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A New Attack


Melanoma is usually treated with surgery and chemotherapy. But in a new study published in Science Translational Medicine, researchers at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute are trying something less harsh: using the body's own immune system to fight the disease, says Technology Review's Karen Weintraub. The researchers harvested immune cells from nine patients, altered the cells in the lab by giving them the ability to "remember" cancer cells, multiplied them, and reinfused them back into the patients they had been taken from, Weintraub says. The technique, called "adoptive T-cell therapy," charges the immune system with a search-and-destroy mission for cancer cells throughout the body, she adds. Ten weeks after therapy, seven of the patients had more T cells than they started with, disease in four of the patients had stabilized, and one patient's cancer disappeared completely and hasn't returned in two years. The work still has to be perfected and made more efficient, and more clinical trials are needed before the work can be commercialized, the researchers say, but this study shows that T-cell therapy can be effective, and could even be combined with other drugs to treat melanoma.

The Scan

Enzyme Involved in Lipid Metabolism Linked to Mutational Signatures

In Nature Genetics, a Wellcome Sanger Institute-led team found that APOBEC1 may contribute to the development of the SBS2 and SBS13 mutational signatures in the small intestine.

Family Genetic Risk Score Linked to Diagnostic Trajectory in Psychiatric Disorders

Researchers in JAMA Psychiatry find ties between high or low family genetic risk scores and diagnostic stability or change in four major psychiatric disorders over time.

Study Questions Existence of Fetal Microbiome

A study appearing in Nature this week suggests that the reported fetal microbiome might be the result of sample contamination.

Fruit Fly Study Explores Gut Microbiome Effects on Circadian Rhythm

With gut microbiome and gene expression experiments, researchers in PNAS see signs that the microbiome contributes to circadian rhythm synchronicity and stability in fruit flies.