Big pharma starts to court the stem cell field; common gene variant linked to obesity; new insight into flu viruses

Stem Cell Research

Forbes' Matthew Herper heralds last week's deal between GlaxoSmithKline and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute as a landmark in the drug development world. Long an ethical minefield that drug companies veered away from, major drug developers now see stem cells as a key tool useful in the development of new therapeutics. And that's something no one can ignore. Report

New Scientist reports that a controversy over the origin of some of the embryos used to create ESC lines currently sanctioned by the U.S. government could lead to a halt of some federally funded research programs at some institutes. Story

Researchers in the U.S. and Sweden have found adult stem cells that could play a key role in healing spinal cord injuries. Report


A study of the FTO gene, the first common gene linked with obesity, demonstrated that children with a risky variant of the gene were less likely to feel full when they should. One researcher in the study noted, though, that a number of genes likely play a role in promoting obesity. Story

Researchers have found a genetic switch that influences the rate at which we age. The key may be managing signaling circuits in cells, according to researchers who were involved in a study with roundworms. Article

Medical College of Wisconsin researchers in Milwaukee have reported that children of Alzheimer's patients who are carriers of a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease have neurological changes that are detectable long before clinical symptoms may appear. Release

A variation of the SLCO1B1 gene has been linked to increased risk of myopathy in people taking high doses of statins. Story

Cancer Research

Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have discovered that microRNAs--molecular workhorses that regulate gene expression--are released by cancer cells and circulate in the blood, which gives them the potential to become a new class of biomarkers to detect cancer at its earliest stages. Release

More Research

Japanese scientists have captured an image of an enzyme flu viruses require to replicate, a step toward developing new drugs that developers will be able to find new drugs to kill the viruses or slow them down. Story

The UK has opened a new facility to provide researchers with human tissue and tissue products. Report