Editors' Choice

Science  06 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6397, pp. 39
  1. Microbiology

    Coatings join the fight against bacteria

    1. Julia Fahrenkamp-Uppenbrink

    A coating inspired by shark skin can reduce the spread of bacteria from surfaces.


    Efforts to combat the spread of infections, especially in health care settings, mostly involve the use of antibacterial cleaning agents and antibiotic drugs. Another possible strategy is the use of coatings that are antibacterial (inactivating bacteria) or antifouling (preventing the build-up of bacteria) on surfaces such as doorknobs. Arisoy et al. report the development of such a coating with a structure inspired by shark skin. Bacterial attachment is reduced by 70% on the micropatterned, photocatalytic coating, compared with smooth films of the same composition. Most of the bacteria that do settle on the coating are inactivated when the coating is exposed to ultraviolet light. Because the coatings are imprinted onto a flexible substrate, it should be possible to use them in practical applications.

    ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 10, 20055 (2018).

  2. Drug Discovery

    Nanoscreening for drug combinations

    1. Valda Vinson

    Biological networks are complex, and effective therapies may require combinations of drugs to overcome redundancies, feedback mechanisms, or drug resistance. Such screening is challenging because of the multiplicity of combinations to test. Kulesa et al. describe a miniaturized process that automatically creates drug combinations from nanoliter-scale droplets. Emulsions were made of a chemical compound, cell culture, and a fluorescent barcode. Pairs of droplets were loaded into wells of a microarray plate and mixed, and cell growth was monitored. This platform was successfully used to identify previously unsuspected drugs that synergize with antibiotics to kill Escherichia coli.

    Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1802233115 (2018).

  3. Psychology

    Online moral rhetoric and violent protests

    1. Tage Rai

    Police officers and demonstrators face off during the 2015 Baltimore protests.


    Peaceful protests sometimes turn violent. To find out why, Mooijman et al. analyzed 18 million tweets sent during the 2015 Baltimore protests related to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. They found that tweets expressing moral rhetoric predicted daily violence and police arrests in the hours after being sent. These data did not explore specific content or level of moral agreement in social networks. Follow-up vignette experiments and attitude surveys found that people endorse violent protest when they see an issue in moral terms and perceive that everyone agrees with them. These data have implications for understanding how online echo chambers may lead to violence and how to predict, and possibly prevent, the eruption of violence in social groups.

    Nat. Hum. Behav. 2, 389 (2018).

  4. Neuroinflammation

    Joint pain impacts the brain

    1. Lisa D. Chong

    How does chronic peripheral inflammation affect the brain? In autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, joint inflammation is accompanied by fatigue and cognitive decline. Schrepf et al. have discovered that these symptoms are associated with changes in neural connectivity in specific brain regions. The authors used magnetic resonance imaging to examine 54 patients with rheumatoid arthritis over 6 months. Whole-brain searches and theoretical network analyses showed altered patterns of connectivity, with more positive connections involving the left inferior parietal lobule and the medial prefrontal cortex. These are the regions that function in attention and working memory.

    Nat. Commun. 9, 2243 (2018).

  5. Cancer

    Aging and melanoma immunotherapy

    1. Ming Yang

    Aging is a major risk factor for melanoma. Older patients are likely to develop more aggressive disease and usually respond poorly to treatment. Kugel et al. analyzed biopsies from melanoma patients and compared these samples with a murine model of disease. Unexpectedly, melanoma was less likely to progress in older patients and mice given pembrolizumab (an antibody therapy targeting the immune checkpoint regulator PD-1). The tumor microenvironments of older individuals were found to have fewer regulatory T cells (Tregs) that were positive for the marker FOXP3. Pembrolizumab was more effective in younger mice in which Tregs had been depleted by an antibody targeting CD25, indicating the possibility of a more effective therapeutic strategy for patients who respond poorly to anti-PD1 therapy.

    Clin. Cancer Res. 10.1158/1078-0432. CCR-18-1116 (2018).

  6. Aging

    Epigenetics, aging, and glycolysis

    1. Beverly A. Purnell

    Aging brings reduced fitness and increased incidence of disease and death. Epigenetic changes are thought to be associated with various aging processes. By using CRISPR-Cas9 mutagenesis in the model fly, Drosophila, Ma et al. found that aging was associated with a loss of fidelity in histone modifications mediated by Polycomb proteins—specifically, a reduction in the repressive epigenetic mark called H3K27me2/3. If the Polycomb protein PRC2 was mutated, H3K27me2/3 was lost, glycolysis was elevated, and life span was restored. Transgenically increasing gene dosage for glycolytic enzymes also promoted life span, locomotion, and resistance to oxidative stress.

    eLife 10.7554/eLife.35368 (2018).

  7. Academic Entrepreneurs

    Postprofessorial patents plummet

    1. Brad Wible

    Curtailing academic inventors' rights to reap all benefits from their inventions and businesses—instead granting two-thirds of the rights to their university—can undermine university-based entrepreneurship and patenting. Hvide and Jones show that after Norway ended the so-called “professor's privilege” in 2003, the rate of university-based start-up company formation dropped by roughly 50%, and those start-ups exhibited less growth. The policy change, which moved Norway toward a U.S. Bayh-Dole model, also led to a roughly 50% drop in patenting, and the resulting patents received fewer citations.

    Amer. Econ. Rev. 10.1257/aer.20160284 (2018).

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