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BioTechCircle News®


January 2011


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You can now follow our comments and updates on Twitter: http://twitter.com/BioTechCircle

See all previous issues at Archives


In this articles section: links to 72 free Web articles in 15 major categories.

The major categories are in alphabetical order and further subdivided to make it easy for you to locate news and developments in technology, the business and the markets in the life science areas of interest to you. We’ve provded brief synopses to help you decide which articles you’d like to read. Simply click on the title to go directly to the original article.


Here are the major categories.


Agri-Biotech (13 articles)

Biobusiness Management (1 article)

Clinical Trials (1 article)

Diagnostic Tools (1 article)

Drug Delivery (1 article)

Industry (7 articles)

Investments/Government Support (2 articles)

Novel Applications (5 articles)

People Profiles (1 article)

Pharmaceuticals (1 article)

Platform Technologies (16 articles)

Research Advancements (15 articles)

Research Tools (4 articles)

Strategic Relationships (1 article)

Therapeutic Category (3 articles)


For a brief explanation of how we categorize the articles, please see "Express Guide to Monthly Web Articles at: http://www.techmanage.net/expressguide_articles

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Subcategory: Animal

GM Chickens Breakthrough to Prevent Spread of Bird Flu

BBSRC (14-Jan-11)

Genetically modified chickens have the potential to protect the health of the

birds and so increase the production of meat and eggs. It could also reduce the

risk of bird flu epidemics that can lead to new flu outbreaks in the human


Dying Trees Make Way for Mice With Deadly Disease

Susan Milius Wired (07-Jan-11)

The "sudden aspen decline" that has wiped out swaths of trees across the

West has also changed the kinds, numbers and interactions of creatures living

around the trees: deer miceare almost 3X as likely to carry sin nombre virus,

sometimes fatal to humans.


Subcategory: Crops

Newly Sequenced Strawberry Genome

Georgia Tech (26-Dec-10)

The 14-chromosome woodland strawberry has one of the smallest genomes of

economically significant plants, but still contains approximately 240 million

base pairs. Revealed genes involved in flavor production, flowering and

response to disease.

Gene Helps Plants Use less Water without Biomass Loss

Purdue News (11-Jan-11)

When a plant closes its stomata ((pores that take in carbone dioxide, release

water), it also reduces the amount of carbon dioxide it can take in, limiting

photosynthesis, growth. Genetic mutation discovered that creates a beneficial


Subcategory: Disease Prevention

Malaysia Releases Lab Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

R & D Magazine (26-Jan-11)

Malaysia released about 6,000 genetically modified mosquitoes into a forest in

the first experiment of its kind in Asia aimed at curbing dengue fever. Cites

success of other similar experiments, concerns expressed by some.

Subcategory: Energy/ Fuel

Is the Hornet Our Key to Renewable Energy?

American Friends of Tel Aviv Univ. (05-Jan-11)

Like photosynthesis in plants, the Oriental hornet takes the sun's energy and

converts it into electric power in the brown and yellow parts of its body. The

hornet also has a heat pump systen in its body that scientists are trying to


Chemists Turn Gold to Purple – On Purpose

Brighman Young University (26-Jan-11)

An artificial system of photosynthesis is developed using a common protein

mixed with citric acid from oranges. Next in the experiment is to connect the

protein to an electrode to channel the energy into a battery or fuel cell.

Moth Eyes Inspire Improved Solar Cells

R & D Magazine (20-Jan-11)

The eyes of moths are covered with a water-repellent, antireflective coating

that makes their eyes among the least reflective surfaces in nature. A new film

for covering solar cells mimicks this microstructure, helps capture more power

from the sun.

Sandia Researchers Tailoring Fungi-based Biofuels to Meet the Needs of

Current, Advanced Combustion Engines

Sandia National Laboratories (19-Jan-11)

Endophytic fungi live between plant cell walls. Endophytes can turn

crystalline cellulosic material directly into fuel-type hydrocarbons without

any mechanical breakdown, so there is no need for cost-intensive industrial

processes to produce fuel.

Team Looks to the Cow Rumen for Better Biofuels Enzyme

Diana Yates University of Illinois (27-Jan-11)

The cow's digestive system allows it to eat more than 150 pounds of plant

matter every day and dozens of microbial enzymes in its rumen (the primary

grass-digestion chamber) contribute to the breakdown of switchgrass, a

renewable biofuel energy source.

Study: Renewable Fuel Mandate Can’t Be Met With Ethanol

John Timmer Wired (07-Jan-11)

Even many of its most ardent supporters have come to recognize that

corn-based biofuels may not make much economic sense. Scientists

recommend we focus on converting biomass into a gasoline-like fuel if we’re

to reach the mandated biofuel targets.

Subcategory: Environment

It’s Official: 2010 Warmest on Record in 5 Locations

Scientific Computing (05-Jan-11)

Five cities in the Northeast set the record for the warmest year in 2010:

Hartford, CN, Caribou, ME, Boston, MA, Concord, NH, and Providence, RI.

Subcategory: Food

CSHL Is Part of International Team that Sequences the ‘Chocolate’ Genome

Cold Spring Harbor (14-Jan-11)

Many commerical growers prefer to grow hybrid cacao trees that produce

chocolate of lower quality but are more resistant to disease. Genome sequence

of original, cacao tree domesticated 3,000 years ago having tastier beans may

improve chocolate.

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Subcategory: Computing Systems


Future-proof Your Data Archive

Dennis O'Reilly cnet News (30-Dec-10)

The best way to ensure your archived files will be readable while maintaining

their original formatting and other attributes is to save them in their native

format and in at least one other generic, open format, such as ODF and

Adobe's PDF for viewing.

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Subcategory: Ophthalmology

Patients Facing Blindness to Test Therapy with Stem Cells

Emily Singer MIT News (07-Jan-11)

Stem cell injections to treat macular degeneration replaces a type of retinal cell

called retinal pigment epithelium, which begins to deteriorate early in the

course of the disease. Now in clinical trials.

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Subcategory: Biomarker

Purdue, NIST Working on Breathalyzers for Medical Diagnostics

Purdue News (28-Dec-10)

Works by detecting changes in electrical resistance or conductance as gases

pass over sensors built on top of "microhotplates."Detecting biomarkers

provides a record of a patient's health profile, indicating possible presence of

cancer, other diseases.

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Subcategory: Miscellaneous

Magnetic Pill May Boost Drug Absorption

Laboratory Equipment (18-Jan-11)

System that safely holds a pill in place in the intestine wherever it needs to

be. Could provide a new way to deliver many drugs to patients, including

those with cancer or diabetes. Could also help understand where different

drugs are best absorbed.

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Subcategory: Bio Pharma

The Power of ‘Convergence’

MIT News (04-Jan-11)

Reviews new whitepaper explaining why U.S. should capitalize on the trend

of convergence (the merger of life, physical and engineering sciences) to foster

the innovation necessary to meet the growing demand for accessible,

affordable health care. Link.

Subcategory: Education

HHMI Professors Strategy to Change the Culture of Science Education

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (13-Jan-11)

Discusses 7 initiatives for to developing education projects and curricula that

get undergraduates excited about science, a constant struggle "because the

reward and support system in universities focuses so heavily on research.”


Subcategory: Energy/ Fuel

Alternative Energy Can Power Entire World in 20-40 Years

Laboratory Equipment (27-Jan-11)

What if there was a way you could save about 3 million lives/yr plus halt

global warming, reduce air and water pollution and develop secure, reliable

energy sources and nearly all with existing technology and at current

comparable costs?

Subcategory: General

The Year in Biomedicine

Emily Singer Technology Review (27-Dec-10)

Singer reviews advancements made in stem cells, genomics, brain control and

synthetic biology.

Subcategory: Miscellaneous

Caught in the Net

Economist (06-Jan-11)

Reviews book "The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom" by

Evgeny Morozov, who takes a stand against the “cyber-utopian” view,

arguing that the internet can be as effective at sustaining authoritarian regimes

as it is in promoting democracy.

Biotech's Biggest Winner

Matthew Herper Forbes.com (03-Jan-11)

How did a company that makes machines for decoding DNA wind up at the

top of biotech’s list of investment return, beating every drug maker? Herper

explains and lists the top 5: Illumina, Alexion, Dendreon, Perrigo and Novo


Subcategory: Patent/Intellectual Property Issues

Records Broken in Patent Totals for 2010

R & D Magazine (10-Jan-11)

The USPTO issued an all-time high of 219,614 utility patents in 2010, up

31% from 2009, a record high annual increase. Drugs represent 2.1%, biotech

2%. Top 5 companies: IBM, Samsung, Microsoft, Canon, Panasonic.

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Subcategory: Energy/ Fuel

Review of Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy Published

Colin Miles BBSRC (03-Feb-11)

Industrial biotechnology and bioenergy is a strategic priority that can make an

important contribution to UK society and economic growth. Outlines some of

11 recommendations, following advice from experts in academia and industry.

Personal Solar Panel Could Make Electricity More Accessible in the Developing


University of Michigan (26-Jan-11)

Team is developing a personal solar panel the size of a paperback, designed

for people in developing world. Provides light and basic electricity for cell

phone charging, other uses. Goal is to get price under $20.

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Subcategory: Animal

For Robust Robots, Let Them Be Babies First

Joshua E. Brown University of Vermont (20-Jan-11)

Robotics experts now design robots and develop their behaviors, rather than

trying to program the robots’ behavior directly. Explains how simulated and

actual robots, like tadpoles becoming frogs, change their body forms while

learning how to walk.

Subcategory: Education

Stanford Researcher Uses Living Cells to Create 'Biotic' Video Games

Louis Bergeron Stanford University (12-Jan-11)

Describes the first video games in which a player's actions influence the

behavior of living microorganisms while the game is being played. Goal is for

players to have fun interacting with biological processes, without conducting

a formal experiment.

Subcategory: Energy/ Fuel

S.C. Gets Ready to Run on 'Pig Power'

IMPO (31-Jan-11)

Plant to generate electricity from the methane released by hog waste uses

bacteria in anaerobic digestion to recover methane from heating and mixing hog

manure in an earthen, insulated covered lagoon. Excess liquid is used for

organic fertilizer.

Subcategory: Forensics

Forensic DNA Test Can Decipher Criminals’ Hair Color

Dave Mosher Wired (06-Jan-11)

Subtle shade differences of hair color are controlled by a mutation called a

single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP). New large-scale genomic analyses

have identified dozens of hair color markers, potentially useful in crime scenes

having no eyewitnesses.

Subcategory: Microorganisms

Novel Catalysts Look Set to Clean Up

BBSRC (14-Jan-11)

Simple, 1-step process for the biosynthesis of magnetic nanocatalysts that

can be reused and recovered uses Geobacter organism. Could have widespread

commercial use, from the production of pharmaceuticals to the remediation of

contaminated groundwater.

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Subcategory: Animal

Nabokov Theory on Butterfly Evolution Is Vindicated

Carl Zimmer New York Times (25-Jan-11)

Over the past 10 years, a team of scientists has been applying

gene-sequencing technology to the hypothesis about how Polyommatus blue

butterfly by the lepidopterist better known during his lifetime as the author

of "Lolita."

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Subcategory: Industry

Dodging the Unavoidable

Ted Agres Drug Discovery & Development (01-Jan-11)

The worldwide pharmaceutical market is expected to grow by 5% to 7% in

2011 to $880 billion, much of it in 17 emerging countries. Agres reviews the

state of the industy from a global perspective.

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Subcategory: Combinatorial Biology

Technology to Detect Alzheimer’s Disease

Scripps Research Institute (05-Jan-11)

New approach for identifying antibody biomarkers of human disease

bypasses the difficult step of identifying the natural antigens or antigen

mimics. Peptoids, synthetic molecules, detect the presence of immune

molecules specific to Alzheimer’s disease.

Subcategory: Computing Systems

Breaking Bottlenecks

Larry Hardesty MIT News (11-Jan-11)

A new algorithm enables much faster dissemination of information through

self-organizing networks with a few scattered choke points. It works by

alternating communication strategies from round to round.

Subcategory: Energy/ Fuel

New Reactor Paves the Way for Efficiently Producing Fuel from Sunlight

California Institute of Technology (19-Jan-11)

Cerium oxide (ceria, found in self-cleaning ovens) is the centerpiece of a

promising new technology that concentrates solar energy and uses it to

efficiently convert carbon dioxide and water into fuels.

The Practical Full-Spectrum Solar Cell Comes Closer

Paul Preuss Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (24-Jan-11)

A new solar cell not only responds to virtually the entire solar spectrum, it

can also readily be made using metalorganic chemical vapor deposition

(MOCVD), one of the semiconductor industry’s most common manufacturing


Subcategory: Environment

Natural Dissolved Organic Matter Plays Dual Role in Cycling of Mercury

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (11-Jan-11)

Study shows that in anoxic (lacking oxygen) sediments and water, organic

matter is not only capable of reducing mercury, but also binding to it. Hope is

to help make informed decision-making for mercury-impacted sites.

Subcategory: Genomics

Out of One, Many

Economist (12-Jan-11)

Although a pair of identical twins is born every 50 seconds, the precise details

of the process through which a single embryo issues 2 perfectly formed and

viable human beings has been a mystery. Discusses research of monozygotic

twinning in humans.

Subcategory: Lab-on-a-chip/ DNA Chips/

URI Engineering Team Invents Lab-on-a-Chip for Fast, Inexpensive Blood Tests

Todd McLeish University of Rhode Island (10-Jan-11)

New blood analysis devices uses just a pinprick of blood in a portable device

that provides results in less than 30 minutes.

Subcategory: Materials

A pesky bacterial slime reveals its survival secrets

Michael Patrick Rutter Harvard University Gazette (07-Jan-11)

Bacillus subtilis biofilm colonies exhibit an unmatched ability to repel a wide

range of liquids, even vapors. Perspective may lead to bio-inspired

non-wetting materials, better ways to eliminate harmful biofilms clinging to

pipes, teeth, food.

Iowa State, Ames Lab Researcher Developing Bio-based Polymers that Heal


Iowa State University (06-Jan-11)

Biorenewable polymers capable of healing themselves as they degrade and

crack can provide biorenewable alternatives to petroleum-based resins and

should have a huge impact economically and environmentally.

Polymer Membranes with Molecular-sized Channels That Assemble Themselves

Lynn Yaris Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (11-Jan-11)

Channeled membranes are one of nature’s most clever and important

inventions, controlling transport of essential molecules and ions. Human

technology's challenge is making cost-effective subnanometer channels.

Describes new technique.

Selection by Size and Substance

David L. Chandler MIT News (12-Jan-11)

If pores in a filter small are enough so that there is a significant chemical

interaction between the pore walls and the molecules passing through them, it

becomes possible to discriminate according to characteristics other than size.

Biomedical Breakthrough: Blood Vessels for Lab-grown Tissues

Rice University (12-Jan-11)

Scientists create soft hydrogels, using polyethylene glycol (PEG) and light

that fixes PEG into a solid gel. Contained living cells and growth factors,

solving problem of growing transplantable tissue in the lab. Mimicks the

body's extracellular matrix.

Subcategory: Proteomics

Giving DNA A Good Yank

Carmen Drahl Chemical & Engineering News (24-Jan-11)

DNA experiences many forces during transcription and other biological

events, but at 65 piconewtons of force, it almost doubles in length. Finding

might make it easier to calibrate instruments that measure small forces.

Rare Sugar Linkage Revealed

Carmen Drahl Chemical & Engineering News (03-Jan-11)

Researchers find a special sulfur linkage while studying sublancin, a naturally

occurring bacterial peptide. Work also uncovers an enzyme that could build

long-lasting sugar-peptide conjugates that could be used to generate

antibodies, study antibiotics.

Princeton Scientists Construct Synthetic Proteins that Sustain Life

Kitta MacPherson Princeton University (06-Jan-11)

For the first time, molecular machines are created that function well within a

living organism, even though they were designed from scratch and expressed

from artificial genes. One of synthetic biology's goals is to develop an entirely

artificial genome.

New Method to Quantify Protein Changes

Scripps Research Institute (05-Jan-11)

Technique focuses on the process of cysteine S-hydroxylation, which plays a

significant role in a number of events related to physiology in both health and

disease, including the regulation of signaling proteins in various disease states.

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Subcategory: Cardiology/ Vascular Diseases

From Dusty Punch Cards, New Insights Into Link Between Cholesterol and

Heart Disease

Dan Krotz Berkeley News (04-Jan-11)

Research show value of looking to the past to advance science: 29-year

follow-up of 1966 study uncovers cases of coronary heart disease. Its 55th

year of follow-up upholds original insights: ischemic heart disease is inversely

related to both HDL2, HDL3.

Spanish Heart Risk Study Challenges Image of Healthy Mediterranean Diet and


EurkaAlert! (10-Jan-11)

Very high cardiovascular risk factors in Mediterranean people are similar to

those found in the UK and US. Most of the cardiovascular risk factors

increased with age; other risk factors: smoking, obesity abdominal

obesity, high levels of fatty molecules.

Subcategory: Gastroenterology

Pregnant, Constipated and Bloated? Fly Poo may Tell You Why

Wellcome Trust (06-Jan-11)

There are as many as 500 million nerve cells in our gut, but little is known

about the different types of nerve cell and their functions. The fruit fly,

Drosophila melanogaster, has simpler versions of our nervous and digestive

systems, similar symptoms.

Subcategory: Genomics

Gene Discovery Shows Parents Divided over Brain and Brawn

BBSRC (27-Jan-11)

The gene Grb10 has both copies active but the copy from the father is only

active in the brain, while the maternal copy is active in all other parts of the

body. This one gene may link growth in the womb with both physical and

mental health in later life.

Subcategory: Geriatrics

When Less Is More: How Mitochondrial Signals Extend Lifespan

Salk Institute (06-Jan-11)

Relationships between mitochondria, energy generation and

longevity-interactions suggest that living long does not necessarily require

prospering at the subcellular level. Mitochondrial stress that initiates protein

refolding found to enhance longevity.

Subcategory: Immunology/ Infectious Diseases

Antibiotic Resistance Is not just Genetic

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (09-Jan-11)

Bacteria resist eradication by genetic resistance to antibiotics and by

"persistence." Interplay occuring between the 2 mechanisms to aid bacterial

survival could lead to novel, effective approaches to treating multi-drug

resistant (MDR) infections.

Mayo Researchers Describe Measles Viral Protein Movement

Mayo Clinic (09-Jan-11)

Proteins on the surface of a cell twist a viral protein into position, allowing

the virus to start infection. The twisting eventually weakens the attachment

proteins, allowing unfolding of a lower layer of proteins that fuse with the

cellular membrane.

Neutrons 'go viral' at ORNL

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (21-Jan-11)

Understanding how a virus reorganizes itself when it goes from a mosquito to

a human is critical for the development of medicines that can block the spread

of viruses. Neutron scattering study yields new insights into virus life cycle.

Key Interaction in Hepatitis C Virus

Scripps Research Institute (28-Dec-10)

Molecular interaction identified between a structural hepatitis C virus protein

(HCV) and a protein critical to viral replication. Suggests a novel method of

inhibiting the production of the virus, a potential new therapeutic target for

drug development.

Virginia Tech Engineer Identifies Pollution as a New Concern for Antibiotic


Virginia Tech News (05-Jan-11)

When an antibiotic is consumed, up to 90% passes through a body without

metabolizing. In agricultural areas, excreted antibiotics can then enter stream

and river environments through a variety of ways, including discharges from

animal feeding operations.

Subcategory: Metabolism: Obesity, Diabetes

Researchers Rouse Brain Cells that Control Eating Behavior in Mice

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (05-Jan-11)

Describes new radiant technology used to prod mice to eat voraciously or

sparingly by illuminating key nerve cells. Hitting AGRP, one type of neuron,

drives overeating, whereas a different type (POMC) causes them to eat too


Subcategory: Neurology

How Alzheimer's Plaques Lead to Loss of Nitric Oxide in Brain

Daily News and Analysis (11-Jan-11)

Research shows how loss of nitric oxide (NO, a signaling molecule that helps

regulate blood flow, immune, neurological processes) might happen, reveals

biochemical pathways that researchers might be able to exploit to find new

drugs for Alzheimer's.

Subcategory: Oncology

Protein May Unleash Macrophages Against Cancer Cells

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (13-Jan-11)

The protein calreticulin (viewed as an invader by macrophage white blood

cells) is present on a wide variety of cancer cells but rarely on healthy cells.

Some cancer cells evade this immune system, but a drug being developed

might be able to help.

American-Style Diet Linked to Breast Cancer

Laboratory Equipment (07-Jan-11)

Mice fed a Western diet can develop larger tumors that are faster growing and

metastasize more easily, compared to animals eating a control diet. Immigrants

relocating from a region of low incidence show increase in breast cancer with

western diet.

Delivering a Potent Cancer Drug with Nanoparticles can Lessen Side Effects

Anne Trafton MIT News (11-Jan-11)

The cancer drug cisplatin is able to be delivered much more effectively and

safely in a form that has been encapsulated in a nanoparticle targeted to

prostate tumor cells and is activated once it reaches its target.

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Subcategory: Assay Systems

Technology Renews A Basic Approach

Celia Arnaud Chemical & Engineering News (17-Jan-11)

Dried blood spot analysis gaining momentum as a method pharmaceutical

companies use to determine the fate of drugs in the bodies of patients. Small

sample volumes means less shipping cost and use of fewer animals, an ethical


Subcategory: Food

Shellfish Safer to Eat Thanks to Breakthrough by Queen’s Scientists

Queens University Belfast

New test slashes the testing time for shellfish toxins to just 30 minutes, from

up to 2 days, using new biosensor technology and provides a much more

reliable result. Uses unique ‘detector proteins’ to seek out minute amounts of


Subcategory: Genome Sequence

The Institute for Systems Biology Orders 615 Complete Genomics Genomes

Bio-IT World (13-Jan-11)

Neurodegenerative diseases cover a broad range of disorders that affect

neurons, or neuromuscular control, many of which are genetic or hereditary in

nature, such as Huntington’s disease. New study is third major sequencing


Subcategory: Immunology/ Infectious Diseases

See How They Grow: Monitoring Single Bacteria Without a Microscope

University of Michigan (17-Jan-11)

Device that can be made from some of the same parts used in CD players

measures the growth and drug susceptibility of individual bacterial cells

without the use of a microscope. This biosensor promises to speed treatment

of bacterial infections.

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Subcategory: Collaboration

Global Funding Agencies Commit to Enhancing Access to Research Data to

Improve Public Health

Wellcome Trust (10-Jan-11)

17 major health research funders have signed a joint statement committing to

work together to support timely and responsible sharing of data collected

from populations for the purpose of health research, in ways that are

equitable, ethical and efficient.

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Subcategory: Metabolism: Obesity, Diabetes

The Big Breakfast Controversy

Laboratory Equipment (18-Jan-11)

People eat the same at lunch and dinner, regardless of what they had for

breakfast., The only difference seen was the skipping of a mid morning snack

when someone ate a really big breakfast, not enough to offset the extra calories

they had already eaten.

Subcategory: Neurology

Protective Properties of Green Tea Still Present After Digestion

BBSRC (06-Jan-11)

When green tea is digested by enzymes in the gut, the resulting chemicals from

digestion of the tea polyphenols are actually more effective against key

triggers of Alzheimer's development than the undigested form of the tea.

'U' Researcher Confirms Link between Stress and Depression

Suzanne Jabos Michigan Daily (11-Jan-11)

Scientists re-examine study implicating variations in the 5-HTT gene in higher

risk of depression, find that it only accounts for a small percentage of variance

in symptoms. Hope is for a genome-wide survey of genetic factors that affect stress.

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