Week in Review: July 11–15

Regenerating retinal nerves in mice; soil inoculation speeds up land restoration; gut microbes and stroke recovery in mice; public gene-editing meeting; Zika updates

Tracy Vence
Jul 15, 2016

Brain’s GPS

Researchers are beginning to understand how the mammalian hippocampus processes navigational information. “What’s emerging in the field in general are efforts to figure out . . . the dimensions in the hippocampus to map location,” Howard Eichenbaum of Boston University told The Scientist.

Retinal nerve regeneration

Stanford University scientists have shown that, in blind mice, combining visual stimulation and chemical activation of mTOR can lead retinal ganglion cells to regenerate, partially restoring vision.

Gut-brain axis

Microbes in the gut can impact a mouse’s stroke recovery, researchers at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Germany, and their colleagues have shown.

Soil inoculation

Excavating overfarmed topsoil and replacing it with a thin layer of donor soil from arable lands can speed up landscape restoration, largely because of the bacteria, fungi, and roundworms transferred with the dirt, scientists from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology reported.

The latest on Zika

Scientists at Imperial College London and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health this week proposed that the ongoing Zika outbreak could fizzle out within three years. “If our projections are correct, cases will have dropped substantially by the end of next year, if not sooner,” study coauthor Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London said in a statement.

GMO labeling

Both the Senate and House of Representatives have passed a bill requiring disclosure on food packages for those products containing genetically modified organisms. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law, multiple news organizations have reported.


The Scientist’s Jef Akst sat in on the third public meeting of the Committee on Human Gene Editing, held in Washington, D.C. “We’re looking for a robust discussion,” said committee cochair Richard Hynes of MIT. “We will subsequently continue to debate these issues.”

More news in life science

Renowned Cancer Theorist Dies
Alfred Knudson, who formulated the “two-hit” theory on the origins of cancer, has passed away at age 93.

Open Letter Leads to Peer-Review Changes
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research will reverse some of the recent changes to its grant-reviewing processes after protests from researchers.

CDC: Olympics May Boost Zika Importation Risk for Four African Countries
People returning from the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brazil will not substantially affect viral transmission in most participating countries, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Web of Science Sold for More Than $3 Billion
Thomson Reuters has transferred the science-citation database, along with the rest of its intellectual property and science division, to private-equity firms.

Another Dinosaur with Short Arms Discovered
Gualicho shinyae evolved small limbs independently of T. rex, researchers report.

23andMe Markets Genome Kits to Researchers
Scientists can now buy the direct-to-consumer sequencing product, and research participants can join 23andMe’s database.