News

Frontlines
Frontlines
Despite some success, reproductive cloning in mammals is still a tricky feat. University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine researchers, by tracking the gene Oct4 in mice, have shown how its routine failure to reprogram after nuclear transplant commonly prevents the successful development of mammalian embryos (M. Boiani et al., "Oct4 distribution and level in mouse clones: consequences for pluripotency," Genes & Development, 6[10]:1209-19, May 15, 2002). Producing a clone requires tha
Reining in a Killer Disease
Reining in a Killer Disease
For the past century, since learning that radium treatments can decimate tumors, researchers have accelerated their efforts to cure cancer. A savvy, adaptable, and resilient killer, cancer—in its approximately 200 forms—has persisted despite highly toxic regimens, massive public education programs, and armies of researchers working worldwide. "The history of cancer therapy is that the cells are much smarter than the clinicians, and [they] quickly evolve pathways that can bypass the t
Debate Over Stem Cell Origins Continues
Debate Over Stem Cell Origins Continues
In science, things are not always as they seem. So it is for transdifferentiation, the apparent interconvertibility of certain specialized cell types and an underlying theme at a symposium on stem cell biology and applications at the recent annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) in San Francisco. "For the past three years, people have been saying that hematopoietic [blood-forming] stem cells can become just about any tissue, challenging the paradigm that there are
Biology Laboratories: Are They Disappearing?
Biology Laboratories: Are They Disappearing?
Are colleges dropping biology laboratories? Some people say yes, while others don't see it. Both sides agree, however, that economic factors could result in the demise of labs in some college biology courses. Paleobotanist Jeffrey Osborn, of the biology department at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., is a member of the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR), a Washington, DC-based consultancy that conducts external reviews for biology departments. The results of these reviews are con
Designing Science by Politics
Designing Science by Politics
When President George W. Bush signed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act into law early this year, he came close to penning his approval to a provision that many scientists say would have opened the door to antievolution lessons in America's classrooms. Congress passed the new law, which overhauls federal primary and high school education mandates including testing requirements, after a joint conference committee resolved differences between House and Senate versions of the bill. The Sen
The Future of Biodiversity
The Future of Biodiversity
A group of speakers selected to embody the past, present, and future of plant science portrayed life's diversity as being in a precarious situation. Half the species on the planet could be wiped out by the end of the century, some say. "We are playing the endgame," said Edward O. Wilson, Pellegrino University professor and curator of entomology at the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University. The inauguration of a multimillion-dollar plant science center at the New York Botanical Garden
Eugenie C. Scott
Eugenie C. Scott
The National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a clearinghouse for information about evolution and the anti-evolutionist initiatives, reported more than one state or local difficulty per week in 1999 and 2000 related to the teaching of evolution. One of the prominent figures in the ongoing evolutionist vs. creationist debate is NCSE executive director Eugenie C. Scott, a physical anthropologist by training. Scott didn't intend to become embroiled in this issue; one of her graduate school prof

Commentary

Navigating the Cancer Maze
Navigating the Cancer Maze
Attending the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting is always a rejuvenating—yet exhausting—experience. First, you get to go to some nice places: New Orleans, San Francisco (twice in three years), even Philadelphia one year. But it's not the places where these meetings are held, but the research you hear about that is simply overwhelming when compressed into a five-day time frame. In this issue, our cancer research focus for this year, we discuss some of the themes

Opinion

East is East, ...
East is East, ...
I have lived in this country somewhat longer than in the country of my birth. There are times when I wonder, as is probably true of many expatriates, what I really am. Am I Indian, American, or some bastardized version that is neither? There is not very much in my behavior now that is completely Indian, at least to the casual observer. But at a deeper level, I realize that my reactions to many situations seem to be informed more by my cultural heritage, than by the culture in which I live. I th

Letter

A Different Measuring Stick
A Different Measuring Stick
Regarding the article "Minorities move ahead by inches,"1 maybe the problem can only be effectively addressed by the redefinition of minorities, cast in terms of culture rather than race: Minority: Person or persons retaining customs and practices at odds with that of society at large. Although this view is distinctly at odds with multiculturism, it is distinctly preferable to the currently widely held view that differences in achievement are due to racial characteristics. Further, it can be eas
The 10/90 Gap
The 10/90 Gap
Regarding the article on the 10/90 gap,1 and a Médecins sans Frontières initiative on neglected diseases, the Global Forum for Health Research was established precisely to help correct this 10/90 gap in health research: that is, the misallocation of funding that means that less than 10% of the US $73 billion spent annually by the public and private sectors combined goes to 90% of the world's health problems. For reference, one can download our latest report, "The 10/90 Report on Healt
Cloning, Science, and Beliefs
Cloning, Science, and Beliefs
Your approach to the ethics of cloning does not represent the views of all of your readers.1 Being a scientist does not preclude a strongly Biblical, pro-life stance. I have spent my 25 professional years in biochemistry and pharmacology labs, both in academia and industry, and I strongly and vocally oppose human cloning of any kind, for any reason. Yes, even a scientist is entitled to the belief that human life (and the human soul) begins at conception, and that cloning is a morally reprehensi

Research

DNA Chips Track Tumor Metastasis
DNA Chips Track Tumor Metastasis
Solid tumors spread throughout the body so frequently and relentlessly that every single cancer cell seems almost predestined to metastasize. In fact, of the many cells shed by primary tumors, only a tiny fraction generates new lesions. These deadly cells have acquired rare capabilities. They can survive a hazardous solo journey; invade a foreign organ and proliferate there; and stimulate the blood-vessel growth needed to sustain their countless progeny. Because these capabilities are under gen
Finding Ways to Starve the Cancer Seed
Finding Ways to Starve the Cancer Seed
Oncologists often describe cancer as a seed that grows in the body's soil. For these seeds to become tumors, the "soil" must be stocked with nutrients such as growth factors to help them proliferate. "Cancer is not a single-cell disease but involves cancer cells and how they collaborate or cooperate with surrounding cells," says Leland Chung, director of molecular urology and therapeutics at Winship Cancer Institute, Emory University School of Medicine. New approaches to starving cancer cells fi
Everything in Moderation... Even Tumor Suppressors
Everything in Moderation... Even Tumor Suppressors
The Faculty of 1000, published by BioMed Central, is a Web-based literature awareness tool. F1000 provides a continuously updated guide to peer-reviewed papers, based on the recommendations of more than 1,400 leading scientists. In each issue, The Scientist publishes a review of some related papers highlighted by the Faculty of 1000, plus comments on new and notable research. For more information, visit www.facultyof1000.com. Homeostasis is an arguably underappreciated and powerful process t
Notable
Notable
S. Mueller et al., "Interaction of the poliovirus receptor CD155 with the dynein light chain Tctex-1 and its implication for poliovirus pathogenesis," Journal of Biological Chemistry, 277:7897-904, March 8, 2002. "This paper provides a molecular mechanism for how poliovirus hijacks cellular retrograde transport machinery to ascend along axons. A clear exposition of poliovirus pathogenesis and a testable model." —Lynn Enquist, Princeton University, US Complement Enforcement M. Budayov

Hot Paper

Researchers Dissect the Mechanisms of HIV Infection
Researchers Dissect the Mechanisms of HIV Infection
Data derived from the Science Watch/Hot Papers database and 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. For all that is known about human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), some remarkably fundamental questions remain. One of the most notable, perhaps, is just how HIV manages to infect its primary target, CD4+-T cells, when so few of those cells can be found at the virus' typical entry points: the v

Technology Profile

Telomeres as the Key to Cancer
Telomeres as the Key to Cancer
The standard modus operandi for modeling human diseases in the mouse: Find an interesting gene, knock it out, and watch what happens. In theory, the approach makes perfect sense, and scientists have obtained countless subtle insights into the complexities of biology because of it. But mice, of course, are not humans, and many investigators have had to hastily rewrite otherwise elegant theories because of mouse data. One reason? Researchers have taken for granted that telomere length matters. But
Fighting Cancer with Angiogenesis Inhibitors
Fighting Cancer with Angiogenesis Inhibitors
From disdain to hype, to mixed results in clinical trials, a sobering reality is setting in for researchers pursuing antiangiogenesis as a treatment for cancer: It is not as straightforward as once hoped. The idea is that choking off a tumor's blood supply will slow or eliminate its growth. But several clinical trials following this line of inquiry have failed or been discontinued. This past February, for example, Sugen, a division of Peapack, NJ-based Pharmacia, announced it was aborting its P
Arsenic and Old Protein Labels
Arsenic and Old Protein Labels
For a team at the University of California, San Diego, nine years of tinkering with arsenic paid off in the development of a new technique that can tag proteins with different colors over time and even zero in to electron microscopic resolution. Roger Tsien, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor of pharmacology, chemistry, and biochemistry at UCSD, says the project started with the suggestion from a colleague that one can tag a two-cysteine sequence in a protein with a singl

Technology

Cell Culture High-Rise
Cell Culture High-Rise
A little over a year ago, BioCrystal of Westerville, Ohio, introduced the futuristically designed OptiCell™ for tissue culture.1 The 100-cm2 growth area of each OptiCell (33% more than a T-75 flask) requires only 10 ml of growth medium. Building on this invention, BioCrystal developed a fully automated Robotic Cell Culture System (RC2S) capable of processing 402 OptiCells from inoculation to harvest with almost no human intervention. "Our focus is on growing anchorage-dependent cells," say
Easy Electrophoresis
Easy Electrophoresis
In high-throughput DNA analysis, any technological advance that can eliminate tedious liquid-handling techniques is a welcome one. Carlsbad, Calif.-based Invitrogen was the first company to offer bufferless, precast agarose gel electrophoresis with its original robot-compatibleE-Gel® system. Now the company has improved on this technology with the robot-compatible E-Gel 96 High-Throughput Agarose Electrophoresis System of gels and mother and daughter bases. The system speeds up electrophor

Bench Buys

Bench Buys
Bench Buys
Madison, Wis.-based Novagen now sells KOD HiFi DNA polymerase (manufactured by Toyobo of Japan), a proofreading enzyme for high-fidelity PCR amplification. KOD HiFi DNA polymerase is a recombinant version of Thermococcus kodakaraensis KOD1 DNA polymerase. According to company literature, the enzyme possesses higher accuracy than any other commercially available DNA polymerase, is five times faster than Pfu DNA polymerase, and twice as fast as Taq DNA polymerase. Novagen also sells KOD Hot Start

Profession

Biotech Counts in Cambridge
Biotech Counts in Cambridge
After working as a research fellow for nearly seven years at the University of California, San Francisco, Alex Duncan wanted to settle down and raise a family. Rather than stay in the United States, he decided to put down roots in Cambridge, England. The decision wasn't difficult, since both he and his wife were from the United Kingdom, and he had done graduate work at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge. "Cambridge is a vibrant university town with a
No Trials Without Money, No Money Without Trials
No Trials Without Money, No Money Without Trials
Susan Slovin develops vaccines at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City using tumor- associated antigens for prostrate cancer. She has completed multiple Phase I and Phase II clinical trials, which test safety and dosing. She has designed a Phase III trial for efficacy--the last stage required for approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Nevertheless, she can't proceed. Scientists are required to use the FDA's Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), which makes the
Turning Points: Scientists Who Leave the Bench Stay Away Forever
Turning Points: Scientists Who Leave the Bench Stay Away Forever
You can never go home again. Sources for my book on alternate careers told me the switch falls in one direction only.1I never dreamed of going back because writing allows me to learn about subjects as different as conservation research and the Y chromosome. Janet Joy, a senior program officer at the National Research Council (NRC) since 1995, says she has no plans to return to the bench either. Before heading to work at the NRC, she was a neuroscientist at the National Institute of Mental Healt
Top Research Institutions Reveal All
Top Research Institutions Reveal All
The three top-earning US medical schools, which together garnered nearly $1 billion (US) from the National Institutes of Health in 2001, employ strategies that lesser known institutions can also use, according to administrators. The medical faculties at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of California, San Francisco, acquired nearly $982 million in NIH grants, more than 11% of the $8.67 billion awarded to 122 US medical schools in fiscal year 2001. Johns
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.