The genes behind autism, an anti-aging trial sparks debate and the first Zika vaccine trial is set to launch.
(The Scientist, 8/1/2016, Megan Scudellari)
Many autism studies center on external presentations of the disorder, such as social communication difficulties and repetitive behaviors. But newer technologies now enable scientists to look for molecular, cellular, and anatomical indicators of autism, including single genetic mutations as well as the behavior of 10-week-old neurons cultured from patients’ skin cells and the folding of brain tissue in two-year-old children. This inside-out approach has confirmed a long-held suspicion that autism is not a single biological disorder.
(Science, 8/1/2016, Jocelyn Kaiser)
Two years ago, researchers at Stanford University found that injecting old mice with the plasma portion of blood from young mice appeared to improve cognitive function. Inspired by such findings, a Monterey, California startup is now testing this antiaging theory in relatively healthy people, but you have to pay to participate in the trial. Some ethicists and researchers have raised concerns both over the cost and the design of the trial, which they say will not advance the science.
(Fortune, 8/3/2016, Sy Mukherjee)
The US National Institutes of Health announced this week that it would be launching its first vaccine trial for the mosquito-borne virus Zika, days after the first reports of Zika transmission in the US sparked an unprecedented travel warning by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Phase 1 safety study is expected to enroll about 80 uninfected volunteers between the ages of 18 and 35.
—Compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Regina McEnery