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of plants: $18.5 billion. "Nothing is cur-
rently in place to move the nuclear indus-
try along at the pace people perceived it
would move when the 2005 act was passed,"
The idea of the legislation was that Con-
gress would spoon-feed financial aid to the
first half-dozen or so new nuclear plants, and
others would follow on their own once new
designs were demonstrated and a reformed
licensing process was in place. Now, it looks
as if those half-dozen new reactors will be
the limit of the "renaissance," unless more
help is forthcoming. The industry lacks
the votes in Congress to expand the loan-
guarantee program. Subsidies for wind and
solar power are popular, in part because they
can be justified as aid to emerging technolo-
gies. But many legislators feel that nuclear
is less deserving of taxpayer support.
Even now, nuclear power has the poten-
tial to be economically attractive if costs and
competition are favorable---and if overall
demand for power remain strong, with high
industrial use and limited improvements
in e ciency.
All of that is possible. But the odds are
probably not good enough for the nuclear
industry to place a bet with its own money.
Only the government can agree to back up
that bet, and it has yet to do so.
MATTHEW L. WALD IS A REPORTER AT THE NEW YORK
TIMES. HIS FEATU RE "THE BEST NUCLEAR OPTION"
APPEARED IN THE JULY/AUGUST 2006 ISSUE OF
This spring, news of a biological break-
through arrived in the form of baby
marmosets whose feet glowed green under
ultraviolet light. Researchers at the Cen-
tral Institute for Experimental Animals in
Kawasaki, Japan, had genetically engineered
the monkeys to incorporate a gene, derived
from jellyfish, that produces green fluores-
cent protein. It was the first time scientists
had added a gene to a primate in such a way
that a new trait could be passed
to a second generation.
The feat heralds an exciting
possibility: if the genes associ-
ated with some cases of human illnesses
such as Huntington's disease, Parkinson's
disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS),
and Alzheimer's disease were introduced into
primates, colonies of the genetically altered
animals could be used to test therapies for
these disorders. This would probably be far
more e ective than studying the e ects of the
genes in, say, mice or rats, because primates'
brains are much closer to humans' in terms
of complex motor functions and cognition.
"We've been waiting a long time for [disease]
models like these," says John Morrison, a
professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai
School of Medicine in New York.
For years, researchers have created animal
models for the study of disease by transfer-
ring new genes into less advanced animals
such as mice. In 2001, scientists at Oregon
Health and Science University reported the
first transgenic primate, a rhesus monkey
that produced green fluorescent protein. But
the Japanese researchers broke new ground.
Erika Sasaki and her colleagues introduced
the jellyfish gene into early-stage marmo-
set embryos. Then they transplanted the
embryos into adult female monkeys, result-
ing in several pregnancies and a few o spring
that carried the gene. Sperm and egg cells
from monkeys with the gene were then used
to produce additional o spring in vitro, some
of which also carried the gene and produced
the fluorescent protein.
Of course, creating a few transgenic mar-
mosets is a long way from creating colonies
available for testing disease-specific treat-
ments. For one thing, Sasaki and
her colleagues used a virus to
introduce the new gene, which
means that they could not con-
trol how many copies would be inserted into
the monkeys' genome or exactly where they
would be incorporated. Researchers will
probably need to develop a more precise,
consistent way to introduce new genes, espe-
cially if they want to simulate diseases.
Besides, marmosets may not be an ideal
research model. They were a good choice
for the Japanese team because they reach
sexual maturity relatively quickly, and
females may produce 40 to 80 o spring in
a lifetime. They're also less expensive and
more e cient to work with at the colony
level than larger primates that reproduce
less copiously. Still, they have yet to prove
themselves as models for neurodegenera-
tive diseases. That's because their brains
di er more from humans' than the brains
of Old World monkeys like rhesus macaques
do. And less is known about their normal
cognitive function, because it has not been
studied as actively. So for studying disrup-
tions of higher-order processes like memory,
which can be central to neurodegenerative
diseases such as Alzheimer's, they may not
be good enough.
THE FIRST TRANSGENIC PRIMATES ABLE TO PASS ON THEIR
FOREIGN GENES ARE BOTH A STUNNING MEDICAL ADVANCE
AND A TROUBLING PEEK INTO THE FUTURE.
By AMANDA SCHAFFER
BUILD MUCH OF
DAYS WITHOUT GOV
IN THE FORM OF
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