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This Week in Science: Jul 13, 2012

Researchers in Switzerland present a high-throughput method for developing and refining selected reaction monitoring assays to detect human proteins. Writing in Science Translational Medicine, the team reports applying its SRM-based approach to detect cancer-associated proteins in plasma and urine samples. "Moreover, we demonstrate that these SRM assays allow reproducible quantification by monitoring 34 biomarker candidates across 83 patient plasma samples," the authors write. "Through public access to the entire assay library, researchers will be able to target their cancer-associated proteins of interest in any sample type using the detectability information in plasma and urine as a guide."

Two papers published online in advance in Science this week refute a claim made in the same journal in 2011 by Felisa Wolfe-Simon et al. — that a strain of Halomonas bacteria, GFAJ-1, is able to take up arsenate as a nutrient when phosphate is limiting. Tobias Erb and his colleagues show that "GFAJ-1 is an arsenate-resistant, phosphate-dependent organism," while Marshall Louis Reaves and his colleagues report on an "absence of detectable arsenate in DNA from arsenate-grown GFAJ-1 cells." Daily Scan has more, here.

Over in this week's issue, readers respond to a recent Science article that reported on a US National Science Foundation study comparing review results from grant proposals written in the standard format to those from versions rewritten as two-page summaries, without applicants' names. "If we maintain that preclinical/clinical research should be done blinded, this concept should be extended to the grant review process as well," Debomoy Lahiri says. However, commenter b eber notes that "if you showed the same set of proposals to the same review panel on different days of the week, they would select different proposals."

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.