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Antibody May Help Control Breast Cancer


A new antibody developed by Genentech Inc. may prove helpful in controlling metastatic breast cancer. The antibody, known as HER-2/neu, is undergoing research trials at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Antibodies are produced by the body to fight infectious diseases. However, the human body does not make an effective antibody against the HER-2/neu protein, which occurs in overabundance in 1 of every 3 or 4 breast cancer patients and which UCLA researchers have found relates to a poor prognosis with breast cancer.

Genentech's antibody was initially developed in mice. When early tests proved successful, Genentech developed an HER-2/neu antibody incorporating both mouse and human components. A major advantage of the antibody is that it has no known side effects except a mild fever, which may occur in 5% to 10% of patients.

New trials are open to patients who have metastatic breast cancer for which they have received no treatment and to those who have received chemotherapy. Patients must also have an overabundance of HER-2/neu.

Smart Sets: Gone are the days when a bare stage and a couple of spotlights were all musicians needed to get their show on the road. Today's concerts are almost like Broadway shows with their sets and lighting effects.

Full Sail School in Winter Park, Fla., is developing software kits for big concert centers such as Madison Square Garden that will allow designers to preset all lights in the arena, set up the entire show, do a run-through in real-time 3-D and record it onto a disk.

The disk can then be brought to the concert center, popped into the computer that controls the lights, and the lights will run automatically.

Full Sail is developing the kits using SmartScene, a new 3-D virtual-reality user interface from San Jose-based MultiGen. By donning goggles and special gloves, a designer can "fly" through a scene, placing the lights in certain positions, and then view the result from different angles, including the top-down view of the lights themselves.

Pull-Tab Oysters: Trust the French to come up with an easier-to-open oyster. The Fizz consists of a plastic tab connected to a loop of stainless steel wire. The wire loop is threaded around the strong muscle that holds the oyster's shell closed. Pull the tab and the wire acts like a noose, cutting the muscle.

The tab is slipped into anesthetized oysters by hand, a process that adds roughly 50 to 75 cents to a pound of unshelled oysters. The Fizz technology, which has been patented in France, is still being fine-tuned. But Shellfish growers attending the sixth Conference for Shellfish Growers in Seattle in March, where the Fizz technology was demonstrated, were skeptical that U.S. retail customers would pay a premium price for oysters that were easy to open.

Kathleen Wiegner, a freelance writer specializing in science and technology, can be reached via e-mail at

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