Week in Review: July 25–29

Minding sleep spindles; targeting tau with immunotherapy; cloned sheep age normally; pesticide exposure impairs honeybee fertility; Zika updates

Jul 29, 2016
Tracy Vence

Sleep spindles

Neuroscientists are paying more attention to sleep spindles, short bursts of neuronal activity thought to play a role in memory consolidation while the body is at rest.

“Spindles appear to play a central role whenever memories during sleep are undergoing transformation that might be necessary to integrate them into neocortical long-term storage networks,” Jan Born of the University of Tübingen told The Scientist during a conference dedicated to sleep spindles held in Budapest in May.

Alzheimer’s immunotherapy candidate

Researchers at Genentech have reportedly stopped the spread of tau without activating effector function in mouse models and in vitro.

“It is excellent to see additional studies supporting the feasibility of tau immunotherapies,” Einar Sigurdsson of New York University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study, wrote in an email.

Healthy clones

Sheep cloned through somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) age normally, researchers from the University of Nottingham, U.K, and their colleagues have shown.

The finding “is important . . . because Dolly was under the magnifying glass for a very long time,” said Dietrich Egli of Columbia University in New York City who was not involved in the work.

Pesticide problems

Neonicotinoid exposure can reduce the fertility and longevity of male honeybees, scientists at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and their colleagues have shown.

“Because bee society relies on each caste and group of workers doing their job effectively, these sublethal effects, such as an effect on sperm quality may have very significant long-term effects on bee health,” Peter Dearden of New Zealand’s University of Otago who was not involved in the work wrote in an email to The Scientist.

Exercise and telomeres

Telomere transcription is increased in healthy people after they performed a cardiovascular workout, researchers at the de Duve Institute in Brussels, Belgium and colleagues reported.

Carol Greider of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences who was not involved in the work told The Scientist it is not yet clear whether this correlation between exercise and telomere transcription affects aging.

More news in life science

Nose Bacterium Inhibits S. aureus Growth
A study on microbe versus microbe battles within the human nose yields a new antibiotic.

Classic Example of Symbiosis Revised
The partnering of an alga and a fungus to make lichen may be only two-thirds of the equation.

Zika updates

July 25
More than 1.5 million childbearing women could be at risk of infection; pregnancy delays may be insufficient to prevent infection-related birth abnormalities; second study shows low risk of international spread due to Olympics; CDC updates prevention recommendations

July 26
Researchers in Brazil ponder whether virus alone causes birth defects; Colombia declares epidemic over; first Zika-related microcephaly case reported in Europe