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Feature article

Policing the Immune System

Not all T-reg cells are equally effective in policing immune responses.

Not all T-reg cells are equally effective in policing immune responses. Credit: iStockphoto

By Erika Cretney and Stephen Nutt

The discovery of cells that regulate the body’s immune response will help scientists to interpret the effectiveness of newly developed drugs and have wide-ranging repercussions for the treatment of conditions including cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Erika Cretney is a Senior Postdoctoral Fellow and Stephen Nutt is Division Head in the Molecular Immunology Division at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research.

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Vitamin Danger for Cancer Patients

Might vitamins actually be harmful for cancer patients? Image: iStockphoto

Might vitamins actually be harmful for cancer patients? Image: iStockphoto

By Ray Lowenthal

Cancer patients need to think twice before adding vitamins to their treatment.

Ray Lowenthal is Professor of Oncology at the University of Tasmania. This article was first published in The Conversation (theconversation.edu.au).

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The Perfect Pill?

Sunflower seeds are an attractive system for making protein drugs.

Sunflower seeds are an attractive system for making protein drugs.

By Joshua Mylne

A protein found in sunflower seeds could be the key to developing plants as pharmaceutical factories.

Joshua Mylne is an Australian Research Council QEII Fellow based at the University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience.

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Ageing Young

iStockphoto

iStockphoto

By Dannon Stigers, Samuel Fraser & Christopher Easton

New evidence suggests that age-related diseases can begin to develop much earlier than we expect, making prevention more important than cure.

Dannon Stigers is a Postdoctoral Fellow, Samuel Fraser is a PhD student and Christopher Easton is a Professor at the Australian National University’s Research School of Chemistry.

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Vicars & Vagrants

image credit Juan Sagardia

The flightless takahe and flying swamphen or pukeko (P. porphyrio) are related, but molecular and fossil evidence indicates that the swamphen arrived in New Zealand about 300 years ago and probably from Australia – after the takahe evolved. Curiously, takahe plumage is more similar to the swamphen P. madagascariensis from Africa (pictured here; image credit Juan Sagardia) than the one from Australia, implying a shared ancestry that is also supported by molecular data.

By Steve Trewick

DNA studies of New Zealand’s birds are causing a rethink of the importance of colonisation events in the evolution of its endemic species.

Steve Trewick is Principal Investigator with the Phoenix Group at the Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University (www.massey.ac.nz~strewick).

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I ❤ Lizard Venom

Dr Bryan Fry with a desert spotted monitor.

Dr Bryan Fry with a desert spotted monitor.

By Stephen Luntz

Toxins found in lizard venom can reduce blood pressure, opening the possibility of developing them as drugs to treat heart disease.

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Something Kind of Awesome

An elevated view of four of CSIRO’s new ASKAP antennas at the Murchison Radio-As

An elevated view of four of CSIRO’s new ASKAP antennas at the Murchison Radio-Astronomy Observatory, October 2010. Credit: Ant Schinckel, CSIRO

By Brian Boyle

This month Australia and New Zealand join forces to submit their bid to host one of the biggest science projects ever – the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope.

Brian Boyle is anzSKA Director.

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The Big Twist

By Zheng-Xiang Li

Fossil magnetic needles in ancient Australian rocks have revealed that the continent underwent a 40° twist that split apart its most famous mineral provinces.

Zheng-Xiang Li is professor in geology and geophysics at the Institute for Geoscience Research, Curtin University.

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Chiro for Kids?

Paediatric patients form a significant part of chiropractic care.

Paediatric patients form a significant proportion of chiropractic patients.

By Loretta Marron

Why is a university running a paediatric chiropractic clinic that targets the vulnerable parents of sick children?

Loretta Marron was named Australia’s Skeptic of the Year in 2007.

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Baby Blues

Mother and foetus

Studies of environmental risk factors, and the specific timing of these insults, is beginning to provide a better understanding of why schizophrenia develops in some individuals and not others.

By Desiree Dickerson

A mother’s immune response to influenza and other infections during pregnancy increases the risk of schizophrenia in her unborn child.

Desiree Dickerson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

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