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This Week in Nature: Jul 19, 2007

In June, the US patent office launched a pilot program called "Peer to Patent" that lends an open-source approach to patent-granting, reports Nature. The pilot program is focusing on information technology for now, but may soon expand to include biotechnology patent applications.

A News and Views article says a few recent stem cell studies passed the gold standard for pluripotency — they contributed to all cell types, even the germ line. Marius Werning and his coworkers reprogrammed fibroblasts to be pluripotent by in vitro ectopic expression of Oct4, Sox3, c-Myc, and Klf4 and Keisuke Okita and his colleagues found that selecting for Nanog expression increased stem cell-like gene expression and DNA methylation patterns.

Daniel Gudbjartsson and his colleagues used a genome-wide association study, followed by replication studies, to search for the genetic basis of atrial fibrillation. In the study populations, they found two sequence variants linked to fibrillation on chromosome 4q25.

Kevin Padian, from the University of California, Berkeley, reviews three books based on the 2005 Dover trial. He calls all three "entertaining and informative reads," but Padian adds that Edward Humes' Monkey Girl is the most comprehensive.

The Scan

mRNA-Based Vaccine on the Way in China

China may soon have its own mRNA-based vaccine, according to Nature News.

Arranged Killing, Fraud Alleged by Prosecutors

The Wall Street Journal reports that prosecutors allege that the co-founder of a biotech arranged to have a business associate who threatened to expose him as a fraud killed.

Whirlwind Decade of CRISPR

The New York Times looks back at the 10 years since the University of California, Berkeley's Jennifer Doudna and her colleagues published their CRISPR paper.

PNAS Papers on Blue Cone Monochromacy Structural Variants, HIV-1 Mutant, T-ALL

In PNAS this week: structural variants linked to blue cone monochromacy, HIV-1 variants affecting the matrix protein p17, and more.