Week in Review: September 12–16

Reprogramming mouse sperm with mitotic cells; Lasker winners; EurekAlert hacked; immunologically matched stem cells for transplant; Bayer buys Monsanto; another CRISPR biotech IPO

Sep 16, 2016
Tracy Vence

Reprogramming sperm

Researchers at the University of Bath in the U.K. and their colleagues have successfully reprogrammed mouse sperm with mitotic cells. The team’s results, published in Nature Communication this week (September 13), show that “this ability is not restricted to eggs at the time of fertilization,” Hugh Clarke, a developmental biologist at McGill University in Montreal who was not involved in the work, told The Scientist in an email.

Press release repository hacked

Journal publishers, public information officers, and reporters who tried to access the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) press release distribution service EurekAlert this week were met with a message describing a security breach. Last week, AAAS believes, the site was hacked. Usernames and passwords were compromised. The Scientist this week spoke with the journalist who first alerted AAAS to the breach, and EurekAlert administrators who said the site would be rebuilt and online again soon.

Immunologically matched stem cells

Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from donors whose major histocompatibility complex (MHC)/human leukocyte antigen (HLA) profiles are genetically matched to recipients’ are less likely to be rejected when transplanted in a monkey model of eye disease, researchers at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, showed in Stem Cell Reports this week (September 15). The team also showed that immunologically matched human iPSCs showed fewer signs of transplant rejection in vitro.

Neonatal microbiome and asthma risk

The composition of an infant’s gut microbial community correlates with his or her chance of developing asthma later in life, scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, and their colleagues reported in Nature Medicine this week (September 12). “While some of this information has been seen in animal models, this is really one of the first and best human studies that fills in many of the gaps of how you get from microbiota problems to immune dysfunction to non-communicable diseases like asthma,” said Rodney Dietert of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, who was not involved in the work.

More news in life science:

Lasker Winners Announced
Discoveries involving a key cellular oxygen-sensing pathway and hepatitis C virus replication are among those recognized with awards from the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation this year.

Bayer Looks to Buy Monsanto
The US agribusiness behemoth agreed to a $57 billion buyout offer from the European pharmaceutical giant.

Another CRISPR Biotech Goes Public
CRISPR Therapeutics, the company started by a pioneer of the gene editing technology, plans to raise $90 million from an initial public offering.

Toggling CRISPR Activity with a Chemical Switch
Researchers design a Cas9 enzyme that cuts DNA only in the presence of particular drug.