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This Week in Nature: Sep 20, 2007

The Max Planck will open its first institute outside of Europe, with a focus on bioimaging. A near $200 million will be spent during the next 10 years constructing the institute adjacent to the planned site of Scripps Florida on the Jupiter campus of Florida Atlantic University.

In other news, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has finally chosen a new leader. Australian Alan Trounson, who currently researches at Monash University in Victoria, Australia, will become president of the San Francisco-based CIRM to lead the state’s $3 billion stem cell research program.

A news feature tackles the question of whether patented drugs can be effectively reproduced to make generics. When it comes to making generic ‘biologics’ drugs – complex drugs made by or from living cells – the term ‘biosimilar’ has come to replace ‘biogeneric’ because generic implies that the drug has been perfectly copied. While the US and Japan lag behind, Europe “only recently determined a regulatory pathway for such generics, reaching the conclusion that the expedited path for small-molecule drugs is not directly applicable to protein-based therapeutics.”

A team of anthropologists led by those at the Georgian National Museum have examined postcranial bones from fossils of the genus Homo found in the Plio-Pleistocene site of Dmanisi, Georgia. A news and views article details what they found: H. erectus fossils exhibit more variation than previously thought, as well as more differences with later hominins.


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.