TS Picks: February 6, 2015

Standardizing antibodies; testing HIV drugs; cancer and “luck”

Feb 6, 2015
Tracy Vence

WIKIMEDIA, KWZ

Selections from The Scientist’s reading list:

  • When researchers used the term “bad luck” to describe how people acquire random mutations that affect their risk of cancer, some scientists were immediately critical of the word choice. “We are aware that the idea that a major contributing factor to cancer is beyond anyone’s control can be jarring,” lead author Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins Medicine said in a statement following news coverage of his team’s work. In six letters published in Science this week (February 4; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), critics again come down on the authors, suggesting the conclusions of their January publication—and its associated university press release—were somewhat misleading.
     
  • The New York Times this week covered the controversy surrounding how researchers test HIV drugs.
     
  • In Nature this week (February 4), Andrew Bradbury of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and Andreas Plückthun of the University of Zurich, Switzerland, called for antibody standardization. “If all antibodies were defined by their sequences and made recombinantly, researchers worldwide would be able to use the same binding reagents under the same conditions,” the authors wrote. (See The Scientist’s sponsored webinar “An Urgent Need for Validating and Characterizing Antibodies,” April 2014.)
     
  • French researchers have named a newly identified plant genus, Sirdavidia, after Sir David Attenborough, The Guardian reported this week (February 4).