Weekend Reads What should doctors do when patients are pushing hard to get treatment they’ve seen in a TV ad or read about online? Why are diverse labs winning at science, and what went down at this year’s CRISPRcon?  


A New Cancer Dilemma: Patients Want Immunotherapy Even When Evidence is Lacking

Immunotherapy is a source of great hope in cancer care. It has rescued some patients from the bring, while giving others a reason to believe that they, too, could beat the long odds. 

But these therapies are also creating a vexing dilemma for doctors: Their patients, citing television ads and media accounts of miraculous recoveries, are pushing hard to try them, even when there is little to no evidence the drugs will work for their particular cancer. 

Weekend Reads

T-lymphocyte. (Credit: NIH)

Doctors want to give their patients every shot at survival, but can they justify prescribing a drug when it hasn’t been tested for that patient’s type of cancer?  Many of these treatments brings risk of painful — even life-threatening — side effects and carry total price tags pushing to $1 million. In some cases, insurers won’t pay. Casey Ross, writing for STAT, explores. Read Full Story →


These Labs are Remarkably Diverse — Here’s Why They’re Winning at Science

Many countries are attempting to increase the diversity of their scientific workforces and to make the research they support better reflect the varied concerns of their populations. And the trend towards inclusion in science has also yielded benefits to the researchers who embrace it.

Weekend Reads

A diversity of voices is important in science communication. (Image: Pixabay)

A variety of studies have tracked different types of diversity — ethnic, gender, nationality and scientific discipline — and suggest that particularly diverse groups publish a higher number of papers and receive more citations per paper than average. Diverse groups also seem to achieve better community participation when studying minority populations, and they often benefit from the different ideas and perspectives that the team members can bring.

Nature have talked to three groups that have prioritised diversity in their ranks to ask about the benefits they have seen and the challenges and trade-offs they have to accept as part of the sometimes-difficult job of being inclusive. Read Full Story →


CRISPRCon: Talk of Designer Babies, IP Battles, and Scientific Colonialism

While lacking the costuming of Comic-Con or revelry of SantaCon, CRISPR’s second annual geek-out dealt with a concept weightier than superheroes or public drunkenness: How should society deal with a technology that can literally reshape the world?

Weekend Reads

CRISPR (Credit: iStock/Meletios Verras)

CRISPRcon brought hundreds of academics, industry scientists, and public health officials to Boston this week to answer just that question, moving past the beaker-and-pipette specifics of gene-editing to tackle the ethical, cultural, and democratic implications of science’s favourite new toy. STAT reports four things they learned on day one. Read Full Story →


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