Biosensors that can quickly identify virtually any bacterium, virus or fungus could offer the U.S. early warnings of emerging epidemics or bioterrorism attacks, which would save lives. The sensors would be installed in hospitals and linked via high-speed data networks.
Epidemiology: Germ Catcher
Cloud seeding, a form of weather modification to induce rainfall, is an industry worth many millions of dollars, but controlled experiments to verify its efficacy have been nearly impossible to conduct. New satellite and radar evidence and more powerful computer models have provided some credibility to the practice of silver iodide cloud seeding.
Meteorology: Summon the Rain
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration should adopt measures to ensure that pharmaceutical companies more openly share their data from drug trials. It is difficult for doctors to know how well a prescription drug could work, or how prevalent its side effects are, because pharmaceutical companies frequently withhold the results of negative or inconclusive trials. This is crucial information that physicians need to know to make informed, timely decisions about their patients.
Science Agenda: Full Disclosure
Traditional herbal remedies are being analyzed for their medicinal efficacy for various diseases, such as malaria. Studying the therapeutic use of plants used medicinally is not new; both aspirin and codeine grew out of such studies. Financial pressures have limited such reverse pharmacology studies in recent decades. The lack of new drugs making it through laboratory and animal-testing bottlenecks have made it important to return to what we can learn from reverse pharmacology. Medicine: Seeds of a Cure
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