Week in Review: November 23–27

New mouse interneurons found; epigenetic effects of an antidepressant; defining “high-fat” diets; animal-inspired art
 

Tracy Vence
Nov 26, 2015

New interneurons

DANIEL BERGER, XIAOLONG JIANG, FABIAN SINZ, XAQ PITKOW, ANDREAS TOLIASIn creating the most comprehensive census of the mouse neocortex yet, scientists at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, and their colleagues identified three new subsets of interneurons. Their work was published in Science this week (November 26).

”[The team] took a very detailed, typically small-sample approach and applied it to a big survey,” said Arthur Toga, director of the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging in Los Angeles who was not involved in the study.

“[The study was] a truly impressive tour de force in terms of optimization of every experimental and analytical detail,” said Giorgio Ascoli of the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study in Fairfax, Virginia, who was not involved in the work.

More than fat

WIKIMEDIA, SCHUMINWEBWhat’s in a lab mouse’s “high-fat” diet, anyway? While these diets vary, they typically include lots of carbs...

“Is a high-fat defined diet we’re feeding the mouse really comparable to what a human is eating?” asked Matthew Ricci, science director of Brunswick, New Jersey-based Research Diets. “Of course not. It’s completely different. However, it’s very controlled. This is why we do animal studies. We control the heck out of them.”

Antidepressant’s epigenetic effects

WIKIMEDIA, JUSTINLINGThe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor paroxetine is associated with epigenetic changes that could serve as useful biomarkers of patient response, a team led by investigators at Germany’s Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry showed in Science Signaling this week (November 24).

“The authors identified one interesting mechanism of the effects of an antidepressant and really defined this pathway biochemically in an impressive way,” said Ted Abel, director of the Training Program in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania who was not involved in the new study.

“What is most promising about this study,” Abel added, “is the potential biomarker to follow the biochemical response before waiting to see if the patients improve clinically.”

Animal-inspired art

ARTS COUNCIL OF PRINCETONAn exhibit on view this month at the Arts Council of Princeton in New Jersey features art inspired by animal-built structures. “Animal Architects: Influences on Human Creativity” includes works inspired by nests, cocoons, and insect colonies.

“I’m a fiber artist, so I could relate to any of the animals or insects that did any kind of spinning, wrapping, or weaving,” sculptor Harry Bower, whose work is featured in the show, told The Scientist.

Other news in life science:

CRISPR-Powered Malaria Mosquito Gene Drive
Using the precision gene-editing tool, researchers demonstrate an ability to create large populations of malaria parasite–resistant mosquitoes.

Pfizer and Allergan to Merge
The two drugmakers will join forces in a $160 billion deal—if it’s given the regulatory green light.

Science Oversight in the U.K.
An independent reviewer suggests that England’s seven research councils, which award government research funding, should be put under the umbrella of a new agency that would manage the grant money.

Agar Shortage Limits Lab Supplies
One large provider says the shortfall should clear up by early 2016.

Gut Bugs to Brain: You’re Stuffed
Bacteria in the intestine produce proteins that stop rodents from eating.

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Week in Review: November 23–27

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