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UW-Madison model of common cold virus could lead to better drugs

DAVID WAHLBERG | Wisconsin State Journal | dwahlberg@madison.com | 608-252-6125

UW-Madison scientists haven’t cured the common cold, but they may have explained why nobody has — in a discovery that could lead to better drugs against sneezes and sniffles.

Campus researchers constructed a model of rhinovirus C, a particularly problematic strain of cold virus identified just seven years ago, and showed how it differs from rhinoviruses A and B.

Rhinoviruses cause about 85 percent of colds and account for some ear and sinus infections, bronchitis, pneumonia and asthma attacks.

Drugs against rhinoviruses haven’t done well in clinical trials. That is likely because they didn’t protect against rhinovirus C, according to the new study in today’s edition of the journal Virology.

“There was always a high failure rate,” said Ann Palmenberg, a UW-Madison biochemistry professor who led the research. “The drugs didn’t work against the Cs.”

The three-dimensional model Palmenberg’s lab designed of the protein shell of rhinovirus C could help scientists find a receptor that could be targeted by new drugs, she said.

Full story.


Gauthier Biomedical partners, not just supplies customers

By Guy Boulton of the Journal Sentinel

Grafton — A divide of concrete blocks, painted white and about 4 feet tall, sets off a small area of the factory floor at Gauthier Biomedical.

The area commemorates Gauthier Biomedical's start: It is the same size — 900 square feet — as the medical instrument manufacturer's first shop when it was founded in 2000.

It also provides a measure of the company's growth.

In July 2012, Gauthier Biomedical moved its offices and factory to a $10 million, 80,000-square-foot building in Grafton. The company has invested $8 million in equipment, including more than $4 million in the past two years. It now employs more than 80 people, with plans to hire an additional 25 this year.

That growth came by reinvesting profits and without money from outside investors.

Gauthier Biomedical designs and makes spine and orthopedic surgical instruments for some of the largest companies in the business, including Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson, Zimmer, Biomet and Stryker.

Full story.


Nuclear fusion milestone passed at US lab

By Paul Rincon

Science Editor, BBC News website

Researchers at a US lab have passed a crucial milestone on the way to their ultimate goal of achieving self-sustaining nuclear fusion.

Harnessing fusion - the process that powers the Sun - could provide an unlimited and cheap source of energy.

But to be viable, fusion power plants would have to produce more energy than they consume, which has proven elusive.

Now, a breakthrough by scientists at the National Ignition Facility (NIF) could boost hopes of scaling up fusion.

NIF, based at Livermore in California, uses 192 beams from the world's most powerful laser to heat and compress a small pellet of hydrogen fuel to the point where nuclear fusion reactions take place.

The BBC understands that during an experiment in late September, the amount of energy released through the fusion reaction exceeded the amount of energy being absorbed by the fuel - the first time this had been achieved at any fusion facility in the world.

Full story.