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A Variant Here, But Not There

David Basanta at Cancerevo: Evolution and cancer picked up on a Human Mutatation paper from Bruce Gottlieb and his colleagues that studied the genetic influences on abdominal aortic aneurysms. The researchers found BAK1 SNPs in aneurysmic and healthy tissue without seeing them in the corresponding blood samples. From this, Gottlieb and his colleagues "propose a novel hypothesis postulating that multiple variants of genes may preexist in 'minority' forms within specific nondiseased tissues and be selected for, when intra- and/or extracellular conditions change." This raised a lot of questions in Basanta's mind. He wonders: "How would this affect personalised treatments (i.e. based on doing a genomic analysis of the patient)? Does that mean that finding genetic differences in a cell (when compared with cells in other tissues) does not necessarily constitute cause for alarm (as it does not have to be the result of somatic mutations)?"

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.