ALSO NOTED: Stem cell advance still leaves plenty of hard work ahead; Drug causes cancer-promoting genes to self-destruct; Bion

Stem Cell Research

Last week's announcement that scientists were able to turn skin cells into cells that mimic embryonic stem cells triggered headlines around the globe. But now that the flurry of attention has passed, scientists in the field are still confronted by the hard work associated with transforming those stem cells into therapies. The Time's Andrew Pollack also concludes that the advance should resolve the "raw materials" shortage and trigger a burst of federal support for the field. Report

In an editorial, The Seattle Times concludes that it's premature to call for an end to embryonic stem cell research. The process that allows researchers to transform skin cells into ESCs has yet to be refined--or fully evaluated. In the meantime, ESC research should continue as adult stem cell therapies are also advanced. Report

Germany, meanwhile, is pumping in more money to support stem cell research, with a special emphasis on reprogramming adult stem cells. Report

Cancer Research

The cancer drug bortezomib works to defeat melanoma cancer cells by speeding cancer-promoting genes to the point they self-destruct. Researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center say that the same approach could be effective against other cancers. Report

Using a novel method for seeing the division of stem cells in real time, Duke University Medical Center researchers believe they have identified an unexpected way to interfere with the uncontrolled cell growth that is characteristic of cancer. Release

Women living in cities are more likely to have denser breasts, a key risk factor in developing breast cancer. Researchers believe that air pollution plays a role in breast development that causes the denser tissue to form. Report


An international collaboration led by researchers in the US and South Africa have announced the first genome sequence of an extensively drug resistant (XDR) strain of the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, one linked to more than 50 deaths in a recent tuberculosis outbreak in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Release

More Research 

Scientists in the UK have advanced new bionic arms operated by thought by adding a sense of touch. Researchers say that the work points to a new generation of prosthetic limbs that can let amputees feel what they touch in much the same way they did before losing their hands. In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists rerouted the remaining nerve endings of lost arms into the amputees' chests. Heat or pressure applied to the chest registered in their prosthetic hands. These devices already employ electrodes in the arm straps which are used to receive brain messages. By combining a sense of touch to an ability to manipulate the devices, researchers believe they are well on their way to creating substitute limbs that can operate much like the original. Article

Professor Paul Rolan and Dr. Mark Hutchinson of the University of Adelaide and world pain expert Dr. Linda Watkins of the University of Colorado say that a new drug developed by Avigen--AV411--can block the physical mechanism that heightens the addictive effects of morphine while allowing its therapeutic effect on pain to work. Report

MIT researchers have identified a family of proteins key to the formation of the communication networks critical for normal brain function. Their research could lead to new treatments for brain injury and disease. Release

A new study indicates that even small amounts of the protein albumin in the urine of patients with coronary artery disease increases the risk of cardiovascular death. This finding may change the way patients are diagnosed and treated. Report

Opening up a new avenue for drug researchers devoted to studying the body's immune system, a team of scientists led by Prof. Israel Pecht of the Weizmann Institute's Immunology Department have detailed how the body's 'reconnaissance unit' continuously screens and inspects identity. Release

A study of HIV at UC San Diego reveals that the virus is even more complex than previously understood, helping to explain why it's proved so hard to defeat. Report

Scientists at the Weizmann Institute have deciphered the sequence of trinucleotides--three-letter snippets of DNA--that provides the molecular code for Huntington's disease. And they hope to follow this lead to a new treatment. Report

An anti-tuberculosis program developed by the World Health Organization may have been responsible for creating the drug-resistant tuberculosis strain that afflicted South Africa. Release

Omega-3 fatty acids protect the brain against Parkinson's disease, according to a study by Université Laval researchers published in the online edition of the FASEB Journal. Release