Short items

  • Iran has unveiled plans for a national nanotechnology strategy. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who chairs the country’s High Council for Cultural Revolution, called for a strategic HQ to deliver progress reports to his department every six months. Iran launched a 20-year plan for economic, social and cultural development last year, which highlights the importance of nanotechnology. 
  • The European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing, a collaboration between the European commission and industry, has agreed on an action plan for the next five years. This will include assimilating best research practice from across industry sectors (represented by the European Chemical Industry Council and the European Association for Bio-Industries among others), to validation and acceptance of alternative approaches to safety testing.
  • The University of Manchester, UK, and drug company AstraZeneca have signed an agreement to enhance each organisation’s research into disorders including cancer, inflammatory diseases, diabetes and obesity. Under the agreement, the organisations will exchange staff, share facilities and encourage joint ventures through long-term funded collaborations.
  • The US National Research Council (NRC) has advised the Environmental Protection Agency to reassess the health risks of dioxins. In a report published on 11 July, the NRC committee said that the EPA was wrong to assume a linear dose-response relationship that extrapolated low-level effects from high-dose animal studies. They recommended that the EPA should now use different tests to avoid over estimating the risks of slight exposure. Dioxins have been linked with cancer and immune system problems.
  • Leading oil and gas companies are backing a ?3.5 million Norwegian project, ’SmartPipe’, to gather and process data from pipelines on the seabed.