For angiosperms — or flowering plants — one of the most important decisions facing them each year is when to flower. It is no trivial undertaking. To flower, they must cease vegetative growth and commit to making those energetically expensive reproductive structures that will bring about the next generation. In a paper published Sept. 24 in the journal Nature Plants, an international team…
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Few advances in cancer treatment have gotten as much attention in the past decade as immunotherapies, therapies that use the immune system to fight the disease. Various immunotherapies have wiped out disease in terminal patients and have largely enjoyed success as they emerge on the market. But despite those successes, many patients see their cancer return a few months or years after…
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Silverback Therapeutics, a stealthy biotechnology startup, gave the first glimpse of its technology Wednesday as it announced an additional $37.5 million in funding, bringing its Series A round to a total of $47.5 million. The new funds come from Silverback’s existing investor, healthcare investment company OrbiMed, along with two new investors: Biotech giant Celgene and life sciences investor Alexandria Investment Partners. SEC documents…
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The international trade in elephant ivory has been illegal since 1989, yet African elephant numbers continue to decline. In 2016, the International Union for Conservation of Nature cited ivory poaching as a primary reason for a staggering loss of about 111,000 elephants between 2005 and 2015 — leaving their total numbers at an estimated 415,000. In a paper published Sept. 19 in the journal Science…
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Researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have found a specific strain of Helicobacter pylori strongly correlated with stomach cancer. The research, published in the journal PLOS ONE, could eventually be used to shape treatment and screening strategies for patients. Collaborating with researchers at Zhengzhou University, the Fred Hutch team ran tests on 49 patients’ stomach endoscopy and stool samples, looking for H. pylori with a variant…
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Squelching Ovarian Cancer: The Not-So-Silent Killer

Despite its long-standing nickname, ovarian cancer isn’t really a silent killer. There are symptoms; it’s just that they whisper or are commonly mistaken for something else, like aging or irritable bowel syndrome. As a result of this — and the lack of therapies for advanced disease — ovarian cancer continues to kill nearly 15,000 women a year in the U.S., most of…
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Lawsuits didn’t do it, public shaming didn’t do it, patients and doctors banding together to “free the data” couldn’t do it: For 22 years Myriad Genetics, one of the oldest genetic testing companies, has refused to make public its proprietary database of BRCA1 variants, which lists more than 17,000 known misspellings in that major “cancer risk” gene, along with the medical significance of…
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New Diagnostic Test for Leprosy Being Developed

Before an infectious disease can be treated, it must be detected. Key attributes of successful diagnostic tests include speed and cost, but it is also critical that they are easy to administer – particularly in remote areas that do not have ready access to labs or health care facilities. HDT Biotech Corporation (www.hdtbiocorp.com) is teaming with IDRI (www.idri.org), both of…
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How Chromosomes Find a Happy Medium

Scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have worked out the molecular underpinnings of how chromosomes make the right number of crossovers — important links that make it possible for developing sex cells (eggs or sperm in humans) to sort those chromosomes properly. Crossovers are a little like Goldilocks’ porridge — they need to be just right. Too few or…
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At Seattle Children’s, many children and young adults with cancer are finding hope in T-cell immunotherapy – an experimental treatment that boosts a patient’s immune system and uses it to fight a disease. Seattle Children’s researchers are leading clinical trials in which a patient’s T cells are reprogrammed to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) on the surface of the cell. The…
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