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This Week in Nature: Sep 13, 2013

In Nature Genetics this week, a multi-institute team of Chinese researchers publish a draft genomic sequence for the tapeworm E. granulosus, which is responsible for the chronic cyst-forming disease hydatidosis in its human hosts. The sequence comprises 151.6 megabases encoding 11,325 genes, and its comparison with genome sequences from other taxa show that the worm has acquired a spectrum of genes whose products are secreted by the parasite to interact with and redirect host immune responses. The study provides new insights into host interaction, nutrient acquisition, strobilization, reproduction, immune evasion, and maturation in the parasite, which may enable the development of new treatments.

Researchers in Madrid report in Nature that they attempted to reprogram adult cells to induced pluripotent stem cells in vivo. In a mouse system, they used the four factors — Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc — to generate teratomas in a number of tissues, suggesting that reprogramming can occur in vivo. Additionally, they uncovered circulating iPS cells in the mouse blood, which they noted were distinct from in vitro iPS cells and more closely resembled embryonic stem cells. "We conclude that reprogramming in vivo is feasible and confers totipotency features absent in standard iPS or ES cells," the researchers say. "These discoveries could be relevant for future applications of reprogramming in regenerative medicine."