Archive by date | January 2012

Answer found for cancer drug failure

A recently approved cancer drug hailed as a miracle worker for some patients with advanced melanoma, has mysteriously failed in early clinical trials against colon cancers. But work published today in Nature clarifies how colon cancers dodge the drug, called vemurafenib, and what can be done to overcome this resistance.  Read more

‘Newt Skywalker’ aims for the Moon and Mars

'Newt Skywalker' aims for the Moon and Mars

In a campaign stop today along Florida’s Space Coast, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich unveiled his vision for US goals in space: by 2020, he says, he wants a permanent base on the Moon. By then, he also wants constant near-Earth orbit commercial activity supporting science, tourism and manufacturing — and he also wants a propulsion system in place by then that would allow a manned trip to Mars by 2030. He even suggests that he would devote 10% of the NASA’s budget to support entrepreneurial prizes of the kind that spurred Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic.  Read more

Wiretap revelation could aid Italian seismologists’ defence

Wiretap revelation could aid Italian seismologists' defence

Posted on behalf of Nicola Nosengo. A wire tap has brought a new twist to the trial in L’Aquila, Italy, of six Italian scientists and one government official accused of manslaughter for having reassured the population before the deadly earthquake of 6 April, 2009 (see Scientists face trial over earthquake deaths and Scientists on trial: At fault?). All those indicted took part in a meeting held in L’Aquila on 30 March, 2009, during which they were asked to assess the risk of a major earthquake in view of many shocks that had hit the city in the previous months. Most  … Read more

Obama boosts science in State of the Union address

Obama boosts science in State of the Union address

US President Barack Obama’s 65-minute State of the Union address last night (24 January) touched on themes and issues that were expected, calling for measures to revitalize the economy and urging that the very wealthy pay higher tax rates — a minimum of 30% for those with more than $1 million in income.  Read more

Expanding the Panama Canal may shrink shipping industry emissions

Expanding the Panama Canal may shrink shipping industry emissions

Posted on behalf of Virginia Gewin. The Panama Canal is growing. By 2014 – 100 years after it was first completed – ships with a beam of up to 49 metres will be able to travel through the 82-kilometre channel (pictured), up from the current 32.2m limit. Upping the beam constraint, known among seafarers as ‘Panamax’, will have ripple effects throughout the shipping industry. Larger ships will enable the transport of more goods in fewer trips, and larger beams will facilitate the design of more efficient hulls, according to a study in the International Journal of Maritime Engineering. Overall, the  … Read more

Early promise for human embryonic stem cell therapy

Posted on behalf of Corie Lok Two clinical trials testing retinal cells derived from human embryonic stem cells report positive preliminary results today. A paper published today in The Lancet says that the cells appear to be safe four months after being injected into the eyes of two blind patients, and also describes visual improvements in the patients. This isn’t the first trial of human embryonic stem cell-based therapies, nor is it the first human data on these therapies. It is, however, the first – albeit early – data from the only ongoing clinical trial of such a treatment. One  … Read more

Indian government denies tuberculosis claim

Posted on behalf of K. S. Jayaraman The Indian government has dismissed reports that a form of incurable tuberculosis has arrived in the country. In a paper published late last year in Clinical Infectious Diseases, Zarir Udwadia and colleagues at the Hinduja National Hospital and Medical Research Centre in Mumbai reported 12 case of totally drug-resistant tuberculosis (TDR-TB) (see ‘Totally drug-resistant TB emerges in India’) But in a statement released on 17 January, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare dismissed the report. It says that a team of doctors sent by the ministry found that seven of the patients  … Read more