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This Week in Science: Apr 20, 2007

Although the NIH’s budget has been expanding each year, the increases are not keeping pace with inflation rates, this news article says. Researchers are facing grant cuts, if those grants are even approved—only 7 percent of established investigators received funding on their first try in 2006. Grant reviewers, says a short accompanying piece, also feel the strain since the number of applications has increased 65 percent since 2002.

A special section of Science focuses on germ cells. First, this review walks through a description of Piwi-interacting RNAs, or piRNAs are. These small RNAs, found in Drosophila and mammalian germ lines, may be involved in epigenetic programming and post-transcriptional regulation. Another review looks more closely at how epigenetic methylation patterns in mammalian germ cells are regulated.

In a study led by Jonathan Sebat, researchers used microarray analysis to look at the rate of de novo copy mutations in children with and without autism and found that spontaneous changes in copy number were more frequent in those with autism than their unaffected family members.

The Scan

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.