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This Week in Nature: Aug 14, 2008

In this issue, Nature checks in on carbon-free energy alternatives. JGI's Eddy Rubin takes a closer look at cellulosic biofuels in this review, and how genomics will help improve its prospects.

A review of Alison Phipps' book, Women in Science, Engineering and Technology: Three Decades of UK Initiatives, challenges past initiatives aimed at changing women, rather than changing the system. "Phipps assesses that the success of initiatives has been limited by focusing on helping women to survive and thrive in existing masculine environments, rather than challenging the underlying work culture and perception of the ideal scientist as a masculine figure: rational, competitive, independent and technically skilled."

Scientists have used a genome-wide RNAi screen in Drosophila to identify more than 100 host genes that are important for influenza virus infection. Three of these genes, they found, have homologues that play key roles in infection of human cells by H5N1 and H1N1 influenza A viruses. "This could accelerate the development of new classes of antiviral drugs," they say.

Researchers at UCSC have found that active hammerhead ribozymes, RNA molecules that can cleave other molecules like enzymes, are present in the 3' UTRs of rodent C-type lectin type II (Clec2) genes. Their work has identified an "unrecognized mechanism of post-transcriptional gene regulation" for Clec2 genes involved in bone remodeling and the immune response of many mammals, says the abstract.


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.