In commentary appearing in this week's Science, US National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins discusses the "severe budget constraints" his agency is set to face. "Americans need to know that today's basic research is the engine that powers tomorrow's therapeutic discoveries," Collins says. "They need to know that basic research is the type of science that the private sector, which requires rapid returns on investment, cannot afford to fund."
Over in Science Translational Medicine, a team led by investigators at Kyoto University in Japan reports having generated motor neurons from induced pluripotent stem cells from familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients who have mutations in TDP-43, which they then subjected to expression analyses and chemical compound screens. From its expression array analysis, the team found slight "increases in the expression of genes involved in RNA metabolism and decreases in the expression of genes encoding cytoskeletal proteins." In its chemical compound screens, it found that "a histone acetyltransferase inhibitor called anacardic acid rescued the abnormal ALS motor neuron phenotype." Overall, the team adds, "these findings suggest that motor neurons generated from ALS patient-derived iPSCs may provide a useful tool for elucidating ALS disease pathogenesis and for screening drug candidates."