Spanish HIV Researcher Faces €210,000 Fine Over Unauthorized Clinical Trial

A Spanish HIV/AIDS researcher is facing a hefty fine for violating clinical trial regulations. A court of appeals has upheld most of a lower court’s verdict against Vicente Soriano, a physician at the Hospital Carlos III here and a well-known clinical researcher with hundreds of publications to his name.

Soriano is liable for €210,000 for conducting a clinical trial without approval from the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products, failing to obtain insurance for the trial, and informing participants he had his hospital’s ethical approval when he did not, according to the ruling, which was published 14 January. But the court overturned a €6000 fine for obstructing the initial investigation, which took place in 2010.

Read the rest of this blog post at Science Insider [html] [pdf] or see a summary in the print edition of Science Magazine [html] [pdf]

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Supernova erupts in nearby galaxy

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UCL/University of London Observatory/Steve Fossey/Ben Cooke/Guy Pollack/Matthew Wilde/Thomas Wright

Last night, light from a new supernova reached astronomers on Earth. Its origin: the nearby galaxy M82, some 3.5 megaparsecs away (11.4 million light years). It is one of the closest and brightest supernovae seen from Earth since a monster exploded in 1987 just 168,000 light years away. Astronomers say that the latest supernova is of the type 1a class, and may help reveal how such supernovae form. Moreover, because these supernovae are used as cosmic measuring sticks, understanding them better may help clarify the shape of the Universe.

The supernova was bright enough to be discovered with a modest telescope in an unlikely spot: cloudy north London. On 21 January, around 7 pm, Steve Fossey, an astronomer at University College London, was taking students through a routine lesson with a 35-centimetre telescope at the University of London Observatory. Images of M82, also known as the Cigar Galaxy, appeared on their screens. Fossey noticed something unusual: a star sitting on the edge of the galaxy disc. It did not match Fossey’s memory of the galaxy, nor images they looked up on the Internet. “It kind of looked odd,” he says.

Read the rest of this news story at Nature News: [html] [pdf]

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Copenhagen Pioneers Smart Electric-Bike Sharing

20131106111113Copenhagen, the city that popularized bike sharing in the 1990s, is replacing its coin-operated clunkers with electric motor–assisted bicycles with their own touch-screen instrument panels. The bikes, which the city beta-tested this past September and October, house motors that can provide up to 450 watts of power from a battery pack that’s rechargeable at dozens of docking stations around the city. But all that power may be too much of a good thing.

Beta testers last month “got very good at keeping [their] momentum to where the engine does most of the work,” reports Niklas Marschall, CEO of Cykel DK, the program’s operator. That was the first lesson Cykel DK learned: Riders will go to great lengths to avoid exerting themselves.

Read the rest of this news story in IEEE Spectrum [html] [pdf]

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Millionaire’s gift to San Diego

homecoverBusinessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford committed $100 million this November to create a stem cell center at the University of California in San Diego (UCSD). The Sanford Stem Cell Clinical Center will be directed by Lawrence Goldstein, who already directs UCSD’s stem cell research and the existing Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. “The goal is very straightforward,” Goldstein says, “and that is to accelerate the development of stem cell–based therapies for patients with intractable diseases.” As San Diego already has many stem cell research institutions, Goldstein says the new center will seek to provide a “shared pipeline” to help those institutions identify therapeutic candidates for human trials. The center will also include a counseling component to advise patients on emerging therapies. One important investment will be in staff to guide researchers through the “regulatory gauntlet.” Stem cell biologist Chad Cowan, a program director principal faculty at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, welcomes the regulatory support: “I think it’s a smart move on Larry’s part to consider investing some of the funds in the people who will actually educate the FDA [US Food and Drug Administration] to help pave the way for their translational trials.” The gift, he says, “has the opportunity to put San Diego on the map, sort of the way the Broad Institute has for [Boston].”

First published in Nature Biotechnology [html] [pdf]

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