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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

Tens of Millions Saved

The Associated Press writes that vaccines against COVID-19 saved an estimated 20 million lives in their first year.

Supersized Bacterium

NPR reports that researchers have found and characterized a bacterium that is visible to the naked eye.

Also Subvariants

Moderna says its bivalent SARS-CoV-2 vaccine leads to a strong immune response against Omicron subvariants, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Science Papers Present Gene-Edited Mouse Models of Liver Cancer, Hürthle Cell Carcinoma Analysis

In Science this week: a collection of mouse models of primary liver cancer, and more.