News

Ambitious Plan to Screen for Endocrine Disruptors Unveiled
Ambitious Plan to Screen for Endocrine Disruptors Unveiled
A proposed plan to screen about 15,000 commercial chemicals that may interact harmfully with the endocrine system could be one of the most ambitious and expensive such efforts ever. The first tier of the two-part plan would cost an estimated $200,000 per chemical for high throughput screening. Those screens would test chemicals for interactions with five endocrine receptors, including estrogen, androgen, and thyroid receptors. Chemicals testing positive would move on to the next level, which co
Technology Transfer Pact Could Be A Model for Future Agreements
Technology Transfer Pact Could Be A Model for Future Agreements
Also See: Breadth of Biodiversity After months of complaints, hundreds of scientists will finally be able to use a long-coveted recombinant technology without looking over their shoulders. On August 19, National Institutes of Health Director Harold Varmus announced an agreement with DuPont Pharmaceuticals that will enable NIH and NIH-supported researchers to use a DuPont-developed technology, called Cre-lox, without compromising the company's ability to receive the appropriate value for commer
Ethical Debate on Placebo Use May Prompt New Trial Designs
Ethical Debate on Placebo Use May Prompt New Trial Designs
For a thing that is "nothing," placebo has been much in the news lately. Whenever the media have mentioned placebo this year, it often has been in the context of clinical trials overseas for treatments to prevent perinatal HIV transmission. The studies were controversial because most of them employed placebo controls with the various treatments being tested, although trials in the United States and France already had indicated that the antiretroviral drug zidovudine (AZT) reduced the incidence
How Do Antifreeze Proteins Work?
How Do Antifreeze Proteins Work?
Antifreeze proteins produced in some fish have hooked the attention of industry. But chemists are still casting inquiries into how these proteins act to prevent some species of flounder, cod, and sculpin from icing up in below-zero Centigrade water. RED HERRING: Although antifreeze proteins produced by the flounder are the most studied, they may be the least representative. Scientists at the 216th American Chemical Society Meeting in Boston last month trolled through the merits of a number of
Breadth of Biodiversity
Breadth of Biodiversity
BIODIVERSITY ABOUNDS: Algae and sponges line the underwater ledges of Navassa, a tiny, uninhabited island in the Caribbean that recently got a rare visit from scientists. A recent expedition has revealed an unexpected breadth of biological diversity on a rare untouched patch of wilderness. Led by Center for Marine Conservation (CMC) scientists Michael Smith and Nina Young, 14 researchers set out to survey a tiny U.S.-owned island 40 miles west of Haiti in the Greater Antilles. Part of the Unite
Oat Bran Could Lower Cholesterol, Replace Fat
Oat Bran Could Lower Cholesterol, Replace Fat
A fat substitute made its public debut in an oatmeal raisin cookie last month. The substitute, a coarse beige-yellow flourlike substance called Nu-Trim, contains high percentages of ß glucans--the soluble fibers that lower cholesterol through the same mechanisms as oat bran. While those mechanisms are not well understood, they are effective, remarked the product's developer, George E. Inglett , of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service in Peoria, Ill. Ear

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
"Just because your pills taste like sugar cubes doesn't mean you are in the placebo group, Ms. Johnson."

Letter

DNA Vaccines
DNA Vaccines
I appreciated the article "DNA Vaccines Generate Excitement As Human Trials Begin" (R. Finn, The Scientist, 12[6]:9, March 16, 1998), which I read on the Internet (www.the-scientist.com). It gave an excellent overview of the present situation of the DNA vaccines and also provided other sites to be [searched on the] Web. I would appreciate it if you would [publish] more articles on the subject. A.F. Pestana de Castro, Ph.D., Professor of Microbiology Sao Paulo, Brazil apestana@obelix.unicamp
Publishing in PNAS
Publishing in PNAS
About the importance of knowing an academy member (S. Jiang, "Does It Pay To Know An Academy Member?" Letters, The Scientist, 12[8]:9, April 13, 1998) in order to be published in Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences : I think the right calculation to be done to answer this question is to count which proportion of manuscripts submitted through track I [an academy member] is finally accepted (or maybe simply sent to the reviewers) compared to those submitted through track II [authors
Cancer Prevention and Vitamin A
Cancer Prevention and Vitamin A
The events observed in the beta-carotene experiment ("Cancer Prevention," Hot Papers, The Scientist, 12[10]:11, May 11, 1998) were interesting but not unexpected. While the beta-carotene and vitamin A were given at a good dosage (30 mg beta-carotene and 25,000 IU of vitamin A), there is no indication that any of the other vitamins were supplied to the subjects. It's likely that they only had the trivial amounts specified in the RDA. The choice of dosage for their study was probably based on mo

Commentary

From Placebo to Homeopathy: The Fear of the Irrational
From Placebo to Homeopathy: The Fear of the Irrational
Today's biomedical science oscillates between rigorous approaches, with rational attitudes, and irrationality or incoherence. Thus, in the era of molecular biology, psychoanalysis thrives and represents a multimillion-dollar annual business, whereas other such "nonmaterialistic" disciplines as homeopathy, acupuncture, or hypnosis are a priori and uncritically rejected by hard science. Indeed, the temptation is to reject anything without a molecular explanation--better to deny a fact than get m

Opinion

The Under-Reporting Of Research Impact
The Under-Reporting Of Research Impact
For researchers to compete strongly for federal funds, the benefits from their work need to receive full accounting and be articulated clearly. The impending implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) [Public Law 103-62] has begun to place even more emphasis on this research accounting requirement. Unfortunately, the present informal "system" for tracking and disseminating research products and downstream impacts has many deficiencies, resulting in a gross under

Research

Singling Out Soy: Scientists probe potential anticancer benefits of a long-time Asian diet staple
Singling Out Soy: Scientists probe potential anticancer benefits of a long-time Asian diet staple
MORE STUDY NEEDED: Mark Messina, a nutrition consultant, says Lamartiniere's findings are an "exciting hypothesis," but he notes that epidemiological studies linking soy and breast cancer rates have mixed results. Soy is a hot topic these days, not only among farmers--who have planted a record 71.7 million acres of soybeans, according to the U. S. Department of Agriculture--but among scientists who are exploring and debating the health benefits of a food that for thousands of years has been a

Hot Paper

Aging And Genetics
Aging And Genetics
C.E. Yu, J. Oshima, Y.H. Fu, E.M. Wijsman, F. Hisama, R. Alisch, S. Matthews, J. Nakura, T. Miki, S. Ouais, G.M. Martin, J. Mulligan, G.D. Schellenberg, "Positional cloning of the Werner's syndrome gene," Science, 272:258-62, 1996. (Cited in more than 175 papers since publication) Comments by Gerard D. Schellenberg, associate director for research, Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Seattle Aging is a real stumper. Is it the result of natural we
Cell Biology
Cell Biology
J.E. Brenman, D.S. Chao, S.H. Gee, A.W. McGee, S.E. Craven, D.R. Santillano, Z.Q. Wu, F. Huang, H.H. Xia, M.F. Peters, S.C. Froehner, D.S. Bredt, "Interaction of nitric oxide synthase with the postsynaptic density protein PSD-95 and alpha 1-syntrophin mediated by PDZ domains," Cell, 84:757-67, 1996. (Cited in more than 215 papers since publication) Comments by David S. Bredt, assistant professor of physiology at the University of California at San Francisco School of Medicine Nitric oxide (

Profession

Selling Science: Marketing positions hold allure, but present challenges
Selling Science: Marketing positions hold allure, but present challenges
Vaulting from the lab bench to the marketing office sounds tempting for scientists considering leaving the research world for a business environment. But several scientists who have made that move report that it takes more time, effort, and patience than many may realize. LONG-TERM MATTER: Dennis Bittner, group product manager at Bio-Rad Laboratories, says most Ph.D. scientists with no business experience will likely fail to land marketing positions immediately. "They'd like to go straight fr

Technology

Concentrate Aqueous Low-Level Radioactive Waste Into A Disposable Dry Solid With RadAway
Concentrate Aqueous Low-Level Radioactive Waste Into A Disposable Dry Solid With RadAway
What do I do with aqueous low-level radioactive waste? As a radiation safety officer for a small biotechnology company, I found solving that problem to be the most difficult and time-consuming aspect of my job. Faced with limited access to disposal sites, budget-busting costs, and a small waste storage room, I've had to rely completely on decay-in-storage to cope with low-level radioactive waste. Typically, we hold radioactive waste with half-lives less than 90 days for a period equal to 10 ha
Magnetize Your Separations
Magnetize Your Separations
Particles from PerSeptive Biosystems PerSeptive Biosystems' BioMag® product line includes streptavidin-coupled superparamagnetic particles that can be used to capture biotinylated compounds. The company has recently developed a more efficient method for coupling streptavidin to the BioMag® particles. The resultant BioMag® Streptavidin Ultra-Load Particle has more attached streptavidin, and therefore a greater biotin-binding capacity, than did previous versions of the product. The im

Technology Profile

Biologically Active Peptides: Who Makes Them and Who Sells Them?
Biologically Active Peptides: Who Makes Them and Who Sells Them?
Date: September 14, 1998 Catalog Peptide Providers Table In the last 20 years or so, numerous peptides with a diverse array of biological activities have been identified. In the same time period, the advent of automated peptide synthesis has made these reagents cheap and easy to produce in large quantities. These developments have created a new class of research reagents, known as biologically active peptides. Many biologically active peptides occur naturally; however, many others have been de
Need For Speed II
Need For Speed II
Date: September 14, 1998Tables 1-4 While at one time RNA isolation was a painstaking endeavor, requiring careful sterilization of reagents, treatment of equipment, and lengthy centrifugation--often stretching over several days--kits for total RNA purification now provide rapid protocols with RNase-free reagents that can cut prep time down to under an hour. As important as saving time, these quick, often single-step protocols also reduce the possibility of degradation, always a concern with RNA

Notebook

Notebook
Notebook
Contents AIDS pioneer Jonathan Mann dies in crash Genetics and mental retardation Stress and memory Morning After' to market No pain, no gain, but a pill? Nitric oxide gets renewed attention A scientist's way of winemaking AIDS PIONEER DIES IN CRASH Epidemiologist Jonathan Mann and his wife, Mary Lou, were among the 229 people killed Sept. 3 when a Swissair flight traveling from New York to Geneva crashed off Nova Scotia. Mann was founding director of the World Health Organization's Global Prog