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This Week in Nature: Jan 15, 2009

This week's issue of Nature takes a broad look at what's in store for US science and science policy as President-elect Barack Obama takes office. Several editorials look at what scientists themselves can do to keep Obama's policies on climate change, nuclear proliferation, and AIDS on track. One news story tackles how scientists are vying for a part of the possible $750 billion stimulus package, while three news features detail the failures of the Bush administration. A commentary offers opinions from six scientists on what Obama must do to move past Bush's missteps.

In early online publication, Arul Chinnaiyan at the University of Michigan has used transcriptome sequencing of cancer cells to find novel gene fusions. As a proof of concept, his team used integrative transcriptome sequencing to find the BCR–ABL1 gene fusion in a chronic myelogenous leukemia cell line and the TMPRSS2–ERG gene fusion in a prostate cancer cell line and tissues.

University of Wisconsin researchers have created induced pluripotent stem cells from skin fibroblast cells taken from a child with spinal muscular atrophy, one of the most common inherited forms of neurological disease in infants. The cells grew into defective motor neurons, says the abstract, making this the first study to show that human iPS cells can be used to model the pathology seen in a genetically inherited disease. "The approach will not only lead to a better understanding of SMA, but should also aid the testing and development of drugs for its treatment," says a News and Views perspective.

Scientists have created a mammalian oscillator based on an "auto-regulated sense-antisense transcription control circuit encoding a positive and a time-delayed negative feedback loop," which enabled tunable, oscillatory gene expression, says the abstract. In testing their device, they were able to monitor changing concentrations of GFP in real time in Chinese hamster ovary cells.

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.