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This Week in Science: Aug 3, 2007

Today's Science has a special feature section on the rapidly expanding field of immunology. One news piece looks at novel ways of combating HIV infection: instead of drugs, why not use gene therapy to create a healthy immune system by replacing faulty genes with normal ones? A perspective examines the epigenetic flexibility of the developing immune system. The article looks at how different chromatin structures can provide both transcriptional and epigenetic flexibility that allows the differentiation of many different types of immune cells.

Francis Collins and co-author William Lowrance discuss in a policy forum paper the increasingly important issue of patient identifiability as a result of genomic research. As more and more DNA-based databases come online, the chances are growing that data for a supposedly anonymous patient (say, from a clinical trial) will be matched to other records with his or her personal information, thereby nullifying the anonymization process considered so important in certain studies. "Protection of identifiability is obligatory for maintaining the trust of our most important research partners, the public," the authors write.

In research, Scripps biologists used a quantitative mass spec study to identify 86 proteins in C. elegans that are more or less abundant in long-lived daf-2 mutants than in wild-type worms. By analyzing these proteins, the research finds that changes in certain proteins’ abundance may have some influence on longevity.

Finally, a study out of the Venter Institute reports that they have completely replaced the genome of a bacterial cell with one from another species. Genomic DNA from Mycoplasma mycoides large colony (LC) was transplanted into Mycoplasma capricolum cells, with the transplanted cells, they say, coming out phenotypically identical to the M. mycoides LC donor strain.

The Scan

Fertility Fraud Found

Consumer genetic testing has uncovered cases of fertility fraud that are leading to lawsuits, according to USA Today.

Ties Between Vigorous Exercise, ALS in Genetically At-Risk People

Regular strenuous exercise could contribute to motor neuron disease development among those already at genetic risk, Sky News reports.

Test Warning

The Guardian writes that the US regulators have warned against using a rapid COVID-19 test that is a key part of mass testing in the UK.

Science Papers Examine Feedback Mechanism Affecting Xist, Continuous Health Monitoring for Precision Medicine

In Science this week: analysis of cis confinement of the X-inactive specific transcript, and more.