ALSO NOTED: Miniature stem cell lab developed; Scripps opens new research center; Major advance in microRNA research;

Technology

A team at the Institute for BioNanotechnology in Medicine at Northwestern University has created a "miniature laboratory" from one polymer and one small molecule in which human stem cells can grow. The sac in turn safeguards the stem cell from the human immune system so it can arrive safely at its destination. Report

New gene-scanning technology has revealed genetic variations which significantly heightens the risk of schizophrenia. And the work demonstrates the technology's promise in revealing the biology involved in mental disorders. Article

Stem Cell Research

Scripps Research Institute in California is boosting its presence in the stem cell field. Scripps has launched the Center for Regenerative Medicine and wooed noted scientist Jeanne Loring away from the Burnham Institute to run it. It now has an organized stem cell effort, putting it in line with the three other big research institutes in its area--all of which are competing for state funds. Report

The heads of two new research institutes in Florida are steering clear of controversial stem cell research programs in the Sunshine state. Recent ballot initiatives favoring stem cell research in Florida have failed to attract enough signatures needed to put the measures up for a public vote. Story

A highly charged debate over the future of new legislation in the UK allowing the creation of human/animal hybrids for medical research has pitted scientists against the leaders of the Catholic Church. The head of Scotland's Roman Catholic Church calls the proposal "monstrous" but says he will sit down to discuss the issue with members of the scientific community. Report

Genetics

Over the past three years gene-scanning has linked almost 100 DNA variants to 40 diseases and traits, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. And scientists have heralded the work as one of the most significant stages in the history of medical research. Report

Scientists have identified six new genes which play a role in the development of type 2 diabetes, and among the group is the second gene known to also play a role in prostate cancer. Release

New research from Colorado State University suggests that genes previously thought to be non-functional are working at a low level. This phenomenon may help answer questions about chronic disease and aging. Report

UK scientists have found three more genes linked to increased risk of bowel cancer. And in some cases the risk is limited to certain races. Four other gene mutations have already been linked to the cancer. Story

An international team of legal, scientific and ethics experts have assembled ethics guidelines for human genome sequencing research work. Report

Researchers working in Vietnam have identified a genetic variant that predisposes people to developing a lethal form of tuberculosis, tuberculous meningitis, if they are infected with a strain of TB known as the Beijing strain. Release

Cancer Research

An Australian scientist, Dr. Alex Swarbrick, says that new research into the therapeutic effects of turning off the Id1 gene in aggressive breast cancer tumors in mice could offer a new approach to treating the disease. In an animal study, about 40 percent of the cancers were cured by putting the tumors to "sleep." Report

Lawmakers in the UK have raised concerns over funding for a new UK Centre for Research and Medical Innovation, billed as the largest medical research facility in the country. The new facility is expected to bring together experts from the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK and University College, London. Article

University of Florida chemists are the first to use a new tool to identify the molecular signatures of serious diseases--without any previous knowledge of what these microscopic signatures or "biomarkers" should look like. The advance could one day lead to earlier detection and improved treatment of some types of cancer as well as other diseases. Release

More Research

New Scientist examines the work at Santaris Pharma to muzzle microRNA. The new approach has been used to lower cholesterol but researchers say that controlling microRNA could be an effective approach to controlling a host of diseases, including cancer and heart disease. The first human trial will target hepatitis C. Article

Scientists at the Center for Translational Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia have shown that a specific signaling protein is crucial to protecting the heart and helping it to adapt during a heart attack. And receptors that turn on the protein could be effective new drug targets. Release

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A trial of a retinal implant built from embryonic stem cells produced encouraging results in patients with dry age-related macular degeneration.