Science  29 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5735, pp. 681

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  1. Wilmut Seeks Fresh Eggs

    Cloning researcher Ian Wilmut of the University of Edinburgh and his colleagues are asking for permission from a national oversight board in the U.K. to use freshly donated human oocytes from volunteers in their attempts to create stem cells through nuclear transfer. South Korean research has suggested that it's much more efficient to create cloned embryos from the oocytes of healthy young donors than those left over from fertility treatments (Science, 17 June, p. 1777). Oocyte donation can lead to serious medical complications, but Wilmut's colleague Christopher Shaw of King's College London says the group has already been approached by several potential donors. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority must approve the donations.

  2. Nuke Reprocessing Inches Ahead

    U.S. negotiators reportedly agreed earlier this month to drop a key demand that was blocking a treaty with Russia to reprocess 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium in both nations. The United States had wanted to protect contractors making the fuel suitable for Russian power plants from lawsuits, a provision found in a 1992 nonproliferation agreement. “We've essentially lost 2 years of time,” said a spokesperson for the nonprofit Russian American Nuclear Security Advisory Council in Washington, D.C., which had opposed the immunity clause. The agreement, which has not been finalized, must be approved by the Duma, although under U.S. law it does not require congressional approval.

  3. Help for Russian Science

    Following months of closed-door negotiations, the Russian government and scientific community leaders have struck a compromise to restructure the underfunded Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) and streamline federal research. For their part, the academicians have agreed to discuss a concept that initially proposed reducing the number of RAS institutions from more than 450 to between 100 and 200. In turn, the government has reportedly agreed to raise researchers' monthly salaries, currently between $100 and $200, to about $1050 by 2010. This fall, a Duma committee will try to hammer out details.

  4. Deadly Bacteria in China

    A mysterious disease that has caused at least 19 deaths in China's Sichuan Province is being blamed on Streptococcus suis type 2, a bacteria common in pigs throughout the world. Robert Dietz, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization in Manila, says laboratory confirmation is still pending but that the reported symptoms seem to be consistent with human S. suis infection. Human cases are rare, Dietz says, making it surprising that China has so suddenly recorded 67 to date. Although a more virulent strain of the bacterium could be the culprit, Dietz thinks that China's “enhanced surveillance capabilities” are a more likely explanation. But Marcelo Gottschalk, a S. suis expert at the University of Montreal in Canada, doubts the diagnosis. “It's just very strange for so many people to be infected in such a short time,” says Gottschalk, who notes that hearing loss—a common human S. suis symptom—has not been reported in Sichuan.

  5. Updates

    An epidemiologist who was subpoenaed for 25 years' worth of his data on lead exposure and health effects in children has won a compromise with paint companies (Science, 15 July, p. 362). Attorneys for the University of Cincinnati have agreed that Kim Dietrich will release a small subset of his data on children's IQs and lead levels that was recently published as part of a pooled analysis. The companies say they need the data to defend themselves against a lawsuit filed by the state of Rhode Island.

  6. Updates

    White House Office of Science and Technology Policy officials Kathie Olsen and William Alan Jeffrey were confirmed by the Senate last week for new positions as deputy National Science Foundation director and head of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, respectively. Olsen is a 52-year-old neuroscientist with experience at NASA; Jeffrey, 45, served previously at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

  7. Updates


    The Russian review board investigating the failed June launch of Cosmos 1, a privately funded solar sail spacecraft, has concluded that it never reached orbit due to a pump failure.