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This Week in Science: Feb 24, 2012

In Science Translational Medicine this week, investigators at Stanford University School of Medicine show that miR-21 "blocks abdominal aortic aneurysm development and nicotine-augmented expansion." Because of this, the authors suggest modulation of its expression "shows potential as a new therapeutic option to limit AAA [abdominal aortic aneurysm] expansion and vascular disease progression."

An international team led by researchers at Finland's University of Oulu reports having screened 125 Northern Finnish breast cancer families for coding region and splice-site Abraxas mutations, and having "genotyped three tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms within the gene from 991 unselected breast cancer cases and 868 female controls for common cancer-associated variants." Overall, the researchers found that the "recurrent Abraxas c.1082G>A mutation connects to cancer predisposition," as they write in Science Translational Medicine this week.

The University of Alberta's Tania Bubela and her colleagues this week "call for a combination of theoretical and empirical analyses to build a comprehensive understanding of the interplay between formal IP laws, institutions that administer and manage IPRs [IP rights], and the use of IPRs in practice to better construct and manage collaborations" and bring translational research efforts to bear. "Such analyses require outcome metrics formulated to measure the success of therapeutic outcomes and to capture the complexity of a highly networked R&D environment," Bubela and her colleagues write.

The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.