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  • General Scientific News

    Cloning’s Growing Pains

    Ian Wilmut and his colleagues have an interesting review in a recent issue of Nature (no web link) on the status of mammalian cloning. It’s still so difficult that it almost qualifies as a stunt. Several species have had the nuclear-transfer technique that produced Dolly the sheep applied successfully (if you can use that word… Read More
  • Drug Assays

    That Voodoo That We Do

    I mentioned in passing that getting cells to express a new gene’s protein is voodoo. That’s pretty close to the technical term of the art for it. Gene therapy is the high-profile application of the technique, but it’s the bread and butter of molecular biology. I can tell you that a lot of drug company… Read More
  • Biological News

    Gene Therapy Decisions

    There’s been a flurry of news about gene therapy, a high-risk high-reward area of research from the very beginning. The biggest success stories came recently in the treatment of X-linked severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID,) the so-called “bubble boy” disease. But the course of true therapy never did run smooth, and there have… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    Nobelity and Lesser Nobelity

    When I referred to Nobels this year as being well-deserved, that got me to thinking. How many scientific Nobels haven’t been? If you go back to the early years of the awards, there actually are some stinkers. And there are a few mild head-scratchers, like Einstein winning for the photoelectric effect (rather than the still-controversial-at-th… Read More
  • Alzheimer's Disease

    Alzheimer’s Vaccine Refuses to Die

    The Alzheimer’s vaccine idea that I’ve covered every so often is back in the news. Two studies coming out in Nature Medicine give it a boost. One shows that the ill-fated Elan clinical trial (which came to a screeching halt when some patients developed brain inflammation) actually did lead to antibody production against the beta-amyloid… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    Another Stuffed Shirt

    Talking about the Nobels brings to mind a story from Sydney Brenner, one of those honored with the Medicine prize this year. He related this story in a column he did for Current Biology a few years ago (8 (23), 19 Nov 1998, R825 if you want to look it up.) He was visiting a… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    Nobel Time!

    Congratulations to John Fenn, Koichi Tanaka, and Kurt Wuerthrich for sharing the 2002 Chemistry Nobel. The common theme is characterization of proteins and other macromolecules, and the discoveries are (respectively) electrospray ionization for mass spectrometry, laser desorption for the same, and 2-D NMR techniques. I’ll write more on this t… Read More
  • General Scientific News

    The Bigger They Are

    The Chemistry Nobel this year doesn’t include any household names, even by the standards of my branch of the science. But (as I said this morning,) I think the award is a good one. The ability to deal with large molecules like proteins as molecules is a relatively recent development. Before these sorts of methods… Read More
  • Cancer

    Genetic Optimism

    he genetic news of the day, subject of good-sized headlines in the Wall St. Journal and elsewhere, is an upcoming paper in PNAS on a candidate cancer gene called DBC2. Some of these abbreviations are pretty recondite, but not this one – it stands for “Deleted in Breast Cancer,” which is pretty tame by the… Read More
  • Life in the Drug Labs

    Idle Hands

    Events don’t leave me much time to blog tonight, and I’m staying busy at work as well. Without going into job-terminating levels of detail, I’ll say that we’re at the stage now where we not only have to worry about what molecules to make, but how we’re going to make them. Those of you in… Read More