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Two groups working in China have grown monkey embryos in a dish for 20 days, more than double the previous record. Researchers grow monkey embryos to understand the earliest stages of development without the ethical restrictions of growing human embryos. Yet the latest studies show there are subtle but crucial differences between how we develop compared to other primates. The results will therefore probably reignite a push to extend the time human embryos should be permitted to develop in the lab.
Measles infections in children can wipe out the immune system’s memory of other illnesses such as influenza. This can leave children who recover from measles vulnerable to other pathogens that they might have been protected from before their bout with the virus. The findings come at a time when measles cases are spiking around the world, and highlights the importance of vaccination.
A new treatment for cystic fibrosis (CF) could see the illness transformed from one that cuts lives short to one that can be managed with medication for 90% of patients. The therapy consists of three drugs that restore the function of the protein affected by CF: one that corrects the misfolding of the protein and two that activate the protein when it reaches the cell membrane.
The US Office of Research Integrity (ORI) has issued a rare lifetime federal funding ban to a researcher whose work led to a swath of retractions and a pricey lawsuit for Duke University. ORI investigators found that former lab leader Erin Potts-Kant faked figures used in 39 published papers. Earlier this year, Duke paid US$112.5 million to the US government to settle accusations that it used bogus data to collect government grants, with $33.75 million of the settlement going to a whistleblowing lab-mate.
Features & opinion
“Re-entering society is incredibly difficult, even more so when you bring the stigma of prison into academia,” says psychology postdoc Noel Vest, who knows the struggles first-hand. Vest and two other academics who spent time incarcerated talk about the barriers they overcame, how they are working to help others make the transition, and why their lived experience can be helpful in their research.
A long-term research project now provides the strongest evidence so far of widespread losses among insects and spiders. Ecologist Sebastian Seibold, who led the research, talks to the Nature Podcast about what he uncovered in 10 years of data from more than 1 million individual arthropods of about 2,700 species. “We have some sites that are protected areas, that are managed mainly for conservation purposes, but still we see declines,” says Seibold. “It’s obviously not enough to just protect a small area or change farming practices within a small area.”
Books & culture
Our species is a marvel of evolution: a weak-jawed, bipedal omnivore with a greedy brain, in which 100 billion neurons consume 20% of the body’s energy intake. Science journalist Gaia Vince’s new book traces the journey of Homo sapiens through genes, environment and culture to what might be, she surmises, a new state of being.
Infographic of the week
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