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Such a Threat

Steven Salzberg at the University of Maryland has developed a computational screen for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and has made the software freely available. In this proof-of-concept paper in Genome Biology, Salzberg and his colleague Mihaela Pertea write that the screen tests for 68 known mutations in those genes and the researchers demonstrate it on three publicly available DNA sequences. Salzberg and Pertea say that "we believe that any individual should be allowed to interrogate his or her genome for all mutations of interest, regardless of whether a private company claims to 'own' the rights to particular gene mutations." They add that the software can be adapted to other genes. At Forbes' Treatment blog, Robert Langreth writes that Salzberg's test is a "threat" to companies like Myriad and "is sure to inflame doctors and genetic counselors." Langreth adds that " maybe gene tests should be treated a little like more like financial planning for retirement: It is a complicated matter and it may make sense want to get paid advice from an expert ... but you don't have to if you don't want to."

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.