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Science News Staff

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Cancer drug’s effectiveness overinflated in animal studies

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Researchers investigating how well the chemotherapy drug sunitinib works against various types of cancer have overestimated the drug’s effectiveness by an average of 45 percent, a new analysis shows.

Valerie Henderson of McGill University and colleagues reexamined data from 158 experiments involving 2,716 animals, mostly mice. Researchers who conducted the original experiments tended to publish only those in which sunitinib shrunk tumors. Not publishing negative findings led to an 11 percent overestimate of the drug’s ability to shrink brain tumors called high-grade gliomas, Henderson and colleagues report October 13 in eLife. Sunitinib’s breast cancer-fighting ability was inflated by 52 percent, the team found.

Study results were also biased by not “blinding” studies to keep researchers from knowing which animals got the experimental drug.

Failure to reproduce findings from animal studies has been a major stumbling block for drug researchers

Earth,, Pollution

Surface spills near fracking sites implicated in water contamination

By Sarah Schwartz 3:00pm, October 12, 2015
Chemical spills from fracking operations are the likely source of chemicals found in drinking water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Animals,, Climate

Jumping conchs triumph at overheated athletics

By Susan Milius 8:32am, October 9, 2015
“Simple” circulatory system outdoes fancier ones in delivering oxygen for jumping conchs in simulated climate change conditions.
Oceans,, Animals,, Ecosystems

Widespread coral bleaching threatens world’s reefs

By Teresa Shipley Feldhausen 4:57pm, October 8, 2015
The world’s corals are experiencing their third major bleaching event in 17 years.
Planetary Science

Ancient Mars had long-lasting lakes of liquid water

By Thomas Sumner 2:00pm, October 8, 2015
New evidence gathered by NASA’s Curiosity rover suggests Gale Crater once contained a stable lake of liquid water.
Animals,, Evolution

Fish have had telescoping jaws for 100 million years

By Sarah Schwartz 12:45pm, October 8, 2015
Around 100 million years ago, fish developed a knack for extending their jaws to snare prey, and they’ve been perfecting this hunting technique ever since.
Health,, Neuroscience

Weight and sun exposure linked to onset of multiple sclerosis

By Sarah Schwartz 4:20pm, October 7, 2015
Among people with multiple sclerosis, those with higher body mass and lower adolescent sun exposure tended to be diagnosed with the disease at an earlier age, a new study suggests.
Genetics,, Chemistry,, Cancer

Chemistry Nobel honors studies of DNA repair mechanisms

By Sarah Schwartz 7:14am, October 7, 2015
Studies of DNA’s repair mechanisms have won Tomas Lindahl, Paul Modrich and Aziz Sancar the 2015 Nobel Prize in chemistry.
Particle Physics,, Cosmology

Discovery of neutrino mass earns 2015 physics Nobel

By Andrew Grant 6:41am, October 6, 2015
The discovery that subatomic particles called neutrinos have mass has won Takaaki Kajita of the University of Tokyo and Arthur McDonald of Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, the 2015 Nobel Prize in physics.
Plants,, Animals,, Biophysics

Raindrops help pitcher plants trap dinner

By Sarah Schwartz 3:00pm, October 5, 2015
Pitcher plants use the force of falling raindrops to fling prey into their traps.
Plants,, Animals

Stinky seeds dupe dung beetles

By Sarah Schwartz 11:00am, October 5, 2015
Seeds that look and smell like animal poop can trick dung beetles into spreading and burying the seeds.
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