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This Week in Nature: May 15, 2014

In this week's Nature Genetics, a multi-national team of investigators reports on the results of a genome-wide association scan focusing on human blood metabolism. Comprising more than 7,800 adults from two European population studies, the effort revealed genome-wide significant associations at 145 metabolic loci and their biochemical connectivity with more than 400 metabolites in human blood. The resulting in vivo blueprint was integrated with information of gene expression, heritability, and overlapped with known loci for complex disorders, inborn errors of metabolism, and pharmacological targets. "Our observations suggest widespread genetic control over a large range of different pathways and functions and support the notion of human metabolism as a complex continuum governed by genetic effects of variable intensity, complex regulatory influences and non-genetic effects," the group says. The team also developed a database and web-based resources for data mining and results visualization.

And in Nature Nanotechnology, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-led research group described the development of low-weight polymeric nanoparticles capable of delivering RNAi molecules into endothelial cells. The nanoparticles are made of polyamines and lipids, and are capable of delivering siRNAs to endothelial cells with high efficiency, the researchers say. Notably, the scientists were able to use the siRNA-loaded nanoparticles to silence multiple genes simultaneously in endothelial cells in vivo, while avoiding hepatocytes or immune cells, even at high dosages.