April 2001

News

Imaging in 4-D
Imaging in 4-D
Just a few short decades ago, cell biologists--essentially relegated to the tissue culture equivalent of Flatland--couldn't imagine working in three dimensions without sacrificing their subjects, much less having the ability to view the impact of their work in real time, over time. Now, state-of-the-art imaging technologies and new biological reagents and probes are sending biologists and other scientists on fantastic voyages into the molecular world of living animals to watch how cancer develop
Gene Therapy: Taking it to the Lesion
Gene Therapy: Taking it to the Lesion
A biochemist's unintended wander into gene therapy may have achieved one of gene therapy's long-sought goals: a way to deliver cytocidal genes to metastatic cancer cells dispersed throughout the body while leaving normal cells unharmed. Fred Hall of the department of surgery at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, has developed an ingenious seek-and-destroy cancer vector. What makes Hall's attempt at tumor-targeted gene delivery out of the ordinary is that his vector doesn't hom
Prostate Cancer Complexity
Prostate Cancer Complexity
The Mormons' religious beliefs have proven to be quite a boon for cancer epidemiologists. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, following religious tenets, have meticulously recorded their family trees for centuries. Recognizing the research value of such data, Mark Skolnick, chief scientific officer at Myriad Genetics Inc. in Salt Lake City, computerized those records at the church's family history library 25 years ago. Recently, researchers had high hopes that the data wo
NCI Seeks Record Increase in Funding
NCI Seeks Record Increase in Funding
The $4.18 billion National Cancer Institute budget request submitted by the Bush administration to Congress in April for fiscal year 2002 amounts to an 11.7 percent boost of $439 million over the current year's appropriation. The package, however, falls $850 million short of the amount NCI sought in its own "bypass budget" proposal. NCI requested $5.03 billion, a whopping 34 percent boost of $1.27 billion. The bypass budget is so-called because, under the National Cancer Act of 1971, NCI's bud
Herceptin Earns Recognition in Breast Cancer Arsenal
Herceptin Earns Recognition in Breast Cancer Arsenal
With true success stories in cancer treatment so rare, the flood of recent papers validating the 1998 Food and Drug Administration approval of Herceptin (trastuzumab) stands out.1-3 In a broader sense, the drug's rocky road from conception to clinic also validates the concept of rational drug design, an approach that will become more common as pharmaceutical companies mine human genome information. "It is extremely gratifying to have gone though the first laboratory determinations, to clinical
Cancer Imaging Research Projects
Cancer Imaging Research Projects
Although the research has only just begun at the newly established In vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Centers, or ICMICs, the researchers have jumped in and are covering many cancer research bases. Here are basic descriptions of activities under way at each of the centers. Massachusetts General Hospital/ Harvard Medical School At Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, virtually all imaging modalities are being put to the test, including optical near infrared fluorescence im
Translational Research
Translational Research
Although most of the studies now occurring in the In Vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Centers (ICMICs) are focused on basic animal research, investigators aren't wasting any time in moving the power of in vivo molecular imaging to human patients under grants separate from the ICMIC study. With technical improvements over the last several years, molecular imaging--positron emission tomography (PET) in particular--now has the capacity to begin to answer important unknowns in gene therapy tria
News Notes
News Notes
With the potential for catching serious metabolic disorders before symptoms appear, medical laboratories in the United States are increasingly screening newborns using tandem mass spectrometry (MS/MS) technology. A recent Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows about 500,000 newborns underwent such screening last year, up from 60,000 in 1996. This report, "Using Tandem Mass Spectrometry for Metabolic Disease Screening Among Newborns" (w

Letter

On Humans and Other Species
On Humans and Other Species
In reference to Barry A. Palevitz's excellent commentary on animal slaughter,1 I completely agree that it is about time that we, humans, reconsider our attitude toward other animals or even other humans. The problem is perhaps much more fundamental than the market value of meat as a commodity. I think the present society does little to educate a child on the moral and humane aspects of life and society. Our major goal today is to make sure that our children grow up to be rich and famous. Throu
Cutting Edge Reply II
Cutting Edge Reply II
Ronald N. Kostoff1 and Henry I. Miller2 don't really disagree on the topic of caloric restriction; they merely disagree on the available means. Dr. Kostoff is probably correct that caloric restriction is "nature's design." Then again, Dr. Miller is correct when he notes that "like the rest of us, these test subjects couldn't eat just one." Ah, there's the rub. "Nature's design" is a bit more complicated than Dr. Kostoff wants to admit. The schoolmarmish, finger wagging tone of "the whole idea

Commentary

It's Time to Improve Methods for Breast-Cancer Detection
It's Time to Improve Methods for Breast-Cancer Detection
It has been more than six years since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35. Since then, my life has changed in more ways than I could have imagined. I became an activist, founding a nonprofit advocacy organization for Latin American women with breast cancer. And I learned that I am by no means alone. Each year, more than 180,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed and more than 40,000 women die from it. Breast cancer is still a leading cause of cancer death in this co

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
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Research

A View From the Benches
A View From the Benches
Scientists submitted more than 5,100 abstracts to the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in New Orleans, March 24-28. Many abstracts focused on hot topics such as angiogenesis and apoptosis. Studies of breast and prostate cancer abounded, as did jazzy work using DNA microarrays. A large bloc of intriguing abstracts, however, explored the less traveled byways of cancer research. Selected almost at random, a handful of such abstracts, and the posters and a talk e
Assessing Rectal Gases in Dogs
Assessing Rectal Gases in Dogs
It has long been known that a little hydrogen sulfide (HS) contributes a lot to the distinctive odor of intestinal gas. Researchers at the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition in Leicestershire, U.K., report a series of experiments that confirms this wisdom and validates a treatment approach for reducing the malodorous fumes from one's canine.1 The successful recipe combines activated charcoal, which sequesters HS in its nooks and crannies; zinc acetate, which binds the gas; and an extract of the yu
Research Notes
Research Notes
Epidemiologists often investigate connections between cancers and chemicals in the environment. But molecular biologists now are starting to describe the molecular mechanisms for how such compounds might promote cancerous growth. A recent study is among the first to show how carcinogens trigger cancer-causing genetic events (A. Bardelli et al., "Carcinogen-specific induction of genetic instability," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Early Edition, April 10, 2001, www.pnas.org/cgi/

Hot Paper

Understanding the VHL Tumor Suppressor Complex
Understanding the VHL Tumor Suppressor Complex
For these papers, Jennifer Fisher Wilson interviewed Joan W. Conaway, Howard Hughes Medical Institute associate investigator, and member of the Molecular and Cell Biology Research Program, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Oklahoma City, OK. She also interviewed Patrick Maxwell, nephrologist and consultant physician at Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, United Kingdom. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that Hot Papers are cited 50 to 100 times more often

Technology

Lights... Cameras... Action
Lights... Cameras... Action
Detecting intracellular activity is easier than ever, thanks to the HitKit series from Cellomics Inc. of Pittsburgh, Pa. Relying upon dyes and fluorophores visualized by fluorescence microscopy, the HitKit series of assay reagents permits visualization of various cellular events in intact cells. The kits are comprised of buffers, fluorescent probes, and sometimes positive or negative control compounds and are optimized to increase sensitivity, specificity, and signal-to-noise ratio. This optim
TAg
TAg
Antigen-specific T lymphocytes must be quantified in order to gauge the quality of an immune response. Typically this is accomplished using cytotoxicity assays or limiting dilution analysis (LDA), but these techniques are lengthy and provide indirect quantitation. Also, LDA cannot count nonproliferative cells. In 1996, Stanford University's Mark Davis developed an alternative strategy that overcomes these problems.1 Davis generated phycoerythrin-conjugated tetramers of human lymphocyte antigen (
Cast Array
Cast Array
Microarrays, or "gene chips," have become valuable tools for studying changes in gene expression; detecting genetic mutations and polymorphisms; analyzing drug resistance and disease susceptibility; and sequencing unknown DNA. The microarray, which consists of cloned genes, PCR products, or synthetic oligonucleotides immobilized on a microscope slide, is analyzed by hybridization with target DNA or RNA that is labeled with radioisotopes or fluorescent dyes.1 For example, total mRNA isolated from

Technology Profile

A Sharper Image
A Sharper Image
Medical miracles abound, yet cancer continues to be a complex and challenging problem. "Cancer" is actually a generic, catchall term for the malignant tumors that are found in well over a hundred different diseases, but the basic concept is simple enough--a gene goes wrong and a tumor grows. Unfortunately, the reality is more complicated, involving an intricate sequence of phenomena and interactions in just a handful of the body's tens-of-trillions of cells. And therein lies the problem for rese
Making Sense of Microchip Array Data
Making Sense of Microchip Array Data
Microarray Analysis Software Packages     Courtesy of SpotfireSpotfire's Array Explorer Gene expression profiling using DNA microarrays generates reams of data. But as is so often the case, it's not the quantity but the quality that matters: Gene expression data is useless unless biologically meaningful information can be extracted and presented in some readily understandable fashion. The production of this meaningful information, involving many facets of image processing, statistic

Profession

Benefiting from the Human Genome
Benefiting from the Human Genome
As one of the leading causes of death in the United States, cancer continues to challenge those working in the field. Despite long-ongoing research, much work remains before cancer is eradicated. Really a large family of diseases, cancer requires diverse methods for treatment and diagnosis that will only come with a better knowledge of the basic biology of the affected systems. Advances in understanding the causes, new techniques for drug discovery, and increased funding of cancer research have
How Long Will You Work?
How Long Will You Work?
In America, the ratio of children under 18 to adults over 65 is currently about 2:1. By 2030, it will be almost equal.1 Those statistics are among many offered by sociologists who study demography and employment to help them make the case that the aging of the so-called baby boom generation might exert a significant impact on the workforce in coming years. Already in the world of science, particularly in academia, changes have begun that could foreshadow an emerging new workplace structure featu
Profession Notes
Profession Notes
You say tomato, but Phyllis Bowen, nutrition and dietetics professor at University of Illinois, Chicago, says possible prostate cancer deterrent and a great source of research funds. Recently added to the list of project directors for the National Foundation for Cancer Research, Bowen and collaborator, Konstantin Christov will use $300,000 in NFCR funding to examine the role of lycopene (a strong antioxidant that gives tomatoes their red color) in apoptosis of prostate cancer cells and hyperplas
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Organizations are welcome to submit information for consideration for future listings by contacting bmaher@the-scientist.com Click to view the PDF file: Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences    

Opinion

The Scholarly Presentation
The Scholarly Presentation
I have been in the scientific arena since 1972, 30 long years. By my rough estimate, I have attended an average of four seminars a week, for a total of over 5,000 seminars. I have lost count of the meeting presentations. However, with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, I'm offering here some random thoughts about the scientific talks I have heard over the years.   At a meeting, graduate students often stick to the time limit; Principal Investigators usually go over. I think that the r