Archive by date | August 2010

Handful of narcolepsy cases sparks pandemic vaccine probe in Europe

The European Medicines Agency launched a review on 27 August of a putative link between GlaxoSmithKline’s Pandemrix pandemic H1N1 vaccine and a handful of cases of narcolepsy — a rare sleeping disorder. A temporal association between vaccination and development of the disease has been reported in 15 children in Finland and six in Sweden, although that by no means proves the vaccine caused them. The review will analyse whether there is any link or not, and whether the cases represent or not an abnormal increase on the usual baseline levels that would be expected: the prevalence of narcolepsy — which has a genetic component, and can be triggered by infections — is estimated generally at around 0.045% of the population, and in Finland 6 cases in children per year.

AMS hits the road

AMS hits the road

The US Air Force has finally picked up a giant, space-bound particle detector from CERN, Europe’s particle laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) is a 15 year, US$2 billion detector designed to measure cosmic rays while perched on the outside of the International Space Station. It was picked up by a completely awesome Lockheed Martin C-5M Super Galaxy, which flew it to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Pachauri cleared of financial wrongdoing

An auditor’s report into the financial dealings of the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has cleared him of any wrongdoing.

Rajendra Pachauri had faced numerous allegations about his relationship with the Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), a non-profit based in New Delhi of which he is the director general.

GM salmon may be on US menus in 18 months

GM salmon may be on US menus in 18 months

It’s big, it’s sterile, and it’s been dubbed ‘frankenfish’ by some. But as Chris McGreal reports in yesterday’s online Guardian, genetically modified salmon is about to start a process of approval by the US Food and Drug Administration that could make it the first engineered animal destined for consumption by humans anywhere.

Genetics society offers its 2 euro-cents on direct-to-consumer genetics

There’s a good argument to be made that when it comes to direct to consumer (DTC) genetics, the United States is where the action is at. Most of the big firms are stateside, while the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and House of Representatives both held high profile hearings on the topic in a single July week.  Read more

Recipe for a supermassive black hole

While simulating what happens when two galaxies merge, an astrophysics team cooked up something unexpected: a supermassive black hole forming directly from the collapse of a dense cloud of gas. Their model, presented today in Nature, offers a new explanation of how the objects form.