April 2000

News

West Nile Virus--Part 2?
West Nile Virus--Part 2?
Graphic: Cathleen Heard When the days grew short enough by last November to finally send mosquitoes away from the backyards and parks of New York City, residents and public health officials alike breathed a collective sigh of relief. Mosquitoes has brought West Nile virus encephalitis, sickening 62 and killing seven. Lingering worst-case scenarios envisioned virus-ridden mosquitoes overwintering in the subways, emerging come springtime to spread disease again. As those outside the Apple joked ab
MMTV and Breast Cancer
MMTV and Breast Cancer
Virus-Disease Links Are Hard to Forge Researchers confront skepticism, conflicting results, limited funding By Douglas Steinberg If genomics is glitzy nowadays, virus research is, well, gritty. Its latest heyday, when HIV was shown to cause AIDS, only masked its true nature. Associating viruses with diseases has always been particularly difficult and labor intensive. Cause-and-effect relationships are maddeningly elusive.1 Consider the following two questions: Does infection by mouse mammary
New Era in Vaccine Development
New Era in Vaccine Development
When all fails, try a new attack. That's exactly what researchers do when they use genome sequence data to develop vaccine candidates against the most difficult pathogenic adversaries. Recent efforts are revealing previously unknown microbial genes that may encode proteins important in triggering immunity. "Whole-genome data provides insight into all the features of [organisms] including access to virtually every single antigen that may provoke an immune response," explains Michael Gottlieb, pa
Micronutrients and Infection
Micronutrients and Infection
Courtesy Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Just how important are vitamins and minerals in influencing resistance to infectious diseases? Some of the best current answers to that question will be offered in a supplement to the Journal of Infectious Diseases appearing later this year. The special publication, stemming from a 1999 workshop organized by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, attests that the field is rife with research activity nowadays. Micronutrients such
EID: Bridging the Gap Between Humans and Wildlife
EID: Bridging the Gap Between Humans and Wildlife
Sometime in the 1980s, the emerging infectious disease (EID) movement began. The "emerging" label had been used earlier, but a series of high-profile disease outbreaks in the 1980s, combined with perceived funding gaps, began to galvanize the field. A book by Richard Krause of the National Institutes of Health1 formed part of the initial thrust. Published in the same year as the recognition of AIDS, it commented on the alarming phenomenon of antibiotic-resistant microbes. Further threats surfac
Ken Alibek: For the Biodefense
Ken Alibek: For the Biodefense
Ken Alibek People who make biological weapons live with the risk that they will die by them. Ken Alibek found that out in a visceral way one Sunday evening in 1983 when a phone call to his home informed him that the tularemia plant he directed had a problem. When he arrived at the plant, Alibek went to inspect a room suspected of being contaminated by a leak from Zone 3, the interior area reserved for culture of tularemia bacteria. Entering alone and turning on the lights, he found himself stand
News Notes
News Notes
A Declaration Supporting Ag Biotech With the recent announcement that major grain companies in the United States will indeed purchase genetically modified (GM) crops despite the proliferation of silly humans dressed as Monarch butterflies in the United Kingdom and here, it seems as if the public debate over GM foods may finally consider scientific reasoning. To bolster consumer confidence that GM tomatoes are not likely to make them grow second heads, 1,800-plus scientists, including many noted

Commentary

Do Adam and Eve Really Matter?
Do Adam and Eve Really Matter?
Somewhere, sometime, a long time ago, creatures came into being on this planet with enough intelligence to be called human. They could have evolved from existing life forms or could have been created in a single moment by a divine creator. A scientist who believes in a god-creator can accept either scenario. A scientist-atheist can accept the former. All theist-scientists are then creationists. The only question is when the creation of human beings occurred, 18 billion or five billion or

Letter

From Peer Review to Peer Recommendation
From Peer Review to Peer Recommendation
Ronald N. Kostoff1 asserts that the "filtering" role of peer review is the prime reason why it is so much needed. This is precisely why it is not. At least in its present form of anonymous, prepublication peer approval. Ironically, in the Internet age, printed specialized research journals have lost their major purpose of being vehicles of information. Their prime role, at the very best, is to serve as glorified lists of recommended reading. Instead, what we need is a "publish all" strateg
Time for Peer Review Reform
Time for Peer Review Reform
In response to Eugene Russo's article on bypassing peer review,1 we wish to share a recent peer review experience with your readers. We submitted a manuscript to the university-based editor of a well-respected journal and after two weeks received a faxed acknowledgment of receipt. After two months we inquired about the manuscript and were told that by mistake it had been sent for review to the wrong journal and was being resubmitted for review by the correct journal. After an additional two mont

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
www.ScienceCartoonsPlus.com

Research

Psychoactive Drugs and Infectious Diseases
Psychoactive Drugs and Infectious Diseases
For nearly a century, it's been known that drugs of abuse alter the immune system. Since the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s, however, an explosion of data has given rise to a rapidly evolving area of research. Investigators around the world have shown that such psychoactive drugs as heroin, morphine, cocaine, and marijuana affect both the neurophysiologic and immunologic systems. In recent years, researchers have produced strong experimental evidence that these drugs of a
Research Notes
Research Notes
Fly Model of Parkinson's Disease With genome projects finishing at an ever quickening pace, many new animal models of human disease are being developed. A very promising one is a Drosophila version of Parkinson's disease (M.B. Feany and W.B. Bender, "A Drosophila model of Parkinson's disease," Nature, 404:394-8, March 23, 2000). At Harvard Medical School, Mel Feany, an instructor in pathology, and Welcome Bender, a professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology, created flies trans

Hot Paper

A Matter of Presentation
A Matter of Presentation
For this article, Eugene Russo interviewed Nina Bhardwaj, an associate professor of clinical investigation at Rockefeller University. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that this paper has been cited significantly more often than the average paper of the same type and age. M.L. Albert, B. Sauter, N. Bhardwaj, "Dendritic cells acquire antigen from apoptotic cells and induce class I-restricted CTLs," Nature, 392:86-9, March 5, 1998. (Cited in more than 187 papers since publicati
Visualizing the Enemy
Visualizing the Enemy
HIV X-ray crystallography researchers hope that they can harness the proper weaponry to fight HIV by actually seeing how their enemy infects cells. This paper revealed a critical stage of HIV infection: the viral surface glycoprotein gp120 binding the CD4 receptor on a vulnerable T cell. By discovering aspects of the mechanism by which the viral and cell membranes fuse, crystallographers hoped to get clues for potential drug and vaccine targets. Structure-based drug design has already been helpf

Bench Buys

Bench Buys
Bench Buys
Quite a Stir Thermolyne's MiniStirrer Thermolyne's new personal MiniStirrer™, available in standard, digital, and portable DC models, offers powerful stirring ability at a compact size and price. The MiniStirrer can stir 1 l of liquid up to 2,000 rpm and features a Hytrel® base and chemically resistant nylon top. Its stylish design makes it an attractive as well as practical addition to any fume hood, glove box, or lab bench. List prices for the standard, digital, and portable models

Technology

Visible Difference
Visible Difference
Leaf samples provided by Neal Stewart, University of North Carolina at GreensboroWild-type (right) and GFP-expressing (left) canola leaves viewed with the Illumatool LT-9500. Excising bands from a gel on a UV light box can leave improperly shielded scientists looking a little crispy around the ears. Most UV users don't realize that many of the dyes and stains commonly used to visualize nucleic acids and proteins have a bimodal excitation spectrum. While the absorption peak most frequently explo
Special Delivery
Special Delivery
Adenoviruses offer powerful gene delivery capabilities. The rising demands for genetically engineered products such as growth hormones and anticancer therapies keeps gene transfer technologies rapidly evolving. Gene transfer often exploits the power of viruses such as adenovirus to deliver genetic material into cells. The adenovirus system is particularly useful since the virus infects virtually any cell type, including mammalian cells. Quantum Biotechnologies Inc. of Montreal has made the adeno

Technology Profile

Ultimate Abs
Ultimate Abs
Antibody Purification Reagents The immune response is often exploited to produce those remarkably useful affinity reagents known as antibodies. Today's biological and biomedical laboratories employ an array of different immunochemical techniques. For example, a specific antibody can be harnessed to screen for the presence of its respective antigen, quantify the amount of antigen in a given sample, determine the antigen's subcellular location, isolate the antigen from complex mixtures, and sear
An Eye for a Dye
An Eye for a Dye
Nucleic Acid Dyes and Stains DNA molecular weight markers stained with Molecular Probes' SYBR Green I Researchers working with DNA often have two fundamental questions: "How much DNA have I got?" and "What size is it?" Large quantities of DNA can be visualized even without staining or special illumination: The schlieren lines--refractive index changes at the boundaries of concentration differences--reveal the positions of the bands. However, this method is impractical for most applications. For

Profession

Working at the CDC
Working at the CDC
Rodney M. Donlan stands next to the model system in which his lab is growing Legionella. If variety helps to spice up your life, if you enjoy seeing the practical impact of your work in the not-too-distant future, and if you like to collaborate with scientists in other disciplines, you could fit right in at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The government agency, headquartered in Atlanta but with labs and offices in a number of locations, employs research scientists in a wide

Opinion

Facts, Beliefs, and Genetically Modified Food
Facts, Beliefs, and Genetically Modified Food
For more than two millennia philosophers and psychologists have discovered and rediscovered a prevailing psychological truth: Intuition and fiercely held beliefs often guide us more than the facts. Nonetheless, the scientific community seems to operate under the assumption that people think and behave rationally; provide the facts, most of us believe, and people will behave in accordance with them. When they don't we wring our hands. Although the scientific enterprise is firmly establish