Diagnostics + Therapy = Theranostics
Susan Warner | Aug 29, 2004 | 5 min read
© g. Tompkinson/Photo Researchers, Inc.Drug companies and diagnostic test developers are increasingly teaming up to produce theranostics, a treatment strategy that packs a one-two punch: a diagnostic test that identifies patients most likely to be helped or harmed by a new medication, and targeted drug therapy based on the test results. Theranostic tests differ from traditional ones such as those for blood glucose, because the new tests are based on sophisticated technology involving geneti
A Change in EU Science?
Stephen Pincock | Aug 29, 2004 | 5 min read
Ask a selection of European scientists what they think about the way the European Union funds basic research and you'll get a pretty clear answer. It may be a frustrated snort or a bitter laugh, but you'll get the picture. Now, the European Commission has outlined plans for an overhaul of research funding, but scientists' hopefulness is tinged with skepticism. Many researchers say that the EU's current Framework Programme, which awards funds to researchers, is plagued by baffling mountains of pa
How To Negotiate for Academic Lab Space
Jill Adams | Aug 29, 2004 | 4 min read
Space – as in simple square footage, not the stuff beyond the stratosphere – can be a limiting factor in your capacity to conduct research. At most academic institutions, the department chairperson has the final say in how much space each faculty member has. So how can you get a bigger slice of the departmental pie?Advice from Department ChairsHajjar: "The best way to negotiate for space is to show your department chair that program expansion is necessary to advance the field and tha
Bush and Science at Loggerheads
Dana Wilkie | Aug 1, 2004 | 5 min read
At the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, Fred Gage and colleagues examine how a generic embryonic stem cell evolves into a highly specialized brain cell. Their hope is that understanding stem-cell evolution will reveal what keeps cells healthy and lead to new therapies. But federal restrictions on human embryonic stem-cell research are discouraging Gage and others. "I would say that I'm limiting my effort in this field," he says. "It's been time consuming. Resources are taken a
The Heart of Europe's Biotech Sector
Martina Habeck | Aug 1, 2004 | 6 min read
More than 5,000 scientists with higher academic degrees work in public research in Europe's Upper Rhine valley, making this area one of the highest densities of life sciences-related research in the world. Now, the triangle region from Basel, Switzerland, in the south to Strasbourg, France, and Freiburg, Germany, in the north is striving to become the European heart of the biotechnology sector.The Dreiländereck or la Régio, as the region is called locally, has a lot going for it: excel
How to Be a Good Mentor
Jill Adams | Aug 1, 2004 | 4 min read
In the juggling act that is your work, a new student in the lab might make you feel that you have one more thing to keep aloft. Nonetheless, a mentor's job is to transform that student into a juggler, too. That student must first help keep your hoops airborne and eventually juggle as a standalone act.Your main responsibility is providing opportunities to conduct research. That involves providing a hypothesis or two, bench space and equipment time, training in techniques, office space and a lab c
Ongoing Battle over Transgenic Mice
Sam Jaffe | Jul 18, 2004 | 5 min read
Adecade-long war over genetically modified mice still rages. In 1994, Klaus Rajewsky's laboratory at the University of Cologne in Germany created the first transgenic conditional knockout mouse.1 With this mouse, researchers could turn on a genetic mutation at a specific period of development in a specific type of cell. Rajewsky assumed that his mouse would soon be used in labs throughout the world. Simply pleased with his research success, he never considered applying for a patent on a mouse. "
SEC and FDA Join Forces Against Biotech
Susan Warner | Jul 18, 2004 | 6 min read
A biotechnology stock, ImClone Systems of New York City, served as the root of Martha Stewart's insider-trading conviction, and life-science lawyers say that the biotech industry is ripe for more securities-related cases. Largely in response to the ImClone debacle, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) initiated new policies that make it easier for these two agencies to cooperate on biotechnology cases. "Biotech has been hot for the last co
Massachusetts Should Team Up on Biotech
Diane Lewis | Jul 18, 2004 | 5 min read
Courtesy of Neil W. Van DykeMassachusetts contends for the forefront of life-sciences research and development. Nonetheless, some business leaders worry that Massachusetts could fall behind, because this state lacks a formal link between industry and the state's public and private academic institutions. An ongoing roadmap, however, aims to keep Massachusetts on track as a leader in biotechnology.Academic-industrial partnerships generate widespread benefits in other states. In a report on the nee
How to Write a Business Plan
Jill Adams | Jul 18, 2004 | 1 min read
Interdisciplinary communication is tricky business. Ecologists andmolecular types may use certain lingo, but PhDs and MBAs speak entirely different languages. That can mean trouble for a business plan.Business and science make up one of the riskiest marriages around. Still, many MBAs and PhDs take this plunge because of the potential for blockbuster profits. However, even a solid scientific idea, one that fills a gap in the market, can sink for lack of business savvy, says Tom Fitzsimons, direct
Maltese Scientists Work on Wits
Martina Habeck | Jul 4, 2004 | 5 min read
Courtesy of Malta Tourism AuthorityRichard Muscat rarely tunes in to the daily news, but while tending to his children last November, he overheard a TV newscast that stopped him. The prime minister had set aside €800,000 to launch a national research program. For the first time ever, the government allocated money to research. "Thank heavens," Muscat recalls thinking. "They have finally done it."Muscat, a neuroscientist at the University of Malta, and his colleagues had lobbied the Maltese
National Research Council Proposes an Academic Patent Shield
Ted Agres | Jul 4, 2004 | 4 min read
Arti RaiCourtesy of Duke Law SchoolThe decades of freedom from liability for patent infringement may be over for US universities and research institutes, unless the National Research Council (NRC) gets its way. In the past, universities could use patented techniques and devices without a license, because of the so-called experimental use exemption. In other words, patents could be infringed in academic pursuits.Action in the federal courts has closed that loophole. Instead of letting universitie
How to Get Help Writing Grants
Jill Adams | Jul 4, 2004 | 4 min read
Many sources such as books, Web sites, and workshops provide advice on writing grants. When you sit down to work on your grant, though, the advice may not propel you from theory to application. The trouble is, most sources supply generic help, written for anonymous grant writers. Here, you'll learn how to find personalized help that is often nearby.Before getting specific, let's consider four general suggestions. First, look to your institution's grants office. Grants specialists can help you fi
Let Them Eat Protease Inhibitors
Susan Warner | Jun 20, 2004 | 4 min read
Activists campaigning to get AIDS treatments and other critical medicines to poor people around the world propose radical changes in the financing of global pharmaceutical research and development. The activists suggest that the World Trade Organization (WTO) discard global intellectual property protections and replace them with incentive programs for scientists. The companies that research, design, and produce the drugs would no longer support large sales teams to persuade physicians to prescri
The Best Places to Work in Industry
Maria Anderson | Jun 20, 2004 | 7 min read
The formula for the best workplace: a product to be proud of, appreciative management, and trustworthy colleagues. That's the opinion of participants in The Scientist's Best Places to Work in Industry survey.Our 2004 survey aimed to define what attracts highly talented workers to a company, and what initiatives keep those workers happy once they sign on. We also asked survey participants to identify the employers who come closest to realizing these ideals.Pride in the product ranked first among
Genentech Builds a Blockbuster-free Road to Billions
Susan Warner | Jun 6, 2004 | 8 min read
Courtesy of GenentechGenentech, the first US biotechnology company, has survived ugly patent disputes, product flops, and a Big Pharma partnership to become the biotech every company wants to be. The stock market value of the company, which makes the cancer drugs Herceptin and Rituxan, rose $7 billion (US), or 12%, in a single day in April based on promising data for a new lung-cancer treatment, Tarceva. That jump came less than a year after good results for Avastin in colon cancer trials sent t
Britain Fosters Bioincubators
Catherine Brahic | Jun 6, 2004 | 5 min read
Ned ShawIn the late 1990s, the UK Department of Trade and Industry began a program to boost highly skilled employment by financing biotechnology incubators. At the launch of the Biotechnology Mentoring and Incubator (BMI) Challenge, the United Kingdom could boast just two incubators, and as a part of the challenge the DTI awarded €4.9 million to 13 companies. The money went to incubators that provided lab space and equipment and also to organizations that provided just mentoring and manage
How to Balance Short- and Long-term Research Goals
Jill Adams | Jun 6, 2004 | 4 min read
You do it already. You spend a portion of your research hours on the here and now, a slice or two on what's to come, and a sliver on the past. What you may not do is purposefully work out what the best balance is between past, present, and future. To preclude a nighttime visit from a hooded Ghost of Projects Yet to Come, a la Dickens, take some time to analyze your present allocation.If you define present projects as everything from bench work to publication, then future projects include brainst
Select-Agent Security Clearance Stymies Research
Dana Wilkie | May 23, 2004 | 8 min read
Courtesy of Pedro ScassaValley Fever, a pneumonia-like lung disease that strikes 50,000 people each year, has become an epidemic in southern Arizona, and John Galgiani, director of the University of Arizona's Valley Fever Center for Excellence in Tucson, wants to know why. But the research that might help this microbiologist uncover the state's Valley Fever mystery has been brought to a halt by the very agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, charged with protecting people from d
US Government Launches Biolab Building Spree
John Dudley Miller | May 23, 2004 | 6 min read
Courtesy of the CDCThe September 11 attacks and five anthrax-related deaths later in the fall of 2001 made it clear that the United States was vunerable to terrorist actions. Those events also caught the nation immediately short of the high-level biocontainment lab space needed to develop antibioweapon vaccines and drug treatments.Since then, the US Congress has approved plans for the National Institutes of Health to spend as much as $500 million on new biosafety space over the next few years,1