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With a Little Help?

At the Stem Cell Meeting on the Mesa, Craig Venter said that alternative fuels, like algal-derived biofuels, won't take off unless there are US government regulations supporting such fuels, the North County Times reports.

"So there's no way economically for a new fuel made out of renewables to ever be able to compete with something an oil company can do, without sharp federal regulations and a sharp carbon policy that says, you can’t keep just taking carbon out of the ground, burning it and putting it in the atmosphere," Venter said at the meeting. "Until we do that, there is no biofuel industry." Synthetic Genomics, a company founded by Venter, has partnered with oil companies to develop biofuels.

The North County Times notes that SG Biofuels, which is working with Life Technologies, says it has had some luck in developing the jatropha plant as a source of affordable fuel.

Additionally, Severin Borenstein from the University of California, Berkeley's Energy Institute tells the North County Times that government regulations may not help biofuels. “It may work for the United States, and even that seems a political stretch, but it doesn’t really matter if it doesn’t work in the developing world,” he says. “The idea that the developing world is going to forgo cheap gasoline to use much more expensive biofuels, I think is fairly implausible for the near term.”

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.