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This Week in Nature: Mar 3, 2016

In Nature Communications this week, a team led by University College London researchers reports the results of a genome-wide association study of more than 6,000 Latin Americans of mixed ancestry, which revealed genetic variations linked to difference in the distribution, shape, and color of facial and scalp hair. The investigators specifically identified 10 genetic variations that influence features of scalp hair, including shape and balding, and of facial hair, including beard and eyebrow thickness. The findings may provide new clues about the mechanisms underlying hair fiber growth, as well as potential targets for slowing or promoting hair growth. GenomeWeb has more on this study here.

And in Nature Genetics, a group of industry and academic scientists presents a comprehensive genomic analysis of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), a condition that primarily results from asbestos exposure. Using RNA-seq data, the researchers identified four distinct molecular subtypes of MPM, while exome analysis revealed a number of mutations in the cancer including several recurrent ones in specific genes. They also found recurrent gene fusions and splice alterations were often how genes known to be involved in cancer were inactivated.