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Tracking Cancer

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Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have discovered something that may lead to earlier detection of cancer, reports Technology Review's Emily Singer — long stretches of repetitive RNA, called satellites, that are unique to cancer cells and that appear early in its development. David Ting, one of the researchers involved in the project, discovered the markers by accident while studying RNA from tumor cells, Singer says. Ting found RNA molecules that didn't correspond to any genes, and saw that they corresponded instead to stretches of DNA that were transcribed to RNA, but never made into any proteins. "Follow-up testing in both mouse and human cancer tissue revealed high levels of satellites in different types of tumors, including lung, kidney, ovarian, prostate, and pancreatic cancers," Singer says. Researchers don't yet know whether the satellites have a role in the formation of cancer, but at the very least they could end up providing a new biomarker for cancer diagnosis, she adds.

The Scan

Just Breathing

A new analysis suggests that most Mycobacterium tuberculosis is spread by aerosols from breathing, rather than by coughing, the New York Times reports.

Just Like This One

NPR reports that the World Health Organization has hired a South African biotech company to recreate mRNA vaccine for SARS-CoV-2 that is similar to the one developed by Moderna.

Slow Start

The Wall Street Journal reports that Biogen's Alzheimer's disease treatment had revenues for July through September that totaled $300,000.

Genome Research Papers on Cancer Chromatin, Splicing in the Thymus, Circular RNAs in Cancer

In Genome Research this week: analysis of bivalent chromatin sites, RBFOX splicing factors' role in thymic epithelial cells, and more.