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Annual Life Sciences Salary Survey

By | September 27, 2004

Headlines on biosecurity, stem cell research, and drug development suggest that the life sciences are expanding rapidly, but this is not reflected in salary growth for US life scientists, which has remained relatively stagnant. The consumer price index has risen 3.0% since July 2003, but salaries for life scientists have marked only a 2.3% increase, according to The Scientist's 2004 salary survey.Some cities, sectors, and specializations in the life sciences posted slight increases in income thi


Fueling the Fires of RNA Interference

By | September 13, 2004

World RNAi Market 2010Contract service = outsourced research/target validation projects Total = Projected worldwide RNAi revenues for 2010, in US dollars Source: Frost & SullivanScientists hunger for breakthroughs in the lab, but it's the venture capitalists who continually scout the life sciences for the next great money-making bonanza. After a pivotal study in the May 2001 issue of Nature showed that RNA could effectively silence gene expression in mammalian cell lines, RNA interference (R


Silencing Cancer

By | September 13, 2004

DELIVERY METHODS:© 2003, Elsevier ScienceSmall interfering RNAs (siRNAs) may be synthesized and then transfected into cells (A), or generated by the RNAase activity of Dicer (B) on short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) transcribed in vivo (C). Transfection (D) and integration (E) of plasmid DNA containing a selectable marker and a promoter to drive shRNA expression are used to generate a stable cell line. Alternatively, DNA encoding shRNA may be introduced by viral-mediated transduction (D). siRNAs (


The Ups and Downs of Nanobiotech

By | August 30, 2004

© Kenneth Eward/BioGrafx/Photo Researchers, Inc.Ten years from now, a visit to the doctor could be quite different than it is today. How different? Imagine tiny particles that "cook" cancers from the inside out; "smart bomb" drugs that detonate only over their targets; and finely structured scaffolds that guide tissue regeneration.But it's not just imagination. In academic labs, small startups, and giant pharmaceutical companies, researchers in the blossoming field of nanotechnology have sh


When Remembering Might Mean Forgetting

By | August 2, 2004

Recall a memory under certain circumstances, and the brain might erase it, recent rodent research suggests. If that possibility seems like science fiction, consider other weird tricks played by the mind's memory machinery. False recollections, for example, can occur during a déjà vu experience or after hypnosis. And true recollections which can reconstruct experiences from decades earlier, often seem almost supernatural, even to those fully aware of the brain's complexity.Because of it


Vaccines: Victims of Their Own Success?

By | July 19, 2004

Perhaps in no area is the divide between the developed and developing worlds as striking as it is for vaccines: While healthcare consumers in economically advantaged nations worry about risk, in developing nations compelling need forces a focus on potential benefit. "People in the United States want a quick solution, not prevention, so they prefer drugs to vaccines. Elsewhere, people are afraid of drugs and side effects, and prefer vaccines," says Shan Lu, a primary-care physician who has worked


Epigenetics: Genome, Meet Your Environment

By | July 5, 2004

©Mehau Kulyk/Photo Researchers, IncToward the end of World War II, a German-imposed food embargo in western Holland – a densely populated area already suffering from scarce food supplies, ruined agricultural lands, and the onset of an unusually harsh winter – led to the death by starvation of some 30,000 people. Detailed birth records collected during that so-called Dutch Hunger Winter have provided scientists with useful data for analyzing the long-term health effects of prenat

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Validating the Interactome

By | June 21, 2004

MOLECULAR CARTOGRAPHY:Recognizing that much of the cell's work is done not by individual proteins but by large macromolecular complexes, researchers increasingly are trying to map protein-protein interactions throughout the cell. This map of the C. elegans interaction network, or "interactome," links 2,898 proteins (nodes) by 5,460 interactions (edges). (reprinted with permission, Science, 303:540–3, 2004.)If you want a sense of one of the hottest trends in biology today, open the hood of


Clearing Hurdles: Prions Know How to Do It

By | June 7, 2004

INDUCING DISTINCT YEAST PRION STRAINS:©2004 Nature Publishing Group[PSI+] using amyloid fibers derived from a recombinant Sup35p fragment [Sup-NM] at 4°C, 23°C and 37°C. White and pink and/or sectored colonies are strong and weak [PSI+] variants, respectively. (Nature, 428:323–7, 2004)In the relative quiet following the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the United Kingdom, BSE returned to the headlines recently with a sole case found in the United States a


The Enormity of Obesity

By | May 24, 2004

Courtesy of Ray Clark & Mervyn Goff/Photo Researchers, Inc."I'm a potential obese person," says Steve Bloom of Imperial College London. "I feel hungry all the time and have to keep [jogging] and restraining myself when they put chocolate biscuits on the table.... I keep my weight down, but I've still got a potbelly. And that's in spite of being an [obesity] expert and knowing what I'm supposed to do."Which, presumably, is to burn off and eliminate as many calories as one eats. It's an equati


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