Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Mutant mice, depressed scientists, and don't eat that raw fish dish

*   Nature News explains the problems with reproducibility in experiments using genetically engineered mice, and how the problem will only get worse now that the CRISP is going to allow much easier genetic modifications.  And how's this for a great name for science bodies? (my bold):

...laboratories that can make genetically modified mice are often unable to maintain them. Progeny frequently carry pathogens, lose carefully designed mutations or have other characteristics that confound experiments. So the mice that a researcher might dutifully ship to a colleague can be very different from those described in a paper. In 2013, the Mutant Mouse Resource and Research Centers (MMRRCs), a consortium of the US National Institutes of Health, found that 32 of around 200 mouse lines deposited with them from individual labs did not match researchers' descriptions. It is no wonder that many preclinical studies performed using mice are not reproducible1.

*  Bee Hossenfelder explains the difficult time physics postdocs can go through, given their short term contracts and frequent moves.  (Her own mental health issues get an airing too.)

And here I thought the biggest warning parents should give is for their kids not to get into acting.  Turns out going in science in a big way can be quite an issue too.  Sad.

* I never cared for raw fish, but especially in Thailand, it should be avoided due to the risk it will give you liver cancer.  (Googling the topic, I see that the liver fluke/cancer link has been known for some time, but this is the first I've heard of it.)  From the BBC:

A local delicacy in north-east Thailand, made from raw fish, has been found to be behind a high incidence of liver cancer in the area, and doctors are trying to educate people about the risk.

The Isaan plateau of north-eastern Thailand is poor, dry, and far from the sea. Home to around one third of the country's population, most of them ethnic Lao in origin, it is renowned for its spicy and inventive cuisine, using whatever ingredients are available.

Where there are rivers or lakes, they use the smaller fish they catch in a pungent dish called koi plaa.

The fish are chopped up finely, and mixed by hand with local herbs, lime juice and live red ants, and served up raw.

It is very popular, but also dangerous.

For decades, certain populations in the north-east have been known to have abnormally high levels of liver cancer.

In men it comprises more than half of all cancer cases, compared to an average of less than 10% worldwide.

The high prevalence has long been linked to infection by liver flukes, a kind of parasite, found in raw fish.

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