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This Week in Science: Jul 27, 2012

Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center's Institute for Cancer Genetics and their colleagues this week report in a Science paper published online in advance on their investigation of 97 glioblastoma multiforme tumor samples. They found that three samples harbored "oncogenic chromosomal translocations that fuse in-frame the tyrosine kinase coding domains of fibroblast growth factor receptor genes (FGFR1 or FGFR3) to the transforming acidic coiled-coil coding domains of TACC1 or TACC3, respectively."

In this week's issue, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's William Kaelin discusses the challenges scientists have encountered in RNAi research. "As with any new technology, the initial euphoria is now being tempered by a growing awareness of the pitfalls," Kaelin writes in Science. A prominent problem, he says, is the potential for off-target effects when using siRNA or shRNA. "These issues are potentially compounded by problems related to multiple hypothesis testing when large si/shRNA libraries are used in high-throughput screens," he adds. Because of this, Kaelin says that "in the short term, one approach would be to conduct more focused screens, perhaps involving fewer than 100 genes, to allow deeper interrogation of primary screen hits in lower-throughput secondary screens." Later on, as technologies and techniques advance, "the performance of genome-scale screens will improve with further library enhancements (including increasing the number of si/shRNAs per gene and eliminating si/shRNA empirically found to produce false-positives across multiple screens), the use of algorithms that take into account si/shRNA knockdown efficiencies, and incorporation of orthogonal data sets (for example, data from genomic studies or chemical screens)," he adds.

Over in Science Signaling, investigators from Duke University Medical Center show in a mouse model that "p53 [functions] in endothelial cells to protect mice from myocardial injury after whole-heart irradiation." Further, the Duke-led team adds that "mice with an endothelial cell-specific deletion of p53 succumbed to heart failure after whole-heart irradiation as a result of myocardial necrosis, systolic dysfunction, and cardiac hypertrophy."

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.