Russian science: Sputnik and beyond

Summaries of newsworthy papers include Anaesthesia without paralysis, Cancer: Stem cells and metastasis, High-temperature superconductivity: An organic perspective, Physics: A single artificial-atom laser and Supercurrents in a Bose-Einstein condensate


This press release is copyright Nature.

Its use is granted only for journalists and news media receiving it directly from Nature.

VOL.449 NO.7162 DATED 04 OCTOBER 2007

Wire services’ stories must always carry the embargo time at the head of each item, and may not be sent out more than 24 hours before that time.

Solely for the purpose of soliciting informed comment on Nature papers, you may show relevant parts of this document, and the papers to which it refers, to independent specialists – but you must ensure in advance that they understand and accept Nature’s embargo conditions.

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Molecular biology: Anaesthesia without paralysis

Cancer: Stem cells and metastasis

Russian science: Sputnik and beyond

High-temperature superconductivity: An organic perspective

Physics: A single artificial-atom laser

· Mention of papers to be published at the same time with the same embargo

· Geographical listing of authors

Editorial contacts: While the best contacts for stories will always be the authors themselves, in some cases the Nature editor who handled the paper will be available for comment if an author is unobtainable. Editors are contactable via Ruth Francis on +44 20 7843 4562. Feel free to get in touch with Nature's press contacts in London, Washington and Tokyo (as listed at the end of this release) with any general editorial inquiry.

Warning: This document, and the Nature papers to which it refers, may contain information that is price sensitive (as legally defined, for example, in the UK Criminal Justice Act 1993 Part V) with respect to publicly quoted companies. Anyone dealing in securities using information contained in this document or in advanced copies of Nature’s content may be guilty of insider trading under the US Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

The Nature journals press site is at

· PDFs for the Articles, Letters, Progress articles, Review articles, Insights and Brief Communications in this issue will be available on the Nature journals press site from 1400 London time / 0900 US Eastern time on the Friday before publication.

· PDFs of News & Views, News Features, Correspondence and Commentaries will be available from 1400 London time / 0900 US Eastern time on the Monday before publication

PICTURES: While we are happy for images from Nature to be reproduced for the purposes of contemporaneous news reporting, you must also seek permission from the copyright holder (if named) or author of the research paper in question (if not).

HYPE: We take great care not to hype the papers mentioned on our press releases, but are sometimes accused of doing so. If you ever consider that a story has been hyped, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected], citing the specific example.


[1] Molecular biology: Anaesthesia without paralysis (pp 607-610; N&V)

A method for blocking the activity of specific pain-sensing neurons without affecting other sensory or motor neurons could be used to create a more targeted anaesthesia than is currently available. Bruce P. Bean and colleagues show that introducing a molecule that acts only from the inside of neurons, in combination with capsaicin – the active ingredient in chilli peppers – which opens TRPV1 channels, can be used to block pain and produce regional anaesthesia without the paralysis associated with most local anaesthetics.

In this week’s Nature, the team report that the sodium-channel blocker QX-314 can be made to enter neurons through TRPV1 channels when co-applied with the TRPV1-channel opener capsaicin. In further experiments they demonstrate the same effect in vivo.

This could prove advantageous for generating local anaesthesia in situations in which preserving motor and non-painful sensations is desirable, such as childbirth or dental procedures, or for treating certain types of chronic pain, such as postherpetic neuralgia.


Bruce P. Bean (Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA)

Tel: +1 617 432 1139; E-mail: [email protected]

Edwin W McCleskey (Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Chevy Chase, MD, USA)
E-mail: [email protected] N&V author

[2] Cancer: Stem cells and metastasis (pp 557-563)

Some stem cells derived from bone marrow encourage cell invasion and spreading in breast cancer, according to new research in Nature this week. Robert Weinberg and colleagues demonstrate that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), as a result of cancer cell stimulation, enhance the cancer’s ability to migrate.

MSCs have previously been thought to have a role in breast tumours. Here the authors show that human breast cancer cells induce MSCs to produce the cytokine CCL5 in mice. CCL5 then acts on breast tumour cells, helping them to pass through blood vessels and find new metastatic sites. Human breast cancers also contain MSCs, which suggests that a potential therapeutic strategy could target CCL5 and its receptor.


Robert Weinberg (Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA, USA)
Tel: +1 617 258 5159; E-mail: [email protected]

Russian science: Sputnik and beyond

The launch of Sputnik changed the practice of science around the world, argues Alexei Kojevnikov in an essay in Nature this week. In response to Sputnik the research community in the West became, “much larger, more multiracial and more multicultural,” suggests Kojevnikov. Scientific education was made more readily available and policy makers narrowed the gap between pure and applied science — paving the way for the science community as we know it today.

A related commentary by economist and former science minister Boris Saltykov charts the rise and fall of soviet science and sees opportunity for change and innovation in today’s Russia. Saltykov calls for “private investment in research and development and support for small innovative businesses”. In basic science, he explains, the main tasks are structural reform of the Russian Academy of Science and creation of research universities. “We need to identify and trust young leaders who have international experience, to solve these tasks,” he concludes.

The articles are part of a special package of journalism and opinion on science in Russia marking the 50th anniversary of Sputnik.


Alexei Kojevnikov (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)

Tel: +1 604 253 7431; E-mail: [email protected]

Boris Saltykov (Russian House for International Scientific and

Technological Cooperation, Moscow, Russia)

Tel: +7 495 629 61 60; E-mail: [email protected]

[3] High-temperature superconductivity: An organic perspective (pp 584-587)

High-temperature superconductivity, discovered in a variety of copper oxide materials, has been known for over 20 years, yet is still poorly understood. For example, unlike conventional superconductors, high-temperature superconductors do not simply transform to a normal metal when heated above the superconducting transition temperature: at these higher temperatures, a form of fluctuating superconductivity is present, as if the material cannot decide whether or not it is a metal or a superconductor.

In this week’s Nature, Arzhang Ardavan and colleagues report similar behaviour in a very different type of material: superconducting organic metals. In this class of metals, these enigmatic fluctuations are most pronounced in samples that are close to being in a very different electronic state — a so-called ’Mott insulator’. Given that the non-superconducting relatives of the high-temperature superconductors are also Mott insulators, these findings suggest that a similar underlying mechanism drives this behaviour in both types of material.


Arzhang Ardavan (University of Oxford, UK)
Tel: +44 1865 272 366; E-mail: [email protected]

[4] Physics: A single artificial-atom laser (pp 588-590)

A laser that consists of the equivalent of a single atom fabricated onto a superconducting silicon chip is reported in Nature this week.

The device is a quantum optical system consisting of a quantum bit with three energy levels, which behaves like an atom and is embedded in a resonator. The wavelength and power of the emitted microwaves can be specified in the design process, and, unlike conventional lasers, it has no threshold power before photons are emitted. This new sort of laser, designed by Oleg Astafiev and colleagues, could be used as source of microwaves in a quantum information system.


Oleg Astafiev (NEC, Nano Electronics Research Laboratories, Ibaraki, Japan)
Tel: +81 29 850 1188; E-mail: [email protected]

[5] Supercurrents in a Bose-Einstein condensate (pp 579-583; N&V)

An unusual quantum effect called the Josephson effect has been observed for the first time in a Bose–Einstein condensate, according to a paper in this week’s Nature.

The Josephson effect relates to an electron tunnelling through an insulator and causing a quantum current to flow, an effect first observed between superconducting elements. Now J. Steinhauer and colleagues show that the effect can occur in another type of material. A Bose–Einstein condensate is an ultralow temperature gas in a coherent quantum state. Atoms, rather than electrons, carry the Josephson current in this medium. The effect could in principle be put to use in extremely sensitive rotation sensors.


Jeff Steinhauer (Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel)
Tel: +972 4829 2882; E-mail: [email protected]

Charles A Sackett (University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA)
Tel: +1 434 924 6795; E-mail: [email protected] N&V author


[7] Persistence of full glacial conditions in the central Pacific until 15,000 years ago (pp 591-594)

[8] An epipodite-bearing crown-group crustacean from the Lower Cambrian (pp595-598)

[9] Reconciling complexity with stability in naturally assembling food webs (pp 599-602)


***These papers will be published electronically on Nature's website on 03 October at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern time (which is also when the embargo lifts) as part of our AOP (ahead of print) programme. Although we have included them on this release to avoid multiple mailings they will not appear in print on 04 October, but at a later date.***

[10] Architectural and mechanistic insights into an EHD ATPase involved in membrane remodelling

DOI: 10.1038/nature06173

[11] Regulation of cell cycle progression and gene expression by H2A deubiquitination

DOI: 10.1038/nature06256


The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. For example, London: 4 - this means that on paper number four, there will be at least one author affiliated to an institute or company in London. The listing may be for an author's main affiliation, or for a place where they are working temporarily. Please see the PDF of the paper for full details.

Kunming: 8


Espoo: 4


Aix-en-Provence: 7

Grenoble: 7

Nancy: 7


Heidelberg: 6

Ulm: 8

Dublin: 6

Haifa: 5


Ibaraki: 4

Kanagawa: 6

Saitama: 4


Utrecht: 9

Wageningen: 9

Yerseke: 9


Cambridge: 9

Leicester: 8

Oxford: 3

York: 9



Menlo Park: 6

Pasadena: 7


Argonne: 3


Boston: 1, 2

Cambridge: 2

Charlestown: 1

Framingham: 2


For North America and Canada

Katie McGoldrick, Nature Washington

Tel: +1 202 737 2355; E-mail: [email protected]

For Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan

Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo

Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; E-mail: [email protected]

For the UK/Europe/other countries not listed above

Katherine Anderson, Nature London

Tel: +44 20 7843 4502; E-mail [email protected]

About NPG

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd, dedicated to serving the academic, professional scientific and medical communities. NPG's flagship title, Nature, was first published in 1869. Other publications include Nature research journals, Nature Reviews, Nature Clinical Practice and a range of prestigious academic journals including society-owned publications. NPG also provides news content through [email protected]. Scientific career information and free job postings are offered on Naturejobs.

NPG is a global company with headquarters in London and offices in New York, San Francisco, Washington DC, Boston, Tokyo, Paris, Munich, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Delhi, Mexico City and Basingstoke. For more information, please go to

Published: 03 Oct 2007

Contact details:

The Macmillan Building, 4 Crinan Street
N1 9XW
United Kingdom

+44 20 7833 4000
News topics: 
Content type: