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If you’re doing proteomics in a zero-gravity phone booth, you don’t want a lot of nasty chemical reagents sloshing around. So NASA awarded Ciencia a grant to develop a compact, high-throughput proteomics analyzer that doesn’t use radioactive or fluorescent tags. Ciencia will incorporate Quantech’s Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR) technology into an instrument suitable for the International Space Station.

In SPR, light hitting a surface at a particular wavelength and angle couples with surface electrons, cutting reflected light by about 90 percent. But if something binds to the surface, it changes this resonance point. Researchers fix different antibodies to a surface, expose them to a stream of antigens, and use an optical detector to determine where binding occurred. NASA hopes such zero-gravity experiments will give a better understanding of how life began and yield new techniques for cell and tissue manipulation.

— Sherri Chasin Calvo

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.