Research

Portals for Prions?
Portals for Prions?
Prion disorders riddle the mammalian brain with plaque and holes, the precise pattern and resulting symptoms--dementia, extreme fatigue, or loss of balance--depending on whether one is human, bovine, or ovine. The agent of such a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) is an infectious form of prion protein, called PrP scrapie (PrPSc), named after the long-known sheep illness. In bovine spongiform encephalopathy (mad cow disease) and its human version, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vC
The Sexes: New Insights into the X and Y Chromosomes
The Sexes: New Insights into the X and Y Chromosomes
The cry of "It's a boy" or "It's a girl" marks the newborn child's first and most basic label of personal identity. But researchers' understanding of sex is undergoing profound and surprising changes due to new insights gained from sociology, biology, and medicine. The differences between females and males, once believed black and white--or pink and blue--now appear like a blurred rainbow of confusion. Researchers are learning, for example, that the Y chromosome has degenerated over the centurie
The Rhythms that Bind Women
The Rhythms that Bind Women
Ask a woman if her period affects her body beyond the reproductive system and she'll probably answer with a resounding yes. This seemingly basic question is now being asked by numerous investigators in various areas of women's health research. From the timing of mammograms to the mind-altering effects of drugs, researchers are now learning that the hormonal swings during a woman's menstrual cycle affect more than just reproduction, like metabolism rates and pain. A woman's menstrual cycle starts
Research Notes
Research Notes
Understanding how bacteria resist antibiotics lies at the crux of staying ahead in the resistance game. A research group at the New York State Health Department's Wadsworth Center in Albany offers a vivid view of how a bacterial protein called Tet (0) shoves aside the antibiotic tetracycline. (C.M.T. Spahn et al., "Localization of the ribosomal protection protein Tet (0) on the ribosome and the mechanisms of tetracycline resistance." Molecular Cell, 7[5]:1037-45, May 2001.) To be an effective dr

News

Inventory of Life
Inventory of Life
The idea sounds audacious: catalog all life on Earth within 25 years, a human generation. The All-Species Inventory hopes to do just that, with private funds and the help of a worldwide network of scientists and nature lovers. "It is a dream, but a neat one," says A. Townsend Peterson, curator of ornithology at the natural history museum and associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Kansas, Lawrence. He is one of 40 scientific advisers to the All-Species effort
Allison Hits Houston Research Community
Allison Hits Houston Research Community
After Tropical Storm Allison struck Houston last month, researcher Jocelyne Bachevalier wasn't thinking about science when she learned that her 47 monkeys had died at the University of Texas Health Science Center. "We got very attached to these animals, because we work every single day with them," says Bachevalier, a professor of neurobiology and anatomy. "They've become our pets .... They react to their names, It's very painful." Bachevalier had used the monkeys in her research on the amygdala,
Diagnosing Bioterrorism: Applying New Technologies
Diagnosing Bioterrorism: Applying New Technologies
Chills, fever, headache, muscle pain, and appetite loss are classic flu symptoms; they are also markers of the biological warfare agents tularemia, Staphylococcus enterotoxin B, and Q-fever. At the moment, the diagnostic methods that would distinguish, within a timely manner, the cause of these symptoms do not exist. But researchers are working towards that end, as well as trying to find the appropriate treatments. Advanced diagnostic methods, ranging from genetic analyses to breath analysis, a
New NIH Bioinformatics Center
New NIH Bioinformatics Center
Recognizing the growing importance of computational and information sciences to biology, the National Institutes of Health is establishing a new Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (CBCB). The new center is designed to support research and training in areas that merge biology with computer sciences, engineering, mathematics, and physics. "The future of the biological sciences will be driven by advances in bioinformatics and computational biology," says Marvin Cassman, director o
Biotech Firms Confront the Energy Crisis
Biotech Firms Confront the Energy Crisis
As California's energy crisis deepens, biotech companies have worries in addition to the ruined experiments and damaged equipment that concern life scientists in academia.1 Soaring energy prices could slowly sap the industry's economic health, and blackouts could spoil large batches of drugs by interrupting FDA-mandated protocols. "Biotechnology companies in California sort of naively thought that they were located in a First World business environment," says Joseph Dougherty, an analyst at Lehm
Arsonists Damage Research Facility
Arsonists Damage Research Facility
Toby Bradshaw, an associate professor at the University of Washington's Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle, had been studying traditionally bred and genetically engineered Poplar trees as part of a developmental biology program of interest to companies involved in paper and wood manufacturing. In the same lab facility, assistant professor Sarah Reichard had been growing 100 showy stickseed plants from tissue cultures. With only 300 of the endangered plants (hackelia venusta) remaining in t
News Notes
News Notes
Move over golden rice, genetically modified cats are in the works. Syracuse, N.Y., residents Jackie and David Avner, among the 10 percent of the population who have cat allergies, are working to create a feline that won't make their eyes water. Their privately held company, Transgenic Pets LLC (www.transgenicpets.com) is using knockout technology to create kitties that are missing the sole human allergen. David Avner, an emergency medicine physician, got the idea about seven years ago, according

Letter

Power, or ""Power""
Power, or ""Power""
Regarding "California Steamin',"1 California politicians wrote an incoherent power regulation, regulators refused to license new power generators and lines for its transmission. The losses to the citizens, lowly humans, are being treated as inconveniences and explained away as unintended consequences of a "green" policy that had only the good of the planet in mind. Surely, of any body of thinkers, scientists are the most aware of "unintended consequences"; they plan meticulously to exclude them
Peer Review: Open, Not Anonymous
Peer Review: Open, Not Anonymous
While Eliezer Geisler1 most likely appreciates "many weaknesses of the peer review process," his overly optimistic mantra that the "subjective assessment of quality by a group of selected knowledgeable people in a given scientific field remains the only operational control process designed to differentiate between poor and good science" is, unfortunately, not free from circular logic. Not going into a detailed discussion here,2 I will just indicate the main problem. If, as it stays now, peer re

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
The Scientist 15[15]:6, Jul. 23, 2001 CARTOON  E-mailarticle By Sidney Harris www.ScienceCartoonsPlus.com

Commentary

Prions in the Gut: Dietary Proteins or Infectious Pathogens?
Prions in the Gut: Dietary Proteins or Infectious Pathogens?
How do orally ingested infectious prions find their way to the brain? An article by Ricki Lewis in this issue of The Scientist (See "Portals for Prions?") describes recent hypotheses about trafficking of prions from gastrointestinal tract via lymphoid cells to the central nervous system. The most attractive point of entry for the ingested prions seems to be directly in the gut, where contaminated food is first deposited. Gastroenterologists have long known about the specialized subpopulation of

Hot Paper

The Mystery TT Virus--What Is It?
The Mystery TT Virus--What Is It?
For this article, Leslie Pray interviewed Isa Mushahwar, consultant and retired distinguished research fellow and director of the Virus Discovery Group, Abbott Laboratories, North Chicago, Ill. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that Hot Papers are cited 50 to 100 times more often than the average paper of the same type and age. I.K. Mushahwar et al. J.C. Erker, A.S. Muerhoff, T.P Leary, J.N. Simons, L.G. Birkenmeyer, M.L. Chalmers, T.J. Pilot-Matias, S.M. Dexai, "Molecular
Sideline Viewing of the BR Membrane Protein
Sideline Viewing of the BR Membrane Protein
For this article, Leslie Pray interviewed Hartmut "Hudel" Luecke, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, University of California, Irvine. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that Hot Papers are cited 50 to 100 times more often than the average paper of the same type and age. H. Luecke B. Schobert, H.T. Richter, J.P. Cartailler, J.K. Lanyi, "Structure of bacteriorhodopsin at 1.55 Å resolution," Journal of Molecular Biology, 291[4]:899-911, 1999. (Cited in 105

Technology

A Surgical Strike
A Surgical Strike
Pathologists and research scientists spend a great deal of time poring over histological samples on microscope slides. In a field containing tens of thousands of cells, these researchers might find a small section of the sample that warrants further study. For example, a pathologist examining a tissue biopsy might find a small colony of abnormal cells in a field of otherwise normal cells. Fortunately, these scientists can retrieve such a small colony of cells, or even a single cell, from the tis
Green Light, Red Light
Green Light, Red Light
Screening random mutations of the red fluorescent protein drFP583 from tropical coral, researchers at the National Institutes of Health, Stanford University School of Medicine, the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry at the Russian Academy of Science, and Palo Alto, Calif.-based BD Biosciences-CLONTECH made an unusual discovery.1 After fluorescing green for about three hours, a mutant protein called E5 matures and begins to fluoresce red; thus, E5 acts like a stopwatch, telling researchers when th
A Golden Opportunity
A Golden Opportunity
In the past decade, bioarray chips have revolutionized the way researchers study changes in gene expression and identify novel genes. A number of complete systems (premade library slides, spotters, and detectors) are available, and a variety of custom chips can be ordered, but the initial investment is large and many systems have a high rate of false-positives.1 Now Thermo Hybaid of Franklin, Mass., is giving researchers another alternative. The company's XNA on Gold™ is a new array plat

Technology Profile

Choosing the Best Reporter Assay
Choosing the Best Reporter Assay
Suppliers of Reporter Assay Screening Systems Courtesy of Applied BiosystemsTarget practice: Researchers can employ reporter assays to study a variety of cellular processes. Rarely is the product of a gene readily distinguishable from the myriad mRNA and protein complements that exist in a cell at any point in time. But researchers can skirt this obstacle by placing a "reporter gene" under the same controls as the gene of interest. Reporter genes have easily measurable phenotypes that form th
Suppliers of Reporter Assay Screening Systems
Suppliers of Reporter Assay Screening Systems
The Scientist 15[15]:25, Jul. 23, 2001 PROFILE Suppliers of Reporter Assay Screening Systems  E-mailarticle Company Product Reporter Gene Reporter Chemistry No. Tests* Price Amersham Pharmacia Biotech (800) 526-3593 www.apbiotech.com Quan-T-CAT [3H] Assay System CAT [3H]-acetylated, biotinylated chloramphenicol 100 $450 Applied Biosystems (800) 345-5224 www.appliedbiosystems.com Gal-Screen Reporter Gene Assay for Mam
Cell Sorting: An Enriching Experience
Cell Sorting: An Enriching Experience
Click to view the PDF file: Suppliers of Flow Cytometers with Cell Sorting Capabilities Courtesy of CytomationCytomation's MoFlo MLS, capable of sorting 100,000 cells/second. Flow cytometers equipped with cell sorters enable the isolation of highly purified cell (or other particle) subpopulations. Unlike bulk separation methods, flow cytometry-based purification is on a "per particle" basis. Each particle is classified based on any of a number of different properties prior to sorting. In this

Profession

A Capital Locale for Life Sciences
A Capital Locale for Life Sciences
Editor's Note: This is the third installment of a 4 part series on regional hot spots for life sciences employment. The final installment focusing on Research Triangle, N.C. will appear in the October 29 issue. When starting his biotech firm, Psychiatric Genomics, Inc., in Massachusetts last year, Michael Palfreyman found the life sciences business environment a little cramped. "In Boston, real estate prices are through the roof," he says. "There's no good access to incubator space and there's c
Scientists Court New Ethics Distinctions
Scientists Court New Ethics Distinctions
A 42-year-old woman came to the office of Louisville neuropsychologist Martine RoBards in 1999. Once the "star" of her workplace, a railroad mechanic shop, the woman now suffered insomnia, depression, anxiety, and memory loss. She had trouble organizing her thoughts and reciting her own history. The woman reported eight years of chronic exposure to mixed organic solvents used to clean engine parts. RoBards, who describes herself as a medical Nancy Drew, with help from a neurologist, made a diagn
Streaming Science to the Market
Streaming Science to the Market
Marty Griffin and his colleagues at Accurate Polymers Ltd. near Chicago say they have invented a better bead. Their 1-micron bead, used for purifying antibodies, has a high binding capacity, and because it is not a bacterial protein, Griffin says users can sidestep problems associated with bacterial product ligands. The inventors have worked for at least three years to refine this tiny item; now they want to take it to market. For most small companies and inventors, the product never makes it t
Profession Notes
Profession Notes
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) will run a new national network of genetics researchers who work with microarrays, financed with a $409,000 five-year grant from the National Science Foundation. Seventeen institutions will be involved in this network that coordinates research on the use of microarray technology for gene expression. Paul Allison, professor of biostatistics in the School of Public Health at UAB, and project leader, says the network is designed to bring together resear

Opinion

When Science Gets in the Way of Pet Agendas
When Science Gets in the Way of Pet Agendas
On June 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta issued a report about StarLink corn.1 Remember StarLink? Marketed by Aventis Seeds, it contained a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. The Cry9C protein encoded by the gene rendered the plants resistant to chewing insects. But unlike other varieties of Bt corn, StarLink was not approved for human consumption because of questions about potential allergenicity. Data provided to the Environmental Protectio