Top stories: revisiting retractions, Everglades restoration, and personalized medicine that works | Science

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Top stories: revisiting retractions, Everglades restoration, and personalized medicine that works | Science

(Left to right): DAVIDE BONAZZI; SCOTT LESLIE/MINDEN PICTURES; JULIE AFFLERBAUGH

What a massive database of retracted papers reveals about science publishing’s ‘death penalty’

Nearly a decade ago, headlines highlighted a disturbing trend in science: The number of articles retracted by journals had increased 10-fold during the previous 10 years. But a new analysis of more than 10,500 retracted journal articles, assembled by the Retraction Watch blog, indicates the continuing increase reflects not so much an epidemic of fraud as a community trying to police itself.

Climate change prompts a rethink of Everglades management

Efforts to restore the rich ecology of the Florida Everglades have so far focused on fighting damage from pollutant runoff and reestablishing the natural flow of water. But now, an expert panel is calling for federal and state agencies to account in their plans for likely conditions in the wetlands in “2050 and beyond” and model how existing restoration projects would fare under various climate change scenarios.

A tailormade drug developed in record time may save girl from fatal brain disease

In a stunning illustration of personalized genomic medicine, researchers have provided a Colorado family with a drug tailormade to help their young daughter fight Batten disease, an inherited, fatal neurodegenerative disorder. In less than a year, the scientists went from sequencing the girl’s genome to treating her with a synthetic RNA molecule that helps her cells ignore her genetic flaw and make a needed protein.

Birth canals are different all over the world, countering a long-held evolutionary theory

A new study of 348 female human skeletons from 24 different parts of the world reveals birth canals come in a variety of shapes. The results challenge the long-held “obstetrical dilemma,” which theorized birth canals were standardized by evolution to be wide enough to allow our big-brained babies to pass through, yet narrow enough to allow women to walk efficiently.

‘A new day for chemistry’: Molecular CT scan could dramatically speed drug discovery

Chemists have long been able to use a pair of different techniques to determine the structure of small organic molecules, from ibuprofen to testosterone. Two research teams now report they’ve adapted a third technique, known as electron diffraction, to determine the precise shape of such compounds. Because the new technique is capable of handling samples too small for other methods to analyze, it has the potential to speed up fields that rely on spotting new compounds, like drug discovery.

Giant study links DNA variants to same-sex behavior

In the largest-ever study of the genetics of sexual orientation, researchers analyzed DNA markers from hundreds of thousands of people who answered either “yes” or “no” to the question: “Have you ever had sex with someone of the same sex?” The scientists found four genetic variants strongly associated with what they call “nonheterosexual” behavior. Some geneticists are hailing the findings as a cautious but significant step in understanding the role of genes in sexuality. Others question the wisdom of asking the question in the first place.

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