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BioTechCircle News®

December 2011

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Issue 102

See all previous issues at our archives; follow us on Twitter.

In this Articles section: links to 75 free Web articles in 11 major categories.
Click on the category list below to go immediately to that section.

The major categories below are further subdivided to make it easy for you to locate
news and technology developments, the business and the markets in the life sciences
of particular interest to you. The brief synopses will help you decide which articles you'd
like to read. Simply click on the article's title to go directly to the original article.

Here are this month's major categories:

Agri-Biotech (5 articles)
Biobusiness Management (9 articles)
BTC's News You Can Use (6 articles)
Diagnostic Tools (2 articles)
Industry (4 articles)
Novel Applications (9 articles)
People Profiles (1 article)
Platform Technologies (14 articles)
Research Advancements (17 articles)
Research Tools (7 articles)
Strategic Relationships (1 article)

For a brief explanation of how we categorize the articles, please see "Express Guide
to Monthly Web Articles

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Subcategory: Animal

Scientists Describe New Species of Crab That “Farms” Methane Vents
Oregon State University (02-Dec-11)
The Yeti crab, called Kiwa puravida, lives off the bacteria on its claws. It
fertilizes the bacteria by waving them in methane and sulfide released from the
seafloor, as there isn’t sufficient food that deep that is derived from the sun’s

To Monitor Radiation, Researchers in Fukushima are Enlisting Local Wild

Clay Dillow Popsci (14-Dec-11)
To get a better read on what kind of radiation levels exist in the forests around
the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, scientists plan to fit the area’s native
wild monkeys with collars containing radiation meters and GPS transponders.

Subcategory: Energy/ Fuel

Mobile Algae-To-Biofuel Processing
IMPO (15-Dec-11)
Open Algae has created a processing method that makes algae biofuel
commercially feasible, mobile, and affordable. Their end-to-end solution
contains a number of unique, cost-efficient steps for processing pond-grown

Subcategory: Food

Helping Cereal Growers to Play Their Cards Right
BBSRC (21-Dec-11)
Conventional breeding alone cannot meet the 2%/year increase in yield to meet
demand. .Advances in cereal genomics research are helping scientists and
breeders to map the functions and locations of increasing numbers of relevant
crop genes.

Subcategory: Geographic focus

Top 5 Disappearing Places
Stanford University News (30-Nov-11)
Describes top U.S. places, from subtropical wilderness in Florida to Montana
glaciers, that are threatened by a growing population, pollution and climate
change. Video.

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Subcategory: Collaboration

Procter & Gamble: Mastering the Art of the Innovation Tournament
[email protected] (20-Dec-11)
Done well, an innovation tournament can escalate an organization's ability to
find innovative solutions by opening up the process to a broader circle of
participants. Describes Proctor & Gamble's experiences in finding green
energy options.

Subcategory: Education

An Early Start on Innovation
Lindsay Hock R & D Magazine (15-Dec-11)
In 2011 U.S. students ranked behind 31 other countries in math and science
efficiency, and fewer than 1/3 students are proficient in science after high

Subcategory: Employment/Jobs

Life Sciences Salary Survey 2011
Jef Akst and Edyta Zielinska The Scientist (01-Dec-11)
Salaries in the life sciences vary across disciplines, reflecting the level of
interest and investment in a given field. This year’s big winners include
biophysics, virology, cancer/oncology, genomics, neuroscience, developmental
biology, and immunology.

Subcategory: Energy/ Fuel

Solar Power Much Cheaper to Produce than Most Analysts Realize, Study Finds
Queen's University (07-Dec-11)
Scientist believes solar photovoltaic systems are near the “tipping point”
where they can produce energy for about the same price other traditional
sources of energy, says analysts don’t consider the 70% reduction in the cost
of solar panels since 2009.

Subcategory: General/ Administrative

"Solution-Caused Problems" and How to Prevent Them
Jamie Weiss IMPO (21-Dec-11)
Solution-caused problems are expensive, disruptive, and much more common
than may be suspected. Discusses types of problems, how to avoid them.
Case studies, including pharmaceutical issues.

Subcategory: Geographic focus

Industry Clusters: Importance of Place still Relevant to Business Success
Hal Johnson Area Development (01-Nov-11)
Despite the emergence of a global economy, regional and statewide economic
initiatives based on industry clustering have taken hold, proving the
importance of place as a trigger for bolstering economic development and
business success.

Subcategory: Miscellaneous

Time for a Change? Scholars Say Calendar Needs Overhaul
Laboratory Equipment (28-Dec-11)
Scientists create a new calendar in which each new 12-month period is
identical to the one which came before, remaining that way from one year to
the next forever. Allows the permanent, rational planning of annual activities,
e.g. school, work holidays.

Subcategory: Patent/Intellectual Property Issues

U.S. Patent System Gets an Overhaul
Dan Calabrese Area Development (01-Nov-11)
Under the new rules, someone claiming to be the original inventor would not
only have to be the first to file for the patent, but would also have to do so
within a year of publicly disclosing the invention. Calabrese reviews

Subcategory: Regulatory/ Government

Young Adults Benefitting from Health Care Reform
PharmPro (19-Dec-11)
Young adults are already benefitting from the health care reform act that some
Republican candidates are fighting to end. Reports how the growing number of
patients relying on the reforms will make it even harder to repeal. Video.

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Subcategory: Cardiology/ Vascular Diseases

New Predictor of Heart Attack and Stroke
Bioscience Technology (20-Dec-11)
Men and women who developed high blood pressure in middle age or who
started out with high blood pressure had an estimated 30% increased risk of
having a heart attack or stroke compared to those who kept their blood
pressure low.

Subcategory: E-Medicine

Box Sends Health Data Right to the Cloud
David Talbot Technology Review (12-Dec-11)
A simple box detects signals from medical monitoring devices from dozens of
makers, sending them by cellular connection to a cloud database that can be
accessed by medical staff as well as patients.

Subcategory: Miscellaneous

Three Books on Science | 2011 BioTechniques "Twelve Days of Christmas" Gift

Rachelle Dragani BioTechniques (05-Dec-11)
Reinventing Discovery: The New Era of Networked Science by Michael
Nielson; Small Wonders: How Microbes Rule Our World by Idan Ben-Barak;
Biopunk: DIY Scientists Hack the Software of Life by Marcus Wohlsen. Link
to "12 Days" of tech gifts.

Video: WHILL Turns Ordinary Wheelchairs Into Electric Superchairs
Clay Dillow Popsci (14-Dec-11)
Prototype aftermarket drive train attaches externally to an ordinary
wheelchair, augmenting it with electrically powered drive. The user simply
leans or pushes on the crossbar, nudging it in the direction he or she wants to

Subcategory: Oncology

Opting to Track, not Treat, Early Prostate Cancer
Lauran Neergaard Bioscience Technology (20-Dec-11)
Active surveillance is designed to monitor men, diagnosed with prostate
cancer, closely enough that they can get curative treatment quickly if it looks
like they'll need it, well before any symptoms would begin. "It's about timing
of treatment."

Soybeans Enhance Effects of Cancer Radiotherapy
Laboratory Equipment (20-Dec-11)
Soy isoflavones -- a natural, nontoxic component of soybeans -- can make
radiation treatment of lung cancer tumors more effective while helping to
preserve normal tissue.

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Subcategory: Miscellaneous

Microneedle Sensors - Real-Time Monitoring of Body Chemistry
Product Design & Development (20-Dec-11)
Microneedles allow doctors to detect real-time chemical changes in the body
continuously for an extended period of time. Could be used to track changes in
lactate levels while exercising, rather than measuring those levels only before
and after exercise.

Subcategory: Obstetrics/ Gynecology

GSN Races to Improve Prenatal Tests for Genetic Conditions
Ken Stier Bloomberg (09-Dec-11)
Test the third day after fertilization, before the embryo is implanted, examines
the minute amount of fetal DNA that leaks into a pregnant mother’s blood.
Accuracy rate is above 98.5%, with low false positive and false negative rates.

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Subcategory: Environment

NASA Satellite Confirms Sharp Decline in Pollution from U.S. Coal Power
Rani Gran, Adam Volland NASA (01-Dec-11)
Scientists attribute the decline in sulfur dioxide to the Clean Air Interstate
Rule, passed in 2005. In response to that rule, many power plants in the
United States have installed desulfurization devices. Maps, images.

GM Ft. Wayne Plant Earns Zero-Landfill Designation
Plant Engineering (15-Dec-11)
Plant receives zero-landfill designation, joining 78 other GM landfill-free
manufacturing facilities around the world. It's automaker's first U.S. assembly
plant to reuse, recycle or convert to energy all the waste created in its daily

Subcategory: Geographic focus

Infographic: The World's Leading Innovators
Good (15-Dec-11)
Graphical depiction of data showing the most innovative countries and
industries. Criteria: ratio of patent applications to patent grants; global reach;
influence; volume.

The Top 10 Green U.S. Cities
Successful Meetings (15-Dec-11)
Planning a biotech event? Links to stories of each top 10 "greenest" U.S.
cities. Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; Boston, MA; Oakland, CA; Eugene,
OR; Cambridge, Mal Berkeley, CA; Seattle, WA; Chicago, IL; Austin, TX.

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Subcategory: Energy/ Fuel

Methanol Replacing Hydrogen Gas as the Fuel of the Future
Chalmers University of Technology (14-Dec-11)
The process for producing methanol with carbon dioxide must become less
expensive, more stable and easier to use for it to become commercialized. New
research project will combine the different parts by involving 7 research
groups and companies.

A Thermostat That’s Clever, Not Clunky
David Pogue New York Times (30-Nov-11)
Pogue describes a new "learning thermostat" that introduces 4 innovations:
attractive look; Wi-Fi enabled to download software updates; programs itself
as it learns from your manual adjustments; energy savings due to proximity

For Wind Energy's Future, Researchers Look High in the Sky
PBS Newshour (05-Dec-11)
Discussion on new "tethered airfoils" technology research to harness powerful
winds located high above the earth into usable energy. Could capture wind
energy more efficiently than earthbound turbines.

Subcategory: Environment

Geoengineering Could Save Earth, or Destroy It
Arthur Max Product Design & Development (02-Dec-11)
Brighten clouds with sea water? Spray aerosols high in the stratosphere? Paint
roofs white and plant light-colored crops? Positioning "sun shades" over the
Earth? Scientists look at unintentional side effects of trying to artificially cool
the planet.

Opal Offers Fast, Lasting Remedy for Uranium Contamination at Nuclear Sites,
Say Stanford Researchers

Louis Bergeron Stanford University News (01-Dec-11)
Opaline silica in deposits across the western U.S. almost universally are found
to have very high uranium concentrations. Researchers propose imitating
nature by using amorphous silica to sequester uranium-contaminated soil and

Subcategory: Food

US Army's Hi-tech, Two-year-old Sandwich Served Fresh
BBC News (05-Dec-11)
A sandwich which stays fresh for up to 2 years has been developed for the
US army, without refrigeration, freeze-drying, or need to add water, as part of
an investigation into what happens when food rots. Video.

Subcategory: Materials

Ford Turns Recycled Bottles into Car Seats
Ann R. Thryft Design News (21-Dec-11)
Fiber for car's seat fabric derives from used plastic water bottles and other
post-consumer waste, as well as post-industrial manufacturing waste, such as
nylon. Helps reduce waste, offset the need to produce new raw material from
crude oil.

Subcategory: Microorganisms

Researchers Create Living ‘Neon Signs’ Composed of Millions of Glowing Bacteria
Kim McDonald UC San Diego (18-Dec-11)
Scientists create a living neon sign composed of millions of bacterial cells that
periodically fluoresce in unison like blinking light bulbs. Same method used to
engineer a simple bacterial sensor capable of detecting low levels of arsenic.

Subcategory: Miscellaneous

Harvard Boffins Invent Gumby-like Flexible Robot
CBS News (28-Nov-11)
Researchers are increasingly drawing inspiration from nature, borrowed from
squids, starfish and other animals without hard skeletons, to create machines
  that are more bendable and versatile than those made of metal. Includes video.

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Subcategory: Government/ Approvals

Bureaucrat in the Spotlight, Scientist in the Lab
Paul Livingstone R & D Magazine (15-Dec-11)
R&D Magazine’s 2011 Scientist of the Year is Steven Chu, Nobel physicist
and U.S. Secretary of Energy. Honors active researchers who have, over their
careers, made, and continue to make, a deep and lasting impact on the world
through science.

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Subcategory: E-Medicine

Children's Hospital Boston Sends Telepresence Robots Home with Post-Op

Clay Dillow Popsci (14-Dec-11)
Equipped with audio sensors, articulating cameras, speakers, and a video
screen for a face, 4.5-foot robots allow doctors and nurses to consult with
patients and their parents and collect visual data without the patient needing
to revisit the hospital.

Subcategory: Energy/ Fuel

Wastewater System Generates Energy, Produces Drinking Water
Michigan State University (01-Dec-11)
Solar-bio-nano project for a portable wastewater treatment system that could
improve the military’s efficiency also will generate energy and produce
drinking water. Potential blueprint for municipal/agricultural wastewater
treatment systems.

Subcategory: Environment

Novel Device Removes Heavy Metals from Water
Richard Lewis Brown University (16-Dec-11)
Automated system combines chemical precipitation with electrolytic
techniques in a cyclic fashion to remove mixtures of trace heavy metals from
contaminated water. Technique is scalable for use in environmental
remediation and metal recovery operations.

Reducing Freshwater Consumption
ChemInfo (19-Dec-11)
Chemical technology produces savings in operating costs and improved
efficiency of production cooling systems, resulting in greater production
output, water conservation and the ability to use alternative water sources.

Path to Oxygen in Earth's Atmosphere: Long Series of Starts and Stops
National Science Foundation (01-Dec-11)
The appearance of oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere probably did not occur
as a single event, but as a long series of starts and stops. Scientists are now
looking for when and why oxygen became a stable part of the Earth's

Subcategory: Epigenetics

Researchers Discover That Changes in Bioelectric Signals Trigger Formation of
New Organs

Tufts University (08-Dec-11)
Scientists find an entirely new control mechanism that can be capitalized upon
to induce the formation of complex organs for transplantation or regenerative
medicine applications, using genetic manipulation of membrane voltage.

Subcategory: Food

Sensing Fat
Beverly J. Tepper and Kathleen L. Keller The Scientist (01-Dec-11)
Many of the genes implicated in obesity modify how energy is spent, how fat
is metabolized and stored, and how nutrients are partitioned. Taste
preference for fat may predict the amount of fat consumed in the diet, and
potentially, the risk for obesity.

Subcategory: Gene Therapy

Spiral Proteins Efficiently Deliver Genes
Drug Discovery & Development (19-Dec-11)
Short spiral-shaped proteins can efficiently deliver DNA segments to cells
compared with the usual random coil, even though the polymer has exactly
the same chemical makeup; the only difference is the structure.

Subcategory: Genomics

Biophysicists Discover Four New Rules of DNA 'Grammar'
Technology Review (09-Dec-11)
In 30 of 32 species, oligonucleotide frequencies are found to have invariant
properties across a large set of genomes. Could be extremely useful for
assessing the performance of new technologies for sequencing entire genomes
at high speed.

Subcategory: Geriatrics

Eye of Newt
Richard P. Grant The Scientist (01-Dec-11)
In an experiment spanning 16 years, scientists have discovered that newts can
regenerate missing parts well into old age. Next step is to analyze DNA from
the lens samples removed 18 times from the same animal.

Subcategory: Materials

Diamonds and Dust for Better Cement
Paul Preuss Berkeley News (12-Dec-11)
Structural nanoscale studies of calcium-silicate-hydrate Portland cement
binder could point to reduced carbon emissions (accounting for more than 5%
of the total CO2 emissions from human activity) and stronger cements.

Bio-Assembling in 3-D with Magnetic Levitation
Christopher Mims Technology Review (14-Dec-11)
The addition of a proprietary mix of nanoparticles to a dish of living cells
allows them to move in response to magnetic fields that can be varied in 3
dimensions and across time. Cells float in a 3-D matrix made of nothing but

New Method for Enhancing Thermal Conductivity could Cool Computer Chips,
Lasers and Other Devices

David Salisbury Vanderbilt University (14-Dec-11)
The thermal conductivity of a pair of thin strips of boron nanoribbons can be
enhanced by up to 45%, depending on the process that they used to stick the
2 ribbons together. Tunable thermal conductivity can be used in flexible
electronic devices.

Subcategory: Proteomics

Mysterious Noncoding DNA: 'Junk' or Genetic Power Player?
Jenny Marder PBS Newshour (07-Nov-11)
Marder discusses noncoding DNA and why we need it: some of this
noncoding DNA is in fact essential to how our genes function and plays a role
in how we look, how we act and the diseases that afflict us.

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Subcategory: Disease Prevention

Bacteria Battle Against Toxic Fluoride
Howard Hughes Medical Institute (22-Dec-11)
Regular use of fluoride-containing toothpaste and mouthwash has long been
known to strengthen the enamel on teeth. Fluoride also has dramatic effects on
bacteria inside the mouth -- including those that form plaque and can cause

Plumbing System Common Source of Infections
Laboratory Equipment (22-Dec-11)
A study examining the prevalence of the fungus Fusarium in bathroom sink
drains suggests that plumbing systems may be a common source of human
infections. Biofilms on plumbing surfaces are known to comprise a diverse
spectrum of fungi and other microbes.

Subcategory: Evolution Research

Scientists Discover Second-Oldest Gene Mutation
Ohio State University (14-Dec-11)
Mutation in people of Arabic, Turkish and Jewish ancestry causes a rare,
inherited vitamin B12 deficiency called Imerslund-Gräsbeck Syndrome (IGS).
It is the second oldest human disease mutation yet discovered after that of
cystic fibrosis.

Subcategory: Gene Therapy

Gene Therapy Helps Patients with Hemophilia B
NIH News 12-Dec-11
Therapy could give patients a long-term solution for preventing prolonged
bleeding episodes and spontaneous bleeding in patients unable to produce
enough human clotting factor IX (FIX), essential for normal blood clotting.

Subcategory: Geriatrics

Eating Less Keeps the Brain Young
Laboratory Equipment (20-Dec-11)
The molecule CREB1 that activates many genes linked to longevity and to the
proper functioning of the brain is triggered by "caloric restriction" (low
caloric diet) in the brain of mice. Hope is to find a way to activate CREB1
without a strict diet.

Brain Buster: Elderly's Cognitive Skills As Fast As Young Adults
Laboratory Equipment (28-Dec-11)
Both children and the elderly have slower response times when they have to
make quick decisions in some settings. Much of that slower response may be
a conscious choice to emphasize accuracy over speed.

Subcategory: Immunology/ Infectious Diseases

Salk Discovery may Lead to Safer Treatments for Asthma, Allergies and Arthritis
Salk Institute (19-Dec-11)
Proteins that control the body's biological rhythms, known as cryptochromes,
are found to interact with metabolic switches that are targeted by certain
anti-inflammatory drugs. considering patients' biological rhythms may avoid
side effects.

Subcategory: Metabolism: Obesity, Diabetes

Intestinal Bacteria Plays Role in Obesity
Laboratory Equpment (22-Dec-11)
Bacteria living in people’s large intestine may slow down the activity of the
“good” kind of fat tissue, a special fat that quickly burns calories and may
help prevent obesity. Could shed light on ways to prevent obesity and
promote weight loss.

Rare Genetic Disorder Provides Clues to Development of the Pancreas
Wellcome Trust (12-Dec-11)
Amutation in the gene GATA6 is found in 15 out of 27 individuals with
pancreatic agenesis, an extreme form of pancreatic dysfunction. May help
work to make beta cells for patients with type 1 diabetes.

Subcategory: Miscellaneous

Matters of Taste
Thomas E. Finger and Sue C. Kinnamon The Scientist (01-Dec-11)
Taste receptors and their associated downstream signaling components are
widely dispersed in diverse organ systems, and in many cases serve to help
with digestion or to protect cells from potential toxins. Functions in other
tissues unclear.

Subcategory: Musculoskeletal

Mystery of Victorian-era Poet's Illness Deciphered after 150 Years
Penn State University (19-Dec-11)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning suffered throughout her life from incapacitating
weakness, heart palpitations, intense response to heat and cold, other
illnesses. Anthropologist's daughter recognizes her own symptoms of
hypokalemic periodic paralysis (HKPP).

Tweaking a Gene Makes Muscles Twice as Strong
Salk Institute (18-Nov-11)
A genome regulator (NCoR1) may be responsible for determining the strength
of our muscles. Suppressing NCoR1, a natural muscle-growth inhibitor
suggests that treatments for age-related or genetics-related muscle degeneration
are within reach.

Subcategory: Neurology

Rare Gene Links Vitamin D and Multiple Sclerosis
BBC News (08-Dec-11)
A rare genetic variant which causes reduced levels of vitamin D appears to be
directly linked to multiple sclerosis, as the mutated gene CYP27B1 appears in
35 parents of a child with MS and, in each case, the child inherited it.

Attention and Awareness Uncoupled
Janna Eberhardt Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (10-Nov-11)
Describes experiments showing that the apparently intimately connected
mental processes of attention and awareness are fundamentally different
processes. May even hold implications for philosophy and psychology.

How Our Brains Keep Us Focused
Riken (08-Dec-11)
Mechanisms called "sensitivity enhancement" and "efficient selection" help
our brain to focus by efficiently routing only relevant information to
perceptual brain regions.

Potential of Anti-Stress Peptide to Block Alcohol Dependence
Scripps Research Institute (09-Dec-11)
Study examines interaction between 2 competing agents: a stress peptide that
promotes excessive alcohol drinking and an anti-stress peptide that opposes
it. Drugs derived from the anti-stress peptide nociceptin could play an
important role in treatment.

Can We Upload Knowledge Directly to The Brain Yet?
Tracey E. Schelmetic TMC.net (13-Dec-11)
Instant learning via direct digital communication with a subject’s brain is not
only possible, scientists say, but there has already been some success with
test subjects with a process called “Decoded Neurofeedback."

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Subcategory: Collaboration

Mind Games: Crowdsourcing as a R&D Resource
Zachary Russ Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (21-Dec-11)
Crowdsourcing users beat state-of-the-art models in every competition,
including mapping dark matter for NASA and predicting HIV progression in
patients. Eli Lilly has found successful solutions to a wide range of issues
since 2001.

Subcategory: Computing Systems

From Loyalty Cards to Proteomics and the Birth of the Super Experiment
BBSRC (22-Dec-11)
Business intelligence techniques can be used to track multiple variables such
as cell type, whether proteins are switched on or off, the location of proteins
with a cell and post-translational modifications.

Subcategory: Databases

IBM Provides NIH Free Chemical Compound Database
Bio-IT World (08-Dec-11)
Database of more than 2.4 million chemical compounds extracted from about
4.7 million patents, and 11 million biomedical journal abstracts should aid in
drug discovery and support advanced cancer research.

Subcategory: E-Medicine

Study Predicts Growing Use Of Social Media In Healthcare
Dave Copeland ReadWriteWeb (29-Dec-11)
Men are more likely than women to turn to Facebook and other social
networks for healthcare purposes, according to a survey. Graph of social
network use for healthcare, such as Facebook, WebMD and others.

Subcategory: Environment

Notre Dame Researchers Demonstrate New DNA Detection Technique
William G. Gilroy University of Notre Dame (16-Dec-11)
Laser transmission spectroscopy (LTS) is capable of rapidly determining the
size, shape and number of nanoparticles in suspension. New technique is
highly sensitive, takes only a few seconds to genetically score a sample for
species presence or absence.

Subcategory: Imaging

The Invisible Mouse
Andrew S. Wiecek BioTechniques (20-Dec-11)
Tissue-clearing urea reagent will allow biologists to peer further into the
depths of tissue of organisms. nuerobiologists are particularly interested
because the reagent promises to reveal the structure of the nervous system
without sectioning.

Subcategory: Patent/Intellectual Property Issues

IBM Sics Cloud on Drug Patents
Eric Smalley Wired (09-Dec-11)
IBM's Strategic IP Insight Platform (SIIP) an extremely fast entry-level patent
analyst. System is also tuned for life sciences companies, with a particular
focus on drug development.

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Subcategory: Electronic Health Records

Microsoft, GE to Form Joint Health Care IT Company
Brian T. Horowitz eWeek (08-Dec-11)
Venture plans to build an interoperable platform for management of patient
populations and chronic diseases. As payment moves from pay-per-visit to
paying for outcomes, doctors need more visibility into patients' histories,
visits with other providers.

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Copyright 2011, Technology Management Associates, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not 
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