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How it Works

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A recent series of studies showed that people who take aspirin every day have a lower risk of cancer than those who don't take it. Now, a new study in Science attempts to explain the mechanisms behind this effect, reports New Scientist's Lisa Raffensperger. Researchers at the University of Dundee in the UK treated cultured human kidney cells with salicylate, aspirin's key ingredient, and found that the drug activated AMPK, which is involved in cell metabolism Raffensperger says. Their colleagues at McMaster University in Canada then tested high doses of salicylate on mice and found that those AMPK knockout mice did not receive the same benefits from the drug as the mice with AMPK. "The finding potentially separates aspirin's pain-relieving effects from its cancer protection, paving the way for new anti-cancer drugs that have fewer side-effects than aspirin," she adds. "The next step will be to test salicylate directly in mouse models of cancer, and to see whether AMPK remains important in mediating an anti-cancer effect."

The Scan

Panel Recommends Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine for Kids

CNN reports that the US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has voted in favor of authorizing the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for children between 5 and 11 years old.

Sharing How to Make It

Merck had granted a royalty-free license for its COVID-19 treatment to the Medicines Patent Pool, according to the New York Times.

Bring it Back In

Bloomberg reports that a genetic analysis has tied a cluster of melioidosis cases in the US to a now-recalled aromatherapy spray.

Nucleic Acids Research Papers on SomaMutDB, VThunter, SCovid Databases

In Nucleic Acids Research this week: database of somatic mutations in normal tissue, viral receptor-related expression signatures, and more.