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The Independent Online
Want a say on cloning? The UK's Human Genetics Advisory Commission will publish a report on the issue in the next few weeks, and will then want to know what you, the public, think. "We hope to hold some public meetings where people can come along and make their views known," says Colin Campbell, vice-chancellor of Nottingham University, who chairs the HGAC.

A major cause of the brain damage in Alzheimer's disease may be caused by a previously unrecognised protein, according to American researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. They made antibodies to the diseased tissue from the brains of Alzheimer's patients. They thought the antibodies would attach to the "tangles" of a brain protein known as tau, but found that they attached to a different protein, which they dubbed AMY. This protein makes up to a third of the diseased tissue in Alzheimer's patients. What could this mean? AMY, which doesn't show up in standard lab staining tests, could be the protein that leads to the tau deposits, so is a key step in the brain degeneration of Alzheimer's. The work is reported in this month's American Journal of Pathology.

A catastrophic earthquake is expected to happen near Tokyo, Japan - but a panel of seismological experts there have admitted, for the first time, that they are unlikely to be able to predict when it will happen, because predicting earthquakes is (to quote the panel) "difficult".

While this may sound like a statement of the obvious, on a par with "nailing jelly to the ceiling is difficult", do not underestimate the importance of earthquakes and their prediction to Japan. A quake of magnitude 8 would probably devastate Tokyo and throw the global economy into turmoil. Despite the inconclusive results so far, the Japanese government has expressed its determination to carry on with prediction research.

Denmark has introduced a tax and compulsory labelling scheme for plastics manufacturers which are aiming to use phthalates. These chemicals are suspected of mimicking female sex hormones and so artificially raising their incidence in the environment.

The aim is to put manufacturers off adding phthalates to soften plastics, after Danish scientists found that some teething rings release phthalates.

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