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Inteins on the Rise

Inteins, the intron-like regions of proteins, are becoming useful in biotech, reports The Scientist. They were first found in 1990, but were thought to be "a molecular oddity," says Dalhousie University's Paul Liu. Now, though, more than 600 inteins have been discovered and they are coming in handy as they can both cut regions out of proteins and paste parts in, and that allows researchers to create synthetic or post-translationally modified proteins, "a feat that has proven difficult using traditional protein synthesis methods," The Scientist says. Fran Perler at New England Biolabs adds, "What [inteins] allow you to do is to synthesize proteins with these modifications and study the effect of these modifications both in vitro and in vivo."

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.