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Genetic Mingling Mixes Human, Animal Cells

Genetic Mingling Mixes Human, Animal Cells By PAUL ELIAS, AP Biotechnology Writer
Fri Apr 29, 8:44 PM ET

On a farm about six miles outside this gambling town, Jason Chamberlain looks over a flock of about 50 smelly sheep, many of them possessing partially human livers, hearts, brains and other organs.

The University of Nevada-Reno researcher talks matter-of-factly about his plans to euthanize one of the pregnant sheep in a nearby lab. He can't wait to examine the effects of the human cells he had injected into the fetus' brain about two months ago.

"It's mice on a large scale," Chamberlain says with a shrug.

As strange as his work may sound, it falls firmly within the new ethics guidelines the influential National Academies issued this past week for stem cell research.

In fact, the Academies' report endorses research that co-mingles human and animal tissue as vital to ensuring that experimental drugs and new tissue replacement therapies are safe for people.

Doctors have transplanted pig valves into human hearts for years, and scientists have injected human cells into lab animals for even longer.

But the biological co-mingling of animal and human is now evolving into even more exotic and unsettling mixes of species, evoking the Greek myth of the monstrous chimera, which was part lion, part goat and part serpent.

Full story.

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Microsoft, Intel Building Up Patent Portfolios

As Washington eyes patent reforms, the imperative to secure intellectual property is driving companies to build up their portfolios.

By Alexander Wolfe
TechWeb News

Patents issued this week to Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp. highlight the intellectual-property imperative that's driving technology powerhouses to aggressively build up their patent portfolios.
Microsoft received U.S. patent 6,886,132 for its method of creating an MHTML file, which is used to attach Web pages to an e-mail message.

Over at Intel, the semiconductor giant was awarded U.S. patent 6,886,180. The invention takes the functions of a standalone, broadband cable-modem and implements them on a personal computer.

The two patents provide just a small snapshot of the innovations the two companies have shepherded through the process at the U.S Patent and Trademark Office. Intel this week received 28 patents, ranging from a novel heatsink assembly to a method for making a photolithography mirror. Microsoft's week saw it snare 13 patents, encompassing inventions from an MPEG sub-sample decoder to a keyboard with an improved numeric section.

For those keeping a scorecard, such activity translates into hefty growth in the respective companies' annual portfolios. Microsoft received 520 patents in 2003 and 659 in 2004. So far this year, it has garnered 176, which puts it on a pace to slightly exceed its total of two years ago.

While software patents have been on the increase, the numbers from hardware-centric Intel dwarf those from Microsoft. Intel earned 1,602 patents in 2003; 1,607 in 2004; and 482 during the first three months of 2005.

Yet the flip-side of such individual successes is an overall patent system that's swamped by too many filings and too little funding. Indeed, Congress is poised to enact legislation to reform the 215-year-old patent process. Both Intel and Microsoft support the reforms, which they say are needed to minimize the potential for abuse of the patent system.

"You have to have a system that actively benefits innovation," David Simon, Intel's chief patent attorney, said in an interview. "You have to ask whether models that were originally developed going back into the 1600s needs changing. Will the legislative reforms that we're advocating go a long way towards helping things? We think that they will."

Specifically, Simon, who testified Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee's intellectual-property subcommittee, is seeking reforms which will cut down on poor-quality patents. He also wants to reduce the number of cases brought by companies he said are looking for a quick buck by acquiring patents and then seeking settlements from those they claim are infringing. Simon testified as a representative of the Business Software Alliance; along with Intel and Microsoft, that industry lobbying group counts among its members Adobe, Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sybase, and Symantec.

Simon believes legislation will emerge from Congress in the next year or two "We're playing a very active role in that debate," he said. "It's a very hot issue right now in Congress."

Full story.

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Rayovac files to issue $1.2 billion in securities

The Business Journal of Milwaukee - 11:15 AM CDT Thursday
Rayovac files to issue $1.2 billion in securities

Rayovac Corp. said Wednesday that it has filed a registration statement with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission for the issuance of nearly $1.2 billion worth of securities.

Atlanta-based Rayovac, which has plants in Wisconsin and its North American headquarters in Madison, said the registration will allow the consumer products company to issue, from time to time, common stock, preferred stock, debt securities, warrants, stock purchase contracts and stock purchase units.

Rayovac (NYSE: ROV) will change its name to Spectrum Brands Inc. effective May 2. The company produces consumer batteries, electric shaving products, pet supplies, household insecticides and personal care and lawn and garden products.


Full story.

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PowerDsine Files Patent Suit

PowerDsine Files Patent Suit
04.29.2005, 05:16 PM

Ethernet equipment maker PowerDsine Ltd. said Friday it filed suit in a New York federal district court, alleging that certain products made and sold by Belden CDT Inc. and its Red Hawk Network Essentials Inc. unit infringe upon a PowerDsine patent issued in 2002.

Full story.

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IBM and Rockwell to target life sciences manufacturers

IBM and Rockwell to target life sciences manufacturers

Published: 27 Apr 2005

IBM and Rockwell to target life sciences manufacturers

Software giant IBM is working with Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Rockwell Automation to deliver manufacturing technology to life sciences companies as part of its Value-Driven Compliance Solutions framework.

The aim of the collaboration effort, known as Proof-of-Concept, is to help pharmaceutical companies use information integration to identify and capitalize on opportunities to reduce risk and increase operational efficiencies.

Full story.

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Bishop's statement spurs discussions

Can living will be a mortal sin?
Bishop's statement spurs discussions

By Anita Weier
April 29, 2005

Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino's recent statement that a person could include in a living will some directives that could constitute a mortal sin has added a new twist for local health care institutions who deal with those near death.

The bishop wrote in the Madison Catholic Herald that "to sign a living will ordering one's own death if one were diagnosed as permanently unconscious, but not terminally ill and not close to death, is a mortal sin."

Full story.

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Newborn resuscitation debated in court

Newborn resuscitation debated in court

By Ryan J. Foley
Associated Press
April 29, 2005

In a case that's attracting attention from doctors and pro-life activists, the state Supreme Court is considering whether doctors must try to save infants even when they conclude they have no chance of living.

A lawyer for the mother of a baby who died at a Madison hospital in 1999 told the justices on Thursday that doctors should have tried to resuscitate the infant. Meriter Hospital's attorney responded that doctors determined they could not have saved the baby even with efforts to give him fluids and oxygen.

"It is undisputed that no amount of resuscitative efforts - no matter how aggressive - would have saved Bridon's life," David Pliner said.

Full story.

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Madison: High tech helps area income grow

By Lynn Welch
April 29, 2005

Income in Madison rose faster than in any other area of the state, a testament to how the knowledge economy grows the area's economy.

Madison's per capita personal income rose 3.9 percent between 2002 and 2003 to $35,471, ranking it 30th among 360 metropolitan areas measured by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

"Madison is a fast growing community and the economy is one of the fastest growing in the state," said Terry Ludeman, chief of the office of economic advisers with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

Not only did Madison outpace other areas statewide, but it rose faster than some larger metropolitan areas within and bordering the state. While Minneapolis income rose 3.2 percent to $38,601, Chicago income increased 1.8 percent to $35,464 and Milwaukee 2.5 percent to $35,133, ranking it 35th.

Full story.

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LASER SCIENTIST ILLUMINATES RESEARCH IN LIVING COLOR

LASER SCIENTIST ILLUMINATES RESEARCH IN LIVING COLOR

In art, color is information. Just look at a painting by an artist such as Monet: Each uniquely hued brushstroke brings to life a new blade of grass, a leaf, a flower petal, a slice of sky-each a component of the complete picture.

Scientists, too, use color to paint clearer pictures of the things-everything from combustion gases to cancer cells-they study. And as a result of a new laser system that rapidly delivers a pulsed rainbow of colors, those pictures will contain more information than ever before. Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Scott Sanders developed the system, which is highlighted in the cover story of the May issue of Optics and Photonics News.

Continue reading "LASER SCIENTIST ILLUMINATES RESEARCH IN LIVING COLOR" »

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Inventor of Intermittent Windshield Wiper Dies

Patent pioneer, WSU professor dies at 77
By Candice Warren | Staff Writer

Martin Vecchio/The South End
Thanks to Robert Kearns' improvements to the windshield wipers, you don't have to crank the wipers anymore.

Robert Kearns, a one-time Wayne State University engineering professor and the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, died Wednesday, Feb. 9 of brain cancer at a nursing home in Sykesville, Md. He was 77.


Full story.

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No more Rayovac Corp.

No more Rayovac Corp.
00:00 am 4/27/05
Judy Newman Wisconsin State Journal

The signs will start going up today, but the change already is official: Rayovac Corp. is now Spectrum Brands.

The new name - reflecting the company's expanded range of products from recent acquisitions - won shareholders' approval, chairman and chief executive officer Dave Jones told the company's annual shareholders meeting Wednesday morning in Madison, the Atlanta company's North American headquarters.

But it sounded as though even Jones is having some trouble getting used to the moniker.

"We will vote to change the name of the company from Rayovac Corp. to Signature Brands Inc.," Jones announced at the meeting. Stunned silence was followed by loudly whispered prompting among the gathering of about 50 people, nearly all of them Rayovac executives.

"Signature . . . oh, that was another company," he joked, realizing his mistake. "Spectrum Brands," he finally said.

Full story.

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Earth-Penetrating Nuclear Weapons

Many Deaths Still Expected With
Earth-Penetrating Nuclear Weapons

WASHINGTON -- A nuclear weapon that is exploded underground can destroy a deeply buried bunker efficiently and requires significantly less power to do so than a nuclear weapon detonated on the surface would, says a new report from the National Academies' National Research Council. However, such "earth-penetrating" nuclear weapons cannot go deep enough to avoid massive casualties at ground level, and they could still kill up to a million people or more if used in heavily populated areas, said the committee that wrote the report.

Full story.

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The Best Places For Doing Business in America 2005

The Best Places For Doing Business in America 2005
We examined 274 population centers, looking for job creation and other signs that businesses are thriving. Here's what we found.

From: Inc. Magazine, May 2005
By: Joel Kotkin

The economies of most big cities are idling. The real entrepreneurial hotbeds are now on the periphery -- where low costs make it possible to thrive in a tough global economy.

The new economy didn't disappear. It changed addresses.

Full story.

WI Cities Listed

#4 Green Bay -- Down from #1 in 2004
#15 -- La Crosse -- Up from #70 in 2004
#38 -- Madison -- Down from #3 in 2004
#66 -- Milwaukee -- Up from #179 in 2004
#155 -- Eau Claire -- Up from #238 in 2004
#168 -- Sheboygan -- Down from #135 in 2004
#178 -- Wausau -- Down from #138 in 2004
#224 -- Appleton-Oshkosh-Neenah -- Down from #143 in 2004
#230 -- Janesville-Beloit -- Down from #193 in 2004
#240 -- Kenosha -- Down from #136 in 2004
#250 -- Racine -- Down from #140 in 2004


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Bush Signs Bill to Let Parents Strip DVDs

Bush Signs Bill to Let Parents Strip DVDs

Wed Apr 27,11:21 AM ET Movies - AP

WASHINGTON - President Bush on Wednesday signed legislation aimed at helping parents keep their children from seeing sex scenes, violence and foul language in movie DVDs.

The bill gives legal protections to the fledgling filtering technology that helps parents automatically skip or mute sections of commercial movie DVDs. Bush signed it privately and without comment, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

The legislation came about because Hollywood studios and directors had sued to stop the manufacture and distribution of such electronic devices for DVD players. The movies' creators had argued that changing the content — even when it is considered offensive — would violate their copyrights.

The legislation, called the Family Entertainment and Copyright Act, creates an exemption in copyright laws to make sure companies selling filtering technology won't get sued out of existence.

Full story.

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UW Research Identifies Genes Involved in Sleep

WISCONSIN RESEARCHERS IDENTIFY SLEEP GENE

MADISON - Zeroing in on the core cellular mechanisms of sleep, researchers at University of Wisconsin Medical School have identified for the first time a single gene mutation that has a powerful effect on the amount of time fruit flies sleep.

In its normal state, the Drosophila (fruit fly) gene, called Shaker, produces an ion channel that controls the flow of potassium into cells, a process that critically affects, among other things, electrical activity in neurons. A handful of recent studies suggest that potassium channels are also involved in the generation of sleep in humans.

Reported in the April 28 issue of Nature, the finding points to novel approaches to treating sleep irregularities in humans-from promoting restorative sleep to prolonging wakefulness.

Continue reading "UW Research Identifies Genes Involved in Sleep" »

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Bone Care earnings surge

Bone Care earnings surge
00:00 am 4/27/05
Andrew Wallmeyer
Wisconsin State Journal

Bone Care International's third-quarter earnings surged as sales nearly doubled, prompting the Middleton- based specialty pharmaceutical company to raise its full-year revenue guidance.

After the closing bell, the company reported earnings of $2.5 million, or 12 cents a share, on sales of $22 million, topping analysts' expectations. In the third quarter of fiscal 2004, the first period in which the company earned a profit, Bone Care earned $302,132, or 2 cents a share, on $11.6 million in sales.

Bone Care now projects annual sales of $82 million to $83 million in fiscal 2005, up from guidance of $77 million to $80 million.

Wall Street reacted to the news by sending Bone Care stock up 15 cents in after-hours trading, to $24.73 a share.

The company's sales come exclusively from Hectorol, a vitamin D-based drug designed to combat bone mineral loss and related health problems in patients with chronic kidney disease.

Full story.

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Panel issues guidelines for stem cell research

Panel issues guidelines for stem cell research
Standards applicable to privately funded study
By SUSANNE QUICK
squick@journalsentinel.com
Posted: April 26, 2005

Concerned about inadequate regulation of privately funded human embryonic stem cell research, a panel at the National Academies issued guidelines Tuesday for American scientists, universities and private institutions.

Guidelines

The oversight committees that are recommended for each institution doing stem cell research would:

Help monitor the source of stem cells.

Allow institutions to know what kind of research is being conducted.

Provide a review body for areas of research that are potentially problematic.

They also would make sure that the following guidelines are adhered to:

Human embryos used for research should not be grown in culture longer than 14 days, the point when the body axis and central nervous system begin to form.

Stem cell donors - couples who have created excess embryos at in vitro fertilization clinics, or egg and sperm donors - have provided consent, acknowledging that their embryos may be used to produce stem cells.

Donors have not been paid.

Donors were informed they have the right to withdraw their consent at any point before a stem cell line is derived.

Donors understand that embryos will be destroyed in the process of deriving stem cells and the resulting cell lines may be kept for many years and may be used in animals.

Donors are informed that research involving their stem cells may have commercial potential, but they will not share in any financial benefit.

Researchers should not ask fertility doctors to create more embryos than necessary for reproductive treatments.

Full story.

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Philip Morrison: Bomb builder turned critic passes away

Bomb builder turned critic passes away
26 April 2005

Philip Morrison, one of a generation of physicists who built the first atomic bomb at Los Alamos, only to spend the rest of their careers campaigning against nuclear weapons, has died at the age of 89. Morrison spent most of his career at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was appointed Institute Professor, the highest honour awarded by MIT, in 1973.

Full story.

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Rockwell reports earnings increase

Rockwell reports earnings increase
By RICK BARRETT
rbarrett@journalsentinel.com
Posted: April 26, 2005

Rockwell Automation Inc. said its second-quarter profit increased 92% on improved sales and a tax benefit. The Milwaukee company reported earnings of $150 million, or 79 cents a share, for the three months ended March 31.

Full story.

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UW-MADISON GAINS TWO NEW STEM CELL PROGRAMS

CONTACT: Clive Svendsen (608) 265-8668, svendsen@waisman.wisc.edu; Timothy Kamp (608) 263-4856, tjk@medicine.wisc.edu

UW-MADISON GAINS TWO NEW STEM CELL PROGRAMS

MADISON - Capitalizing on its across-the-board-strengths in stem cell research, the University of Wisconsin-Madison will add two new stem cell programs to its portfolio.

At a meeting of stem cell researchers here today (April 26), UW-Madison professor of anatomy and neurology Clive Svendsen announced the establishment of a new regenerative medicine program and an interdisciplinary postdoctoral training program that will advance stem cell research across the university.

The regenerative medicine program, which draws on faculty from the Medical School as well as the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center, will focus on translating the basic science of stem cells to application through the development of cell replacement therapies.

"The ultimate promise of regenerative medicine is that many degenerative diseases of the heart, pancreas, nervous system and blood will be treatable with cell replacement therapies," said Svendsen, a noted stem cell expert whose work is aimed at developing neural cells to treat brain and nervous system disorders.

Svendsen, along with UW-Madison Medical School Professor Timothy Kamp, a heart specialist, will direct the new program.

Continue reading "UW-MADISON GAINS TWO NEW STEM CELL PROGRAMS" »

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UWM researchers' new metals could help save state foundries

Lighter, stronger materials
UWM researchers' new metals could help save state foundries
By RICK BARRETT
rbarrett@journalsentinel.com
Posted: April 25, 2005

Stronger than steel and lighter than aluminum, advanced materials are being developed at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee that could be used in mobile, spare-part factories on battlefields.

Pradeep Rohatgi, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee holds an aluminum-graphite composite cylinder liner that is self-lubricating. The composite could be used in making artificial hip joints and lighter, stronger engines. The computer in the background displays an image of particles of cast aluminum composite material.

Taken a step further, wounded soldiers could get emergency bone replacement implants made in mobile laboratories.

"That is the Army's dream, and it's something they have asked us to look at," said Pradeep Rohatgi, a UWM engineering professor and director of the university's Center for Composite Materials.

Some of the new composites could be used to help save Wisconsin's foundry industry, Rohatgi said.

Full story.

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Wisconsin's High-Tech Industry Totals 77,200 Jobs; Wisconsin's Tech Exports Increase by $340 million in 2004

April 26, 2005 12:01 AM US Eastern Timezone

AeA Report: Wisconsin's High-Tech Industry Totals 77,200 Jobs; Wisconsin's Tech Exports Increase by $340 million in 2004

OAKBROOK TERRACE, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--April 26, 2005--High-tech industry employment in Wisconsin totaled 77,200 in 2003, the most recent available state data. While Wisconsin's tech industry was hit by the technology slowdown, it lost only 2,300 jobs in 2003 and saw high-tech exports and venture capital investments increase in 2004, according to Cyberstates 2005: A State-by-State Overview of the High-Technology Industry, a new analytical report released today by AeA.

One of the companies that posted significant job growth during the last 12 months is Madison-based Sonic Foundry (Nasdaq:SOFO).

"This report demonstrates how critical it is for Wisconsin to focus on creating an environment that promotes jobs and growth," said Mr. Rimas Buinevicius, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sonic Foundry, Inc., based in Madison, WI. "Technology is critical to our future, and we need to be aggressive in creating a business climate that supports existing companies and attracts new ones, with economic policies and leadership that understand how essential this industry truly is for Wisconsin."

Full story.

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Former Bone Care CEO Bishop returns to firm

Former Bone Care CEO Bishop returns to firm

Charles Bishop, a former chief executive officer of Middleton pharmaceutical firm Bone Care International Inc., has rejoined the company as executive vice president and chief scientific officer.

Bishop rejoins the firm after operating a private pharmaceutical consulting practice in Madison. He left Bone Care in January 2002, when he was executive vice president of research and development, six months after stepping down as president and CEO of the firm.

Bishop's return is expected to drive the company's performance in new product development and position the company to further increase its growing share of the chronic kidney disease market, said Paul Berns, Bone Care president and CEO.

Full story.

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Dudas Pushes First to File

Patent Office chief endorses legal reform
By Declan McCullagh, CNET News.com
Published on ZDNet News: April 25, 2005, 4:48 PM PT

The head of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has endorsed some key reforms that Congress is scheduled to consider this year.

Patent Office chief Jon Dudas said Monday that federal law should be changed to award a patent to the first person to file a claim and to permit review of a patent after it is granted. Currently patents are awarded to the first person who concocted the invention, a timeframe that can be difficult to prove.

"I think we can implement that," Dudas said about the post-grant review suggestion. "It will take resources, and it will be necessary for us to get the resources in place" through a larger budget. The Patent Office already has a backlog of 490,000 applications and is planning to hire 800 more patent examiners, bringing its total to 4,400. It approves more than 500 patents per day.

Monday's hearing before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee kicked off a process that's expected to end in new legislation being drafted by the end of the year.

Full story.

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Stem cells from brain transformed to produce insulin at Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. - With careful coaxing, stem cells from the brain can form insulin-producing cells that mimic those missing in people with diabetes, according to a paper published in the April 26 issue of PLoS Medicine.

Although the work is not yet ready for human patients, Seung Kim, MD, PhD, the lead author and assistant professor of developmental biology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said it could lead to new ways of transplanting insulin-producing cells into people with diabetes, eventually providing a cure for the disease.

Continue reading " Stem cells from brain transformed to produce insulin at Stanford" »

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Breast Cancer Detector That Uses Electricity Instead of X-Rays Under Study

Breast Cancer Detector That Uses Electricity Instead of X-Rays Under Study
Story by Toni Baker

April 25, 2005

A painless, portable device that uses electrical current rather than X-ray to examine breasts for cancer is under study at the Medical College of Georgia.

MCG is one of some 20 centers across the world studying impedance scanning, a technique based on evidence that electrical current passes through cancerous tissue more easily than normal tissue.

Preliminary studies have shown the technique, which takes about 10 minutes and doesn’t require often-uncomfortable breast compression, can pick up very small tumors, according to its developers, Z-Tech, Inc., which has offices in South Carolina and Ontario.

Full story.

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Important Brain Finding Results from Boy’s Rare, Fatal Disease

Important Brain Finding Results from Boy’s Rare, Fatal Disease

A family’s bravery and generosity in the face of their son’s death three years ago has enabled researchers to make an important new finding about the brain and its stem cells.

On May 7, 2002, 12-year-old Nathan Van Vleck of Pittsford died after a nearly lifelong fight with an exceedingly rare inherited disease known as vanishing white matter (VWM) disease. As Nathan’s illness progressed, the family discussed how it might help other families and patients coping with VWM, and the family decided to allow the study of some of Nathan’s brain cells for research purposes. Immediately upon his death in the hospital, a team of neuropathologists and neurobiologists worked through the night to isolate some of Nathan’s brain cells, which were then grown and studied in the laboratory.

The outcome was an unprecedented in-depth look at the brain cells of a VWM patient. The investigation not only yielded important knowledge about how the disease affects the brain, but it also marks one of the first times that scientists have been able to isolate neural stem cells from a patient and use them to learn what is going wrong in the brain of a patient with a complex neurological disease. The team of scientists from the University of Rochester Medical Center reported its results in the March issue of the prestigious research journal Nature Medicine.

Full story.

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Are Living Wills a "Mortal Sin"?

Are Living Wills a "Mortal Sin"?
Madison
9:29 PM Apr 24, 2005
NBC 15

The Bishop of the Madison Diocese is clarifying the church's position on living wills.

Bishop Robert Morlino says he needed to do so because of the debate that erupted over the Terry Schiavo case.

The Bishop received lots of letters and emails asking if living wills were a mortal sin. He answered in a recent edition of the Catholic Herald stating that, "According to the church's doctrine, if a living will gets in the way of medical procedures that could prevent death, even if a person is permanently unconscious, it is a mortal sin."

"When the boxes are checked off, one would get the impression that the author of this document intends suicide under certain circumstances, and that can never be for a disciple of Christ," says Bishop Morlino.

Full story.

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GM industry puts human gene into rice

GM industry puts human gene into rice
By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
24 April 2005

Scientists have begun putting genes from human beings into food crops in a dramatic extension of genetic modification. The move, which is causing disgust and revulsion among critics, is bound to strengthen accusations that GM technology is creating "Frankenstein foods" and drive the controversy surrounding it to new heights.

Even before this development, many people, including Prince Charles, have opposed the technology on the grounds that it is playing God by creating unnatural combinations of living things.

Environmentalists say that no one will want to eat the partially human-derived food because it will smack of cannibalism.

But supporters say that the controversial new departure presents no ethical problems and could bring environmental benefits.

In the first modification of its kind, Japanese researchers have inserted a gene from the human liver into rice to enable it to digest pesticides and industrial chemicals. The gene makes an enzyme, code-named CPY2B6, which is particularly good at breaking down harmful chemicals in the body.


Full story.

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Researcher to seek clinical trial on ALS

RYAN J. FOLEY

Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. - A University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher said he would ask federal regulators Friday to approve the first clinical trial injecting special stem cells into the spinal cords of people with the degenerative nerve ailment called Lou Gehrig's disease.

. . .

"We're not going to cure ALS in the first clinical trial," Svendsen said Thursday at a forum on bioethics in Madison. "We're going to tell the patients that as well."

The research does not involve human embryonic stem cells, the blank-slate cells derived from human embryos that can be molded into any type of tissue cell in the body.

Researchers are instead using neural progenitor cells in fetal brain tissue, which are in the early stages of brain development. Those cells - derived from miscarried fetuses - are obtained through the National Institutes of Health.

Full story.

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Medtronic to pay $1.35 billion in patent settlement

Medtronic Inc. announced Friday that it has agreed to buy out a Los Angeles company's patents for spinal implant technology for approximately $1.35 billion to settle a legal dispute.

Under the deal, Medtronic will pay surgeon Gary K. Michelson and Karlin Technology Inc. $800 million to acquire most of the company's spine-related intellectual property. Fridley-based Medtronic will acquire more than 100 U.S. patents, more than 110 pending U.S. applications and roughly 500 foreign counterpart patents in the deal, according to a press release.

Full story.

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Nanotech Patents Proliferate

Study quantifies huge, complicated body of intellectual property generated by entrepreneurs of tiny, complicated technology.
April 21, 2005

With 3,818 U.S. patents awarded and 1,777 patent applications awaiting judgment, the young nanotechnology field has an unwieldy mess of intellectual property (IP), according to a study released Thursday.

To avoid the perils of IP battles in the software industry, nanotech firms should pool their patents and initiate joint-licensing schemes, said the study by Lux Research.

Though profits without research are tempting, patent infringement litigation as a revenue model “would have a chilling effect on nanotechnology,” said Matthew Nordan, vice president of research at Lux. “It could set back commercialization by a decade or more.”

Lux used the metaphor of a gold rush to describe the current mentality of nanotech entrepreneurs. University and corporate researchers file patent applications at every turn, betting that the patents will generate lucrative licenses.

However, the increase in filings has overwhelmed the capabilities of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Without a standardized vocabulary, overlapping terms like “nanorod” and “nanowire” rarely get resolved. Patents are entangled and broad, making nasty litigation likely if commercial nanotech takes off.

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Yale Scientists “See” Basis of Antibiotic Resistance

New Haven, Conn.— Using X–ray crystallography, researchers at Yale have “seen” the structural basis for antibiotic resistance to common pathogenic bacteria, facilitating design of a new class of antibiotic drugs, according to an article in Cell.

In recent years, common disease–causing bacteria have increasingly become resistant to antibiotics, such as erythromycin and azithromycin. Although the macrolide antibiotics in this group are structurally different, all work by inhibiting the protein synthesis of bacteria, but not of humans. They bind tightly to an RNA site on the bacterial ribosomes, the cellular machinery that makes protein, but not to the human ribosomes.

Bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics in several different ways. When bacteria mutate to become resistant to one of these antibiotics, they usually are resistant to all antibiotics in the group.

Studies led by Sterling Professors Thomas A. Steitz and Peter B. Moore in the departments of molecular biophysics and biochemistry, and chemistry at Yale illuminate one of the ways that bacteria can become resistant to macrolide antibiotics.

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Fuel and Cleaner Water -- New Biomass Hydrogen Production

Microbial fuel cell: High yield hydrogen source and wastewater cleaner
Friday, April 22, 2005
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University Park, Pa. --- Using a new electrically-assisted microbial fuel cell (MFC) that does not require oxygen, Penn State environmental engineers and a scientist at Ion Power Inc. have developed the first process that enables bacteria to coax four times as much hydrogen directly out of biomass than can be generated typically by fermentation alone.

Dr. Bruce Logan, the Kappe professor of environmental engineering and an inventor of the MFC, says, "This MFC process is not limited to using only carbohydrate-based biomass for hydrogen production like conventional fermentation processes. We can theoretically use our MFC to obtain high yields of hydrogen from any biodegradable, dissolved, organic matter -- human, agricultural or industrial wastewater, for example -- and simultaneously clean the wastewater.

"While there is likely insufficient waste biomass to sustain a global hydrogen economy, this form of renewable energy production may help offset the substantial costs of wastewater treatment as well as provide a contribution to nations able to harness hydrogen as an energy source," Logan notes,.

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WARF suit says firm violated contract

WARF suit says firm violated contract

The Capital Times
April 21, 2005

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the technology transfer and licensing arm of the UW-Madison, has filed a lawsuit against Xenon Pharmaceuticals Inc., charging it with breach of contract and other violations of its agreement with WARF.

Attorneys for WARF said the suit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Madison, seeks to ensure that the interests of UW-Madison and its inventors are protected and that WARF receives its contractual share of a $157-million agreement entered into by Xenon, which is in British Columbia, Canada.

WARF licensed certain rights to Xenon in 2001 for an invention by university researchers related to cholesterol, obesity and diabetes.

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Marking the Software Patent Beast

Marking the Software Patent Beast
by Stephen Lindholm, J.D. student at Stanford Law School.

The literature of software patents has thus far tried to directly address whether software patents increase innovation. The wholesale reform papers have persuaded neither the courts nor Congress, perhaps due to the unfortunate dearth of economic data.

This paper starts from the proposition that software patents are, practically speaking, hidden away in the recesses of the patent office and practically impossible to find. It proceeds under the first economic principles of the patent system to argue that there can be no justification for patenting software when the public has no knowledge of the patents’ scope or technical disclosure. It concludes by observing that patent law already provides a mechanism for disclosing patents to the public, the marking requirement, and proposes putting teeth into it so that holders of software patents would be required to play by the same rules as holders of other kinds of patents.

See the full law review article.

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Used in a new way, RNA interference permanently silences key breast cancer gene

Used in a new way, RNA interference permanently silences key breast cancer gene

ANAHEIM - In laboratory mouse experiments, researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have developed a way to use RNA interference (RNAi) so that it permanently hampers breast cancer development. The technique permanently silences activated STAT3, a crucial gene found in some human breast tumors, thus reducing the cancer's ability to become invasive.

The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), used a modified form of RNAi to silence STAT3 in a permanent way. Typically, only a transient effect is achieved with RNAi before the tiny bits of genetic material are become inactive as the cell population continues to expand.

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Study Explains How Caffeine Keeps Us Awake

DALLAS - April 20, 2005 - Why people get drowsy and fall asleep, and how caffeine blocks that process, are the subjects of a new study by researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

When cells in a certain part of the brain become overworked, a compound in the brain kicks in, telling them to shut down. This causes people to become drowsy and fall asleep. Alter that natural process by adding coffee or tea, and the brain compound - called adenosine - is blocked, and people stay awake.

These findings, available online and in the April 21 issue of the journal Neuron, offer new clues regarding the function of the brain in the body's natural sleep process, as well as potential targets for future treatments for insomnia and other sleep problems.

Prolonged increased neural activity in the brain's arousal centers triggers the release of adenosine, which in turn slows down neural activity in the arousal center areas. Because the arousal centers control activity throughout the entire brain, the process expands outward and causes neural activity to slow down everywhere in the brain.

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House Legislation to Protect Trademarks

By JIM ABRAMS
ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON (AP) - The House moved Tuesday to protect trademarks from being sullied by imitators in legislation that grew out of a court battle between Victoria's Secret and an adult novelty store. The bill, approved 411-8, amends trademark law to make it easier for the owner of a famous trademark to stop knockoffs that could harm the reputation or impair the distinctiveness of the trademark. Under the measure, the owner could seek injunctive relief against similarities likely to cause "dilution" by blurring or tarnishing of an image even if there is no actual confusion among the public or competition between the owner and the imitator.

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'Cleaning' of movies may be made legal

Copyright: The House today debates whether to legitimize technology that censors movies on DVD
By Vince Horiuchi
The Salt Lake Tribune 

For Mark Kastleman, "Titanic" was not only a disaster epic, but a disaster as a movie-going experience.

   "I had my teenage sons with me . . . and everything's going great, and then all of a sudden you have this scene where this woman was topless," said the Cottonwood Heights father of six. "My sons were embarrassed and I was really shocked."

   Kastleman and his family have since become fans of edited movies, a controversial subject that will play out in Congress today when the House votes on the Family Movie Act, which would legalize technology that edits DVDs as they are being watched. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, has already passed the Senate.

   "This is not about directors or producers," Smith said. "It's about families and parents and the rights of parents to raise their children the way they see fit."

   The technology that would be legalized by passage of the Family Movie Act is just one side of a simmering controversy over who has the right to edit copyright material.

   The flip side involves companies that purchase movies on DVD or videotape, remove certain scenes and then sell or rent the newly edited movies.

   Those companies, many of them based in Utah, are embroiled in litigation over copyright infringement and trademark violation.

   Some people say that if the Family Movie Act becomes law, it will bolster the arguments of video editing services or set a precedent for changing other forms of artistic work that can be stored in the digital realm, including books and paintings.

   The issue is examined in a new documentary, "Bleep, Censoring Hollywood," which looks at the controversy behind video-editing services.

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SCIENTISTS INFUSE RAT SPINAL CORDS WITH BRAIN-DERIVED HUMAN STEM CELLS

SCIENTISTS INFUSE RAT SPINAL CORDS WITH BRAIN-DERIVED HUMAN STEM CELLS

MADISON - Unveiling a delivery method that may one day help surgeons treat the deadly neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have inserted engineered human stem cells into the spinal cords of ALS-afflicted rats.

Reporting their work today (April 19) in the journal Human Gene Therapy, the scientists directed certain types of neural stem cells to secrete a neuron-protecting protein before injecting them into the rat spinal cord where motor neurons reside. Motor neurons dictate muscle movement by relaying messages from the spinal cord and brain to the rest of the body. ALS causes the neurons to progressively decay and die.

Notably, the UW-Madison stem cell researchers did not work with human embryonic stem cells, blank-slate cells that arise during the earliest stages of development and can develop into any of the 220 tissue and cell types in humans. Scientists have long regarded these cells as a crucial ingredient in the quest to cure spinal injuries and neurodegenerative disease.

Rather, the scientists worked with more specialized neural stem cells - known as neural progenitor cells - that arise from primitive stem cells during the first few weeks of human brain development. Unlike embryonic stem cells, they can only develop into neural tissue and they are incapable of living forever, as embryonic stem cells can. But the neural progenitor cells are much more appropriate for clinical use because, unlike embryonic stem cells, they can grow in the absence of animal derivatives that are considered a potential source of contamination, says co-author Clive Svendsen, a professor of anatomy based at the university's Waisman Center, and a leading authority on neural progenitor cells.

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Next pope will face bioethical challenges unforeseen 27 years ago

Next pope will face bioethical challenges unforeseen 27 years ago

By Nancy Frazier O'Brien
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When Pope John Paul II was elected to the papacy in October 1978, the world's first test-tube baby was not yet 3 months old and a young woman named Karen Ann Quinlan remained in a New Jersey nursing home, breathing on her own two years after her parents won a court battle to remove her respirator.

It would take three years for the first test-tube baby to be born in the United States and four more after that before Quinlan, fed through a nasal gastric tube, would died of pneumonia.

As complicated as those bioethical issues of life and death seemed at the time, Pope John Paul II's successor will face a vastly more complex series of questions and challenges, according to Catholic bioethical experts interviewed by Catholic News Service.

Today, up to a million test-tube babies have been born worldwide, with questions just surfacing now about their long-term physical and emotional health. And the latest debate about the "right to die," in the case of the severely brain-damaged Terri Schindler Schiavo, involved withdrawing food and water, leading to her death from starvation and dehydration 13 days later, on March 31.

"By the time (Pope John Paul II) became pope, we were already dealing with abortion, and euthanasia really took hold during his pontificate," said John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia.

But the bioethical questions that will confront the next pontiff will be much more scientific and technical, as stem-cell research involving human embryos gains greater acceptance in many parts of the world and various gene therapies permit the creation of "enhanced" human beings -- children with characteristics desired by their parents, athletes able to perform unheard-of feats and seniors whose bodies defy the aging process.

Haas said the issue of embryonic stem cells will present "a profound problem for Catholics in terms of doing molecular research." With research involving cells line derived from embryos "happening everywhere," he added, "We might be blessed if no therapies develop from embryonic stem cells" and more scientists turn their attention to adult stem cells, which have achieved some therapeutic successes in humans.

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Congress Aims to Thwart Identity Theft

Congress Aims to Thwart Identity Theft

By Ted Bridis
The Associated Press
Thursday, April 14, 2005; 11:52 PM

Responding to outrage from consumers whose personal information has been stolen from companies, Congress is primed to pass new laws to try to prevent break-ins and to require businesses to confess to customers when private data is taken.

The government's new interest in requiring such embarrassing disclosures reverses years of efforts by the FBI and U.S. prosecutors to shield corporations that have been victims of hackers from bad publicity by keeping such crimes out of headlines.

But now, consumers want to know if their private information has been stolen.

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Study uncovers bacteria's worst enemy

Study uncovers bacteria's worst enemy
Contact: Todd Hanson, tahanson@lanl.gov, (505) 665-2085 (04-129)

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., April 14, 2005 -- University of California scientists working at Los Alamos National Laboratory have found that the successful use of bacteria to remediate environmental contamination from nuclear waste and processing activities may depend more upon how resistant the bacteria are to chemicals than to how tolerant they are to radioactivity. The results of a recent Laboratory study may help make bacterial bioremediation a more widespread method for cleaning up sites contaminated with actinides and other radionuclides.

In research published in the journal Environmental Microbiology, Laboratory chemist Mary Neu and her colleagues describe their study of different naturally occurring bacteria used to treat actinide contamination. Actinides are the elements above atomic number 89 and are usually radioactive. The study's results indicate that actinide toxicity is primarily chemical, rather than radiological, and so a bacteria's resistance to radiation does not necessarily ensure a tolerance for radionuclides. In fact, the bacteria's worst enemy in a nuclear waste site may not be the radioactive elements, but rather, the other toxic metals that might also be found at the site.

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Bioethics Document in the Works

Bioethics Document in the Works

The Holy See is working on a new document addressing bioethical issues, a Vatican aide told reporters.

4/14/2005

ROME, APRIL 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See is working on a new document addressing bioethical issues, a Vatican aide told reporters.

Dominican Father Augustine Di Noia, who has been undersecretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told U.S. journalists Tuesday that the document will be a sequel to a similar position paper written about 20 years ago, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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THE (STRONG NUCLEAR) FORCE TO BE WITH PHYSICISTS CONVERGING ON MADISON

THE (STRONG NUCLEAR) FORCE TO BE WITH PHYSICISTS CONVERGING ON MADISON

MADISON - Physicists from around the world will gather at Madison's Monona Terrace later this month (April 27-May 1) to explore the world of quarks - subatomic particles that represent the frontier of modern particle physics.

The meeting, which organizers believe may draw as many 250 particle physicists, will focus on the "strong nuclear force," a field also known as quantum chromodynamics, according to meeting organizer and UW-Madison physics Professor Wesley H. Smith.

At one time, scientists thought atoms were the smallest of nature's building blocks. It has only been in the past century that physicists realized that atoms are made up of even smaller particles, neutrons, protons and electrons. In the 1960s and 1970s, scientists discovered signs of internal structure within protons and neutrons, suggesting that these subatomic particles are composed of quarks and the gluons that bind them together.

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Open source developers step up anti-patent campaign

Open source developers step up anti-patent campaign

Ingrid Marson
ZDNet UK
April 14, 2005, 11:55 BST

Projects hope a taste of one possible future will spur people to action

Developers are using shock tactics to persuade the open source community to get involved in the campaign against software patents.

Over the last month various open source projects have replaced their Web home page with one that outlines the risk that the EU Directive on the Patentability of Computer Implemented Inventions, more commonly known as the Software Patent Directive, could pose to free software.

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Patent injunction could derail Longhorn

Patent injunction could derail Longhorn
11:23AM

A judge has slapped an injunction on Microsoft to prevent it from using TCP technology slated for use in the next version of Windows, codenamed Longhorn, and in the Scalable Networking Pack for Windows Server 2003.
There are fears that the injunction may delay the release of Longhorn which is scheduled to appear next year.

In dispute is Microsoft's 'Chimney' TCP offload architecture which offloads the TCP protocol stack to a Network Interface Card to provide an improved network performance. US company Alacritech, which develops networking solutions, claims that 'Chimney' is based on Alacritech's SLIC Technology architecture based on two patents 6,427,171 and 6,987,868 relating to scalable networking called `Protocol Processing Stack for use with Intelligent Network Interface Device`.

Alacritech sued Microsoft in Federal District Court in August of last year. Now a US District Court has issued a temporary injunction preventing Microsoft from selling any product based on the Chimney technology.

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