As explained in the previous post, Aβ catabolic pathway may offer an effective way to prevent as well as treat Alzheimer's disease (AD). The enzymes involved in Aβ degradation and clearance are- Neprilysin (NEP), Insulin Degrading Enzyme (IDE), various matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) that degrade Aβ and low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (LRP-1) located on Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB), which causes efflux of Aβ from brain to blood.
Daniel at Genetic Future has posted the latest edition of Gene Genie. Go read about blog reactions to Steven Pinker's genome, a DNA database for Portuguese criminals, predictions on what super-power-conferring mutations George Church might find in the genomes of his first 10 volunteers for the Personal Genome Project,  how DNA can tell us where medieval scholars got their cows to make cow-hide manuscripts, and much, much more.

It's a great edition of Gene Genie, so go pay Daniel a visit.
Mutants are always interesting, right?  (With the exception of sequels?)  Anyways, today's mutant offering is two-headed fish in Australia.  (First cane toads, now this?  Can't the Aussies get a break?)

2009 will be an eventful year for Earth observation at the European Space Agency.
Mountains

While the entertainment industry's awards shows are beginning to clog the airways with completely mindless fluff, a recent award by the editors of Science magazine is going relatively unnoticed. In the December10th issue of Science , AAAS announced a series of Breakthrough of the Year awards.2008 BOTY Award
The recent landing of a Airbus A320 on the Hudson was a tragedy narrowly avoided - thanks in no small part to the quick thinking of the pilot after a flock of birds took out both engines on the plane.  But bird strikes unfortunately aren't a new or unusual problem. 

Airports and airstrips are pretty controlled environments - designed that way to avoid and eliminate as many safety concerns as possible.  But all the controls in the world can't necessarily convince a flock of Canadian geese to avoid the flightpath of a commercial jet.  And as we saw on Thursday, the combination isn't pretty - for the plane, or the geese.
Apparently, the Obama administration is taking our votes on what issues matter to us.  It is rare that I feel compelled to vote in a poll that I have to register for but, today, I pulled the trigger on the Change.gov Citizen's Briefing Book. 

We have an opportunity to direct our research and health care dollars toward treatments that have been proven to work.

Vote down the Orwellian "Health Freedom."

OK, here's more commentary on some of the interesting stuff over at Cosmic Variance, this time on the cult of genius:

During high school or college, many aspiring physicists latch onto Feynman or Einstein or Hawking as representing all they hope to become. The problem is, the vast majority of us are just not that smart. Oh sure, we’re plenty clever, and are whizzes at figuring out the tip when the check comes due, but we’re not Feynman-Einstein-Hawking smart. We go through a phase where we hope that we are, and then reality sets in, and we either (1) deal, (2) spend the rest of our career trying to hide the fact that we’re not, or (3) drop out. It’s always bugged the crap out of me that physicists’ worship of genius conveys the simultaneous message that if you’re not F-E-H smart, then what good are you? In physics recommendation land, there is no more damning praise than saying someone is a “hard worker”.


I'm not a physicist, so I don't have any personal experience with how badly physics is infected by a cult of genius. In biology, our geniuses aren't as flashy, partly because brilliant mathematical theories of the type found in theoretical physics don't do much good in biology.
At Cosmic Variance, find out how the once active physicist Frank Tipler now registers high on John Baez's crackpot index:

In science, we tend to valorize (to the point of fetishizing) a certain kind of ability to abstractly manipulate symbols and concepts — related to, although not exactly the same as, the cult of genius. (It’s not just being smart that is valorized, but a certain kind of smart.) The truth is, such an ability is great, but tends to be completely uncorrelated with other useful qualities like intellectual honesty and good judgment. People don’t become crackpots because they’re stupid; they become crackpots because they turn their smarts to crazy purposes.
As a science site, we can continually be baffled that both the left and the right can find something to be critical about.   Some on the right are critical of stem cell research or climate science (Republicans) while some on the left are critical of genetically modified foods or vaccines (Democrats) - to science, it doesn't make much sense.