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Rock samples aren’t archived or shared. They need to be, geologists warn, pointing to a ‘reproducibility crisis.’ – The Washington Post (Erin Blakemore | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on June 3, 2020
 

Why did everything in the teeming oceans of the Late Devonian period (which ended about 358 million years ago) go extinct? Did Earth’s entire surface cool into a “snowball” at some point in prehistory?

Decisions about the retention of physical samples for research in fields such as geology, civil construction and materials can often feel as though it is a function of available space, rather than need.  In this piece, it is argued this approach needs to change.

Geologists could one day lay to rest these contentious debates about Earth’s environmental history, and others like them. But if they don’t have access to one another’s rock samples, argue an international group of geology researchers, they may never solve those riddles.
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In an editorial in the journal Nature, a group of geologists from the United States, China and Australia make the case for storing and sharing ancient rocks.
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“Too often,” they write, “rock samples are not archived or shared. It is common for samples to be held by researchers in private collections instead of in accessible, curated institutional archives or museums. That’s a problem, because different geoscience teams cannot check each other’s work to test whether published results are robust and can be replicated.”
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(US) Ethics questions swirl around historic Parkinson’s experiment – STAT (Sharon Begley | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 30, 2020
 

A secretive experiment revealed this week, in which neurosurgeons transplanted brain cells into a patient with Parkinson’s disease, made medical history. It was the first time such “reprogrammed” cells, produced from stem cells that had been created in the lab from the man’s own skin cells, had been used to try to treat the degenerative brain disease. But it was also a bioethics iceberg, with some issues in plain sight and many more lurking.

This story raises an interesting bioethics question.  Should the wealthy be able to fund research, with a  view to receiving the treatment it develops?

In 2013, the soon-to-be patient, George Lopez, gave $2 million to underwrite research on cells in lab dishes and rats that was required to show that the surgery might be safe and possibly even effective. Lopez, a former physician and the wealthy founder of a medical equipment company, also paid for the legal work required to get Food and Drug Administration approval for the two surgeries. Cells were implanted on the left side of Lopez’s brain in September 2017 and the right side in March 2018.
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“When individuals paying to fund research leading to a therapy are also the first to receive it, there are concerns,” said Brian Fiske, vice president for research at the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which funds research on Parkinson’s.
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Read the rest of this discussion piece

(China, Australia) Journals have retracted or flagged more than 40 papers from China that appear to have used organ transplants from executed prisoners – Retraction Watch (Ivan Oransky | April 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 29, 2020
 

Journals have retracted 30 papers, and added expressions of concern to 13 more, because the research likely involved organs from executed prisoners in China.

The issue surfaced as early as 2016, and two of the retractions occurred in 2017, but all of the other retractions, and all of the expressions of concern, happened after a February 2019 paper by Wendy Rogers of Macquarie University, in Sydney, Australia, and colleagues calling for the retraction of more than 400 papers

reporting research based on use of organs from executed prisoners, and an international summit to develop future policy for handling Chinese transplant research.

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Virus Pushes Science And Its Controversies Centre Stage – Barrons (Stéphane ORJOLLET | May 2020)0

Posted by Admin in on May 27, 2020
 

Hydroxychloroquine, double-blind studies, convalescent plasma, herd immunity — the coronavirus pandemic has thrust the language of science into public view as never before.

Those of us blessed with an understanding of research must embrace our responsibility to explain the publication process, peer review, questionable publishers, junk science and the clinical trial process to family, friends and neighbours.  Observing social distancing of course.

Having escaped the confines of the laboratory, these and other once-obscure terms are fast becoming part of household parlance.
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But familiarity with the terminology does not necessarily lead to a better understanding, especially when there is an avalanche of new findings, experts caution.
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When researchers disagree or change their mind on the efficacy of a treatment or policy, the normal back-and-forth of the scientific process can breed confusion, they say.
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This is only amplified by a 24-hour news cycle and social networks, they add.

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