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For the Math Geeks

Plus, a mathematics-focused online magazine, is doing a series on the role of math and statistics in the biomedical sciences and as part of it, Marianne Freiberger writes about the math of genomics. She discusses the algorithms being used in genome aligners and assemblers. She says the dynamic programming approach has "been around since the 1950s and it's extremely versatile" and that, as an alignment method, it "drastically reduces the number of steps needed to compute the best alignment of two sequences" — she shows how it works using graphs. Freiberger then goes on to describe the math behind Velvet, which she says "makes clever use of the structure of the graph to weed out errors and identify repeats."

HT: Wellcome Trust, which supports Plus' series

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.