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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

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.