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Scientists at Duke University say that the gene GATA2 may play a role in inherited coronary heart disease and could help lead to a new genetic test. Report

A team at the University of California at Irvine have found that stress hormones may significantly advance the development of Alzheimer's. The researchers injected dexamethasone, which are similar to stress hormones, into young animals and found a 60 percent increase in the levels of the protein beta-amyloid in the brain. Report

A team of scientists at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg studying cell growth in fruit flies found that a small molecule of RNA called bantam was directly interacting with the machinery responsible for cell growth. The level of bantam in the cell is linked to the amount of activity on the Hippo signalling pathway, which controls the life and death of cells in the fruit fly. Release

Researchers at Ohio State University have discovered how a specific chemotherapy drug helps a cancer-killing virus. The virus is being tested in animals for the treatment of incurable human brain tumors. The virus, a modified herpes simplex virus, is injected directly into the tumor, where it enters only the cancer cells and kills them. The study found, however, that within hours of the injection, infection-fighting immune cells are drawn into the tumor to attack the virus, reducing the treatment's effectiveness. Release

A researcher from Dartmouth reports the results of a clinical trial that shows that the cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitor rofecoxib--VIOXX--reduces the risk of colorectal adenomas, or polyps. Polyps are benign tumors that are precursors to colon cancer, and they are often found in older adults. Release

Current face perception theories suggest neurons in a portion of the brain called the fusiform gyrus light up in response to a face, leading researchers to refer to this region as the "fusiform face area." But a study from Stanford University to be published in the September issue of Nature Neuroscience reports that this area also shows a localized--albeit less extensive--response to objects such as cars, animals and sculptures. Release

Chronic alcohol exposure affects the way that five key proteins are expressed, according to researchers at the University at Buffalo. The proteins are involved in programmed cell death, cholesterol balance, amino acid metabolism, oxidative stress and signal transduction. Release

Following reports a year ago on a gene variant strongly linked to age-related macular degeneration, a team of University of Michigan scientists has identified 20 variants of the same gene that show an even stronger association with the disease. A team led by Michigan researchers Gonçalo Abecasis and Anand Swaroop looked at 84 genetic differences in and around the Complement Factor H (CFH) gene in 726 patients with AMD and in 268 unaffected people. Release

An international team of researchers studying how E. coli bacteria attached to the mucus membrane have concluded that a sticky protein at the end of hair-like protrusions allow them to hang on tightly. Added drag force only prompts the bacteria to cling more tightly. Release

A progressive neurodegenerative disorder that is often fatal within the first two decades of life may be treatable via a molecule already targeted by approved drugs, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and other institutions report. Scientists working with a mouse model for Niemann-Pick type C disease showed that experimental treatments appear to be acting through the pregnane X receptor. Found in the cell nucleus, PXR regulates the activity of a cluster of genes that helps the body get rid of toxins. Release

University of California researchers say that a new enzyme inhibitor--originally identified in pest control research--could help relieve the pain for people with arthritis and other inflammatory diseases. Report

While scientists understood how T cells worked in certain kinds of diseases, one area has remained murky: disorders caused by protozoan parasites. Now, because of a study just published and led by scientists at the University of Georgia, researchers are closer than ever to understanding how T cells respond to parasitic diseases that kill millions each year. Release

Tools and Technology

Applied Biosystems is launching a new software development community designed to encourage innovation in life science research software applications. Applied Biosystems said it will provide life scientists and independent software vendors open access to its genetic analysis data file format and a data file converter to facilitate the development of next generation bioinformatics applications. Release

Pharsight has entered into the largest single project workplan in its history integrating the services of drug-disease modeling, meta-data analysis and model visualization. Release

Nalge Nunc has inked a deal to market a high-content screening tool. Report

The same Johns Hopkins research team that first identified flaws in the work of tiny, hair-like structures on the surface of cells called cilia as such a common link has compiled--and made available on the World Wide Web--a database of all genes known to contribute to cilia operations in the body. Release

Deals and Dollars

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded a $1.3 million, two-year grant to the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine to produce a promising avian flu vaccine that could be used in Phase I and Phase II human clinical trials. In January of this year, Pitt researchers reported that their recombinant vaccine completely protected mice and chickens from infection after exposure to the wild-type virus. Release

A professor at the Albany Medical College's Center for Neuropharmacology and Neuroscience, has won a $1.053 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to develop a pain-relieving drug. Release

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has awarded Nastech Pharmaceutical a Phase 1 Small Business Innovation Research grant. Release

Krishna Rao at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine has received a $65,000 state research grant to study a protein that may help prevent breast cancer from spreading. Report