The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 39.0°F | Fair

News Briefs

Army Creates Biotechnology Research Center

THE NEW YORK TIMES -- LOS ANGELES

Seeking to harness biotechnology in new ways, the U.S. Army is establishing a research institute at three universities to apply biology to the development of sensors, computers and materials.

The new center, the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, will have its headquarters at the University of California at Santa Barbara, with some of the work also to be done at the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The initial grant is for up to $50 million over five years, the Army and the universities said.

The Army has long been involved in medical research involving biotechnology, including defense against biological warfare agents. But it wants to broaden the use of biotechnology to nonmedical areas.

“We feel that this coming century the big technologies will be biotechnology, that biotechnology has the potential to transform how we conduct our business probably as much as I.T. did in the past century,” said James J. Valdes, a scientific adviser for biotechnology at the Army, referring to information technology.

Ex-Shareholders Sue Polaroid Over Auditing

THE BOSTON GLOBE

Former shareholders of Polaroid Corp. Tuesday filed a lawsuit charging the company’s auditors and top financial executives -- including former chairman Gary DiCamillo -- with misleading investors by making the firm’s condition look better than it actually was in the months leading up to its bankruptcy in October 2001.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in New York, comes on the heels of a damaging report by a court-appointed examiner who said last week that Polaroid and the auditing firm, KPMG LLP of New York, engaged in improper accounting and failed to warn investors of the company’s deteriorating finances.

The suit is based in part on sworn testimony given by DiCamillo and other executives associated with Polaroid’s bankruptcy. Lawyers who filed the case sat in on depositions given by DiCamillo and others over the past few months, as the court examiner, Perry M. Mandarino, conducted his investigation.

The suit’s allegations are similar to many of the findings in Mandarino’s report. Like the report, the lawsuit claims that Polaroid and KPMG engaged in improper accounting transactions that improved the appearance of the company’s balance sheet, a measure of a firm’s assets and liabilities. That enabled the company to meet lenders’ measures of financial health.

Study Finds Zoloft Effective For Depressed Children

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Zoloft, a commonly prescribed antidepressant, is effective for treating moderate to severe depression in children and adolescents, researchers are reporting on Wednesday.

The study, the largest to test one of the antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, in children, found that 69 percent of the subjects who took the drug improved significantly, compared with 59 percent of those who took a dummy pill, a difference that some experts termed modest.

In the report, which appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the researchers concluded that Zoloft, made by Pfizer, “is an effective and well-tolerated short-term treatment” for depressed children and adolescents.