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Fight the Resistance

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At the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, researchers are experimenting with adding an IL-6 inhibitor to Herceptin therapy to prevent HER2-positive breast cancer patients from becoming resistant to the drug, reports Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. The Michigan researchers — whose work is published in Molecular Cell — found that breast cancer cells can switch on an IL-6 inflammatory pathway, which then promotes the development of cancer stem cells and leads to tumor growth independent of HER2, GEN says. Blocking the IL-6 pathway inhibits the propagation of these stem cells. In mouse studies, the team found that mice treated with an IL-6 inhibitor remained sensitive to Herceptin.

The Scan

Octopus Brain Complexity Linked to MicroRNA Expansions

Investigators saw microRNA gene expansions coinciding with complex brains when they analyzed certain cephalopod transcriptomes, as they report in Science Advances.

Study Tracks Outcomes in Children Born to Zika Virus-Infected Mothers

By following pregnancy outcomes for women with RT-PCR-confirmed Zika virus infections, researchers saw in Lancet Regional Health congenital abnormalities in roughly one-third of live-born children.

Team Presents Benchmark Study of RNA Classification Tools

With more than 135 transcriptomic datasets, researchers tested two dozen coding and non-coding RNA classification tools, establishing a set of potentially misclassified transcripts, as they report in Nucleic Acids Research.

Breast Cancer Risk Related to Pathogenic BRCA1 Mutation May Be Modified by Repeats

Several variable number tandem repeats appear to impact breast cancer risk and age at diagnosis in almost 350 individuals carrying a risky Ashkenazi Jewish BRCA1 founder mutation.