By: Kaitlyn Morabito
Our weekly linkpost, bringing you interesting and informative links on science policy issues buzzing about the internet.
American Ebola patients become serum test subjects. -With no approved vaccine or treatment for Ebola infection, two American health care workers infected in Liberia were given an unapproved drug in hopes of preventing death. Zmapp, a combination of three humanized monoclonal antibodies, has not previously been tested in humans, but has shown promise in non-human primates. These drugs bypassed the usual FDA requirements of human clinical trial safety and efficacy testing. Following administration of the drug, one of the patients showed a “miraculous” recovery. However, Ebola researchers are skeptical of the antibody cocktail leading to such quick improvement. (Monte Morin)
Geopolitics disrupt scientific exchange with Russia. -The rocky political relationship between the US and Russia is impacting the scientific community. Due to guidelines restricting travel of US government scientist to Russia, scientists from the DOE and NASA have been forced to cancel plans to attend scientific conferences in Russia including the International Atomic Energy Agency’s conference on fusion. Policies regarding travel differ between agencies and the approval process is nontransparent, confusing and frustrating scientists seeking to travel to Russia. However, many other US-Russian projects are seemingly continuing without a hitch including a long term project RUSLCA involving US NOAA. (Eli Kintisch)
Flores bones show features of Down syndrome, not a new ‘Hobbit’ human. – Unique characteristics of a skull and leg bone found in a cave in Flores Indonesia in 2004 led to the description of a new species, Homo floresiensis. However, re-examining of the bones by researchers has led to the conclusion that they are in fact not from a new species, but likely from a hominoid with Down syndrome. Scientists came to this conclusion by calculating cranial volume, craniofacial asymmetry, and occipital-frontal circumference. Furthermore, no other remains found at the same site had any of the unusual characteristics, suggesting that these bones represent an abnormality among this population. (Science Daily)
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