TS Picks: August 1, 2016

Anti-Zika potential of already-approved drugs; problems with animal studies; recognizing the contributions of grad students and postdocs

Tracy Vence
Aug 1, 2016


Selections from The Scientist’s reading list:

  • More than 20 of 774 US Food and Drug Administration–approved drugs screened by researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and their colleagues showed some anti-Zika activities, the team reported last week (July 28) in Cell Host & Microbe. “The search for something that will work against Zika virus infection is so urgent that it makes sense to try existing drugs,” Lenore Pereira of the University of California, San Francisco, who was not involved with the work told STAT News. Last month, scientists in Brazil published a preprint showing that sofosbuvir, a drug approved for the treatment of hepatitis C, shows inbhits the Zika virus in vitro, and in May, another team also published a preprint suggesting that the antimalarial drug chloroquine may similarly help fight the infection.
  • Animal studies are often too small and “rife with biases,” Vox reported.
  • The work of graduate students and postdoctoral researchers can be overlooked in large, successful labs. “They certainly reap benefits from their work: support and reflected glory from their supervisors, as well as expertise in a coveted technique,” Nature reported last month (July 20). “But some also face a difficult transition to becoming independent scientists as they try to establish themselves in a hypercompetitive field.”
  • “The majority of irreproducible research stems from a complex matrix of statistical, technical, and psychological biases that are rampant within the scientific community,” wrote Ahmed Alkhateeb of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital in Nautilus. (See “Opinion: Reimaging the Paper,” The Scientist, May 2, 2016.)