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This Week in Science: Nov 21, 2008

In the letters section of Science, Oxford researchers discuss the future of releasing DNA data. They say that the one-month delay to access the data is worth the wait. "But it is not just scientists' concerns that should be addressed; it is potential concerns of individuals participating in research projects and the maintenance of public trust. If it really transpires that fears are exaggerated, then open access could be resumed," they write.

Also in that section, a group of researchers argue that the changes to the NIH grant system may "do more harm than good." They write, "Considerations must be made for different investigator abilities and variability among scientific fields."

To figure out why nearly identical cells respond differently to a drug, researchers from Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science studied how proteomic profiles change in response to the chemotherapy drug camptothecin. In an online early paper, they report how they tagged 1,000 endogenous proteins with fluorescent proteins, introduced via a retrovirus, and, over two days, watched what happened after camptothecin was introduced. One subset of cells showed a surge of the tagged protein and the cells lived, while in the other group, the protein levels fell and the cells died. In a related news story, Leroy Hood calls this work "pioneering."

Also in the Science Express section, Pacific Biosciences researchers report that they obtained single-molecule, real-time sequencing data with a 15-fold coverage and a median accuracy of 99.3 percent. The researchers write, "Here, we report proof-of-concept for an approach to highly multiplexed single-molecule, real-time DNA sequencing based on the observation of the temporal order of fluorescently-labeled nucleotide incorporations during unhindered DNA synthesis by a polymerase molecule."


The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.