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'OK, Now What?'

Pfizer scientists had a "headdesk" moment in October, when German researchers showed that an antidepressant the company markets in Europe doesn't work in humans, even though animal model data showed it to be effective, Scientific American guest blogger SciCurious wrote in November. A meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal shows that the antidepressant reboxetine — which is not sold in the US, but is marketed in Europe as Edronax, Norebox, Prolift, Solvex, Davedax or Vestra — "really doesn't work," SciCurious says. The publication of this paper was a rough moment" for scientists working on treatments for depression, she added, because reboxetine "worked beautifully in our animal models." So the issue now shifts from why the medication doesn't work to what's wrong with our animal models. "What's not being dealt with as well is an underlying scientific problem," says Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline." SciCurious' query as to "What went wrong?" is "a very good question, and one without any very good answers," Lowe adds. As "this certainly isn't the first CNS [central nervous system] drug to show animal model efficacy but do little good in people," Lowe asks: "Are we getting anywhere, or just doing the same old thing?"

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.