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This Week in Nature: Dec 20, 2007

Nature highlights important research papers that came out this year, both in its journal and outside. Byrne et al's paper on stem cells, the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium's genome-wide association study, and Greenman et al's study of somatic mutation in human cancer genomes all made the cut for important papers in Nature. From other journals, they draw attention to Shinya Yamanaka's paper in showing how they prepared stem-cell like cells from human skin cells and to Craig Venter's trip in Sorcerer II looking at the metagenomics of the sea, published in PLoS Biology.

The declining dollar has begun to affect US researchers, reports Nature. Grants paid in dollars to researchers working abroad no longer have the same value they held a year ago. Americans working at CERN, on the border of France and Switzerland, have particularly been affected.

An essay laments the decline of the one-author paper. Mott Greene, from the University of Puget Sound, finds it odd that most journals don't actually know which authors did what, nor who actually wrote the paper. He predicts there will soon be "institutionally initiated restriction on the number of authors."

Researchers led by Mehmet Toner report that they used a novel microfuidic platform to identify circulating tumor cells in patients with metastatic lung, prostate, pancreatic, breast, and colon cancer. They were able to identify them in 115 of 116 samples. In the related News and Views, Jonathan Uhr says, "Such an instrument would allow routine monitoring of blood for tumor cells as part of a medical examination, and could result in early detection and treatment, with the chance of obtaining higher cure rates."


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.