Week in Review: June 20–24

More transmissible cancers in clams; first human trial for Zika vaccine a go; Great Barrier Reef bleaching; neuronal diversity; mosquito bites enhance viral infection; news from the American Society for Microbiology annual meeting

Tracy Vence
Jun 24, 2016

Clam cancers

Columbia University researchers who identified the first examples of transmissible cancers in mollusks have now identified three more examples of such maladies, affecting three bivalve species. “A few years ago, we only knew of two examples [of transmissible cancers]: in dogs and Tasmanian devils,” said Elizabeth Murchison of the University of Cambridge, U.K., who was not involved in the work. “Now, with five transmissible cancers in bivalves and the identification of a second transmissible cancer in Tasmanian devils, perhaps these cancers are not as rare as we previously thought.”

Zika vaccine trial

The US Food and Drug Administration has green-lighted a Phase 1 clinical trial to assess the effects of a Zika vaccine codeveloped by researchers at Inovio Pharmaceuticals and elsewhere.

Infection assistants

Mosquito bites can enhance viral replication through increased host inflammation, according to the results of a mouse study.

Reef bleaching

At the International Coral Reef Symposium held in Honolulu, Hawaii, researchers at Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies discussed their assessments of ongoing damage to the Great Barrier Reef as a result of climate change. “The corals we’re looking at are almost falling apart. They’re the sickest we’ve ever seen,” Bill Leggat, an associate professor at the ARC Centre, told The Scientist.

Memory molecule?

Cathepsin B, an enzyme released by muscles following exercise, was associated with memory improvement in mice and people in a recent study.

Neuronal diversity

Sequencing DNA and messenger RNA from single brain cells, researchers seek to better understand differences in gene expression among neurons. This week, a team led by researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and the University of California, San Diego, reported a method for analyzing transcription in individual neurons.

#FieldworkFail book

“It’s important to talk about failures,” illustrator Jim Jourdane told The Scientist. “It’s kind of humanizing science.” Jourdane is working to self-publish his depictions of fieldwork bloopers submitted by scientists.

News from #ASMMicrobe2016

Salt-loving extremophiles; sex differences in immunity; shared mouth microbes; notable quotes