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Fruit Flies and Phenotypes

In a new study in Nature, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, teamed up with researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York to develop a new technique for phenotypic screening for drug compounds. Doing phenotypic screening right isn't easy, says In the Pipeline's Derek Lowe, especially when a so-called targeted drug hits more than one target along the way. The study's authors used fruit flies to screen a variety of kinase inhibitors while also checking the compounds against a list of kinase enzymes. "This gives you a chance to do something that you don't often get a chance to do: match one kind of fingerprint to another kind," Lowe says. "And what they found was that you needed 'balanced polypharmacology' to get optimal phenotypic effects."

The researchers found that compounds that inhibited several genes in Drosophila were optimal, but found that several similar compounds were less effective because they affected one additional gene. "Working these combinations out was not trivial — it took a lot of different strains of flies with different levels of kinase activity, and a lot of different compounds with varying profiles," Lowe adds.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.