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Different Way

The point of personalized medicine, as the mantra goes, is to bring the right treatment to the right patient at the right time. But getting such tailored therapies approved may mean that how clinical trials assessing their efficacy and safety are conducted needs to be re-thought, writes Susan Young at Technology Review.

A new kind of trial is underway, she reports. This trial, which is being conducted by MD Anderson Cancer Center's Vali Papadimitrakopoulou in conjunction with a number of pharmaceutical companies, is examining potential squamous cell lung cancer therapies and matching them to patients based on their mutational patterns, Young adds.

"We are trying to offer a trial where patients can participate no matter what their profile looks like," Papadimitrakopoulou says. Patients whose mutations don't match with one of the therapies under investigation will be enrolled in a different arm of the study and receive a different experimental treatment that aims to get the immune system to attack cancer cells, Young adds.

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.