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This Week in PLoS: May 18, 2009

In PLoS Computational Biology this week, scientists at UCSD have used a systems biology approach to identify a protein-binding network associated with adverse drug reactions to the CETP inhibitor, Torcetrapib, which can cause hypertension. Their "novel computational strategy" can be used to identify protein-ligand binding profiles on a genome-wide scale of cholesteryl ester transfer protein inhibitors, and their findings show that the side effects of CETP inhibitors are "modulated through the combinatorial control of multiple interconnected pathways."

Researchers looked at 11 yeast species to reconstruct the content and structure of the genome of an ancestral yeast that existed 100 million years ago. In going from this species to the current S. cerevisiae, they found 73 inversions, 66 reciprocal translocations, and five translocations involving telomeres. They also identified 124 relatively new genes and in some places, there seemed to be fragile sites in the genome that have been "broken repeatedly during evolution." Their paper was published in PLoS Genetics this week.

Also in PLoS Genetics, University of Oxford scientists have designed a method for simulating large genome-wide association samples that accounts for the complex correlations between SNPs due to linkage disequilibrium, they say in the author summary, and they used this method to compare the power of current genotyping chips. A main conclusion, they say, is that "differences in genome coverage may not translate into appreciable differences in power and that, when taking budgetary considerations into account, the most powerful design may not always correspond to the chip with the highest coverage."

In PLoS One this week, Tokyo Medical University researchers have found a possible strong candidate for a leukemia plasma biomarker. Using a miRNA microarray on the plasma of a leukemia patient, they found that miR-638 is stable in human plasmas and miR-92a is dramatically decreased in the plasmas of acute leukemia patients. Especially, the ratio of miR-92a to miR-638 in plasma was "very useful for distinguishing leukemia patients" from healthy people, they write.

The Scan

Preprints OK to Mention Again

Nature News reports the Australian Research Council has changed its new policy and now allows preprints to be cited in grant applications.

Hundreds of Millions More to Share

The US plans to purchase and donate 500 million additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses, according to the Washington Post.

Nature Papers Examine Molecular Program Differences Influencing Neural Cells, Population History of Polynesia

In Nature this week: changes in molecular program during embryonic development leads to different neural cell types, and more.

Not Yet a Permanent One

NPR says the lack of a permanent Food and Drug Administration commissioner has "flummoxed" public health officials.