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This Week in Science: Aug 3, 2012

In commentary appearing in this week's Science, US National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins discusses the "severe budget constraints" his agency is set to face. "Americans need to know that today's basic research is the engine that powers tomorrow's therapeutic discoveries," Collins says. "They need to know that basic research is the type of science that the private sector, which requires rapid returns on investment, cannot afford to fund."

Over in Science Translational Medicine, a team led by investigators at Kyoto University in Japan reports having generated motor neurons from induced pluripotent stem cells from familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients who have mutations in TDP-43, which they then subjected to expression analyses and chemical compound screens. From its expression array analysis, the team found slight "increases in the expression of genes involved in RNA metabolism and decreases in the expression of genes encoding cytoskeletal proteins." In its chemical compound screens, it found that "a histone acetyltransferase inhibitor called anacardic acid rescued the abnormal ALS motor neuron phenotype." Overall, the team adds, "these findings suggest that motor neurons generated from ALS patient-derived iPSCs may provide a useful tool for elucidating ALS disease pathogenesis and for screening drug candidates."

The Scan

Long COVID-19 Susceptibility Clues Contained in Blood Plasma Proteome

A longitudinal study in eBioMedicine found weeks-long blood plasma proteome shifts after SARS-CoV-2 infection, along with proteomic signatures that appeared to coincide with long Covid risk.

Tibetan Study Finds Adaptive Variant Influencing Skin Pigmentation

With a combination of phenotyping and genetic data, researchers document at PNAS a Tibetan-enriched enhancer variant influencing melanin synthesis and ultraviolet light response.

Domestication Linked to Nervous System Genes in Inbred Mouse Strains

Researchers highlighted more than 300 positively selected genes in domesticated mice, including genes linked to nervous system function or behavior in Genome Biology.

ALS Genetic Testing May Be Informative Across Age Ranges, Study Finds

Researchers in the journal Brain identified clinically actionable variants in a significant subset of older ALS patients, prompting them to point to the potential benefits of broader test use.