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This Week in Science: Dec 21, 2007

Today's Science has a special section covering breakthroughs of 2007. The two biggest breakthroughs were genetic variation and personal genomics, with reprogramming cells among the runners-up. Global warming got a special breakthrough mention, as 2007, the magazine writes, was the year when the debate about its reality ended. In 2008, Science editors will be watching miRNAs, human-made microbes, paleogenomics, and the human microbiome, among others.

Finally published this month, a paper from University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers proves that by introducing four genes into human fibroblasts, these skin cells can be transformed into human embryonic stem cells. Another paper out of Rudolf Jaenisch's lab shows that by using a humanized sickle cell anemia mouse model, mice can be cured after being transplanted with induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. In light of these breakthroughs, Jose Cibelli examines whether somatic cell nuclear transfer, otherwise known as human therapeutic cloning, will ever happen.

HHMI researcher Joan Steitz proves that miRNAs don't always down-regulate translation, and what they do depends on the stage of the cell cycle. Her work shows that human miR369-3 binds the TNFalpha ARE, directs association of proteins AGO1 and FXR1, and activates translation in non-proliferating cells. However, miR369-3 represses translation of the same mRNA in proliferating cells. A perspective takes a closer look at the two faces of miRNA.

 

The Scan

Alzheimer's Risk Gene Among Women

CNN reports that researchers have found that variants in MGMT contribute to Alzheimer's disease risk among women but not men.

Still Hanging Around

The Guardian writes that persistent pockets of SARS-CoV-2 in the body could contribute to long COVID.

Through a Little Spit

Enteric viruses like norovirus may also be transmitted through saliva, not just the fecal-oral route, according to New Scientist.

Nature Papers Present Method to Detect Full Transcriptome, Viruses Infecting Asgard Archaea, More

In Nature this week: VASA-seq approach to detect full transcriptome, analysis of viruses infecting Asgard archaea, and more.