How bedbugs came back, with a vengeance

How bedbugs came back, with a vengeance

Bedbugs suck — blood mostly, but they are also a costly problem, says Rajeev Vaidyanathan of SRI International in Menlo Park, California, who led a series of talks on the creepy parasites at the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Philadelphia today.  Read more

A new map of “the other” malaria

A new map of “the other” malaria

The malarial parasite, Plasmodium vivax, is something of a forgotten step sister to the more prevalent, more deadly Plasmodium falciparum. Global and local programmes looking to eradicate malaria may need to pay it more attention say several health experts presenting at this year’s annual meeting for the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Philadelphia taking place this week.  Read more

Researcher confesses to stealing lab notebooks

Researcher confesses to stealing lab notebooks

In two sworn affidavits dated 16 and 21 November, researcher Max Pfost admitted to stealing laboratory notebooks from his employer the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI) in Reno, Nevada, and giving them to Judy Mikovits, the institute’s former research director. He states that he retrieved “between 12-20 notebooks” from a locked desk in Mikovits’s former office on the morning of 30 September. This was one day after Mikovits was fired from her post for insubordination. He says he stored them in his mother’s garage in a “multicoloured Happy Birthday” bag.

Researcher arrested over missing lab notebooks

Researcher arrested over missing lab notebooks

On Friday 18 November, Mikovits, a chronic fatigue syndrome researcher, was arrested and jailed by Ventura County police in relation to a lawsuit brought by her former employer, the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI) in Reno, Nevada claiming that she had absconded with lab notebooks and proprietary information. She is being held without bail and may face extradition to Nevada.

As lawyers and patient advocates line up to debate who is right and who is wrong in this bitter dispute, there is still the question of what will become of a US$1.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) that is held by WPI with Mikovits as the principle investigator.

The Scientist shutters after 25 years

The Scientist shutters after 25 years

The Scientist has folded. Staffers were brought into an all-hands-on-deck meeting at its offices in New York Thursday morning. There, publisher Jane Hunter and director Andrew Crompton announced that due to economic troubles, there would be no November issue, and no additions to the website save for an announcement of the magazine’s closure some time next week.

The magazine leaves behind a legacy of ambitious, highly-technical life science writing, innovative approaches to publishing and a litany of talented editors, writers and business people, many of whom cut their teeth at the hardscrabble publication.

Got Genes? Win £100

Nature is currently running a poll about how interested people are in obtaining personal genome information. No prior knowledge or interest in genome-sequencing technology is required. All you have to have are genes.  Read more

Promising signs emerging from HIV gene therapy trials

Promising signs emerging from HIV gene therapy trials

Although primarily designed to assess safety and feasibility of the treatment developed by Sangamo BioSciences, the Phase I trials, coupled with results from other basic and animal studies, have several AIDS experts talking tentatively about the possibility of a cure for the disease, something that scientists and clinicians have avoided since disappointments in the mid 1990s. “Cure has been a four letter word,” says Steven Deeks a clinical researcher at the University of California San Francisco, who has patients enrolled in one of the trials.

‘Elephant Man’ gene found

‘Elephant Man’ gene found

An international team reports discovering the mutation responsible for Proteus syndrome. This very rare and troubling developmental disorder causes severe, uncontrollable outgrowths of soft and bony tissue, leaving those affected painfully deformed. Roughly 500 people in the developed world are know to have it. Joseph Merrick (pictured) who lived from 1862 to 1890 and toured Europe as ‘The Elephant Man,’ is probably the disease’s most famous victim. The finding ends a long search for the cause of the disease and may provide some useful insight for treatment given that the gene involved, AKT1, is a well-researched target in cancer.

Lab sabotage deemed research misconduct (with exclusive surveillance video)

Vipul Bhrigu, a former University of Michigan postdoc who sabotaged the work of a graduate student in his lab last year, has now been debarred from US federal funding for three years. The Office of Research Integrity (ORI), part of the US Department of Health and Human Services issued a finding of research misconduct for Bhrigus acts. Nature has been following up on the story that it reported in September of last year and now provides exclusive video of Bhrigu getting caught in the act.

Drosophila pictures and video seal up “celldance” awards

Drosophila pictures and video seal up “celldance” awards

Philadelphia rolled out the red carpet (no, not literally) for the sixth annual ‘celldance’ awards at the American Society for Cell Biology 50th annual meeting yesterday. Several dozen conference goers crowded around the big screen at the ASCB booth as Greenfield “Kip” Sluder, outgoing head judge of the film and image contest presented first place winners with a movie poster and a cheque for US$500.

First place in the video category went to “Cellular Recognition” produced by U. Serdar Tulu of Duke University and shows a Drosophila melanogaster embryo in the process of dorsal closure, in which sheets of epidermal cells fuse together.

Source: ASCB