Week in Review: June 30–July 4

STAP retractions; comparing SCNT-derived stem cells with iPSCs; malaria-infected mice more attractive to mosquitoes; stem cell banks face business challenges

By | July 4, 2014

Nature issues STAP retractions

HARUKO OBOKATANo surprise here: after five months of controversy surrounding the stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) studies, Nature this week (July 2) issued retractions of both papers, as well as a News and Views article published alongside them in January. In an editorial, the journal said that its editors and reviews could not have detected the issues that ultimately led to the studies’ demise. Nature said it was misled by the authors and is taking steps to ensure there won’t be another STAP saga.

SCNT cells trump iPSCs?

OHSU In a comparative analysis led by investigators who last year introduced the somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technique to dedifferentiate somatic cells, SCNT-derived cells showed more likeness to human embryonic stem cells than did induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived from the same source. The team’s work was published in Nature this week (July 2).

“This is an extremely important study showing that differences exist between stem cells made by nuclear transfer compared to reprogramming by transcription factors [to create iPSCs],” George Daley, a stem cell biologist at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School who was not involved in the work, told The Scientist in an e-mail. “It suggests that reprogramming by nuclear transfer may be slightly more effective than reprogramming by transcription factors.”

The rise of iPSC banks

WIKIMEDIA, GOLDMUND100A growing number of institutions are banking on stem cells-as-a-service, with iPSCs a primary focus. The Scientist this week (June 30) examines the rise of iPSC banks and charted the challenges these repositories are facing.

“The return for it potentially, for anybody, is huge,” said the University of Edinburgh’s Ian Wilmut. “And this is why we would think it’s well worth making the effort, and now is the time.”

More news:

Mosquitoes Attracted to Malaria-Infected Mice
Mice infected with a malaria-causing parasite emit odors that are more attractive to malaria-transmitting mosquitoes than uninfected animals, a study shows.

Unraveling the Female Fruit Fly Mating Circuit
Three teams identify different components of the female Drosophila nervous system that govern mating behaviors.

Other news in life science:

Retraction Notices Delayed
Indexing of retractions on PubMed is not immediate; some are delayed for years.

The Rise of Color
An analysis of modern birds reveals that carotenoid-based plumage coloring arose several times throughout their evolutionary history, dating as far back as 66 million years ago.

NIH Expands Undiagnosed Diseases Program
The National Institutes of Health is funding six extramural medical centers to help identify the causes of mysterious diseases.

Lichen Legion
Genetic analysis splits one species into 126.

Retracted, Republished, but Not Re-reviewed
A once-retracted study about the health effects of GMO maize was not peer reviewed before it was republished, as its lead author claimed.

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