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05/12/2017

Integrity starts with the health of research groups

Nature

Last month, the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a report called Fostering Integrity in Research. Later this month, the 5th World Conference on Research Integrity will be held in Amsterdam. Over the years, universities have followed some funders’ mandates to improve the prevention and investigation of misconduct. Many discussions have been held about unreliable research. None of these initiatives pays sufficient attention to a specific issue: the research health of research groups and the people who lead them. This includes technical robustness of lab practices, assurance of ethical integrity and the psychological health and well-being of group members.

05/11/2017

Human noise in US parks threatens wildlife

Nature

Tourists who visit national parks and other protected areas in the United States hope to gain a respite from the sights and sounds of their everyday lives. But evading human soundscapes isn’t easy. Many protected areas are surprisingly noisy, a new study finds, and that can interfere with more than just the peace and quiet visitors seek.

05/10/2017

Postmarket Safety Events Among Novel Therapeutics Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration Between 2001 and 2010

JAMA

Among 222 novel therapeutics approved by the FDA from 2001 through 2010, 71 (32.0%) were affected by a postmarket safety event. Postmarket safety events were more frequent among biologics, therapeutics indicated for the treatment of psychiatric disease, those receiving accelerated approval, and those with near–regulatory deadline approval.

05/10/2017

Pocket laboratories

Nature

Mobile phones are helping to take conventional laboratory-based science into the field, the classroom and the clinic.

05/09/2017

French plan to create €5-billion science ‘super-campus’ in disarray

Nature

French ambitions to create a €5-billion (US$5.5-billion) science ‘super-campus’ near Paris by 2020 seem to be in falling further apart, after a compromise scheme to save the troubled project was rejected by one of its creators.

05/08/2017

In controversial move, Brazil may outsource Amazon deforestation monitoring

Science

05/05/2017

Artificial intelligence prevails at predicting Supreme Court decisions

Science

“See you in the Supreme Court!” President Donald Trump tweeted last week, responding to lower court holds on his national security policies. But is taking cases all the way to the highest court in the land a good idea? Artificial intelligence may soon have the answer. A new study shows that computers can do a better job than legal scholars at predicting Supreme Court decisions, even with less information.

05/04/2017

NIH to limit the amount of grant money a scientist can receive

Nature

For the first time, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) will restrict the amount of funding that an individual scientist can hold at any one time, based on a new point system. The move, announced on 2 May, is part of an ongoing effort to make obtaining grants easier for early and mid-career scientists, who face much tougher odds than their more-experienced colleagues.

05/03/2017

Psychedelic compound in ecstasy moves closer to approval to treat PTSD

Nature

Psychologists have occasionally given people psychedelic drugs such as LSD or magic mushrooms to induce altered states, in an attempt to treat mental illness. Today, many of those drugs are illegal, but if clinical trials testing their efficacy yield positive results, a handful could become prescription medicines in the next decade. The furthest along in this process is MDMA — a drug sold illegally as ecstasy or Molly — which is showing promise in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

05/02/2017

$10 million settlement over alleged misconduct in Boston heart stem cell lab

Science

A research misconduct investigation of a prominent stem cell lab by the Harvard University–affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston has led to a massive settlement with the U.S. government over allegations of fraudulently obtained federal grants. As Retraction Watch reports, BWH and its parent health care system have agreed to pay $10 million to resolve allegations that former BWH cardiac stem cell scientist Piero Anversa and former lab members Annarosa Leri and Jan Kajstura relied on manipulated and fabricated data in grant applications submitted to the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

05/01/2017

Human vaccine data release jump-starts biotech’s bid for RNA drugs

Science

The executive team at Moderna raised a cheer today after publishing their first early snapshot of human efficacy data that demonstrate their messenger RNA tech works — at least on the first try. The biotech tested their H10N8 flu vaccine on a small group of 31 subjects, looking at their response in two different measures. All demonstrated a sufficient immune response to fight off the virus in the first measure, and all but 3 in the second, for a total of 23 who received the vaccine.  None of the 8 subjects who received a placebo responded.

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.