Week in Review: October 10–14

Scientists search for Zika immunity; archaea, bacteria, and viruses in the deep sea; antibody shows promise for controlling SIV; CRISPR-edited stem cells correct sickle cell mutation; OpenTrials launch

Oct 14, 2016
Tracy Vence

Zika immunity

Screening individuals already enrolled in ongoing dengue studies, researchers are searching for signs of past Zika infections and present immunity to the emerging virus. “We can now analyze Zika infections in children who we know have had a previous dengue infection or not,” Eva Harris, a viral immunologist at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health who is leading such an investigation, told The Scientist.

A dearth of diagnostics that can distinguish exposure to related flaviviruses has stifled these efforts. To that end, researchers are working to develop more sensitive and specific tests.

“Is it true that there hasn’t been Zika around the world?” asked Isabel Rodriguez-Barraquer, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.  “Or has it been there, but we haven’t found it?”

Deep-sea infections

Archaea in the deep sea suffer viral infections more often than bacteria in the same ecosystem, according to a study published in Science Advances this week (October 12). The results imply that “certain microbial populations are much more susceptible to virus activity in these deep ocean regions,” the University of Tennessee’s Steven Wilhelm, who was not involved in the work, wrote in an email to The Scientist.

Preprint first, paper later

In an opinion piece, computational ecologist Timothée Poisot of the University of Montreal urges his fellow scientists to slow down. “We should write our draft, go over it with our coauthors, and then put it on a preprint server. And wait. Some reasonable amount of time. A year, maybe. After a year, when we had the opportunity to share this paper with colleagues, then we can submit it [for journal consideration].”

More news in life science

T Cell Traffic Stop Halts SIV
An antibody used to treat Crohn’s disease controls simian immunodeficiency virus infection in Rhesus macaques by blocking T cell migration to the gut.

CRISPR Corrects Sickle Cell-Causing Gene in Human Cells
Once implanted in mice, the edited stem cells produced normal hemoglobin.

Clinical Trial Database Launches
OpenTrials.net seeks to increase transparency and make clinical research more accessible to the public.

Alzheimer’s Immunotherapy Pioneer Dies
Dale Schenk, who worked to develop a vaccine for Alzheimer’s disease, has passed away at age 59.