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This Week in PLoS: Sep 28, 2009

University of California, Berkeley scientist Mark Dayel is first author on work that used computer simulation to study actin in eukaryotic cells. To understand how cells move, he and his team created an Accumulative Particle-Spring model that builds on a previous model. "The APS model explains observed transitions between smooth and pulsatile motion as well as subtle variations in network architecture caused by differences in geometry and conditions," says the abstract. The paper appears in this week's PLoS Biology.

In work published in PLoS Computational Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences researchers looked at the relationship between genetic diseases and the aging process. By building a human disease-aging network "to study the relationship among aging genes and genetic disease genes," they found that human disease genes are much closer to aging genes than chance would predict and that diseases can be related to aging in two ways. "Type I diseases have their genes significantly close to aging genes, while type II diseases do not," they write.

Also in PLoS Computational Biology, the Sanger Institute's Alex Bateman and the University of California, San Diego's Philip Bourne list ten "simple" rules for chairing a scientific session. "Chairing a session at a scientific conference is a thankless task. If you get it right, no one is likely to notice. But there are many ways to get it wrong," they say. A few of their pointers include not letting the session get off schedule, bring a watch, be prepared to introduce the speakers, and don't be afraid to move on without taking questions.

Monsanto's Brian Hauge is first author on a paper appearing in PLoS One that relates a technique for cloning inverted repeats for double-stranded RNA expression. Their method is based on tagging the sense and antisense fragments with single-stranded tails and then assembling them in a single-tube Ligase Independent Cloning reaction. "Our single-tube reaction provides a highly efficient method for the assembly of inverted repeat constructs for gene suppression applications," they write.

The Scan

Study Finds Few FDA Post-Market Regulatory Actions Backed by Research, Public Assessments

A Yale University-led team examines in The BMJ safety signals from the US FDA Adverse Event Reporting System and whether they led to regulatory action.

Duke University Team Develops Programmable RNA Tool for Cell Editing

Researchers have developed an RNA-based editing tool that can target specific cells, as they describe in Nature.

Novel Gene Editing Approach for Treating Cystic Fibrosis

Researchers in Science Advances report on their development of a non-nuclease-based gene editing approach they hope to apply to treat cystic fibrosis.

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.