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This Week in Nature: Apr 3, 2008

A news story examines the fate of using surrogate biomarkers in clinical trials. So far, reliance on markers that don't necessarily correlate with a disease itself has helped "fast-track" many drugs through the FDA approval process. Surprising findings about drugs, like GSK's Avandia, have people questioning dependence on these kinds of markers. "It's been a watershed year," says Yale's Harlan Krumholtz in this news article. "It's shaking assumptions about how we should be evaluating these drugs."

Three studies, two in this issue and one in the current Nature Genetics, used genome-wide association studies to find the same locus in the long arm of chromosome 15 (15q24/15q25.1) to be associated with lung cancer. As this BBC article reports, only one of the papers suggests that increased risk is related to smoking, whereas the other two say that it's not. NCI's Stephen Chanock writes in this news and views article, "The next round of research will involve resequencing 15q24/15q25.1 and incorporating any additional SNP variants into future epidemiological work."

Finally, a special insight section on molecular cancer diagnostics looks to the challenges and promises of harnessing cancer biomarkers for prognostic and diagnostic benefit. A series of articles covers cancer biomarkers in general, finding biomarkers in the plasma proteome, and using gene expression patterns for personalized medicine. "A key challenge and priority in cancer research is therefore to identify molecular biomarkers that could be used to improve early diagnosis, as well as to guide prognosis and the design and monitoring of new therapeutic avenues," the editors write.

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.