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December 2004

December 7

Cracking The Genomic Code: Gene Decoding Revealed At Atomic Level
A recent finding by a North Carolina State University biochemist advances the fundamental biology of how genetic information, encoded in DNA, is decoded for the production of proteins.

Antibiotics get new lease of life
Drug-resistant bacteria can be forced to eject their protective DNA.

Persistent coughs melt away with chocolate
An ingredient in chocolate may actually be a more effective cough medicine than traditional remedies, researchers suggest.

A New Target For a Fat-Fighting Drug. THURSDAY, Nov. 18 (HealthDayNews)
A newly discovered enzyme that plays a major role in fat metabolism could be a target for a different kind of weight-loss drug, Austrian researchers report.

Zapped human eggs divide without sperm
The new technique could supply embryonic stem cells for research while avoiding ethical issues as embryos are not required.

"Brain" in Dish Pilots Flight Simulator 
Scientists have grown a "brain" in a petri dish that can fly a simulated F-22 fighter airplane. It's all part of a quest to build "living" computers.

November 2004

November 21

Autism Linked to Brain Inflammation. TUESDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDayNews)
People with autism are prone to brain inflammation associated with immune system dysfunction, say researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Sick Kids Researchers Confirm That Cancer Stem Cells Initiate And Grow Brain Tumours
Researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) and the University of Toronto (U of T) have confirmed that childhood and adult brain tumours originate from cancer stem cells and that these stem cells fuel and maintain tumour growth. This discovery has led to development of a mouse model for human brain tumours and opens the door for new therapeutic targets for the treatment of brain tumours.

November 8

Scientists working on ways to deny death
Cambridge University biogerontologist Dr. Aubrey de Grey reckons "we have a 50-50 chance of developing a human rejuvenation therapy that works" (David Yount, Scripps Howard News Service)

In search of the 'God gene'
Dr. Dean Hamer, a molecular geneticist, argues persuasively that genes predispose humans to believe that "spirituality is one of our basic human inheritances," and that, indeed, there is a specific individual gene associated with faith (The New York Times)

Critics attack landmark decision on gene screening
A momentous decision that could lead in time to wholesale screening of embryos for diseases they may develop as adults was made in an undemocratic manner by an unelected authority behind closed doors, it was alleged yesterday (The Guardian, London)

Breathing with Hepatitis
According to the hygiene hypothesis, the soaring rates of asthma, hay fever, eczema and other allergies in the past two decades have resulted from the overly sanitized conditions of industrial countries. Because children are exposed to fewer bacteria and viruses, the theory goes, their immune systems tend to overreact to otherwise harmless substances such as pollen and dander. The hypothesis, however, fails to explain why some people are more susceptible than others or why those in dirty environments still develop asthma. But now a genetic study has pointed out a plausible mechanism for allergy development: it suggests that the hepatitis A virus, which thrives in polluted environments, may protect people from asthma.

Compound Slows Key Step in Alzheimer's
Small molecules make better drugs than large ones do, because they can more easily enter cells and gum up chosen chemically active sites. But their size makes it hard for them to stop larger molecules like proteins from interacting with one another, which is critical to many diseases. Now, borrowing a trick from soil bacteria, researchers have designed a small molecule that effectively forms a new drug on the spot by teaming up with a large protein that is common inside cells. The resulting complex binds to fragments of beta-amyloid protein and keeps them from sticking together to form the "plaques" that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

Mouse Study Upends Theory of Down Syndrome's Cause
Down syndrome affects about one in 700 babies born each year and is characterized by the presence of three copies of chromosome 21. In some rare cases, dubbed segmental trisomy, only a specific section of the chromosome is present in triplicate. As a result, many scientists studying the condition considered genes found in that region of the chromosome suspect in the disorder. But new findings indicate that the cause of the disease may be more complicated than that.

New 'Superaspirin' Prevents Colon Cancer in Mice. TUESDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDayNews)
An aspirin that is "thousands of times more powerful" than traditional forms of the drug but has no gastrointestinal side effects looks promising in animal studies, researchers say. The drug, called nitric oxide-donating aspirin, or nitroaspirin, appears to help prevent colon cancer in mice without raising the incidence of gastrointestinal bleeding, researchers reported Oct. 19 at the American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Seattle.

October 2004

October 24

Stem Cells Secrete Healing Chemicals 
Many stem-cell researchers hope to treat diseases by recruiting these adaptable cells to replace others that have been damaged. New work demonstrates a different approach, which rescued mice that otherwise would have died from a genetic heart defect before birth. Instead of replacing the defective cells, embryonic stem (ES) cells released chemical signals that caused the defective heart tissue to grow properly.

Harvard has human cloning plans
Institute seeks nod to create embryos using genes from patients with diabetes, Parkinson's.

Malaria vaccines get real
Trial offers evidence that an effective vaccine is feasible - but WHO expresses caution.

Wax discovery surprises
Unexpectedly, plants use a lipid transporter like those in mammalian cells to transport wax.

Amphibians Suffering Unprecedented Decline, Global Study Finds 
The first worldwide assessment of amphibians--the group that includes frogs, toads, salamanders and caecilians--concludes that they are in even more trouble than mammals and birds are. The study classifies nearly a third of the 5,743 known amphibian species as threatened.

NASA Helps Find Lifelong Gene Activity In Live Organisms Moffett Field CA (SPX) Oct 25, 2004
NASA scientists and their academic colleagues are providing valuable insights into how DNA encodes instructions for control of basic biological functions. Their research may change the understanding of human diseases.

October 10

New Drug Treatments Offer Hope to Leukemia Patients. TUESDAY, Sept. 28 (HealthDayNews)
Scientists call them "molecularly targeted" drugs, and they represent a remarkable gain in the war against blood cancers.

Plea to clone human embryos
The scientist who created Dolly the sheep applied yesterday for a licence to clone human embryos to try to find a cure for motor neurone disease. (Times, London)

Scientists Sequence Genome Of Organism Central To Biosphere's Carbon Cycle. Berkeley CA (SPX) Oct 04, 2004
The first ever genomic map of a diatom, part of a family of microscopic ocean algae that are among the Earth's most important inhabitants, has yielded surprising insights about the way they may be using nitrogen, fats and silica in order to thrive.

Olfactory research wins Nobel
Prize in Physiology or Medicine awarded to Axel and Buck for research into the sense of smell.

September 2004

September 13

The Search For A Kinder, Gentler Chemotherapy. Atlanta (September 9, 2004)
Painful and damaging chemotherapy may one day be a thing of the past. Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Purdue University have developed nano-sized particles that can target and trick cancer cells into absorbing them. Once inside, the particles may soon be able to deliver a pharmaceutical payload, killing the tumor from within, avoiding the destruction of healthy cells responsible for much of the damage caused by traditional chemotherapy. The research is published in the August 25 edition of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Researchers: Atkins Works ... But for How Long? THURSDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDayNews)
Shedding more light on the popular but largely untested Atkins diet, a new analysis suggests that replacing carbohydrates with fatty foods is safe -- at least for six months.

GM fish produce cheap blood-clotting agent
Genetically modified fish are designed to make a cheap blood-clotting factor - it could help treat haemophiliacs and accident victims.

Proteins slow the progress of Parkinson's disease.
Two proteins have proved effective in fighting Parkinson's disease in rats - work towards a human therapy is underway.

Seeds of a Micro Revolution
Plant studies reveal a slew of miRNAs and some real surprises.

August 2004

August 31

Researchers Uncover Secrets Of Immune System’s Munitions Factory
Howard Hughes Medical Institute researchers have discovered a new component of the machinery immune cells use to generate a remarkably diverse array of antibodies from a relatively small number of genes.

Images Reveal How Rotavirus - Leading Cause Of Diarrhea - Enters Cells
High-resolution images constructed by researchers at Children's Hospital Boston (CHB) and Harvard Medical School (HMS) reveal the molecular rearrangements that rotavirus – the most common cause of severe, dehydrating diarrhea and vomiting in children worldwide – uses to break into cells.

Small Bumps Could Make A Big Difference For Hip Replacement August 10, 2004
When patients undergo hip replacement surgery, they can hope for 10 to 15 years of use before the implant wears out. After that, they will need another artificial hip--a surgery that will probably be less successful than the first one.

August 23

Pollen-blocking cream cuts hayfever
The nasal cream captures pollen particles before they trigger an allergic response, markedly reducing hayfever symptoms.

Mouse Model Of Rare Disease Offers Clues To Aging And Cancer Development
Scientists have developed the first mouse model of a rare disease in which people age rapidly and start developing cancers and other diseases associated with the elderly when they are only about 30 years old.

August 17

British researchers receive stem-cell licence.

Mentally stimulating careers may protect against dementia.

How bacteria fight antibiotics
Two mechanisms of antibiotic tolerance are demonstrated in separate studies in Science.

August 8

Francis Crick Remembered. Moffett Field CA (SPX) Aug 02, 2004
The British molecular biologist Francis Harry Crick died on Wednesday at the age of 88. Crick changed our understanding of life when, in 1953, he and James Watson announced that DNA came packaged in an elegant double helix structure. Crick reportedly claimed they had found 'the secret of life,' and many scientists agree.

Vision And Recommendations For Microbiology In The 21st Century.

Mice cloned from cancer cell
Nuclear transfer of a melanoma cell nucleus reveals epigenetic changes to be reprogrammable.

Genetic discovery shows how plants organize their shape.

July 2004

July 25

Researchers Uncover Surprising Degree Of Large-scale Variation In The Human Genome
A new study by Michael Wigler's group at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has revealed surprising differences in the DNA of normal cells from different people.

Green light for 'designer babies' to save siblings
The last barrier to the creation of babies specifically to save the life of an ailing brother or sister was swept away by the fertility regulatory body yesterday to the delight of scientists and alarm of those who fear the advent of a designer baby age (The Guardian, London).

Scientists Discover New Intricacies In How Ulcer Bugs Stick To Stomach. St. Louis, July 22, 2004
Scientists working to develop a vaccine for the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, the primary cause of ulcers and a contributor to stomach cancers, have uncovered new intricacies in the way the bacterium sticks to the lining of the human stomach.

Chagas parasite invades genome
Typanosomacruzi kinetoplast DNA found in the genomes of infected patients and animals.

July 18

Cell Study Leap Forward For Tissue Engineering, Diseases
University of Toronto researchers have discovered a key mechanism in tissue formation that could have implications for tissue engineering, as well as for diseases such as spina bifida and cancer.

Could we defeat the menopause?
Mouse ovaries offer up secret of new egg cells.

Cinnamon Oil Kills Mosquitoes More Effectively Than DEET
Cinnamon oil shows promise as a great-smelling, environmentally friendly pesticide, with the ability to kill mosquito larvae.

Compound Underlying Smoke's Positive Effect on Plants Identified
After viewing the damage that forest fires can wreak, it might seem counterintuitive that some plants fare better after being exposed to smoke. This phenomenon has been observed in a number of species, but it was unclear just what bestowed these benefits. New research reveals the active ingredient in smoke that improves plant germination.

July 10

Scans uncover secrets of the womb.
A new type of ultrasound scan has produced vivid pictures of a 12 week-old foetus "walking" in the womb. The new images also show foetuses apparently yawning and rubbing its eyes.

"Mighty mouse" gene found in humans
A gene that doubles muscle in mice shows similar effects in a strapping young boy, offering treatment hope for muscle wasting diseases.

Introduction to Bioinformatics. by Robert Jones. 06/11/2004
Bioinformatics is the intersection of molecular biology and computer science. For software developers, it's a fascinating and challenging area in which to work.

Bioinformatics and Comparative Genomics. by Robert Jones 06/29/2004
The complete DNA sequence of the Human Genome is a remarkable achievement for molecular biology and represents the work of many people in a number of large sequencing centers. Far from resting on their laurels, those centers have gone on to sequence the genomes of the mouse, rat, pufferfish, zebrafish, chicken, chimpanzee ... you name it they're sequencing it. 

June 2004

June 20

Cure hoped for Huntington's sufferers
Gene therapy succeeds in mice with brain disease.

Molecule That 'Blocks' Key Bacterial Enzyme May Lead To New Antibiotics
Rutgers scientists have deciphered the complex mechanics of microcin J25 (MccJ25), a tiny, natural molecule that acts like a cork in a bottle to block a key bacterial enzyme – potentially leading to a new generation of antibiotics.

Old dog learns new tricks
Mutt's memory feats aid studies of language development.

June 13

An Eye On The Tongue. Montreal (SPX) Jun 04, 2004
Sitting blindfolded with a device equipped with 144 pixels in his mouth, any journalist would wonder about his career choice. But after a few minutes of experimentation, you have to recognize that the system developed by neuropsychologist Maurice Ptito of Université de Montréal, together with colleagues in Denmark and the United States , to allow blind people to "see with their tongue" appears strangely effective.

Mastering a task puts part of brain to sleep
Local snoozing implies that slumber makes for better learning.

Spinal cord injury treatment raises hope
Experts say the results look promising, but caution that with just 16 people treated so far, it is too early to draw any conclusions.

Power implant aims to run on body heat
The project hopes to tackle a big drawback of life-saving implants like pacemakers - their batteries running out.

Chocolate Compounds Boost Blood Vessel Function
Good news for chocoholics: the treat may help your heart. According to a report published in the June issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, small daily doses of dark chocolate are associated with improved blood vessel function in healthy people.

Reproduction due to stress.

Yale Scientists Visualize Molecular Detail Of RNA Splicing Complex. New Haven CT (SPX) Jun 04, 2004
Scientists in the department of molecular biophysics and biochemistry at Yale revealed the crystal structure of the first described enzymatic RNA - what it looks like and how it reacts - in the journal Nature.

May 2004

May 30

Shortened Chromosomes Linked To Early Stages Of Cancer Development
Scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center say they have evidence that abnormally short telomeres - the end-caps on chromosomes that normally preserve genetic integrity -appear to play a role in the early development of many types of cancer.

Loyola Decides To Test New Blood Substitute In Trauma Patients At The Scene Of Injury
Loyola University Health System plans to test PolyHeme, an investigational oxygen-carrying blood substitute designed to increase survival of critically injured and bleeding trauma patients at the scene of injury.

May 23

Corn syrup linked to diabetes
Epidemic reflects rise in refined sugars. 12 May 2004

Plants purify poisoned water
Ferns suck up arsenic quickly and cheaply. 12 May 2004 

Zinc Therapy Accelerates Recovery From Pneumonia
Treating young children with zinc in addition to standard antibiotics greatly reduces the duration of severe pneumonia.

Regular Mini Doses of Caffeine More Energizing Than Morning Mug
Many people start their day with a big cup of coffee, hoping that the jolt of caffeine will invigorate them. But there might be a better way to stay awake for long periods. Scientists say low doses of caffeine administered at regular intervals provide improved pick-me-up benefits.

Longest scientific study yet backs Atkins diet
New research supports the claimed benefits of the controversial low-carbohydrate diet.

May 16

Nanobodies Herald A New Era In Cancer Therapy. Brussels (SPX) May 13, 2004
The vast majority of the current medicines for treating tumors - the so-called chemotherapeutics - are seldom specific. Indeed, because a chemotherapy treatment is not only toxic to cancer cells but to the body's normal cells as well, patients often experience severe side effects.

Gene therapy fights HIV in human tests
A new form of gene therapy slashes replication of the HIV virus in cells from people infected with drug-resistant strains.

Molecule cuts off fat's food supply
A magic bullet that destroys the blood vessels that feed fat tissue enables mice to lose a third of their body weight.

May 9

Newly-described Route To Cancer Solves A Mystery In Lung Cancer
Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center are describing an entirely new way by which cells can become cancerous. And they say their finding provides an answer to a mystery in lung and other cancers.

Insulin-producing Pancreatic Cells Are Replenished By Duplication.
Researchers at Harvard University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) have discovered that insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas that are attacked in type 1 diabetes are replenished through duplication of existing cells rather than through differentiation of adult stem cells.

Scientists 'See' Effects of Aging in the Brain
For many people, increasing forgetfulness is an unwelcome side effect of growing old. But just how the human brain reacts to aging, independent of specific diseases such as Alzheimer's, has proved difficult to discern. A recent report identifies a specific section of the brain that is most vulnerable during the twilight years.

Brain Cells Show Gender Difference. TUESDAY, May 4 (HealthDayNews)
Injured brain cells die differently in females and males, and that means the two genders may need different treatments for brain injuries, says a Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh study.

Scientists Uncover How Brain Retrieves And Stores Older Memories
Scientists at The Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) and UCLA have pinpointed for the first time a region of the brain responsible for storing and retrieving distant memories.

May 2

Fatherless Mice Created in Lab
Men--who needs them? The sentiment has been voiced by countless lovelorn women, but from a reproductive standpoint, we mammals need males a great deal. Many plants and lower animals, such as insects and reptiles, can reproduce asexually using only maternal DNA through a process termed parthenogenesis. This mechanism does not occur naturally in mammals, and researchers have long been unable to induce it in the laboratory. Now scientists report having created the first fatherless mice, one of which has survived to adulthood and given birth to her own young.

Cloned Cows Manufacture Cancer Treatment
The products most closely associated with cows are milk and beef. But European scientists say that the animals can be bred to generate antitumor drugs. The findings could lead to a novel way of manufacturing antibodies for tumor therapy on a large scale.

Bone marrow stem cells help mend broken hearts
Human trials yield promising results 27 April 2004.

Alzheimer's gene therapy trial shows early promise
Injecting genetically modified skin cells directly into a severely affected part of the brain markedly reduces the decline in patients.

Spinach pigments proposed as blindness cure
Adding the light-absorbing proteins to nerve cells in the retina could make them fire when struck by light.

Researchers Describe Long-perplexing 'Magic Spot' On Bacteria
Scientists have unraveled the behavior of one key component of bacteria, a finding that may lead to better, more effective antibiotics.

Web Site Logs 20,000 Human Genes. April 20, 2004
A detailed functional map of more than 20,000 human genes has been published on the Internet by an international research team.

April 2004

April 25

Memory bottleneck limits intelligence
Single spot in brain determines size of visual scratch pad.  The number of things you can hold in your mind at once has been traced to one penny-sized part of the brain. The finding surprises researchers who assumed this aspect of our intelligence would be distributed over many parts of the brain. Instead, the area appears to form a bottleneck that might limit our cognitive abilities, researchers say.  15 April 2004.

'Virgin birth' mammal rewrites rules of biology
The mouse is the daughter of two female parents, but experts are sceptical that the technique could help two women have a biological child.

April 11

Headaches Don't Have to Rule Your Life
By Rita Mullin. Minor occasional headaches happen to most of us, but serious, regular headaches are another matter altogether and can seriously interfere with your enjoyment of life. Here are ten tips for reducing your headache risk.

Zinc Supplements Could Help Treat ADHD
An article published in BMC Psychiatry this week shows that zinc supplements could increase the effectiveness of stimulants.

Clemson Research Advances Progress Toward Bone Therapies, Replacements, Materials
The latest issue of Science reports a discovery by a Clemson scientist that challenges 40 years of marine biomineralization.

Brains like feeling fat
Mapping mental responses to texture could lead to designer foods. 5 April 2004.

Appetite may be hard-wired
Our future weight could be set in first weeks of life. 2 April 2004.

Quick test to diagnose deadly infections
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria can be pinned down in hours. 1 April 2004.

Liquorice extract sweetens old age
Carbenoxolone could aid verbal memory. 30 March 2004.

Diet of worms can cure bowel disease
Successful trials mean a drinkable concoction containing thousands of pig whipworm eggs could soon be launched.

April 4

Self-Assembling Proteins Could Help Repair Human Tissue. Baltimore - Mar 29, 2004
Protein hydrogels can be genetically engineered to promote the growth of specific cells Johns Hopkins University researchers have created a new class of artificial proteins that can assemble themselves into a gel and encourage the growth of selected cell types. This biomaterial, which can be tailored to send different biological signals to cells, is expected to help scientists who are developing new ways to repair injured or diseased body parts.

Mosquitoes could fight malaria
Researchers identify gene that makes insects attack parasite. 26 March 2004.

HIV discovery allows targeting of vaccines
Researchers identify virus strains that frequently infect victims. 26 March 2004.

Too Much Sleep Not a Good Thing SATURDAY, March 27 (HealthDayNews)
Like most everything else, sleep is best done in moderation. Spending too many hours in bed each night can cause as many problems as getting too few hours of sack time, according to a University of California, San Diego study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. The study found people who sleep more than eight hours a night (long sleepers) and people who get less than seven hours of slumber both report more sleep complaints than people who get just the right amount of shuteye -- between seven and eight hours per night.

Embryonic Stem Cells Induced To Develop Into Bone Marrow And Blood Cells.
Researchers at Northwestern University have devised a method to induce embryonic stem cells to develop into bone marrow and blood cells.

March 2004

March 28

Building The Whole Cell From Pieces: Researchers Tackle The Cell Jigsaw Puzzle
Scientists have taken a significant leap forward in understanding the complex ways that molecules work together in cells.

Scientists Crack Genome Sequence Of A Major Parasitic Pathogen
University of Minnesota researchers have completed sequencing the genome of an intestinal parasite that affects healthy humans and animals and that can be fatal to those with compromised immune systems, such as AIDS patients.

St. Jude shows how disorderliness in some proteins lets them interact with a diversity of molecules.
Discovery of the sequence of events in the binding of p27 to a protein complex is a model for explaining how 30 to 40 percent of the body’s proteins exploit their flexibility in order to do different tasks in the cell.

Early Vitamin E Supplements Stem Development Of Hallmark Alzheimer's Symptoms In Mice
Vitamin E, a well-known antioxidant, has been used to treat Alzheimer's disease, but with mixed results, especially in patients with advanced symptoms. A risk factor for Alzheimer's is oxidative stress, a clinical condition characterized by an excessive production of reactive chemicals in the brain, which can damage important regions of this organ.

Liquid lens mimics human eye
Fluid device could find its way into pocket-sized gadgets. 19 March 2004. 

March 21

Embryo created using frozen ovary
Resurrected tissue offers fertility hope to cancer patients. 9 March 2004.

Ovaries may lay new eggs
Possible stem cells in ovaries prompt fertility boosting ideas. 11 March 2004.

Ricin vaccine protects mice from poisoning
Skin patch could offer simple treatment route. 15 March 2004.

Chip takes over lab routine
Stamp-sized device could assess workings of single cell. 15 March 2004.

Cheap blood test heralds speedy stroke diagnosis
The test could help patients get the right treatment as soon as possible and, in future, distinguish between different kinds of strokes.

New monkey virus jumps to humans.
The discovery of a new class of monkey virus jumping into humans has reinforced claims that HIV came from bushmeat hunting. It also suggests that viruses jump species much more often than thought - raising the risk that new viral diseases will eventually develop in humans.

New Drug May Help Fight Some Lung Cancers.
Northwestern Memorial Hospital is the only Chicago area hospital currently enrolling participants in a research study to find out if the drug Tarceva, also know as erlotinib, may help fight bronchioloalveolar cell carcinoma (BAC), a type of non-small cell lung cancer generally considered resistant to chemotherapy.

March 14

New artificial blood shows promise.
Numerous past attempts to develop synthetic blood have failed because doctors got the basic science wrong, claim researchers.

Heart therapy raises hopes and concerns
Experimental treatment with blood stem cells causes complications.

Fat cells boost blood vessel growth
Could liposuction left-overs help repair hearts?

Loss Of Smell Linked To Key Protein In Alzheimer's Disease
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have linked smell loss in mice with excessive levels of a key protein associated with Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Smell loss is well documented as one of the early and first clinical signs of such diseases.

Nutrient during pregnancy 'super-charges' brain.
Extra choline boosts the brains of offspring by making crucial areas bigger and faster, suggests a rat study.

Dogma on mammals' eggs scrambled
Biologists have insisted for years that female mammals, including women, only have the eggs they are born with - not any more.

March 7

Mysterious virus may thwart HIV
Having a secondary infection with a little-understood virus appears to protect HIV patients from developing AIDS and death.

Diabetes may be linked to early hearing loss
Studies point to danger of deafness and mental decline in old age. 27 February 2004.

Vitamin B2 may help treat sepsis
Vitamin's anti-bacterial effect fights blood poisoning in mice. 26 February 2004.

Faulty DNA Replication Linked To Neurological Diseases.
Lengthy sequences of DNA -- with their component triplet of nucleotides repeated hundreds, even thousands of times -- are known to be abnormal, causing rare but devastating neurological diseases. But how does the DNA get this way? How does it go haywire, multiplying out of control?

February 2004

February 29

Drug may help treat SARS
Interferon helps infected monkeys breathe more easily. 23 February 2004.

Test may lower antibiotic use
New method could cut unnecessary prescriptions. 20 February 2004.

Mix Of Chemicals Plus Stress Damages Brain, Liver In Animals And Likely In Humans
Stress is a well known culprit in disease, but now researchers have shown that stress can intensify the effects of relatively safe chemicals, making them very harmful to the brain and liver in animals and likely in humans, as well.

New Findings On Memory Could Enhance Learning WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.
New research in monkeys may provide a clue about how the brain manages vast amounts of information and remembers what it needs. Researchers at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center have identified brain cells that streamline and simplify sensory information – markedly reducing the brain's workload.

FDA Approves First Angiogenesis Inhibitor To Treat Colorectal Cancer
The FDA has approved Avastin (bevacizumab) as a first-line treatment for patients with metastatic colorectal cancer -- cancer that has spread to other parts of the body.

Scientists See How Placebo Effect Eases Pain
The concept of a placebo effect, by which patients get better from the mere illusion of treatment, has intrigued scientists since it was first proposed in 1955. Since then debate has centered on whether it truly exists and, if it does, how it works. The results of a new study offer fresh evidence in support of the existence of a placebo effect, and suggest how a brain influenced by this effect changes its response to pain.

February 22

Silent sound zaps cancer
Ultrasound cuts side effects when used to remove tumours. 16 February 2004

Researcher Successfully Vaccinates Some Patients Against Lung Cancer
John Nemunaitis, M.D., oncologist and researcher at the Mary Crowley Medical Research Center (MCMRC) at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, has developed a vaccine that suppresses lung cancer in some patients.

Hormone Transforms Fat Cells from Foes to Friends, Rat Study Suggests
Set against the backdrop of an increasingly overweight population, the 1994 discovery of the fat-regulating protein leptin was widely heralded as a boon for obesity research. The hormone continues to be a focus of investigation. New work suggests that increasing leptin levels in the body can fundamentally change the nature of fat cells--from idle storage containers to fat-burning machines.

Chemical Turns Mouse Stem Cells Into Heart Muscles. San Diego - Feb 18, 2004
A group of researchers from The Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at The Scripps Research Institute and from the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF) has identified a small synthetic molecule that can control the fate of embryonic stem cells.

Neural Aging Walks Tall: Aerobic activity fuels elderly brains, minds.
Moderate amounts of regular walking improve brain function and attention in formerly sedentary seniors.

Biochemical Clues To Long Lifespan Revealed: Findings Extend Longevity Research From Yeast And Worms To Mammals
Researchers at Children's Hospital Boston have discovered how two key cellular influences on lifespan work together, providing insights that may help reveal aging mechanisms in humans.

February 15

US researchers losing edge in stem cell work
For American biologists, accustomed to being research leaders in so many areas, the announcement this week that South Koreans were the first to successfully clone a human embryo was humbling—and a call to arms (The Boston Globe)

Clot-busting corkscrew aids stroke patients
New technique may help reverse paralysis. 6 February 2004

Bird flu sweeps through Asia
Fear of a human pandemic grows as avian influenza spreads. 5 February 2004

Designer mice make heart-friendly nutrients
Genetic advance could put healthier eggs and meat on supermarket shelves. 5 February 2004

Super-sniffer mice smell good
Rodents missing a single protein can detect the weakest scents. 5 February 2004

February 8

Migraines Linked to Brain Lesions
Some migraine sufferers may be at an increased risk for brain lesions, according to the results of a new study. The findings could indicate that the debilitating headache is, in certain cases, a progressive brain disease.

Drug may give cells a fresh start
A chemical could switch adult cells from one type to another. 30 January 2004

Protein points to risk of colon cancer
Blood test might replace colonoscopies. 4 February 2004

Calcium Superchargers.
Foods such as yogurts supplemented with fiberlike sugars are developing into the latest wave in functional foods—commercial goods seeded with ingredients that boost their nutritiousness or healthfulness.

Researchers Determine Reason For Deadly Spread Of 1918 Influenza
The explosive spread of the influenza virus during the 1918 pandemic that killed some 20 million people worldwide was likely enabled by the unique structure of a protein on the virus's surface, researchers are reporting. The newly determined structure of the viral protein reveals that the 1918 strain of influenza underwent subtle alterations that enabled it to bind with deadly efficiency to human cells, while retaining the basic properties of the avian virus from which it evolved.

New MS Research Shows Remarkable Findings. Montreal, February 5, 2004
New research findings from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center (MUHC) provide hope for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). "We have identified a key enzyme that triggers MS-like disease in an animal model," says MUHC neuroscientist and Professor of Medicine at McGill University, Dr. Sam David. "We also show that blocking this enzyme has a remarkable effect in preventing disease and relapses."

University Of Chicago Study Overturns Conclusion Of Historic Human Genome Data.
Researchers at the University of Chicago have discovered there is extensive gene "traffic" on the mammalian X chromosome and overturn a conventional theory about how the genes evolved on the sex chromosome.

Seeing How Plants Split Water Could Provide Key To Our Future Energy Needs
The possibility of using the Earth's abundant supply of water as a cheap source of hydrogen is a step closer thanks to researchers from Imperial College London. By mimicking the method plants use to split water, researchers say that a highly energy efficient way to form cheap supplies of hydrogen fuel may be possible in the future.

February 1

Self-assembling scaffold for spinal-cord repair
'Liquid' bridge could help severed nerve cells grow. 23 January 2004

Sleep boosts lateral thinking
Study shows the value of sleeping on a problem. 22 January 2004

How fluoride firms up teeth
Computer models show that fluoride locks calcium into your pearly whites. 22 January 2004

Do plants act like computers?
Leaves appear to regulate their 'breathing' by conducting simple calculations. 21 January 2004

Molecular Level Discovery Could Play Role In Development Of New Antibiotics. CHAMPAIGN, Ill.
Chemists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have uncovered the molecular activity of an enzyme responsible for naturally turning a small protein into a potent antibiotic known as a lantibiotic.

January 2004

January 25

Simple sugar eases Huntington's disease in mice
Discovery provides taste of a possible route for human drug development. 19 January 2004.

Ebola spreads from animals to hunters
Future outbreaks may be hard to predict, tests suggest. 16 January 2004.

Vitamin D health benefit boon?
Supplements lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. 13 January 2004.

Sleeper Effects: Slumber may fortify memory, stir insight.
In two separate studies, researchers found that a specific sleep stage may amplify recent memories and that sleep can inspire problem-solving insights.

January 18

Easy breathing
Anti-mucus molecule may help asthma sufferers. Biologists have hit upon a molecule that can prevent the airways of asthmatic mice from clogging up. The finding may help human sufferers of respiratory diseases. Nature, 12 January 2004

Alzheimer's disease cause identified?
Amyloid beta protein may trigger mental decline. Researchers may have pinpointed the cause of Alzheimer's disease - a rogue protein called amyloid beta (Aß) that forms plaques in the brain. Dementia-prone mice with low levels of Aß are spared the disease, research reveals. Drugs that reduce this protein in humans may have the same protective effect. Nature, 8 January 2004

Chicken Soups Really Works. MONDAY, Dec. 29 (HealthDayNews)
A cure for the common cold may still be out of reach, but temporary relief could be right in your kitchen cupboard. Chicken soup apparently does more than work wonders on the soul. Some doctors and researchers -- not to mention grandma -- say chicken soup actually helps reduce the inflammation and mucus production so characteristic of a cold.

Predicting miscarriage
A key protein could help tell when a pregnancy will fail, weeks in advance. About half of all fertilized eggs are aborted, often before the woman knows she is pregnant. Among known pregnancies, roughly 10-15% of pregnancies are spontaneously lost. Yet doctors often can't foretell which ones will fail. One of the few known hints is a hormone called human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), whose levels fall around the time of a miscarriage. Nature, 9 January 2004

Pig-human chimeras contain cell surprise
The animals develop totally fused cells, with potentially serious implications for xenotransplantation and even the origin of HIV.

January 11

Stem-cell 'secret of youth' found
A humble marine snail has helped scientists to unravel the signals that keep stem cells young.

Prion proteins may store memories
Study hints at vital job for two-faced proteins.

'Drugs don't work' admission triggers news response
A newspaper report in which Allen Roses, Senior VP, Genetics Research at GlaxoSmithKline, admitted that most prescription drugs do not work for most people, triggered an incredible response worldwide.

Drug Discovery News Review of 2003.

Herbal medicine boom threatens plants
Natural remedies have become so popular that many wild plants are now being harvested to the point of extinction, say botanists.

Systematic genome-wide screens of gene function
High-throughput genome-wide screens offer many advantages over traditional approaches, not least of which is speed. Such systematic functional screens have been successfully carried out in yeast, but are becoming feasible in higher organisms, including human cells. Anne E. Carpenter & David M. Sabatini

January 4

Researchers make breakthrough with adult stem cells
The battle over stem-cell research is fraught with spin and counterspin, and it's not just limited to embryonic stem cell issues. As others have noted, research into adult stem-cells has been ignored or grossly misrepresented as partisans attempt to convince the public that scientists must create and destroy human life for research purposes. Predictably, major news that researchers at The Scripps Research Institute have made a breakthrough in turning adult cells into "precursor cells" has gone almost completely unmentioned by the mainstream media (it may have as much to do with its Christmas announcement as with media bias). But the discovery may make the debate over embryonic stem cell research wholly obsolete.

Placebo Effect: Harnessing Your Mind's Power To Heal.
It’s true that some people who participate in research studies and take inactive medications called placebos do see health improvements. People taking placebos have experienced reduced pain, healed ulcers, eased nausea and even warts disappeared. Stimulus response: People may have a trained positive response to taking a pill or receiving treatment, whether it’s real or not. Beliefs or expectations, including the meaning you attach to a treatment: A person with positive expectations of the treatment may experience the placebo effect more than someone with lower expectations. Relationship with your doctor: A person whose doctor is supportive and positive may experience more benefit from a placebo -- or the standard treatment -- than someone who doesn’t have that relationship.