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Second cloned baby born, group claims
Clonaid, the company that claims to have produced the first human clone, said yesterday that a second cloned baby had been born to a Dutch lesbian couple. See 

Cloning claim sounds familiar
For all the speed with which science was progressing, virtually no one had thought it would happen so soon. Yet there it was in huge block letters on the front page of the New York Post: The world's first human clone had been born. See 

Audio Response to ClonAid Birth Announcement
by Reasons to Believe. See 

Research Finds Life 1000 Feet Beneath Ocean Floor: CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study has discovered an abundance of microbial life deep beneath the ocean floor in ancient basalt that forms part of the Earth's crust, in research that once more expands the realm of seemingly hostile or remote environments in which living organisms can apparently thrive. See 

Online Biology Book: This is a great resource!

December 2003

December 21

Mutant worms withstand boozy bender
Single gene linked to alcohol tolerance.

Popular Anti-epileptic Drug Also Effective In Controlling Debilitating Symptom Of Multiple Sclerosis.

The Common Cold As Cancer Fighter? ST. LOUIS
Can the common cold ever be a good thing? It is if you've figured out a way to genetically engineer the virus so that it fights and kills cancerous cells - while leaving healthy cells intact.

December 14

Engineered pig organs survive in monkeys
Humanised kidneys appear to thwart first round of rejection.

SARS vaccines speed towards clinic
Researchers urge caution to avoid jabs pitfall.

Warm-Blooded Plants?
OK, there's no blood, but they do make their own heat. Research heats up on why some flowers have the chemistry to keep themselves warm.

Scientists Decode DNA Of Bacterium That Cleans Up Uranium Contamination And Generates Electricity

Mustard-root Map Breaks New Ground Tracking Gene Expression.
Focusing on the root of a small flowering mustard plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, a research team led by Duke University biologist Philip Benfey created a detailed mosaic of cells showing where and when about 22,000 of the plant's roughly 28,000 genes are activated within growing root tissue.

Keep Your Skin Soft in Cold Climets.
Cold, dry winter air, low humidity caused by indoor heating, and hot showers and baths are all factors that rob your skin of moisture during the winter.

Over-exercising, especially when coupled with an eating disorder, can lead to stress on the heart, according to Akron Children's Hospital in Ohio.

December 7

Can Stormy Weather Bring on Migraines?
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, migraine headaches appear to be linked in part to changes in levels of the chemical serotonin in the body. When serotonin levels are high, blood vessels constrict. But when they are low, blood vessels may swell, and that swelling may cause migraine pain. Some speculate that barometric pressure changes may contribute to the blood vessel swelling and explain why many people report migraines with changes in both weather or altitude.

Elderly falls linked to vitamin deficiency
An unexpected risk factor for the potentially fatal falls suffered by many elderly people is revealed - vitamin D deficiency.

New Drug To Treat Enlarged Prostate Developed At University College London (December 1, 2003)
Millions of men stand to benefit from a discovery by UCL scientists that could provide a breakthrough in the treatment of enlargement of the prostate (BPH). The UCL team has developed a new drug, Rho-kinase inhibitor that, in preliminary tests, has been found to treat the condition by both relaxing the prostate and stopping the growth of cells within it.

Study Finds Clues To Brain Tumors' Origins (December 1, 2003)
Researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center have discovered that brain tumors may be derived from the cells that form the nervous system, called neural stems cells, which may help researchers understand how this cancer begins and one day could lead to improved diagnosis and treatment.

November 2003

November 30

Study finds the gene for heart attack
The first gene linked directly to heart attacks has been isolated from an extended Iowa family plagued for generations with rampant coronary-artery disease. ( By Paul Recer, Associated Press, 11/28/2003 07:00 AM EST).

Scientists Take DNA's Temperature
The temperature most often associated with human life is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, that of a healthy person.  Scientists recently succeeded in taking a different measurement, one they've dubbed the heat of life: the energies involved in DNA replication and synthesis.

Bear bones hint at osteoporosis treatment
Black bears have a unique ability to stop their bones from degenerating during hibernation, a news study finds.

Brain's 'Daydream' Network Offers Detection For Alzheimer's Diagnosis.
Researchers tracking the ebb and flow of cognitive function in the human brain have discovered surprising differences in the ability of younger and older adults to shut down a brain network normally active during periods of passive daydreaming. The differences, which are especially pronounced in people with dementia, may provide a clear and powerful new method for diagnosing individuals in the very early stages of Alzheimer's disease.

November 23

Rebuilding the Heart: Marrow cells boost cardiac recovery.
Inserting a person's own bone marrow stem cells into an ailing heart via a catheter can improve heart and lung function in such patients.

Biofilm Antibiotic Resistance May Be Susceptible To Genetic Approach (November 20, 2003)
Biofilms, slimy clusters of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics, may have a genetic chink in their armor that could be exploited to combat the infections they cause. A study led by Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) researchers used a genetic-based approach to begin to understand how biofilms can withstand antibacterial treatments.

Cocoa Froths With Cancer-preventing Compounds (November 19, 2003)
Beyond the froth, cocoa teems with antioxidants that prevent cancer, Cornell University food scientists say. Comparing the chemical anti-cancer activity in beverages known to contain antioxidants, they have found that cocoa has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times those found in green tea.

Regeneration Of Insulin-producing Islets May Lead To Diabetes Cure (November 17, 2003) — Cells from an unexpected source, the spleen, appear to develop into insulin-producing pancreatic islet cells in adult animals.

Study Suggests New View Of Gene Activation As A Dynamic Process (November 17, 2003)
With the sequence of the human genome largely in hand and the majority of genes now available for study, scientists have increasingly turned their attention to better understanding the process of gene regulation. How is a gene turned on? How is a gene turned off?

November 16

Rare Sponge May Hold Cancer Cure
After almost 20 years of searching, marine biologists have rediscovered a small, mysterious sponge that may contain a powerful cancer cure.

FDA Declares Cloned Animals Safe to Eat

Do Aches Really Forecast Bad Weather?

Scientists Find Brain Areas Affected By Lack Of Sleep
Lack of sleep can affect an individual's memory, ability to perform simple daily tasks, and attention span.

Drugs in sport: No dope
Don Catlin's lab has struck a major blow against drug abuse in athletics, by developing a test for a shadowy 'designer steroid'. Jonathan Knight visits the scientists who are striving to keep sport clean.

Elements Of Green Tea Prevent HIV From Binding To Human T Cells (November 14, 2003)
The major component of green tea prevents the binding of HIV to human T cells, the first step in HIV infection, according to a study and an accompanying editorial published in the November 2003 Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Green tea is the nonoxidized, unfermented product of the leaves from the evergreen plant, Camellia sinensis.

New Vaccine Tested In Animals May Hold Hope For Alzheimer's Patients.
In new research, scientists show that two dramatically different approaches may be effective in treating or preventing Alzheimer's disease. One approach involves development of a vaccine that clears deposits of a sticky substance called amyloid beta protein from monkey brains.

How valid is the concept of race from a biological standpoint?
Do physical features reliably say anything informative about a person's genetic makeup beyond indicating that the individual has genes for blue eyes or curly hair?

November 9

Exercise, Not Diet, May Be Best Defense Against Heart Disease (November 5, 2003)
Despite widespread attention to diet, calorie intake may not be a major factor in causing death by heart disease, according to a 17-year study of almost 9,800 Americans. Instead, losing excess weight -- or not becoming overweight to begin with -- and exercising may do more to ward off death from heart disease.

Radically New Anti-rejection Drug Shown To Offer Safe Control Of Immune System In Stanford Study (November 4, 2003)
A new type of drug may help transplanted organs thrive without compromising the recipient, Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have shown. The drug specifically targets immune cells that lead to rejection, causing minimal side effects in animal studies.

Major New Finding On Genetics Of Parkinson's Disease Zeroes In On Activity Of Alpha Synuclein (November 4, 2003)
Scientists investigating a rare familial form of early-onset Parkinson's disease have discovered that too much of a normal form of the alpha-synuclein gene may cause Parkinson's disease. The finding, reported in the October 31, 2003, issue of Science, shows that abnormal multiplication of the alpha-synuclein gene can cause the disease.

Researchers Home In On Obesity Gene And Offer Explanation For Overeating (November 4, 2003)
An international team of researchers has identified the role of a gene which may explain why some people overeat and become obese.

Breast Cancer Can Be Reversed In Laboratory Mice, Scientists Report (November 3, 2003)
Breast cancer researchers have demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to block genetic switches in mice that turn cancer on and off -- thus preventing and even reversing breast cancer in the animals. The findings, reported Sunday morning at the 24th Congress of the International Association for Breast Cancer Research, suggest potential new molecular targets for drugs to prevent and potentially eradicate breast cancer in humans.

World's Most Alkaline Life Forms Found Near Chicago. Seattle - Nov 05, 2003
Sometimes the most extreme environment for life isn't at the bottom of the ocean or inside a volcano. It's just south of Chicago.

November 2

New Genomic Data Helps Resolve Biology's Tree Of Life. Madison - Oct 23, 2003
For more than a century, biologists have been working to assign plants, animals and microbes their respective places on the tree of life. More recently, by comparing DNA sequences from a few genes per species, scientists have been trying to construct a grand tree of life that accurately portrays the course of life on Earth, and shows how all organisms are related, one to another.

Nature Web Focus: Human Chromosomes
Papers presented here serve as the definitive historical record for the sequences and analyses of human chromosomes - the ultimate results of the Human Genome Project.

Artificial Proteins Assembled from Scratch Proteins are vital components of every cell.
They activate genes, enable motion, catalyze biochemical reactions--the list goes on. Biotechnologists are thus understandably eager to unravel their every secret: only with a thorough comprehension of natural proteins can they engineer novel ones with special properties. New findings represent intriguing progress on that front.

Surgeons Offer New Treatment For Degenerative Eye Disease (October 28, 2003)
Researchers at Duke Eye Center believe a surgical procedure they have refined for over a decade can offer hope to more people suffering from end-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is an eye disease that may lead to central vision loss and afflicts an estimated 500,000 people worldwide each year.

More Evidence Shows That Children's Brains With Dyslexia Respond Abnormally To Language Stimuli (October 27, 2003)
Researchers have additional evidence that reading problems are linked to abnormal sound processing, thanks to high-precision pictures of the brain at work. In a recent study, when children without reading problems tried to distinguish between similar spoken syllables, speech areas in the left brain worked much harder than corresponding areas in the right brain, whose function is still unknown.

October 2003

October 26

U-M Scientists Find Genetic 'Fountain Of Youth' For Adult Stem Cells (October 23, 2003)
Scientists at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center have identified a gene that controls the amazing ability of adult stem cells to self-renew, or make new copies of themselves, throughout life.

Scaffold May Help Stem Cells Grow into Organs
Organ transplantation saves the lives of 63 people each day, on average. Unfortunately, another 16 lives are lost because the demand for organs outstrips supply. Scientists hope to one day solve this problem by manufacturing replacement parts through tissue engineering. In a small step toward this goal, researchers report a new approach to creating three-dimensional samples of human tissue.

Preliminary Study Finds Stem Cells In Blood Restore Damaged Heart Muscle (October 21, 2003)
Based on promising animal data, researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center say that cells taken from a patient's own blood may one day be able to repair heart tissue that has been damaged.

New Class Of Antibiotics Stops Pathogens In Their Genetic Tracks
Researchers have found that a promising new class of antibacterial chemicals inhibits one of the most fundamental processes of life – a cell's ability to express genetic material. Knowing exactly how these chemicals keep bacterial cells in check can help scientists make more effective antibiotics.

Re-engineered Blood Vessels Show Promise For Bypass Surgery, Grafts, UMHS Researchers Find (October 23, 2003)
Surgeons at the University of Michigan Health System report that they have been able to strip tiny blood vessels from rats and re-engineer them to be more effective when implanted in a new animal. The findings could benefit people who have already had vascular bypass surgery and need new blood vessels for subsequent procedures.

UBC Researcher Discovers 'Control Room' That Regulates Immune Responses (October 23, 2003)
The approximately 50 million people in the U.S. who suffer from autoimmune diseases like HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and arthritis, may soon be able to control their immune responses, thanks to a breakthrough discovery by a researcher at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.

October 19

Teens' Diets Often Backfire.
Adolescents who dieted frequently actually gained more weight each year than other children, says new research.

Hepatitis-like drugs could treat allergies
Virus plus gene may protect against asthma. October 9, 2003

Rejection a Real Pain, Brain Study Shows
It seems the old adage about sticks, stones and hurtful words may need some revision. The results of a new study suggest that social rejection elicits a brain response similar to the one triggered by physical pain.

Popping a pill could fix gene defect
An experimental drug produces a working protein even though the gene remains defective - the approach could be an alternative to gene therapy.

Bone Marrow Fusion With Nerve Cells May Repair Damage, Stanford Researchers Say (October 16, 2003)
Bone marrow cells can fuse with specialized brain cells, possibly bolstering the brain cells or repairing damage, according to research from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

'No health benefit' from prayer
The world's largest study into the effects of prayer on patients undergoing heart surgery has found it appears to make no difference (BBC).

October 12

Dogs Genetically Closer to Man Than Mouse.
Dogs are genetically closer to man than mice, U.S. researchers said Thursday, detailing a partial sequencing of the dog genome. The project found that more than 25 percent, or 650 million base pairs, of DNA overlap between human and dog. "Comparing the dog sequence data with current drafts of the human and mouse genome sequences showed that the dog lineage was the first to diverge from the common ancestor of the three species," they said in results published in the review Science.

New Treatment Improves Long-term Outlook For Breast Cancer Survivors
A Canadian-led international clinical trial has found that post-menopausal survivors of early-stage breast cancer who took the drug letrozole after completing an initial five years of tamoxifen therapy had a significantly reduced risk of cancer recurrence compared to women taking a placebo.

New Engineering Center Focuses On Implantable Prosthetics (October 9, 2003)
Implantable microelectronic devices for overcoming blindness, paralysis, and stroke damage are the focus of a new center in which engineers from UCSC are collaborating with scientists at the University of Southern California and the California Insitute of Technology.

HIV Vaccine In Worldwide Trial (October 8, 2003)
Vanderbilt University Medical Center is participating in worldwide tests of a potential vaccine that can stimulate important immune responses against the virus that causes AIDS. This is the first candidate vaccine against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to be studied simultaneously in so many locations, from Brazil to Thailand, according to Merck & Co. Inc., which developed the vaccine.

Researchers Identify Novel Treatment For Polycystic Kidney Disease In Animals (October 6, 2003)
The drug OPC31260 stops the development of cysts and prevents kidney function loss in rats and mice, according to a Mayo Clinic and Indiana University School of Medicine study published in the October 2003 issue of Nature Medicine.

Restoring Recall: Memories may form and reform, with sleep.
Two new studies indicate that memories, at least for skills learned in a laboratory, undergo a process of storage and restorage that depends critically on sleep.

When Genes Escape: Does it matter to crops and weeds?
The focus of the debate over transgenic crops has changed from whether genes will escape to what difference it will make when they do.

October 5

Drug produces faster healing and fewer scars
If clinical trials are successful, the drug could routinely be used to prevent scarring after surgery or following serious accidents.

SARS Virus Can Change Quickly And Unpredictably, Analysis Indicates
The SARS virus is capable of changing rapidly and unpredictably, which could present serious challenges for managing the disease.

Purdue Biologists' Spotlight Solves Mysteries Of Photosynthesis, Metabolism
A complete molecular-scale picture of how plants convert sunlight to chemical energy has been obtained at Purdue University.

New Insight Into Heart Failure Suggests Novel Drug Target (October 2, 2003)
By disrupting the activity of a single heart protein, Duke University Medical Center researchers eased heart failure significantly in mice with chronic high blood pressure. The finding provides new insight into the root causes of the progressive decline in cardiac function that is heart failure and suggests a novel method to prevent the deterioration.

White Blood Cell Plays Key Role In Body's Excessive Repair Response To Asthma (October 2, 2003)
Researchers in London and Montreal report that they have discovered an important link in the development of the body's response to allergic asthma. They have found that one type of white blood cell, an eosinophil, which was known to cause inflammation of lung airways, is also responsible for driving the process which leads to an excessive 'repair response' by the body.

Study Shows Link Between Antibiotics And Allergies, Asthma (October 1, 2003)
Children who receive antibiotics within their first six months of birth increase their risk of developing by age 7 allergies to pets, ragweed, grass and dust mites and asthma, according to study conducted at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.

Salk Researcher Provides New View On How The Brain Functions (October 2, 2003)
Scientists are developing a new paradigm for how the brain functions. They propose that the brain is not a huge fixed network, as had been previously thought, but a dynamic, changing network that adapts continuously to meet the demands of communication and computational needs.

September 2003

September 28

Old-Fashioned Cures for Common Ailments. Sept. 14 (HealthDayNews)
Some old-fashioned home remedies may work as well, or better, than commercial remedies for treating common childhood aches and pains.

Tumor-Busting Viruses
Some scientists are now genetically engineering a range of viruses that act as search-and-destroy missiles: selectively infecting and killing cancer cells while leaving healthy ones alone. This new strategy, called virotherapy, has shown promise in animal tests, and clinical trials involving human patients are now under way. Researchers are evaluating virotherapy alone and as a novel means for administering traditional chemotherapies solely to tumor cells. They are also developing methods to label viruses with radioactive or fluorescent tags in order to track the movement of the viral agents in patients.

Opening A File Card On All Life forms. Arlington - Sep 24, 2003
The National Science Foundation (NSF), in cooperation with the ALL Species Foundation, has announced an important new strategy to discover, describe and classify Earth's species. By some estimates as many as 90 percent of living species are unknown to science, and traditional approaches to discover them are unacceptably slow, scientists say.

Danger On Chromosome 15
Unstable Region Yields Genes For Prader-Willi/Angelman Syndromes And Spastic Paraplegia. While it might have given our ancestors an evolutionary advantage, an "unstable" region on human chromosome 15 is also the source of a set of inherited neurological diseases.

Genes Can Individualize Treatment For High Blood Pressure (September 25, 2003)
Genes that cause hypertension may also determine which blood pressure-lowering drugs are most effective for different people, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's 57th Annual High Blood Pressure Research Conference.

Exercise Can Reduce Prevent Diabetes For People Of Any Weight, Say Pittsburgh Researchers (September 25, 2003)
Taking a brisk half-hour walk every day can decrease a person's risk of developing diabetes regardless of their weight, report researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health (GSPH) in the Oct. 1 issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Trans Fatty Acids: What Are They And Why Shouldn't You Eat Them? (September 24, 2003)
Just what is the skinny on those trans fatty acids that are so bad for you? Donuts, stick margarines, French fries, cookies and other tasty snacks are loaded with them. And this summer the Food and Drug Administration decreed that as of Jan. 1, 2006, manufacturers must break the trans fats category out of the total fat listing on labels.

September 21

Cloning By Some Marine Invertebrate Larvae Not Overly Rare. Edmonton - Sep 11, 2003
After more than a century of intensive study, scientists have assumed that larvae of non-parasitic invertebrates reproduce only very rarely, but new research by University of Alberta scientists overthrows this conventional wisdom.

Old Drug Works New Tricks For Iron Overload Heart Disease.
Researchers at the University of Toronto and Toronto General Hospital have made a discovery that could prevent damage to the heart, pancreas and pituitary gland from excess iron with a simple pill. This could save many lives around the world and spare patients from the cumbersome treatments currently available.

New Blood Test Could Detect Lung Cancer In Its Earliest Stages. DURHAM, N.C.
Lung cancer is often deadly by the time doctors have detected it, but scientists at Duke University Medical Center are developing a non-invasive test that could detect lung cancer in its earliest stages, while it is still treatable.

A Cheap And Easy Way To Treat Parkinson Disease.
A team of researchers, led by Serge Przedborski, at Columbia University in New York, have demonstrated that infusion of D-beta-hydroxybutyrate (D-beta-HB) to mice suffering from Parkinson disease restored impaired brain function and protected against neurodegeneration and motor skill abnormalities. D-beta-HB, already utilized in the treatment of epilepsy, may represent a cheap and easy way to treat Parkinson disease.

September 14

'Shock sheet' squeezes blood to dying brain
A device akin to an inflatable sleeping bag could save heart attack victims by pushing blood from their legs to the heart and brain.

Lens Replacement Material May Improve Cataract Treatment, Eliminate Bifocals (September 10, 2003)
Scientists at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis are developing a gel-like material that eventually could be used to replace diseased and aging lenses in the eyes of patients with cataracts.

Potent Toxin Reveals New Antibiotic Resistance Mechanism
More and more, microbes are able to eliminate, modify and sequester the toxic molecules that make up the arsenal of antibiotics.

Targeting Transcription: New Insights Into Turning Genes On
The 35,000 or so genes within a human cell are something like players on a sports team: If their activity isn't controlled and coordinated, the result can be disastrous.

September 7

Blood Pressure Flags Revised
A blood pressure reading that was once regarded as normal may now bear watching for signs of hypertension, according to Marion County Medical Center. New guidelines issued by the National High Blood Pressure Education Program set lower targets for the treatment of hypertension. Any reading from 120/80 to 139/89 is now defined as pre-hypertension, requiring lifestyle changes. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends the DASH diet, a regimen high in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Restricted salt intake, weight loss and exercise are also advised.

Mouse, Stripped Of A Key Gene, Resists Diabetes (September 3, 2003)
An engineered mouse, already known to be immune to the weight gain ramifications of a high-calorie, high-fat diet, now seems able to resist the onset of diabetes. The mouse, stripped of a gene known as SCD-1, is apparently impervious to the negative effects of the type of diet that, for many people, has significant health and social consequences.

Study Provides New Insights Into Emerging Theory Of Gene Regulation (September 2, 2003)
With the full sequence of the human genome now in hand, scientists are turning renewed attention to the molecular processes that regulate the genes encoded by DNA. Estimates are that only a tenth of all genes are expressed at any given time. What controls when and where genes are activated?

Study Shows Brain Activity Influences Immune Function
Staying healthy may involve more than washing hands or keeping a positive attitude. According to a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, it also may involve a particular pattern of brain activity.

August 2003

August 31

Dartmouth Bioengineers Develop Humanized Yeast
Bioengineers at Dartmouth have genetically engineered yeast to produce humanized therapeutic proteins to address the manufacturing crunch currently confronting the biopharmaceutical industry. Reported in this week's issue of Science, the researchers have re-engineered the yeast P. pastoris to secrete a complex human glycoprotein--a process offering significant advantages over current production methods using mammalian cell lines, according to the researchers.

Genetics (28 Aug)
Increasingly, researchers believe that the mechanisms that govern gene activity themselves resemble a complicated non-DNA code - an intricate pattern of activity among the molecules that package and control access to the DNA. They suspect that the coordinated interplay of a number of specific enzymes is required to turn on a particular gene.

'MicroRNAs' Control Plant Shape And Structure
New discoveries about tiny genetic components called microRNAs explain why plant leaves are flat. The study may be a first step, researchers say, in revolutionizing our understanding of how plants control their morphology, or shape.

August 24

Scientists Acknowledge Animal Emotions
Aug. 15, 2003 — Researchers working in neurobiology and behavioral observation seem to be learning what pet lovers have maintained all along: animals have feelings.

Toxic Protein Could Explain Alzheimer's And Lead To Breakthroughs
Researchers at Northwestern University have discovered for the first time in humans the presence of a toxic protein that they believe to be responsible for the devastating memory loss found in individuals suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

Viruses will soon have no place to hide inside the human body
By injecting magnetic nanoparticles into the bloodstream, researchers believe they can use whole body scans to reveal the location of any lurking menace. This could help doctors improve their treatments, or gene therapists assess their success. The particles latch onto the viruses thanks to an antibody overcoat, and clump together where the virus is rife.

'Sophisticated Molecular Machine' Is Found To Govern Cell's Reading Of Genetic Code
The process by which a cell reads the genetic code in its DNA in order to manufacture a protein is complex, involving dozens of enzymes and other biological molecules working together. Now, research at Cornell University, using the fruit fly as a model system, has confirmed a theory about one step in the process by showing that a protein complex known as FACT is positioned in living cells at sites where chromosomal DNA is unpacked so that its code can be read.

Microbes' 'Blueprints' Promise Insights Into Oceans, More
The world's smallest photosynthetic organisms, microbes that can turn sunlight and carbon dioxide into living biomass like plants do, are in the limelight. Three international teams of scientists, including a group from MIT, have announced the genetic blueprints for four closely related forms of these organisms, which numerically dominate the phytoplankton of the oceans.

Leading Bacterial Pathogen Is Sequenced
The complete genome sequence of a leading bacterial plant pathogen offers new ways to stave off agricultural loss and perhaps foil animal or human infection, says a Cornell University researcher.

August 17

Natural Hormone Could Reverse Heart Damage
By altering the signaling pathway of the natural hormone leptin, Johns Hopkins researchers say, doctors may one day be able to minimize or even reverse a dangerous enlarged heart condition linked to obesity. See

Mare Gives Birth to Own Clone. A foal born earlier this year named Prometea is the first successfully cloned horse, scientists report. What is more, the horse from which the original cell material was taken--not a surrogate--gave birth to her. The birth challenges the idea that the early success of a pregnancy depends on the mother's immune system responding to a developing fetus and placenta as something different from itself. See

Scientists Boost Antioxidant Content of Corn. Vitamin E is associated with a number of beneficial effects, including reduced cholesterol, a decreased risk of coronary disease and improved prenatal heath, but nearly 25 percent of people in the U.S. do not receive the recommended dose. Now scientists have developed a new method of engineering plants, including corn, containing significantly increased levels of the antioxidant. See

Researchers One Step Closer To Holy Grail Of Neurobiology
For scientists in the field of neurobiology, defining the factors that influence the arousal of brain and behavior is a "Holy Grail." Research published by Rockefeller University scientists in the Aug. 11 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition are the first to give a rigorous definition of what is meant by arousal, considered to be at the base of all emotionally laden behaviors. See

Stem-cell Defect Underlies Common Genetic Disorder
Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have found that Hirschsprung disease, one of the most common genetic disorders, is caused by a defect that blocks neural stem cells from forming nerves that control the lower intestine. See

Search Beneath Lawns Provides Insight Into Backyard Biodiversity
Lawn mowing and maintenance can make homeowners' summer free time disappear, but what do these practices do to the tiny creatures that live beneath the lawn and help to process nutrients and organic materials? See

Largest Seed Germinates. Experts at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh are celebrating after successfully germinating the world's largest seed. The Coco de Mer - which is produced by a palm tree found in the Seychelles - is as heavy as eight bags of sugar and notoriously difficult to cultivate. See

August 10

Enzyme may protect against Alzheimer's
Mouse dementia model hints that protein prevents brain degeneration. See

Novel Thyroid Hormone Treatment Could Help Shed Pounds. Some 31 million Americans are currently considered obese. Despite increasing public awareness of the problem, the number of people suffering from obesity is on the rise and scientists continue to search for safe and effective pharmaceutical treatments. To that end, the results of a new study could help. Researchers report the discovery of a chemical that selectively stimulates a thyroid hormone in animals without the deleterious side effects that similar therapies have. See

Jelly lenses could fix ageing eyes
Replacing the contents of the eye's lens with a soft polymer gel could allow millions of people to throw away their reading glasses. See

First Human Tests Under Way Of HIV Vaccine Pioneered At UNC
The world's first human test of a vaccine against the prevalent subtype of HIV in sub-Saharan African and Asia, where millions have the virus that causes AIDS, is now under way. See

Green Tea’s Cancer-fighting Allure Becomes More Potent
Green tea's ability to fight cancer is even more potent and varied than scientists suspected, say researchers who have discovered that chemicals in green tea shut down one of the key molecules that tobacco relies upon to cause cancer. It's a find that could help explain why people who drink green tea are less likely to develop cancer. See

Purdue Scientists Discover Why We're All Lefties Deep Down
It may be a right-handed world, but recent Purdue University research indicates that the first building blocks of life were lefties - and suggests why, on a molecular level, all living things remain southpaws to this day. See

August 3

Vitamin C May Protect Against Ulcer-causing Bacteria, Study Finds
A study led by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC) has found that the lower the level of vitamin C in the blood the more likely a person will become infected by Helicobacter pylori, the bacteria that can cause peptic ulcers and stomach cancer. See

Protein That Fights Bacteria And Viruses Cloned By Scripps Scientists
A team of researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) has published a paper appearing in an upcoming issue of the journal Nature that explains how pathogens as different as viruses and bacteria can have such a common bottom line. See

Diet May Cut Cholesterol As Much As Drugs Do. Eating a diet similar to that of our ape ancestors can have as much of an effect on cholesterol levels as modern medicine does, a new study suggests. Recent research indicates that a strict, low-fat vegetarian diet high in specific plant products can lower levels of bad cholesterol as much as widely prescribed statin drugs can. See

July 2003

July 20

Modified mice show super-healing powers
Thick-skinned mice with a remarkable ability to heal wounds are created by genetic engineering. See

Nanotech for New Organs Scientists have taken what may be a key step toward creating human organs such as livers and kidneys. Taking their cue from the body's own vascular system, researchers from M.I.T. and Harvard Medical School constructed a microscopic device capable of supplying oxygen and nutrients to organ cells. See

Amphibian extract may take adult DNA back to stem-cell state. See

Aspirin Could Reduce The Risk Of Deadly Infections
Adding to the long list of the benefits of aspirin, researchers have found that it is responsible for reducing toxic bacteria associated with serious infections. A study led by Dartmouth Medical School describes how salicylic acid-produced when the body breaks down aspirin-disrupts the bacteria's ability to adhere to host tissue, reducing the threat of deadly infections. See

Protein Holds Promise As New Diabetes Drug Target
Scientists at the pharmaceutical company Hoffman-La Roche have discovered a chemical compound that activates the glucokinase enzyme and that could lead to a new medication for type 2 diabetes. See

Head size gives autism early warning
The brains of autistic children undergo an abnormal and dramatic growth spurt in the first year of their lives, finds a new study. See

New Approach To Gene Knockouts Reveals The 'Master Planners' Of The Skeleton
Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers are moving closer to understanding how the global pattern of the skeleton of mammals is formed during development. In an exceptionally demanding series of experiments, the researchers knocked out entire sets of two families of genes suspected in playing a central role in establishing the pattern of the skeleton in the mammalian embryo. See

UT Southwestern Researchers Define Regions Of Human Genes Highly Prone To Mutation
UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas researchers have taken the first step in defining the sites in human genes most prone to mutation, which eventually could lead to discovery of the genetic bases of many human diseases. See

July 13

Memory (8 Jul) - Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have found new support for the age-old advice to "sleep on it." Mice allowed to sleep after being trained remembered what they had learned far better than those deprived of sleep for several hours afterward. See

Sleep disorders (8 Jul) - Chemical imbalances in the brain may be partly to blame for some life-disrupting sleep disorders, scientists have found. See

Napping (4 Jul) - Two new studies suggest that a mid-day nap is more than just an indulgence. One group of researchers reports that napping makes people better learners. Another study says that humans may be genetically programmed to take an afternoon siesta. NPR's Joe Palca reports. See

Scientists Focusing On How Exercise Raises Immunity
An increasing number of doctors and other health experts have been encouraging older adults to rise from their recliners and go for a walk, a bike ride, a swim, or engage in just about any other form of physical activity as a defense against the potentially harmful health consequences of a sedentary lifestyle. See

Rare Versions Of Immune System Genes Stave Off HIV Infection
Researchers have new answers as to why some HIV-infected individuals don't progress to full-blown AIDS as rapidly as other HIV-positive people. See

July 6

New Cancer Treatment: June 14, 2003 — A new cancer treatment pioneered in Australia is to be trialled by top hospitals in Europe and the United States after being hailed a major breakthrough by a Washington conference, its developers said Tuesday. The treatment, which could be available within two years, stimulates the body's immune system to make it produce more T-cells to fight cancer and, potentially, HIV/AIDS. See

Science can create babies from unborn mothers | Experts and campaigners fear the consequences of breaching an ethical boundary (The Times, London). See,,2-730962,00.html

Embryology (3 Jul) - An experiment that created human "chimeras" by merging male and female embryos in a test tube was condemned yesterday as scientifically vacuous and ethically questionable by leading proponents of research into IVF. See

A new blow to hormone therapy
Menopausal hormone therapy, long linked to a slight increase in breast cancer risk, also makes mammograms less reliable and may delay diagnosis of breast cancer. Those findings, published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association, are the latest bad news about estrogen-progestin therapy. See

Drug is found to limit risk of prostate cancer
( By Rob Stein, Washington Post, 06/25/2003 03:01 AM EDT) A drug used to fight baldness and enlarged prostates also protects against prostate cancer, offering the first way men can cut their risk for this major cancer killer, researchers reported yesterday. See

Brain Images Highlight How People Feel Pain When it comes to pain, some people are tougher than others. New findings suggest that these differences are all in the head. Researchers have shown for the first time that variation in how people perceive pain results from differences in brain activity. See

Benefits of vitamin pills still up in the air
A task force found too little evidence to prove or deny the supplements prevent some diseases.
There is not enough evidence to either recommend or reject the use of vitamin supplements to reduce the risks of cancer and heart disease, an influential government advisory panel says. See

Will wonder drug never cease?
Aspirin, a drug that's been in family medicine cabinets for more than a century now, keeps revealing new tricks. In just the last six months, studies have linked the venerable pain medication with prevention of recurrent strokes in African Americans and lower rates of colon cancer, leukemia and breast cancer. See

Male Y Chromosome Here to Stay. June 20, 2003 — The human male chromosome does have the ability to repair itself and may not be headed for extinction as had previously been thought, according to a surprising new study. See also

Scientists Find What Type Of Genes Affect Longevity. San Francisco - Jun 30, 2003 - About 200 genes identified Tracing all the genetic changes that flow from a single mutation, UCSF scientists have identified the kinds of genes and systems in the body that ultimately allow a doubling of lifespan in the roundworm, C. elegans. Humans share many of these genes, and the researchers think the new findings offer clues to increasing human youthfulness and longevity as well. See

Bone mimic makes anti-decay fillings
Smart cement swaps ions with saliva to keep cavities at bay.
30 June 2003 See

Stem cells enable paralysed rats to walk
The findings suggest embryonic stem cells could have a valuable role to play in treating spinal injuries. See

From the laboratory to your plate
Genetically modified food is big business for Monsanto Co. and its scientists.
Americans may not know it, but most eat genetically modified food daily. Two Midwestern scientists are largely responsible. Eighty percent of the nation's soy crop is genetically engineered with a gene from a hardy bacterium that makes soy resistant to a popular weed killer. Fully one-third of U.S. corn contains a gene from another bacterium that kills bugs. See

June 2003

June 22

BIBLE BASED DIET: A new Bible-based weight loss movement known as Weigh Down is leaving dieters with some enlightening discoveries -- shrinking waistlines. In the faith-based eating plan -- which consists of Bible study, weekly meetings, and a video -- nothing is prohibited. And while the Weigh Down diet may be spiritually based, it was also established on sound nutritional guidelines. See

The Y chromosome
The Y chromosome — containing the genes that make a man — has been sequenced. See

Snuffing out sneezes. For some, the balmy pleasure of a sunny summer is ruined by horribly itchy eyes and endlessly running noses - it's hay fever time. But genetic engineers think they may now have a solution - hypoallergenic grass. The ryegrass, engineered to lack two common hay-fever allergens, is about to enter field trials in the US. The same team have also developed a GM ryegrass that is more digestible than normal grass and could enable cows to produce much more milk. Eventually they hope to combine the two, and say the benefits could start to chip away at opponents skepticism about GM crops. See

Stem Cell Find Spurs Therapy Hopes. June 8, 2003 — Canadian researchers say they have uncovered a new type of adult stem cell that, one day, may be used to generate blood cells to help boost wrecked immune systems. See

Human genetics - intelligence (20 Jun) - Studies imply genes account for about 50 percent of the difference in intelligence from one person to the next. That's a high enough "heritability" that you'd think genome labs would be practically spitting out genes related to intelligence. See

Stroke Risk: Could It Start In The Womb?
Malnourished pregnant women generations ago may account for today's increased stroke risk in certain parts of Britain and the United States, according to a study in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association. See

Enzyme May Play Unexpected Role In Asthma
In a finding that could have important implications for the millions of Americans who suffer from asthma, researchers funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) have discovered novel sets of genes possibly involved in the disease. See

June 15

Study: Hormone can reduce the risk of premature birth
Giving pregnant women the hormone progesterone can reduce their risk of premature delivery by one-third, offering the first clear-cut way to head off this increasingly common and dangerous problem, a study found. See

U.S. acts against monkeypox
It banned sales of prairie dogs, which have spread the disease, and advised smallpox shots for some. The U.S. government banned the sale of prairie dogs, prohibited the importation of African rodents, and recommended smallpox shots yesterday for people exposed to monkeypox, the exotic African disease that has spread from pet prairie dogs to humans. See

Human arteries grown from scratch
Lab-reared vessels may provide stockpile for bypass surgery. See

Untangling the Roots of Cancer Most cancer researchers have long focused on mutations to a relatively small set of cancer-related genes as the decisive events in the transformation of healthy cells to malignant tumors. Recently, however, other theories have emerged to challenge this view. One hypothesizes that a breakdown in DNA duplication or repair leads to many thousands of random mutations in cells. Another suggests that damage to a few "master" genes mangles the chromosomes, which then become dangerous. A third challenger proposes that abnormal numbers of chromosomes in a cell may be the first milestone on the road to cancer. See

Parkinson's Disease Linked To High Iron Intake
People with high levels of iron in their diet are more likely to develop Parkinson's disease, according to a study in the June 10 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology. People with both high levels of iron and manganese were nearly two times more likely to develop the disease than those with the lowest levels of the minerals in their diets. See

June 8

Blood substitute from worms shows promise. Haemoglobin from sea creature could replace red cells. Worms may help doctors get round the worldwide blood shortage. Preliminary tests hint that their haemoglobin might be a good red-cell alternative, say researchers. See

'Immortalized' Cells Enable Researchers To Grow Human Arteries
In a combination of bioengineering and cancer research, a team of Duke University Medical Center researchers has made the first arteries from non-embryonic tissues in the laboratory, an important step toward growing human arteries outside of the body for use in coronary artery bypass surgery. See

'Kiss-and-run' Rules The Inner Lives Of Neurons
Neurons transmit chemical signals in a fleeting "kiss-and-run" process, which in large part determines how quickly neurons can fire, according to new studies by Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers. See

June 1

First rat to have key genes altered. Researchers have altered genes in rats to create strains with genetic characteristics of their choosing - a long-sought tool for studying disease. See

Rice Could Spare Diabetics Daily Injections. May 14, 2003 — Japanese laboratories have developed rice plants that could free serious diabetes patients from regular insulin injections by promoting their own bodies' production of the key hormone, researchers said Wednesday. See

World's largest flower opens in Bonn
Thousands gather to see and smell blue whale of botany. See

Stem cells: Harnessing stem cell potential. See

Drug companies (31 May) - Research funded by drug companies is more likely to produce results that favour the sponsor's product than research funded by other sources, claim researchers in this week's British Medical Journal. See

Atkins Diet Shows Surprising Results, Researcher Says; One-year Study Shows Diet May Be As Effective And Safe As Conventional Diets
A 3-center study led by researchers at the Weight and Eating Disorders Program of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine reports the results of the first controlled trial of the Atkins Diet. The Atkins Diet limits carbohydrates but permits unrestricted amounts of protein and fat. Compared to a conventional, high- carbohydrate, low-calorie approach, Atkins dieters lost twice as much weight at 3 and 6 months but there was no difference between the groups at 1 year. See

The Nature Encyclopedia of Life Sciences, the most comprehensive reference work ever published in the biological sciences. See

May 2003

May 18

DNA Barcodes Catalogue Animals
A short genetic sequence is enough to identify almost any species. See

DNA from dung
New, non-invasive collection, extraction, and amplification protocols provide high quality DNA from animal dung. These research techniques will enable a broad application of genetic analysis, particularly with regard to endangered, elusive, or aggressive species. See

Electricity extracted from grape
Researchers prove plants or animals could power tiny sensors. See

Fetus Heart Races When Mom Reads Poetry; New Findings Reveal Fetuses Recognize Mother’s Voice In-utero
New research findings on the ability of a fetus to recognize its mother's voice and even distinguish it from other female voices confirms what scientists have speculated about for more than 20 years - that experiences in the womb help shape newborn preferences and behaviour. See

May 11

Test Blunders May Lead to Needless Abortions: April 30, 2003 — Blunders in genetic tests for cystic fibrosis have prompted many pregnant women in the United States to undergo risky foetal tests or abort a foetus that may have been healthy, New Scientist says. The problem lies with doctors who order the wrong tests and counsellors who misinterpret the results but also with companies, some of which may be breaching ethics guidelines, it says. See

Fundamental Breakthrough In Biology Could Aid Understanding Of Cancer. Corvallis - May 6, 2003 - Researchers have made a fundamental advance in the understanding of cell biology that helps to explain how cells in higher organisms, including humans, send out signals that control cell division, cell death and other key functions. See

Scientists Observe Nanosize Microtubules Across Plant Cells. Stanford - May 6, 2003 - A study in the journal Science is offering new insights into a long-standing mystery about plant growth. The scientists who conducted the experiment say their results could open new avenues of research for developing more effective herbicides and pharmaceuticals. See

'Superglue virus' wipes out brain tumours
The virus can destroy malignant gliomas, the deadliest form of brain cancer, a study in mice has shown. Human trials could begin next year. See

Lifespan - genetics (7 May) - Researchers at Harvard Medical School (HMS) have discovered that a gene in yeast is a key regulator of lifespan. The gene, PNC1, is the first that has been shown to respond specifically to environmental factors known to affect lifespan in many organisms. See

May 4

Scientists Discover Gene Linked to Most Lethal Form of Skin Cancer. The incidence of the most aggressive form of skin cancer, melanoma, has doubled over the last 20 years in the U.S. Because malignant melanoma is generally unresponsive to chemotherapy, scientists are particularly interested in figuring out how it progresses and developing new means of treatment. Researchers have now identified a gene that causes melanoma in mice. In humans, the same gene is involved in a third of melanoma cases. See

The price of genius Isaac Newton suffered a nervous breakdown at the age of 50. Throughout his life he was taciturn, had few friends and was often so engrossed in his work that he forgot to eat. Albert Einstein repeated sentences obsessively until he was seven years old, became a notoriously confusing lecturer and was generally acknowledged to be a difficult person. Both men were certainly geniuses, but did they also have something else in common? Simon Baron-Cohen has assessed the personality traits of both men, and believes they may have shown signs of Asperger syndrome, a form of autism. See

Regular fasting seems to improve health Scientists are now planning a study to see if fasting, which seems to benefit mice, will be good for people too (Associated Press). See

Aging (1 May) - Scientists may have discovered why the brain's higher information-processing center slows down in old age, affecting everything from language, to vision, to motor skills. The findings may also point toward drugs for reversing the process. See

April 2003

April 27

Less sleep over time slows brain, study finds
People who think they can function well on very little sleep may be deceiving themselves. A University of Pennsylvania study has found that people who got even six hours of sleep a night over a two-week period began to perform as poorly on brain-function tests as people who did not sleep at all for two days straight. See

SARS Virus Jumped to Humans from Animals. April 18, 2003 — The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed on Wednesday that the outbreak of a new deadly respiratory disease, SARS, is caused by the coronavirus, a virus that normally affects animals. See

Green, Black Tea Said to Boost Immune System. April 21, 2003 — Certain types of tea have long been known to protect against cancer, but now US researchers have reason to believe they may also boost the immune system. The findings are very preliminary, but Brigham and Women's researchers reported that volunteers who were asked to drink 20 ounces of black tea a day demonstrated stronger immune responses to infection than they had previously, or than a control group of coffee drinkers. See

'Virgin birth' method promises ethical stem cells
Researchers are on the brink of obtaining human embryonic stem cells in a way that does not involve the destruction of viable embryos. See

Digital Cells: Computer circuits made of genes may soon program bacteria. Researchers are gearing up to create cells with computer programs hardwired into the DNA. See

Genetic Clue to Aging? Mutation causes early-aging syndrome. A gene defect that causes accelerated aging may provide insight into normal aging. See

Salk Researchers Find Receptor That Controls Obesity
A cellular receptor that balances the accumulation of fat and fat burning in the body may be a new target for anti-obesity and cholesterol-fighting drugs, according to a Salk Institute study. See

Scientists Discover Unique Source Of Postnatal Stem Cells in 'Baby' Teeth
Scientists report for the first time that "baby" teeth, the temporary teeth that children begin losing around their sixth birthday, contain a rich supply of stem cells in their dental pulp. The researchers say this unexpected discovery could have important implications because the stem cells remain alive inside the tooth for a short time after it falls out of a child's mouth, suggesting the cells could be readily harvested for research. See

Snoring Linked To Headaches
A new study finds a link between snoring and chronic daily headache. The study, published in the April 22 issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology, examined the snoring habits of people with chronic daily headache and people with occasional headaches. See

Baylor Researchers Show Way To Diabetes Cure With Gene Therapy
A gene therapy developed by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine has apparently cured diabetes in mice by inducing cells in the liver to become beta cells that produce insulin and three other hormones. See

April 20

Human Genome Sequence Completed. April 14, 2003 — Scientists have completed the sequence of the human genome, the blueprint of our genetic makeup that will allow researchers to tackle the many common diseases. See

Cloned Pigs Differ From Originals In Looks And Behavior
New research at North Carolina State University's College of Veterinary Medicine indicates that cloned pigs can have the same degree of variability in physical appearance and behavior as normally bred animals. Two separate studies show that while clones are genetically identical to the original animal, the similarities end there. See

Coronavirus Never Before Seen In Humans Is The Cause Of SARS; Unprecedented Collaboration Identifies New Pathogen In Record Time
The World Health Organization announced that a new pathogen, a member of the coronavirus family never before seen in humans, is the cause of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The speed at which this virus was identified is the result of the close international collaboration of 13 laboratories from 10 countries. While many lines of evidence have found strong associations between this virus and the disease over the last weeks, final confirmation came this week. See

Key To Hepatitis Virus Persistence Found
Scientists at two Texas universities have discovered how hepatitis C virus thwarts immune system efforts to eliminate it. The finding, published online today in ScienceExpress, could lead to more effective treatments for liver disease caused by hepatitis C virus. See

April 13

Human cloning hits a hurdle
The method used to clone Dolly the sheep cannot be used on primates, a study on monkeys suggests. Cloning humans is going to be a lot tougher than many scientists had thought, according to Pittsburgh researchers who say they have repeatedly failed in their efforts to clone monkeys. See

Genetics (6 Apr) - Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists have used a powerful gene-mapping technique to produce the clearest picture yet of all the genes of an animal - the microscopic worm Caenorhabditis elegans (better known as C. elegans). Scientists believe the same technique may be used to bring the current, somewhat blurry picture of the human genome into sharper focus. See

SARS, the mysterious respiratory illness that is crisscrossing the globe, has claimed at least nine more victims since Saturday. The disease's overall mortality rate, approximately 4 percent, is roughly equal to that of measles, but the uncertainty surrounding its cause and how it spreads continues to make it a serious public health issue. In addition, the threat of SARS continues to disrupt international business and tourism. See

Cocaine addicts get a high before the hit
Audiovisual cues associated with taking the drug produce a surge in brain chemicals, a study in rats reveals. See

April 6

SARS: April 1, 2003 — Following is a snapshot of medical knowledge about Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the term given to the form of pneumonia that originated in Southeast Asia and has triggered a global health scare: See

DNA-Repair Protein Functions Differently In Different Organisms: Blacksburg - Mar 26, 2003 - Plants, pond scum, and even organisms that live where the sun doesn't shine have something that humans do not -- an enzyme that repairs DNA damaged by ultraviolet (UV) light. See

Eating raw broccoli may combat cancer
The new understanding of how potent anti-oxidants are released could also lead to the breeding of even healthier broccoli plants. See

Two Brain Systems Tell Us To Breathe
Until now, scientists believed that a single area in the brain generated breathing rhythm, enabling breathing to speed up or slow down to adapt to the body’s activity and position. But UCLA neurobiologists have discovered that two systems in the brain interact to generate breathing rhythm — a finding that may translate into better treatment for sleep apnea and sudden infant death syndrome. See

Genome Of A Major Member Of Gut Bacteria Sequenced; Clues To Beneficial Relationships Between Humans And Microorganisms
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have completed sequencing the genome of Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, one of the most prevalent bacteria that live in the human intestine. See

March 2003

March 23

Scientists say they have found virus of mysterious illness
Eleven labs worldwide hunted it down. A health agency said a test to diagnose it was coming.
Scientists believe they have found the virus responsible for the mystery illness that has sickened hundreds of people worldwide and are perfecting a test to diagnose it, the World Health Organization said yesterday. See

New Crystalline Structures May Open Door to Molecular Filters: Rochester - Mar 17, 2003 - Imagine a mask that could allow a person to breathe the oxygen in the air without the risk of inhaling a toxic gas, bacterium or even a virus. Effectively filtering different kinds of molecules has always been difficult, but a new process by researchers at the University of Rochester may have paved the way to creating a new kind of membrane with pores so fine they can separate a mixture of gases. See

The Lowdown on Ginkgo Biloba: The use of ginkgo leaf extracts can be traced back for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine. Today ginkgo biloba is perhaps the most widely used herbal treatment aimed at augmenting cognitive functions--that is, improving memory, learning, alertness, mood and so on. But is there any evidence that ginkgo biloba can really improve cognitive performance? A review of the experimental evidence both for and against its usefulness in enhancing brain functions suggests that the popular herbal supplement may slightly improve your memory, but you can get the same effect by eating a candy bar. See

15-Foot Needle Samples Life In Oceanic Crustal Biosphere: Seattle - Mar 19, 2003 - Teeming with heat-loving microbes, samples of fluid drawn from the crustal rocks that make up most of the Earth's seafloor are providing the best evidence yet to support the controversial assertion that life is widespread within oceanic crust, according to H. Paul Johnson, a University of Washington oceanographer. See

Undercover genes slip into the brain
A way to smuggle drugs and DNA past the formidable blood-brain barrier may finally allow the treatment of many debilitating diseases. See

Genetic Link May Tie Together Pesticides, ADHD, Gulf War Syndrome And Other Disorders
Research at the Salk Institute has identified a gene that may link certain pesticides and chemical weaponry to a number of neurological disorders, including the elusive Gulf War syndrome and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). See

Online Biology Book: This is a great resource!

March 16

A Conversation with James D. Watson: To mark the 50th anniversary of James Watson and Francis Crick's discovery of the structure of DNA, Scientific American's Editor in Chief John Rennie recently spoke with Watson in his office at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, where he was director for 25 years. Watson reflected on the origins of the double helix discovery, the current state of molecular biology, and controversies surrounding genetic science. See

Tough Nut Is Cracked: Antibody treatment stifles peanut reactions: Researchers have successfully demonstrated the first preventive drug treatment against peanut allergy. See &

'Sleep Debts' Accrue When Nightly Sleep Totals Six Hours Or Fewer; Penn Study Find People Respond Poorly, While Feeling Only 'Slightly' Tired
Those who believe they can function well on six or fewer hours of sleep every night may be accumulating a "sleep debt" that cuts into their normal cognitive abilities, according to research conducted at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. What's more, the research indicates, those people may be too sleep-deprived to know it. See

Common Painkillers May Help Protect Against Alzheimer's Disease
In a breakthrough study, UCLA scientists have found that common painkillers such as ibuprofen and naproxen may actually dissolve the brain lesions -- or amyloid plaques -- that are one of the definitive hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease. See

Pheromones (14 Mar) - Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia have found that exposure to male perspiration has marked psychological and physiological effects on women: It can brighten women's moods, reducing tension and increasing relaxation, and also has a direct effect on the release of luteinizing hormone, which affects the length and timing of the menstrual cycle. See

Human nature (6 Mar) - Is there such a thing as human nature - something fixed and hard wired, or something primarily plastic? Is the essence of human nature to change human nature? See

March 9

Genetic Underpinnings of Pain Sensitivity Revealed: When it comes to pain, not everyone responds the same way. New work is helping to unravel why this is the case. Researchers report that variations in a single gene significantly affect the function of the brain's natural painkilling system, and may thus account for some of the observed variability in pain tolerance. See

Cocaine Use May Alter Brain Cells, Play Role In Depression
A study by researchers from the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor Veterans Affairs Medical Center suggests that chronic cocaine use may cause damage to brain cells that help produce feelings of pleasure, which may contribute, in part, to the high rates of depression reported among cocaine abusers. See

Rutgers Researcher: Brains In Dyslexic Children Can Be 'Rewired' To Improve Reading Skills
In a scientific first, researchers have shown that the brains of dyslexic children can be "rewired" through intensive remedial training to function more like those found in normal readers. See

Tapeworm's Chemical Trick Could Make Drugs More Effective
To survive and thrive in a decidedly hostile environment, the lowly tapeworm uses a chemical trick to evade the propulsive nature of its intestinal home. See

Superbug strain hits the healthy: A drug-resistant superbug that spreads by skin contact is infecting thousands of people across the US and may now have reached Europe. See

March 2

Scientists Find That Apes and Monkeys Provide Needed Help in Understanding the Human Genome: BERKELEY, CA —  Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute (JGI) and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed a powerful new technique for deciphering biological information encoded in the human genome. Called "phylogenetic shadowing," this technique enables scientists to make meaningful comparisons between DNA sequences in the human genome and sequences in the genomes of apes, monkeys, and other non-human primates. With phylogenetic shadowing, scientists can now study biological traits that are unique to members of the primate family. See

Argonne Researchers Create Powerful Stem Cells From Blood; May Revolutionize Medical Research And Transplantation
The particularly powerful – and very scarce – flexible forms of stem cells needed for medical research and treatment may now be both plentiful and simple to produce, with a new technology developed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory – and the source is as close as your own bloodstream. See

Fly Mutation Suggests Link To Human Brain Disease
Greater insight into human brain disease may emerge from studies of a new genetic mutation that causes adult fruit flies to develop symptoms akin to Alzheimer's disease. See

Laser Technique Able To Detect Developing Cavities
Forget sharp metal picks or X-rays-in the future, your dentist may search for cavities using a painless laser-based technique developed at the University of Toronto that can detect cracks or defects at an early stage of development. See

February 2003

February 23

Alcohol Researchers Identify A Genetic Basis Of Pain Response
A common genetic variant influences individual responses and adaptation to pain and other stressful stimuli and may underlie vulnerability to many psychiatric and other complex diseases, reports David Goldman, M.D., Chief, Laboratory of Neurogenetics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and colleagues at NIAAA and the University of Michigan. See

First Population Study Of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Highlights Difficulties Facing Malaria Control Technique
The first laboratory population study of genetically modified mosquitoes identifies issues that need to be faced in the task of turning mosquitoes from disease carriers into disease fighters. Scientists from Imperial College London report that populations including genetically modified mosquitoes quickly lose their test marker gene when they are bred with unmodified mosquitoes. See

Pavlov's Flies: Researchers Identify Fruit Fly Memory Mutants; Broad Implications Seen For Treating Alzheimer's And Other Human Diseases
By teaching fruit flies to avoid an odor and isolating mutant flies that can't remember their lessons, researchers at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York have identified dozens of genes required for long-term memory. See

Scientist Pursues Role Of Possible New Cell Type
A cell type with the potential for making the four major types of human tissue has been found in the stomach and small intestine by a Medical College of Georgia researcher. See

Are You Sabotaging Your Own Sleep? See

February 16

An early death for Dolly
The cloned sheep was euthanized. She had progressive lung disease.
Dolly the sheep, the world's first mammal cloned from an adult, was euthanized well short of her normal life span after being diagnosed with progressive lung disease, her creators said yesterday. See

Scientists say they altered stem cells
Medical researchers yesterday said they had, for the first time, genetically manipulated human stem cells - a first step toward making the body's master cells into a useful tool. See 

Researchers Discover How Leukaemia Virus Spreads Through The Body; Discovery Could Eventually Lead To New Treatments For HIV And AIDS
Researchers from Imperial College London, University of Oxford, Kagoshima University (Japan) and University of the Ryukyus (Japan) have discovered the mechanism by which human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), the virus which causes adult T-cell leukaemia, spreads through the body. See

Researchers Develop 'Natural Bandages' That Mimic Body's Healing Process
With the same compound the body uses to clot blood, scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University have created a nano-fiber mat that could eventually become a "natural bandage." Spun from strands of fibrinogen 1,000 times thinner than a human hair, the fabric could be placed on a wound and never taken off — minimizing blood loss and encouraging the natural healing process. See

The 50th year anniversary of the discovery of DNA (Time). See

February 9

The bad gene stops here
A year ago, a group of Abington fertility specialists became the first in the Philadelphia area to offer the ultimate in genetic selection. See 

DNA May Give Tip As to When You Will Die: Jan. 31, 2003 — The nubbly tips of your chromosomes may give you a pointer as to when you will die, according to research published on Saturday in The Lancet, the British medical weekly. The tips, called telomeres, protect the ends of the chromosomes — the coiled lengths of DNA that are studded with genes, the chemical recipe for life — rather like the plastic ends on shoelaces. They are gradually worn away every time a cell in the body tissue divides and replicates. The theory, often debated, is that worn-out telomeres cause chromosomes to fuse together, boosting the risk of cell malfunction or uncontrolled cell death and thus giving rise to killer disorders such as cancer and heart disease — ailments that coincidentally are widespread among the elderly. See 

Lack of Sleep Linked to Risk of Heart Disease: Jan. 27 — Women who are sleep deprived or who sleep too much run a greater risk of developing coronary heart disease than women who get a regular eight hours of shut-eye a night, according to a study released Monday. See 

Purdue Researchers Connect Life's Blueprints With Its Energy Source: West Lafayette - Feb 06, 2003 - The Purdue University research team that recently created a tiny motor out of synthetic biological molecules has found further evidence that RNA molecules can perform physical work, a discovery that could advance nanotechnology and possibly solve fundamental mysteries about life itself. See 

Hepatitis B drug breakthrough: (07 February 2003) A novel class of drugs inhibits hepatitis B virus capsid formation and replication. See 

University Of Missouri Physicist Creating Vascular Tissue; Could Lead To 'Natural' Human Organs
Gabor Forgacs’ work with organ engineering is an excellent example of how current interdisciplinary research in the life sciences may have a profound impact on future generations. Forgacs, a biological physicist at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is an integral part of a research team that ultimately plans to build organs in laboratories for the purpose of human transplantation. See 

Insect Antibiotics -- Resistance Is Futile! Cecropin A Bypasses Outer Defenses To Kill Bacteria From The Inside
For antibiotics, the best way to beat bacterial defenses may be to avoid them altogether. Researchers at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have discovered that Cecropin A, a member of a family of antibiotic proteins produced by insects, may kill bacteria and avoid resistance by entering bacterial cells and taking control of their genetic machinery. See 

Obesity Not A Personal Failing, But A Battle Against Biology
As Jeffrey M. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., argues in a "Viewpoint" article in a special obesity issue of the journal Science published Feb. 7, obesity cannot be easily explained as simply a breakdown in willpower. Genes and environment both play important roles in determining a person's body weight. He points put that "in general, environmental factors account for trends in a population over time, while genetic factors account for most of the differences in weight among individuals in present time." See

February 2

Coffee Halves Risk of Colon Cancer in Women: Jan. 19 — A Japanese research team found a cup of coffee a day halves the risk of colon cancer among women, a news report said Sunday. See 

Stem Cell Breakthrough in MS Research: Jan. 21, 2003 — Australian researchers Tuesday announced a technique using stem cells to treat brain cells damaged by multiple sclerosis, which could eliminate debilitating symptoms of the neurological disease. See 

LIVER CONVERTED TO PANCREAS: Tissue switching could lead to new diabetes treatment. See 

FUNGI IRON-OUT ASBESTOS POLLUTION: Bioremediation might make fibre-contaminated soil safer. See 

Study Sheds Light On How The Sun Causes Skin Cancer
Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have made a discovery that could help solve a mystery in cancer biology: how a sunburn acquired during a childhood day at the beach can develop into a deadly tumor decades later. The scientists report in the Feb. 4 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the sun's damaging ultraviolet (UV) rays target a series of biochemical signals inside the young skin cell, impairing the cell's ability to control its proliferation. See 

New Study Shows Tea Extract Protects Skin; White Tea Extract Reveals Anti-cancer, Anti-aging Properties
Scientists at University Hospitals of Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University have proven that ingredients in white tea are effective in boosting the immune function of skin cells and protecting them against the damaging effects of the sun. The discovery that white tea extract protects the skin from oxidative stress and immune cell damage adds another important element in the battle against skin cancer. See 

Study Is First To Confirm Link Between Exercise And Changes In Brain
Three key areas of the brain adversely affected by aging show the greatest benefit when a person stays physically fit. The proof, scientists say, is visible in the brain scans of 55 volunteers over age 55. See 

Protein Linked To Movement Disorders
Using a tiny worm to model a severe childhood movement disorder, researchers at The University of Alabama have discovered the role of a protein that may have implications for a number of neurological syndromes such as Parkinson's and Huntington’s diseases. See 

Researchers Unwind Secrets Of Biological Clocks
Even this lowly one-celled bacterium has a biological clock, the sophisticated internal timing device that governs the daily rhythms of people, animals and plants, says Susan Golden, a biology professor at Texas A&M University. Golden and her colleagues also study the biological clocks of birds, rats and fungi, but it was the bacterium known as Synechococcus elongatus that yielded the latest revelation: the first structural model of part of the clockworks. See 

January 2003

January 25

Researchers Close in on Arthritis Vaccine: Jan. 16 — Australian scientists announced a breakthrough Thursday in efforts to develop a vaccine for the crippling disease rheumatoid arthritis. Researchers at the University of Queensland in eastern Australia said they identified how to reverse a process in which a body's auto-immune system attacks its own tissues, causing arthritis. "This is really the first time we have been able to specifically target the appropriate molecule in order to get the immune system to turn off after it has already started," scientist Ranjeny Thomas said. See 

Test-tube Babies May Suffer Genetic Flaw: Jan. 16 — Babies born through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) may be prey to a rare genetic disorder, according to a study published Thursday whose findings underscore the health perils from human cloning. See 

Scientists Find Rich Drug Resource in Deep Ocean Sediments
San Diego - Jan 20, 2003 - A group of researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, have for the first time shown that sediments in the deep ocean are a significant biomedical resource for microbes that produce antibiotic molecules. See

Worm Genome Survey Reveals Fat-Regulating Genes: Scientists are one step closer to unraveling the genetic secrets behind why some people become obese and others stay effortlessly slim. Gary Ruvkun and Kaveh Ashrafi of Massachusetts General Hospital and their colleagues have surveyed an entire genome--that of the microscopic worm Caenorhabditis elegans--to identify the full panoply of genes involved in regulating fat storage. The work may help pinpoint breakdowns in communication between the brain and fat cells in a variety of animals. See 

Animal Study Demonstrates Carbon Monoxide May Help Heart Patients
Carbon monoxide, the toxic gas generally associated with auto exhaust or faulty heating systems, may have a protective role in preventing the development of dangerous arteriosclerotic lesions that can clog blood vessels following balloon angioplasty or aortic transplantation. See 

50 Years of DNA: See 

January 19

Catching up with autism
A major new government study has found a much higher prevalence of autism than studies done in the 1980s and early 1990s. The findings, though, still don't answer an important question: See 

Art Carey | Exercise lifted her from the pit of despair
When Dottie Drake was 47, she had a year that nearly pushed her to the brink. The second of her two children left home, making her an empty-nester. Her mother died. She had a breast-cancer scare. Menopause was setting in. Two weeks before Christmas, her husband ditched her for the proverbial New Cookie. And she lost her job. See 

New hope for Alzheimer's detection
Experimental new technology is opening a window on the living human brain, catching the first clear look at the mess Alzheimer's disease makes as it occurs. See 

Radiation-Resistant Organism Reveals Its Defense Strategies: Rehovot - Jan 13, 2003 - Weizmann Institute scientists have found what makes the bacterium Deinococcus radiodurans the most radiation-resistant organism in the world: The microbe's DNA is packed tightly into a ring. The findings, published in the January 10 issue of Science, solve a mystery that has long engaged the scientific community. See 

Researchers Decipher Cause Of Parasite's Worldwide Spread
Research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis reveals that a unique combination of genes inherited less than 10,000 years ago allows the parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis to infect virtually all warm-blooded animals. See 

Saint Louis University Researchers Make Breakthrough Towards Solving The Cause Of Cancer Development
A lab headed by a Saint Louis University researcher has made a major breakthrough that could lead to a better molecular understanding of cancer. Results published today in the Journal Molecular Cell by Ali Shilatifard, Ph.D., and colleagues show for the first time how a protein known to be involved in the development of cancer functions in normal cells. See 

Vitamins May Protect Against Heart Disease
A UCLA research team has discovered that a popular health supplement and antioxidant vitamins may help prevent atherosclerosis, or blockage of the blood vessels. The findings are reported in the Jan. 13 online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. See 

Top 10 Reasons Not to Quit Smoking: 

January 12

Second cloned baby born, group claims
Clonaid, the company that claims to have produced the first human clone, said yesterday that a second cloned baby had been born to a Dutch lesbian couple. See 

Cloning claim sounds familiar
For all the speed with which science was progressing, virtually no one had thought it would happen so soon. Yet there it was in huge block letters on the front page of the New York Post: The world's first human clone had been born. See 

Vampire bat's bite may hold clue to new stroke medicine
A substance in the saliva of vampire bats could prove to be a potent new treatment for strokes, an Australian scientist says. "When the vampire bat bites its victim, it secretes this powerful clot-dissolving substance so that the victim's blood will keep flowing, allowing the bat to feed," said Dr. Robert Medcalf of the Monash University department of medicine at Box Hill Hospital in Victoria, Australia. See 

Chromosome Linked to Alzheimer's Unravelled: Jan. 1 — An international consortium of scientists say they have decrypted a chromosome linked to a broad range of disorders, including a particulary brutal form of Alzheimer's that can strike people in their 30s. Chromosome 14 — the fourth chromosome to be fully sequenced — comprises 87,410,661 base pairs, which are the "rungs" that make up the ladder of DNA, the chemical recipe for making a human being. See 

Food For Thought: Cells Dine On Their Own Brains To Stay Fit And Trim
Eating your own brain may not sound like a sensible approach to prolonging your life, but researchers at the University of Rochester have discovered that some single-celled organisms essentially do just that to keep themselves healthy. The findings are published in this month's issue of Molecular Biology of the Cell. See 

Herbs: A unique web-based resource about herbs, botanicals, and other products has been launched to provide medical practitioners, as well as the general public, access to comprehensive information about these products. See 

January 4

Biology's chernobyl | If Rael is for real, it will set back scientific progress (Matt Ridley, The Wall Street Journal). See 

Audio Response to ClonAid Birth Announcement
by Reasons to Believe. See 

Research Finds Life 1000 Feet Beneath Ocean Floor: CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study has discovered an abundance of microbial life deep beneath the ocean floor in ancient basalt that forms part of the Earth's crust, in research that once more expands the realm of seemingly hostile or remote environments in which living organisms can apparently thrive. See 

Stem and Cancer Cells have something in Common: The same protein may control the proliferation of stem cells and cancer cells, according to a new study. The finding will help researchers understand how both types of cell can divide indefinitely. But it also highlights concerns that stem cell transplants could run the risk of seeding cancers. The discovery should help scientists manipulate stem cells to give an unlimited source for use in medicine. See 

Living Tissue Made to Order: Forget stitches, staples and glue - surgeons of the future could be closing incisions instantly with high-speed jets of living cells, according to research presented at the Materials Research Society meeting in Boston, Massachusetts, earlier this month. See 

The Brain reaction to Anorexia: Three-quarters of the anorexic and bulimic women studied by Serguei Fetissov of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm carry blood antibodies targeted against appetite centres in the brain, he finds. Just 16% of those without eating disorders have such antibodies. The antibodies may stop nerves responding to hormones that control hunger, Fetissov says, and so contribute to eating problems. If the idea proves to be correct, suppressing the aberrant molecules might treat the disease; diagnosis could also be improved on the basis of the presence of the antibodies. See 

Cocaine Harms Brain's "Pleasure Center," Addict Study Finds; Drug Attacks The Very Cells That Allow Users To Feel Its Effects: ANN ARBOR, MI – New research results strongly suggest that cocaine bites the hand that feeds it, in essence, by harming or even killing the very brain cells that trigger the "high" that cocaine users feel. See