The success of an Ebola vaccine trial shows that clinical trials can be done under the difficult field conditions of an epidemic — if there is enough political and regulatory will.
‘Gene drive’ techniques have the potential to alter whole populations. Regulators must catch up.
Rapid result has implications for outbreak preparedness as well as West Africa’s epidemic.
Physical oncologists complain that US National Cancer Institute programme has lost sight of its mission.
Rapid alteration of gene pools could fight disease – and harm ecosystems.
Digital map is step towards reconstructing a whole human brain.
Poorly designed studies leave future uncertain for sea dwellers.
First observation of 2D tin can't confirm whether material can conduct electricity without heat loss.
Slow, solid-state reactions used by lichens and Renaissance pigment-makers could help to make chemistry greener.
The world is ill-prepared for the next epidemic or pandemic. But the horror of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa may drive change.
News & Views
Pinpointing the nodes whose removal most effectively disrupts a network has become a lot easier with the development of an efficient algorithm. Potential applications might include cybersecurity and disease control. See Letter p.65
A microneedle-containing patch that is designed to sense elevated blood glucose levels and to respond by releasing insulin could offer people with diabetes a less-painful and more-reliable way to manage their condition.
Overexpression of the enzyme cytidine deaminase allows the incorporation of abnormally modified nucleotides into DNA, leading to cell death. This discovery might point the way to treating some cancers. See Letter p.114
Copper and manganese have been engineered to show magnetism at room temperature in thin films interfaced with organic molecules. The findings show promise for developing new magnetic materials. See Letter p.69
Cyanate, a degradation product of urea and cyanide, has been found to be a sufficient single substrate for the growth and reciprocal feeding of microorganisms that are essential to the global nitrogen cycle. See Letter p.105
How will Earth's vegetation cover respond to climate change, and how does this compare with changes associated with human land use? Modelling studies reveal how little we still know, and act as a clarion call for further work.
The ribosome is the cellular complex of proteins and RNA molecules that synthesizes proteins. An artificial ribosome in which the two main subunits are tethered together creates opportunities for engineering this process. See Letter p.119
Genomic sequencing of 110 human small cell lung cancers identifies genomic signatures including nearly ubiquitous bi-allelic inactivation of TP53 and RB1, a role for NOTCH family genes, and somatic rearrangements that create an oncogenic version of TP73.
Solving the crystal structure of an exosome complex from yeast, bound to different RNA substrates, offers insights into how the exosome can be utilized for precise processing of some 3′ ends, such as that of the 5.8S rRNA, while other RNAs are degraded to completion.
The molecular basis of multidrug tolerance in chronic urinary tract infections is mediated by mutations in the N-subdomain-1 of the Escherichia coli HipA protein kinase.
A rigorous method to determine the most influential superspreaders in complex networks is presented—involving the mapping of the problem onto optimal percolation along with a scalable algorithm for big-data social networks—showing, unexpectedly, that many weak nodes can be powerful influencers.
By harnessing the charge transfer that takes place at the interface between a metal and a layer of molecules, the usually non-magnetic materials copper and manganese are made magnetic at room temperature.
The complex structure of zeolite ZSM-25 is determined and a family of related structures are identified by using electron diffraction to uncover the structural ‘coding’ within them; this enabled the synthesis of two more-complex zeolites in the family.
Amides are common functional groups that have been studied for more than a century. They are the key building blocks of proteins and are present in a broad range of other natural and synthetic compounds. Amides are known to be poor electrophiles, which is typically attributed to the resonance stability of the amide bond. Although amides can readily be cleaved by enzymes such as proteases, it is difficult to selectively break the carbon–nitrogen bond of an amide using synthetic chemistry. Here we demonstrate that amide carbon–nitrogen bonds can be activated and cleaved using nickel catalysts. We use this methodology to convert amides to esters, which is a challenging and underdeveloped transformation. The reaction methodology proceeds under exceptionally mild reaction conditions, and avoids the use of a large excess of an alcohol nucleophile. Density functional theory calculations provide insight into the thermodynamics and catalytic cycle of the amide-to-ester transformation. Our results provide a way to harness amide functional groups as synthetic building blocks and are expected to lead to the further use of amides in the construction of carbon–heteroatom or carbon–carbon bonds using non-precious-metal catalysis.
Measurements of sediments eroded by the Mackenzie River reveal the widespread export of permafrost-derived biospheric carbon that is several thousand years old, and demonstrate its burial in the Arctic Ocean, suggesting that high-latitude rivers can act as important carbon dioxide sinks.
To better understand the relationship between input and output connectivity for neurons of interest in specific brain regions, a viral-genetic tracing approach is used to identify input based on a combination of neurons’ projection and cell type, as illustrated in a study of locus coeruleus noradrenaline neurons.
The genome sequences of 175 Ebola virus from five districts in Sierra Leone, collected during September–November 2014, show that the rate of virus evolution seems to be similar to that observed during previous outbreaks and that the genetic diversity of the virus has increased substantially, with the emergence of several novel lineages.
Analysis of 179 new Ebola virus sequences from patient samples collected in Guinea between March 2014 and January 2015 shows how different lineages evolved and spread in West Africa.
An analysis of 85 Ebola virus sequences collected in Guinea from July to November 2014 provides insight into the evolution of the Ebola virus responsible for the epidemic in West Africa; the results show sustained transmission of three co-circulating lineages, each defined by multiple mutations.
The ammonia-oxidizing archaeon Nitrososphaera gargensis can utilize cyanate as the only source of energy for growth due to the presence of a cyanase enzyme, and cyanase-encoding nitrite-oxidizing bacteria can work together with cyanase-negative ammonia oxidizers to collectively grow on cyanate via reciprocal feeding; cyanases are widespread in the environment according to metagenomic data sets, pointing to the potential importance of cyanate in the nitrogen cycle.
The GTPase dynamin provides the driving force for fission of membrane-bound vesicular structures; here, it is shown that dynamin-driven membrane fission proceeds in two mechanistically distinct stages that are separated by a metastable hemi-fission intermediate that requires GTP hydrolysis for progression to full fission.
Enzymes of the nucleotide salvage pathway are shown to have substrate selectivity that protects newly synthesized DNA from random incorporation of epigenetically modified forms of cytosine; a subset of cancer cell lines that overexpress cytidine deaminase (CDA) are sensitive to treatment with 5hmdC or 5fdC (oxidized forms of 5-methyl-cytosine), which leads to DNA damage and cell death, indicating the chemotherapeutic potential of these nucleoside variants for CDA-overexpressing cancers.
A ribosome with tethered subunits, ‘Ribo-T’, is engineered by making a hybrid RNA composed of ribosomal RNA of large and small subunits; Ribo-T can support cell growth in vivo in the absence of wild-type ribosomes, and is used to establish a fully orthogonal ribosome–mRNA system.