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A Comfort to Anyone Terrified of Dinosaurs or Other Ancient Beasts

Wired Science notes this week that a recent study of the bones of extinct giant birds has offered some new, very reassuring evidence that Jurassic Park will never ever, ever happen. Phew.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B by scientists from the universities of Perth and Copenhagen, offers an estimate of the average half-life of DNA molecules. Wired UK's Ian Steadman writes that according to the study of 158 samples of moa bones between 500 and 6,000 years old, "DNA appears to have a half-life of around 521 years."

According to Steadman the result is "caveated" by the fact that many factors, like acidity, health, temperature, and humidity, can influence decay rates. "However, it does provide a baseline against which to assess the viability of obtaining DNA samples from future finds," he writes. "If there is a lot of DNA, preserved in absolutely ideal conditions, then it might hang around for several thousand years."

That means the moa, if well-preserved, is potentially in for future cloning. Dinosaurs — and other DNA-based animals that checked out 65 million years back — appear to be out. Steadman nominates the woolly mammoth as another contender. "We may even be able to reintroduce them into the wild."

The Scan

US Supports Patent Waivers

NPR reports that the Biden Administration has announced its support for waiving intellectual property protections for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Vaccines Versus Variants

Two studies find the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be effective against viral variants, and Moderna reports on booster shots to combat variants.

CRISPR for What Ails You

The Wall Street Journal writes that CRISPR-based therapies could someday be used to treat common conditions like heart attacks.

Nature Papers Review Integration of Single-Cell Assay Data, Present Approach to Detect Rare Variants

In Nature this week: review of ways to integrate data from single-cell assays, and more.