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This Week in PNAS: Sep 22, 2009

This week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Sao Paulo have used bioinformatics to build the human cell surfaceome. From this catalog of 3,702 cell surface transmembrane proteins, they were able to look at gene expression differences to find surfaceome genes that could be possible tumor targets, 593 of which they validated using qPCR. They identified several candidates as potential diagnostic and therapeutic targets for colorectal tumors and glioblastoma.

Boston University researchers led work that cataloged all triplet repeats in genic regions in the human genome, showing a bias in noncoding DNA repeat lengths. Among other things, they found that for short repeats, there is a low rate of repeat-length polymorphisms in exons and "somewhat surprisingly, in introns," they say, adding that their repeat assay "could someday complement SNP arrays for producing tests that assess the risk of an individual to develop a disease, or become part of personalized genomic strategy that provides therapeutic guidance with respect to drug response."

In work out of Jonathan Eisen's lab at the University of California, Davis, scientists looked at how the human gut microbiome changes after small bowel transplantation. Using qPCR on the bacteria from the small bowel lumen of 17 small bowel transplant patients, they found that the microbial community shifts from being dominated by the anaerobic Bacteroides and Clostridia bacteria to Lactobacilli and Enterobacteria, which can be either anaerobic or aerobic.

Finally, an editorial from NIH's Alan Guttmacher, Elizabeth Nabel, and Francis Collins makes the case for data-sharing policies. "The model of the investigator owning data has been increasingly replaced by one in which society owns data," they write. While access to data is beneficial to research as a whole, policies should be improved upon and policed in order to protect the rights of researchers and participants. They highlight NIH's Policy for Sharing of Data Obtained in NIH Supported or Conducted Genome-Wide Association Studies.

The Scan

Could Cost Billions

NBC News reports that the new Alzheimer's disease drug from Biogen could cost Medicare in the US billions of dollars.

Not Quite Sent

The Biden Administration likely won't meet its goal of sending 80 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses abroad by the end of the month, according to the Washington Post.

DTC Regulation Proposals

A new report calls on UK policymakers to review direct-to-consumer genetic testing regulations, the Independent reports.

PNAS Papers on Mosquito MicroRNAs, Acute Kidney Injury, Trichothiodystrophy

In PNAS this week: microRNAs involved in Aedes aegypti reproduction, proximal tubule cell response to kidney injury, and more.