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Apr 15, 2009 (Vol. 29, No. 8)


  • Useful virus info
  • Poor organization, design
VBRC is an acronym for the Viral Bioinformatics Resource Center at the University of Alabama and the University of Victoria. Focusing on NIH/NIAID Category A, B, and C priority pathogens because they represent possible bioterrorist threats or are emerging infectious diseases, the VBRC is concerned with the Arenaviridae, Bunyaviridae, Flaviviridae, Filoviridae, Paramyxoviridae, Poxviridae, and Togaviridae viruses. The site’s collection of tools and information is a bit checkered. Clicking on the hyperlinked name of each viral family brings up references and descriptions of the viruses. Another section entitled Research Express is more useful. It contains bioinformatics tools, curated gene information, access to genome sequences, BLAST functions, and virus-specific information. I must say that I didn’t find the layout to be overly efficient, and worse, clicking on links like the VBRC Analytical Workbench brought up an annoying FLASH-based animation. Overall, this is a mixed bag.
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*The opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s) and should not be construed as reflecting the viewpoints of the publisher, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., the publishing house, or employees and affiliates thereof.

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Scientifically Studying Ecstasy

MDMA (commonly known as the empathogen “ecstasy”) is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which is reserved for compounds with no accepted medical use and a high abuse potential. Two researchers from Stanford, however, call for a rigorous scientific exploration of MDMA's effects to identify precisely how the drug works, the data from which could be used to develop therapeutic compounds.

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