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Blue Light Special

Patients with type II diabetes don't respond properly to insulin. What's the solution? Well for the ETH Zurich researchers who just published a study in Science, the answer could be as simple as a blue light bath, says Not Exactly Rocket Science's Ed Yong. The researchers have been experimenting with manipulating genes with bursts of light. The blue light turns on the GLP-1 gene, which tells the pancreas to make more insulin, Yong says. The researcher began by adding the protein melanopsin, which controls the human body clock and is found in the retina, to human kidney cells. When melanopsin is exposed to blue light, it triggers the production of calcium. The team rewired the kidney cells so that the calcium production activated the NFAT gene, which can turn on other genes, Yong says. "By placing any gene under the control of NFAT, [a researcher] can switch it on for specific chunks of time using beams of blue," he adds. So they engineered the cells to put NFAT in control of GLP-1, impanted the cells under the skin of diabetic mice, put them under a blue light, and voila — higher insulin levels and lower blood sugar levels, Yong says. It's not a cure for diabetes yet, but it proves that different bursts of light could eventually be used as a technique in the clinic to treat different diseases.

The Scan

US Booster Eligibility Decision

The US CDC director recommends that people at high risk of developing COVID-19 due to their jobs also be eligible for COVID-19 boosters, in addition to those 65 years old and older or with underlying medical conditions.

Arizona Bill Before Judge

The Arizona Daily Star reports that a judge weighing whether a new Arizona law restricting abortion due to genetic conditions is a ban or a restriction.

Additional Genes

Wales is rolling out new genetic testing service for cancer patients, according to BBC News.

Science Papers Examine State of Human Genomic Research, Single-Cell Protein Quantification

In Science this week: a number of editorials and policy reports discuss advances in human genomic research, and more.