SciBites: Week of September 30th

SciBites: Week of September 30th

Hypochlorous acid can inactivate prions

Naturally occurring proteins can aggregate abnormally to form prions and amyloid plaques, which cause deadly neurodegenerative conditions including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and mad cow disease. These protein structures are notoriously difficult to inactivate using standard antimicrobials. Researchers have found that a formulation of the disinfectant hypochlorous acid known as BrioHOCl can successfully inactivate prions while being safe to apply on skin and on steel surfaces. It may therefore be a promising treatment to reduce prion infectivity, for example in slaughterhouses and in clinical settings.

Male mating display efforts increase in bigger leks

Leks are groups of males gathered to engage in competitive displays to attract female mates. Researchers recorded and analyzed lek displays in 41 male white-bearded manakin birds and found that as lek size increased, males of both high and low ranks greatly increased the effort they invested in their displays, likely because larger leks increase competition for mates among the males.

Marijuana regulations should prioritize public health

With illegal marijuana use increasing in the United States since 2007, four states have legalized retail sales. Researchers Rachel Ann Barry and Stanton Glantz argue that marijuana regulatory frameworks prioritize business interests over public health. This could enable powerful corporations to use aggressive marketing tactics to increase their revenue, as occurred with the alcohol industry. They recommend that governments worldwide implement a framework that instead focuses on minimizing consumption to maximize public health.


Image Credit: Figure 1. The “rolled snap” display of the white-bearded manakin, used in lekking, by Cestari et al., 2016, PLOS ONE


Beth works at PLOS as Journal Media Manager. She read Natural Sciences, specializing in Pathology, at the University of Cambridge before joining PLOS in 2013. She feels fortunate to be able to read and write about the exciting new research published by PLOS.

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