Abstracts: Stem Cells, Selfies, Whales, and More

A roundup of science news from around the web — and around the world.

• Unregulated, for-profit stem cell clinics might be the next snake oil salesmen. Three women went blind following injections of stem cells extracted from liposuction treatments in a clinic in Florida. Though they paid for the treatment, they were led to believe that they were participating in a government-approved clinical trial. (New York Times)

Scientists used to think of groups of 10 to 20 humpback whales as “large,” but groups of up to 200 have been spotted off the coast of South Africa.

Visual by iStock.com/YinYang

• It’s better to have cystic fibrosis in Canada. More efficient lung transplant allocation, high-fat diets, and ultimately more comprehensive insurance increases the average life expectancy of Canadians living with the genetic disorder. (STAT)

• Trump’s first budget proposal would include a nearly 20 percent cut to the NIH budget and eliminate the Fogarty International Center, an organization dedicated to building partnerships with health researchers scientists in other countries. (Washington Post)

• Humpback whales are also organizing at unprecedented rates. Researchers report huge pods of the usually solitary whales congregating around South Africa at a time of the year when the whales are usually feeding in Antarctica. (Popular Science)

• Despite typhoons, rooftop farming and self-grown organic foods are taking off in Hong Kong. (The New Yorker)

• A study in the New England Journal of Medicine demonstrates that patient-specific, induced pluripotent stem cells are safe for transplant into eyes, but are still far from effective or affordable. (Science)

• NASA released satellite images detailing green slush ice around the Granite Harbor in Antarctica. The presence of so much phytoplankton in an icy region has worrisome implications for algal blooms in the spring. (The Huffington Post)

• Startups and health care providers are increasingly looking for ways to standardize the selfie. By providing patients with a color card to include in photos of their urine sample, pregnancy pre-eclampsia and chronic kidney conditions are caught earlier. (The Economist)

• In an effort to curb prescription opioid abuse, Endo Pharmaceuticals reformulated Opana into crush-resistance capsules. The new capsules are much easier to dissolve, leading to a rise in injection and subsequent HIV and Hepatitis C outbreaks. An FDA advisory panel concluded risks outweighed the benefits of prescribing Opana. (NPR)

• And finally, a look at how the chemistry of how lithium-ion batteries turn into skin-searing firebombs. (Wired)

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