Time=Lives story of the week: The Hempel family | FasterCures blog: A perfect storm brewing over science | Brain Activity Map project faces research challenges
February 26, 2013
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White House speeds release of federally funded research
Federally funded research will be made available free to the public within a year under a White House directive. "We wanted to strike the balance between the extraordinary public benefit of increasing public access to the results of federally funded scientific research and the need to ensure that the valuable contributions that the scientific publishing industry provides are not lost," said John Holdren, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy director. Reuters (2/23)
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News from FasterCures
Time=Lives story of the week: The Hempel family
At age 3, identical twins Addi and Cassi Hempel were diagnosed with an ultra-rare and fatal cholesterol disease called Niemann Pick Type C – a condition frequently referred to as “Childhood Alzheimer’s.” Their parents, Chris and Hugh, noticed a drastic change in their girls and immediately started taking the necessary steps to find a cure. By becoming experts in the disease, advocating for treatment options and not taking no for an answer, the Hempels have made medical progress happen. Their story is chronicled in the new documentary Here.Us.Now, a film commissioned by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. See more stories about the power and promise of medical research at www.timeequalslives.org, and tell us why medical research matters to you.
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FasterCures blog: A perfect storm brewing over science
A dynamic panel of experts painted a vivid picture of the tsunami of budget and fiscal issues that threaten federal science programs during a FasterCures webinar on “The 113th Congress and Medical Research: A Perfect Storm Approaching?” moderated by FasterCures Executive Director Margaret Anderson. While the prospects for avoiding widespread cuts seem bleak, the speakers remained optimistic that a loud, unified, focused argument from the medical research community could have an impact right now. Read more.
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Science and Technology
Brain Activity Map project faces research challenges
Before the Obama administration can launch a decade-long, multibillion-dollar research project called the Brain Activity Map, researchers will have to develop tools to examine the brain and practice on simple animal species. There also are ethical concerns about what to do with the information and how to store it, and some neuroscientists are skeptical it will ever be successful. The New York Times (free-article access for SmartBrief readers) (2/25)
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Synthetic peptide could aid in drug delivery, implantation success
A synthetic peptide that attaches to nanoparticles to give them clear passage through the body could be used to target drugs to tumors, reduce pacemaker rejection and improve medical imaging, according to a study in the journal Science. University of Pennsylvania researcher Dennis Discher said the peptide is the "first molecule that can be attached to anything to attenuate the innate immune system," which solves a problem with delivering therapeutic particles and implanting devices. The Scientist online (2/21)
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Modifying cell material may hold diabetes treatment potential
Reprogramming the cell material chromatin helped trigger beta-cell gene expression in alpha cells among human and mouse cells, according to a study in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. "This would be a win-win situation for diabetics -- they would have more insulin-producing beta cells and there would be fewer glucagon-producing alpha cells," said lead author Klaus H. Kaestner. NewKerala.com (India)/Indo-Asian News Service (2/24)
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Institute develops renal cells from stem cells
A team at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology has turned embryonic stem cells into functioning human kidney cells. The cells have the potential for use in regenerative medicine, drug research and the modeling of illnesses. "In particular, we are interested in applying our technology to develop predictive in vitro drug testing and renal toxicity models as alternatives to animal testing," institute executive director Jackie Y. Ying said. Yahoo/Indo-Asian News Service (2/22)
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Other News
Policy and Regulation
U.S. announces avian influenza research guidelines
The U.S. government has released guidelines for future avian influenza research, moving domestic researchers under a voluntary moratorium closer to resuming their work on the virus. The guidelines require a detailed analysis of the risks and benefits associated with making the virus more dangerous before government funding will be made available. At the University of Wisconsin's Influenza Research Institute, where a professor produced an avian influenza strain that was transmissible between ferrets, no structural changes are necessary, but proposals for new work will have to undergo the additional review. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (tiered subscription model) (2/21), Los Angeles Times (tiered subscription model) (2/21), ScienceMag.org/Science Insider blog (2/21)
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Analysis: Recall could make FDA more cautious about biosimilars
The recall of Affymax's anemia drug Omontys could prompt more caution from the FDA as it develops a pathway for the approval of biosimilar drugs, former FDA official Dr. Scott Gottlieb writes. "The agency has years of experience with biological agents that simulate red blood cell production, and the inability to ferret out the risks with Omontys is likely to underscore how hard this science remains," he writes. Forbes (2/25)
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Society and Ethics
Support grows for early dementia screening in elderly
Medical experts and health organizations support early dementia screening in the elderly to raise diagnosis rates so more patients can access tailored care programs to help improve their quality of life. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is considering updating a 2003 guidance that recommended against screening, the Affordable Care Act will enable Medicare to include cognitive impairment in wellness visits and the Alzheimer's Association offers guidelines to help physicians assess cognition during office visits. The Wall Street Journal (tiered subscription model) (2/25)
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