Demand for wood may lead to forest growth, not decline, study says

Under the right economic conditions, a growing demand for forest products that accompanies development may lead to an increase ? not a decline ? in forest cover, according to a new study by researchers at Brown University and Harvard University. Policies that focus on reducing paper demand may not necessarily increase forestation.

Enzymes Could Help Fight Drug-Resistant Bacteria

Researchers at Harvard say they have overcome a preliminary, yet critical, hurdle in the push to develop antibiotics against drug-resistant bacterial strains. Most attempts have been plagued by a lack of molecular tools for manipulating–and ultimately improving — the structure of naturally occurring antibiotics. The researchers report that they harnessed two enzymes, which work by adding sugars to a central molecular core, and used them to create new versions of two potent antibiotics, vancomycin and teicoplanin.

Biotechnology researchers denounce Supreme Court decision

The Supreme Court decision that a genetically modified mouse cannot be patented in Canada may have severe consequences for biotechnology researchers in this country, say U of T experts. In a 5-4 ruling Dec. 5, the court determined that the so-called Harvard Mouse could not be patented as an invention according to current Canadian law. The mouse, developed at Harvard University during the 1980s to have a genetic predisposition to cancer, is already patented in several other countries. The majority decision, written by Justice Michel Bastarache, said that the current Patent Act provides no guidance for the patenting of “higher life forms.”

Protein in Eye May Help Fight Autoimmune Diseases

A protein found in the eye and involved in its “immune privilege” has prevented and halted autoimmune eye disease in animal models and promises to aid in preventing and treating other autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis and diabetes, according to scientists at the Schepens Eye Research Institute at Harvard University. Immune privilege is a special property of the eye that allows the eye to protect itself without the inflammation caused by the body’s conventional immune response to injury and infection.

Researchers Get First Look into Antimatter

Finally, a little exposure.Researchers working at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, say they have for the first time probed the properties of whole atoms of antimatter, the “mirror image” of matter. Their results provide the first look into the inside of an antimatter atom and are a big step on the way to testing standard theories of how the universe operates.

Looks like some kinda smart rodent

A single gene change that boosts the amount of a certain protein in early brain cells causes mice to develop abnormally large brains, Reuters Health reports. Normal mice have smooth, flat brains. But tinker with the gene in question and suddenly the little furballs develop brains so big they fold in on themselves, forming the wrinkles, ridges and crevices found also in the human brain. Study author Dr. Anjen Chenn of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard University in Boston said the finding might help researchers understand how humans came to develop brains so much bigger than those of other mammals. Whether or not more size means more smarts is uncertain, Chenn said. “It is quite an interesting question … and that’s something we want to look at in the future.”

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