Archive by category | Biology & Biotechnology

Baby steps towards rescue of Human Brain Project

Baby steps towards rescue of Human Brain Project

Cautious efforts to restore unity to the billion-euro Human Brain Project have begun. Both the European Commission and the project’s leaders have now responded to a scorching open letter in which angry neuroscientists condemn the flagship project, and pledge to boycott it.  Read more

Chimps from controversial lab move to retirement home

Chimps from controversial lab move to retirement home

Tosha, Sassy, Paula, Julius and their 106 friends will now be munching peppers and bananas without worries of being used to test new drugs. The chimpanzees, formerly used for biomedical research by a US National Institutes of Health (NIH) facility New Iberia Research Center (NIRC) in Louisiana, have now arrived at Chimp Haven, a federally funded sanctuary in Keithville, Louisiana.  Read more

Last remaining support for controversial stem-cell papers collapses

The retraction of two controversial papers which promised a simple way to create embryonic-like stem cells appears imminent today after the lead author unexpectedly gave her full consent. Haruko Obokata, of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, had been the last obstacle to the retraction of both papers.  Read more

Genetic tests suggest STAP stem cells ‘never existed’

Reports of a new kind of stem cell, produced by simply stressing mature mouse cells, kicked up a storm of controversy soon after their publication in Nature on 30 January. Duplicated and manipulated images as well as plagiarism were found in the two papers, which led to a verdict of misconduct for the lead author, Haruko Obokata of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan. There have also been calls for a retraction (which, for at least one of the papers, looks increasingly likely). But the controversy has left open a key question: does the phenomenon, known as stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency, or STAP, exist?  Read more

WHO postpones decision on destruction of smallpox stocks — again

The stalemate continues over the question of when to destroy the last stocks of the virus that causes smallpox, a killer disease that was eradicated in 1980. One of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) two advisory committees on smallpox supports their destruction, while the other opposes this. Last weekend, health ministers of the WHO’s 194 member states again postponed a decision, and decided to set up a third WHO smallpox advisory committee in a bid to broker a consensus.  Read more

Lead author agrees to retract controversial stem-cell paper

Reports in Japan suggest Haruko Obokata, of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, has agreed to retract one of two controversial papers in which she claimed to have created a new type of stem cell, known as stimulus-triggered activation of pluripotency (STAP) cells. The development means that the path may now be clear for the full retraction of one of the biggest science papers of the year.  Read more

European Commission rejects petition on embryonic stem cells

The European Commission has, as predicted, turned down a request from more than 1.7 million citizens for new legislation to ban the funding of research using human embryonic stem cells, including those which do not involve destruction of new embryos.  Read more

US and UK scientists dominate the ‘Hong Kong Nobels’

US and UK scientists dominate the 'Hong Kong Nobels'

The Hong Kong-based Shaw Prize Foundation announced the winners of the annual Shaw Prize today. Three prizes, in astronomy, life science and medicine, and mathematical sciences, each carry US$1 million. It’s the 11th year the prizes were awarded.  Read more