Timeline of events...a brief history of the important news stories this month
Pig farms might serve as reservoirs for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, say researchers who found that a quarter of swine and a fifth of pig farmers on Ontario farms harbor the bacteria (Vet. Microbiol., doi:10.1016/j.vetmic.2007.10.006).
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) adds new warnings to erectile dysfunction medications, including Viagra, after uncovering 29 postmarket reports of hearing loss, dizziness and ringing in the ears.
Although people with high amounts of HIV in their blood are the most infectious, HIV is spread mainly by people with moderate levels of the virus because they live longer, researchers report (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104, 17441–17446).
The World Health Organization–approved strategy for fighting drug-resistant tuberculosis—a drug regimen called DOTS—actually may have led to the emergence of a new strain of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis in South Africa, say scientists (Clin. Infect. Dis. 45, 1409–1414).
A US congressional committee concerned about scientific conflicts of interest asks the National Cancer Institute to inspect the financial records of 50 researchers involved in a $200 million study meant to determine the value of annually screening smokers' lungs by computed tomography (CT) scan and X-ray.
The FDA writes a letter chastising drug maker Sanofi-Aventis for failing to take action after the company uncovered serious protocol violations in a 2002 safety study of the antibiotic Ketek, which has been linked to four deaths.
Nobel laureate James Watson resigns as chancellor of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory one week after he was suspended for questioning the intelligence of people of African descent in an interview with a UK newspaper.
Nobel laureate Arthur Kornberg, a biochemist who paved the way for genetic engineering by discovering DNA polymerase, dies of respiratory failure.
All children should be screened for symptoms of autism twice before they are two years old, announces the American Academy of Pediatrics at its annual meeting (Pediatrics 120, 1162–1182; 1183–1215).
Contrary to previous findings, vitamin D does not reduce the risk of dying from cancer except in the case of colorectal cancer, concludes a study of nearly 17,000 people (J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 99, 1594–1602).
Genome researchers sequence most of the DNA of the domestic cat, an animal that can carry feline versions of human diseases such as AIDS, SARS, diabetes, retinal disease and spina bifida (Genome Res. 17, 1675–1689).
Women are less likely to make the transition from postdoctoral fellow to principal investigator because they have more family responsibilities and lower confidence than men do, a study concludes (EMBO Rep. 8, 977–981).
Blood samples reveal that HIV probably made its way from Africa to the US via Haiti, arriving in about 1969, 12 years before doctors described the first case of AIDS (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, doi:10.1073/pnas.0705329104).
Newts' nerve and skin cells secrete a protein called nAG that prompts severed limbs to regenerate, a finding that may lead to advancements in mammalian limb regeneration, researchers report (Science 318, 772–777).
The FDA cannot guarantee the safety of the nation's drug supply because the agency inspects few foreign drug manufacturing facilities and lacks an accurate list of which facilities are subject to inspection, according to the US Government Accountability Office.
A comparison of DNA taken from 500 tumors uncovers 57 genetic variations associated with the most common form of lung cancer and especially implicates a gene encoding the protein NKX2-1, which controls the activity of the lungs' air sacs (Nature, doi:10.1038/nature06358).
Bayer suspends the sale of Trasylol, a broad-spectrum protease inhibitor used during heart surgery to control bleeding, after a trial set to enroll 3,000 patients found that the drug carries a 50% increased risk of death.
Prasugrel, which targets platelet aggregation, lowers the risk of heart-related death compared to the standard of care, but increases the risk of severe bleeding by 32%, according to data from a phase 3 trial (N. Engl. J. Med. 357, 2001–2015).
Breastfeeding raises a child's IQ by an average of 6.8 points, but only if the child carries a common variant of FADS2, a gene that helps break down fatty acids, scientists say (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, doi:10.1073/pnas.0704292104).
Women who take the birth control pill increase their risk of developing artery-clogging plaque by 20–30% for every ten years of use, scientists report at an American Heart Association meeting.
New safety regulations require non-European students hoping to study science and engineering in the UK to undergo security checks before they can apply for visas.
An experimental vaccine designed to prevent nicotine from reaching smokers' brains helped 15% of smokers quit in a year, a rate comparable to those of other smoking-cessation aids, researchers report at a meeting in Orlando.
Individuals exposed to a common cold virus may have been more likely to contract HIV after receiving Merck's failed AIDS vaccine, which relied on an adenovirus to make HIV proteins, researchers announce in Seattle.
Women who take the birth control pill have an increased risk of developing cervical cancer, scientists report (The Lancet 370, 1609–1621)—a concern tempered by previous findings of a reduced risk of developing ovarian and endometrial cancers with birth control pill use.
The US Centers for Disease Control report that the seven-year decline in smoking rates in the US, which began in 1997, leveled off in 2004 at about 21% and has not changed much since then (MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. 56, 1157–1161).
Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder have certain regions of the brain that develop more slowly, but most have developmentally caught up to their peers by the time they're in their 20s, say researchers (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 10.1073/pnas.0707741104).
The controversial diabetes drug Avandia will stay on the market with a strong 'black box' warning that the drug can increase the risk of heart attacks, the FDA announces.
Ian Wilmut, the creator of the sheep 'Dolly', abandons therapeutic cloning to try his hand at transforming adult cells into pluripotent cells, a technique he says will be more scientifically productive.
The United Nations lowers its 2006 estimate of the number of people infected with HIV from 39.5 to 32.7 million cases, in large part to reflect revised estimates in India.
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News in brief. Nat Med 13, 1396–1397 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nm1207-1396