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WHAT'S HOT IN... BIOLOGY - 2008

The Top Ten lists in Biology feature papers published during the year 2008 (excluding review articles) that were most cited in current journal articles indexed by Clarivate Analytics during a recent two-month period. Papers are ranked according to the latest bimonthly citation count. The articles below are accompanied by expert discussion and analysis (including comments from the papers’ authors) written by Jeremy Cherfas, veteran scientist-journalist and longtime ScienceWatch.com contributor.


November/December 2008

Newfound Lands Added to the Genomic Atlas
by Jeremy Cherfas

A Nature paper reports on the use of single-molecule-based sequencing technology in the creation of genome-wide maps to study the DNA-protein complex known as chromatin and its effects on the regulation and differentiation of cells. The paper details the various gene promoters and markers that influence differentiation and other developmental processes in embryonic stem cells, embryonic fibroblasts, and other cell types.
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September/October 2008

HapMap, The Next Generation: More SNPs, More Insights
by Jeremy Cherfas

The second-generation of the haplotype map known as HapMap details more than 3.1 million single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs, which are differences in a single letter of DNA. This udpated HapMap has considerably aided the search for specific genetic sequences associated with cancer and other conditions, in addition to pointing the way toward possible therapies.
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July/August 2008

Reprogramming Adult Cells Into Stem-Cell-Like State
by Jeremy Cherfas

Three separate teams of biologists succeeded in effectively reprogramming adult cells to serve as pluripotent stem cells, which are then able to differentiate into any cell type. This method of creating stem cells without the need for embryonic tissue offers enormous therapeutic potential for creating new tissue from a patient’s own cells.
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May/June 2008

ENCODE Project: Junking the Idea of Junk DNA
by Jeremy Cherfas

The pilot study for the ENCODE Project, an encyclopedic study of variation in the human genome, has already produced evidence that supposedly non-coding regions of genetic material, previously dubbed ‘junk DNA,’ actually possess complex properties whose role in gene function and evolutionary conservation remains to be elucidated.
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March/April 2008

In MicroRNA Research, Silence is Looking Golden
by Jeremy Cherfas

Research into the strands of microRNA (miRNA) has clarified the role that these molecules play in gene expression and other aspects of cellular function. In particular, miRNA has been implicated in diseases such as cancer, hepatitis, and diabetes. A research team developed so-called ‘antagomirs’ to silence miRNA, helping to elucidate miRNA’s role in cell differentiation and other processes.
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January/February 2008

Tireless Research Hints at Boost for Tuckered T Cells
by Jeremy Cherfas

A study of CD8 T cells of the immune system during infection has indicated that blocking the action of certain proteins may prevent the T cells from becoming exhausted and ineffective, raising hope for treatment of such chronic infections as HIV and hepatitis.
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