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This Week in PLoS: Sep 23, 2008

Science bloggers Shelley Batts, Nicholas Anthis, and Tara Smith have penned a piece for PLoS Biology, advocating for universities to encourage more blogging from tenured faculty. They also propose a vetting system that would determine which blogs are worth supporting. At Sandwalk, Larry Moran wonders if their suggestions might be missing the point of blogs. "Their value is based on the fact that there's no 'institutional' control or monitoring," he writes.

PLoS Medicine tackles transparency in clinical trial results with a study that looked at how many results were published after the fact in peer-reviewed journals. Of 909 supporting trials for 90 FDA-approved drugs, only 43 percent were published. Publication bias, the article says, could lead to an "inaccurate picture of a drug's efficacy and safety relative to other therapies." At Respectful Insolence, Orac points out that beginning September 27 the US FDA Amendments Act of 2007 will require that clinical trial results be made publicly available on the Internet through an expanded "registry and results data bank."

Work published today in PLoS ONE used metagenomic sequencing to study phage integrase gene expression and its role in lysogeny, or the process by which a viral genome is integrated into a host bacterium. Of the 103 sequences identified, four were selected and found to include Vibrio-like integrase and Clostridium-like integrase. Their work "underscores the value of metagenomic data in discovering signature genes that play important roles in the environment through their expression."

Janelia Farm scientists describe a phylogenetic model of sequence alignment in PLoS Computational Biology that includes insertion and deletion events, not just base substitutions. Their model, which extended DNAML (in the PHYLIP package), improves the resolution of phylogenetic inference methods and increases the power of profile-based sequence homology searches.


The Scan

Another Resignation

According to the Wall Street Journal, a third advisory panel member has resigned following the US Food and Drug Administration's approval of an Alzheimer's disease drug.

Novavax Finds Its Vaccine Effective

Reuters reports Novavax's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective in preventing COVID-19.

Can't Be Used

The US Food and Drug Administration says millions of vaccine doses made at an embattled manufacturing facility cannot be used, the New York Times reports.

PLOS Papers on Frozen Shoulder GWAS, Epstein-Barr Effects on Immune Cell Epigenetics, More

In PLOS this week: genome-wide association study of frozen shoulder, epigenetic patterns of Epstein-Barr-infected B lymphocyte cells, and more.