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AstraZeneca bets on 'genetic scissors' for range of new drugs

A sign is seen at an AstraZeneca site in MacclesfieldBy Ben Hirschler LONDON (Reuters) - AstraZeneca said on Thursday it had struck four research agreements in the hot area of genome editing as it bets on a new "genetic scissors" technology to deliver better and more precise drugs for a range of diseases. The academic and commercial tie-ups will allow British-based AstraZeneca to use so-called CRISPR technology across its entire drug discovery platform in areas such as oncology, cardiovascular, respiratory and immune system medicine. CRISPR, which stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, allows scientists to edit the genes of selected cells accurately and efficiently. The collaborations with Britain's Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the Innovative Genomics Initiative in California, the Broad Institute and Whitehead Institute in Massachusetts, and Thermo Fisher Scientific build on an in-house CRISPR programme at AstraZeneca that has been running for over a year.


Posted on 29 January 2015 | 4:51 am

Laser's co-inventor, Nobel laureate Charles Townes, dead at 99

Charles Townes, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1964, speaks at a forum in DohaCharles Townes, who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for invention of the laser, a feat that revolutionized science, medicine, telecommunications and entertainment, has died at age 99, the University of California at Berkeley reported. A professor emeritus at Berkeley, he was a member of the university's physics department and Space Sciences Laboratory for nearly five decades.


Posted on 28 January 2015 | 10:04 pm

Laser's co-inventor, Nobel laureate Charles Townes, dead at 99

Charles Townes, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1964, speaks at a forum in DohaCharles Townes, who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for invention of the laser, a feat that revolutionized science, medicine, telecommunications and entertainment, has died at age 99, the University of California at Berkeley reported. A professor emeritus at Berkeley, he was a member of the university's physics department and Space Sciences Laboratory for nearly five decades.


Posted on 28 January 2015 | 9:57 pm

Tape: Scientist offers to build nuke bomb targeting New York

FILE - This Oct. 22, 2009, file photo shows former Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear physicist Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni on his back deck in Los Alamos, N.M. Mascheroni pleaded guilty to trying to help Venezuela develop a nuclear weapon was sentenced Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, to five years in prison and three years of supervised release. Mascheroni and his wife, Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, had pleaded guilty in 2013 to offering to help develop a nuclear weapon for Venezuela through dealings with an undercover FBI agent posing as a representative of the socialist South American country. (AP Photo/Heather Clark, File)ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A disgruntled, former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist promised to build 40 nuclear weapons for Venezuela in 10 years and design a bomb targeted for New York City in exchange for "money and power," according to secret FBI recordings released Wednesday.


Posted on 28 January 2015 | 7:04 pm

Charles Townes, co-inventor of the laser and a Nobel laureate in physics, has died at 99

Charles Townes, co-inventor of the laser and a Nobel laureate in physics, has died at 99.

Posted on 28 January 2015 | 6:41 pm

Ex-Los Alamos scientist gets 5 years in nuclear espionage case

(Reuters) - A former scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday for passing secret U.S. nuclear weapons data to a person he believed to be a Venezuelan government official, the FBI said. Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni, 79, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Argentina, pleaded guilty in June 2013 to several espionage-related offenses stemming from an undercover sting operation, according to the FBI and court records. His wife, who is 71, was previously sentenced to a year in prison and three years of supervised release for her role in the same case, the FBI said. Mascheroni, a physicist, worked from 1979 to 1988 at Los Alamos, a U.S. government facility where the first atomic bomb was developed and which still conducts nuclear weapons research.

Posted on 28 January 2015 | 4:32 pm

'Expensive' placebo beats 'cheap' one in Parkinson's disease: study

By Sharon Begley NEW YORK (Reuters) - When patients with Parkinson's disease received an injection described as an effective drug costing $1,500 per dose, their motor function improved significantly more than when they got one supposedly costing $100, scientists reported on Wednesday. The research, said an editorial in the journal Neurology, which published it, "takes the study of placebo effect to a new dimension." More and more studies have documented the power of placebos, in which patients experience an improvement in symptoms despite receiving sugar pills, sham surgery, or other intervention with no intrinsic therapeutic value. Earlier studies have shown that patients' expectations can lead to improvements in Parkinson's, a progressive motor disease in which the brain's production of dopamine plummets. As it happens, dopamine release is increased by belief, novelty, and the expectation of reward - mental states that underlie placebo effects, said neurologist Alberto Espay of the University of Cincinnati, who led the new study.

Posted on 28 January 2015 | 4:13 pm

SpaceX's Reusable Mega-Rocket Plan Is Simply Amazing (Video)

SpaceX's Reusable Mega-Rocket Plan Is Simply Amazing (Video)An amazing new video from SpaceX shows the spaceflight company's incredible plans for a reusable mega-rocket. SpaceX representatives expect to start flights of the Falcon 9 Heavy later this year. "When Falcon Heavy lifts off later this year, it will be the most powerful operational rocket in the world by a factor of two," SpaceX representatives wrote in a video description. SpaceX's Falcon Heavy will stand a towering 224.4 feet (68.4 meters) tall with 27 engines powering its three-booster first stage.


Posted on 28 January 2015 | 4:03 pm

Crashing Electrons Could Explain Earth's Magnetic Field Mystery

Crashing Electrons Could Explain Earth's Magnetic Field MysteryA messy paradox that has plagued geoscientists who study Earth's core and the magnetic field it produces may now be solved. It was raised in a 2012 paper in which geophysicists in the United Kingdom published a widely accepted supercomputer model that found Earth's iron core was incredibly efficient at conducting heat. In that study, the researchers examined how heat may move through the Earth's core, at the level of atoms and electrons. The implication: Earth's magnetic field shouldn't exist.


Posted on 28 January 2015 | 3:50 pm

Astronaut Sees Huge Winter Storm from Space (Photos)

Astronaut Sees Huge Winter Storm from Space (Photos)The monster winter storm that dumped loads of snow on the northeastern United States on Monday and Tuesday (Jan. 26 and 27) looked pretty beastly from 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the planet. NASA astronaut Terry Virts, a member of the current Expedition 42 crew aboard the International Space Station, captured several dramatic photos of the storm Tuesday night, as it wheeled and churned over New England. For example, the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, which is operated jointly by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), looked on as the storm hammered the Northeast early Tuesday morning, when it was near peak intensity. "The nighttime lights of the region were blurred by the high cloud tops associated with the most intense parts of the storm," NASA officials wrote about the satellite image.


Posted on 28 January 2015 | 3:20 pm