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Congratulations … Sort Of

Improbable Research announced the winners of its 2011 Ig Nobel Prizes during its 21st annual prize ceremony this week. The prizes are meant to celebrate the most unusual kinds of science and research that "first make people laugh then make them think," the organization says. This year, the Ig Nobel in medicine was awarded jointly to a team of researchers from Belgium, the Netherlands, and the UK, and to a team of investigators from Australia and the US, for demonstrating the types of decisions people make "when they have a strong urge to urinate." The prize in biology went to researchers from Australia, Canada, and the UK, who showed that males of a particular species of beetle can mistake a certain Australian beer bottle for their female counterparts, enough so that they try to mate with it. The chemistry prize went to a team of Japanese researchers for "determining the ideal density of airborne wasabi (pungent horseradish) to awaken sleeping people in case of a fire or other emergency, and for applying this knowledge to invent the wasabi alarm," Improbable Research says. The organization awarded its mathematics prize to the myriad people who have, over the years, 'calculated' the dates and times the world might end, "for teaching the world to be careful when making mathematical assumptions and calculations," it says.

The Scan

Drug Response Variants May Be Distinct in Somatic, Germline Samples

Based on variants from across 21 drug response genes, researchers in The Pharmacogenomics Journal suspect that tumor-only DNA sequences may miss drug response clues found in the germline.

Breast Cancer Risk Gene Candidates Found by Multi-Ancestry Low-Frequency Variant Analysis

Researchers narrowed in on new and known risk gene candidates with variant profiles for almost 83,500 individuals with breast cancer and 59,199 unaffected controls in Genome Medicine.

Health-Related Quality of Life Gets Boost After Microbiome-Based Treatment for Recurrent C. Diff

A secondary analysis of Phase 3 clinical trial data in JAMA Network Open suggests an investigational oral microbiome-based drug may lead to enhanced quality of life measures.

Study Follows Consequences of Early Confirmatory Trials for Accelerated Approval Indications

Time to traditional approval or withdrawal was shorter when confirmatory trials started prior to accelerated approval, though overall regulatory outcomes remained similar, a JAMA study finds.