What's Hot In Biology> 2010

Year: 2010

The Top Ten lists in Biology feature papers published during the year 2010 (excluding review articles) that were most cited in current journal articles indexed by Thomson Reuters 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 2010

On Antiangiogenesis and How Cancer Fights Back

by Jeremy Sherfas

Genetics Home Reference, NIH. The official name of this gene is “Parkinson disease (autosomal recessive, juvenile) 2, parkin.”Two recent reports in biology explore the anti-cancer agents that work by antiangiogenesis—by blocking the growth of blood vessels that supply a tumor, thereby starving the tumor to death. Although apparently effective in the short term, the drugs have been found ultimately to have minimal effect on survival. This pair of studies suggests that antiangiogenetic compounds might ultimately select tumor cells that will be more successful in promoting metastasis.
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SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2010

Intimations of Immortality: Of Mice and Rapamycin

by Jeremy Sherfas

Sirolimus (INN/USAN), also known as rapamycin, is an immunosuppressant drug used to prevent rejection in organ transplantation.Citations are accumulating rapidly for a 2009 paper reporting that the antibiotic rapamycin extended the lifespan of mice whose age, at the time the rapamycin regimen began, roughly corresponded to 60 human years. Despite these striking results, much more research—on the biochemistry of the cellular receptor known as TOR (for “target of rapamycin”) and on many other aspects of this phenomenon—will be necessary before credible thoughts of an “immortality pill” can be entertained.
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JULY/AUGUST 2010

Genetic Insights, iPS Cells Add to Parkinson’s Fight

by Jeremy Sherfas

Genetics Home Reference, NIH. The official name of this gene is 
          “Parkinson disease (autosomal recessive, juvenile) 2, parkin.”Recent research has brought insights into Parkinson’s disease, including findings pertaining to the Park2 gene, in which mutations are associated with an early-onset form of the disease. Researchers have also succeeded in developing so-called induced pluripotent stem cells from Parkinson’s patients, raising the prospect that these cells could be widely used not only for further study of this and other diseases, but also for treatment..
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MAY/JUNE 2010

Making the Clade: Molecules Help Redraw Tree of Life

by Jeremy Sherfas

Molecular data are now being employed by biologists and taxonomists to refine and sharpen the animal tree of life. In contrast to simply basing classifications on shared physical characteristics, molecular information allows researchers to make more subtle connections and to reflect deeper evolutionary relationships. One recent study, in gathering molecular sequence data from 29 different animal species, confirmed some older taxonomic hypotheses while also posing some new ones.
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MARCH/APRIL 2010

The Few, The Proud, The Individually Sequenced

by Jeremy Sherfas

Genomic DNA is fragmented into random pieces and cloned as a 
              bacterial library. DNA from individual bacterial clones is sequenced and
              the sequence is assembled by using overlapping DNA regions.With costs for genomic sequencing currently falling rapidly, the number of individuals who have been the subject of a complete DNA sequence is small but rising. Three recent papers reporting individual sequences now rank among biology’s hottest. These include the sequences of an African man and a Han Chinese man. These reports portend a day when individual sequencing will be commonplace, although much work lies ahead in establishing the precise role of genetic variation in disease.
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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells, Made Without Myc

by Jeremy Sherfas

Shinya YamanakaSince first being demonstrated in 2007, the generation from adult cells of pluripotent stem cells, able to differentiate into any cell type, has caused great excitement and follow-up research. But problems remain—notably, the finding that some of the necessary biochemical triggers for pluripotency also give rise to tumors. Recent Hot Papers in Biology offer detailed analyses of these transcription factors and their interactions in regard to tumor formation..
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