Web edition: September 4, 2007
Print edition: September 8, 2007; Vol.172 #10 (p. 159)
If Drs. Glass and Venter succeed in assembling a viable synthetic bacterial genome ("Life Swap: Switching genomes converts bacteria," SN: 6/30/07, p. 403), will the genome or the new life form itself be patentable?
Virgil H. Soule
The team that performed this work stirred controversy when it applied for a patent on a synthetic bacterial genome in October 2006. The patent hasn't yet been granted.P. Barry
It has been reported that vinegar, taken before a meal, can lower postmeal blood glucose. If so, the lowering of postmeal blood glucose by alcohol, as reported in "Alcohol Answer? Drinks lower glucose to protect heart" (SN: 6/30/07, p. 405), may be the result of the alcohol being metabolized to acetic acid by the body.
While both alcohol and vinegar lower blood glucose after a meal, they act through different pathways in the body. Vinegar lowers blood glucose by retarding the release of food from the stomach.C. Barry
"Antibiotics in infancy tied to asthma" (SN: 7/7/07, p. 14) offers two explanations for the correlation of asthma with early infancy antibiotics: a need for the immune system to be trained by early exposure to microbial toxins and a need for normal intestinal microflora in the development of normal immune response. Another possibility is that the rashes and infections that prompted the use of antibiotics share a common cause with the subsequent asthma.
Matthew H. Fields
Ann Arbor, Mich.