September 2000

News

The Infection-Chronic Disease Link Strengthens
The Infection-Chronic Disease Link Strengthens
Infection" is usually associated with an oozing sore, a bout with the flu, or an outbreak in some exotic place. But infectious organisms lie behind many chronic illnesses too, and an increasingly molecular approach to diagnosis is clarifying some of these relationships. An invited panel discussed "The Infectious Etiology of Chronic Diseases" at the second International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases, held in Atlanta July 16-19. Chronic diseases take a huge toll. "In the [United St
Will Genomics Spoil Gene Ownership?
Will Genomics Spoil Gene Ownership?
Consider a scenario for the year 2002: Using commercially available software, bioprospector "Craig Collins" spends a day scavenging the Human Genome Project (HGP) database for the alternatively spliced genes prized by Wall Street. He enters the sequences of several candidate genes into a software package that prints out the likely functions of their protein products. One protein looks like it could be pharmaceutical paydirt, so he isolates the corresponding cDNA, inserts it into a vector, then
Scientists, Publishers, Societies--and Turf
Scientists, Publishers, Societies--and Turf
Graphic: Cathleen Heard This week, as the United Nations convenes its Millennium Summit in New York, delegates will consider how to help developing countries obtain better access to medical information on the Internet. The discussion is prompted by Secretary General Kofi Annan, who in his April Millennium Report proposed a Health InterNetwork and a volunteer U.N. Information Technology Service. The first proposal would establish thousands of online sites in hospitals and clinics to provide acce
Jackson Lab Expanding Mouse Program
Jackson Lab Expanding Mouse Program
Scrambler, Fidget, Stargazer, and other mouse strains that mimic human neurological diseases, may have to move over. They are about to get plenty of company in their home in Bar Harbor, Maine. The Jackson Laboratory is planning to use its largest grant ever--$16.3 million from the National Institutes of Health--to develop and support more strains of mimicking mice. With a new building under construction, Jackson is expected to increase by 16 percent the number of mice it can maintain. At present
Harmony in the Lab
Harmony in the Lab
The Scientist - Harmony in the Lab The Scientist 14[17]:19, Sep. 4, 2000 NEWS Harmony in the Lab Kinzler-Vogelstein group is single-minded in goal of beating cancer By Eugene Russo Photo:©Marty Katz Bert Vogelstein (bearded, third from upper left) and Ken Kinzler (center, directly in front of Vogelstein), surrounded by therir labmates. Asked why his laboratory has had a string of successes in the last decade, making it one of the most recognizable onc
News Notes
News Notes
Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a technique for discerning odors that is far more sensitive than the human nose and has numerous potential applications in the workplace as well as the home. Ten to 100 times more sensitive than the human nose for many compounds, the artificial nose works by visualizing odors; it is simple, fast, and inexpensive. The technique, termed "smell-seeing" by its inventors, uses an array of vapor-sensitive dyes known as metalloporphyrins that cha

Commentary

Science Must Help Set the Global Agenda
Science Must Help Set the Global Agenda
When the president of South Africa implied recently that AIDS may not be caused by a virus, his statement was met with shock by much of the world. After all, scientists established the link between human immunodeficiency virus and AIDS years ago. But unfortunately, ignorance about--or even blatant disregard of--the science behind many of the world's most controversial issues is becoming all too common. No part of the world is immune. Just look at the "Frankenfood" scare in Europe. Consumers the

Letter

Genetic Testing
Genetic Testing
Dave Amber1 reviewed the public's risks in genetic DNA testing and the potential need for federal oversight to ensure the accuracy and predictability of these tests to avoid erroneous preventive surgical and medical care. The added user cost to the public for this Food and Drug Administration surveillance is yet to be determined. DNA testing has become more complicated than expected in that the variations of genetic mutations are numerous. A negative DNA test for a known hereditary cancer syndro
A Job for 1,000 Postdocs
A Job for 1,000 Postdocs
I almost choked on my tofu dog reading "Gene Transfer in Space."1 The article suggests that because soybean gene transfers performed on the ground have "an average success rate of 1:1,000," it is "obvious" that we should spend time, money, and effort pursuing more efficient gene transfers in space. Soybean seedling transformation would have to be--here it comes--astronomically less efficient to ever justify such an expensive solution. According to the Office of Management and Budget, nine

Cartoon

Cartoon
Cartoon
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Research

An Early Pharmacogenomics Application
An Early Pharmacogenomics Application
Pharmacogenomics, the application of genotyping to patient therapy, holds great promise for solving a long-standing problem: differences in individual responses to drug treatments. The ultimate goal is to maximize drug efficacy while minimizing side effects. The time when a report with each person's genetic code will guide doctors in personalized medicine is still far away, but pharmacogenomics already is allowing physicians to make treatment decisions regarding human immunodeficiency virus type
Bioflavonoids: Always Healthy?
Bioflavonoids: Always Healthy?
If you wanted to avoid bioflavonoids, it would not be easy. But who would want to? They are in all the good things: citrus fruits, berries, apples, root vegetables, herbs, and teas. Their inclusion in vitamin and mineral formulas stamps them with official, or at least commercial, favor. Undoubtedly, a food rich in bioflavonoids can stake a claim to the nutritional razzmatazz that ads call "natural goodness." Bioflavonoids are a family of more than 4,000 aromatic compounds derived exclusiv
Research Notes
Research Notes
Stopping Ebola in Its Tracks Richard Preston brought the threat of emerging infectious diseases to the consciousness of his readers in The Hot Zone. The book graphically describes how the Ebola virus causes massive internal bleeding, which kills up to 90 percent of the people it infects. Now National Institutes of Health scientists are making promising advances to stop disease spread. Researchers have identified a viral protein that destroys endothelial cells, the cells that line the blood vess

Hot Paper

The Deepest Branches
The Deepest Branches
For this article, Steve Bunk interviewed Karl O. Stetter, director, Institute of Microbiology, University of Regensburg, Germany, and Jay M. Short, chief executive officer, Diversa Corp., San Diego. 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. G. Deckert, P.V. Warren, T. Gaasterland, W.G. Young, A.L. Lenox, D.E. Graham, R. Overbeek, M.A. Snead, M. Keller, M. Aujay, R. Huber, R.A. Feld
Tumor Suppression
Tumor Suppression
For this article, Steve Bunk interviewed Ronald A. DePinho, professor of genetics, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School. 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. J. Pomerantz, N. Schreiber-Agus, N.J. Liégeois, A. Silverman, L. Alland, L. Chin, J. Potes, K. Chen, I. Orlow, H-W. Lee, C. Cordon-Cardo, R.A. DePinho, "The INK4a tumor suppressor gene product, p19ARF,

Technology

Multiply and Conquer
Multiply and Conquer
Genomic Solutions' GeneTAC G3 Productivity Tool With the sequencing stage of genomics research winding down, the less defined phase of assigning function to gene products is picking up speed. Because a multitude of functional genomics approaches is being explored, researchers will need an arsenal of new tools to make headway. The GeneTAC G3 Productivity Tool from Genomic Solutions of Ann Arbor, Mich., is a multifunctional, benchtop tool that provides the flexibility needed to address the next se
Light Idea
Light Idea
Reading the fluorescent signals on microarrays that give a glimpse into cellular gene expression is typically the job of laser scanners. This technology works well, but lasers can be very cumbersome to upgrade and maintain. The arrayWoRx Microarray Scanner, a new type of scanner from Applied Precision Inc. of Issaquah, Wash., uses white light instead of lasers to illuminate microarrays. The arrayWoRx system can excite any standard fluorescent probe, and changing dyes is as easy as using a
Out of the Darkroom
Out of the Darkroom
Syngene's GeneGnome Chemiluminescence imaging system Radioactive detection procedures are quickly being replaced by safer methods such as fluorescence and chemiluminescence. Re-searchers using fluorescent detection can choose from a wide array of electronic imaging equipment, but those who work with chemiluminescence have been relegated to the darkroom to process their images. With the introduction of the GeneGnome, an automated imaging system designed specifically for chemiluminescence, Syngene

Technology Profile

The Array of Today
The Array of Today
Human Arrays Human Arrays (continued) A 20th century scientist may have spent an entire career studying the function of a single protein, never imagining that one day it would be possible to study every human gene at once. This capability comes in the form of a microarray, a surface collection of immobilized genes that can be simultaneously examined with specialized equipment.1 Many current applications of arrays, also known as biochips, can be used in functional genomics as scientists seek ch
Reverse Psychology
Reverse Psychology
Reverse Transcriptases Commonly Used for RT-PCR Reverse transcriptase-PCR (RT-PCR)--a method for assessing gene expression, detecting low copy number mRNA transcripts, and generating complementary DNAs (cDNAs) for cloning--converts an RNA template to its DNA counterpart with a reverse transcriptase enzyme. The cDNA is then amplified by PCR. Although the technique appears relatively painless, researchers using RT-PCR may encounter several pitfalls. For instance, reverse transcribing long mRNA te

Profession

Careers in Technology Transfer
Careers in Technology Transfer
Ever since the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, which allows universities, federally funded research labs, and small businesses to own and patent inventions discovered in federally funded research programs, the profession of commercializing research has been growing and changing. Technology transfer managers help shepherd an idea conceived by scientists in academia or government research centers to commercialization in the private sector. They deal with evaluating discoveries for commercial potential, pat
Profession Notes
Profession Notes
Tools of the Trade As knowledge advances regarding deadly diseases and subsequent treatments, many scientists are relying on the tools and techniques being developed by biotechnology companies to achieve research goals. One genomic information company, Incyte Genomics of Palo Alto, Calif., recently launched Incyte.com, a genomics Web site with proprietary human gene as well as public domain sequence information. The company is focused on the discovery and analysis of genes as they are expressed

Opinion

Instrumentation Funding Is Inadequate
Instrumentation Funding Is Inadequate
Illustration: A. Canamucio Leading practitioners in most professions strive to work with the most up-to-date tools available, especially when faced with challenging tasks. Similarly, people relying on the skills of these top practitioners expect them to use the most advanced tools possible. Few patients, for example, would feel comfortable submitting to difficult medical procedures knowing their dentist, doctor, or surgeon was working with outdated instruments when a more modern version with su