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04/28/2017

Society labels harassment as research misconduct

Science

04/27/2017

California’s $3-billion bet on stem cells faces final test

Nature

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.

04/26/2017

Fluid-filled ‘biobag’ allows premature lambs to develop outside the womb

Science

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.

04/25/2017

Bomb attack damages Monsanto research center in Italy

Science

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.

04/24/2017

CRISPR studies muddy results of older gene research

Nature

Scientists face tough decisions when the latest gene-editing findings don’t match up with the results of other techniques.

04/21/2017

Young human blood makes old mice smarter

Nature

Blood from younger humans may have similar rejuvenating effects on older animals as blood from young mice.

04/20/2017

Medical robotics—Regulatory, ethical, and legal considerations for increasing levels of autonomy

Science

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.

04/19/2017

Global coalition chips away at neglected tropical diseases

Nature

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.

04/18/2017

Self-taught artificial intelligence beats doctors at predicting heart attacks

Science

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.

04/18/2017

Exercise is contagious, especially if you’re a man

Science

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.

04/14/2017

Japanese man is first to receive ‘reprogrammed’ stem cells from another person

Nature

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.

04/13/2017

US regulators test organs-on-chips for food safety monitoring

Nature

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.

04/12/2017

Study finds some significant differences in brains of men and women

Science

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.

04/11/2017

Congress and FDA nominee heap love on ‘adaptive trials’

Science

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.

04/10/2017

First medical diagnosis often incomplete or outright wrong, study finds

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.

04/07/2017

Few U.S. animal inspections are being posted

Science

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.

04/06/2017

Trump Completes Repeal of Online Privacy Protections From Obama Era

Washington Post

President Trump on Monday signed a congressional resolution to complete the overturning of internet privacy protections created by the Federal Communications Commission during the Obama administration. The change will allow broadband internet service suppliers, such as cable and telecommunications companies, to track and sell a customer’s online information with greater ease.

04/06/2017

Proposed SC bill would define ‘person’ at fertilization

WISTV

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.

04/05/2017

New EPA documents reveal even deeper proposed cuts to staff and programs

Washington Post

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.

04/04/2017

HIV infections are spiking among young gay Chinese

Science

A dramatic rise in HIV infections among young gay men in China has belatedly captured the attention of both national and local authorities. Although the total number of people infected with HIV remains below 1 million nationwide, the government recently reported that of the 96,000 new cases identified in the first 9 months of 2016, 28% were traced to male homosexual activity, up from 2.5% of new cases in 2006.

04/03/2017

Donald Trump believes the solution to the opioid crisis is talk

Vox

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.

03/31/2017

Europe says University of California deserves broad patent for CRISPR

Science

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).

03/30/2017

Gates Foundation announces open-access publishing venture

Nature

One of the world’s wealthiest charities, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, is set to launch its own open-access publishing venture later this year. The initiative, Gates Open Research, was announced on 23 March and will be modelled on a service begun last year by the London-based biomedical charity, the Wellcome Trust. Like that effort, the Gates Foundation’s platform is intended to accelerate the publication of articles and data from research funded by the charity.

03/29/2017

Zika mosquito genome mapped – at last

Nature

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.

03/28/2017

Dying patients want easier access to experimental drugs. Experts say that’s bad medicine

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.

03/27/2017

Molecule kills elderly cells, reduces signs of aging in mice

Science

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.

03/24/2017

World’s first full-body PET scanner could aid drug development, monitor environmental toxins

Science

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.

03/23/2017

San people of Africa draft code of ethics for researchers

Science

The San people of Southern Africa are among the closest living relatives of our hunting and gathering ancestors. Scientists have flocked to study their age-old rituals and ancient genetic fingerprints. Now, after more than a century of being scrutinized by science, the San are demanding something back. Earlier this month the group unveiled a code of ethics for researchers wishing to study their culture, genes, or heritage.

03/22/2017

Monsanto Weed Killer Roundup Faces New Doubts on Safety in Unsealed Documents

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.

03/21/2017

Federal advisory panels agree Opana’s risks outweigh benefits

USA Today

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.