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Borrowing From Information Technology

A blog post at Ars Technica describes a recently published paper in PLoS Computational Biology that used search engine algorithms to predict best therapeutic drug combinations. “The basic algorithm used by the researchers involves walking through a tree with nodes that are combinations of the drugs and doses present in the system,” writes Matt Ford. Applying three separate algorithms to keeping fruit flies safe from heart problems and inducing apoptosis in cancer cells, they found that their methods outperformed random testing of drugs and doses. One obvious application is for personalized medicine. Says Ford, “The authors suggest that this technique, combined with the molecular profile of a disease, could lead to better treatment regimes for that disease, which could then be further customized based on an individual’s biological profile.”

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.