ScienceScope

Science  23 Dec 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5756, pp. 342
  1. Peach State Sticker Shock

    Georgia scientists are worried that a U.S. federal appeals panel might side with Cobb County school officials after the panel heard oral arguments last week on the content of antievolution stickers placed in textbooks.

    Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education say that a three-judge panel in Atlanta received “erroneous” information at its 15 December hearing. The court was reviewing a lower court ruling that the stickers, which call evolution “a theory, not a fact,” unconstitutionally advance a religious view. The court failed to acknowledge scientific errors in the sticker, the education group laments, and wrongly assumed that the school board acted before fundamentalist parents complained, thus mooting the argument that the stickers were a response to religious influences. The school board disavows any religious motive, saying that the stickers encourage “critical thinking.”

  2. Flu Preparedness Dealt Blows

    PARIS— Efforts to wield two key weapons against a future H5N1 influenza pandemic have suffered setbacks. Last week, French vaccine maker Sanofi Pasteur announced that a prototype H5N1 vaccine containing aluminum as an “adjuvant,” or immune booster, appears to offer protection only when two doses of 30 micrograms of antigen each were given.

    Sanofi calls the study “progress,” but many researchers are disappointed that the booster didn't allow smaller doses to protect. Because the world's flu vaccine manufacturing capacity is limited, they had hoped that the addition of aluminum might bring the dose needed all the way down to 2 micrograms or less, enabling vaccine makers to make billions of doses. “[A] much better adjuvant is needed,” says Albert Osterhaus of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

    Meanwhile, in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, researchers report having isolated from two Vietnamese patients H5N1 strains that are highly resistant to the drug oseltamivir, stockpiled by rich countries. Before that, only one partially resistant H5N1 strain had been found. An accompanying commentary says the “frightening” results mean that oseltamivir must be used wisely and urges measures to prevent people from hoarding the drug.

  3. Lawmakers Zap NASA Head

    NASA chief Mike Griffin wants to refocus all space station research on crewed spaceward voyages. But Congress last week agreed on an authorization bill which demands NASA spend at least 15% of its station funds on microgravity research not related to exploration. Griffin, meanwhile, told a meeting of the American Geophysical Union earlier this month that NASA faces “some daunting fiscal issues” amidst visions for robot miners on Mars and a census of extrasolar planets.

  4. Cambridge to Clamp Patent Rights

    The University of Cambridge, U.K., is tightening the reins on academic patents after faculty and staff overwhelmingly backed a plan to centralize intellectual property under a group called Cambridge Enterprise. Dissenters wanted to preserve rules that gave researchers more control over their patents (Science, 9 December, p. 1597). Cambridge computer scientist Ross Anderson now aims to spark a debate on what he calls the university's “abuse” of authority during the debate.

  5. Researcher Freed in Iraq

    German archaeologist Susanne Osthoff, abducted by insurgents in Iraq on 25 November, was freed this week. Osthoff had tried to protect archaeological sites from looting after the U.S.-led invasion and was involved with a conservation project in Mosul earlier this year. Her liberation is “fantastic news,” says archaeology writer Roger Atwood, who visited looted sites with her in 2003.

  6. E.U. Research Budget Set

    BERLIN— The dream of a doubling in European Union research funding is dead. In a compromise worked out last week, the leaders of the 25 E.U. member countries agreed on a budget for 2007-2013 that is about 16% smaller than the one proposed in April (Science, 15 April, p. 342). Instead of receiving €10 billion per year, research funding would rise from €5 billion to €8.75 billion in 2013. The smaller boost “is clearly not what we wanted,” said E.U. research commissioner Janez Potocnik, but “it reflects today's political reality.” He said it was not clear how much the squeeze would affect funding for the new European Research Council.

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