Today's news

April 18, 2005

Reox given £5m boost by US biotech
Reox, a company spun out of Oxford University by four professors, is believed to have struck a deal with the American biotech Amgen, providing it with £5 million for the exclusive rights to a scientific discovery involving possible cancer and stroke treatments. The Oxford-based company will receive more if the treatments are a success and has said that it will pour the cash into related areas of biological research. Formed in 2003 and partly funded by the university commercialisation venture IP2IPO, Reox has been researching how the body responds to oxygen at the cellular level.
The Guardian

Jews criticise lecturer boycott
Union delegates calling for a boycott of Israeli academics were condemned yesterday by the Board of Deputies of British Jews for damaging the Middle East peace process. Jon Benjamin, the director-general of the board, said that a boycott would create an extra obstacle to peace at a time when Israelis and Palestinians are building bridges. The motion is to be debated this week by the Association of University Teachers. Closer links with the Palestinians will also be debated.
The Times

£2m boost to find cure for blues
More than £2 million has been awarded to Bristol University to investigate methods of treating depression. The university will be carrying out four trials to assess a range of treatments. The announcement comes at the start of National Depression Week, which aims to raise awareness about the problem. The four trials, being conducted at Bristol in association with other universities, range from comparing antidepressants to examining whether exercise can help sufferers.
The Daily Mail

With half the world's population speaking English, it's a great time to be a teacher
Recent research has indicated that English-language learning is predicted to boom to an all-time high with half of the world's population speaking English by 2015. A British Council study indicates that within the next ten years, another 2 billion people may begin learning English with 3 billion speaking it. Apart from highly populated countries such as China and Indonesia leaping on the English learning bandwagon, South Korea recently announced that it will be seeking more than 900 native English teachers to work in all elementary and middle schools in Seoul over the next four years.
The Daily Telegraph

HIV-infected cells made to self-destruct
Targeting a protein which helps repair DNA damage in human cells could provide a new way of fighting HIV infection, new research suggests. Crucially, harnessing this approach might offer a way of combating multi-drug resistant strains of HIV which are becoming increasingly common. Most HIV drugs work by targeting proteins produced by the HIV virus itself. But because HIV has a short life-cycle and readily mutates, the proteins it produces quickly evolve to become resistant to these antiretroviral drugs.
New Scientist

'Lost' classical manuscripts give up their secrets after 9,000 years
Previously unintelligible manuscripts from ancient Greece and Rome are being read for the first time thanks to infra-red light, in a breakthrough hailed as the classical equivalent of finding the holy grail. The technique could see the number of accounted-for ancient manuscripts increase by one fifth, and may even lead to the unveiling of some lost Christian gospels. A team at Oxford University is using the technology to bring back into view faded ink on thousands of papyrus scrolls salvaged from an ancient rubbish dump in the 19th century.
The Scotsman

Mystery of asteroid orbit baffles experts
Scientists are warning they cannot predict where a giant asteroid will go after it passes close to the Earth. The huge ball of rock, labelled 2005 MN4, will pass within 25,000 miles of our planet on Friday, April 13, 2029. The asteroid is large enough to flatten the state of Texas or part of Western Europe. After the near-miss, the Earth’s gravity may deflect the asteroid into a new orbit. Dr Benny Peiser, an anthropologist and asteroid hazard expert from Liverpool’s John Moore’s University, said: "In all likelihood it will produce an orbit that will not intercept the Earth, but we don’t know, and that’s the problem."
The Scotsman

From the weekend's papers:


  • There has been a dramatic increase in the number of people from deprived neighbourhoods being accepted by elite universities. The Independent
  • Oxford University is exploring the competitive world of merchandising as it seeks to cash in on its cachet as a global academic brand. The Times
  • Investing in student accommodation is not risk-free but promises a healthy return. The Daily Telegraph


  • Students are currently applying for loans if they plan to go to university in the autumn. However, the system is changing. The Sunday Times
  • Hostility to Jewish students at British universities could escalate this week with moves by academics to boycott Israeli goods and set up links with Palestinian organisations. The Sunday Times
  • University students have voted to ban the Bible because they believe it could offend non-Christians. The Daily Telegraph

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