Editorial

New President, Please
New President, Please
Few voters in next week's US presidential election will embrace absolutely everything that either candidate stands for, or, for that matter, reject absolutely everything. Nevertheless, a change must be made, judged on a few key issues. The most pressing issues include the quagmire that is Iraq, national security, healthcare provision, and the economy. But science should not be too far behind, and anyone with the best interests of science at heart will have no hesitation in selecting John Kerry o

Opinion

Bush-Kerry: More of the Change?
Bush-Kerry: More of the Change?
US Presidential campaigns involving an incumbent usually boil down toa simple choice: the challenger's proposal for change against thesitting president's argument for more of the same. This year's race, however, reverses the terms of reference. George W. Bush, spurred and empowered by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, has precipitated far more dramatic policy changes than could have been predicted from his narrow margin of victory in 2000. Voters this year must consider whether those

Letter

News Fit to Post: Two Views
News Fit to Post: Two Views
In response to the editorial on what constitutes science news,1 I applaud the reporters for giving us "the good, the bad, and the ugly." The whole story is very important. I wouldn't want to make a decision on an item just knowing the half-truth. I'd be highly suspicious of anything that was reported as always sunny.Anything affecting science, as you say, is news. Be it good or bad, it needs to be told.It's disturbing to see one story reported several different ways from several different sites/
What Scientists Need to Understand
What Scientists Need to Understand
The following comments are in response to the recent article titled, "Bush and Science at Loggerheads."1First, embryonic stem cell research is not a societal imperative, and has not been identified as a superior methodology of developing future medical benefits for mankind. The human embryo is like no other in the universe; it is uniquely qualified for the purpose of bringing more children into the world. It is never to be regarded as raw material for a genetic research factory.Second, scientifi
Discovery of Gasotransmission
Discovery of Gasotransmission
The Scientist, among many other sources, appears unaware of the original discovery of gasotransmission.1 Almost 10 years before Solomon Snyder's group demonstrated that nitric oxide (NO) was involved in gaseous neurotransmission, researchers in South Africa provided evidence for a role for nitrous oxide (N2O).2 This work was confirmed by workers in 1989.3This major achievement for a Third World country deserves wider recognition.Mark A. GillmanSA Brain Research Institute Waverley, South Africa m

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
What stem cell initiative?California's Proposition 71 on the Nov. 2 ballot would create a $3 billion California Institute for Regenerative Medicine based on stem cell research. Supporters have raised about $15 million, aired thousands of television ads, and garnered media attention across the United States. But ask a Californian about the local buzz on the ballot initiative and the likely answer will be, "I haven't heard anyone talking about it."Karen Grant, who works at the Good Ol' Boys Saloon

Research

Synaptic Vesicles: Reused or Recycled?
Synaptic Vesicles: Reused or Recycled?
VISUALIZING VESICLES:© 2003 Nature Publishing GroupIn A, researchers used a fluorescent protein (synaptopHluorin) to visualize synaptic vesicle movement. Some vesicles stay open briefly before retrieval (kiss-and-run). Others stay open longer but also don't collapse fully into the plasma membrane (compensatory). Still others collapse and are not retrieved until another stimulus is delivered (stranded). In B, another group used a dye FM1-43, to study vesicle retrieval and found that single v
Life Without Glutamate
Life Without Glutamate
HALF FULL, HALF EMPTY, OR ...© 2004 AAASAfter each neurotransmitter release, MK801, an open-channel blocker that can only block a channel that has been activated, decreases initial current (which has been normalized for wild type and mutant cells). In the colocalization model, VGLUT1 and VGLUT2 occupy the same vesicles filling them partially. The commingling model proposes that transporters occupy distinct vesicles in the same synapse. The segregation model proposes that the transporters ar
On the Trail of an Odor Map
On the Trail of an Odor Map
USE IT OR LOSE IT:© 2004 AAASIn A, a 40-day-old mouse in which one nostril was cauterized at birth shows a single X-gal stained M71 glomerulus at the half bulb corresponding with the open nostril (bulbO). In B, two glomeruli appear in the half bulb corresponding to the closed nostril (bulbX) – a seeming sign of immaturity. In the graphs C and D, the critical period for glomerulus maturation appears longer for M71 than for the closely related odorant receptor M72.A smell can conjure in

Vision

For Olfaction, a Hypothesis is Felled
For Olfaction, a Hypothesis is Felled
Peter MombaertsCourtesy of Peter MombaertsRarely do scientific studies claim that something is not the case. Rarer still do negative results appear in top-tier journals. Yet two recent papers in Nature describe what olfactory sensory neurons do not do.12The olfactory system is often compared to the immune system. The key cell types in each system, the olfactory sensory neuron (OSN) and the lymphocyte, can detect a wide variety of chemicals, both natural and synthetic. Chemical recognition by the
Cutting Drug Discovery Costs on the Subcontinent
Cutting Drug Discovery Costs on the Subcontinent
Costs fo Drugs: Discovery-ApprovalDiscovery• Target identification• Target validation• Lead identification• Lead validationPre-Clinical Studies• In vitro validation• In vivo validationPre-Clinical Studies• In vitro validation• In vivo validationClinical Trials• Phase I trials• Phase II trials• Phase III trials• Regulatory affairsPercentages represent the total cost associated with that activityThe process of discovering new

Hot Paper

Amending the Amyloid Hypothesis
Amending the Amyloid Hypothesis
Aggregates of misfolded proteins are implicated in various neurodegenerative diseases.

Briefs

Crossing over with GM
Crossing over with GM
A genetically modified grass has passed a RoundUp-resistance transgene on to a related species growing 14 km away and to wild-growing plants of the same species 21 km away, according to a group from the US Environmental Protection Agency. A novel sampling method, employing widespread sentinel plants placed at different locations, found evidence of gene flow from transgenic bent-grass (Agrostis stolonifera) into the related species, Agrostis gigantea.But, there was no evidence that the gene cross
Barcoding put to the test
Barcoding put to the test
Two studies appear to confirm DNA barcoding as a powerful taxonomic tool. Paul Hebert and colleagues at the University of Guelph, Ontario, analyzed the single gene for cytochrome c oxidase I to distinguish 260 known North American bird species. The so-called DNA barcodes identified four new cryptic species as well.1The group also used the technique to demonstrate that the neotropical skipper butterfly, Astraptes fulgerator, comprises at least 10 species.2 Felix Sperling of the University of Albe
Interdisciplinary Research
Interdisciplinary Research
These papers were selected from multiple disciplines from the Faculty of 1000, a Web-based literature awareness tool http://www.facultyof1000.com.D.D. Sarbassov et al., "Rictor, a novel binding partner of mTOR, defines a rapamycin-insensitive and raptor-independent pathway that regulates the cytoskeleton," Curr Biol, 14:1296–302, July 27, 2004.The authors describe a novel molecular mechanism whereby downstream signaling in the mammalian target of the rapamycin (mTOR) pathway may proceed in

Technology

Can Computers Untangle the Neural Net?
Can Computers Untangle the Neural Net?
On a coffee break from the Methods in Computational Neuroscience class he codirects at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Mass., Bard Ermentrout is chatting with a student. It's unusually difficult to follow the conversation, because Ermentrout, a professor in the department of mathematics at the University of Pittsburgh, is talking entirely in equations – in near parody of most biologists' worst fears of a field populated largely by physicists and mathematicians. But de
Multiphoton Microscopy Takes the Scatter Away
Multiphoton Microscopy Takes the Scatter Away
MULTIPHOTON MICROSCOPY APPARATUSCourtesy of Watt WebbDeveloped just over a decade ago, multiphoton microscopy (MPM) has taken neuroscientists to places that Leeuwenhoek probably couldn't fathom. It's taken them further even than confocal microscopy has – further into the light-scattering depths of the brain, that is. By relying on more targeted and less damaging light than its confocal predecessor, MPM gives neuroscientists the ability to noninvasively image hundreds of microns below the s

Tools and Technology

Ideas Come Out of Storage
Ideas Come Out of Storage
RETRO MEETS NOUVEAU:Courtesy of TTP LabTechTTP LabTech's comPOUND and mosquito (inset) systems.With a flash of art deco teal and some vintage engineering decisions, TTP LabTech is making 21st-century science look decidedly retro. Inspired by the pneumatic systems once used to shoot money through tubes in banks, the company's comPOUND storage and retrieval system dispatches chemical vials with a whoosh of air. Its mosquito liquid-handling system, meanwhile, looks a bit like a 35-mm film reel or p
Rapid Newborn Screening by Mass Spectrometry
Rapid Newborn Screening by Mass Spectrometry
Courtesy of PerkinElmerBoston-based PerkinElmer Life and Analytical Sciences has just received clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration for the company's NeoGram tandem mass spectrometry screening kit to be used in metabolic testing of newborn infants http://las.perkinelmer.com.The system measures the concentrations of amino acids and carnitines (molecules associated with the transport of fatty acids across mitochondrial membranes) in the blood of newborns. Abnormal levels of these mol
Nanostream Streamlines HPLC
Nanostream Streamlines HPLC
Because traditional HPLC is slow, high-throughput drug discovery often hits a bottleneck when large numbers of reaction products are assayed. This bottleneck can be eased by techniques such as microparallel liquid chromatography (μPLC), in which samples are assayed in parallel using microfluidic technology.But moving liquids through tiny tubes poses special challenges, too, such as troubleshooting for tiny leaks. In Pasadena, Calif.-based Nanostream's Veloce system, these challenges are ove
Wiser Gene Annotations with 5' SAGE?
Wiser Gene Annotations with 5' SAGE?
THE KEYS TO CAGE© 2003 National Academy of Sciencesand its competitors are a 5' cap-trapping step and a class II restriction enzyme (MmeI), which cleaves DNA 20/18 bp downstream of the recognition site to create the sequence tag. (Reprinted from T. Shiraki, Proc Nat Acad Sci, 100:15776–81, 2003.)Serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) has been used extensively to map and quantify transcripts in different tissues. But the technique, which extracts short oligos (14–21 bp long) f
New Genome Viewer for Microbiologists
New Genome Viewer for Microbiologists
Roland Siezen and colleagues at the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, have created a software tool that's long overdue. Most researchers in the eukaryotic model organism community have genome browsers capable of integrating and overlaying various datasets to produce annotated chromosome maps. Microbiologists, though, have been largely out of luck.Now the playing field has been leveled a bit. Microbial Genome Viewer (MGV; http://cmbipc49.cmbi.kun.nl/genome) is a free, open-source program t

BioBusiness

The Ailing Brain: A Pressing Need for New Treatments
The Ailing Brain: A Pressing Need for New Treatments
PINNING THE BLAME:© 2004 New England Journal of MedicineCurrent and emerging Alzheimer Disease treatment options hinge on the hypothesis that amyloid β (Aβ), created by the sequential cleavage of amyloid precursor protein (APP), is the culprit behind neurodegeneration and associated cognitive and behavioral abnormalities. This could occur through multiple pathways. (Reprinted with permission from N Engl J Med, 351:56, 2004.)Neuroscience has made impressive strides since 1936 Nobel
India Wants to be Your Biotech Source
India Wants to be Your Biotech Source
Low costs. Skilled workers. New patent protections. A ready pool of patients for clinical trials. These are the ingredients contributing to India's blossoming biotechnology industry, which grew by nearly 40% last year and is now second only to the United States in its number of FDA-approved drug manufacturing plants. India boasts more than $700 million in annual revenues from its biotechnology industry.While revenues from the United States' biotechnology industry were far more, $39.2 billion in
Companies On the Fence About Biodefense
Companies On the Fence About Biodefense
Getty ImagesSigned into law by President George W. Bush in July, Project BioShield allows the federal government to spend $5.6 billion over 10 years to purchase vaccines and drugs for smallpox, anthrax, botulinum toxin, Ebola virus, plague, and other pathogens and infections. While biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies praised the initiative at the time, most are still sitting on the sidelines, waiting for additional legislation that would make biodefense a more attractive business prospect

Update

Airlines, Shipping Firms Refuse to Carry Radioactive Materials
Airlines, Shipping Firms Refuse to Carry Radioactive Materials
It is becoming more difficult to ship radioisotopes, and if the problem increases, researchers and other users in some parts of the world may not be able to obtain them at all, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Some companies that sell radioisotopes say the problem is delaying their shipments and adding to their costs.British Airways and KML Royal Dutch Airlines ban radioactive materials; Northwest Airlines bans shipments on all its passenger planes, allowing them only
UC Berkeley, Samoa to Share Benefit from AIDS Drug
UC Berkeley, Samoa to Share Benefit from AIDS Drug
Courtesy of Paul Alan Cox and Patricia StewartThe Samoan mamala tree, Homalanthus nutans, from which the promising anti-AIDS drug Prostratin was isolated.The University of California, Berkeley, and the tiny, two-island Pacific Ocean nation of Samoa will share equally in royalties from an anti-AIDS drug called prostratin, in an agreement that could be a model for the development and commercialization of drugs resulting from ethnobotany efforts. Prostratin is extracted from the bark of the mamala

Closing Bell

In Search of the Human Genetic Code
In Search of the Human Genetic Code
The public has been slow to embrace the word “genome” because of a continuing confusion with the term “genetic code.”