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Sneaky Sneaky


A new study published in Nature Scientific Reports says that cancer-causing genetic mutations have "electronic signatures" that allow them to get past a cell's damage-repair mechanism, says the Futurity blog. Researchers from the UK and Taiwan used supercomputers to model all possible mutations for 162 disease-related genes, and found that the mutations associated with cancer cause a smaller change in the electronic structure of a DNA molecule than other mutations, Futurity says. This makes them less detectable as anomalies and they can therefore be skipped over by a cell's damage-repair process. "You could compare these disease-causing mutations to planes that use stealth technology to go undetected by defense systems like radar," says study co-author Rudolf Roemer. "Similarly the real-life mutations that show up in the medical databases are likely to be the ones that didn't have a sufficiently dramatic effect on the structure of the DNA when they first appeared, which is why they were not spotted and repaired early on by the body's molecular defense mechanisms." This study suggests that clinicians could one day use such electronic signatures to detect cancer much earlier, Futurity adds.

The Scan

Push Toward Approval

The Wall Street Journal reports the US Food and Drug Administration is under pressure to grant full approval to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Deer Exposure

About 40 percent of deer in a handful of US states carry antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, according to Nature News.

Millions But Not Enough

NPR reports the US is set to send 110 million SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses abroad, but that billions are needed.

PNAS Papers on CRISPR-Edited Cancer Models, Multiple Sclerosis Neuroinflammation, Parasitic Wasps

In PNAS this week: gene-editing approach for developing cancer models, role of extracellular proteins in multiple sclerosis, and more.