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Up to the Task


Cancer is an ever-morphing collection of diseases, making understanding its inner workings complicated. This year, as always, many 'omics researchers have taken up the challenge to elucidate cancer a little bit further.

For our 8th annual cancer issue, Genome Technology highlights advances and insights gleaned by researchers during the past year. New tools like those of synthetic biology are being put to use trying to rein cancer in. Drug delivery could be mediated by cell surface proteins, Harvard's George Church tells Christie Rizk in her look into his new DNA nanobot tool to deliver cancer drugs directly to tumors. And more researchers, like the University of Michigan's Arul Chinnaiyan, are combining transcriptome, exome, and whole-genome sequencing data to get a more comprehensive look at tumor type and behavior.

In a roundtable discussion this month, GT speaks with a number of cancer experts about cancer sequencing projects, the need for functional genomics studies, and more, beginning on page 44.

Also in this issue, Tracy Vence discusses how PCR-based and other diagnostic tools are being developed or adapted for point-of-care use. Such tests must be easy to use, and amenable to settings with limited resources to make an impact on patient care.

Elsewhere this month, Christie examines the burgeoning world of pharmacometabolomics. Researchers taking this approach to study drug response aim to bring together the best of pharmacogenomics — pinpointing relevant genes — and metabolomics — integrating environmental effects. In particular, researchers have found that a SNP in the glycine dehydrogenase gene is related to response to SSRIs.

With all these approaches, data analysis is ever the problem. In this month's Brute Force column, Matthew Dublin writes that both academic and industry groups are trying to tame the cloud. Both are working to make cloud computing for data analysis seamless and simple, and Matt provides an update on those efforts.

The Scan

For Better Odds

Bloomberg reports that a child has been born following polygenic risk score screening as an embryo.

Booster Decision Expected

The New York Times reports the US Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine this week for individuals over 65 or at high risk.

Snipping HIV Out

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports Temple University researchers are to test a gene-editing approach for treating HIV.

PLOS Papers on Cancer Risk Scores, Typhoid Fever in Colombia, Streptococcus Protection

In PLOS this week: application of cancer polygenic risk scores across ancestries, genetic diversity of typhoid fever-causing Salmonella, and more.