Contamination created controversial ‘acid-induced’ stem cells

Stem cells that were claimed to be created simply by exposing ordinary cells to stress were probably derived from embryonic stem cells, according to the latest investigation into an ongoing scientific scandal. How that contamination occurred, however, remains an open question.  Read more

Australian gene-patent case dismissed

An Australian federal court has thrown out an lawsuit challenging a patent on the cancer-associated gene BRCA1. The decision, issued 5 September, is the latest setback for patient advocates who argue that the patent limits genetic-testing options for Australian cancer patients.  Read more

US agency reverses stance on controversial diabetes drug

If ever there were a case study in the messy uncertainties of drug development, the diabetes drug Avandia (rosiglitazone) would be a prime candidate. On 25 November, US regulators removed safety restrictions that had been pasted on the drug in 2010 following concerns about heart risks. After years of debate and deliberation, Avandia can be marketed and prescribed freely again, even though, by now, sales of the drug have plummeted as people with diabetes turn to other options.  Read more

$500 million cancer pledge comes with a catch

The pressure is on for Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU). On 21 September, the Portland university received a surprise pledge of US$500 million for its cancer institute – potentially the biggest donation in OHSU history. But there is one condition: OHSU will only receive the cash if it raises another $500 million in two years.  Read more