TS Picks: September 26, 2016

World leaders agree to fight superbugs; researchers edit human embryos; peer reviewers’ motivations

Sep 27, 2016
Tracy Vence

Scanning electron micrograph of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureusWIKIMEDIA, NIAID/NIH

Selections from The Scientist’s reading list:
 

  • “We are losing our ability to protect both people and animals from life-threatening infections,” United Nations (UN) Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said during last week’s meeting on antibiotic-resistant superbugs (via Scientific American). “It’s a very present reality.” As The New York Times reported, world leaders agreed to develop national action plans to reduce the looming threat of widespread antibiotic resistance. “Having the U.N. discuss this issue is exciting, but it’s up to the member states to make it real,” Lance Price of George Washington University told The New York Times.
     
  • The Karolinska Institute’s Fredrik Lanner and colleagues are attempting to edit undisclosed genes in human embryos using CRISPR, he told NPR’s Shots last week (September 22). The researchers are using embryos donated by couples who had undergone in vitro fertilization. “My sense is that there are different groups out there doing this kind of work, but they haven’t opened up their labs,” Paul Knoepfler from the University of California, Davis, told Science News. Harvard University’s George Church agreed, telling Science News that while Lanner was the first to publicly disclose his team’s experiments, he’s not the first to attempt using CRISPR on viable human embryos.
     
  • Slate asked the year’s most prolific peer reviewer why he chooses to evaluate the work of his colleagues. “Being a reviewer and an author are two sides of the same coin,” said Jonas Ranstam. “You’re morally obliged. That’s how the system works.”