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December 2004
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February 2005

New Virus Attack Technique Bypasses Filters

By Dennis Fisher
January 31, 2005

Virus writers have once again gotten the drop on anti-virus vendors and IT administrators with a new technique that's finding early and considerable success.

Late last month, administrators and service providers began seeing virus-infected messages with a new type of attachment hitting their mail servers: an .rar archive. .Rar files are similar to .zip files in that they are containers used to hold one or more compressed files. The .rar format is not as widely known as .zip, but it is used for a number of tasks, including compressing very large files, such as music and video.

The emergence of .rar-packed viruses highlights the lengths to which virus writers are willing to go to evade anti-virus systems, as well as the limitations of those traditional signature-based defenses.

Experts say .rar files carrying viruses have been sailing past commercial anti-virus products and finding their way into the mailboxes of users, who are often unfamiliar with the file format. Administrators who have seen .rar-packed malware say that none of the messages have been stopped by their anti-virus defenses.

Full story.

Teaching computers to read no simple task

Creating algorithms to convert text so machines can learn
The Associated Press
Updated: 9:34 a.m. ET Jan. 31, 2005TROY, N.Y. - Among the handiest villains in science fiction are Computers That Know Too Much. Think of the dream-weaving despots of "The Matrix" or murderous HAL in "2001: A Space Odyssey." But in reality, even the most super supercomputer lacks the reasoning capacity of a child engrossed in a Dr. Seuss book. Computers can't read the way we do. They can't learn or reason like us.

Narrowing that cognitive gap between humans and machines — creating a computer that can read and learn at a sophisticated level — is a big goal of artificial intelligence researchers.

The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or DARPA, granted a contract worth at least $400,000 last fall to two Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professors who are trying to build a machine that can learn by reading.

Full story.

HIPAA Chilling Biomedical Research


Editorial: data show dismal outlook for biomedical research without modifications

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 31, 2005 – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) designed to enhance patient confidentiality by restricting access to medical records is slowing the progress of critical biomedical research, according to an editorial published in the February issue of the journal Annals of Epidemiology. In perhaps the first quantitative study of recruitment trends following the rule’s implementation in April 2003, Roberta B. Ness, M.D., M.P.H., reports a significant “chilling effect.”

Continue reading "HIPAA Chilling Biomedical Research" »

Synthon, Pfizer in legal wrangle

Synthon, Pfizer in legal wrangle
Kim Nilsen

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK - In a bid to shield more than $3 billion in sales of a high blood pressure drug, Pfizer Inc. is suing generic drug company Synthon Pharmaceuticals.

Synthon Laboratories, a subsidiary of the drug company, is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for a lower-cost medication that would rival the drug Norvasc, Pfizer's top-selling high blood pressure drug.

Full story.

Depomed patents expand drug marketplace

Depomed patents expand drug marketplace
Janet Rae-Dupree and Daniel S. Levine
As many retirees do, polymer chemist John Shell Sr. got restless a few months after leaving Alza Corp. in Mountain View. A friend at a rival company offered him lab space where he could tinker. Perhaps, he thought, he'd try to figure out how to keep irritating medications away from the stomach's sensitive lining.

He figured that out, all right. But he simultaneously made another, far more lucrative, discovery. The same substance --a type of polymer -- that can protect the stomach also expands in contact with gastric acids. By swelling up to a size that doesn't pass easily into the intestines, a pill can release its contents over time. That means patients can take lower dosages less frequently and still experience the same benefits.

Full story.



By Evan Pondel


LOS ANGELES - Charles Gale has a knack for collecting the scraps on his workbench and finding ways to improve the flow of life around his house.

"I've always been mechanically inclined, waking my wife up in the middle of the night because I just thought of a new way to do something better," said Gale, 60, who recently retired from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. "I suppose I have the habits of an inventor."

And that's just what Gale has officially become. His latest invention -- a stabilizing platform for a digital camcorder -- received its first patent several months ago. To pursue the patent, he had to take a second mortgage and invest about $12,000. "Hopefully, I'll find a manufacturer or even a small-business loan so I can get the product out there and start making some money."

From the first inkling of an idea to a fully formulated product, the invention business is as enticing as it is expensive. Though generally costing several thousand dollars, patent applications are on the rise.

Full story.

Sponsor: Gehrke & Associates, SC -- Intellectual Property and Technology Law

Royalty Stacking an Issue for Pharmaceutical and Biotechnolgy Industry in UK

Solutions to Royalty Stacking Issues a Top Priority in Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Sectors

London, UK, 31st January, 2005 - As new technologies are innovated in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors, the number of fresh patents and related regulations is also on the rise. With patents materialising as the most recognised form of intellectual property fortification, companies are increasingly becoming dependent on patented research tools and techniques. Royalty stacking is primarily the largest patent dilemma industry participants must work towards overcoming.

Royalty stacking, which is the sharing of third-party royalties, is caused by a multiplicity of overlapping patents. Compelled to pay large amounts to obtain these multiple licences, companies are forced to raise prices and are being discouraged to undertake technical innovation.

Full story.

California stem-cell funding spawns wannabes

Daniel S. Levine
As California implements its $3 billion stem-cell proposition, other states are pushing forward with research funding plans of their own for fear of missing out on a financial bonanza.

At least seven states are considering providing funding for stem-cell research. These range from Connecticut's plan to direct $10 million to $20 million into stem-cell research to proposals in New York and Illinois to raise up to $1 billion each to fund stem-cell research. New Jersey, Wisconsin, Maryland and Virginia are also considering providing funding.

Full story.

Medical tech park eyed at Milwaukee VA

Barrett wants federal land for biotech center
Pete Millard

The city of Milwaukee wants to acquire 37 acres from the Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center for a medical technology business park.

The undeveloped land is in the far southeast corner of the 125-acre Veterans Affairs compound. The land borders Miller Park Way and West National Avenue, and is south of the Milwaukee Brewers' Miller Park home.

Full story.