News

Life or Death in Cells
Life or Death in Cells
The Bcl-2 protein family members Bax and Bak play an important role in regulating apoptosis.1,2 But following their discovery in the 1990s, they did not take center stage because researchers didn't anticipate their role as "critical effectors of programmed cell death," says Craig Thompson, scientific director of the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute at the University of Pennsylvania. But the limelight is now upon them as Thompson and his colleagues at the Abramson Institute, in collabora
No Vaccine, No Cure
No Vaccine, No Cure
Editor's Note: This is the second of two articles that looks at the progression of AIDS research over the 20 years since its identification. The first part: M.E. Watanabe, "AIDS, 20 years later," The Scientist, 15[12]:1, June 11, 2001. Despite billions of dollars spent in research funds and a brief reprieve in Western nations after the introduction of multidrug therapy, AIDS continues to win its battle against humankind. First diagnosed 20 years ago, there are still no cures and no vaccines. Pre
California Steamin'
California Steamin'
A power shutdown last month at the University of California, San Francisco, sent physiology professor Mary F. Dallman into a panic. Her lab studies the effects of stress on the pituitary-adrenal axis in rats' brains, and one of her postdocs had recently begun the sort of 20-day, $10,000 experiment typically conducted by her lab. The pituitary-adrenal axis "is highly circadianly driven," Dallman explains, "and when the lights go out in the middle of the day, you're giving the circadian clock a
Academy Elects 72 New Members
Academy Elects 72 New Members
Click here for additional photos of life scientists elected to the National Academy of Sciences This past May, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) elected its new members and with the election came another round of criticisms that the NAS is elitist and gender biased, that the election process is outmoded, and that truly great scientists go unrecognized.1 Allegations aside, however, this year's election was the biggest ever--the first in which 72 members were chosen--and it signals the recog
Marijuana Ruling Exempts Federally Funded Research
Marijuana Ruling Exempts Federally Funded Research
"In the case of the Controlled Substances Act, the statute reflects a determination that marijuana has no medical benefits worthy of an exception (outside the confines of a government-approved research project)." -Justice Clarence Thomas1 The Supreme Court's recent ruling against manufacturing and distributing medicinal cannabis does not appear to have had any immediate impact on either basic or clinical research studies under way. Some investigators, however, remain leery about the potential f
News Notes
News Notes
To commemorate the 20th anniversary of the discovery of AIDS, the National Institutes of Health announced on June 4 the launch of a new Web site chronicling the history of AIDS research. "In Their Own Words: NIH Researchers Recall the Early Years of AIDS" (http:// aidshistory.nih.gov) highlights five main periods in AIDS research: initial encounters with the disease, the AIDS epidemic, early research efforts, the discovery of HIV, and the search for effective treatments. Each section includes a

Commentary

The Myth of Mechanism
The Myth of Mechanism
I recently sat on a grant review panel to evaluate a proposal seeking to determine if nonlinear electrical fields, whatever they are, have any role in the development and progression of osteoporosis. The hypothesis underlying the proposal was that in our primal state, we humans were exposed to these cosmic nonlinear electrical fields. With the emergence of housing, motor cars, and perhaps even clothing, the premise is that we have insulated ourselves from them, leading to the proliferation of th

Letter

Stem Cells and Parkinson's
Stem Cells and Parkinson's
Your story "Stem Cell Researchers Take on Parkinson's" by Laura DeFrancesco1 suggests that opposition to continuing this research on human subjects is confined to politicians opposed to embryo research and people stirred up by the "press maelstrom" following a New York Times article. It is also opposed by many ethical scientists. What principal investigator Curt Freed is doing strikes me as manifestly unethical. He can no longer consider this human research in a state of equipoise--which justi
Don't Forget the Public
Don't Forget the Public
Ted Agres correctly asserts in his recent article1 that, "...the issue of publicly funded stem cell research will probably not go away." But while he cites support from medical and health research champions in Congress, he fails to cite public opinion on the issue. A recent poll, commissioned by the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research--a newly created organization comprised of universities, scientific societies, patients' organizations, and other entities that are devoted to ensu

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
www.ScienceCartoonsPlus.com

Research

Death in the Balance
Death in the Balance
In 1997, to the surprise of many researchers, mitochondria reclaimed the limelight of apoptosis research when several groups observed that cytochrome c released from the mitochondria could induce apoptosis in cell-free systems.1,2 A hot research topic decades ago, mitochondria excitement cooled in the 1970s when researchers agreed on the mechanisms of oxidative phosphorylation (ox-phos). Now, mitochondria-mediated apoptosis is believed to be central to a number of major debilitating diseases, in
Drug Makers on the Apoptotic Trail
Drug Makers on the Apoptotic Trail
Apoptosis, a key process in the development of embryonic tissue differentiation, later helps to regulate the normal cellular life cycle by destroying damaged cells. When something goes awry, too little apoptosis can make cancer cells resistant to chemotherapy and even death-defiant. At the other extreme, premature or excessive apoptosis has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's, and to nerve cell loss in strokes. Not surprisingly, many major pharmaceutical companies rec
Research Notes
Research Notes
Investigation into the brains of aged rhesus monkeys show damage in the white matter (the myelin sheath covering the axons), while the gray matter (the cell nuclei and dendrites in areas such as the frontal cortex and hippocampus)saa remain intact, according to research presented by Douglas Rosene, associate professor in the anatomy and neurobiology at Boston University at the Successful Aging Conference on June 1-4 in Madison, Wis. The greater the degree of damage Rosene found, the poorer the a
Finding a Better Way to Identify Bladder Cancer
Finding a Better Way to Identify Bladder Cancer
Urothelial bladder cancer, the fourth most common cancer in men and the eighth most common in women, accounts for more than 54,000 new cases and 11,200 deaths annually. Cystoscopy and cytology, used to detect this transitional cell cancer in situ, have significant drawbacks, including relatively low sensitivity, patient discomfort, and infection risks. Now, a new U.S./European research consortium wants to create a simple, cost-effective, noninvasive diagnostic test to replace cystoscopy and cyto

Hot Paper

IKK2 Gene Essential for Liver Development
IKK2 Gene Essential for Liver Development
For this article, Jim Kling interviewed Inder M. Verma, professor of genetics at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that Hot Papers are cited 50 to 100 times more than the average paper of the same type and age. Q.T. Li, D. Van Antwerp, F. Mercurio, K.F. Lee, I.M. Verma, "Severe liver degeneration in mice lacking the I kappa B kinase 2 gene," Science, 284:321-5, April 9, 1999. (Cited in 150 papers) Courtesy of Inder M. VermaInder M.
New Hope in Finding the Magic Bullet
New Hope in Finding the Magic Bullet
For this paper, Jim Kling interviewed David Lynch, senior staff scientist at Immunex Corp. in Seattle, Wash. 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. Walczak, R.E. Miller, K. Ariail, B. Gliniak, T.S. Griffith, M. Kubin, W. Chin, J. Jones, A. Woodward, T. Le, C. Smith, P. Smolak, R.G. Goodwin, C.T. Rauch, J.C.L. Schuh, D.H.T. Lynch, "Tumoricidal activity of tumor necrosis factor

Technology

Inclusion Bodies Be Gone
Inclusion Bodies Be Gone
Scientists routinely express heterologous proteins in Escherichia coli. However, these proteins may not fold properly in the bacteria, causing them to aggregate and form insoluble inclusion bodies. Scientists traditionally denature these inclusion bodies with either 8 M urea or 6 M guanidine hydrochloride to solubilize them. These proteins must then be renatured by replacing the denaturants with a gentler buffer. Unfortunately, this process is highly empirical and laborious, and it often results
A VastArray of Tissues
A VastArray of Tissues
Immunohistochemistry is a meticulous, plodding, and painstaking art. But now researchers can screen up to 200 tissue samples simultaneously, squeezing six months worth of work into two days, with Carlsbad, Calif.-based Invitrogen Corp.'s recently introduced ResGen™ VastArray™ tissue arrays. These arrays consist of up to 200 tissue cores arrayed on standard microscope slides. Applied in duplicate in a paraffin matrix, the current sets of 600-µm diameter by 4-mm thick cores are de
Continuous Oxygen Sensing
Continuous Oxygen Sensing
The most common method for measuring cell proliferation (see profile, page 27) monitors the metabolism of a yellow tetrazolium salt (MTT) to blue-colored formazan. Unfortunately this is a time-consuming endpoint assay, precluding kinetic studies. Bedford, Mass.-based BD Biosciences-Discovery Labware has developed a novel detection system that solves this problem. The BD Oxygen Biosensor uses an oxygen-sensitive fluorescent dye (tris-1,7-diphenyl-1, 10-phenanthroline ruthenium (II) chloride) embe

Technology Profile

Death Watch II: Caspases and Apoptosis
Death Watch II: Caspases and Apoptosis
Caspase Related Reagents Courtesy of Bingren Hu, Queen's Medical Center, Hawaii. Provided by Cell Signaling TechnologyConfocal micrograph of double immunostaining for cleaved caspase-3 (green) and propidium iodide (red) in newborn rat brain tissue. This section shows control and transient cerebral ischemia. Editor's Note: This is the second article in our two-part series on cell death. The first part: J. Cortese, "Death watch I: Cytotoxicity detection," The Scientist, 15[5]:26, March 5, 2001.
Killer Tools
Killer Tools
The Scientist 15[13]:24, Jun. 25, 2001 PROFILE Caspase Related Assays (caspases are referred to by number) Company Polyclonal Antibodies Monoclonal Antibodies Protein Substrates1 Inhibitors Assay Kit2 Accurate Chemical & Scientific Corp. (800) 645-6264 www.accuratechemical.com 3, 9, 10           Active Motif (877) 222-9543 www.activemotif.com 9 3, 7, 8, 14, pro-3      
Suppliers of Cell Proliferation Assays
Suppliers of Cell Proliferation Assays
Alexis Biochemicals (800) 900-0065 www.alexis-corp.com Amersham Pharmacia Biotech (800) 526-3593 www.apbiotech.com BD Biosciences (800) 448-2346 www.bd.com BioVision Inc. (800) 891-9699 www.biovisionlabs.com BioWhittaker (800) 344-6618 www.clonetics.com Chemicon International Inc. (800) 437-7500 www.chemicon.com Dojindo Molecular Technologies Inc. (877) 987-2667 www.dojindo.com MBL International Corp. (800) 200-5459 www.mblintl.com Molecular Probes Inc. (800) 438-2209 www.probes.com Onc
A Growing Issue: Cell Proliferation Assays
A Growing Issue: Cell Proliferation Assays
Cell Proliferation Assays Suppliers of Cell Proliferation Assays Courtesy of Zymed LaboratoriesMouse anti-PCNA (PC10)-stained colonic mucosa. Scientists often require rapid and accurate measurement of viable cell number and cell growth. These researchers traditionally assess cell viability via membrane integrity (e.g., trypan blue exclusion), and cell proliferation via the incorporation of labeled nucleotides (e.g., [3H]-thymidine) into newly synthesized DNA during cell division. Work to im

Profession

Where Ph.D.s Morph Into M.B.A.s
Where Ph.D.s Morph Into M.B.A.s
As a postdoc at the University of California, San Francisco, Christopher Trepel studied the cellular mechanisms of memory in cats and rats until he ran into a serious obstacle: His allergies to the animals had become intolerable. He was also allergic to mice, guinea pigs, and rabbits. "I was fast running out of animals," Trepel recalls. "I kept moving up the food chain. I was going to have to use humans, and that's prohibited." He also had a qualm about academic science: A professor trains 40 pe
Of Mentors, Women, and Men
Of Mentors, Women, and Men
While a graduate student at Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics at Princeton University, Camilynn Brannan struggled to identify the protein product of the H19 gene and obtained evidence that it did not encode a protein at all, but functioned as an RNA. At that time, there were not many other examples in mammals of functional RNAs transcribed by polymerase II, so Brannan assumed she would just have to work harder to find a protein, and that's what she told her adviser, Shirley Tilghma
White House Help Wanted List Worries Scientists
White House Help Wanted List Worries Scientists
President George W. Bush's hesitance in filling top positions in science and engineering has the scientific community concerned about how funding policies may change and whether decisions will be based on research or rhetoric. Top positions remain unfilled at the National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy (DOE), and Department of Agriculture. Bush even boasts the record for tardiness in choosing a White House science adviser
Profession Notes
Profession Notes
Undergraduates may soon sequence genomes, thanks to the brainchild of Steven Verhey, an assistant professor in the department of biology at Central Washington University (CWU) in Ellensburg. His idea to create a network of two- and four-year colleges whose sophomores would tackle a genome began when he had students at Evergreen State College sequence part of the carrot mitochondrial genome and the daffodil and red bell pepper plastid genomes. "I wanted to include as many students as possible to
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Funding Opportunities in the Life Sciences
Click to view our current database of Funding Opportunites in the Life Sciences.

Opinion

What's Needed Now
What's Needed Now
Editor's Note: This Opinion is adapted from remarks prepared for a hearing of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired at the time by Sen. James Jeffords, then a Republican, now an Independent, of Vermont. I had the privilege to speak to a recent Senate committee panel about the unprecedented research opportunities in the medical and health sciences. These opportunities are unprecedented because of the advances in cell and molecular biology, in information and c