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Is That How it Works?


Doctors have known since 2005 that the diabetes drug metformin could help lower a patient's risk for developing cancer, says the DNAIndia blog, but the mechanisms underlying the association have been unclear. In a new study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a team from McGill University and the University of Montreal say they may know why metformin has such an effect. "They learned that exposure to metformin reduces the cellular mutation rate and the accumulation of DNA damage," the blog says. "It is well known that such mutations are directly involved in carcinogenesis, but lowering cancer risk by inhibiting the mutation rate has never been shown to be feasible." Metformin seems to reduce a person's levels of reactive oxygen species, which are known to damage DNA. The drug didn't act as a classic antioxidant, says the University of Montreal's Gerardo Ferbeyre, but instead seemed to selectively prevent altered mitochondria — like those present in cells with oncogenic mutations — from producing reactive oxygen species.

The Scan

Study Points to Tuberculosis Protection by Gaucher Disease Mutation

A mutation linked to Gaucher disease in the Ashkenazi Jewish population appears to boost Mycobacterium tuberculosis resistance in a zebrafish model of the lysosomal storage condition, a new PNAS study finds.

SpliceVault Portal Provides Look at RNA Splicing Changes Linked to Genetic Variants

The portal, described in Nature Genetics, houses variant-related messenger RNA splicing insights drawn from RNA sequencing data in nearly 335,700 samples — a set known as the 300K-RNA resource.

Automated Sequencing Pipeline Appears to Allow Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Lineage Detection in Nevada Study

Researchers in the Journal of Molecular Diagnostics describe and assess a Clear Labs Dx automated workflow, sequencing, and bioinformatic analysis method for quickly identifying SARS-CoV-2 lineages.

UK Team Presents Genetic, Epigenetic Sequencing Method

Using enzymatic DNA preparation steps, researchers in Nature Biotechnology develop a strategy for sequencing DNA, along with 5-methylcytosine and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine, on existing sequencers.