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This Week in Science: Nov 10, 2012

In Science this week, Duke University's Robert Cook-Deegan, a professor of genome ethics, law, and policy, provides historical context for the controversy over the patentability of individual genes with DNA sequences found in nature. While a Federal Appeals Court recently ruled that mapped DNA sequences in which there has been some human intervention stem from invention and not discovery, Cook-Deegan notes that the ultimate decision rests with the US Supreme Court.

Also in Science, researchers from Stanford University report on the development of a new method to control protein activity using light. Fluorescent proteins are widely used as optical sensors for protein activation, but using them to control that activity has been a challenge. Using a mutant form of the Dronpa protein, the Stanford team created a light-inducible protein design in which Dronpa domains are fused to both termini of an enzyme domain. In the dark, the domains associate and cage the protein, while in light they break apart and the enzyme becomes active.

The Scan

Genetic Risk Factors for Hypertension Can Help Identify Those at Risk for Cardiovascular Disease

Genetically predicted high blood pressure risk is also associated with increased cardiovascular disease risk, a new JAMA Cardiology study says.

Circulating Tumor DNA Linked to Post-Treatment Relapse in Breast Cancer

Post-treatment detection of circulating tumor DNA may identify breast cancer patients who are more likely to relapse, a new JCO Precision Oncology study finds.

Genetics Influence Level of Depression Tied to Trauma Exposure, Study Finds

Researchers examine the interplay of trauma, genetics, and major depressive disorder in JAMA Psychiatry.

UCLA Team Reports Cost-Effective Liquid Biopsy Approach for Cancer Detection

The researchers report in Nature Communications that their liquid biopsy approach has high specificity in detecting all- and early-stage cancers.