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This Week in Science: Jun 6, 2008

Science spoke with Francis Collins after his announcement that he would be leaving the National Human Genome Research Institute. Collins gives his views on genome-wide association studies ("in another 6 or 8 years the predictive power will ratchet up substantially") and the application of those results to personalized medicine ("we desperately need, in this country, a large-scale, prospective, population-based cohort study"). After stepping down, Collins will be working on a book and says he would be interested in being a presidential science advisor, but added that he was an independent.

Harvard researchers report that gene products of Xist and Tsix, which are involved in X-chromosome inactivation, are processed through RNA interference. In rats they show that Xist and Tsix form a duplex and during inactivation of the X chromosome, are processed to small RNAs via Dicer.

Mike Snyder's lab has an article on identifying transcribed regions of the genome through a new method they call RNA-Seq. In this, complementary DNA fragments are mapped to the genome after high throughput sequencing. They applied this new method to the yeast genome to create a transcriptome and they report that 74.5 percent of the nonrepetitive regions of the genome are transcribed.

Princeton scientists looked into how microbes respond to stimuli and if they could predict those responses in silico -- and found they could. They then followed up their work in E. coli which correlated to their in silico work. "This work not only demonstrates how biological networks (gene, protein, and metabolic) have assembled during evolution, but also explains why decoding these networks into predictive models is a tractable problem," writes the Institute for Systems Biology's Nitin Baglia in a related Perspectives article.


The Scan

Could Cost Billions

NBC News reports that the new Alzheimer's disease drug from Biogen could cost Medicare in the US billions of dollars.

Not Quite Sent

The Biden Administration likely won't meet its goal of sending 80 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses abroad by the end of the month, according to the Washington Post.

DTC Regulation Proposals

A new report calls on UK policymakers to review direct-to-consumer genetic testing regulations, the Independent reports.

PNAS Papers on Mosquito MicroRNAs, Acute Kidney Injury, Trichothiodystrophy

In PNAS this week: microRNAs involved in Aedes aegypti reproduction, proximal tubule cell response to kidney injury, and more.