of years ago, Australian postdoc Nate Lo was working at the University of Milan, looking for human pathogens in the tick species Ixodes ricinus, the main vector for Lyme disease. It was all routine until the day his PCR screening protocol revealed a novel 16S rRNA sequence. When his team took a tick apart to look for the new bug, they found it in the ovaries. And, when they looked closely at electron micrographs of infected ovarian tissues, they could see that the microbes w

From chemist to chef

Shirley Corriher Credit: © Robin Nelson/The New York Times/Redux" />Shirley Corriher Credit: © Robin Nelson/The New York Times/Redux Shirley Corriher knew nothing about cooking until she and her husband opened a boys' boarding school and Corriher - a former chemist at Vanderbilt Medical School - found herself catering for 140. With the measured irony that only those blessed with a southern accent can achieve, Corriher describes the experience as a "trial by fire." Teenage boys are, sh

White Paper

How to Treat Premature Infants

A Nuffield Council Working Party takes on the ethical issues in neonatal critical care.

Column

Want Fish? Ethics First, Please

Why we should worry about the upcoming fish apocalypse.

Uncategorized

Goozner's Travels

var FO = { movie:"http://www.the-scientist.com/supplementary/flash/36914/artemisinin_slideshow.swf", width:"600", height:"600", majorversion:"8", build:"0", xi:"true"}; UFO.create(FO, "ufoDemo"); Please download the Adobe Flash Player to view this content:

Beating Malaria

Beating Malaria   Mang We Tin with her feverish five-year-old son Hla Win Tun awaiting treatment at a clinic in Mawker Tie. Nicholas White and François Nosten have shown that artemisinin in combination with other drugs are 90% effective at fighting the scourge of the world. So why isn't everyone using it? By Merrill Goozner ARTICLE EXTRAS 1 Yet there is still little understanding of how artemisinin-based derivatives and the other drugs used i

A military outbreak spurs research

A military outbreak spurs research By Merrill Goozner FEATURE ARTICLE 1 However, their study used a Chinese version of the drug, which doesn't meet western manufacturing standards, and thus can't be used by the US military or purchased by aid agencies for the developing world. 1. South East Asian Quinine Artesunate Malarial Trial (SEAQUAMAT) group, "Artesunate versus quinine for treatment of severe falciparum malaria: a randomized trial," Lancet, 366:717-25, 2

The first 13-year-old patient

The first 13-year-old patient   By Merrill Goozner FEATURE ARTICLE Beating MalariaNicholas White and François Nosten have shown that drugs in combination with artemisinin are 90% effective at fighting the scourge of the world. So why isn't everyone using it? MERRILL GOOZNER travels to Thailand and China to watch Nosten and White at work. ARTICLE EXTRAS A military outbreak spurs researchIn September 2003, the US 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit entered Liberia for a

Fifty Years with Double-Stranded RNA

Fifty Years with Double-Stranded RNA Courtesy of Alexander Rich The scientist who discovered hybridization and the "other" double helix describes what it meant to biology. By Alexander Rich ARTICLE EXTRAS An interactive look at original documents with commentary: The discovery of the dsRNA helix, 1956 Predictions on the regulatory potential of dsRNA, 1961 RNA Timeline: A History in Hybridization and Structure Podcast: Alex Rich discusses th

Discovery of dsRNA

var FO = { movie:"http://www.the-scientist.com/supplementary/flash/36975/rich2_slideshow.swf", width:"536", height:"600", majorversion:"8", build:"0", xi:"true"}; UFO.create(FO, "ufoDemo"); Discovery of dsRNA Watson and Crick said "it was probably impossible." Please download the Adobe Flash Player to view this content: Download the article

Predictions on the regulatory potential of dsRNA, 1961

var FO = { movie:"http://www.the-scientist.com/supplementary/flash/36989/rich1_slideshow.swf", width:"536", height:"600", majorversion:"8", build:"0", xi:"true"}; UFO.create(FO, "ufoDemo"); An RNA prediction The regulatory potential of dsRNA circa 1961 Please download the Adobe Flash Player to view this content: Download the article

RNA Timeline: A History in Hybridization and Structure

RNA Timeline: A History in Hybridization and Structure Alexander Rich and David Davies discover the double-stranded RNA helix and show that polyribo U and polyribo A hybridize spontaneously.6 Ben Hall and Sol Speigelman carry out DNA-RNA hybridization in viral infected bacterial system.15 Rich and colleagues publish on two RNA double helix fragments solving the structure at atomic re

Science and Sculpture

var FO = { movie:"http://www.the-scientist.com/supplementary/flash/36890/maul_slideshow.swf", width:"600", height:"600", majorversion:"8", build:"0", xi:"true"}; UFO.create(FO, "ufoDemo"); Science and Sculpture Gerd Maul's artwork reveals his two sides Please download the Adobe Flash Player to view this content:

A Long Shot on Cytomegalovirus

A Long Shot on Cytomegalovirus An unlikely vaccinologist fights an unlikely foe. By Alan Dove ARTICLE EXTRAS Developing a hybrid CMV vaccine An economic boost for an unlikely target Two sides or more: from scientist to sculptor Slideshow: the artwork of Gerd Maul Podcast: A vaccine for cytomegalovirusProgress toward combating a rare but costly disease Gerd Maul was frustrated. It was 1989, and the German-born researcher at Philadelphia's Wistar

Developing a Hybrid CMV Vaccine

Developing a hybrid CMV Vaccine Cytomegalovirus (CMV), upon entering the cell, releases a highly evolved protein arsenal to disrupt cellular defenses. One strategy to defeat the virus in humans may be to use a murine version of the pathogen, MCMV. Interspecies infections are inefficient because the mouse virus is attuned to infecting mice and is blocked in humans at several steps in its life cycle, especially at PML bodies in the nucleus. By adding certain human genes, researchers may be

An Economic Boost for an Unlikely Target

An Economic Boost for an Unlikely Target By Alan Dove FEATURE ARTICLE A Long Shot on CytomegalovirusAn unlikely vaccinologist fights an unlikely foe. ARTICLE EXTRAS Developing a hybrid CMV vaccine Two sides or more: from scientist to sculptor Slideshow: the artwork of Gerd Maul Podcast: A vaccine for cytomegalovirusProgress toward combating a rare but costly disease Even though the National Academy of Science listed it as a top priority in

THE FUTURE OF THE FDA

THE FUTURE OF THE FDA As the agency celebrates its 100th anniversary, what do Congress and others have in store? By Ted Agres ARTICLE EXTRAS Just another day at the office? KEN KAITIN and CHRISTOPHER-PAUL MILNE present their wish list for the FDA Timeline: 100 years of FDA history The Food and Drug Administration celebrated its first century in 2006, but as 2007 begins, it is also stepping into the cross-hairs of a new Democratic Congress.

Just Another Day at the Office?

Just Another Day at the Office? 10,000 drugs in the marketplace, 7,000 in development, and hundreds of applications to be reviewed each year: It's time to prioritize By Kenneth I Kaitin and Christopher-Paul Milne FEATURE ARTICLE The Future of the FDAAs the agency celebrates its 100th anniversary, what do Congress and others have in store? ARTICLE EXTRAS Timeline: 100 years of FDA history The priorities keep shifting, resources are static; staff is stretched

100 Years: A select history of the FDA

100 Years A Select History of the FDA   1906 Congress passes the Pure Food and Drugs Act, prohibiting interstate commerce in misbranded and adulterated foods, drinks, and drugs. 1912 Congress enacts the Sherley Amendment, which prohibits labeling of medicines with false therapeutic claims. 1938 After an elixir containing diethylene glycol kills 107 people in 1937, Congress passes the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), requiring that

Column

Intelligent Design: The Clincher

A butterfly explodes the theory.

Profile

Physics Meets the Brain

How Terry Sejnowski went from a grad student in theoretical physics to computational neuroscience's White Knight.

Books etc.

For mTOR, Clarification and Confusion

A double life for the target of rapamycin muddies its role in cancer

Hot Paper

Astrocytes release glutamate

Hippocampal astrocyte expressing GFP Credit: Courtesy of Khaleel Bhaukaurally" />Hippocampal astrocyte expressing GFP Credit: Courtesy of Khaleel Bhaukaurally The paper: P. Bezzi et al., "Astrocytes contain a vesicular compartment that is competent for regulated exocytosis of glutamate," Nat Neurosci, 7:613-20, 2004. (Cited in 86 papers) The finding: The discovery of a clear, synaptic-like microvesicle in the adult hippocampal astrocyte, by Andr

Leads on the obesity-diabetes link

Credit: © Ed Hidden" /> Credit: © Ed Hidden The paper: U. Ozcan et al., "Endoplasmic reticulum stress links obesity, insulin action, and type 2 diabetes," Science, 306:457-61, Oct. 15, 2004. (cited in 111 papers) The finding: The connection between obesity and type 2 diabetes is undeniable, but also unclear. In 2004, Gökhan Hotamisligil's group at Harvard School of Public Health showed that obesity physically strains the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of

Mistaken identity in mechanotransduction

Hair cell from a bullfrog saccule Credit: © David P. Corey" />Hair cell from a bullfrog saccule Credit: © David P. Corey The paper: D.P. Corey et al., "TRPA1 is a candidate for the mechanosensitive transduction channel of vertebrate hair cells," Nature, 432:723-30, 2004. (Cited in 106 papers) The finding: The mechanotransducing ion channel responsible for auditory function in vertebrate hair cells was difficult to track down. David Corey at Harvard Un

Books etc.

Papers to Watch

C. Heurteaux et al., "Deletion of the background potassium channel TREK-1 results in a depression-resistant phenotype," Nat Neurosci, 9:1134-41, September 2006. A deletion in the KCNK2 gene encoding the two-pore domain potassium channel Trek-1 results in antidepressant-like behaviors. Intriguingly, a previous report showed that this channel is inhibited by antidepressants that target neurotransmitter reuptake inhibitors at near-therapeutic concentrations (

JNK2 promotes cJun activation

Credit: Courtesy of Kevan Shokat" /> Credit: Courtesy of Kevan Shokat Applying chemical genetics to mice, Roger Davis at University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and colleagues found that JNK2 promotes phosphorylation and activation of cJun.1 "It is an elegant and solid paper that illustrates the power of chemical genetics and it settles a controversy in the field," says Faculty of 1000 member Filippo Giancotti of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Ca

Trypanosome Movement into the Brain

Using an innovative in vitro model of the blood-brain barrier, Dennis Grab of Johns Hopkins University and his colleagues found that Trypanosoma brucei gambiense requires calcium ions and cysteine proteases to migrate across.1 "This is a big technical and scientific advance," says Paul Roepe of Georgetown University. "We have the beginnings of a real molecular model for how trypanosomes are crossing the blood-brain barrier." "The authors successfully cultured the endothelial cells t

Scientist To Watch

Victoria J. Orphan: Deep Partnerships

Credit: © Ric Frazier Productions" /> Credit: © Ric Frazier Productions Victoria Orphan wanted to be a marine biologist ever since kindergarten. She even wrote it down in a Dr. Seuss book called My Book About Me. It still sits in her childhood bedroom, which she had painted to resemble a deep-sea scene. At the University of California, Santa Barbara, Orphan studied marine biology and was headed in the direction of big-game ecology when she took a course with Ed DeLong,

Lab Tools

Who wants the X Prize?

Among the usual suspects, some won't be entering the $10,000 genome contest.

Five Questions on QPCR

From picking standards to finding those low-copy transcripts, experts offer solutions to users' dilemmas.

Uncategorized

How it Works: Real Time PCR

How it Works: Real Time PCR Brendan Maher The instrumentation is basic: a thermal cycler for amplification, a light source for excitation of fluorescent probes (see chemistries below), a camera for recording, and a computer to control the instrument and record data. Increasingly sophisticated instruments, such as those capable of multiplex experiments, are becoming affordable in academic labs. The light source in the Applied Biosystems 7500 (represented here) is a simple haloge

BioBusiness

Swimming in a Smaller Pond

Julie Olson goes from cutting deals at Pfizer to adjusting her Big Pharma attitude for life at a startup.

The Scientist

What Will Your 2006 Bonus Look Like?

It's more likely to be cash than equity, depending on where you work.

How bonuses are calculated: Three models

Formal plan: The most popular kind of bonus plan, which 70% of biotech companies use, is the formal plan, in which a company establishes a matrix to fund the plan at the beginning of the year, says John Radford, senior vice president of Radford Surveys and Consulting. This establishes criteria including: who participates in the plan, how company and individual performances are weighted, how much money goes into bonuses if all goals are met, and individual target goals. At Amge

Foundations

Mr. Cycle: An Automated PCR Prototype

A 1985 prototype of a semi-automated thermal cycler, hot and cold water baths not included. Credit: Courtesy of The Smithsonian Institution" />A 1985 prototype of a semi-automated thermal cycler, hot and cold water baths not included. Credit: Courtesy of The Smithsonian Institution The "aha" moment and initial experiments in 1983 through which Kary Mullis developed the idea of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are a well trodden story.1 While Mullis says he immediately realized PCR?s pote

Popular Now

  1. Publishers’ Legal Action Advances Against Sci-Hub
  2. Metabolomics Data Under Scrutiny
    Daily News Metabolomics Data Under Scrutiny

    Out of 25,000 features originally detected by metabolic profiling of E. coli, fewer than 1,000 represent unique metabolites, a study finds.

  3. How Microbes May Influence Our Behavior
  4. Do Microbes Trigger Alzheimer’s Disease?
AAAS