Tuesday, January 29, 2008


* Westerlund 2: A Stellar Sight

A new Chandra X-ray Observatory image shows Westerlund 2, a young star cluster with an estimated age of about one or two million years. Until recently little was known about this cluster because it is heavily obscured by dust and gas. However, using infrared and X-ray observations to overcome this obscuration, Westerlund 2 has become regarded as one of the most interesting star clusters in the Milky Way galaxy. It contains some of the hottest, brightest and most massive stars known.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Violent History of Time

A Violent History of Time

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January 24, 2008: From mother Earth, the night sky can look peaceful and unchanging, but the universe as seen in gamma-rays is a place of sudden and chaotic violence. Using gamma-ray telescopes, astronomers witness short but tremendously intense explosions called gamma-ray bursts, and there is nothing more powerful.

Think about this: When you look up at the night sky, you are looking at the ultimate history book – one that goes back to the very beginning of what we call time. And each star is a chapter in the book. You are not really seeing the stars as they are now. You are looking at stars as they used to be when their light left them long ago. And the deeper we peer into space, the farther back in time we are looking. In fact, light from the galaxies farthest away is billions of years old.

Read More by clicking the above Link.
Courtesy: TIME

Friday, January 25, 2008

Scientist Creates Life — Almost ! He sequenced his own DNA !!!

Scientist Creates Life — Almost

Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008 By ALICE PARK

Not only has Venter constructed the first man-made genome, he has also sequenced his own dna, which is now part of a public genetic database
Venter has devoted much of his career to understanding the engineering of other organisms. He was the leader of one of two teams that in 2000 sequenced the human genome—the entire 25,000-gene cookbook that makes us people in the first place and not chimps or birds or banana trees—and he has conducted the same work with many other organisms. But Venter, 61, may have just done something that is at once more thrilling and promising and unsettling than all that. According to a just-released paper in the journal Science, he has gone beyond merely sequencing a genome and has designed and built one. In other words, he may have created life.

Certainly, defining what we mean when we say life has become a moving target over the years. Are we alive? Yes. Is a virus alive? Maybe. Still, a half-century after the discovery of the double helix, nobody doubts that it is our DNA that determines what we are—in the same way that lines of code determine software or the digital etchings on a CD determine the music you hear. Etch new signals, and you write a new song. That, in genetic terms, is what Venter has done. Working with only the four basic nucleotides that make up all DNA—adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine—he has assembled an entirely new chromosome for an entirely new one-celled creature. Insert that genome into a cell—like inserting a disc into a computer—and a new species of living thing will be booted up. Venter hasn't done that yet, which is why even he won't say that he has technically invented life. He has, however, already shown that a genome transplanted from an existing cell to another will shut down the host's genetic programming and bring its own online. If that cellular body-snatching works with an ordinary chromosome, there's little reason to think it won't with a manufactured one. "The fact that this is even possible is mind-boggling to most people," Venter says.

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Not only did Venter's team members succeed in building their own mycoplasma at their own lab benches, they also took the opportunity to rewrite its genetic score. First, they introduced a mutation that would prevent it from causing disease. Then they branded it with a series of watermarks that would distinguish it as a product of their lab. Using a code built around selected genes, they spelled out five words that Venter coyly refuses to reveal, saying only that any molecular-biology study can suss them out and promising that there are no obscenities. The next step, which could happen in a matter of months, will be to insert the gene into a cell and see if it indeed stirs to life. "This team is betting its reputation that that will happen in 2008," Venter says.

Not everyone believes he will succeed—or if he does, that it will matter much.

Corporate giants like DuPont already put synthetic biology to industrial use.

In the company's Loudon, Tenn., plant, for example, billions of E. coli bacteria stew inside massive tanks. The bacteria's genomes contain 23 alterations that instruct it to digest sugar from corn and produce propane diol, a polyester used in carpets, clothing and plastics. The hard-working bugs churn out 100 million lbs. (45 million kg) of the stuff each day, and all it took was a little tinkering with their genomes, not the construction of a new one. "In terms of whether I can think of anything I can only do with a whole synthetic chromosome that I can't do now, the short answer is no," says John Pierce, vice president of technology at DuPont Applied BioSciences.

Courtesy: TIME magazine
Please read the article in full by clicking. If you are not taken there, please cut and paste the URL.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

a living cell printer to create 3-D structures

Now, a living cell printer to create 3-D structures

Tue, Jan 22 01:45 PM

London, January 22 (ANI): A Wake Forest University researcher has adapted standard inkjet printing mechanism into a method of printing three-dimensional structures from living cells.

James Yoo of the Institute of Regenerative Medicine says that his technology may facilitate the creation of layers of viable cells, which can then be transformed into 3-D structures.

He says that making such structures will involve several different types of cells, just like conventional printers use different colours of ink to print images, reports New Scientist.

The system may also print dyes to make the structure easily visible and growth factors to encourage healthy development, adds the researcher.

Yoo claims that his technique can be used to create almost anything from skin and bone to pancreatic or nerve tissue. (ANI)


Thursday, January 17, 2008

What was the Biggest Breakthrough in 2007 ?

Human Genetic Variation
Elizabeth Pennisi

Equipped with faster, cheaper technologies for sequencing DNA and assessing variation in genomes on scales ranging from one to millions of bases, researchers are finding out how truly different we are from one another

What makes us unique. Changes in the number and order of genes (A-D) add variety to the human genome. If you are not taken to this site, please cut and paste the URL below:


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Beating Heart for a Rat Created In Laboratory: Method May Revolutionize How Organ Tissues Are Developed

Rat heart decellularization (top three images), and during recellularization (bottom two images).

University of Minnesota researchers have created a beating heart in the laboratory.

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By using a process called whole organ decellularization, scientists from the University of Minnesota Center for Cardiovascular Repair grew functioning heart tissue by taking dead rat and pig hearts and reseeding them with a mixture of live cells.

"The idea would be to develop transplantable blood vessels or whole organs that are made from your own cells," said Doris Taylor, Ph.D., director of the Center for Cardiovascular Repair, Medtronic Bakken professor of medicine and physiology, and principal investigator of the research.

Nearly 5 million people live with heart failure, and about 550,000 new cases are diagnosed each year in the United States. Approximately 50,000 United States patients die annually waiting for a donor heart.

While there have been advances in generating heart tissue in the lab, creating an entire 3-dimensional scaffold that mimics the complex cardiac architecture and intricacies, has always been a mystery, Taylor said.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Saliva test seeks to screen for breast cancer

Saliva test seeks to screen for breast cancer
January 10, 2008 at 1:36 PM EST

WASHINGTON — U.S. scientists are developing a screening test for breast cancer that checks a woman's saliva for evidence of the disease to help find tumours early, when they are most treatable.

In research published on Thursday, the scientists said they identified 49 proteins in saliva that the screening test would track to distinguish healthy women from those with benign breast tumours and those with malignant breast tumours.

Breast cancer triggers a change in the type and amount of proteins in secretions from the salivary glands, said Charles Streckfus, a professor of diagnostic sciences at the University of Texas Dental Branch at Houston.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A pill to protect us from Addiction. Read TIME magazine


What if science made a pill to protect us from addiction — keeping us from smoking cigarettes, getting fat or abusing drugs and alcohol? According to encouraging results from several lines of study, it seems that day may be closer than we thought. Researchers in labs around the world are now developing vaccines (not a pill, but an injection) to inoculate people against dangerously addictive substances such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Within "one to 10 years, and closer to one year," says Dr. Frank Vocci, director of treatment research and development at the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA), scientists may produce a vaccine against cocaine — one of the more promising areas of research — that can potentially help millions of addicts, two million in the U.S. alone.

One such vaccine, known as TA-CD (for "therapy for addiction — cocaine addiction"), is being developed by husband-and-wife team Dr. Thomas Kosten, a psychiatry professor, and Therese Kosten, a neuroscientist and psychologist, at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. TA-CD has had success in early clinical trials:

Sunday, January 6, 2008

New World Medical - The Ahmed Glaucoma Valve

New World Medical - The Ahmed Glaucoma Valve: "The Ahmed™ Glaucoma Valve (AGV) uses state of the art technology and innovation in controlling intraocular pressure (IOP), lowering the chance of hypotony, and reducing drug use. The AGV is effective in all types of glaucoma due to its unique valve system. Exhibiting a level of control only a true valve can offer."The Ahmed™ Glaucoma Valve (AGV) uses state of the art technology and innovation in controlling intraocular pressure (IOP), lowering the chance of hypotony, and reducing drug use. The AGV is effective in all types of glaucoma due to its unique valve system. Exhibiting a level of control only a true valve can offer.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Asteroid Threatens to Hit Mars

There is a 1-in-75 chance of 2007 WD5 hitting Mars; researchers can't be more confident than that because of uncertainties in the asteroid's orbit. If this unlikely event were to occur, however, the strike would happen somewhere within a broad swath across the planet north of where the Opportunity rover is.

"We estimate such impacts occur on Mars every thousand years or so," said Steve Chesley, a scientist at JPL. "If 2007 WD5 were to thump Mars on Jan. 30, we calculate it would hit at about 30,000 miles per hour and might create a crater more than half-a-mile wide." The Mars Rover Opportunity is currently exploring a crater approximately this size.

Such a collision could release about three megatons of energy. Scientists believe an event of comparable magnitude occurred here on Earth in 1908 in Tunguska, Siberia, but no crater was created. The object was disintegrated by Earth's atmosphere before it hit the ground, although the air blast devastated a large area of unpopulated forest. The Martian atmosphere is much thinner than Earth's so a similar sized impactor would be more likely to reach the ground.
Asteroid Threatens to Hit Mars
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