Latest research news

May 10, 2006

Animal rights extremists threatening letter to GSK investors
The extremist campaign against animal research moved to a new level yesterday when private GlaxoSmithKline shareholders received threatening letters, demanding they sell their shares within 14 days or face public exposure. Campaigners have not previously targeted individual investors in a multinational company. The unsigned letters - from a previously unknown group called Campaign against Huntingdon Life Sciences - reached shareholders in Monday's post. GSK said about 50 worried recipients, mainly elderly people, contacted the company but it had no way of knowing how many of its 167,000 registered shareholders would receive them.
The Financial Times, The Independent

Tumour research leads to talk of cure
A new front in the war against cancer has been opened by a remarkable experiment in which cells from the spleen and bone marrow of cancer-resistant mice wiped out tumours in ordinary mice. Although the study was conducted on rodents, the effect was so dramatic, and the side effects so minimal, that the finding may inspire new approaches to cancer treatments. The cancer-resistant mice all stem from a single mouse discovered in 1999. A transplant of its tumour-hunting cells give this ability to other mice, even those with highly aggressive, malignant tumours.
The Daily Telegraph

Deafness gene has health benefit
Researchers have concluded that a gene responsible for most cases of hereditary deafness may have an unexpected benefit: it may protect you from infection. Stella Man, a member of David Kelsell's team at Queen Mary, University of London, spoke at the European Society of Human Genetics meeting in Amsterdam today, 8 May. She announced that the Cx26 protein encoded by a deafness gene might help wounds to heal. Faster healing should help to prevent infection, for example by limiting bacteria's access to the blood after surgery, she says. "It's speculation, but maybe the Cx26 deafness mutations have been selected owing to their beneficial effects on wounds."

Dolphins play name game
We are not the only animals to give ourselves names, says research on bottlenose dolphins. The dolphins' distinctive whistles may function as individual calling cards, allowing them to recognize each other and even refer to others by name. The research reveals that bottlenose dolphins ( Tursiops truncatus ) each have their own personalized whistle, which is recognized by other dolphins even from a synthetic version played through a speaker. This suggests that the creatures recognize these as names in their own right, rather than identifying individuals based simply on the sound quality of their voice.

Clue to sexual attraction found in lesbian brain
Lesbian and heterosexual women respond differently to specific human odours, a brain-scanning study has found. The homosexual women showed similar brain activity to heterosexual men when they inhaled certain chemicals, which may be pheromones, the researchers say. "But our study can't answer questions of cause and effect," cautions lead researcher Ivanka Savic at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. "We can't say whether the differences are because of pre-existing differences in their brains, or if past sexual experiences have conditioned their brains to respond differently."
New Scientist

World Cup fears as Britain tops European yobs league
Britain has the worst reputation for yobbish behaviour in Europe, researchers have found - and they worry it will lead to clashes at the World Cup in Germany next month. A survey published yesterday blames drunkenness and a breakdown of discipline in homes and schools for levels of anti-social behaviour greater than anything seen elsewhere in the EU. The study, devised with help from the Jill Dando Institute, found that almost three-quarters of people questioned across six of the biggest member states believed the problem was worse here than anywhere else, with France next worst.
The Daily Telegraph

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