TS Picks: February 18, 2016

Behind the Theranos investigation; data-sharing beyond Zika; NCI to replace some cell lines with mouse avatars

Tracy Vence
Feb 17, 2016


Selections from The Scientist’s reading list:

  • ProPublica this week (February 16) has the story behind The Wall Street Journal’s October 2015 article investigating the blood-testing startup Theranos, which is facing scrutiny by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and other agencies. “I’ve heard, and pretty much ascertained during my reporting, that the company did not offer any information about the science, and about how the technology worked, about how its laboratory instrument worked, or about its financials,” the Wall Street Journal’s John Carreyou told ProPublica. “So investors who were ponying up this money were, for the most part, going in blind.”
  • Researchers, funding agencies, and publishers are agreeing to freely share data related to the ongoing Zika virus epidemic. While it’s undoubtedly a step in the right direction, The Scientist’s Kerry Grens noted last week (February 10): “How about other infectious diseases/medical conditions?” Shouldn’t these data also be made available to all? STAT News’s Adam Marcus and Ivan Oransky agree. “[We] wish announcements like last week’s could happen without the backslapping, and make data sharing for all conditions—not just Zika—the reality,” they wrote in a February 16 op/ed.
  • The National Cancer Institute (NCI) will begin to phase out NCI-60, the agency’s collection of 60 human cancer cell lines, replacing them with new patient-derived xenografts, Nature News reported this week (February 17). “Despite their limitations, some researchers say they have already translated [patient-derived xenograft] results into clinical gains,” Nature reported. Livio Trusolino of the University of Turin, Italy, who has used mouse avatars to model human cancers, told Nature: “For the first time in my life, my results have been translated into a benefit for patients.” (See “My Mighty Mouse,” The Scientist, April 2015.)