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Wash Your Hands


Two new studies in Genome Research have implicated the microbe Fusobacterium nucleatum in the development of colorectal cancer, says Medscape News' Derek Cassels. Using metagenomic techniques, the two teams analyzed the pathogens present in colorectal cancer samples, and both found that F. nucleatum was the most differentially abundant between cancer tissues and healthy tissues, Cassels says, ranging from 0.1-fold to 256-fold, with a mean of 79-fold overabundance. The microbe is also associated with inflammatory diseases like appendicitis and pericarditis. One team from the British Columbia Cancer Agency found that 95 percent of the pathogens in cancer tissues were bacterial.

The second group, led by Harvard Medical School's Matthew Meyerson, looked for associations between the bacterium and survival of the cancer cells. They found that the presence of the bacterium may be associated with specific subtypes of colorectal cancer, and that the bugs contribute to tumorigenesis in a limited subset of patients, likely through an inflammation-related mechanism, Cassels says. Both groups add that they have yet to prove a causal relationship between the bacterium and cancer development, and that the bug may only play a role in late-stage disease.

The Scan

And For Adolescents

The US Food and Drug Administration has authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for children between the ages of 12 and 15 years old.

Also of Concern to WHO

The Wall Street Journal reports that the World Health Organization has classified the SARS-CoV-2 variant B.1.617 as a "variant of concern."

Test for Them All

The New York Times reports on the development of combined tests for SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses like influenza.

PNAS Papers on Oral Microbiome Evolution, Snake Toxins, Transcription Factor Binding

In PNAS this week: evolution of oral microbiomes among hominids, comparative genomic analysis of snake toxins, and more.