NIH proceeds with caution on sex balance in biomedical studies
Scientific American - 10/28/2014
The policy change is meant, in part, to improve how drugs function in girls and women. Yet it may benefit men as well. For instance, another problem the NIH identified arises when researchers average results from pools of lab animals including both females and males. That commonplace practice may obscure sex differences that could help men, if identified. For example, a drug that works well in male mice, but poorly in female mice, might turn out to be useful for men only—and could be developed just for men. An averaging study, however, would make the drug seem mediocre overall and not worth further research.
The article in Nature drew plenty of reactions from scientists. “I think it made a lot of people freak out a little bit,” says Rebecca Shansky, a neuroscientist at Northeastern University in Boston who studies sex differences in how brains respond to stress. As October 1 has come and gone, it has become clear that the NIH is proceeding with caution.