Archive by date | April 2007

Does human embryonic stem cell research get a fair chance?

The use of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in research is of course highly controversial, raising ethical questions that for many people amount to serious dilemmas. In our April editorial we didn’t address the moral questions at all, but criticized recent efforts to discredit hESC research.  Read more

Sad coincidence

As the news out of Blacksburg, Virginia continues to unfold, it is difficult not to reflect on the importance of mental health services for young adults. In a sad coincidence, a meta-analysis published today in JAMA suggests that despite earlier reports of increased suicide risk, the benefits of antidepressant treatment in children and young adults outweigh the risks. Bridge et al. report that antidepressants helped young people with major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety and increased their risk of suicidal thoughts or attempts by less than 1%. Improved treatment protocols specific for children and teenagers will hopefully help young adults in need. Unfortunately, we all know that treatments can only help those who seek them.  Read more

Is it all about timing?

Just a few weeks can separate a splash from a quiet ripple. On 5 April, Neuron and Nature both published articles reporting genetically targeted silencing of mammalian neurons. In Neuron, Lerchner et al. detailed drug-induced hyperpolarization of neurons expressing a C. elegans chloride channel within hours of treatment. In Nature, Zhang et al. reported light-induced hyperpolarization of neurons expressing an archaea opsin within milliseconds of illumination. The media took note of Zhang’s article, but not Lerchner’s.  Read more