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December 08, 2009

90% of newborn babies contain BPA

BPA found in 90% of newborns - JSOnline
A study released Wednesday which found that nine of 10 babies tested were born with bisphenol A in their systems has renewed calls for the chemical to be banned. In the study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group, scientists found the chemical in nine of 10 randomly selected samples of umbilical cord blood. Previous studies have found BPA in the urine of 93% of Americans tested. But Wednesday's study is the first to find it in the cord blood of U.S. newborns. "It's alarming," Janet Gray, director of the Environmental Risks and Breast Cancer project at Vassar College, said of the study results. "What more evidence do we need to act?" More than 6 billion pounds of BPA are used each year to make polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. The chemical is used in thousands of common products, including the lining of nearly all food and beverage cans and as coating for carbonless paper receipts.

December 02, 2009

Government approves first 13 strains of ethical stem cells

U.S. approves first 'ethical' human stem cell lines - Yahoo! News
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government approved the first 13 batches of human embryonic stem cells on Wednesday, opening their use for federally funded research under reduced restrictions announced by President Barack Obama in March. The batches, known as lines, were made by two researchers at Harvard University and Rockefeller University using private funds, said Dr. Francis Collins, director of the national Institutes of Health. The decision frees them and many other researchers to use federal money to work with them. "Today we are announcing the approval of the first 13 stem cell lines," Collins told reporters in a telephone briefing.

November 29, 2009

New evidence of bacterial life on Mars

Fresh claim for fossil life in Mars rock - Short Sharp Science - New Scientist
It's arguably the most scrutinised piece of rock ever. Now an even closer look at a meteorite from Mars suggests it may show signs of life after all. In 1996, David McKay of NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texax, and colleagues proposed that that a chunk of Mars rock found in Antarctica, called ALH 84001, contained possible signs of past life on the Red Planet, such as complex carbon-based molecules and microscopic objects shaped like bacteria Many researchers doubt the claim, however, and various suggestions have been made for how the structures could have been created without life. One area of disagreement centred around nanocrystal magnetites in the rock, some of which appear to have chemical and physical features identical to those produced by contemporary bacteria. Sceptics of the biological explanation suggested that the magnetites were created when carbonate decomposed under high pressures and temperatures, perhaps in the heat of the impact that ejected the meteorite 15 million years ago or deep beneath the Martian surface. Now a fresh analysis by McKay and colleagues rules out the carbonate decomposition explanation.

November 23, 2009

Man trapped in 23-year coma was awake and conscious the whole time

Rom Houben: Patient trapped in a 23-year 'coma' was conscious all along | Mail Online Here is today's nightmare fuel.
A car crash victim has spoken of the horror he endured for 23 years after he was misdiagnosed as being in a coma when he was conscious the whole time. Rom Houben, trapped in his paralysed body after a car crash, described his real-life nightmare as he screamed to doctors that he could hear them - but could make no sound. 'I screamed, but there was nothing to hear,' said Mr Houben, now 46, who doctors thought was in a persistent vegatative state. 'I dreamed myself away,' he added, tapping his tale out with the aid of a computer.

November 20, 2009

A flu vaccie grown in caterpillars?

Flu Shot Made From Caterpillars Fails Safety Vote (Update3) - Bloomberg.com There is an arms race on right now to find a non-chicken based way to grow flu vaccines that will hopefully be much faster. So of course, caterpillars.
Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Protein Sciences Corp. failed to prove its experimental flu vaccine is safe enough to be approved and more study is needed, a U.S. advisory panel said. The shot, called FluBlok, is produced in less than two months by inserting flu genes into an insect virus and growing it in caterpillar ovary cells. Members of the advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted 6-to-5 that the company hadn’t proven the vaccine safe, saying clinical trials weren’t large enough to support mass production. Nine of the 11 panelists said the shot was as effective as licensed vaccines in adults ages 18 to 49. Closely held Protein Sciences, based in Meriden, Connecticut, and backed by $147 million in U.S. contracts, is seeking to become the country’s first supplier to break from the 50-year-old technique of growing the vaccine in chicken eggs. The egg-based process has been blamed for delays in this year’s pandemic swine flu vaccine, and U.S. health officials have pledged to increase production times.