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This Week in Nature: Aug 30, 2007

An editorial in this week's Nature points out that the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which Congress is expected to pass, excludes military personnel from its protection. Already, the editorial adds, the defense department discharges some employees without benefits if their health problems can be attributed to a genetic predisposition.

Another editorial encourages biologists to play well with physicists and cultivate two-way relationships where their collaborative research enlightens both the biologists and the physicists. "Otherwise, calling such work 'interdisciplinary' is little more than lip service," the editorial says.

John Atkins and Pavel Baranov write about the flexibility of the genetic code in a News and Views piece. In addition to the 20 common amino acids, a few others such as selenocysteine and pyrrolysine have been found encoded in a few genes, showing that there is more to the genetic code and codons than originally thought. Atkins and Baranov draw on Yan Zhang and Vadim Gladyshev's report in Nucleic Acids Research that identified a bacterium with an usually large proportion of proteins with selenocysteine and pyrrolysine.

In a paper, Perlegen's Kelly Frazer and collaborators report creating a genome-wide haplotype map of the common laboratory mouse from 8.27 million SNPs. The researchers hope that this map will provide insight into the evolutionary history of the lab mouse.


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.