Today's news

September 17, 2002

Morris refuses inquiry over alleged exam fix
Education secretary Estelle Morris yesterday refused to intervene directly in the growing row about A-level “exam fixing”, claiming the government’s exam watchdog must first complete an investigation into claims that an exam board deliberately downgraded marks.
( The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph )

Dolly firm quits stem cell production
PPL Therapeutics, the biotechnology company that created Dolly the sheep, said yesterday it was closing its stem cell division, highlighting the difficulty of turning a scientific breakthrough into a viable business.
( The Times )

Scientists to experiment with public opinion
Leading scientists are switching tactics from preaching to listening in an attempt to win support for controversial policies and counter an increasingly “anti-science” mood in society. At last week’s British Association science festival in Leicester, much of the talk centred on moving beyond the campaign to promote the public understanding of science.
( Financial Times )

Huntingdon hit by US campaign
Huntingdon Life Sciences, the UK animal-testing group that moved its domicile to the US after a violent campaign by animal rights activists, was yesterday left with only two market-makers in the US after an escalation of the activists’ campaign.
( The Times, Financial Time s)

Gene protects Jews against evils of drink
Genes, and not religious conviction, explain why Jewish people typically have fewer drink problems than non-Jews, according to a researcher from Columbia University, US. The study shows that a genetic mutation carried by at least a fifth of Jews appears to protect against alcoholism. The findings are published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research .
( The Daily Telegraph )

Iceman’s meal reconstructed
The mummified stone age “iceman”, nicknamed Otzi, who was discovered 11 years ago in the Italian Alps, dined on venison before he was killed by a rival hunter’s arrow, according to forensic scientists. Researchers at the University of Camerino, in Italy, and colleagues report their findings in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences .
( The Guardian, The Independent, The Times, The Daily Telegraph )

On the waiting list
Report on how nursing students are being hit by delays in criminal record checks.
( The Guardian, Education )

Why its all gone pear-shaped, for fruit…
A gene that makes fruit go pear-shaped has been identified by scientists at Cornell University, New York. The change is caused by a mutation in the OVATE gene, found in tomatoes, melons, aubergines and squashes as well as in pears and avocados themselves.
( The Times )
… and animals
US scientists claim that bottom size is all down to a single gene. In a study based on sheep, researchers at Duke University, North Carolina, identified a mutated gene that caused some animals to have unusually large, muscular bottoms. Their findings are reported in journal Genome Research . ( Daily Mail ) 

Muscular dystrophy hope
US scientists have reversed muscular dystrophy in mice using gene therapy, which may one day offer a cure for the human form of the disease.
( The Times )

Safer bypasses
A new surgical technique could greatly increase the safety of heart bypass operations on overweight patients, researchers at Bristol University have found. The technique entails surgeons operating on the heart while it is still beating.
( The Times )   

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