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This Week in Nature: Mar 12, 2015

In Nature this week, a group of industry and academic researchers warn about the potential dangers of using genome-editing technologies such as CRISPR/Cas9 on the human germ line. In the commentary, the scientists call for a moratorium on efforts to modify fertilized human germline cells, arguing that the ethical and safety concerns are too great, and the therapeutic benefits too unproven, with such work. They call for an open debate in the science community on how to proceed with such research before it continues.

Meanwhile, in Nature Genetics, a multi-institute team reported the results of a genome-wide association analysis of more than 120,000 healthy individuals and breast cancer patients, uncovering 15 new susceptibility loci for the disease. Combining association analysis with ChIP-seq chromatin binding data in mammary cell lines and ChIA-PET chromatin interaction data from the ENCODE project, they identified likely target genes in SETBP1 at 18q12.3 and RNF115and PDZK1 at 1q21.1. GenomeWeb has more on this here.

And in Nature Biotechnology, a team from Kansas State University and the Stowers Institute for Medical Research describes how a new chromatin immunoprecipitation method can enable improved detection of in vivo transcription factor binding footprints. Called ChIP-nexus — short for chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments with nucleotide resolution through exonuclease, unique barcode and single ligation — the approach uses an efficient DNA self-circularization step during library preparation. Applying ChIP-nexus to four proteins showed the method could outperform existing ChIP protocols in resolution and specificity, pinpointing relevant binding sites within enhancers containing multiple binding motifs and allowing for the analysis of in vivo binding specificities.

The Scan

Call for a Different Tack

Experts weigh the value of recent experiments testing genetically modified pig kidneys using brain-dead individuals, according to Nature News.

Wastewater Warning

The New York Times reports that wastewater surveillance in some parts of the US point to a possible surge.

Can't Get in the Program

Due to the Northern Ireland protocol dispute, the European Union is preventing UK researchers from joining the Horizon Europe research program, the Times of London reports.

Science Paper on Spatial-Controlled Genome Editing

In Science this week: approach to enable a CRISPR-Cas13a-based system to be used as a cancer therapy.