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Doyle bombarding Green on stem cells

Doyle bombarding Green on stem cells
Issue could make state an incubator for a new partisan campaign strategy
By GREG J. BOROWSKI and STEVEN WALTERS
gborowski@journalsentinel.com
Posted: July 26, 2006

If Gov. Jim Doyle and Democrats have their way, the biggest issue in the campaign against Republican Mark Green will be smaller than the period at the end of this sentence.

With the hope of attracting undecided voters and driving a wedge into Green's support, Doyle has launched a relentless effort to paint Green as an opponent of stem cell research, which is seen as holding the promise of treatments for a host of debilitating diseases.

The issue is a new one in state and national politics, so it is unclear just how it will play with voters when placed alongside such tried-and-true issues as jobs, education and taxes.

Doyle strategists, though, see it as especially potent.

Green, meanwhile, is positioning himself as a backer of funding for stem cell research, though only when ethical guidelines are followed.

"What I have supported is preventing tax dollars from being used to destroy human embryos," Green said Wednesday in an e-mail response to questions. "I think that is a reasonable compromise to what is a very complicated issue."

Full story.


Vitamin D just keeps on giving: Local drug firm merges for success

Vitamin D just keeps on giving: Local drug firm merges for success
By Jeff Richgels
Vitamin D is poised to strike again for Madison.

Harry Steenbock's groundbreaking discoveries at UW-Madison early last century laid a foundation that led to vitamin D becoming by far the biggest moneymaker for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

The most notable local vitamin D success was Bone Care International, which was acquired by Genzyme Corp. for about $600 million two years ago.

Now a recent deal involving two vitamin D-focused companies has three former Bone Care employees on the path to what they hope will be similar success.

Full story.


Scientists fight friction down to the last atom

Scientists fight friction down to the last atom
By KATHARINE OTT
kott@journalsentinel.com
Posted: July 23, 2006

In the field of nanotechnology, where devices are one-billionth the size of everyday objects, friction - the resistant force of two objects rubbing together - is preventing some of these minuscule devices from being reliable enough to enter the commercial market.

Two new studies in the journal Science may get scientists closer to working around the problem of friction.

"Nanotechnology is a vast and multidisciplinary area," said Robert Carpick, a physicist at UW-Madison , "and for certain technologies, friction needs to be overcome."

Researchers in an area called nanotribology study the problem of reducing friction in micro- and nano-scaled electronic devices such as computer chips, microphones and drug-releasing mechanisms. Tribology is the science and technology of friction, lubrication and wear.

The studies outline a new method for reducing friction in micro- and nano-scale devices. Both approaches are unique because they physically alter the existing system - the pair of surfaces involved - rather than adding a chemical to act as a lubricant.

In the first study, friction was reduced by applying a voltage to the system. One of the surfaces involved was made of silicon. When an electric charge is applied to silicon, the electrons become either excited or subdued, depending on whether the charge is positive or negative.

Friction creates heat, and electrons are involved in the transfer of heat. So by altering the electrons, scientists can increase or decrease the amount of friction, said Miguel Salmeron, physicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and one of the authors of the paper.

The second study, by Swiss physicist Anisoara Socoliuc, applied mechanical vibrations to the system.

Full story.


UW-Madison team invents fast, flexible computer chips on plastic

UW-Madison team invents fast, flexible computer chips on plastic

Madison -- New thin-film semiconductor techniques invented by University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers promise to add sensing, computing and imaging capability to an amazing array of materials.

Historically, the semiconductor industry has relied on flat, two-dimensional chips upon which to grow and etch the thin films of material that become electronic circuits for computers and other electronic devices. But as thin as those chips might seem, they are quite beefy in comparison to the result of a new UW-Madison semiconductor fabrication process detailed in the current issue of the Journal of Applied Physics.

A team led by electrical and computer engineer Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma and materials scientist Max Lagally have developed a process to remove a single-crystal film of semiconductor from the substrate on which it is built. This thin layer (only a couple of hundred nanometers thick) can be transferred to glass, plastic or other flexible materials, opening a wide range of possibilities for flexible electronics. In addition, the semiconductor film can be flipped as it is transferred to its new substrate, making its other side available for more components. This doubles the possible number of devices that can be placed on the film.

Continue reading "UW-Madison team invents fast, flexible computer chips on plastic" »


WARF stem-cell patents challenged

WARF stem-cell patents challenged
DAVID WAHLBERG dwahlberg@madison.com 608-252-6125

A California consumer watchdog group Tuesday asked the federal government to overturn three stem-cell patents held by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation.

The challenge, over patents based on work by UW-Madison scientist James Thomson, could threaten WARF's financial windfall from stem-cell research and its prominence in the emerging field.

Thomson is widely credited with being the first person to successfully grow human embryonic stem cells in the lab, in 1998.

The Los Angeles-based nonprofit Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, involved in California's new $3 billion stem-cell research initiative, filed requests asking the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to re-examine the patents.

Full story.


Bush uses first-ever veto to kill popular stem cell bill

Bush uses first-ever veto to kill popular stem cell bill
Jul 19 2:34 PM US/Eastern

US President George W. Bush used his legislative veto for the first time to block a bill that would have expanded federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

"It crosses a moral boundary that our decent society needs to respect, so I vetoed it," Bush said at the White House.

The Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, passed by the US Senate on Tuesday, would lift rules Bush set in 2001 that make federal funds available only for research on a small number of embryonic stem cell lines which existed at that time.

Full story.


TomoTherapy expands capacity

TomoTherapy expands capacity
JUDY NEWMAN jdnewman@madison.com
TomoTherapy is radiating into a larger part of the Far West Side.

The Madison company, which makes specialized radiation machines for treating cancer, moved its manufacturing operation Thursday into a new building at 1209 Deming Way, across the street from the company's headquarters in the Old Sauk Trails Office Park.

The new space expands the manufacturing floor tenfold, from about 5,000 square feet in the original building - built three years ago - to 50,000 square feet. "We can quadruple our production capacity," said chief executive officer Fred Robertson.

Based on research conducted at UW- Madison, TomoTherapy makes radiation treatment machines that spiral around a patient, shooting narrow, potent photon beams at cancerous tumors.

Full story.


Donor T Cells Change the Fate of Stem Cells in Transplantation

Donor T Cells Change the Fate of Stem Cells in Transplantation

When a transplant patient suffers complications such as graft rejection or graft-versus-host disease, physicians attempt to stop the body's immune response by targeting a patient's T cells.

In a new study, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine researchers suggest there may be a way to prevent these complications before they occur. The study was published July 1 in the journal Blood.

Previous studies by these researchers found that T cells are stimulated by blood stem cells -- immature cells that have yet to differentiate into the various cell types of the blood.

In the new study, the researchers report finding unexpected two-way communication and stimulation between blood stem cells and T cells.

In laboratory and animal models, the UIC researchers showed that alloreactive T cells change the fate of blood stem cells and may themselves stimulate a strong immune response.

Full story.


New Source of Multipotent Adult Stem Cells Discovered in Human Hair Follicles

New Source of Multipotent Adult Stem Cells Discovered in Human Hair Follicles
Implications for Personalized Approaches to Transplants

(Philadelphia, PA) - Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have isolated a new source of adult stem cells that appear to have the potential to differentiate into several cell types. If their approach to growing these cells can be scaled up and proves to be safe and effective in animal and human studies, it could one day provide the tissue needed by an individual for treating a host of disorders, including peripheral nerve disease, Parkinson’s disease, and spinal cord injury.

“We are very excited about this new source of adult stem cells that has the potential for a variety of applications,” says senior author Xiaowei (George) Xu, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pathology. “A number of reports have pointed to the fact that adult stem cells may be more flexible in what they become than previously thought, so we decided to look in the hair follicle bulge, a niche for these cells.” Xu and colleagues report their findings in the latest issue of the American Journal of Pathology.

Hair follicles are well known to be a source for adult stem cells. Using human embryonic stem cell culture conditions, the researchers isolated and grew a new type of multipotent adult stem cell from scalp tissue obtained from the National Institute of Health’s Cooperative Human Tissue Network.

Full story.


Coming Soon: 3-D Imaging That Flies “Through” and “Around” Cancer

Coming Soon: 3-D Imaging That Flies “Through” and “Around” Cancer
Posted July 12, 2006
Source: SNM

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Stanford University Pilot Study Demonstrates Feasibility of 3-D PET/CT Images’ “Omnipotent Perspective” To Visualize, Diagnose Cancer and Heart Disease, Says Article in July Journal of Nuclear Medicine

RESTON, Va.—Stanford University researchers demonstrated for the first time the ability to create 3-D positron emission tomography (PET)/computed tomography (CT) images for “fly-through” and “fly-around viewing” of cancer in the lungs and colon, according to a study in the July issue of the Journal of Nuclear Medicine.

This powerful ability to meld functional data with accurate anatomical information of possible cancerous tumors—from inside the body—provides a visual navigation of organs oftentimes portrayed on television crime shows like “CSI.” Such visualization “may be used to detect and characterize cancer, spare someone from more invasive medical procedures, lead to better disease detection rates of colon cancer, provide surgical guidance and detect which tumors may be easier to biopsy,” detailed Andrew Quon, clinical assistant professor of radiology/diagnostic radiology at California’s Stanford University.

“Three-dimensional fusion provides unique views of the body that internal organs typically impede,” said Quon. “Our new imaging and processing protocol can peel away the organs, highlight tumors and detect cancerous ‘hot spots’—providing an omnipotent perspective of the body,” he indicated. Stanford’s 3-D fusion imaging “appears to have potential for presurgical visualization, particularly in guiding biopsies,” explained the co-author of “‘Flying Through’” and ‘Flying Around’ a PET/CT Scan: Pilot Study and Development of 3-D Integrated 18F-FDG PET/CT for Virtual Bronchoscopy and Colonoscopy.” This imaging technique “may add important diagnostic information that may herald new applications for the use of PET/CT,” he noted. In addition, its diagnostic value was demonstrated in one case in which it revealed a cancer lesion that had not been detected by PET, CT or PET/CT imaging. “This one case shows the potential synergistic enhancement of both PET and CT when rendered into three dimensions,” said Quon.

Full story.