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This Week in Nature: Aug 6, 2009

Following up on work published in July where Qi Zhou at the Chinese Academy of Sciences showed that iPS cells derived from reprogramming with four transcription factors could be grown up into live mice, Scripps scientists report that they've created fertile adult mice from iPS cells generated by reprogramming mouse embryonic fibroblasts. Their work was published in the early online edition of Nature this week.

If you've applied for a Challenge Grant, the waiting isn't over. While Challenge Grant applicants got their scores back from peer-review last week, they have to wait until September to learn whether they'll actually receive any NIH funds to do the work. Meredith Wadman reports in a news story: among the 21,000 applications, the NIH plans to fund only about 1 percent.

The big news in this week's issue of Nature is a paper from UNC scientists led by Kevin Weeks and Joseph Watts, who have decoded the structure of the entire RNA genome of HIV-1. This "bird's-eye view of the higher-order structure" of the HIV-1 genome has shown more relevance of structure to function. Using a technique called SHAPE (selective 2'-hydroxyl acylation analyzed by primer extension), they were able to discern structural information for 99 percent of the 9,173 nucleotides in the virus' genome. "What we discovered is that there's a very strong correlation between the structure of RNA and the structure of a protein," senior author Kevin Weeks says in a story in our sister publication, GenomeWeb Daily News.

Finally, Weizmann Institute of Science researchers have programmed a computer using DNA as its information carrier. Their work appears in the advanced online Nature Nanotechnology this week. "The system devised by the researchers uses molecules to represent facts and rules," says a BBC story. Ultimately, programmable molecular computing could be used for in vivo diagnostics, they say.

The Scan

Study Finds Few FDA Post-Market Regulatory Actions Backed by Research, Public Assessments

A Yale University-led team examines in The BMJ safety signals from the US FDA Adverse Event Reporting System and whether they led to regulatory action.

Duke University Team Develops Programmable RNA Tool for Cell Editing

Researchers have developed an RNA-based editing tool that can target specific cells, as they describe in Nature.

Novel Gene Editing Approach for Treating Cystic Fibrosis

Researchers in Science Advances report on their development of a non-nuclease-based gene editing approach they hope to apply to treat cystic fibrosis.

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.