ALSO NOTED: Online research pubs raise concerns; Fish may provide new immune drugs; Genetic mutation linked to congenital blind

More Research

New online journals are threatening to overturn our system of peer-reviewed research magazines, offering a new outlet that allows researchers to make studies available for free online after paying a fee to have it published. These studies, though, will be available after only a cursory editorial review. Report

Researchers from the Moffitt Cancer Research Center and the University of Florida say that a tiny fish found in Tampa Bay produces an immune system protein that is much stronger than the one found in humans and add that it could be a key to developing immune-boosting drugs for cancer and other ailments. Report

A team of researchers at McGill University Health Centre say they have found the genetic mutation typically responsible for leber congenital amaurosis, the most common form of congenital blindness. "This discovery represents a significant advance in the fight against this debilitating condition," says Dr. Koenekoop, director of the McGill Ocular Genetics Center at the MUHC. Report

A failed experiment turned out to be anything but for bacteriologist Marcin Filutowicz. As he was puzzling out why what should have been a routine procedure wouldn't work, he made a discovery that led to the creation of a new biological tool for destroying bacterial pathogens--one that doesn't appear to trigger antibiotic resistance. Release

Dutch researcher Wendy Ooteman says an alcoholic's biological and genetic profile will be the best predictor of which drugs to use for therapy. Naltrexone and acamprosate are both prescribed to suppress a person's desire to drink. Report

Scientists at the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases and other institutions have demonstrated for the first time that a single drug can rebuild damaged muscle in two strains of mice that develop diseases comparable to two human forms of muscular dystrophy. Release

Australian researchers have found a gene--AZGP1--that can give doctors a clue of whether prostate cancer is an aggressive variety that is likely to spread after the removal of the prostate. A deficiency of the gene indicates a high risk that cancer will develop elsewhere at a later point. The discovery may help physicians and patients customize the type of therapy they provide to men with prostate cancer. Report

Scientists in South Korea and the Pacific Behavioral Research Foundation say that variations in the serotonin transport gene can be used to predict whether patients respond to SSRI drugs like Prozac. Currently, there's a large amount of trial and error in prescribing SSRI drugs. Report

Lurking in unexplored regions of the human genome are thousands of previously unknown on/off switches that may influence how the growth of breast cancer is driven by estrogen, new research by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute researchers has revealed. In the October issue of Nature Genetics, the investigators present the first complete map of the molecular "control panels"--stretches of DNA that turn genes on and off--operated by the cells' estrogen receptor, the master regulator of cell growth in the most common form of breast cancer. Release

A new study found that higher levels of specialized blood cells that originate in bone marrow may potentially be used as a prognostic marker in liver cancer. Release

A new gene linked to both depression and bipolar disorder has been identified by University College London and Danish researchers. The Slynar gene is present in about 10 percent of cases of bipolar disorder. Release

Researchers from Emory University and the Mayo Clinic have found that by treating newly diagnosed giant cell arteritis patients with just three days of a high-dose intravenous steroid, patients relapsed less in the following year and were able to significantly taper off usage of an oral steroid. The study is published in the October issue of the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism. Report

Scientists at The Jackson Laboratory have been researching the changes that take place as an egg is transformed into a two-cell embryo. Release

Fewer that one in 10,000 cancer patients treated with ibandronate develop a rare case of osteonecrosis of the jaw, or deterioration of the bone. Report

Researchers at the Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute at Oregon Health & Science University have demonstrated how certain white blood cells literally eat virus-infected cells while fighting disease at the microscopic level. The research not only helps provide a clearer understanding of the body's immune system, it also offers hope of a new method for gauging vaccine effectiveness. The research is published in the current edition of the journal Nature Medicine. Release

New analytical techniques using nuclear magnetic resonance technology may help the search for natural substances that can be made into new therapies, according to scientists at the McKnight Brain Institute of the University of Florida. Report

A research team has determined that the human protein PNC-28 will destroy the tumors in animals. "The results are very encouraging. PNC-28 may be an effective agent in treating cancers, especially if delivered directly to the tumor," said Matthew R. Pincus, MD, PhD, professor of pathology at SUNY Downstate. Report

Tadalafil, a drug prescribed for ED in men may enhance sexual function for prostate cancer survivors, a study published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology has found. Report

Deals & Dollars

Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine researchers have been awarded a $12.8 million grant to improve the diagnosis and predict the therapeutic response of several lung diseases. Release

Leading experts from four European countries and five Latin American countries have teamed up to investigate the effects of gut infections on growth and development in young children. The four-year project called "CONTENT" starting on October 1, 2006 is supported by a €2.5 million research grant from the European Commission's Framework 6 International Cooperation program. Release

The National Human Genome Research Institute is putting up an additional $13 million to fund new research into speeding sequencing technologies and reducing the cost of sequencing. Report

Tools & Technology

Current BioData will launch the Targeted Proteins database to help scientists involved in drug discovery and R&D get a handle on the immense amount of proteomic data available. Built in co-operation with the founders of Swiss-Prot, the Targeted Proteins database focuses on protein systems targeted at prospective clients in the pharma and biotech industries and will be updated daily. It identifies proteins or protein systems implicated in disease and provides target assessments that represent that system from a drug researcher's perspective. Release

Elsevier MDL has released an enhanced version of its electronic laboratory notebook, MDL Notebook. MDL Notebook supports a broad range of chemistry experiments from the single-step synthesis of discrete molecules to multi-step synthesis and complex parallel chemistry experiments. Release

Phase Forward will host its fifth annual International Users Conference (IUC) October 17-18 at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Release

And Finally... The New York Times editorializes that the recent fiasco over a safety study concerning Bayer's Trasylol underscores the need for public registration of clinical trials. Editorial