Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Verfaillie stem cell photo irregularities extend to US patent application?

Some notes from the March 30 issue of Science:

315 Science (30 March 07)

p. 1773. Forensics. attaching hydrocarbons to gold
nanoparticles to enhance fingerprints. Joseph Almog of
Hebrew University.

Better forensic science through nanotechnology?

p. 1775. Potential plagiarism issue. article co-authored by Hema
Rangaswami in Journal of Biological Chemisty (JBC).

Same images in 2 papers, labelled differently.

rangaswami is now a potdoc at UCSD under Renate Pilz.

p. 1777. American Chemical Society (ACS) drops Iranian members. selling
publications to members at discount rates represents a
service above and beyond the trade of information

ACS, federally chartered organization, must comply with
federal law.

APS says we have no plans to do anything similar.

One recalls that the APS had a much stronger reaction to the fraud of Jan-Hendrik Schon than did the ACS (the ACS did nothing).

p. 1779 Stem cell results of Verfaillie questioned.

Same Western blot image appears TWICE in 2001 Blood
paper, once as control, then reversed representing
collagen. US patent application contains same image
but now purporting to be bone protein.

p. 1779 grants without peer review in Canada

individual winners were picked without benefit of
scientific input and peer review

CIRM take note!

p. 1780 Project Jim on sequencing the DNA of James

p. 1759. Enantioselective organocatalysis using SOMO
activation. T. D. Beeson et al

Showing that the research area of Cordova really is hot.

The paper at page 1759 is by a team of Princeton University chemists, with first author Teresa Beeson. Of the paper, chemlin wrote:

Most drug molecules that pharmaceutical companies produce can exist in two different forms, which are mirror images of one another. Though both forms of an organic molecule - known in the chemistry world as "enantiomers" - have the same chemical formula, their effect on the body can differ dramatically.

"The two enantiomers are like keys with the same number of teeth, but which have different orientation," MacMillan said. "One key fits in with our biology very well, opening the correct doors in our body and helping us to heal. But the other key doesn't fit the same doors because its teeth are in opposing locations."

The two forms are indistinguishable by most modern lab tests, yet our bodies can tell the difference. Where one enantiomer might be the basis for a helpful drug, its mirror image might do nothing for the body, or even damage it.

"This was the problem in the 1960s with the drug phthalidomide," MacMillan said. "One of its enantiomers helped pregnant women overcome morning sickness. Its mirror image, however, caused birth defects."

In the vast majority of cases, the Food and Drug Administration now requires that drug companies create only the beneficial enantiomer during the manufacturing process. While this requirement keeps any of these helpful molecules' "evil twins" from reaching our systems, it also places heavy demands on the drug companies.

Building large quantities of a drug molecule often requires a catalyst, a substance that permits a chemical reaction to take place without itself being affected. Until recently, however most catalysts would create both enantiomers simultaneously, MacMillan said. In cases where the catalyst can create only the helpful enantiomer - a process called asymmetric catalysis - they are often expensive, capricious and difficult to work with.


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