Volume 435 Issue 7042, 2 June 2005


  • Editorial |

    A vote by the US House of Representatives to ease restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research marks an important turning point — whether President Bush vetoes the change or not.

  • Editorial |

    US hostility towards Syria is undermining the stability of an important seed bank for dry areas.

Research Highlights


News in Brief


  • News Feature |

    Scientific research can be tricky at the best of times, but people with disabilities face additional challenges both in the lab and when dealing with data. Jessica Ebert meets the researchers who are building their own customized solutions to overcome these problems.

    • Jessica Ebert
  • News Feature |

    A mysterious disease that causes children's brains to melt away is caused by errors in RNA translation. But biologists are realizing that this horrifying condition could shed light on more common problems. Claire Ainsworth reports.

    • Claire Ainsworth




  • Commentary |

    The European Space Agency has a strong track record and plenty of ambition to propel it into its next 30 years, says Giovanni Bignami. But key decisions must be made in the context of a new Europe.

    • Giovanni Bignami

Books and Arts



  • Essay |

    Optimization: this beguilingly simply idea allows biologists not only to understand current adaptations, but also to predict new designs that may yet evolve.

    • William J. Sutherland

News & Views

  • News & Views |

    As is the case with other social interactions, financial transactions depend on trust. That fact is behind ingenious experiments that explore the neurobiological underpinnings of human behaviour.

    • Antonio Damasio
  • News & Views |

    For years, cosmologists have been racing each other to develop ever more sophisticated and realistic models of the evolution of the Universe. The competition has just become considerably stiffer.

    • Nickolay Y. Gnedin
  • News & Views |

    Developmental ‘road maps’ chart the steps from simple cells to mature, specialized cells. A newly discovered variety of blood-cell progenitor doesn't fit into the accepted blood map, but should that map be redrawn?

    • Hanno Hock
    •  & Stuart H. Orkin
  • News & Views |

    The ability to control charge transport through individual molecules sandwiched between electrodes could lead to further miniaturization of electronics. A better understanding of how such junctions work is crucial.

    • Mark Ratner
  • News & Views |

    DNA-cleaving enzymes trigger a repair process that can now be harnessed to correct mutations in the human genome in vitro. This represents another step towards gene-correction strategies for treating human disease.

    • Katherine A. High
  • News & Views |

    A three-dimensional examination of gene regulation suggests that portions from different chromosomes ‘communicate’ with each other, and bring related genes together in the nucleus to coordinate their expression.

    • Dimitris Kioussis

Brief Communications








  • Insight |


    The concept of autoimmunity was first predicted by Nobel Laureate Paul Ehrlich at the start of the twentieth century, and he described it as 'horror autotoxicus'. His experiments led him to conclude that the immune system is normally focused on responding to foreign materials and has an inbuilt tendency to avoid attacking self tissues. But when this process goes wrong, the immune system can attack self tissues resulting in autoimmune disease. The perplexing issue of what allows the immune system to attack self tissues is a continuing focus of research, as the following Collection of reviews demonstrates.

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