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Attacking cancer's sweet tooth is effective strategy against tumors

Attacking cancer's sweet tooth is effective strategy against tumors

Mice lacking sugar-metabolizing pathway outlive four-month experiment

Boston-An ancient avenue for producing cellular energy, the glycolytic pathway, could provide a surprisingly rich target for anti-cancer therapies. A team of Harvard Medical School (HMS) researchers knocked down one of the pathway's enzymes, LDHA, in a variety of fast-growing breast cancer cells, effectively shutting down glycolysis, and implanted the cells in mice. Control animals carrying tumor cells with an intact glycolytic pathway did not survive beyond 10 weeks. In striking contrast, only two of the LDHA-deficient mice died, one at 16 weeks, another at just over 18 weeks. Eighty percent of the mice outlived the four month experiment. The findings by Valeria Fantin, Julie St-Pierre, and Philip Leder appear in the June Cancer Cell.

"This is an exciting contribution that reveals a surprising Achilles heel in cancer cells. It also adds to our sense of opportunity for new avenues of cancer therapeutics," said Stuart Schrieber, Morris Loeb professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University.

As a tumor grows, cells crowd one another and may be cut off from oxygen-carrying blood vessels--a distinct disadvantage since most cells require oxygen to produce the bulk of their energy-storing adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In the 1920s, Otto Warburg proposed that some cancer cells evolved the ability to switch over to an ancient, oxygen-free route, the glycolytic pathway. What is more, they continue to use this pathway even when access to oxygen is restored. Though the so-called Warburg effect has since been confirmed, the role played by glycolysis in cancer has been largely ignored. Few have attempted to attack specific points along the glycolytic pathway to gain a therapeutic effect.

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Senate to Consider Stem Cell Proposals

Senate to Consider Stem Cell Proposals
Fertility Patients Could Donate Embryos

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 30, 2006; Page A05

Senate leaders from both parties agreed yesterday to schedule a vote on a package of bills that would loosen President Bush's five-year-old restrictions on human embryonic stem cell research.

With head counts suggesting there are enough votes to pass the legislation and with Bush having promised he would veto it, yesterday's action sets the stage for what could be the first full-blown showdown between the chamber and the president.

Full story.

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Researchers seek share of seed money

Researchers seek share of seed money
220 apply for funds from UW institute
By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 30, 2006

Researchers from a wide range of disciplines, universities, and companies such as 3M, Amgen and GE Healthcare have submitted 220 applications for $3 million in seed money from the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery.

The proposals include more than 1,225 potential collaborations between University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers and their counterparts at other academic institutions and private industry, Andrew Cohn, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, known as WARF, said Thursday.

A committee led by Paul Peercy, dean of the UW-Madison engineering college, will evaluate the proposals by August, and invite successful applicants to submit full proposals by October 1, Cohn said.

WARF and other organizers of the planned $150 million Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery hope to create a center for interdisciplinary research, and to help commercialize discoveries.

The seed grant program is the first step toward the establishment of that center where researchers from across the UW-Madison campus can work with others from private industry and schools around the world to attack disease and other issues, and advance regenerative medicine using tools such as embryonic stem cells.

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New process makes diesel fuel and industrial chemicals from simple sugar

New process makes diesel fuel and industrial chemicals from simple sugar

MADISON - The soaring prices of oil and natural gas have sparked a race to make transportation fuels from plant matter instead of petroleum. Both biodiesel and gasoline containing ethanol are starting to make an impact on the market.

But the oil price hike has also fueled a race to find new sources for chemical intermediates - compounds that are the raw material for many modern plastics, drugs and fuels. Behind the scenes, American industry uses millions of tons of chemical intermediates, which are largely sourced from petroleum or natural gas.

James Dumesic, a University of Wisconsin-Madison chemical and biological engineering professor, reports in the June 30 issue of the journal Science on a better way to make a chemical intermediate called HMF (hydroxymethylfurfural) from fructose - fruit sugar. HMF can be converted into plastics, diesel-fuel additive, or even diesel fuel itself, but is seldom used because it is costly to make.

The new process goes beyond making fuel from plants to make industrial chemicals from plants. "Trying to understand how to use catalytic processes to make chemicals and fuel from biomass is a growing area," says Dumesic, who directed the HMF research. "Instead of using the ancient solar energy locked up in fossil fuels, we are trying to take advantage of the carbon dioxide and modern solar energy that crop plants pick up."

The new, patent-pending method for making HMF is a balancing act of chemistry, pressure, temperature and reactor design. After a catalyst converts fructose into HMF, the HMF moves to a solvent that carries it to a separate location, where the HMF is extracted. Although other researchers had previously converted fructose into HMF, Dumesic's research group made a series of improvements that raised the HMF output, and also made the HMF easier to extract.


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Business goes to bat for stem cell research

Business goes to bat for stem cell research
Cary Spivak & Dan Bice

Even before they get their names on the ballot, legislative candidates - even those who don't have a prayer of getting elected - are being thrust into the heated debate on one of the most emotionally charged issues:

Embryonic stem cell research.

A trio of business groups is so eager to stay at the front of the issue that it's firing off letters to every statehouse candidate urging support for the controversial research.

"At a time when Wisconsin is seeking to succeed in the new, knowledge-based economy, it is irresponsible for us to turn our backs on this life-saving research," wrote Mark Bugher, director of the University Research Park, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce President James Haney, and Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

"Supporting pioneering research on human embryonic stem cells sends a positive message to the scientists, science-based companies and communities that already call Wisconsin home. Without that support, attracting, retaining and nurturing new high-tech companies becomes extremely difficult if not impossible."

Bugher described the unusual effort as a pre-emptive strike to get candidates ready for the questionnaires they are sure to receive from special-interest groups on the other side of the issue.

"We're trying to be a little bit more responsive to the charges that will be leveled by the right-to-life groups," said Bugher, a former top aide to Gov. Tommy Thompson, an ardent supporter of the research. "It's sort of a counterbalance to the right-to-life groups."

The letter was even more pointed, noting that states such as California are throwing millions into research and recruitment in the burgeoning scientific field.

"This reality, coupled with the efforts of special interests opposed to such research, threatens to undermine and even criminalize the work of Wisconsin scientists and derail Wisconsin's ability to contribute in a meaningful way to life-saving stem cell research efforts," the letter says.

The reaction of Wisconsin Right to Life was predictable.

"We're very disappointed with them . . . very disappointed," said Susan Armacost, the chief lobbyist for the group best known for its opposition to abortion. "It is irresponsible to be calling this life-saving research when they have no idea whether it is or not."

She also tossed aside arguments that the work is needed to create and protect jobs.

"We all want economic development in our state," Armacost said. "But, you know, what length do we go to to get it?"

Full story.

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Stealth radar system sees through trees, walls -- undetected

Stealth radar system sees through trees, walls -- undetected

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State University engineers have invented a radar system that is virtually undetectable, because its signal resembles random noise.
The radar could have applications in law enforcement, the military, and disaster rescue.

Eric K. Walton, senior research scientist in Ohio State's ElectroScience Laboratory, said that with further development the technology could even be used for medical imaging.

He explained why using random noise makes the radar system invisible.

"Almost all radio receivers in the world are designed to eliminate random noise, so that they can clearly receive the signal they're looking for," Walton said. "Radio receivers could search for this radar signal and they wouldn't find it. It also won't interfere with TV, radio, or other communication signals."

The radar scatters a very low-intensity signal across a wide range of frequencies, so a TV or radio tuned to any one frequency would interpret the radar signal as a very weak form of static.

"It doesn't interfere because it has a bandwidth that is thousands of times broader than the signals it might otherwise interfere with," Walton said.

Like traditional radar, the "noise" radar detects objects by bouncing a radio signal off them and detecting the rebound. The hardware isn't expensive, either; altogether, the components cost less than $100.

The difference is that the noise radar generates a signal that resembles random noise, and a computer calculates very small differences in the return signal. The calculations happen billions of times every second, and the pattern of the signal changes constantly. A receiver couldn't detect the signal unless it knew exactly what random pattern to look for.

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GEO600 starts continuous search for Gravitational Waves

GEO600 starts continuous search for Gravitational Waves
Sensitivity vastly improved

The joint German-British Gravitational Wave Detector GEO600 has now entered an 18-month run of continuous measurement. Researchers are optimistic that they will be able to observe a never before seen phenomena the Gravitational Wave which is one of the great untested predictions of Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. Gravitational Waves can be used to do "ark astronomy", studying those aspects of the Universe for which ordinary astronomy using light (and the rest of the electromagnetic spectrum) can provide limited information.

"If there is a supernova in our vicinity during the next couple of months, our chances of detecting and measuring the resulting gravitational waves are good. The first step towards gravitational wave astronomy has been taken, at last allowing us to observe the 96% of our universe which have been hidden to us up to now" says Prof. Dr. Karsten Danzmann, head of the International Centre for Gravitational Physics which is jointly run by the Max Planck Society and the University of Hannover. Data is taken in conjunction with the two US LIGO observatories.

The sensitivity of the GEO600 detector has been continuously improved since the start of test runs in 2002. "We could only reach out towards a small fraction of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, in those days. Today our sensitivity has increased by a factor of 3000 and we can detect events in distances many times greater than the distance between us and our galactic neighbour, the Andromeda Galaxy" Karsten Danzmann explains.

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Patients said to offer stem-cell solution

Patients said to offer stem-cell solution
'we can all live with'

By Nancy Frazier O'Brien
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — As the U.S. Senate prepared to consider competing proposals on the funding of stem-cell research, a representative of the U.S. bishops' pro-life office said the presence of four people on Capitol Hill showed that "there are solutions we can all live with."

Deirdre McQuade, director of planning and information in the bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, participated in a June 20 press conference organized by Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., and featuring four patients who have been treated successfully for a variety of illnesses with adult stem cells or those from umbilical-cord blood.

The four were Jackie Rabon of Waverly, Ill., a paraplegic who received a successful treatment with adult stem cells; Ryan Schneider of Chicago, who received a cord-blood treatment for cerebral palsy; Abby Pell of the Washington area, who was treated with her own cord blood for brain damage she suffered at birth; and David Foege of Naples, Fla., who was successfully treated for heart failure with adult stem cells.

"We praise these patients and families for their courage, their persistence and their willingness to come to Washington to present how ethically sound stem-cell research is paving the road to treatments," McQuade said.

"No one should think that the stem-cell debate forces us to choose between ethics and science," she added. "We can support both. There is no need to sell our souls in the quest to heal our bodies."

At the press conference Brownback said the four told "absolutely phenomenal stories of successes" using adult stem cells or cord-blood stem cells. "We need to do more of this," he added.

The Kansas senator called for a full floor debate on bioethics issues when the Senate considers H.R. 810, the Stem-Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, which he and the Catholic Church oppose.

"I want you to see where we're seeing successes without bioethical questions involved," he said at the press conference.


Full story.

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Disgraced South Korean scientist heads back to lab

By Jack Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) - Disgraced South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk will open a laboratory in Seoul next month to resume his work on animal cloning, and perhaps restart research on human embryonic stem cells, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Hwang left his post at Seoul National University in December after an investigation panel said in a preliminary report Hwang's team had deliberately fabricated key data in two papers on embryonic stem cells that were once heralded but now debunked.

Hwang went on trial earlier this month, with prosecutors charging the man once hailed as a national hero with fraud and embezzlement.


Lee Geon-haeng, Hwang's lawyer, said private contributors had provided the funds to put Hwang back into a laboratory.

"It is Dr. Hwang's belief that the only way to reclaim his honor and repay the people who have helped him, and win their forgiveness, is to produce accomplishments in research," Lee said by telephone.

Hwang will open a research facility in Seoul and employ many researchers who have worked with him before, Lee said.

Medical researchers have said it will be nearly impossible for Hwang ever to publish again in a major journal because of the fraud perpetrated by his team.

Full story.

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UW team in hot pursuit of elusive HIV vaccine

UW team in hot pursuit of elusive HIV vaccine
DAVID WAHLBERG dwahlberg@madison.com

For David Watkins, the search for an HIV vaccine has as much to do with Darwin as disease.

Watkins heads up UW- Madison's HIV vaccine research team. With a new lab, expanded research funding and encouraging new results from a study in monkeys, the team is gaining prominence in the field.

An effective HIV vaccine, which scientists say is years or decades away, could prevent millions of deaths from AIDS. Though studies in people have presented numerous challenges, many experts believe a vaccine is the only way to end the epidemic that has killed 25 million.

Full story.

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Patent schemes fleece inventors

Patent schemes fleece inventors

By AKWELI PARKER, Knight-Ridder
First published: Sunday, June 25, 2006

PHILADELPHIA -- Sandwiched between the pitches for videos of young women "gone wild" and skin blemish eliminators, insomniac TV viewers may also notice temptations from firms that claim they will turn your ideas into money-earning inventions.

Savvy inventors say it's best to just change the channel.

Scam artists outweigh the good guys 100-to-1 said Jeffrey Dobkin, a marketing consultant and a director of the Philadelphia-based American Society of Inventors.

"We had one guy who spent $23,000 with a patenting scheme company," and wound up with nothing to show for it, Dobkin said.

Tracking the industry is an inexact science since many of the companies open and close quickly.

But there are dozens, if not hundreds of them, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office estimated in 2002 that consumers lost $200 million a year to the schemes. Experts say it likely has gone up since then.

Dobkin said that after an inventor calls seeking help with his creation, the companies ensnare their prey using a combination of sweet talk and escalating financial commitment on the part of their mark:

"They say, 'Don't tell us, we don't want to steal your idea.'

"They say, 'This is so great, we've never heard of a mousetrap. ... We'll do an investigation of the industry,' and charge you $500.

"They give you a leather book -- it's full of all boilerplate -- rather than a true custom analysis."

Next, Dobkin said, they promise, " 'We'll do a patent search,' and they'll charge, well, whatever they think you'll pay.

"They'll 'alert the industry,' and that costs $3,000.

"They keep fleecing you until you're out of money."

Full story.

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Clubs help inventors get past the drawing board

From a bright idea to the next big thing
Clubs help inventors get past the drawing board
By SARAH LARIMER
slarimer@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 22, 2006
Randy La Rue thinks he has the next great invention.

He's just not ready to tell what it is yet.

"I can't tell you that," he said. "Did you really think I'd tell you that?"

La Rue said he can't share the ideas in his head until he gets some legal protection on paper. La Rue was one of about 35 people who last week attended the first meeting of the Brookfield Inventors & Entrepreneurs Club looking for advice on how to start a business, patent an idea or market a product.

The club, which serves Waukesha County, is the latest in a crop of clubs that have sprouted in the state to connect people with ideas with those who can make ideas become reality.

Milwaukee County is following close on its heels and, when its club is formed, it will join 25 similar clubs in the state that serve 35 counties.


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Clinical Drug Studies Bring First Installs of Neurognostics’ fMRI Systems

Clinical Drug Studies Bring First Installs of Neurognostics’ fMRI Systems

Milwaukee, WI June 13, 2006 - Neurognostics, Inc., a Milwaukee-based company specializing in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) products and services, successfully completed the installation of two of its MindState™ fDAD™ systems. The two installs represent the first clinical installation of the Company’s fMRI data-acquisition device.

“We are thrilled to have our first two systems up and running,” said Neurognostics CEO Douglas Tucker, Ph.D., M.B.A. “This is a very exciting time for us. Not only have we had an opportunity to install our products at two sites, we also get a chance to use these sites as reference points for future customers. We continue to learn and build our own fMRI knowledge base. These are important milestones for the Company.”

One of the sites that is now using Neurognostics’ fMRI system is Center for Diagnostic Imaging (CDI) in Milwaukee. “We are excited to work with Neurognostics and use their fMRI products and services,” said Patricia Zadra, Vice President at the Center for Diagnostic Imaging. “CDI is known for being an expert in imaging technology and using advanced imaging equipment to provide our patients with the best possible care. Our doctors are always interested in advancing technology that improves patient care. Working with Neurognostics gives us an opportunity to provide our physicians with the latest advancements in imaging technology and give our patient the care they deserve.”

One of the many challenges of implementing fMRI technology is the complexity associated with acquiring fMRI data. Neurognostics’ MindState fDAD system helps clinicians easily overcome challenges associated with outfitting an existing MR scanner to perform fMRI tests. fDAD is a completely integrated, turn-key hardware and software solution that includes all components a site needs to start performing fMRI data collection. The fDAD’s custom workflow-enabled software application guides the operator through the complete fMRI examination and integrates easily into the overall workflow of the MR facility.

Neurognostics plans to install several more of its MindState fDAD systems by the end of summer.

Continue reading "Clinical Drug Studies Bring First Installs of Neurognostics’ fMRI Systems" »

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Cracking a virus protection shield

Scientists reveal the structure of a protein that packages the viral genome and helps viruses to replicate while avoiding human immune reactions

Ebola, measles and rabies are serious threats to public health in developing countries. Despite different symptoms all of the diseases are caused by the same class of viruses that unlike most other living beings carry their genetic information on a single RNA molecule instead of a double strand of DNA. Now researchers from the Institut de Virologie Moléculaire et Structurale (IVMS) and the Outstation of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Grenoble have obtained a detailed structural picture of a protein that allows the rabies virus to withstand the human immune response and survive and replicate in our cells. The study that is published in this week's online edition of Science suggests new potential drug targets in rabies and sheds light on how similar approaches can help fighting other viral diseases.
When the rabies virus enters a human cell through the membrane, the RNA molecule that carries its genes is transported into the centre of the cell. Here it redirects the cellular machinery of the host to produce many new copies of the virus that go on to infect more cells. One molecule that is crucial in this process is a viral protein called nucleoprotein. The protein ensures that on its way through the cell the virus RNA is not destroyed by the immune response of the host.

"Nucleoprotein is vital for the rabies virus," says Rob Ruigrok, Head of the IVMS. "It is one of the few proteins that the virus brings into the host cell and it wraps around the RNA like a protection shield. Without this shield the RNA would be degraded by the enzymes of the human immune system that try to eliminate the invader."

To investigate how exactly this protection shield works, Aurélie Albertini from Ruigrok's team obtained crystals of nucleoprotein bound to RNA. Examining the crystals with high-intensity X-ray sources at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), Amy Wernimont from Winfried Weissenhorn's group at EMBL Grenoble produced a high-resolution image of the protein.

"Nucleoprotein acts like a clamp," says Weissenhorn. "It consists of two domains that like two jaws clasp around the RNA strand. Many nucleoproteins bind side-by-side along the length of an RNA molecule and make it inaccessible for degrading enzymes but also for the machinery needed to replicate the virus. This means that the protection shield must be flexible and able to distinguish between different types of enzymes trying to gain access."

The detailed structural picture suggests that upon a signal a part of the protein located between the two main domains might act as a hinge that moves the upper jaw out of the way when time for replication has come.

"This dynamic mechanism makes nucleoproteins an excellent drug target," says Ruigrok, "Small agents that bind to the protein in such a way to block its flexibility and keep it in the closed state, would prevent replication of the virus and would stop it from spreading."

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New stem-cell findings can help the body to cure itself

It has long been known that the new cells are often formed by immature cells known as stem cells, but the mechanism regulating the number of new cells produced has remained something of a mystery. However, in a new study to be published by Cell stem-cell researcher Jonas Frisén has succeeded in showing how the body's own stem cells do just this. Working alongside an American group of researchers, Professor Frisén and his team have identified a signal transduction process that regulates the degree of stem-cell division.

"Understanding how cell production is regulated increases our chances of producing drugs able to stimulate the endogenous production of new cells," says Professor Frisén.

He hopes that the new findings can be used to develop drugs that stimulate, for example, the formation of new nerve cells to treat conditions such as stroke and Parkinson's and skin cells to facilitate the healing of wounds. Professor Frisén is best known for his research on cerebral stem cells; the present study, however, has been carried out on stem cells in the intestine, one of the organs in the body with the highest rates of cell renewal.

"We also know that blood, brain and skin stem cells express the genes that we now know to be important in the intestine," he says. "This suggests that the cell production mechanism can be the same for these stem cells too."

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Mixing Animal, Human Cells Gets Exotic

By PAUL ELIAS
AP Biotechnology Writer


SAN FRANCISCO


On the sun-splashed Caribbean island of St. Kitts, Yale University researchers are injecting millions of human brain cells into the heads of monkeys afflicted with Parkinson's disease.

In China, there are 29 goats running around on a farm with human cells coursing through their organs, a result of scientists dropping human blood cells into goat embryos.

The mixing of humans and animals in the name of medicine has been going on for decades. People are walking around with pig valves in their hearts and scientists have routinely injected human cells into lab mice to mimic diseases.

But the research is becoming increasingly exotic as scientists work with the brains of mice, monkeys and other mammals and begin fiddling with the hot-button issue of cloning. Harvard University researchers are attempting to clone human embryonic cells in rabbit eggs.

Such work has triggered protests from social conservatives and others who fear the blurring of species lines, invoking the image of the chimera of Greek mythology, a monstrous mix of lion, goat and serpent.

During his State of the Union speech in January, President Bush called for a ban on "human cloning in all its forms" and "human-animal hybrids," labeling it one of the "most egregious abuses of medical research."

He didn't elaborate, but scientists working in the field believe that by "hybrids," the president meant creating living animals with human traits _ something they say they aren't doing.

Other critics are calling for stricter regulations of the research.

Full story.

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RedPrairie, greener pastures?

RedPrairie, greener pastures?
Software company is considering a move out of Wisconsin
By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 17, 2006

RedPrairie Corp., one of the state's biggest software companies, has begun studying the possibility of moving its headquarters out of Wisconsin.

The study is being done internally and will be completed within months, said John Jazwiec, top executive at the Waukesha company whose supply chain management software manages warehouses and other parts of manufacturing and distribution operations for companies such as Procter & Gamble, Georgia-Pacific and General Electric.

The decision to consider relocating arose from difficulties RedPrairie has had finding executive talent here and recruiting it from elsewhere, Jazwiec said.

But that's a manifestation of a much more fundamental problem, he said.

Despite RedPrairie's status as a technology leader, neither state nor local leaders have reached out to the company, Jazwiec said. Also, the state's tax and political climate and Milwaukee's high crime rate are obstacles to creating the kind of environment that supports high-growth companies such as RedPrairie, he said.

"We don't understand a compelling reason to stay, and as such, we owe it to our shareholders to study where the best place to put our corporate headquarters will be," said Jazwiec, whose company is owned by a California private equity firm.


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Wisconsin and California locked in stem-cell struggle

Wisconsin and California locked in stem-cell struggle
DAVID WAHLBERG dwahlberg@madison.com

A showdown over stem cells is taking shape between Wisconsin and California, and the weapons the players are wielding are patents, lawsuits and billions of dollars.

The impact of the outcome isn't limited to the two states, parties involved say. The confrontation could greatly influence the global development of stem-cell therapies, which might someday benefit millions of patients.

On one side is the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, which holds two wide-ranging patents on embryonic stem cells that could bring in millions of dollars. In 1998, UW- Madison researcher James Thomson was the first person to successfully grow the cells in a laboratory.

On the other side is the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, a state entity, which plans to distribute $3 billion in stem-cell research grants in California in coming years. Voters approved the state funds two years ago in response to federal funding restrictions.

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Stem cells found in adult skin can be transplanted and function in mouse models of disease

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 13, 2006
SickKids researchers show that stem cells found in adult skin can be transplanted and function in mouse models of disease

TORONTO — Researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the University of Calgary have found that stem cells derived from adult skin can create neural cell types that can be transplanted into and function in mouse models of disease. This research is reported in the June 14, 2006 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

SickKids researchers previously discovered what type of cells can be made from these stem cells (called skin-derived precursors, or SKPs) based on the role played by neural-crest stem cells during embryogenesis. In addition to generating the peripheral nervous system, neural crest stem cells generate other tissues such as bone, cartilage, some types of muscle, and even part of the heart.

In The Journal of Neuroscience paper, the research team found that SKPs can efficiently generate a type of glial cell, called Schwann cells, that can myelinate demyelinated axons (part of a neuron), and that have been shown to provide a good growth environment for injured central nervous system axons. These types of axons normally do not regenerate.

“Schwann cells have been proposed as a cell type for treatment of nerve injuries, demyelination disorders such as multiple sclerosis, and even spinal cord injury,” said Dr. Freda Miller, the study’s principal investigator, a senior scientist in Developmental Biology in the SickKids Research Institute, a professor of Molecular and Medical Genetics, and Physiology at the University of Toronto and Canada Research Chair in Developmental Neurobiology. “Our finding that we can efficiently generate and isolate these Schwann cells from SKPs raises the possibility that we could treat humans with Schwann cells derived from human skin stem cells, and perhaps even use the patient’s own skin to generate Schwann cells for treatment.”

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Traumas create unwitting test subjects

By Robert Davis, USA TODAY
As Hilary Williams hung from her seat belt in the overturned wreckage of her truck — legs broken, colon ruptured and lung bruised — blood oozed from torn arteries and veins.
Hilary, 27, and her sister, Holly, 25, who was injured less severely in the crash, waited half an hour for medical help to arrive. By the time an air ambulance reached them at the crash site, about 45 miles south of Memphis, it was midday onMarch 15. Hilary's face was pale, her lips were blue, her faint pulse was fast, and her blood pressure was 55/0. She was in shock.

Because she was close to death, she instantly became eligible for enrollment in a controversial clinical trial. But because she was in no shape to consider the risks, the flight nurses did not have to obtain her consent before giving her an experimental blood substitute.

Within moments, fluid the color of merlot was dripping into her veins. Hilary, a singer/songwriter and the daughter of country singer Hank Williams Jr., became one of thousands of people across the nation who, while fighting for their lives over the past 10 years, unknowingly became test subjects in a medical trial.

With waived-consent studies becoming more prevalent, critics question whether the public understands how they work and whether test subjects get adequate protection.

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From Embryonic Stem Cell Support to Its Opposition

Stem Cells — A Changed Personal Course
From Embryonic Stem Cell Support to Its Opposition

By James P. Kelly
Biotech Writer

"Do adult stem cells have advantages over human embryonic stem cells?" Michael Cook of MercatorNet asked James Sherley, an associate professor of biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

"The main advantage is that adult stem cells are already programmed to function in adult tissues and organs." Sherley answered. "In addition, they do not form tumors when transplanted from one person to another."

By "programmed" Sherley refers to the turning "on" or "off" of genes within cells – how the genetic code is "expressed." Humans keep the same genetic code throughout life, but the way that code is expressed in the embryo differs sharply from the fetus, which in turn differs from adult (postnatal) genetic expression. This little-known point has immense relevance to stem cell basic research and clinical applications, but such details seldom reach the public.

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UW-Madison hybrid-vehicle team places second nationally

UW-Madison hybrid-vehicle team places second nationally

MADISON - Tired of high gas costs and poor sport utility vehicle (SUV) fuel efficiency?

A group of engineering students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has spent the last three years building one of the cleanest and most fuel-efficient SUVs in North America. The principles behind the vehicle, appropriately named the "Moovada," could one day be incorporated into mass-production hybrid SUVs.

The effort is part of a contest, "Challenge X: Crossover to Sustainable Mobility," sponsored by General Motors and U.S. Department of Energy.

Today (Thursday, June 8), in Mesa, Ariz., the UW-Madison team was awarded second place in the competition, coming in just behind a team from Virginia Tech University. Third place went to a team from Mississippi State University.

"We wanted to place in the top three, and we did that," says Glenn Bower, the team's adviser and a faculty associate in the College of Engineering. The UW-Madison team will bring home $6,000 in prize money and 10 individual awards. For the past week, UW-Madison engineering students put their vehicle to the test at a proving ground in Mesa during the final round of the competition.

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Producing bio-ethanol from agricultural waste a step closer

Producing bio-ethanol from agricultural waste a step closer
06 June 2006 by M&C

Research conducted by Delft University of Technology has brought the efficient production of the environmentally-friendly fuel bio-ethanol a great deal closer to fruition. The work of Delft researcher Marko Kuyper was an important factor in this. His research in recent years has greatly improved the conversion of certain sugars from agricultural waste to ethanol. On Tuesday 6 June, Kuyper received his PhD degree for his research into the subject.

The search for alternatives to the current, oil-based, fuels is the focus of great interest around the world. One of the most attractive alternatives is bio-ethanol - alcohol produced from agricultural crops. At present, bio-ethanol is only made from sugars derived from corncobs, sugar beets, grain and sugarcane, with the help of baker’s yeast. A great number of by-products result from the cultivation of these crops, such as straw and corn husks. It would be a major step forward if this leftover material, which also largely consists of sugar, could be used for the production of bio-ethanol. This would allow agricultural land to be used more efficiently and at the same time prevent competition with food supplies.

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Robot device mimics human touch

Robot device mimics human touch
By Rebecca Morelle
Science reporter, BBC News

A device which may pave the way for robotic hands that can replicate the human sense of touch has been unveiled.

US scientists have created a sensor that can "feel" the texture of objects to the same degree of sensitivity as a human fingertip.

The team says the tactile sensor could, in the future, aid minimally invasive surgical techniques by giving surgeons a "touch-sensation".

The research is reported in the journal Science.

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Biotech startup gets business honor

Biotech startup gets business honor
JUDY NEWMAN jdnewman@madison.com
A company that's developing a novel way to treat wounds is the winner of the 2006 Wisconsin Governor's Business Plan Contest.

MatriLab is a biotech startup with one foot in Madison and the other in Milwaukee. Its product: a medicated biomaterial that is sprayed onto a wound and "cured" in place through brief exposure to ultraviolet lights. It forms a dressing that keeps out contaminants, conforms to the shape and surface of the wound, and delivers drug treatment, said MatriLab president Brian Thompson.

The technology came from the lab of John Kao, a UW- Madison assistant professor of biomedical engineering. Clinical tests are going on at St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee, thanks to the efforts of TechStar, a southeast Wisconsin organization formed to assist young technology companies, Thompson said.

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Harvard Jumps Into Stem Cell Debate

Harvard Jumps Into Stem Cell Debate
Researchers Hope Cloning Embryos Will Create Treatments For Blood Diseases

BOSTON, June 6, 2006

(CBS/AP) Stepping into a research area marked by controversy and fraud, Harvard University scientists said Tuesday they are trying to clone human embryos to create stem cells they hope can be used one day to help conquer a host of diseases.

"We are convinced that work with embryonic stem cells holds enormous promise," said Harvard provost Dr. Steven Hyman.

The privately funded work is aimed at devising treatments for such ailments as diabetes, Lou Gehrig's disease, sickle-cell anemia and leukemia. Harvard is only the second American university to announce its venture into the challenging, politically charged research field.

The University of California, San Francisco, began efforts at embryo cloning a few years ago, only to lose a top scientist to England. It has since resumed its work but is not as far along as experiments already under way by the Harvard group.

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Doyle will give keynote speech at stem cell summit

Doyle will give keynote speech at stem cell summit
He'll address state's role in research
By KATHLEEN GALLAGHER
kgallagher@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 5, 2006

Gov. Jim Doyle will take his support for embryonic stem cell research to a national stage Saturday as the keynote speaker at a stem cell summit at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif.

Doyle will speak to scientists, policy-makers and patient advocates at a two-day conference sponsored by the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics and the Genetic Policy Institute. The conference is called "Stem Cell Policy and Advocacy Summit: Empowering the Pro-Cures Coalition."

"He's considered a hero to our movement," said Bernard Siegel, executive director of the institute, a non-profit group based in Wellington, Fla., that works to encourage stem cell research.

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Famous trademarks don't necessarily cover every product, says Canadian Supreme Court

Famous trademarks don't necessarily cover every product, says Supreme Court
BRUCE CHEADLE

OTTAWA (CP) - Barbie may tower over the children's doll market but her global reach doesn't extend to the restaurant business, says the Supreme Court of Canada.

Globally recognized trademarks don't necessarily straddle all possible goods and services just because of their fame, the court ruled Friday.

Mattel Inc., the American toy giant that makes Barbie, and French champagne purveyor Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin each sought to stop small Quebec-based businesses from encroaching on their registered trademarks.

The arguments of both iconic companies were rejected by the top court Friday.

"Famous marks do not come in one size," Justice Ian Binnie wrote in one of two lengthy and unanimous judgments.

So while some, such as Walt Disney, "may indeed have largely transcended product line differences," the circumstances for each brand must be weighed on its merits.

Mattel's Barbie and Veuve Clicquot, while hardly Mickey Mouse outfits, simply don't match Disney's product reach, Binnie suggested.

"At this stage, (the Barbie trademark's) fame is not enough to bootstrap a broad zone of exclusivity covering 'most consumer wares and services'," the justice wrote.

The ruling upheld lower court judgments that found that Barbie's - a small Montreal restaurant chain - did not infringe on Mattel's trademark.

Similarly, a six-store chain of women's clothiers called Les Boutiques Cliquot in Quebec and eastern Ontario was found to have neither infringed on Veuve Clicquot's trademark nor diminished the value of the champagne maker's brand.

Spiro Christopoulos, owner of the three Barbie's restaurants, called the decision "so great, it's fantastic. It's been a 12-year battle with Mattel and finally it's over.

"At first I was a little intimidated," added Christopoulos, who was also awarded court costs with his victory.

"But then I realized that if I was going to protect our business and name and the people working here, I'd have to defend it. So I took the challenge and it paid off."

The rulings, at heart, state that Canadian consumers are bright enough to tell a doll from a delicatessen, and champagne from a chemise.

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UW officials look to Stanford’s collaborative research center for inspiration

Making the connections
UW officials look to Stanford’s collaborative research center for inspiration
By SUSANNE RUST
srust@journalsentinel.com
Posted: June 4, 2006

Stanford, Calif. - Traditional science has flourished for centuries in traditional university buildings, where walls and doors separate the spaces - and the scientists who inhabit them - into offices and labs, departments and disciplines.

In the last decade, however, researchers have begun investigating questions that demand a more collaborative, open environment. Creating that environment is the goal of the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery, a planned $150 million research facility at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

That goal is a reality at the James H. Clark Center, the $150 million research hub at Stanford University, which is serving as an inspiration and model for the UW project.

Located at the nexus of the medical, engineering and science complexes, the Clark Center serves as a mixing bowl of sorts: bringing together researchers from diverse fields to tackle problems in new and unexpected ways.

With curved exterior walls that flow into its central atrium like a funnel, the building was designed to physically promote and spark collaborations among the different scientific schools and departments on the campus. Adding a Peet's Coffee & Tea - a Berkeley-based coffeehouse - and a restaurant/cafeteria run by a four-star Taiwanese chef has made the center a magnet for students and faculty across campus.

The results have been enormous.

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