ALSO NOTED: Three-parent embryos?; Ultraviolet light advances cancer therapy; Is most medical research a waste of money?;

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Lawmakers in the UK are scheduled to debate a controversial new law that would allow couples to create embryos derived from three parents. The procedure would require the nucleus of one woman's egg and the mitochondria from another woman that spurs cell growth. If approved, couples would have an option for avoiding the threat of mitochondrial disease like epilepsy and diabetes. A wide array of opponents is prepared to wage a battle against the approach. Report

An expert in biostatistics--and a new member of the Royal Society of Canada--says that with two million research articles being published each year, only about one percent of it is either scientifically valid or clinically useful. Report

A new "lung-on-a-chip" developed at the University of Michigan mimics the fluid mechanics of the real thing on a plastic wafer just bigger than a quarter. It allows researchers to grow lung airway cells that act more like they're in a human body instead of a Petri dish. Release

MIT researchers have identified enzymes that play a key role in promoting the brainpower of Alzheimer's patients, adding that the enzymes appear to be good targets for new therapies. Release

The protein cystatin C appears to inhibit the development of amyloid beta plaques involved in Alzheimer's, opening up a new target for drug developers able to mimic that activity. Report

Researchers have found how the cowpox virus can essentially hide itself from the body's immune system, offering a new approach to vaccine development. Release

Bioengineers led by Luke Lee at the University of California, Berkeley, have discovered a technique that for the first time enables the detection of biomolecules' dynamic reactions in a single living cell. Release

Researchers at Yale School of Medicine report that a biomarker, the protein YKL-40, can be used to identify the most aggressive form of asthma and help lead the way to new therapies for the disease. "This may allow us to identify a subpopulation of patients with severe asthma and give us insights into the biologic processes that make the disease so severe in these individuals," says Jack Elias, MD. "Our studies also have demonstrated that eliminating YKL-40 decreases specific types of tissue inflammation--which could be of particular benefit to asthmatic patients with an elevated level of this protein." Release

The $63 million Queensland Brain Institute has opened, beginning work on dementia, stroke, depression and more. Release

Stem Cell Research

A scientist who has worked closely with Alan Trounson--the new chief of California's $3 billion stem cell program--has been cited for "research misconduct" in a program funded by the Australian government. Trounson was not a subject of the investigation. Report

Using embryonic stem cells, scientists at Hebrew University in Jerusalem were able to determine an important mechanism in fragile X syndrome, a common cause of inherited mental retardation in boys. Their insights point to new therapies to prevent the condition from occurring. Release

Menstrual blood contains adult stem cells that can be coaxed to develop into nine different types of cells, including heart, lung and nerve cells. Report

A database that includes the molecular profiles of the major components of the blood system--including the stem cells and the cells differentiated from them--enabled researchers at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) in Houston to identify at least two genes involved in the differentiation process for two different kinds of blood cells. Release

Cancer Research

Scientists are testing a new technique that relies on ultraviolet light to trigger a personalized vaccine targeting cancer tumors. By applying photodynamic therapy at the exact site needed, the therapy can avoid the kind of toxic overloads that afflict many cancer patients today. Article

Researchers in Australia have proved in a study that the immune system can stop cancer from advancing, offering a new approach to treating the disease as a chronic condition. Report

Researchers at the University of Southern California have identified how genes are "silenced" in cancer cells through changes in the density of nucleosomes within the cells. The findings of the study are published in forthcoming issue of the journal Cancer Cell. According to lead author Peter A Jones, the study shows "for the first time exactly how genes get shut down in cancer cells... It identifies what the target looks like so that new therapies can be designed to turn them back on." Release

The BBC is reporting that much of the money being spent on cancer research in the UK is being wasted. Article


New research indicates that variants of the HLA-DQB1 and HLA-DRB1 genes raise the risk of juvenile diabetes. Report