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This Week in PLoS: Jul 6, 2009

In an effort to speed up the drug discovery process for multi-drug resistant (MDR) and extensively drug resistant (XDR) tuberculosis, UCSD's Philip Bourne led work that used a proteomic, computational approach to identify cross-reactivity between different drug target families. The team showed that entacapone and tolcapone, two drugs used to treat Parkinson's disease, can also help treat MDR and XDR tuberculosis. The work appears in PLoS Computational Biology this week.

Uppsala University researchers have studied the process of gene transfer in bacteria that use rodents as their host in a paper published this week in PLoS Genetics. Sequencing the genome of the bacteria Bartonella grahamii, they found that "rodent-associated Bartonella species have higher copy numbers of genes for putative host-adaptability factors than the related human-specific pathogens." Using microarrays, they also found that most of these genes are in a segment of about 25 percent of the genome, which was amplified and packaged into viral particles. "This is the first demonstration of targeted packaging of a portion of the bacterial chromosome into viral particles," they say.

In PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases this week, scientists at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research and the University of Queensland used laser microdissection microscopy and microarrays to do gene expression profiling in specific tissues of adult female Schistosoma japonicum, a species of parasitic worm found to infect people in the tropics and developing world. They identified 147 genes that were up-regulated in the gastrodermis, 4,149 genes in the ovary, and 2,553 in the vitellaria, pointing to a "better understanding of the roles of tissues in parasite biology," they write in the author summary.

Finally, City of Hope researchers, including Steve Sommer and John Rossi, studied how dysregulation of miRNA expression might influence the development of schizophrenia. They sequenced 59 microRNA genes on the X-chromosome in males with and without schizophrenia spectrum disorders and found that eight ultra-rare variants in eight distinct miRNA genes in 4 percent of the men with schizophrenia collectively contribute to the risk of schizophrenia. Their work was published in PLoS One.

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.