Week in Review: November 9–13

Virus-resistant CRISPR crops; neuron-disrupting amyloid-β–targeting therapies; blood-brain barrier breached; how some gut-dwelling microbes enter the bloodstream

Tracy Vence
Nov 12, 2015

Engineered plants outmaneuver viruses

WIKIMEDIA, CHANDRESThree recent papers chronicle researchers’ use of the CRISPR/Cas9 system to create plants that are resistant to certain viruses. A team of scientists at Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology this week (November 10) reported in Genome Biology its production of Nicotiana benthamiana resistant to the tomato yellow leaf curl virus (TYLCV).

“I believe that the CRISPR/Cas9 system can be extensively applied as a new weapon at a molecular level to protect plants from DNA viruses,” Jianwei Zhang of the University of Arizona and the Arizona Genomics Institute who was not involved in the work wrote in an email to The Scientist.

Brain cell disrupters

GENENTECH, ALVIN GOGINENI (VIA NIGMS)Two amyloid-β–targeting antibodies that failed to show benefit in clinical trials appear to disrupt neuronal function in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers from Technical University Munich, Germany, and their...

The results suggest “that we don’t understand the antibody’s action, and this might go on in the human brain as well,” said study coauthor Marc Busche of Technical University Munich.

Gut to bloodstream

WIKIMEDIA, NIAIDThe blood-gut barrier helps keep most potentially harmful substances from reaching the bloodstream, but scientists at the European Institute of Oncology and their colleagues recently observed how some Salmonella break through this barricade in mice. The team’s results were published in Science this week (November 12).

“First of all, [the authors] are really defining and showing the existence of this barrier and in what way it resembles the brain [barrier],” said immunologist Bana Jabri of the University of Chicago who was not involved in the study. “Then they show a pathogen that apparently has evolved to modulate that barrier to its own favor.”

Other news in life science:

WHO: Sierra Leone Free of Ebola Transmissions
Like neighboring Liberia, the country has entered a 90-day surveillance period, according to the World Health Organization. Transmission continues at a reduced rate in Guinea.

Breaching the Blood-Brain Barrier
Researchers deliver cancer-fighting drugs to a patient’s brain via the bloodstream, penetrating the blood-brain barrier for the first time.

Canadian Gov’t Scientists “Unmuzzled”
The nation’s new leader has appointed cabinet-level science ministers and has removed red tape for researchers wishing to speak with the media.

Oncologist Found Guilty of Misconduct
A government investigation concludes that Anil Potti faked data on multiple grants and papers.

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Week in Review: November 9–13

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