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Engineered Rabbit Penises Raise Human Hopes

November 9, 2009
biotech

Scientists have grown fully functional replacement rabbit penises in the lab using a technique that has promise for humans.



Gene Therapy Halts Fatal Brain Disease

November 5, 2009
biotech

Doctors successfully use gene therapy to treat two boys with a fatal brain disease.



The horse genome: Riding high

November 5, 2009
biotech

The DNA of the domesticated horse shows evolution at work

THE genomes of many mammals have now been completed, including the cow, the dog, the chimpanzee and, of course, the human. This week it was the turn of the horse to have its DNA sequence decoded. With it emerged further evidence of how horses have been close human companions and, like other mammals that share an evolutionary history with man, how they could help the understanding of hereditary diseases. But there was also a surprise: horses have a newly forming part in their genetic make-up which shows the evolutionary process in action in a way that has not been seen before.

A team of researchers led by Claire Wade, then at the Broad Institute, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, collaborated on the project, which is reported in the latest issue of Science. They analysed DNA from a mare called Twilight (pictured above) to reveal a genome that consists of up to 2.7 billion base pairs (the “letters” in which the genetic message is written). This is slightly larger than the genome of a dog, but smaller than that of a human or a cow. They also compared Twilight, a thoroughbred, with members of other horse breeds. …

Nanobiotechnology: Seeding the seeds

November 5, 2009
biotech

Carbon nanotubes find an unusual use as fertilisers

MANURE, compost and ash were used as fertilisers for centuries before the 1800s, but people did not understand how they worked until the science of chemistry was developed in the 19th century and it became clear that they supply plants with nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Today, something similar may be happening with a different sort of fertiliser altogether. For reasons that are not yet entirely clear, it looks as though exposing seeds to carbon nanotubes before they germinate makes the seedlings that subsequently sprout grow faster and larger.

A carbon nanotube is, as its name suggests, a tiny cylinder of carbon atoms. Such tubes have been proposed for all sorts of fancy uses, particularly in electronics, but they and other nanoparticles (so called because their dimensions are measured in nanometres, or billionths of a metre) have also been objects of concern. The fear is that if they became ubiquitous, they might damage living creatures, people included, by interfering with the way cells work. …

Surgery Museum Makes You Grateful for Modern Healthcare

November 2, 2009
biotech

Old hemorrhoid tools, trepanation devices and bone saws. Your comfy, reclining dentist’s chair doesn’t look so bad anymore.



Shattering Myths About Squalene in Vaccines

October 29, 2009
biotech

Fears about the adjuvant squalene and myths about its link to Gulf War Syndrome have kept some from getting their H1N1 vaccines. But the real truth is the substance is simply not present in any vaccine administered in the United States.




Wired Readers Respond to ‘Epidemic of Fear’

October 29, 2009
biotech

Wired receives more reader responses to “An Epidemic of Fear” than any other story in memory. Writer Amy Wallace responds to the hundreds of messages (470 and counting) that weigh in on the issues.



DIY Botox: Site Offers Injectable Drug Without Prescription (With How-To Video)

October 27, 2009
biotech

Give yourself a Botox treatment? Wired.com looks into a site that seems to offer clients the drugs and tutorials to do just that. Video how-to demos show how to inject the drug, derived from botulinum toxin, into one’s own face.




Timeline Covers Decade of Vaccine Panic

October 26, 2009
biotech

Learning about the autism-and-vaccines issue has been likened to becoming an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Here’s a 14-point chronology of recent events to get you started.




DIY Laser Market Exploding, Cosmetic Surgeons Vexed

October 23, 2009
biotech

The market for at-home laser hair removers and other cosmetic devices is growing by leaps and bounds. It’s DIY body modification gone mainstream.