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This Week in Nature: Oct 25, 2007

Funding stagnation for biomedical sciences in the United States is sending European researchers back to Europe, says this Nature news article. The prospects there are rosier, especially in Britain's cancer centers, where funding has risen by 51 percent to $799 million since 2002 while the US National Cancer Institute's budget has actually declined since 2003.

Italy's bioethics advisory committee is barely hanging together, causing Italian stem cell researchers to worry. The committee has shifted from its once-positive stance on embryonic stem cell research to, in 2004, helping the Italian parliament pass a highly restrictive law. A meeting is scheduled for tomorrow to discuss when an embryo is considered dead.

University of Massachusetts Medical School researchers performed a genome-wide RNAi screen and identified 28 genes needed for Ras-mediated epigenetic silencing of the pro-apotosis gene Fas. RNAi knock-down of those genes led to the cell's inability to get DNMT1 to the Fas promoter, loss of that promoter's hyper-methylation, and Fas expression. Nine of those genes are needed for growth and tumor formation of the cells, a role they had not previously been associated with.

Researchers from the Hubrecht Institute identified small intestine and colon stem cells by using marker gene Lgr5. The scientists chose to focus on Lgr 5, which codes for a G protein-coupled receptor, since its expression is restricted to the crypts of the intestines. Using knock-in alleles, they found that Lgr5 is expressed in cells at the crypt base and that those cells generated all the epithelial lineages, suggesting that Lgr5 marks stem cells in adult tissues.



The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.