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Stories by Katherine Harmon

District court overturns patents on breast cancer genes

Some 20 percent of the human genome is already patented. But a court ruled yesterday that one company does not have the rights to some of its patents on two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2 , commonly tested for mutations to determine risk for developing breast and ovarian cancers...

March 30, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Aquatic invasion: Scientists find first amphibious insect species

Several new species of rare Hawaiian moth caterpillars have been discovered to be able to thrive both totally submerged and totally dry. They are the first insects to be described as fully amphibious, reported a team of researchers in a study published online March 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences ...

March 22, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Condoms for the World Cup and other ways to keep HIV at bay

MIAMI—In three months hundreds of thousands of soccer fans are expected to descend on nine South African cities for the 2010 World Cup. But for so many visitors going to a country where more than 10 percent of the population is estimated to have HIV/AIDS, many public health experts are worried that the event will kick off a spike in transmission...

March 12, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Malaria rates drop in the Americas, but travelers still worry

MIAMI—Malaria continues to be a global scourge, sickening some 300 million to 500 million people annually. Most of the resulting one million to three million malaria deaths occur in regions where it is highly endemic, such as sub-Saharan Africa and parts of south Asia. 

Some parts of the world where malaria was once rampant, however—such as Central and South America—have seen morbidity and mortality rates of the disease cut in half in the past decade, reported specialists here Wednesday at the 14th annual International Congress on Infectious Diseases in Miami...

March 11, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Chameleons' tongues still snappy in cool temperatures

When the weather cools, ectothermic (cold-blooded) animals slow down, which should be good news for their potential prey. But the colorful chameleon has found a way to keep feeding at top speeds even in lower temps: an elastic-tissue tongue, which unlike regular muscles, can uncoil nearly as fast in lower temperatures as it can in warmer ones...

March 8, 2010 — Katherine Harmon

Another reason vitamin D is important: It gets T cells going

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a rapidly expanding inventory of ailments—including heart disease, cancer and the common cold. A new discovery demonstrates how the vitamin plays a major role in keeping the body healthy in the first place, by allowing the immune system's T cells to start doing their jobs. 

In order for T cells to become active members of the body's immune system, they must transition from so-called "naive" T cells into either killer cells or helper cells (which are charged with "remembering" specific invaders)...

March 7, 2010 — Katherine Harmon
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