identify unique sperm gene
may open new avenues for cancer research
Green= X chromosome
Red= SPAN-X protein
biologists at the U.Va. Health System have identified a new gene,
called SPAN-X, that could eventually lead to better diagnosis and
treatment for certain cancers.
first it was believed that SPAN-X is only found in normal testes.
Recently, the researchers found that SPAN-X is also present in some
tumors, including skin, breast, prostate and ovarian. Their findings
are reported in this month's issue of Biology of Reproduction.
the testis, SPAN-X is found in the nuclear membrane of developing
sperm, which suggests it may play an important role in the maturation
of the sperm nucleus. This is a highly specific function, and we
were surprised to find that this gene is also present in certain
cancer cells," said Anne Westbrook, a research associate at
U.Va. and leader of the team that discovered the new gene.
research has shown that certain proteins are found only in the testis
and are introduced for the first time during puberty. To protect
them from being attacked as a foreign invader, the male body has
adapted to hide these proteins from the immune system. However,
since these proteins are not protected from the immune system when
they are produced by cancer cells, researchers believe they will
be good targets for anti-tumor therapy. Full
presidents to oversee National Commission on Federal Election Reform
U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford have agreed to serve
as active hon- orary, bipartisan co-chairs of the newly established
National Commission on Federal Election Reform, being organized
by the Miller Center of Public Affairs and The Century Foundation.
U.S. Sen. Howard Baker and former White House counsel Lloyd Cutler
will co-chair the commission, which will recommend ways to improve
the process used for electing federal officials, namely the president,
vice president and members of Congress. Its initial focus will be
on improving and standardizing the processes now being used to cast
and count ballots for elected federal offices.
is not a commission to rewrite the Constitution or re-fight the
contest in Florida," Carter and Ford said in a joint statement.
"Instead, we hope to bring together thoughtful people from across
the political spectrum to think about how our democratic institutions
can improve the way our nation elects the leaders of our federal
government, including the use of state-of-the-art technology."
addition to holding meetings and public hearings throughout the
country, the commission will have an interactive Web site to provide
citizens with the opportunity to stay informed about its work and
offer their suggestions. The commission plans to release its report
in 2001, in time to help inform the ongoing legislative efforts
of the 107th Congress.
applaud the attention White House and Congressional leaders are
giving to election reform," Carter and Ford said. "We plan to prepare
a report and sponsor research that will be of real use to the Congress
and the administration as they move forward."
commission will sponsor task forces to support its work on such
subjects as the "best practices" being developed by state and local
election officials, the evolution of the federal electoral process,
and legal issues to be considered -- including the appropriate role
of the federal government. Full story.