Tag Archives: Ethics

Gene-therapy trials must proceed with caution

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Jesse Gelsinger was 18 and healthy when he died in 1999 during a gene-therapy experiment. He had a condition called ornithine transcarbamylase deficiency (OTC), but it was under control through a combination of diet and medication. Like others with the disorder, Gelsinger lacked a functional enzyme involved in breaking down ammonia, a waste product of […]

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Mothers will do anything to protect their children, but mongooses go a step further

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Mongooses risk their own survival to protect their unborn children through a remarkable ability to adapt their own bodies, says new research published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. Pregnancy can takes a physical toll that, according to some theories, may increase the mother’s levels of toxic metabolites that cause oxidative damage. Increased oxidative damage […]

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Why women earn less: Just two factors explain post-PhD pay gap

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Women earn nearly one-third less than men within a year of completing a PhD in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) field, suggests an analysis of roughly 1,200 US graduates. Much of the pay gap, the study found, came down to a tendency for women to graduate in less-lucrative academic fields — such as […]

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Few studies focus on threatened mammalian species that are ‘ugly’

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Many Australian mammalian species of conservation significance have attracted little research effort, little recognition, and little funding, new research shows. The overlooked non-charismatic species such as fruit bats and tree rats may be most in need of scientific and management research effort. Investigators looked at research publications concerning 331 Australian terrestrial mammal species that broadly […]

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* NIH to retire all research chimpanzees

Fifty animals held in “reserve” by the US government will be sent to sanctuaries. The US National Institutes of Health once maintained a colony of roughly 350 research chimpanzees. Two years after retiring most of its research chimpanzees, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) is ceasing its chimp programme altogether, Nature has learned. In […]

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Illegal trade of Indian star tortoises is a far graver issue

Patterned with star-like figures on their shells, Indian star tortoises can be found in private homes across Asia, where they are commonly kept as pets. One can also see them in religious temples, praised as the living incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. How did they get there? Suspicious of a large-scale illegal international trade […]

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Is the eco-tourism boom putting wildlife in a new kind of danger?

Many tourists today are drawn to the idea of vacationing in far-flung places around the globe where their dollars can make a positive impact on local people and local wildlife. But researchers writing in Trends in Ecology & Evolution on October 9th say that all of those interactions between wild animals and friendly ecotourists eager […]

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Biomedical researchers lax in checking for imposter cell lines

More than half of biomedical researchers say that they do not bother to verify the identity of their cell lines, a survey suggests — even though scientists have been warned for years that many studies are undermined because the cells they use are contaminated or mislabelled. Of the 446 survey respondents, 52% said that they […]

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Poorly-designed animal experiments in the spotlight

Preclinical research to test drugs in animals suffers from a “substantial” risk of bias because of poor study design, even when it is published in the most-acclaimed journals or done at top-tier institutions, an analysis of thousands of papers suggests. “You can’t rely on where the work was done or where it was published.” Scientists […]

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Way for eagles and wind turbines to coexist

Collisions with wind turbines kill about 100 golden eagles a year in some locations, but a new study that maps both potential wind-power sites and nesting patterns of the birds reveals sweet spots, where potential for wind power is greatest with a lower threat to nesting eagles Brad Fedy, a professor in the Faculty of […]

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Where commerce, conservation clash: Bushmeat trade grows with economy in 13-year study

Conservation laws also likely drove increased hunting on Bioko Island in Central Africa. The bushmeat market in the city of Malabo is bustling–more so today than it was nearly two decades ago, when Gail Hearn, PhD, began what is now one of the region’s longest continuously running studies of commercial hunting activity. At the peak […]

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* Human embryos are at the centre of a debate over the ethics of gene editing

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In the wake of the first ever report that scientists have edited the genomes of human embryos, experts cannot agree on whether the work was ethical. They also disagree over how close the methods are to being an option for treating disease. The work in question was led by Junjiu Huang, a gene-function researcher at […]

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* Scientific publishing: The inside track

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Members of the US National Academy of Sciences have long enjoyed a privileged path to publication in the body’s prominent house journal. Meet the scientists who use it most heavily. The building for the National Academy of Sciences was completed in 1924 as a “home of science in America”. The academy’s house journal was established […]

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* How Australia’s Outback got one million feral camels: Camels culled on large scale

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A new study has shed light on how an estimated one million-strong population of wild camels thriving in Australia’s remote outback have become reviled as pests and culled on a large scale. Camels played a significant role in the establishment of Australia’s modern infrastructure, but rapidly lost their economic value in the early part of […]

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Canadian grizzly bears face expanded hunt

Data on grizzly bears in British Columbia are not reliable enough to justify higher hunting quotas, researchers argue. As the Canadian province of British Columbia prepares to open its annual grizzly-bear hunting season, conservation scientists are protesting the provincial government’s decision to expand the number of animals that can be killed. British Columbia officials estimate […]

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Charismatic mammals can help guide conservation

Formula combines flagship species with lesser-known groups to measure value of hotspots. Does highlighting the plight of charismatic species help conservation efforts as a whole? Expand lions, elephants and other charismatic species are not by themselves good indicators of biodiversity hotspots. But a new analysis suggests that studies of tourist-pleasing big mammals can be part […]

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Medics should plan ahead for incidental findings

US bioethics commission weighs in on debate over how scientists and companies should handle inadvertent discoveries in diagnostic tests. Doctors, researchers and companies should expect to find information they were not looking for in genetic analyses, imaging scans and other tests, concludes a report from the US Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues. […]

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Just thinking about science triggers moral behavior

Psychologists find deep connection between scientific method and morality. Public opinion towards science has made headlines over the past several years for a variety of reasons — mostly negative. High profile cases of academic dishonesty and disputes over funding have left many questioning the integrity and societal value of basic science, while accusations of politically […]

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US behavioural research studies skew positive

Unconscious biases may drive researchers to overestimate their findings. US behavioural researchers have been handed a dubious distinction — they are more likely than their colleagues in other parts of the world to exaggerate findings, according to a study published today. The research highlights the importance of unconscious biases that might affect research integrity, says […]

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US brain project puts focus on ethics

Unsettling research advances bring neuroethics to the fore. Optical stimulation of light-responsive neurons in engineered mice can be used to create false memories. The false mouse memories made the ethicists uneasy. By stimulating certain neurons in the hippocampus, Susumu Tonegawa and his colleagues caused mice to recall receiving foot shocks in a setting in which […]

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Many animal studies of neurological disease appear to overstate the significance of their results

A statistical analysis of more than 4,000 data sets from animal studies of neurological diseases has found that almost 40% of studies reported statistically significant results — nearly twice as many as would be expected on the basis of the number of animal subjects. The results suggest that the published work — some of which […]

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Italian stem-cell trial based on flawed data

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Scientists raise serious concerns about a patent that forms the basis of a controversial stem-cell therapy. Davide Vannoni, a psychologist turned medical entrepreneur, has polarized Italian society in the past year with a bid to get his special brand of stem-cell therapy authorized. He has gained fervent public support with his claims to cure fatal […]

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25 generations of cloned mice with normal lifespans created

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The technique that created Dolly the sheep, researchers from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan have identified a way to produce healthy mouse clones that live a normal lifespan and can be sequentially cloned indefinitely. Their study is published recently in the journal Cell Stem Cell. In an experiment that started in […]

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Stem cells in Texas: Cowboy culture

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By offering unproven therapies, a Texas biotechnology firm has sparked a bitter debate about how stem cells should be regulated. Ann McFarlane is losing faith. In the first half of 2012, the Houston resident received four infusions of adult stem cells grown from her own fat. McFarlane has multiple sclerosis (MS), and had heard that […]

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Unchecked antibiotic use in animals may affect global human health

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The increasing production and use of antibiotics, about half of which is used in animal production, is mirrored by the growing number of antibiotic resistance genes, or ARGs, effectively reducing antibiotics’ ability to fend off diseases — in animals and humans. A study in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of […]

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Dozens of chimpanzees retired from research may have to continue to live in lab-like conditions

It is not easy to find living space for a great ape at short notice, let alone more than 100 of them. Yet that is precisely the problem that administrators at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) are scrambling to solve, as the biomedical agency takes its most visible and decisive step away from […]

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Faked affiliation of stem cell researcher not caught for years

For years, Japanese researcher Hisashi Moriguchi claimed an affiliation with Harvard Medical School that did not exist. Of the many oddities in the case of Japanese researcher Hisashi Moriguchi, who admitted over the weekend to lying about a startling stem cell experiment, is how for years he managed to claim an affiliation with Harvard Medical […]

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Case for full publication of controversial flu studies was unbalanced, board member says

A closed meeting, convened last month by the US Government to decide the fate of two controversial unpublished papers on the H5N1 avian influenza virus was stacked in favour of their full publication, a participant now says. Michael Osterholm, who heads the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in Minneapolis, is […]

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The Tamiflu story continued: Full reports from clinical trials should be made publicly available, experts argue

The full clinical study reports of drugs that have been authorized for use in patients should be made publicly available in order to allow independent re-analysis of the benefits and risks of such drugs, according to leading international experts who base their assertions on their experience with Tamiflu (oseltamivir). Tamiflu is classed by the World […]

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Puzzling over links between monkey research and human health

Studies in monkeys are unlikely to provide reliable evidence for links between social status and heart disease in humans, according to the first ever systematic review of the relevant research. The study, published in PLoS ONE, concludes that although such studies are cited frequently in human health research the evidence is often “cherry picked” and […]

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