Latest research news

February 15, 2006

The prize: $10m. To win, just solve these science problems
They are an elite club of billionaires, movie producers, dotcom wiz kids and the occasional astronaut and between them they hope to change the face of scientific research. Together, they make up the X-Prize Foundation, an organisation set up by Peter Diamandis of Space Adventures, the company that arranged for Dennis Tito to fly to the International Space Station in 2001 and so become the world's first space tourist. The foundation plans to launch three prizes of at least $10 million (£5.75 million) this year to crack some of the toughest problems facing genetics, nanotechnology and the car industry.
The Guardian

Donor breakthrough for cloning research
British women are to be cleared to donate eggs solely for cloning experiments that promise new therapies for diseases such as Parkinson’s and diabetes. New rules to be approved tomorrow will for the first time allow scientists to recruit donors who are not already having medical treatment, in procedures that carry potential health risks. The decision by the Government’s fertility watchdog has stirred fresh ethical controversy about therapeutic cloning, as the new donors run the risk of damaging their health for no direct benefit to themselves.
The Times

Study pours cold water on Darwin's theory of life
Life is likely to have emerged in warm puddles of fresh water and not the piping-hot volcanic springs that have often been proposed as its source, research has suggested. An experiment to re-create the conditions in which life began has revealed that the hot, acidic, clay-filled waters that had been proposed as prime candidates are probably incapable of mixing organic matter in the right way.
The Times, The Scotsman

'Polypill is a life saver that would drain NHS resources'
A proposal to give every person a pill that combines aspirin, a statin, three agents that lower blood pressure and folic acid could save thousands of lives in Britain each year. But researchers have found that, despite its potential to reduce health problems dramatically, it would not save any money. The daily “polypill” is seen as a possible “magic bullet” for cardiovascular disease (CVD), Britain’s biggest killer. Doctors believe that, if taken preventatively, it could slash the risk of coronary artery disease by 88 per cent and stroke by 80 per cent in those aged between 55 and 64. However, a study by Dutch researchers suggests that even if the polypills cost nothing to make, giving them to everyone, or even only those at moderate risk of CVD, would not save any money because of the huge administrative costs of prescribing them to millions of people.
The Times

Stem cell fraud asks for research reprieve
The disgraced stem cell scientist Woo Suk Hwang has asked the South Korean government not to cancel his research licence until prosecutors finish investigating claims that he faked breakthroughs on human embryo cloning, according to reports yesterday. The health and welfare ministry told Dr Hwang last month it planned to revoke the licence after an investigation showed the scientist falsely claimed to have created the world's first cloned human embryo and culled stem cells from it. The breakthrough was initially reported in the journal Science. However, the doctor recently appealed for more time to let prosecutors complete their investigation into the scandal, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said, citing an unidentified ministry official.
The Guardian

Familiarity with a route breeds long0er journey
Commuters who think that their journey to work gets mind-numbingly longer each day could be correct, scientists revealed yesterday. New research shows that the more times someone has walked a route, the longer they judge it to be. Andrew Crompton, a researcher at Manchester University, wanted to find out how good people were at judging distances in the real world.
The Scotsman

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