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This Week in Science: Feb 1, 2008

A series of news articles looks into what's going on in cell biology. Kyoto University's Shinya Yamanaka, who first made induced pluripotent stem cells, is modest and polite, says Science. A story quotes him as saying, "We were extremely lucky. I know many other scientists who have been working harder and who are smarter than we are." Because of Yamanaka's work, some people are declaring the embryonic stem cell debate over. Others say that they are not yet sure that iPS cells are equivalent to ES cells and that since iPS cells are made using retroviruses, they cannot be used for therapy.

A team led by Stephen Elledge reports a new highly parallel multiplex method to screen short hairpin RNA using half-hairpin barcodes and microarrays. With their method, they found that some shRNAs are anti-proliferative in both cancer and normal cells, and target the cell cycle and protein translation. A related article reports that the massively parallel short hairpin RNA screen can also be used to look for stable loss-of-function-phenotypes. Researchers led by Kenneth Chang assayed 6,000 to 20,000 shRNAs to find genes needed for the proliferation and survival of cell lines -- known lethal shRNAs targeted cell regulation networks.

Over at Science Express, the DeCode team reports that a genome-wide search found that sequence variants in the 4p16.3 region correlate with recombination rate. Surprisingly, they found that the haplotype associated with a high level of recombination in men is associated with low recombination rates in women. The researchers say that even if the frequency of the haplotypes change, the sex-average rate of recombination for the population will stay about the same. The 23andMe team picked up on this over at their blog, the Spittoon, and break down what recombination is, giving a good primer to show to your non-science-y friends.


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.