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This Week in Nature: Jan 2, 2009

With the credit crunch and declines in the stock markets, universities are struggling with losses in their endowments -- Harvard has lost 22 percent and Yale 25 percent of their respective endowments, reports Nature. The losses, says the article, are due to schools investing in hedge funds and venture capital that generally did better than the general market but were more volatile and harder to turn into cash. In response, schools are coming up with ways to save some money, including hiring freezes (Harvard), postponing construction (Stanford), and turning off the A/C on the weekends (University of Hawaii).

Two separate articles report on detecting hematopoietic stem cells. Harvard's David Scadden and his colleagues used high-resolution confocal microscopy and two-photon video imaging to view hematopoietic stem cells as they differentiated and localized in live mouse models. Linheng Li and his colleagues at Stowers developed an ex vivo system to view stem cells, taking advantage of real-time imaging technology and  hematopoietic stem cells' ability to find to the niche after being transplantated into irradiated mice.

The Scan

Positive Framing of Genetic Studies Can Spark Mistrust Among Underrepresented Groups

Researchers in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances report that how researchers describe genomic studies may alienate potential participants.

Small Study of Gene Editing to Treat Sickle Cell Disease

In a Novartis-sponsored study in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that a CRISPR-Cas9-based treatment targeting promoters of genes encoding fetal hemoglobin could reduce disease symptoms.

Gut Microbiome Changes Appear in Infants Before They Develop Eczema, Study Finds

Researchers report in mSystems that infants experienced an enrichment in Clostridium sensu stricto 1 and Finegoldia and a depletion of Bacteroides before developing eczema.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Specificity Enhanced With Stem Cell Editing

A study in Nature suggests epitope editing in donor stem cells prior to bone marrow transplants can stave off toxicity when targeting acute myeloid leukemia with immunotherapy.