In what's being seen as an important step toward developing robotic devices that can help people who are paralyzed or have neurodegenerative disorders, people wearing special electrodes have been able to control a model helicopter by their thoughts alone, researchers report in the Journal of Neural Engineering.
The "mysterious appearance" of experimental, unapproved genetically engineered wheat plants on a farm in Oregon is the latest in "a score of episodes in which biotech crops have eluded efforts to segregate them from conventional varieties," Reuters reports.
But it's the first time that a test strain of wheat, which has no genetically modified varieties on the market, has escaped the protocols set up by regulators to control it, says Reuters.
The wheat was developed years ago by Monsanto to tolerate its Roundup herbicide, but the world's biggest seed company abandoned the project and ended all field trials in 2004.
Japan already is canceling a major shipment of wheat because of the Oregon disclosure — a big concern for the $8 billion U.S. wheat export business.
Developers of biotech crops say testing shows they're safe for humans, animals and the environment.
And farmers like Roundup Ready corn, soybeans and other crops; the genetic changes enable the crops to survive the use of Roundup to kill weeds.
But keeping conventional crops from being contaminated by genetically modified ones is an ongoing challenge.
A new type of influenza vaccine uses nanotechnology to attack parts of the flu virus that different strains have in common.
In the future, "maybe you would get an injection once every five years in the best of all possible worlds, you know, once every 10 years with boosters occasionally," says study co-author Dr. Gary Nabel.
The study was conducted at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and published online in Nature magazine.
Trees that can replace electric streetlamps and potted flowers that you can read by are being developed by a small group of hobbyist scientists using a sophisticated form of genetic engineering called synthetic biology, The New York Times reports.
The group is working in one of the growing number of communal labs around the country as biotechnology becomes cheap enough to give rise to a do-it-yourself movement, the Times says.
The project has attracted more than $250,000 in pledges from roughly 4,500 donors in about two weeks on the website Kickstarter.
Critics are alarmed at the idea of tinkerers creating living things in their garages, fearing that malicious organisms may be created intentionally or by accident, according to the Times.
The first revision since 1994 of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the so-called bible of mental disorders — is due out in a few weeks.
But Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, says that while the DSM is the best tool at the moment, it doesn't reflect the complexity of many disorders, and its way of categorizing mental illnesses shouldn't guide research.
Insel wants the research to focus on biology, genetics and neuroscience so scientists can define disorders by their causes rather than their symptoms.
As an inveterate researcher myself, I find this alarming:
Some science researchers are warning about what they see as the proliferation of online journals that will print seemingly anything for a fee.
They say nonexperts doing online research will have trouble distinguishing credible research from junk.
“Most people don’t know the journal universe,” says Steven Goodman, a dean and professor of medicine at Stanford and editor of the journal Clinical Trials, which has its own imitators. “They will not know from a journal’s title if it is for real or not.”
In fact, researchers say universities are facing new challenges in assessing the resumes of academics.
Jeffrey Beall, a research librarian at the University of Colorado in Denver, has put together his own blacklist of what he calls “predatory open-access journals.”
There were 20 publishers on the list in 2010; and now there are more than 300. Beall estimates that there are as many as 4,000 predatory journals out there — at least 25 percent of the total number of open-access journals.
So now we have to research the research. Readers, if you come across other ways of traversing what one scientist calls this "Wild West," please let me know.
The president is to announce on Tuesday a federal-private project to record and map brain circuits in action, which could lead to progress in treating traumatic brain injury and diseases such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy.
Going through information available to anybody with an Internet connection, researchers figured out the names of dozens of supposedly anonymous people who had their DNA analyzed for scientific and medical research, they report in the journal Science.
Concerns that health insurers or employers might use information about genetic health risks to drop benefits or discriminate against workers led to the 2008 Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. And last year, the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues recommended additional measures to further secure genetic data.