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And What Do We Have Here?

While strides are being made to understand the human genome and other genomes, researchers cannot just look at a genome and say what creature it comes from and what that creature is like, writes Ed Yong at the BBC. There are a number of hurdles, not the least of which are the gaps that are found in many genomes and the need to better understand the function of regulatory regions in the genome.

"And even if we have all this information — every gene, protein structure, and regulatory sequence — we’d still need to figure out how it all works together, and how it interacts with its environment," Yong writes.

However, he notes that some researchers are attempting to simulate just that, though with simpler genomes than that of humans, and that this could be a "way forward — the dawn of virtual biology. You could sequence a genome, construct a model or simulation, compare that to the real organism, work out the flaws in the model, and rectify those flaws with further experiments. Rinse and repeat," Yong adds.

The Scan

White-Tailed Deer Harbor SARS-CoV-2 Variants No Longer Infecting Humans, Study Finds

A new study in PNAS has found that white-tailed deer could act as a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 variants no longer found among humans.

Study Points to Benefits of Local Consolidative Therapy, Targeted Treatments in Cancer Care

In JCO Precision Oncology, researchers report that local consolidative therapy combined with molecularly targeted treatments could improve survival for some lung cancer patients.

Genetic Variants That Lower LDL Cholesterol Linked to Reduced Heart Disease Risk

Rare variants in two genes that lower LDL cholesterol are also associated with a decreased risk of coronary heart disease, according to a new JAMA Cardiology study.

Study Links Evolution of Longevity, Social Organization in Mammals

With the help of comparative phylogenetics and transcriptomics, researchers in Nature Communications see ties between lifespan and social organization in mammals.