Week in Review: June 1–5

Lymphatic vessels in the mouse brain; screening for past viral exposures; MERS in South Korea, China; plagiarism and retractions

Jun 5, 2015
Tracy Vence

How the brain drains?

WIKIMEDIA, DATABASE CENTER FOR LIFE SCIENCELong thought to lack a lymphatic system, the mouse brain indeed contains lymphatic vessels similar to those found elsewhere in the body, researchers reported this week (June 1) in Nature.

“These structures are bona fide vessels—they express all the same markers as lymphatic vessels in every other tissue, and they drain the CSF, the cerebrospinal fluid, from the brain and the spinal cord into the deep cervical lymph nodes,” the University of Virginia’s Jonathan Kipnis, who led the work, told The Scientist. “So there’s a direct connection between the CSF and the draining lymph nodes.”

“This, in a way, is a breakthrough study because it shows the presence and functionality of a lymphatic vessel in the dura mater,” a thick membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, noted immunologist Jon Laman of the Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, who was not involved in the research.

Viral exposure screen

FLICKR, ALDEN CHADWICKWith just a drop of blood, researchers were able to detect many of the viruses that healthy study participants had been exposed to throughout their lives. Harvard University’s Stephen Elledge and his colleagues described their antibody-based screening approach, VirScan, in Science this week (June 4).

“This is far beyond anything we’ve had before regarding the human antibody response to viruses,” said Kristine Wylie, a microbiologist at Washington University in St. Louis who was not involved in the work.

The team is now making improvements to its test. According to the Mayo Clinic’s Gregory Poland, who was not involved in the work, “if they can perfect this and move this forward, this changes everything.”

Other news in life science:

MERS-CoV in South Korea, China
The World Health Organization reports on newly confirmed cases of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus infections in the two countries, as well as in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Biochemistry Pioneer Dies
Irwin “Ernie” Rose, who shared the 2004 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation, has passed away at age 88.

Retractions Often Due to Plagiarism: Study
The number of plagiarism-based retractions has grown since the advent of detection software, according to a BioMed Central analysis.

Endangered Fish Can Reproduce Without Mating
DNA fingerprinting analysis of a population of sawfish reveals evidence of asexual reproduction in the wild.

Contact Lenses Can Change the Ocular Microbiome
A study finds that wearing contact lenses may alter the composition of the bacterial community living on the surface of the eye.