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This Week in PNAS : Jan 3, 2012

In a paper appearing in this week's PNAS Early Edition, a public-private team led by investigators at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Sofie Biosciences presents "an all-electronic digital microfluidic device for microscale chemical synthesis in organic solvents, operated by electrowetting-on-dielectric," a platform it says can effectively be used to perform micro-chemical syntheses of molecular probes.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Cancer Hospital of Tianjin Medical University show that CD146 is an activator of epithelial-mesenchymal transitions, and is significantly correlated with triple-negative breast cancer. In an orthotopic breast tumor model, the researchers found that "CD146-overexpressing breast tumors showed a poorly differentiated phenotype and displayed increased tumor invasion and metastasis," as they write in PNAS. The team also suggests that CD146 promotes breast cancer progression.

Elsewhere, investigators at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, both in New York, show that "linear and piecewise linear correction of test data with the PCs [principal components] does not introduce detectable spurious signal, yet improves signal-to-noise metrics, reduces false positives, and facilitates copy number determination" when assessing genomic copy-number variation. The team adds that the principal components "themselves offer deep insights into the sources of noise, and facilitate [the] detection of artifacts" within data.