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This Week in Science: May 26, 2017

In Science Translational Medicine this week, a Harvard University-led team reports a new test for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) that performs better than currently available diagnostics. The researchers used a multiplexed plasmonic assay to analyze circulating tumor-derived extracellular vesicles and identify a signature of five protein biomarkers that could be used to diagnose the disease with 86 percent sensitivity and 81 percent specificity. This, they note, beats the best established blood test for PDAC's 75.4 percent sensitivity and 77.6 percent specificity. 360Dx has more on this study, here.

And in Science Advances, a group of US and Brazilian researchers presents data showing how several species of finch — collectively known as southern capuchino seedeaters — exhibit significant differences in plumage between males despite their relatively similar genomes. In their study, the scientists sequenced and compared the genomes of nine species of these birds, and identified several loci where selection has acted independently between species. Many of these regions contain genes involved in melanogenesis, and selection was found to have acted on the same genomic regions in different lineages. This, the authors say, likely shaped the evolution of cis-regulatory elements, which control how more conserved genes are expressed and thereby generate diversity in classically sexually selected traits.