Published: Wednesday 30 November 2005

viral cancer: The fusion of human cells is a normal process that leads, for instance, to the formation of muscle and bone. Viral infections can also cause cell fusion, but such cells are generally believed to die without consequences for the host. According to a recent study, however, cell fusion triggered by viruses is a possible contributing factor in the development of human cancer.

The study by Yuri Lazebnik and his colleagues at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in the US raises concerns about the use of fusogenic viruses as vectors for human gene therapy or in other clinical applications.

strong values: Keeping your values -- what matters to you and why -- in the forefront of your mind seems to cut stress and may fortify you against physical illness, according to a study at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), USA.

A further point worth pondering: it doesn't seem to matter whether those values are spiritual or secular. It just matters that you remind yourself that you hold them. The study was based on 80 UCLA undergraduates.

species' spread: In a major development in human evolutionary studies, resear chers from the University of Cambridge argue that the dispersal of modern humans from Africa to South Asia may have occurred as recently as 70,000 years ago. Paleoanthropological projects must now be launched in South Asia if we hope to document the spread of our species and if we wish to explain how we became behaviourally modern, according to Michael Petraglia and his graduate student, Hannah James.

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