Weekly reads: Marc Tessier-Lavigne probe, Neuralink on the brain, Ras unchained

We’ll start with a story related to possible research misconduct, Stanford’s President Marc Tessier-Lavigne, and Science Magazine. 

In some ways the news on Science itself could be the bigger long-term story.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne
Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Stanford’s President, pictured in the lab. Vimeo screen grab.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne pub investigation, Science oops moment

Here’s some of the coverage: Stanford investigates potential misconduct in president’s research, Science.

Multiple publications of Marc Tessier-Lavigne are under investigation related to apparent data manipulation. It’s unclear at this point whether Tessier-Lavigne had any direct role in the possible data alterations in these papers, but it’s a concerning pattern. Still, some people have been too judgy of the Stanford President on Twitter so far. We really don’t know what’s going on yet.

We should also note that Tessier-Lavigne himself asked Science to correct two of these papers back in 2015. Why would he do that if he had any role in such things? I expect things will be clearer within a few weeks.

What makes this story even more remarkable is that related to those two Science papers, the journal just admitted that it screwed up by not correcting the papers as Mark Tessier-Lavigne’s requested

How does a prestigious journal accidentally not correct not one but two papers after the lead author, Tessier Lavigne, requested it? How often do these kinds of things happen and the field never learns about it?

See Tweet above and follow the thread.

Recommended reads

Elon Musk Hopes to Test a Brain Implant in Humans Next Year, NYT. I’m going to do a full profile of Neuralink in the next couple of months, but they underwhelmed this week. Elon Musk had teased on Twitter about big news coming from the neural implant firm. It was just about some monkeys with Neuralink implants apparently moving a cursor on a computer, which had been done by others around 20 years ago.

We’ll see where the company goes from here but their supposed plan to move to put implants into people within months is not likely to become a reality. It’s going to be some years I think. This stuff needs to be done extremely carefully.

In world first, Israeli lab derives male and female stem cells from same person, The Times of Israel. Here’s the Stem Cell Reports paper that they discuss.

The team made iPS cells that are both male and female from one donor. How’d they do it? I thought maybe they used CRISPR to delete a chromosome from someone with Klinefelter’s, but they took advantage of mosaicism:

In this study, 47,XXY/46,XY/46,XX EBV-immortalized B cells from a single Klinefelter syndrome patient were exploited to generate isogenic human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) with different sex chromosome complements. This model was used to study sex differences in gene expression of undifferentiated and early neural differentiated hiPSCs, and to distinguish between the effects of X and Y chromosomes on autosomal gene expression.

Ras drives malignancy through stem cell crosstalk with the microenvironment, Nature. This looks very interesting. Maybe Myc does something similar or complementary?

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