News

Old Politics, New Disease Clash in China
Old Politics, New Disease Clash in China
©1999 Myrna WatanabeMeeting attendees at the Great Wall A 30-yuan (about $3.60) card will admit you to the Badaling entrance of China's Great Wall. But you don't just swipe it through a slot as you might at a gasoline pump or cash machine. You place the card in the slot of the magnetic strip reader and a real, live attendant will retrieve the card and hand it back to you. This is the conundrum that is China: It is using cutting-edge technologies but clinging to the old ways. This, according
The Food Safety Net:Too Many Holes?
The Food Safety Net:Too Many Holes?
Graphic: Cathleen Heard It's what the government doesn't know about food that can kill you, says a federal science-policy analyst. "We do rely on Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention (CDC)] data, and the new numbers on foodborne illness are certainly something we didn't want to see," the analyst says. She is referring to a disturbing CDC report issued in September1 that ups the ante for foodborne diseases to an estimated 76 million incidents per year--twice the number reported in a widely
Mind-Body Research Calls For Evidence
Mind-Body Research Calls For Evidence
One measure of the rising interest in mind-body medicine is the increasing entry of young physicians into specialties that focus on the interface between mental and physical disorders. Yet there is a dire need for controlled, clinical trials of treatments that address this interface in a variety of complex disorders. Such evidence-based support is especially important to doctors who specialize in psychosomatic medicine, because they face a cost-cutting threat from managed care groups. These were
Patent Wars
Patent Wars
In its bitter, seven-year-old lawsuit against Promega Corp., the Roche Group has just been deprived of one of its patents covering Taq DNA polymerase, the enzyme crucial to automating PCR. The federal judge hearing the case decided last month that the inventors of a method for purifying this enzyme had dealt dishonestly with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) in applying for the patent in 1988 and 1989. Because of the inventors' "inequitable conduct," Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the Northe
Aftermath of Tragedy
Aftermath of Tragedy
The Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC) meeting in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8-10 delved into every aspect of Jesse Gelsinger's death. Gelsinger, a teenager from Arizona, had ornithine transcarbamylase (OTC) deficiency, a liver disorder in which the body cannot eliminate ammonia through the urea cycle. He died four days after receiving an experimental gene therapy drug during a University of Pennsylvania clinical trial. After hearing hours of clinical data from researchers involved in t
Poultry Procedures
Poultry Procedures
Researchers in Georgia began field-testing in November a device they say can greatly improve the efficiency of testing for foodborne pathogens and lower processors' costs for such tests. The biosensor, as the device is called, can cut testing time from up to 72 hours down to about two hours while reducing lab-equipment costs from $12,000-$20,000 to $1,000-$5,000, the researchers say. But first the biosensor must prove itself with the chickens in a Carrollton, Ga., processing plant. ©1999 Ge
News Notes
News Notes
Raven Advances at AAAS The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) will ring in the millennium with a new president-elect: Peter Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden and Engelmann professor of botany at Washington University in St. Louis. Raven succeeds Mary Good, who moves up to president at the end of Stephen J. Gould's term. Raven told The Scientist, "I'm very proud to have been elected. I'm impressed by the way AAAS has developed, and I want to do what I can to

Letter

Supplements vs. Drugs
Supplements vs. Drugs
As a pharmaceutical consultant and a long-standing member of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS), I was very interested in the Opinion article authored by Larry Augsburger.1 His goal to strive to ensure nutraceutical/dietary supplement product quality, standardization, safety, efficacy, and purity is laudable, and who can disagree with that. However, I believe my colleague missed a most important point in any discussion of these products, and that is the scientific defin
Women and Awards
Women and Awards
Nadia Halim1 performs a valuable service in highlighting the low frequency of awards to women scientists. I am saddened, however, by her article's emphasis on women nominating women as a path to correcting this imbalance. If nominations of women for membership of the National Academy of Sciences are to come largely from the 6 percent of the NAS who are women, progress will be slow indeed. I would prefer to see my male colleagues addressing the problem from other directions. In an era when academ
More on GM Foods
More on GM Foods
James Huff1 of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences makes a good point on genetically modified (GM) foods. Opposition to GM foods has a long-term political and socially evolutionary implication that must be appreciated before the division of the world scientific community on this issue can be resolved and public acceptance comes willingly. The world is aware that America was the first nation to build the atomic bomb, and yet with all the best intentions it could not stop
Adversarial in Nature
Adversarial in Nature
L.J. Deftos1 argues that scientific expert witnessing done by independent panels of experts appointed by judges is preferable to adversarial presentations done by experts for the defense and the plaintiff. Adversarial presentations by experts in cases involving controversial scientific evidence, as for example in the quantitative evaluation of risk, ensure the presentation of the maximum scientifically sound case for the plaintiff and equally the maximum rebuttal by the defendant. When the

Commentary

The Scientist in the New Millennium
The Scientist in the New Millennium
Those who have read The Scientist for more than a few years have witnessed changes both great and small in the publication. The change from newsprint to glossy paper, the introduction of controlled unpaid circulation to qualified life scientists, and the increased focus on life scientists can all be counted as major changes. With this issue, we are introducing a new look to The Scientist, in both size and design. Our page size is now two inches shorter than previously, making a more compa

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
www.ScienceCartoonsPlus.com

Research

Chimeraplasty Potential
Chimeraplasty Potential
Chimeraplasty Diagram If single-gene disorders are akin to minor misspellings in the human genome, then it stands to reason that the biological equivalent of a word processor's search-and-replace function could correct them. Some researchers are hoping that chimeraplasty can be that tool. The biological software--a chimeric oligonucleotide constructed from both DNA and RNA--was invented and first tested in vitro in 1994. But before it can be "shipped" to the clinic, its developers and others mu
Estrogen Fights Brain Drain
Estrogen Fights Brain Drain
Mounting evidence of estrogen's role in preventing cognitive decline is affecting women's decisions on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), a symposium panel recently told attendees of the Academy of Psychosomatic Medicine's annual meeting in New Orleans. But causes of variability among women in estrogen's impact on cognition have not yet been identified. Moreover, the continuing emergence of selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs), drugs that can imitate the hormone's positive effects whil
Research Notes
Research Notes
Disease and Telomerase Telomerase, the ribonucleoprotein, uses part of itself as a template to tack six-base repeats onto the tips of chromosomes in cells of highly proliferative tissues. Compromised telomerase, then, is likely to affect tissues with high turnover rates. University of California, Berkeley, researchers recently tightened that link (J.R. Mitchell et al., "A telomerase component is defective in the human disease dyskeratosis congenita," Nature, 402:551-5, Dec. 2, 1999). Dyskeratosi

Hot Paper

Potassium Ion Channels
Potassium Ion Channels
For this article, author Jennifer Fisher Wilson interviewed Roderick MacKinnon, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Neurobiology and Biophysics at Rockefeller University, coauthor of this Science paper. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that this paper has been cited more frequently than others of the same type and vintage. D.A. Doyle, J.M. Cabral, R.A. Pfuetzner, A.L. Kuo, J.M. Gulbis, S.L. Cohen, B.T. Chait, R. MacKinnon, "Th
M. Tuberculosis Genome Sequence
M. Tuberculosis Genome Sequence
For this article, author Jennifer Fisher Wilson interviewed Julian Parkhill, Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Sanger Centre, coauthor of this Nature paper. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that this paper has been cited more frequently than others of the same type and vintage. S.T. Cole, R. Brosch, J. Parkhill, T. Garnier, C. Churcher, D. Harris, S.V. Gordon, K. Eiglemeier, S. Gas, C.E. Barry III, F. Tekaia, K. Badcock, D. Basham, D. Brown, T. Chillingworth, R. Coonor, R. Davie

Technology

Small Miracles
Small Miracles
In the past, researchers seeking to quantify or detect small amounts of DNA in a sample have relied on techniques such as ultraviolet spectroscopy and agarose gels. While these techniques continue to be useful for a variety of molecular biology applications, they are highly sensitive to contamination by proteins, buffers, and detergents. In addition, these techniques are best suited to the analysis of microgram amounts of DNA. In September of 1999, Promega introduced the DNAQuant DNA Quantitati
Development Strategies
Development Strategies
Researchers no longer need the time and skill required to prepare tissue-specific RNA if they want to study developmental gene expression. Quantum Biotechnologies of Montreal has recently launched two new products under the Embryonics trademark that address the molecular needs of developmental biologists. EmbryoRNA™ is a series of kits (called panels) of murine total RNA prepared from different tissues at different gestational stages. For example, the embryogenesis panel, designed t
In Focus
In Focus
IPGphor Isoelectroc Focusing System Until recently, there have been a number of problems associated with immobilized pH gradient-isoelectric focusing (IPG-IEF) for 2-D electrophoresis. Numerous manipulations of the IPG strips introduce opportunity for contamination and shuffling of strips. In addition, focusing units typically require lengthy set-up and operation times of up to two days. Furthermore, special electrophoresis power supplies and temperature control systems can consume valuable benc

Technology Profile

Toxico-Logic
Toxico-Logic
Graphic: Cathleen Heard Because most drugs undergo development and approval for seven to 10 years before coming to market, researchers are always looking for ways to speed the process. Preclinical drug testing involves both in vitro and animal assays that assess efficacy and potential side effects to predict how the agent will affect humans. Drug toxicity can result in such things as cancer and birth defects, so government agencies have set forth strict guidelines for toxicological testing. In p
Live and Let Die
Live and Let Die
Bovine pulmonary artery endothelial cells stained with Molecular Probes' MitoTracker Red and SYTOX green nucleic acid stain Tools for Mitochondrial Research Table Fifty years ago, mitochondrial research was at the forefront of biology. The elucidation of the citric acid (Krebs) cycle, the mechanisms of oxidative phosphorylation, and the electron transport system (ETS) were arguably some of the most important breakthroughs in cellular biology. Soon interest waned, and the focus of research moved

Profession

Writing Science
Writing Science
Some scientists would call writing the most excruciating part of their jobs. Others would say it's an act of joy, or at least it doesn't cause great pain. For a small cadre, writing for audiences outside of their peers--the communications that generally don't count toward promotion and tenure--is also a second career. To be sure, writing for the popular press is nothing new in science. Veteran scientist-authors such as Carl Sagan were profiled in The Visible Scientists,1 a book that was p
Profession Notes
Profession Notes
AIBS Summit In a rare show of unity, the 57 presidents and other leaders affiliated with the 69 member societies of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) met in Warrenton, Va., for a first-ever Presidents' Summit. They hoped to begin to generate consensus among member societies on issues related to public policy, research funding, education, and careers. According to AIBS executive director Richard O'Grady, the nonbiomedical areas of biology that the 150,000-member, 52-year-old u

Opinion

Ph.D. Production: A Global Perspective
Ph.D. Production: A Global Perspective
Ph.D. Production Table How many science and engineering Ph.D.s can a nation use and support? Does the United States have a glut, or is it about to have one? What price is a nation able and willing to pay for producing Ph.D.s? What is the relationship between a nation's economy and its production of Ph.D.s? In trying to answer such questions, I examined 1998 data in a variety of countries from three perspectives: * Total number of Ph.D.s produced, * Per capita production of Ph.D.s, * Per cap