TS Picks: January 26, 2016

NEJM and “research parasites”; battle of the CRISPR biotechs; phage therapy in the spotlight

Tracy Vence
Jan 26, 2016


Selections from The Scientist’s reading list:

  • Following publication of a perspective piece proposing data-sharing requirements by members of the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors and an accompanying editorial that referred to scientists who use the data of others as “research parasites,” The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) this week (January 25) emphasized its commitment to data sharing and explained the regretful word choice. “In the process of formulating our policy, we spoke to clinical trialists around the world. Many were concerned that data sharing would require them to commit scarce resources with little direct benefit. Some of them spoke pejoratively in describing data scientists who analyze the data of others,” wrote NEJM’s Jeffrey Drazen, who coauthored both the editorial and perspective. “To make data sharing successful, it is important to acknowledge and air those concerns. In our view, however, researchers who analyze data collected by others can substantially improve human health.”
  • FiveThirtyEight crunched the numbers this week (January 25), finding that “the battle over CRISPR could make or break some biotech companies.” Meanwhile, Editas Medicine altered the terms—and upped the ante—of its initial public offering (IPO). According to FierceBiotech, Editas “will seek up to $122 million through the sale of 6,785,000 shares at $16 to $18 per share.”
  • Phage therapy has gained considerable attention in recent years, but the clinical data have been mixed. The Wall Street Journal this week (January 25) examined the re-emergence of phage therapy in light of the increasing antibiotic resistance threat. “Now there is a growing push to bring phage therapy out of the shadows and into the realm of daily medicine,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “More labs and biotechnology firms are researching phages as fast as they can.” (See “Viral Soldiers,” The Scientist, January 1, 2016.)