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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

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.