World and Nation

Shorts (left)

From the Lab, a New Weapon Against Cholesterol

The particles that ferry cholesterol through the bloodstream are known as “bad” or “good”: bad if they deposit cholesterol on vessel walls, potentially clogging them; good if they carry the cholesterol on to the liver for excretion.

Now scientists have created tiny particles in the laboratory that mimic those good carriers, scooping up the cholesterol before it can grow into dangerous deposits of plaque. The surfaces of these new particles are coated with fats and proteins so they can bind tightly with the sticky cholesterol to transport it through the bloodstream.

The particles may someday be important in treating cardiovascular disease, said Dr. Andre Nel, chief of the division of nanomedicine and director of the Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Researchers have endowed these artificial particles with the same properties as natural particles that circulate in the blood,” called high-density lipoproteins, or HDL, he said. The artificial carriers can clean up sites where plaques can otherwise rupture, leading to strokes and heart attacks.

U.S. to Set Short-Term Goal Before Climate Change Summit Meeting

The United States will propose a near-term target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions before the U.N climate change summit meeting in Copenhagen next month, a senior administration official said Monday. President Barack Obama, the official said, will announce the specific target “in coming days.”

The announcement of a target will take the current legislative stalemate over a climate bill into account, the senior official said, and thus might present a range of possible reductions rather than a single figure.

The lack of consensus in Congress puts Obama in a tricky domestic and diplomatic bind. He cannot promise more than Congress may eventually deliver when it takes up climate change legislation next year. But if he does not offer some concrete pledge, the United States will bear the brunt of the blame for the lack of an international agreement.

The official also said the president would decide soon whether and for how long he might attend the December climate meeting, which runs from Dec. 7 to Dec. 18. He repeated the president’s assertion that he would consider attending if his presence could be a useful impetus to a deal.

China Wants to Slow Credit Boom

Chinese banking regulators are putting pressure on the country’s banks to raise more capital and temper their rapid growth in lending, in a clear sign of official concern about the sustainability of the nation’s credit boom, senior Chinese bankers said Monday.

U.S. and European officials have also pressed their banks to shore up their finances in recent months, but the reasons behind the Chinese regulators’ capital-raising push are very different. In some ways, the regulatory pressure reflects the robustness of the Chinese economy, in contrast with lingering economic weakness in the West.

Western regulators have put pressure on the banks they oversee to raise money, often through the sale of overseas units and other assets, to rebuild capital bases depleted by losses on mortgage-backed securities and other investments. Western banks have moved to raise the money even as they have slowed their issuance of new loans, which has helped hold up their capital as a percentage of assets.