TS Picks: December 3, 2015

Inducing brain infections to cure cancer?; new journal publishes bit science; priming the brain for language learning

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Dec 3, 2015

GlioblastomaWIKIMEDIA, CHRISTARAS A

Selections from The Scientist’s reading list:

  • University of California at Davis neurosurgeons Paul Muizelaar and Rudolph Schrot are trying a radical treatment for patients with deadly brain tumors that don’t respond to traditional therapies: remove a portion of the skull to access the brain for tumor removal, then soak that bone in a fecal bacterium before reattaching it in the patient’s head. It’s never been tested before—on people or animals—and the procedure is “heretical in principle,” The New Yorker reported: “deliberately exposing a patient to bacteria in the operating room violated a basic tenet of modern surgery.” The hope is that the bacteria will cause an infection, or abscess, that ousts any remaining tumor cells. “A brain abscess can be treated, a glioblastoma cannot,” Muizelaar said.
     
  • Troubled by the pressure on researchers to publish in top-tier journals—and the correspondent rise in flawed papers—cell biologist...

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