Body

WALNUT CREEK, CA—In the continuing effort to tap the vast, unexplored reaches of the earth's microbial and plant domains for bioenergy and environmental applications, the DOE Joint Genome Institute (DOE JGI) has announced its latest portfolio of DNA sequencing projects that it will undertake in the coming year. The 44 projects, culled from nearly 150 proposals received through the Community Sequencing Program (CSP), represent over 60 billion nucleotides of data to be generated through this biodiversity sampling campaign—roughly the equivalent of 20 human genomes.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When chemists want to produce a lot of a substance -- such as a newly designed drug -- they often turn to catalysts, molecules that speed chemical reactions. Many jobs require highly specialized catalysts, and finding one in just the right shape to connect with certain molecules can be difficult. Natural catalysts, such as enzymes in the human body that help us digest food, get around this problem by shape-shifting to suit the task at hand.

Chemists have made little progress in getting synthetic molecules to mimic this shape shifting behavior -- until now.

CHAPEL HILL – Imagine a business executive who thinks: "I know that this new policy will harm the environment, but I don't care at all about that – I just want to increase profits." Is the business executive harming the environment intentionally? Faced with this question from a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill philosopher, 82 percent of people polled said yes.

COLLEGE STATION, July 2, 2008 -- Two Texas A&M University researchers have developed a computational tool that will help scientists more accurately study complex units of clustered genes, called operons, in bacteria. The tool, which allows scientists to analyze many bacterial genomes at once, is more accurate than previous methods because it starts from experimentally validated data instead of from statistical predictions, they say. The researchers hope their tool will lead to a better understanding of the complex genetic mechanisms involved in a cell's functioning.

WASHINGTON D.C.— World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is alarmed by the dramatic decline of at least 30 percent in the Bengal tiger population of Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve in Nepal, once a refuge that boasted among the highest densities of the endangered species in the Eastern Himalayas. The recent survey of April 2008 showed a population of between 6-14 tigers, down from 20-50 tigers in 2005.

TORRANCE, CA (July 2, 2008) - Measuring calcium deposits in the heart's arteries can help predict overall death risk in American adults, even when they are elderly, according to a new study published in the July issue of Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

Scientists from Hungary, Germany and the U.K. have discovered that our own body not only makes chemical compounds similar to the active ingredient in marijuana (THC), but these play an important part in maintaining healthy skin. This finding on "endocannabinoids" just published online in, and scheduled for the October 2008 print issue of, The FASEB Journal could lead to new drugs that treat skin conditions ranging from acne to dry skin, and even skin-related tumors.

An international research team has published the first clear example of how climate extremes can create conditions in which diseases that are normally tolerated singly may converge and bring about mass die-offs in wildlife.

In a report issued June 25 by PLoS ONE, an online peer-reviewed research journal, researchers examined outbreaks of canine distemper virus (CDV) in 1994 and 2001 that resulted in unusually high mortality in Serengeti lions. CDV cycles periodically within the Serengeti ecosystem, and epidemics have occurred without effects on lion populations.

ST. LOUIS – Want to slow the signs of aging and live longer? New Saint Louis University research suggests cutting back on calories could be a promising strategy.

Calorie restriction has long been shown to slow the aging process in rats and mice. While scientists do not know how calorie restriction affects the aging process in rodents, one popular hypothesis is that it slows aging by decreasing a thyroid hormone, triiodothyronine (T3), which then slows metabolism and tissue aging.

Researchers at the University of Southern California (USC) have identified a specific tumor suppressor that manages membrane traffic routes for cellular cleaning and recycling.

The study will be published in the July issue of the journal Nature Cell Biology, and is now available online.