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A doctor in a face mask sits at a table, while a person in the foreground takes pills from a cup.

A physician at a clinic in New Mexico watches as a person takes the abortion pill mifepristone in 2023.Credit: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

The journal publisher Sage has retracted two papers from 2021 and 2022 that suggested the abortion drug mifepristone causes a burden on the public-health system. The papers, which were cited in a case set to be heard by the US Supreme Court, had multiple problems, including data analysis errors and unsupported assumptions. In addition, the studies’ authors, many of whom are affiliated with anti-abortion organizations, failed to declare conflicts of interest, Sage said. Reproductive-health specialists say many similar studies have yet to be addressed. One reason appears to be that some journals are afraid of being sued.

Nature | 7 min read

Researchers in France have strongly criticized a €904-million cut to this year’s research and higher-education budgets, which are part of a €10 billion reduction in overall public spending. Allocations for national research agencies will be slashed by around €383 million. “These cuts are a total contradiction, and mean France is still further away from achieving its goal of raising public-research spending to 1% of GDP from less than 0.75%,” says Boris Gralak, general secretary of the country’s research union.

Nature | 3 min read

A policy bars Florida’s 12 public universities from taking money from or forming “partnerships” with entities in China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria and Venezuela. This places restrictions on collaborations with colleagues in these countries and on the hiring of graduate students, postdocs and research staff from abroad. University administrators are struggling to adapt and some faculty members say that the law will further erode competitiveness in a state that is already experiencing a brain drain.

Nature | 7 min read

Features & opinion

Cells resemble a bustling distribution centre in which components are separated into units called condensates. Cellular compartmentalization underpins everything from gene control to cell division, and when it goes awry, diseases such as diabetes and neurodegenerative conditions can arise. Researchers are finding ways to image and manipulate this process using techniques with playful names such as optoDroplet to toggle condensate formation with light or creating bespoke condensates to imbue cells with new capabilities. Some companies are even developing drugs to rectify the aberrant condensate formation associated with cancer and motor neuron disease.

Nature | 11 min read

Passing a metaphorical flashlight — putting the spotlight on each person at a meeting in turn — can bring about “a huge shift” in the dynamics of a team, writes tumour immunologist Johanna Joyce. “The increased participation has led to a more comprehensive understanding of each other’s research and challenges, enhancing group cohesiveness as we all work towards our team’s goal — to understand the complexities of cancer.”

Nature | 4 min read

“Claus Nielsen was one of the few who dared put forward a comprehensive view of how today’s animal species originated and how they are related,” write colleagues Max Telford, Andreas Hejnol and Detlev Arendt. Central to Nielsen’s ‘trochaea’ theory was the idea that the ancestors of most living animals stem from tiny larva-like creatures which swim with a ring of cilia (trochus in Greek means wheel). “Claus was an individualist — he never led a research group with PhD students and postdocs, as most of us do,” write the three authors. “But he still collaborated freely… getting along easily with students 60 years his junior.” Nielsen has died, aged 85.

Nature | 5 min read

Image of the week

A distinctly strange-looking, bright red fish with a spherical body covered in tiny spikes that give it a furry appearance and fins that look like legs.

This sea toad of the genus Chaunacops is just one of more than 100 new species that marine biologists estimate they have discovered living on seamounts off the coast of Chile. Giant sponges, fields of sea lilies, seafloor-dwelling octopuses and 10-foot-tall bamboo corals were also among the creatures spotted by an underwater robot, which can film at depths of 4,500 metres. (National Geographic | 6 min read)

Watch the little fellow (briefly) in action in this video from the Schmidt Ocean Institute — part of a fabulous series about the expedition (all on YouTube). (Schmidt Ocean Institute, CC BY-NC-SA)

Quote of the day

Astronomer Steve Croft is exploring how to spot signs of extraterrestrial technology by focusing on an extraordinary star system: HD 110067, which is bright, close and hosts six planets, all with orbits that are seen edge-on from Earth. ( | 6 min read)

Reference: Research Notes of the AAS brief communication (not peer reviewed)

Today I’m delighted by the news that one of the world’s smallest fish can make a sound as loud as a gunshot. The 12-millimetre-long Danionella cerebrum has “a unique sound production apparatus — involving a drumming cartilage, specialized rib, and fatigue-resistant muscle”, say the authors of a new PNAS paper.

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Thanks for reading,

Flora Graham, senior editor, Nature Briefing

With contributions by Katrina Krämer

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