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This Week in PLoS: Jul 19, 2010

Researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill have developed a six-gene signature that may better identify the disease stage of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma patients, as they report in PLoS Medicine. The researchers identified six genes that were differentially over-expressed between nonmetastatic and metastatic tumors and then applied them to a training set and an independent cohort. The authors say that these gene signatures may "assist in the difficult treatment decisions of surgery and to select patients whose tumor biology may benefit most from neoadjuvant therapy."

In PLoS Computational Biology, Jens Nielsen and his colleagues "propose a method to integrate gene expression data with flux data by transforming a limited amount of quantitative flux data into a genome-scale set of statistical scores similar to the one obtained from DNA microarrays." They say this method can aid in the study of metabolic disease therapies and metabolic engineering.

Researchers led by Valter Longo report that cellular processes, including fatty acid metabolism, amino acid biosynthesis, and tRNA modification, affect aging in yeast. By using a competitive genome-wide approach, they screened 4,800 viable deletion mutants to find genes that influence lifespan and found that the deletion of ACB1, CKA2, and TRM9, which are thought to be involved in fatty acid transport and biosynthesis, cell signaling, and tRNA methylation, led to longer life. "Several of these genes are evolutionary conserved suggesting that they may also function to control longevity in other species," the authors write.

Finally, in PLoS Biology Gregory Singer and his colleagues write that researchers and conservation organizations are planning to launch the International Barcode of Life Project in the fall. The project, they say, will "bring together 26 countries to broaden and strengthen DNA barcoding research with potential social, cultural, and economic, implications—direct and indirect—with a special focus on developing countries."

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.