ALSO NOTED: New nanovalves for drug delivery; New stem cell institute formed; 15 genes for longer life;


A team of scientists has designed new nanovalves that can be operated by pH levels in patients, allowing for the targeted release of therapeutics directly to diseased tissues. By moving to a pH activated system, the nanovalve will work in water. Report

Stem Cell Research

A consortium of researchers from UC Berkeley and Stanford will pursue new advances in stem cell science at the newly formed Siebel Stem Cell Institute. They'll be funded by a $9 million gift from the Siebel Foundation. Story

Scientists in Japan claim to have grown complete working kidneys and pancreas in laboratory mice using embryonic stem cells derived from rodents. If the feat can be repeated in domestic animals, it will allow doctors to replace damaged organs in humans without the need for a donor, according to the University of Tokyo researchers. Report

The Times of London reports that a proposed embryo research law could effectively ban new stem cell therapies from ESCs. Report

A recent stem cell symposium in Singapore brought together more than 300 researchers who work in the region. Story


Fifteen genes linked to longer life spans may help point to a new therapy to prolong lives. Those same genes are found in yeast and round worms, two hardy life forms far down on the evolutionary chain. Article

Scientists at the Karolinska Institute identified the genes that can combat atherosclerosis by reducing levels of bad cholesterol in the blood. Release

A genetic circuit in HIV that decides whether it switches on or stays dormant could hold the key to an anti-HIV therapy, according to a new study. Release

U.S. researchers say the SATB1 gene is a 'master regulator' gene that appears to alter behavior in 1,000 different genes found in tumor cells. "SATB1 will be a remarkable target for cancer therapy," lead scientist Termumi Kohwi-Shigematsu of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, told AFP. Report

Overeating disrupts a network of genes, triggering obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Merck's Eric Schadt says the research shows that obesity is linked with much more than a single genetic mutation. Story

The San Jose Mercury News looks at ambitious efforts to create a national bio-bank, with a half million people donating DNA samples in an effort to explore the links between illnesses, genetics and lifestyle. Article

Cancer Research

Dopamine, a drug currently used to treat Parkinson's disease and other illnesses, also might work in cancer patients. The study, which was done in mouse and laboratory models, shows that dopamine could possibly prevent new blood vessels from growing and as a result, slow cancer progression. Release

A new U.S. study has identified genetic mutations in four genes found in lung cancer patients whose cancer has recurred within five years of surgery. That insight may help advance new tests and therapies for those most at risk. Report 

Dr. William Kaelin of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and colleagues have identified a potential new neuronal tumor suppressor. Release

A compound found in soybeans almost completely prevented the spread of human prostate cancer in mice, according to a study published in the March 15 issue of Cancer Research. Release

More Research

Japanese scientists used a modified version of the HIV virus to deliver a gene therapy to the brains of mice with symptoms similar to Huntington's disease. Their work helps advance new therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. Article

A new study has characterized an agent that protected nerve cells from damage in culture and markedly reduced disease progression in a mouse model of MS. The authors of the study therefore suggested that agents similar to the one they characterized might provide a new approach to treating individuals with MS and other neurodegenerative disorders. Release

Overexpressing a protein involved in the uptake of fat in muscle of mice can improve their tolerance to cold temperatures, researchers find in a new study that showcases the over-looked role muscle may play in the cold response. Release

Scripps Research Institute in Florida has won a $7.6 million federal grant to explore a new therapy that would defend against an enzyme responsible for brain degeneration in Parkinson's disease. Report