TS Picks: July 15, 2015

Detecting maternal cancer following noninvasive prenatal testing; controversial surgeon returns to research; who owns in-progress research?

Tracy Vence
Jul 15, 2015


Selections from The Scientist’s reading list:

  • After having blood drawn for the purpose of identifying potential abnormalities in the fetal genome, some women are receiving unexpected results—the tests are picking up signs of cancer in their own DNA. In a study published in JAMA this week (July 14), scientists from Tufts Medical Center in Boston and their colleagues reported that in a cohort of more than 125,000 women who elected fetal aneuploidy screening, 10 were later found to have cancer. “We need to do a better job up front to communicate with patients that we might find out something about their own health as well,” study coauthor Diana Bianchi of Tufts Medical Center told MIT Technology Review.
  • J. Paul Muizelaar, the former chief of the University of California, Davis, neurosurgery department who resigned in 2013 after being banned from human preclinical research, is now a professor of neuroscience at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, the Associated Press (AP) reported. While at Davis, he and his colleague Rudolph Schrot  infected three glioma patients with Enterobacter aerogenes bacteria hoping to jumpstart an immune reaction to fight the cancer, without approval from the university nor the US Food and Drug Administration. According to the AP, Muizelaar won a private grant to continue his research on animals. (Hat tip: Jonathan Eisen)
  • The ongoing lawsuit between two California universities has reignited the debate over who owns in-progress research, according to Nature News: “Legal disputes over the ownership of data are not unheard of. But such arguments are escalating as universities become more involved in the development of treatments, a trend driven by the drying up of interest by pharmaceutical companies in funding work to bridge the ‘valley of death’ between basic research and clinical trials.”
  • A study published in PLOS Pathogens last week (July 9) characterizes the ability of broadly neutralizing antibodies to inhibit HIV transmission among cells. (See “Neutralizing HIV,” The Scientist, June 18.)