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Something New: Oct 20, 2011

Harvard Medical School has launched a new program, the Initiative in Systems Pharmacology, which In the Pipeline's Derek Lowe describes as "a big initiative in systems biology, which is an interdisciplinary opportunity if there ever was one." Harvard says the new initiative is part of the medical school's Program in Translational Science and Therapeutics, and that its two main goals are to increase researchers' knowledge of human disease mechanisms, and to more effectively translate their ideas, "improving the quality of drug candidates as they enter the clinical testing and regulatory approval process." But while this is all "worthy stuff," Lowe says, there still remain a few questions — what are the drug candidates that Harvard wants to improve the quality of, and how might they be picked? Lowe says the effort is certainly worth it, and that the researchers at Harvard are certainly up to the challenge. But, he adds, "it's also worth remembering Harvard's approach to licensing and industrial collaboration. Let's just say that they didn't get that endowment up to its present size by letting much slip through their fingers."

The Scan

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.

Team Presents Cattle Genotype-Tissue Expression Atlas

Using RNA sequences representing thousands of cattle samples, researchers looked at relationships between cattle genotype and tissue expression in Nature Genetics.

Researchers Map Recombination in Khoe-San Population

With whole-genome sequences for dozens of individuals from the Nama population, researchers saw in Genome Biology fine-scale recombination patterns that clustered outside of other populations.

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.