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Science Papers Describe Inefficiencies in Data Use Negotiations, Antibiotic Resistance

Data-use agreements (DUAs) are a common requirement for sharing data between institutions, but inefficiencies in negotiation and executing such deals can significantly delay in research, according to a policy piece in Science this week. Researchers from Stanford University interviewed nearly 60 administrators and contract negotiators who participate in the DUA process at research institutes across the US. They find that delays are most often the result of trouble negotiating liability and privacy/security provisions, the contract negotiator's workload, and the difficulty of getting faculty members to respond to questions or requests. Although investigators often view DUAs as a sign that research has become "overlawyered," the study indicates that they may not fully appreciate the importance of these contracts and the complexity of negotiating them. The authors also provide options for streamlining the DUA process. 

Bacterial tolerance to antibiotics can undercut the use of combination therapies designed to prevent drug resistance, according to a new study in Science. The use of multiple antibiotics is a common strategy for preventing the development of treatment resistance, but there is little data on how tolerance affects the efficacy of drug combinations for preventing the evolution of resistance. To examine the issue, a Hebrew University of Jerusalem team used whole-genome sequencing and other techniques to monitor Staphylococcus aureus strains evolving in patients under treatment. They observe the rapid emergence of tolerance mutations followed by the emergence of resistance despite the use of combination treatment. Additional experimentation revealed a new way by which tolerance promotes the evolution of resistance under combination treatments, as well as the generality of the effect across different antibiotic classes. The findings indicate that "tolerance is an important factor to consider in designing combination treatments that prevent the evolution of resistance," the authors conclude.