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Bioeconomy Plans

The Obama administration is to unveil its National Bioeconomy Blueprint plan today, reports The New York Times. "The growth of today's US bioeconomy is due in large part to the development of three foundational technologies: genetic engineering, DNA sequencing, and automated high-throughput manipulations of biomolecules," the report notes, adding that "tomorrow's bioeconomy relies on the expansion of emerging technologies such as synthetic biology (the direct engineering of microbes and plants), proteomics (the large-scale study and manipulation of proteins in an organism), and bioinformatics (computational tools for expanding the use of biological and related data), as well as new technologies as yet unimagined." The report adds that such technologies appear to be moving toward advances in health, bioenergy, biomanufacturing, and environmental clean-up.

The report includes five strategies, including some to support research and development, and to encourage translating basic findings into commercial applications. In addition, the plan calls for improving training and promoting collaborations between the public and private sectors. Finally, the plan calls for regulation reform — namely to speed up regulatory processes and make them more predictable.

"This may be the first time the country has recognized the total impact that biological sciences has for the current and future economy," MIT's Phillip Sharp tells the Times.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.