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This Week in Science: Feb 22, 2008

The editor-in-chief of Science decries Pfizer's subpoena served on the New England Journal of Medicine. Pfizer is being sued by plaintiffs who say that Celebrex and Bextra cause cardiovascular and other injuries, and some of them may point to NEJM papers to back up their claims. Pfizer, then, wants to look through the confidential peer-reviews of those, saying the public has no interest in protecting the editorial process of a journal. Science's Donald Kennedy responds, "Say what? Doesn't the public want access to credible biomedical science? If not, what was the open-access movement all about?"

Smart Genetics will begin to offer its APOE Alzheimer's disease test next month. The test costs $399 and uses saliva to evaluate the customer's risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Smart Genetics says it plans to screen out consumers who appear emotionally unstable and will provide genetic counseling over the phone but critics still worry. "It isn't helpful if there's nothing you can do about it," says Allen Roses in this news article.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh report on a link between Merkel cell carcinoma, a skin cancer that mainly affects elderly immunosuppressed people, and a virus. Using digital transcriptome subtraction, they discovered a polyomavirus whose genome is integrated into the tumor genomes in a clonal fashion, raising the possibility that the virus may contribute to the pathogenesis of the disease. "We need to learn about the natural history of Merkel cell polyomavirus infection in humans before we can accurately assess its etiologic link to Merkel cell carcinoma," cautions a related Perspectives article.

The Scan

Billions for Antivirals

The US is putting $3.2 billion toward a program to develop antivirals to treat COVID-19 in its early stages, the Wall Street Journal reports.

NFT of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, who developed the World Wide Web, is auctioning its original source code as a non-fungible token, Reuters reports.

23andMe on the Nasdaq

23andMe's shares rose more than 20 percent following its merger with a special purpose acquisition company, as GenomeWeb has reported.

Science Papers Present GWAS of Brain Structure, System for Controlled Gene Transfer

In Science this week: genome-wide association study ties variants to white matter stricture in the brain, and more.