Abstract Science: Mar. 7-11
A call for Zika partnerships, making bacteria less resistant, and an eye-opening stem cell advance. This week in Abstract Science.
(NEJM, 3/9/2016, David Heymann, Louis Lillywhite, Joanne Liu)
There is no doubt that Zika has propelled the global research community to learn as much as they can about the mosquito-borne virus. But will it be coordinated enough to make a difference? A trio of public health experts said scientists need to be willing to share data and biologic samples if they hope to accelerate the pace of research. David Heymann and Louis Lillywhite of the Center on Global Health Security in the U.K., and Joanne Liu with Médecins sans Frontières said during the recent Ebola crisis, outside researchers allegedly appropriated and transported specimens and data to their home laboratories, sometimes without the knowledge or permission of the countries in which they were collected. These practices, pejoratively labeled "parachute" research, have occurred during other outbreaks as well, the trio noted in their perspective this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.
(The Scientist, 3/9/2016, Ruth Williams)
Many countries along with the World Health Organization consider antibiotic resistance to be a major global threat. Will a recent discovery by Merck help alleviate the situation? The New Jersey-based pharmaceutical company found that bacteria that evolved resistance to ß-lactam antibiotics can be rendered susceptible once again if the drugs are combined with newly identified small-molecule adjuvants called tarocins. The findings appeared this week in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
(Nature, 3/9/2016, Monya Baker)
Discs made of multiple types of eye tissue have been grown from human stem cells — and that tissue has been used to restore sight in rabbits. The work, reported this week in Nature, suggests that induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells — stem cells generated from adult cells — could one day be harnessed to provide replacement corneal or lens tissue for human eyes. A second, unrelated paper in Nature describes a surgical procedure that activates the body's own stem cells to regenerate a clear, functioning lens in the eyes of babies born with cataracts. Previous studies have generated retinal or corneal tissue using iPS cells, but none has produced such different types of eye cell in a single experiment.
—Compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Regina McEnery