TS Picks: March 13, 2015

Incidental cancer diagnoses; sound pollution and marine life; the upside of self-promotion

Mar 13, 2015
Tracy Vence

WIKIMEDIA, CALLE EKLUND/V-WOLF

Selections from The Scientist’s reading list:

  • More than two dozen women who purchased Sequenom’s MaterniT21 PLUS noninvasive prenatal testing service have found out they have cancer as a result of having their blood screened, BuzzFeed News reported this week. While such incidental findings are commonly encountered in medical practice, purveyors of noninvasive prenatal testing services are in largely uncharted territory. “When it comes to prenatal tests, however, it’s not clear whether incidental findings have clear-cut diagnostic value,” BuzzFeed noted.
     
  • “Opening the U.S. east coast to seismic airgun exploration poses an unacceptable risk of serious harm to marine life at the species and population levels, the full extent of which will not be understood until long after the harm occurs,” Cornell University’s Christopher Clark and dozens of his colleagues wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama, requesting that he reconsider the US Department of the Interior’s approval last year of seismic testing for oil and gas off the Atlantic Coast. “The ocean is a world of sound, and marine mammals and fish rely on it for feeding, breeding and maintaining social bonds,” Michael Jasny of the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council told New Scientist this week (March 10). (See “A Whale of a Problem,” The Scientist, January 2014.)
     
  • Officials from the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are implementing new cleaning and testing requirements for the makers of medical instruments linked in multiple instances to the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, The Wall Street Journal reported this week (March 12).
     
  • In a post at his SciLogs blog, Matthew Shipman last week (March 6) listed several reasons why scientists ought to speak with the media. “I ask researchers to notify me as soon as a paper is accepted, and then we can work together to figure out if it’s something we want to promote,” Shipman, a science writer at North Carolina State University, told The Scientist in January. (Hat tip: National Association of Science Writers)