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Barriers and Promise

The main stumbling blocks to moving next-gen sequencing advances to the clinic are generating data that show the clinical benefits of such tests and convincing payors to cover those tests, Washington University in St. Louis' Elaine Mardis tells Biome, the BioMed Central blog, in a Q&A.

At the same time, Mardis adds that pharmaceutical companies and the US Food and Drug Administration need to change how conduct clinical trials are conduction and how drugs are approved so that cancer patients can benefit more quickly from advances.

In terms of sequencing technologies that hold promise for detecting cancer early, Mardis tells Biome that circulating tumor cell and nucleic acid sequencing have potential. Additionally, she notes that individualized immunotherapies based therapies are also an exciting step.

"I think this area holds great promise and uses our genomics capabilities in an entirely new and exciting way," she tells Biome.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.