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This Week in Science: Jul 10, 2015

In this week's Science, a team from Stanford University reports on the creation of reference maps of the mouse and human immune system with single-cell resolution using mass cytometry data of cells from different organs. The maps recapitulated canonical cellular phenotypes and revealed reproducible, tissue-specific deviations, the researchers say. The overall approach for their development uncovered "genetic variation and circadian rhythms on immune system structure, enabled direct comparisons of murine and human blood cell phenotypes, and even enabled archival fluorescence-based flow cytometry data to be mapped" onto a reference framework. Overall, the map "provides a working definition of systemic immune organization to which new data can be integrated to reveal deviations driven by genetics, environment, or pathology," they add.

In Science Translational Medicine, a group of investigators from the US and Canada publishes data suggesting that sperm RNA could serve as a biomarker of male infertility. Using RNA sequencing of semen from fertile and infertile men, the scientists identified 648 sperm RNA elements corresponding to genes involved in sperm development, motility, energy production, fertilization, and embryo formation. Most infertile men lacked many of these elements, with a greater number of missing elements corresponding to a lower likelihood of conception. GenomeWeb has more on this here

Harvard Medical School's Isaac Kohane discusses in Science the challenges facing personalized medicine, arguing that current approaches for using new technologies such as genomic sequencing in the clinic will be insufficient to drive their widespread adoption. He highlights 10 key challenges facing precision medicine, such as the need for better data collection and sharing, as well as the importance of public support amid privacy concerns. Kohane also calls for an extensive and ongoing dialogue between patient groups, healthcare workers, scientists, and industry representatives.

And in Science Translational Medicine, Leonard Freedman of the Global Biological Standards Institute highlights the issues of contamination and misidentification facing the use of cell lines in research. He cites the importance of cell authentication, as well as researcher awareness and training, to improve reproducibility and the translation of basic research.