When California voters approved US$3 billion in funding for stem-cell research in 2004, biologists flocked to the state, and citizens dreamed of cures for Parkinson’s disease and spinal-cord injuries. Now, the pot of money — one of the biggest state investments in science — is running dry before treatments have emerged, raising questions about whether Californians will pour billions more into stem-cell research.
Overcoming engineering, biology, and technology obstacles, a team of researchers has crafted what may be the best artificial womb yet: a fluid-filled bag in which lambs born early can live for up to 4 weeks, before being ushered into the outside world. Although others have designed similar systems that are still in animal testing, this one is notable for its stripped-down simplicity.
Earlier this week, in the middle of Easter night in Olmeneta, Italy, an unknown person attacked the Monsanto Research Center with several “bottle bombs” or Molotov cocktails, small improvised explosive devices. The 16 April assault, apparently a protest against research on genetically modified organisms (GMO), did not injure anyone but firemen worked for hours to stop a blaze set off by one bomb that devastated the cold room where most of the small facility’s experimental seeds are usually stored.
Scientists face tough decisions when the latest gene-editing findings don’t match up with the results of other techniques.
Blood from younger humans may have similar rejuvenating effects on older animals as blood from young mice.
The regulatory, ethical, and legal barriers imposed on medical robots necessitate careful consideration of different levels of autonomy, as well as the context for use.
Neglected tropical diseases affect roughly 1 billion people worldwide and kill about 534,000 each year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But drug companies and science agencies in rich countries tend to ignore these maladies because they almost exclusively afflict the world’s poorest people.
Doctors have lots of tools for predicting a patient’s health. But—as even they will tell you—they’re no match for the complexity of the human body. Heart attacks in particular are hard to anticipate. Now, scientists have shown that computers capable of teaching themselves can perform even better than standard medical guidelines, significantly increasing prediction rates. If implemented, the new method could save thousands or even millions of lives a year.
They found that as people in cities with nice weather went for especially long runs, their friends in unaffected cities would extend their own runs, increasing their running distance and time and burning more calories. That suggests that at least some of that extra exercise is thanks to social influence, the researchers write today in Nature Communications. Men appeared more susceptible than women: They were strongly affected by male friends and moderately affected by female friends, whereas women were moderately affected by other women and unaffected by men.
On 28 March, a Japanese man in his 60s became the first person to receive cells derived from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells donated by another person. The surgery is expected to set the path for more applications of iPS-cell technology, which offers the versatility of embryonic stem cells without their ethical taint. Banks of iPS cells from diverse donors could make stem-cell transplants more convenient to perform, while slashing costs.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has started testing whether livers-on-a-chip — miniature ‘organs’ engineered to mimic biological functions — can reliably model human reactions to food and foodborne illnesses. The experiments will help the agency to determine whether companies can substitute chip data for animal data when applying for approval of a new compound, such as a food additive, that could prove toxic. It is the first time a regulatory agency anywhere in the world has pursued organs-on-chips as an alternative to animal testing.
Do the anatomical differences between men and women—sex organs, facial hair, and the like—extend to our brains? The question has been as difficult to answer as it has been controversial. Now, the largest brain-imaging study of its kind indeed finds some sex-specific patterns, but overall more similarities than differences. The work raises new questions about how brain differences between the sexes may influence intelligence and behavior.
This week, as President Donald Trump’s nominee to head FDA, Gottlieb sat before Republican lawmakers hungry for promises of “shorter time frames” for drug and device approvals, and again expressed his zeal—repeatedly—for adaptive trial designs. If confirmed to be FDA’s head, as expected, Gottlieb suggested he’d promote wider use of the approach.
The San Diego Union-Tribune
When your doctor gives a diagnosis of a complicated disease, it often pays to get an independent second look, according to a study from Mayo Clinic published Tuesday.
The Donald Trump administration appears to have reversed its decision to remove from public sight the results of past government inspections of animal research facilities. But getting hold of new inspection reports is proving to be another matter. An animal welfare researcher has found that only four reports have been posted during the first quarter of 2017.
South Carolina’s Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant is fighting for the ‘right to life’ for unborn children, starting at fertilization. He sponsored the bill as a senator along with 18 other senators who also signed on as sponsors. In a standing room only meeting on Thursday morning, there was moving testimony on the bill from those both for and against it. If passed, the act would grant the same rights to the zygote or fertilized egg, as to the adult.
The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a new, more detailed plan for laying off 25 percent of its employees and scrapping 56 programs including pesticide safety, water runoff control, and environmental cooperation with Mexico and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
President Donald Trump will soon sign an executive order to tackle what he’s called the “total epidemic” of opioid abuse and addiction. The main objective of the order is to create a commission that’s tasked with publishing a report on what to do about America’s deadliest drug crisis ever.
The European Patent Office (EPO) announced on 23 March its “intention to grant a patent” to the University of California (UC) for its broad-based claims about the genome-editing tool popularly known as CRISPR. UC, on behalf of several parties, has been in a pitched battle with the Broad Institute of Cambridge, Massachusetts, over CRISPR patents, and the new decision marks a sharp departure from the position of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).
As the Zika virus raced across the Western Hemisphere in 2015 and 2016, geneticists eager to battle the outbreak felt crippled. The genome sequence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads Zika was incomplete and consisted of thousands of short DNA fragments, hampering research efforts. With help from a new technique for stitching together genome sequences, scientists have finally ‘assembled’ the genome of A. aegypti as well as that of Culex quinquefasciatus, a mosquito that transmits West Nile virus.
Watertown Daily Times
DeBartoli walks with difficulty and falls frequently. He’s losing his ability to breathe on his own. Now the 55-year-old from Tracy, Calif., has pinned his hopes on an experimental drug made by Genentech — and a new “right-to-try” law that allows desperate patients to take medications before they’ve been fully vetted by the Food and Drug Administration. The measure’s newest fan is President Donald Trump, who said the FDA’s caution in granting dying patients access to some medications had “always disturbed” him. But for all its populist appeal, the push for right-to-try laws has raised the ire of ethicists, drug safety experts and a former FDA commissioner.
Even if you aren’t elderly, your body is home to agents of senility—frail and damaged cells that age us and promote disease. Now, researchers have developed a molecule that selectively destroys these so-called senescent cells. The compound makes old mice act and appear more youthful, providing hope that it may do the same for us.
Researchers are working to build the world’s first full-body PET scanner, which they claim will increase our power to understand what’s going on in our bodies through more vivid PET images and the opportunity to examine how the whole body responds to drugs and toxins.
New York Times
The reputation of Roundup, whose active ingredient is the world’s most widely used weed killer, took a hit on Tuesday when a federal court unsealed documents raising questions about its safety and the research practices of its manufacturer, the chemical giant Monsanto.
The new extended-release version of Endo Pharmaceuticals’ Opana may even be more dangerous than the version it replaced, according to critics including the advocacy group Public Citizen. Two Food and Drug Administration advisory panels seemed to agree, voting 18 to 8 that it presents more risks than benefits to society. Next it’s up to the FDA to decide whether to act on the panels’ advice, which it generally does. Possible actions include changes to labels, restriction of prescriptions and an outright ban.