March 2000

News

Taking the Bite out of Food Allergy
Taking the Bite out of Food Allergy
Food allergies affect up to 6 percent of children under the age of 3 and around 1.5 percent of adults.1,2 That may seem like peanuts compared to the huge number of people who suffer from allergic rhinitis. But food allergies--especially peanut and tree nut allergies--pack a potentially serious punch. There is absolutely no safe way to treat or prevent them, and about 100 people die in the United States every year from food-induced anaphylaxis. The best those with severe allergies can do is carry
Bypassing Peer Review
Bypassing Peer Review
Your data's solid. Your results are impressive. Your methodology's near foolproof. It's time to submit your research for publication. So, of course, you place a call to--the New York Times? The practice isn't new: For a variety of reasons, companies sometimes choose to pitch their research results straight to the popular press--or, in recent years, to anyone who happens upon their Web press release--rather than first submitting their findings to a peer-reviewed journal. Sometimes they don't even
A Paradigm Shift in Stem Cell Research?
A Paradigm Shift in Stem Cell Research?
Photo: E.D. Laywell, UT MemphisMultipotent clones of cells derived from the adult human brain With the promises and challenges of stem cell research in the headlines, visions of artificial livers dance in the public's eye. Bioethicists, politicians, and citizens alike continue to debate whether public funds should be used to obtain cells from human embryos and fetuses. On the scientific front, however, the implications of stem cell research are even more profound than offering replacement parts.
Biotech Faces Evolving Patent System
Biotech Faces Evolving Patent System
Like medieval alchemists, modern biologists apply intricate, esoteric protocols to lowly matter, such as bacteria and rodents. Unlike alchemists, biologists successfully transmute these creatures into gold--disease-fighting pharmaceuticals and profits accruing from them. An indispensable ingredient in this dross-to-drug process is patent protection, which preserves monopoly and attracts investment. Unfortunately, the patent system isn't as ideal a catalyst as the chimerical philosopher's stone s
Arsenic Mitigation in Bangladesh
Arsenic Mitigation in Bangladesh
Young boy drinking from a tube well Researchers estimate that as many as half of the four million tube wells in Bangladesh are pumping out groundwater contaminated with naturally occurring arsenic. In many contaminated wells, arsenic levels exceed 500 parts per billion (ppb), a level 50 times higher than the safety recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO). With foreign aid, the Bangladeshi government is finally tackling the problem years after its discovery in 1992. It has a tough
From Implants to Explants, and Beyond
From Implants to Explants, and Beyond
Courtesy of USIOL Inc.Intraocular lenses are among the implantable devices gaining popularity. From intraocular lenses to heart pacemakers, artificial joints, and even dental fillings, an estimated 8-10 percent of Americans walk around with permanent medical implants. These devices--which penetrate living tissue, have a physiological interaction and a minimum lifespan of three months, and are retrievable--have been widely used since the 1960s. But there has never been any systematic effort for r
FDA and Industry Improve Cooperation
FDA and Industry Improve Cooperation
A change in the Food and Drug Administration's "philosophy toward review of applications" is responsible for a "remarkable" acceleration in the time required for new drug approvals, according to Kenneth I. Kaitin, director of Tufts University's Center for the Study of Drug Development. The result has been an upsurge of novel medications on the market in recent years. Kaitin adds that the agency and industry now are turning their joint efforts toward shortening drug development times, particularl
A Stem Cell Legacy: Leroy Stevens
A Stem Cell Legacy: Leroy Stevens
When Science voted stem cell research its 1999 Breakthrough of the Year, the congratulatory article traced the field's origin to the 1981 successful culture of mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells.1,2 But the roots of exploring these multipotential cells go back considerably farther, to a little-mentioned researcher who worked with mice at the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine. Photo: Jackson LaboratoryLeroy Stevens Leroy Stevens arrived at the lab in 1953, a newly minted developmental b
News Notes
News Notes
Science at State Conceding that "the State Department's science capabilities have not always been as substantial as they should be," U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright promised a number of improvements last month. Speaking at a plenary session at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Albright said she will issue a policy statement this month "setting forth my commitment to enhance the department's ability to handle [science and technology] issu

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Commentary

An Appreciation of Arnold Beckman
An Appreciation of Arnold Beckman
Arnold Beckman How scientific instrumentation has expanded human vistas is well illustrated by the contributions of Galileo (telescope) and Leeuwenhoek (microscope). The capability for further and deeper observation these men bequeathed to us with their instruments is at least as important as their own notable scientific achievements. It is not given to 20th century folk, in an explosively more complex world, to occupy so many roles simultaneously. But in historical retrospection, the electron

Letter

HAART Failure Revisited
HAART Failure Revisited
Maxwell Gordon, in a letter to The Scientist,1 agrees with the main point of my Commentary article2 that latency is a primary factor in the failure of current therapies. Antibiotics cannot reach the reservoirs of latent HIVs in the genomes of their host cells, so that, as researchers have long known,3 combinations of antibiotics must be combined with agents capable of flushing out latent viruses. Studies of the latency phenomenon, which might have identified such agents, should have received a h
Transgenic Fish
Transgenic Fish
I would like to commend the detailed article by Amy Francis entitled "Toxico-Logic."1 Ms. Francis has made the difficult area of molecular toxicology relatively easy to understand. However, I would like to add that other animals besides rodents have been developed for in vivo genetic toxicity testing. ABEL Scientific (formerly Mariner Biolabs) was covered by Ricki Lewis in "Biotech Blooms at the University of Georgia."2 ABEL Scientific's technology capitalizes on the work of Richard Winn at the

Research

Protein-based Inheritance
Protein-based Inheritance
© Cell PressA transmission electron micrograph of Sup35 protein that has formed amyloid fibers from its prion structure Though mounting evidence points to prions as the infectious element in diseases such as scrapie and Creutzfeldt-Jakob (CJD), direct proof is missing. A prion has the same amino acid sequence as the normal protein, but it has an altered structural form. The protein-only hypothesis states that a prion can cause disease and also spread it without transmitting any genetic mate
Research Notes
Research Notes
Neurogenesis Debate Continues Recent studies have all but confirmed the occurrence of neurogenesis in the primate hippocampus, an area involved in short-term memory. But occurrence of neurogenesis in the neocortex, an area thought to be involved in long-term memory, continues to be a point of contention. A group at Princeton University surprised many with an October 1999 report that suggested the neocortex was home to the birth of thousands of new neurons per day (E. Gould et al., "Neurogenesis

Hot Paper

Redefining Antiviral Attack
Redefining Antiviral Attack
For this article, Karen Young Kreeger interviewed Rafi Ahmed, professor of microbiology and immunology and director of the Emory Vaccine Center, Emory University, Atlanta. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that this paper has been cited significantly more often than the average paper of the same type and age. K. Murali-Krishna, J.D. Altman, M. Suresh, D.J.D. Sourdive, A.J. Zajac, J.D. Miller, J. Slansky, and R. Ahmed, "Counting antigen-specific CD8 T cells: a reevaluation of
Immune Backup System
Immune Backup System
For this article, Karen Young Kreeger interviewed Joseph H. Phillips, senior staff scientist at DNAX Research Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology in Palo Alto, Calif. DNAX is a private research center funded by Schering-Plough. Data from the Web of Science (ISI, Philadelphia) show that this paper has been cited significantly more often than the average paper of the same type and age. V.M. Braud, D.S.J. Allan, C.A. O'Callaghan, K. Soderstrom, A.D. Andrea, G.S. Ogg, S. Lazetic, N.T. Young

Technology

Transposable Elegance
Transposable Elegance
Transposons, mobile DNA elements found in the genomes of prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms, move randomly from one site in a chromosome to another using a process catalyzed by transposases. This process, called transposition, occurs naturally but infrequently in cells as a means of genetic change. For many years scientists have used transposons for genetic research. A new system, combining Tn5 transposase and a Tn5-derived transposon to form a stable synaptic complex, forms the basis of EZ::
That's the Spot!
That's the Spot!
Autogen separates signal from background on microarray images. Microarray technology is revolutionizing drug discovery, genetic diagnostics, and genomic research. However, processing and analyzing images can be problematic. Semiautomated processing tools such as BioDiscovery's ImaGene™ now enable scientists to process images more efficiently and quickly. Given the array boundaries, this technology locates each spot, and graphic user interface tools facilitate manual correction of misidenti
The Search Is On(line)
The Search Is On(line)
Ever feel stuck in a rut, relying on the same old-fashioned techniques as a matter of tradition? Many researchers find themselves in this position for a simple reason--keeping up with the latest techniques takes effort. Combing the literature for the latest and greatest or trying to troubleshoot your own advances can take valuable time away from data collection. Some of the popular protocol guides try to stay current by sending updated pages to replace old sections. However, the new pages seem t

Technology Profile

Small Wonder
Small Wonder
Lab-on-a-Chip For microfluidics, tiny sample volumes move through microchannels etched into a glass chip. Some may argue that the September 1999 release of the Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer was premature--the technology clearly belongs in the new millennium. With this instrument, Agilent Technologies of Palo Alto, Calif., a Hewlett-Packard subsidiary, in collaboration with Caliper Technologies Corp., of Mountain View, Calif., has achieved the first commercial realization of lab-on-a-chip technology.
The Chemistry of Attraction
The Chemistry of Attraction
Chemokines and their receptors help direct cell migration to sites of inflammation. You heard it here--chemokine receptors and ligands are in. Inflammation, cancer, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, angiogenesis, and AIDS are just a few areas in which chemokines and their receptors are crucial. Therefore, chemokine pathways represent potentially valuable therapeutic targets. Asthma, one of the most common chronic diseases in the industrialized world, is recognized as an inflammatory disease, and ste
The Western Lights
The Western Lights
Chemiluminescent Western Blot Detection Kits Today's chemiluminescent detection methods give western blotters accustomed to using 125I a fast and sensitive alternative to thyroid bashing. Unlike detection systems based on fluorescence, chemiluminescent methods do not require external light sources for excitation energy. Rather, the signals are generated internally as light-producing chemical reactions occur. Chemiluminescent detection systems use reporter enzymes that catalyze luminescent react

Profession

Networking 101: Some Basics for Colleague Contact
Networking 101: Some Basics for Colleague Contact
Schmooze it or lose it, right? Well, not quite. To be sure, there are a lot of negative stereotypes surrounding networking, but it's not necessary to make a hard sell to widen your sphere of professional contacts, or even start one. "People think that networking's a matter of sucking up to the powerful, that it takes away from getting real work done, that it's manipulation," says Philip Agre, associate professor of information studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. The first purpo
Profession Notes
Profession Notes
Internet Resources ScienceWise.com, which was started 10 years ago as the Federal Information Exchange and then renamed Research and Management Systems, plans to add new services that could translate into more time in the lab and less time searching for grants and science information. As a one-stop Web site, ScienceWise.com will provide access to journal articles, scientific supplies and equipment, and news and employment information. Most importantly, the site will have information on small-bus

Opinion

Scientific Integrity and Mainstream Science
Scientific Integrity and Mainstream Science
In legalese, the words that distinguish good science from bad are "mainstream" or "generally accepted." This is about as far as the law can go. This standard places a serious responsibility on the scientific community to ensure that mainstream science is indeed good science. Institutions are scrambling to develop means to monitor and deal with departures from proper scientific practices. Science reported1 that in Europe "a rising tide of retracted papers and some high-profile fraud cases