Frontlines

Frontlines
Frontlines
Frontlines Image © 2002 Nature Publishing Group Seeing cancer in real time? Researchers at University of California's Jonsson Cancer Center in Los Angeles have developed the first viral 'searchlight' that can hunt down prostate metastases, including those too small to appear on conventional detection scans (J.Y. Adams et al., "Visualization of advanced human prostate cancer lesions in living mice by a targeted gene transfer vector and optical imaging," Nature Medicine, 8:891-7, August 2

Commentary

The Scientist on the Web
The Scientist on the Web
We have recently achieved two significant steps in the development of The Scientist on the Web. In the past few weeks, we have launched a new design for our Web site at www.the-scientist.com, and the 16-year online full-text archive of The Scientist back issues has been completed. Our newly designed site is, effectively, the fourth generation of The Scientist presence on the Web. In 1992--almost prehistory in "Internet time"--The Scientist launched an experiment in cooperation with the Nation

Opinion

Wishful Thinking and Semantic Specificity
Wishful Thinking and Semantic Specificity
Image: Anthony Canamucio In a recent commentary in Science, on the semantics of cloning,1 three eminent members of the scientific community asserted, "Scientists who are fluent in the language of any specific discipline can speak to one another using shorthand expressions from this dialect and can convey an exact understanding of their intended meanings." It is a comforting thought, but the preponderance of evidence does not support this grand claim, if by "can convey" the authors mean to sugg
Detective Rummage Investigates
Detective Rummage Investigates
It is very ego-warming to be recognized by quotation. 

Letter

For Beneficence, Let Cloning for Research Continue
For Beneficence, Let Cloning for Research Continue
For Beneficence, Let Cloning for Research Continue Leon Kass, chairman of the president's advisory council on bioethics, claims that "cloning represents a turning point in human history. ... It thus carries with it a number of troubling consequences for children, family, and society."1 It's notable that the only "consequences" Kass discusses are those of the "troubling" variety. Conspicuously absent are the positive aspects of this turning point: possible scientific breakthroughs, the chance
More on Pew
More on Pew
More on Pew The opinion piece by Henry I. Miller and Gregory Conko seriously misrepresents my views and the product of my research in the area of allergenicity of genetically modified food.1,2 It is absurd to equate the shifts in protein composition that are possible with "conventional" plant breeding with those that can occur via biotechnology. It has become evident that biotechnology does confer a higher probability of introducing novel traits into food than conventional plant breeding an

News

Information Overload
Information Overload
Image: Erica Johnson A healthy volunteer died in a Johns Hopkins asthma study because the researcher missed information about an inhalant's potential dangers. A vendor to a large pharmaceutical company says that the firm wasted almost two years trying to isolate a compound, not realizing that fellow colleagues had already obtained a patent for it. University of Minnesota researchers, as many others do, discovered after three years of research that results they were writing up had already been
Researchers Blast Open Pathogen Genome
Researchers Blast Open Pathogen Genome
Image: Courtesy of Tim Elkins BRUTE FORCE: Remnant of an appressorium formed on Mylar. The appressorium produced a peg-like extension that penetrated the film, leaving a round hole. (Reprinted with permission, Annual Review of Microbiology, 50:491-512, 1996.) "The Lord shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with BLASTING, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish." Deuteronom
Bio-Psycho-Social: All Relevant in Space
Bio-Psycho-Social: All Relevant in Space
What happens when astronauts on extended missions become really angry at a crewmate, or seriously melancholy? In the small, isolated confines of a spaceship what can they do? A team of researchers under the auspices of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI)--a consortium of institutions studying health risks related to long-duration space flight--is creating a smart medical system designed to help distant space farers resolve or mitigate biopsychosocial upsets. The researche

Profession

When a Rose Must Be Called a Rose
When a Rose Must Be Called a Rose
Douglas Brutlag challenges students in his computational biology classes at Stanford University to search the large proteomics databases for yeast membrane proteins. Without knowledge of the database lexicons, the students generally come up well short of the mark. "They find 20 to 200," says Brutlag, professor of biochemistry and medicine at Stanford's School of Medicine. "In fact, there are almost 2,000 proteins." The problem: linguistics. "These are controlled vocabularies," Brutlag explain
Patent Costs Pending
Patent Costs Pending
Image: Erica Johnson The idea behind the US patent system is relatively simple: register an invention with the government and get a 20-year monopoly to sell it, after which point your idea goes into the public domain. Sounds straightforward, right? Not if you're a patent lawyer. Underneath that basic framework is a legal infrastructure filled with so many loopholes, twists, and turns that, were it pipework, it would make any plumber sweat. That system became a lot more complicated when the U
Moving from Minion to Manager
Moving from Minion to Manager
Image: Anne MacNamara Thomas Collett discovered a way to get the schooling he needed to become a biotechnology leader: He joined a company that paid for it. His postdoctoral training at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., gave him entrance into McKinsey & Co, a worldwide management consultancy. As he traversed Germany on the firm's payroll, he developed the business networks and abilities to land an executive position at a startup company. Now, at only 38, he's a chief exec
Universities War with Big Pharma
Universities War with Big Pharma
Image: Anne MacNamara Donald Young, a physician and biochemist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, spent three decades conducting research into steroids and protein production in cells. He and fellow researchers Michael K. O'Banion and Virginia D. Winn spent the last 10 of those years identifying the human gene responsible for coding the enzyme cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). They determined the mechanism by which the enzyme could be selectively inhibited, thus reducing inflammation and p
Killing Time
Killing Time
Image: Courtesy of Ken Frauwirth It's not yet lunch-time, and you've just started an ultracentrifuge. The prospect of spending the next six hours watching shiny, spinning objects is next to unbearable. What to do, what to do? "You put some dry ice in an Eppendorf tube and if you stand it up straight, it takes off like a bottle rocket," says one graduate student, who understandably wishes to remain anonymous. "Sometimes we have contests to see who can make it go the highest." It's a universal

Research

Rotavirus Vaccines, Take Two
Rotavirus Vaccines, Take Two
Image: Courtesy of Umesh D. Parashar and Roger I. Glass HOMING IN ON THE TARGET: Rotavirus particles visualized by immune electron microscopy in stool filtrate from a child with acute gastroenteritis. The 70-nm particles possess a distinctive double-walled outer capsid. Ridding the world of smallpox was a triumph of 20th century medical science: Mass vaccinations directly averted some 350 million cases and saved 40 million lives. So, humanitarian hopes were similarly high when a rotaviru
Evolutionists Present Their 1.3% Solution
Evolutionists Present Their 1.3% Solution
In 1975, Mary-Claire King and the late Allan Wilson, both then at the University of California, Berkeley, showed that the genetic distance between humans and chimpanzees is simply too small to account for the dramatic anatomical and behavioral differences between the two species.1 No matter what method scientists used to measure genetic distance--protein electrophoresis, DNA hybridization, immunology, or amino acid sequencing--the result was always the same: Humans and chimpanzees are 98.7% ge

Hot Paper

Flipping the Fat-Sensing Switch
Flipping the Fat-Sensing Switch
Image: Courtesy of David J. Mangelsdorf YIN AND YANG: Although they play opposite roles in bile acid production, these RXR heterodimers synergistically modulate cholesterol absorption and transport. When the molecular basis of Tangier disease was discovered in 1999,1 researchers lined up to study this orphan genetic disorder. Patients with Tangier have a propensity for heart disease and atherosclerosis, making this rare malady a model for some pressing health problems found in industrial

Wed, 01 Jan 1000 00:00:00 GMT

Evolution at Warp Speed
Evolution at Warp Speed
The Faculty of 1000 is aWeb-based literature awareness tool published by BioMed Central. For more information visit www.facultyof1000.com. In Sol Spiegelman's classic "Extracellular Darwinian Experiment,"1 the developer of nucleic acid hybridization allowed a miniversion of the Qß genome that replicated with super efficiency to evolve in a test tube. While in vitro evolution has blossomed in the intervening 35 years, one breakthrough in particular has hastened discovery, exemplified by t

Technology Profile

Get with the Program
Get with the Program
It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention. In the world of bioinformatics, the need to examine and manipulate large volumes of sequence data begat specialized computer software to handle these tasks. These programs vary in terms of ease-of-use, power, and functionality. Yet they can each perform some or all of the following functions: DNA and protein sequence entry, editing, annotation, analysis, and alignment; primer identification; map making; contig assembly; "in silico" cl
Making Hypoxia Happen
Making Hypoxia Happen
Photo: Courtesy of Patti Oprysko  HYPOXIA IN ACTION: The ductus arteriosus of a newborn baboon showing EF5 binding (red), tissue perfused by blood flow (blue) and blood vessels (green). The ductus arteriosus is an artery, which bypasses the lungs before birth and must close to allow proper oxygenation of blood by the lungs after birth. Mount Everest climber Frank Smythe stood at 27,000 feet, near the top of the world, in 1933. Later, Smythe recounted an exceptionally odd experience. He s
Cot Analysis Stages a Revival
Cot Analysis Stages a Revival
A major obstacle in genome sequencing, particularly in plants, is separating the protein-encoding genes from the repeats. Researchers at University of Georgia, Athens (UGA), using sorghum as a test case, have streamlined this process using a technique popular during the 1960s and 1970s--analysis of the renaturation kinetics of DNA, familiarly known as Cot curves.1 The revived approach is called CBCS, for Cot-based cloning and sequencing.2 The term "Cot" refers to the DNA concentration (Co) m

Technology

Mix Two Parts Quadrupole, One Part Ion Trap, and Stir
Mix Two Parts Quadrupole, One Part Ion Trap, and Stir
Photo: Courtesy of Applied Biosystems/MDS Sciex THE Q TRAP SYSTEM Last October, long-time mass spectroscopist Gerard Hopfgartner got a new toy. Applied Biosystems (AB) and its partner, MDS Sciex, sent Hopfgartner, professor of pharmaceutical analytical chemistry at the University of Geneva, a prototype instrument that combines the attributes of triple- quadrupole and ion trap mass spectrometers in a novel, hybrid configuration. Hopfgartner uses the instrument for both small-molecule and p
PIP, PIP, Hooray!
PIP, PIP, Hooray!
Phosphoinositides are a class of phospholipids that serve a number of membrane-related functions, including vesicle transport, regulation of the actin cytoskeleton, and protein targeting to membranes.1 To facilitate the study of phosphoinositide signaling pathways, Salt Lake City-based Echelon Biosciences has developed PIP Arrays™ and Strips™, a set of tools enabling researchers to examine protein/phosphoinositide interactions. Glenn Prestwich, Echelon's Chief Scientific Officer,
The One-Stop Print Shop
The One-Stop Print Shop
Veterans of scientific conference poster sessions know that poster quality can vary considerably. Colorful, informative, and visually appealing posters mingle with last-minute efforts that consist merely of black-and-white pages pasted to a white board. But the days of ho-hum posters may be over thanks to a new poster design, layout, printing, and electronic archiving service offered by Brewster, NY-based SciFor. Scientists can now "have their poster professionally designed, laid out, and prin

Fine Tuning

Of Bosses and Biotechs
Of Bosses and Biotechs
Photo: Courtesy of Dennis McCoy Most entrepreneur-scientists who set out to start a company believe they can do it all. This hubris can lead to downfall. There is no substitute for the help of experienced business leadership. The managerial insights of the right partner are valuable. The confidence these partners give investors is essential. For the young, struggling Dyax of Cambridge, Mass., during the mid-1990s Henry Blair provided needed business and strategic leadership. He made Dyax a su

News Profile

Ruth Bishop
Ruth Bishop
Photo: Courtesy of Murdoch Childrens Research Institute If fate had been kinder to Ruth Bishop, she might have enjoyed the rare satisfaction of discovering what causes one of the world's deadliest infectious diseases, and the means to prevent it. She helped accomplish the first feat with remarkable ease almost 30 years ago, but as she nears the end of a distinguished medical research career, its sequel remains maddeningly elusive. Now 69, Bishop is self-effacing about the headway she and her