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Study: Discoveries in Non-Human Species Could Directly Benefit Man

The New York Times' Carl Zimmer reports on research out of the University of Texas at Austin led by Edward Marcotte, who have discovered five genes in yeast that could lead to a better cancer treatment. The genes are essential for the growth of blood vessels, and Marcotte hopes that shutting them down can lead to tumor death, Zimmer says. In yeast, Marcotte says, the genes workin a cluster to fix cell walls. In humans, the genes still work in the same cluster, but on different tasks, including growing blood vessels. But that's not the only non-human discovery that Marcotte and his team have made that could benefit man. He has found genes associated with deafness in plant genomes and genes associated with breast cancer in nematode worms, Zimmer says. Marcotte's study was recently published in PNAS. And though homology like this has been a subject of study for many years, only recently have researchers become interested in deep homology – and Marcotte's trying to figure out a way to speed up the pace of discovery, Zimmer says. "The evidence for deep homologies … might already be waiting to be found in the scientific literature — specifically, in the hundreds of thousands of studies scientists have conducted on how various genes worked in various species," he adds. Some researchers suggest this may be a faster way to find genetic causes for human diseases.

The Scan

Two J&J Doses

Johnson & Johnson says two doses of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine provides increased protection against symptomatic COVID-19, CNN reports.

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Response in Kids

The Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in a lower-dose format appears to generate an immune response among children, according to the Washington Post.

Chicken Changes to Prevent Disease

The Guardian writes that researchers are looking at gene editing chickens to help prevent future pandemics.

PNAS Papers on Siberian Dog Ancestry, Insect Reproduction, Hippocampal Neurogenesis

In PNAS this week: ancestry and admixture among Siberian dogs, hormone role in fruit fly reproduction, and more.