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October 2000
Vol. 3, No. 8, p. 21.

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at the bench

Tartar on the knee
The protein product of a mouse gene called ank may help researchers understand how minerals build up on joints (Science 2000, 289, 265–270). Researchers in California noted that mutations in the ank gene lead to an arthritis-like condition in mice. They speculate that the protein product may transport or regulate the transport of pyrophosphate, the same chemical used in tartar-control toothpastes. The human homologue of ank maps to a region that has already been implicated in joint disease and mineral deposition.

Snake bites back
Researchers at the National University of Singapore recently isolated a new phospholipase A2 inhibitor from the serum of the nonvenomous snake Python reticulatus (Biochemistry 2000, 39, 9604–9611). The researchers then cloned the inhibitor’s gene into E. coli and expressed a recombinant protein, which was able to neutralize the toxicity of a broad spectrum of snake venoms and toxins.

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