International Team Unearths Oldest-Ever Reptile Embryos (CNRS)

Dating back 280 million years or so, the oldest known fossil reptile embryos have been unearthed in Uruguay and Brazil. They belong to the ancient aquatic reptiles, mesosaurs. The study of these exceptionally well-preserved fossils suggests that mesosaurs were either viviparous(1) (pushing back this mode of reproduction by 60 million years) or that they laid eggs in advanced stages of development. These finds, published in the journal Historical Biology, were revealed by an international team including Michel Laurin, CNRS senior researcher at the Centre de Recherche sur la Paléobiodiversité et les Paléoenvironnements (CNRS/Museum national d’histoire naturelle/UPMC).

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Essentials of the weeks : March 1 – 9

EssentialsDear Friends, March is off to a flying start and great news and events about entrepreneurship keep blooming ! On the finance side we just got a hold of new data on angels investment in 2011, and a few surprises awaited us in the Halo Report. Indeed, if California still leads the pack with 21% of total investments, a couple of regions are on its trail ! Surprisingly, it’s Michigan that takes the second place with 16% of investments, followed closely by New England (14.6%). What is remarkable is how angels groups are active throughout the whole country, Continue reading

Shedding light on memory deficits in schizophrenic patients and healthy aged subjects

Working memory, which consists in the short-term retention and processing of information, depends on specific regions of the brain working correctly. This faculty tends to deteriorate in patients with schizophrenia, as it does in healthy aged subjects. Continue reading

Vitamin B and omega-3 supplementation and cancer: new data

 Researchers from the Nutritional Epidemiology Joint Research Unit (Inserm-Inra-Cnam-Université Paris 13) have just published a study showing that, in men with a previous history of cardiovascular pathologies, supplementation with B vitamins and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (the fatty acids present particularly in oily fish and dried fruit) did not significantly increase the occurrence of cancer. However, women with a previous history of cardiovascular pathologies seem to have a higher cancer risk after five years of supplementation. The research is published in detail in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Continue reading

An insider look at the MIT European Career Fair

16th edition of the European Career Fair (ECF): what about the attractiveness of Europe for Scientists ?

Your favorite team of the Office of Science & Technology was at the MIT European Career Fair day on Saturday, January 21st, at the French Embassy booth. The MIT ECF is the biggest event of its kind, gathering more than 100 companies, research organisations and universities from all over Europe, and attracting 4 000+ job seekers. Continue reading

For The First Time, Scientists Create a 3D Map of Chromosomes’ Organization !

In collaboration with researchers from the Weizmann Institute in Israel, a team from the Institut de Génétique Humaine (CNRS) has, for the first time, revealed the detailed three-dimensional architecture of chromosomes: Giacomo Cavalli and his colleagues have achieved high-resolution mapping of the different contacts that exist within and between chromosomes. They performed this feat using a new very high-throughput technique improved by the Montpellier team. This major research work should shed new light on the impact of 3D chromosome organization on genome expression and on the onset of diseases such as cancer. It is published in the online version of the journal Cell of 19 January 2012. Continue reading

Learning more about chromosome fragility

© Anne Helmrich

Why are some chromosomal regions particularly susceptible to breakage? Finding the answer to this question is crucial because this fragility is a factor in tumour development. A team from the Institute of Genetics and Molecular & Cellular Biology (CNRS/Inserm/University of Strasbourg) has just solved part of the mystery. Laszlo Tora and his colleagues have discovered that breakage in the longest human genes is caused by a phenomenon that, until now, was thought unlikely to occur in mammalian cells: interference between two key genetic processes, DNA transcription[1] and replication[2]. This research, published in the journalMolecular Cell on 23 December 2011, could eventually lead to novel strategies for fighting tumours.
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Record Breaking Explanets Discovered !

Copyright S. Charpinet

An international team led by a CNRS researcher from the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP, CNRS – Université Toulouse III – Paul Sabatier) has discovered the ruins of a planetary system, consisting of the cores of two former giant planets stripped of their gaseous envelopes, orbiting around the remnants of the core of a red giant. These two exoplanets are the smallest, hottest and closest to their parent star ever discovered. This finding, published in the 22 December 2011 issue of the journal Nature. could shed new light on the fate of planetary systems.

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French Research Breaktrough : New Technique to See Crystals Like Never Before

An international team of scientists led by the Fresnel Institute (CNRS/Aix-Marseille University/Ecole Centrale de Marseille) and the ESRF (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility) in Grenoble has developed a new technique allowing to observe the nanometer-sized structure of crystalline materials. Using a microscopic X-ray beam to illuminate large areas of a sample, this technique reveals structural details in three dimensions and at high resolution. It could revolutionize research in various disciplines involving the study of complex crystal structures, such as the life sciences and microelectronics. This work is published in the journal Nature Communications dated 29 November 2011.

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Greatness and disillusionment of U.S Biotech : the Vertex Case

This article (in French) explores the ups and downs of Vertex Pharmaceuricals, a promising biotech expected last year to turn a larger pharma after series of positive results regarding its treatment Telaprevir against Hepatitis C. Vertex Pharmaceuticals is now facing tough and unexpected competition from Pharmasset, a small New-Jersey based company, recently aquired by Gileat for $ 11.5 Billions. The firm may have developed a larger product (i.e targetting a larger market) than Telaprevir. Needless to say this is a dire straight for Vertex..

To read the whole story, please click here !