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This Week in Nature: Mar 13, 2008

A news feature on the university patent system looks at the establishment of tech transfer offices across the US and how it reflects the growing amount of university research that ends up being patented. In a report, researchers at the University of Georgia say that one-third of the patented discoveries made at universities were redirected to private firms, "and those taken away were the ones most highly cited in future patents, suggesting that they were the most valuable."

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Fox Chase Cancer Center have found a "master regulator" in the SATB1 gene, which can affect expression of over 1000 genes in breast cancer cells. In their findings, RNAi knockdown inhibited tumor growth in vivo whereas overexpressing the SATB1 gene caused metastases. Because metastases has up until now remained a mystery, the findings are a win for translational medicine. "Translating the study's findings into an effective treatment for cancer would require targeting only the tumors in which the SATB1 gene has become overly active," says this Yahoo! article.

UCLA's Steve Jacobsen and colleagues performed shotgun bisulphite sequencing of the Arabidopsis thaliana genome to create a map of methylated cytosines at single-base-pair resolution. This is a first to fine-tune the plant's epigenetic changes, and the researchers hope to use it as a model for larger organisms, such as the mouse.

HHMI researchers have shown that in skin cells, miR-203 directly represses the expression of p63. By changing miR-203's "spatiotemporal expression," they showed that miR-203 promotes epidermal differentiation, thereby defining the layers of stem cells and differentiated suprabasal cells in skin.


The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.