TS Picks: March 16, 2016

Corrections give belated credit for immunotherapy; mosquitoes have been bugging us long before Zika; the bright side of irreproducibility 

Kerry Grens
Kerry Grens
Mar 16, 2016


Selections from The Scientist’s reading list:

  • The New England Journal of Medicine is correcting three papers from a team led by the University of Pennsylvania’s Carl June, who is credited with pioneering a cancer immunotherapy. As MIT Technology Review reported this week (March 14), the publications did not appropriately credit the scientists who designed the chimeric antigen receptor critical for the treatment. “It’s been beneficial for immunotherapy,” Dario Campana, one of the now-acknowledged scientists, told Tech Review. “But we developed this receptor. There is no question about that.”  
  • As the Zika virus advances through the Americas, The Washington Post this week (March 14) offered a grim reminder that the pathogen is just the latest malady humans have suffered at the hands—er, bites—of mosquitoes. For a century we have known that the insects can carry deadly diseases, but efforts to destroy their populations have failed, and there’s evidence now that some mosquitoes have become resistant to a pesticide. “We thought we had taken care of the Aedes mosquito,” entomologist Janet McAllister of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told the Washington Post. “Now, the problem has come back to haunt us.”
  • Psychology has gone through a shake-up recently after studies suggested considerable, albeit debated, reproducibility problems. Yet an article in Vox this week (March 14) looked on the bright side: “If psychology finds it has to start from scratch evaluating its hypotheses, at least it will be able to do so in a manner that’s more methodologically sound.” Quartz had a similar take: “The idea that papers are publishing false results might sound alarming but the recent crisis doesn’t mean that the entire scientific method is totally wrong. In fact, science’s focus on its own errors is a sign that researchers are on exactly the right path.”