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This Week in Science: Sep 23, 2011

In a paper published online in advance this week in Science, an international team led by investigators at the University of Copenhagen report an "Aboriginal Australian genomic sequence obtained from a 100-year-old lock of hair donated by an Aboriginal man from southern Western Australia in the early 20th century." Within the sequence, the team identified evidence to support "the hypothesis that present-day Aboriginal Australians descend from the earliest humans to occupy Australia, likely representing one of the oldest continuous populations outside Africa," the authors write.

Elsewhere, authors of the October 2009 report, "detection of an infectious retrovirus, XMRV, in blood cells of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome" partially retract their study, saying that a reexamination of the samples used revealed that "some of the CFS peripheral blood mononuclear cell DNA preparations are contaminated with XMRV plasmid DNA."

In a related paper published online in advance this week, members of the Blood XMRV Scientific Research Working Group reported their failure to replicate the 2009 CFS-XMRV study's findings when performing assays "designed to detect XMRV/MLV nucleic acid, virus replication, and antibody" at nine separate labs. "Only two laboratories reported evidence of XMRV/MLVs; however, replicate sample results showed disagreement and reactivity was similar among CFS subjects and negative controls," the researchers write in Science.

Over in Science Translational Medicine, researchers at Genentech report "baseline blood levels of molecular markers for late-stage B lineage plasmablasts," including a combination mRNA biomarker, IgJhiFCRL5lo, which they say segregate a "subgroup of active RA subjects who are unlikely to gain substantial clinical benefit from anti-CD20 B cell depletion therapy."