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News Briefs

Russia Says It Is Making Progress In Apartment Bombing

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- MOSCOW

Six months after nighttime bombs killed more than 300 sleeping Russians, security officials insisted Thursday that a ring of Chechen terrorists is to blame and that they are making progress in bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Investigators from the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the main successor to the KGB, staged a rare news conference and distributed photos of suspects they believe set off the bombs in September. The attacks triggered Moscow’s fierce offensive to regain control of Chechnya, a rebel Russian republic.

The investigators identified six men as taking part in the bombings -- one who is in custody and five others for whom they have issued international arrest warrants. But the FSB officials acknowledged that, although they believe these men carried out the bombings, they have yet to determine who ordered the attacks.

“I believe we will eventually prove with the help of the evidence that we are accumulating that everything emanated from a single center, a single organizer,” said Nikolai Sapozhkov, deputy chief of investigations.

The four apartment-building bombings -- two in Moscow and two in southern Russia -- set off a wave of panic throughout the country. Government officials immediately blamed Chechens, and within days began a furious assault in the republic.

New Evidence May Point the Way To Curing Forms of Blindness

NEWSDAY -- CANADA

Important new evidence that the most common forms of blindness may yet be overcome by manipulating living cells was reported Thursday by a research team in Canada.

Based on experiments using cells from mouse, cow and human eyes, Derek van der Kooy and six colleagues announced that the eye already contains the immature cells needed to repair or replace a damaged retina.

Their discovery is a major surprise, because such stem cells were thought to exist only in the eyes of amphibians and fish, not in mammals. The research team headed by van der Kooy induced these stem cells to grow in laboratory dishes and produce all of the various cells needed in the retina.

Stem cells are important and interesting because they have the ability to grow and form various kinds of new tissues. In bone marrow, for example, stem cells produce a vast array of white blood cells for the immune system, as well as the oxygen-carrying red blood cells. By surprise, stem cells were also recently found in brain tissue.

In the new research, the stem cells the Canadian team found were hidden in a part of the eye called the pigmented ciliary margin. Only one in 500 of the cells found there are stem cells, but they have the ability to grow very rapidly.

“We were able to dissect out a small region of the adult eye, from the pigmented ciliary margin, put them in a dish, and they started to divide,” van der Kooy explained.