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Following the Follow-On Changes

The addition of a gene expression test may help uncover athletes who've used performance-enhancing drugs, New Scientist reports.

A recent report leaked from the International Association of Athletics Federation suggests that some 800 out of 5,000 blood tests obtained from athletes could have had dodgy results and that nearly 150 Olympic or World Championship medal could hang in the balance, it notes.

The IAAF introduced the biological passport a few years ago that not only tracks the presence of drugs or their metabolites in athletes' blood, but also records other baseline measurements with the idea that a sudden change could be indicative of doping, according to New Scientist.

The University of Brighton's Yannis Pitsiladis, who is a member of the International Olympic Committee's Medical and Scientific Commission, tells the New Scientist that the biological passport could be improved by the addition of new tests. He is, for example, working on developing a test to monitor for the gene expression changes that occur in response to the presence of EPO or other performance-enhancing drugs in someone's system.

Though that might help catch dopers — at least until they learn how to evade the test — usual results have to be followed up on and the University of Stirling's Paul Dimeo says that doesn't always occur in athletics.

The Scan

Foxtail Millet Pangenome, Graph-Based Reference Genome

Researchers in Nature Genetics described their generation of a foxtail millet pangenome, which they say can help in crop trait improvement.

Protein Length Distribution Consistent Across Species

An analysis in Genome Biology compares the lengths of proteins across more than 2,300 species, finding similar length distributions.

Novel Genetic Loci Linked to Insulin Resistance in New Study

A team reports in Nature Genetics that it used glucose challenge test data to home in on candidate genes involved in GLUT4 expression or trafficking.

RNA Editing in Octopuses Seems to Help Acclimation to Shifts in Water Temperature

A paper in Cell reports that octopuses use RNA editing to help them adjust to different water temperatures.