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‘Science and Secrecy’

When a federal advisory panel last week asked two prominent journals to withhold details of experiments for fear they might aid terrorists seeking to make deadly viruses, “the specter of censorship loomed over science,” says William Broad at The New York Times. Though science has been subject to secrecy throughout history, the Federation of American Scientists’ Steven Aftergood tells the Times that censorship often fails – “because science by nature is inherently open and gossipy,” as Broad puts it. “For better or worse, the way that knowledge is disseminated today is ever less dependent on the flagship journals. It’s done by global scientific collaboration, draft papers, online publication, informal distribution of preprints, and on and on,” Aftergood adds. Biologist David Franz tells the Times that though he’s a proponent of transparency in research, the request to withhold information was justified in this particular case. “My concern is that we don’t give amateurs — or terrorists — information that might let them do something that could really cause a lot of harm,” Franz says.

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.