The Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden is being sued by a surgeon who claims to have made important contributions to the field of regenerative medicine that should have been recognized in last year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which went to John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka. Rongxiang Xu of the Beijing- and L.A.-based regenerative science corporation MEBO argues that his reputation and career were damaged as a result of being snubbed and that he was subsequently exposed to contempt and ridicule.
WIKIMEDIA, AJ GUEL
The National Football League (NFL) announced on Monday (March 11) that, in partnership with General Electric, it will give $60 million over 4 years to research on the brain-trauma disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Researchers have already better defined and classified its symptoms, and they are getting close to identifying a biomarker for CTE—to allow them to study it before patients die. Earlier this year, for example, researchers developed a biomarker that can be visualized on a PET-scan and used it to detect signs of a protein called tau, which accumulates in some neurodegenerative diseases, in living, retired NFL players. “I think we’re close,” said Ann McKee from Boston University. “Maybe in the next few years, we’ll have something reliable.”
CDC/FRED MURPHY & SYLVIA WHITFIELD
Dutch researchers discover how a novel human coronavirus (hCoV-EMC) that has killed eight people since last summer enters its target cells—by binding to a protein called DPP4. Similarities between this protein in humans and bats hints at the zoonotic transmission of the virus, but so far no hCoV-EMC infections have been linked to bats.
WIKIMEDIA, JASON QUINN
Deciphering transcriptomes is becoming an attractive way to study animal genomes: transcriptomes can often be decoded at a fraction of the cost and effort of a full genome because it only includes those DNA sequences that are transcribed into RNA. Transcriptomics can also shed light on animal development and behavior by giving a dynamic view of gene expression. Recently sequenced transcriptomes include those of the paper wasp (Polistes canadensis), the red spotted newt (Notophthalmus viridescens), and the coral (Acropora hyacinthus). Transcriptome studies will not replace full genome sequencing, noted Thomas Gingeras, a geneticist from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, they can “provide you with the beginning of hypotheses.”
In light of our do-it-yourself theme this month, Effy Vayena of the Institute of Biomedical Ethics at the University of Zurich in Switzerland wrote about the ethical oversight of participant-led research, such as patient-organized clinical trials. Such innovative scientific research methodology requires similarly innovative ways of thinking about this topic, she argued, even forgoing institutional review board (IRB) approval altogether in low-risk situations. “Our proposal opposes a rigid, one-size fit-all model of ethical oversight,” she wrote. “It does not question the importance of ethical oversight, nor the obligation to respect ethical values and research ethics principles. Quite the opposite, it is driven by the commitment to ensure that PLR is done ethically, and in a way that is properly responsive to the risks and benefits that are characteristic of this form of research.”
And other news in life-science:
Using plagiarism detection software, the NSF’s internal watchdog has found almost 100 suspicious cases among the 8,000 projects the agency funded in 2011.
A new analysis finds that while some federal agencies have made strides in safeguarding the validity of their research, more work needs to be done.
Cotton cloth coated with DNA from herring sperm does not burn.
A biomedical researcher whose Nature paper was alleged to contain false data committed suicide in his lab.
Current NSF Deputy Director Cora Marrett will take over as acting director of the agency at the end of next week when Subra Suresh steps down.