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Archives for March, 2012

Booze and Brain Damage

There are many factors that can drive an organism to drink. Some might have a genetic predisposition—others might want to poison a parasitic wasp before it consumes them from the inside out. On ERV, new research shows “the epigenetics of the cells in the brains of alcoholics is messed up;” specifically, alcoholic brains express transposable…

Genetic Mutability

We’ve all heard of bird and swine flu, but bats, which comprise “about a fifth of all known mammalian species,” also carry a diverse host of viruses. By swabbing the rectums of little yellow-shouldered bats, researchers in Guatemala discovered a new influenza virus that defies easy classification. Flu viruses are described by two key genes—hence…

New Avenues to Knowledge

Science publishing is at a crossroads. On We Beasties, Kevin Bonham says that early scientists “communicated amongst themselves in person or in letters or in books. They shared discoveries freely and it was possible for an individual human to be aware of almost the entire sum of human knowledge.” As the pace of discovery accelerated,…

Not Enough to Swallow

On Denialism Blog, Mark Hoofnagle writes that a wide array of drugs, from antibiotics to steroids to diuretics and chemotherapeutics, are in short supply around the country. Hoofnagle explains, “The drugs affected span all classes, what they have in common is they are all generic.” Because of the low profit margin on generic drugs, “manufacturers…