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This Week in Nature: May 27, 2010

In Nature this week, researchers at Genentech and Complete Genomics report their analysis of the mutation spectrum of tumor and normal samples from a patient with non-small cell lung cancer. The team found an "approximate rate of 17.7 mutations per megabase throughout the genome," consistent with "the range of previously observed lung-tumor mutation rates," the authors write. The authors suggest that their study "provide[s] the first evidence, to our knowledge, of distinct selective pressures present within the tumor environment."

Xiaoyu Chen and Martin Tompa at the University of Washington in Seattle report their "comparative assessment of methods for aligning multiple genome sequences" in an advance, online publication of Nature Biotechnology this week. In evaluating the level of agreement among the four ENCODE alignments, the team shows that Pecan "produces the most accurate or nearly most accurate alignment in all species and genomic location categories, while still providing coverage comparable to or better than that of the other alignments in the placental mammals."

Researchers at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University report the CD95 is frequently down-regulated during cancer progression and promotes tumor growth. The team notes, however, that the "complete loss of CD95 is rarely seen in human cancers," and "many cancer cells express large quantities of CD95 and are highly sensitive to CD95-mediated apoptosis in vitro." The team suggests, then, that cancer cells "depend on constitutive activity of CD95 ... for optimal growth."

In an opinion piece published this week, Nature gathered the opinions of eight "synthetic biology experts" regarding the creation of the Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 genome, published in Science last week. Expert contributions range from "'bottom-up' will be more telling," from Steen Rasmussen at the University of Southern Denmark, to "the achievement of the JCVI team is biomolecular engineering of the highest order," as David Deamer at the University of California, Santa Cruz, opines.

The Scan

Another Resignation

According to the Wall Street Journal, a third advisory panel member has resigned following the US Food and Drug Administration's approval of an Alzheimer's disease drug.

Novavax Finds Its Vaccine Effective

Reuters reports Novavax's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

Can't Be Used

The US Food and Drug Administration says millions of vaccine doses made at an embattled manufacturing facility cannot be used, the New York Times reports.

PLOS Papers on Frozen Shoulder GWAS, Epstein-Barr Effects on Immune Cell Epigenetics, More

In PLOS this week: genome-wide association study of frozen shoulder, epigenetic patterns of Epstein-Barr-infected B lymphocyte cells, and more.