Policy and Advocacy News

To Accelerate New Cancer Treatments, NIH Will Team Up With Pharma on Immunotherapy Research

October 12, 2017 | STAT

The Partnership for Accelerating Cancer Therapies (PACT), is a five-year partnership between NIH and 11 pharmaceutical companies that seeks to identify, develop, and validate biomarkers, to advance new immunotherapy treatments. NIH will oversee the initiative which will be funded by NIH and each of the 11 industry partners.

 

FDA Experts Offer a Unanimous Endorsement for Pioneering Gene Therapy for Blindness

October 12, 2017 | Science

The AAV gene therapy, Luxturna, was unanimously supported by an FDA panel of experts, paving the way for the blindness treatment to become the first vector-delivered gene therapy approved in the U.S. In clinical trials, Luxturna improved vision using light levels but failed to cure retinal dystrophy. Nonetheless, Luxturna may mark a resurgence of market interest in expanding the gene therapy field.

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Japanese Research Leaders Warn About National Science Decline

October 17, 2017 | Nature

Japanese scientists fear that the upcoming national election will do little to address concerns about the country’s declining research landscape. Since 2012, Japan’s science and technology budget has decreased by more than 5%, and the budget for universities has declined by about 1% each year for a decade.

Opinion

More Institutional Support for Animal Research is Needed

October 19, 2017 | Inside Higher Ed

Mar Sanchez, Chair of SfN’s Committee on Animals in Research, calls on institutions to support their animal researchers in this op-ed. Sanchez highlights recent attacks by animal rights groups on postdoc Christine Lattin, and offers ways in which institutions could support researchers like Lattin in the future. For example, Sanchez suggests research institutions develop plans to support animal researchers who come under attack and publically respond to incidents.

21st Century Investments in Science and Education Will Ensure Our Ability to Compete

October 16, 2017 | The Hill

In this op-ed, Tom Baldwin, president of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, expresses the need to continue making investments in education and research in the 21st century. Baldwin discusses historic investments made in research and education that have led to Nobel Prizes and world class research institutions and warns that without continued investment, the US could lose its status as a scientific leader.

Articles of Interest

Scientists Push to House More Lab Monkeys in Pairs

October 17, 2017 | NPR

In recent years, laboratories have become increasingly likely to house their non-human primates in pairs. Originally, the separation of non-human primates was customary in captivity to avoid cross-infection of a monkey strain of HIV, but conditions involving social housing have been found to more accurately model human diseases by reducing confounders including loneliness and its associated stress.

 

Can You Predict Future Brain Damage? Hundreds of Pro Fighters Are Helping Researchers Find Out

October 17, 2017 | STAT

Nearly 700 mixed martial arts fighters and boxers have enrolled in a study aimed at identifying the early signs of trauma-induced brain damage that may show up decades before visible symptoms like cognitive decline, depression, or impulsivity. Researchers hope that by repeating a series of yearly tests, they will be able to identify changes capable of predicting the development of CTE. Early findings are already increasing knowledge about brain injury and providing direction for future research.

Studies Skewed By Focus on Well-Off, Educated Brains

October 16, 2017 | NPR

A new brain development MRI study highlights the importance of diversity in considering participant selection bias. Reanalysis of a multi-site, brain imaging study showed that parents of child participants were three times more likely than the average U.S. parent to hold an advanced degree and typically earned higher incomes. These factors affected researchers’ conclusions about brain development and demonstrated the need to recruit study participants accurately reflecting U.S. population demographics.