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This Week in Science: Sep 2, 2016

In this week's Science, Mount Sinai's Eifini Papapetrou reviews the state of research into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and the biomedical advances these cells may yield. She highlights key milestones in the field over the past ten years — both technical achievements with iPSCs and concerns over issues such as the variability between lineages — and considers the potential for these cells going forward in areas including disease modeling, drug development, regenerative medicine, and understanding gene regulation. When combined with new technologies like CRISPR, she writes, iPSCs are "poised to play a central role in a shift that is already underway in the use of primary human patient material from late-stage validation studies to the front line of biomedical discovery."

And in Science Advances this week, a team led by researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center report on the discovery of genetic mutations that may help predict heart failure in African Americans. By performing exome sequencing on a cohort of about 1,300 deeply phenotyped African Americans, the investigators analyzed the effects of annotated loss-of-function mutations on serum metabolites. They discovered several such mutations affecting metabolites that are risk predictors or diagnostic biomarkers of disease. Among these were mutations in a transporter gene that elevate levels of hexadecanedioate, a fatty acid associated with increased blood pressure and risk of incident heart failure.