TS Picks: March 18, 2015

More-potent pot from NIDA; 23andMe and drug discovery; on irisin

Tracy Vence
Mar 18, 2015

Medical marijuana grown at the University of Mississippi in OxfordWIKIMEDIA

Selections from The Scientist’s reading list:

  • As more and more states legalize medical marijuana, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)—which, through a contract with growers at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, supplies all marijuana used for research purposes in the U.S.—is “working to expand the amount and variety of the drug available for study,” Nature reported this week (March 17). According to Nature, however, “the agency’s most potent strains still fall short of the most powerful street pot.”
  • 23andMe Therapeutics “won’t change drug discovery,” according to a Bio-IT World column published this week (March 17), noting the firm’s central role as a consumer genetics company. “As a side business alongside 23andMe’s genetic health tests, however, a drug unit is just one more part of the ongoing experiment to show that some knowledge of value to medicine lies at the end of all the surveys and gene panels.”
  • MedPage Today this week (March 16) examined a recent study on irisin that could undermine dozens of recent papers linking the hormone with exercise. As The Scientist reported last week, nonspecific antibodies used in the detection of irisin may have produced false-positive results. “Nobody has previously considered the fact that the proteins they’re measuring may be nonspecific proteins,” Duke University’s Harold Erickson, who led the latest study, told MedPage Today.